So you're already a little leery about creating a disavow file.
And then you head over to Google's disavow page and see this...
...and the fear of creating a disavow file gets real!
Don't fret. I promise it's not as scary as it looks.
And I'll prove it to ya.
Today, I'm going to show you just how quick and easy it is to create a 100% accurate disavow file that Google will love.
Best of all, this won't cost you a dime (even if you don't currently have an account). I'll tell you all about it in just a bit.
But for now... let's discuss disavow files.
What Is a Disavow File?
It's a text (.txt) file you create and submit to Google that tells them which of your site's backlinks should be ignored for ranking purposes.
The most common reason for creating a disavow file is to either avoid or recover from spammy and unnatural backlinks.
A disavow file can be created in one of two ways:
1. Manually (i.e. tedious and complicated) – You manually review each of your backlinks, find the spammy ones, and then manually type out the disavow file inside a text editor.
2. Automatically (i.e. easy and simple) – You let a powerful software like Monitor Backlinks clue you in on spammy backlinks and then create the disavow file for you.
It should come as no surprise that we're fans of "easy and simple."
So we're going to focus on creating a disavow file using Monitor Backlinks.
The Anatomy of a Disavow File
A standard disavow file has three parts:
- Individual URLs
are notes about the disavowed URLs and domains. They can include the reasons for disavowing, methods of attempted contact of site owners, and other relevant notes. Comments are not required by Google.
2. Individual URLs are the webpage addresses of the specific pages that you want to disavow. These will start with either http:// or https://.
3. Domains are the domains of websites whose links you want to disavow sitewide—meaning all current and future links originating from that domain will be ignored by Google. Domains will always have domain: at the beginning and follow this template: domain:examplesite.com.
That's it. As long as your disavow file resembles the one above, you're good to go.
A couple of quick notes before we move on:
- Comments are 100% optional. They don't need to be in your site's disavow file.
- A disavow file can have any combination of URLs and domains. It can contain only URLs or only domains or any number of both.
And if you want to learn more about disavowing URLs and domains, then you're gonna want to check out these guides:
Creating the disavow file involves three main steps:
1. Add the URLs you want to disavow to your disavow list
2. Add the domains you want to disavow to your disavow list
3. Have Monitor Backlinks create your site's disavow file
1. Add the URLs You Want to Disavow to Your Disavow List
Let's assume you've already used this guide to locate URLs and domains you want to disavow.
Now, you need to find those links within Monitor Backlinks.
First, you need to take care of URLs:
Go to the Your Links module...
...and check the box beside the link of each URL you want to disavow:
Then click the "Disavow" button at the top of the backlinks list...
...and click "Disavow url:"
This adds the selected URLs to your disavow rules list which can be found in the Disavow Tool module:
But you're not quite ready to create the disavow file yet.
2. Add the Domains You Want to Disavow to Your Disavow List
Next, you need to take care of the domains you want to disavow.
On the Your Links module, find and check the boxes beside each backlink whose domain you want to disavow:
Then click "Disavow" → "Disavow domains:"
Now all URLs and domains you want to disavow should be in the disavow rule list, ready to be turned into your site's disavow file.
3. Create Your Site's Disavow File
The last thing you need to do is use that list to let Monitor Backlinks create the disavow file. To do that, you'll go to the Disavow Tool module:
There are three areas we need to look at here:
1. Disavow Rule List
- Disavow Rule List
- Manually Add Disavow Rules
- "Export" Button
The disavow rule list shows the URLs and domains you previously selected to be disavowed. If you look under the "Type" column on the far right, you'll see whether the rule is a URL or a domain.
At this point, you'll want to make sure all of the URLs and domains you chose in the first two steps are showing up in the disavow rule list.
2. Manually Add Disavow Rules
The "Manually add disavow rules" button lets you enter URLs and domains to the disavow rule list that aren't in your site's backlink portfolio.
You won't need to use this section often, if at all. But it does allow you to add rules for pages and domains that might not currently be a part of your backlink portfolio but that you know from first or second-hand experience are spammy.
3. "Export" Button
This is the button you press when you're ready to create your disavow file.
If all's well in the disavow rule list, then the only thing you need to do on this page is click the "Export Disavow Rules" button.
In a couple of seconds, a .txt file will download to your computer.
It should look like this:
As you know by now, this is your disavow file and it includes everything Google needs to disavow the spammy URLs and domains currently pointing to your site.
Your disavow file is now created and ready to submit to Google.
How to Submit Your Disavow File to Google
This is as simple as going to Google's Disavow Tool and submitting the disavow file.
First, head over to Google's Disavow Tool.
You can also use the "Send to Google" button on the Disavow Tool module in Monitor Backlinks to go straight there:
Once on the page, select your site from the drop-down (if it's not already showing):
(Note: If you don't see your site here, then you need to add it to Google's Search Console first. This article will show you how to do that.)
Then, click the "Disavow Links" button:
Then on the following page, click the "Choose File" button and locate and select your site's downloaded disavow file.
Finally, click the "Submit" button and you're all set!
Google will give you a confirmation message letting you know that the file submission was successful.
Now you play the waiting game.
Google should receive the disavow file within 48 hours and then crawl and disavow the URLs and domains in the list within 4-6 weeks.
Wrapping It Up
Congrats! You've just successfully created and submitted a disavow file.
See, that wasn't so bad, was it?
Disavowing can seem intimidating at first. But once you know how it works, it's not scary at all.
The most difficult part is determining what to disavow. And the guides I linked to earlier will make even that part less intimidating.
In the future, barring any major changes on Google's part, simply follow the above steps to create and submit a disavow file and you'll have nothing to worry about.