A while back, Google gave website owners an advanced link tool called the Disavow Links Tool. It allows us to tell the search engine which links to ignore when they calculate the links to our website. Bing.com has a similar tool, as well, and was actually the first to make the tool available to website owners.
With the Disavow Tool, you simply come up with a list of URLs or domain names that you don’t like and put them in a text file called a “disavow file” and upload that file to Google (and Bing). When the search engine crawls the links again and recalculates the links to your site for search engine ranking purposes, they are supposed to disavow those links (not count them or ignore them). From my experience, I’ve seen a disavow file really help in cases where certain links were super low-quality or “toxic” links. About 5 days after submitting a disavow file, I’ve seen traffic start to go back up. Sometimes it takes a lot longer.
But here is where I’m surprised. When you upload a disavow file and Google accepts that file, they know that you’ve disavowed certain links or certain domain names (all links from that domain name). Why does Google still shows those links in the “links to your site” section of Google Webmaster Tools? Google still shows those links in your list, as if those links still exist–and they do. But why would Google still show them? You’ve disavowed them.
Apparently the disavow file data is not taken into account when they generate the “links to your site” list in Google Webmaster Tools. If Google removed those links from the list (the links that you’ve disavowed) then we would know that Google is taking the disavow file into account when calculating links to the site. That would be very helpful for website owners to know.
Let’s look at a specific example. In January 2014, I disavowed low quality links from the domain name “articlesnatch.com”, which a previous SEO firm created (they submitted hundreds of articles to that site in particular). Now, I personally feel that those are low quality links, just there for “SEO value” and therefore should be disavowed. But 6 months later, after I disavowed all links from that domain name, Google Webmaster Tools still shows links from that website:
In fact, looking at this particular list of links to this site, I disavowed links to socialbookmarkssite.com, articlesnatch.com, basearticles.com, and amazines.com all back in January 2014, over six months ago. Yet they still appear in Google Webmaster Tools as links to the site. These links were disavowed because the site owners refused to remove the links or we were unsuccessful in getting those links removed. This was part of a reconsideration request because the site had received a manual action for it’s links. The manual action was revoked after we disavowed these links and removed other links to the site.
It would be really helpful if Google, in Google Webmaster Tools, were to remove those links from the list of “links to our site”. I understand it’s a random list of links, but the least they could do is remove the links we’ve disavowed. That would tell us that they’re taking our disavow file into account when they calculate the links to the site. Or, at least mark the links somehow so that we know that they’ve been disavowed. How hard is that to do?