The disavow tools has been introduced by Google in October 2012 to let webmaster neutralize spammy or unnatural backlinks to their websites. It is also an efficient tool against negative SEO attacks.

How Does The Disavow Tool Work?

the disavow cycle

Google's disavow tool lets you submit a text file where each line is either an URL to a webpage or a domain URL preceded with 'domain:'.

- Once a file is submitted, it is processed for errors within a day or two at most
- Each time a crawler visits a page containing a link pointing to your site, it checks whether there is a match in your disavow file. If so, the link is treated as NOFOLLOW
- From time to time, a Penguin refresh is triggered by Google to produce new link web spam metrics

When searching for spammy links, try to get lists of backlinks to your website from many sources.

Delay Before The Disavow Tool Works

It depends on several factors such as Penguin algorithmic penalties and manual actions.

Once you have submitted your disavow file, it is processed within 24 hours for errors. Then, each link to your website must be revisited by crawlers. Some will be reprocessed within minutes, others only after a couple of months. You cannot influence this crawling rate.

If you don't suffer from a Penguin algorithm penalty, the impact should be visible as links are reprocessed. This may improve your rankings progressively because Google algorithms like what they see, but it may also lower them since you will lose the benefit of disavowed links.

Google proactively neutralizes spammy websites, therefore your disavowed links may already have been neutralized. In this case, you will not see any impact on your rankings. Don't assume the disavow tool is not working.

If you suffer from a Penguin algorithm penalty, you may notice a slight improvement in rankings, but the full benefit will only be visible when a Penguin algorithm refresh happens. There is no official schedule and sometimes no confirmation of these. So far, they have happened up to one year apart.

If you suffer from a backlink manual action penalty, your rankings may have been demoted or your site may have been removed from search results. Your manual penalty must be revoked before those sanctions are lifted. Reconsideration requests are manually reviewed within days. It may take more time if Google needs to perform further verifications.

In worst case scenarios, the full benefits of the disavow tool are noticeable only after a Penguin algorithm penalty is lifted and a Penguin algorithm refresh happens.