You Can Use The Disavow Tool Without A Manual Action

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Google Disavow BacklinksIf you have been thinking about disavowing some of your backlinks, but have been putting off doing so because you haven’t received a manual penalty notification in your Webmaster Tools account Google’s Matt Cutts gives the go ahead to do so.

Naturally some people were more than eager to use the disavow tool to do away with spammy sites linking to them when it first came out. Others were, and still are a little uneasy about doing so.

In a sort of interesting new video posted to the YouTube Google Webmasters Channel Matt recently answered the following question that many people have been seeking clarification about:


Should webmasters use the disavow tool, even if it is believed that no penalty has been applied? For example, if we believe ‘Negative SEO’ has been attempted, or spammy sites we have contacted have not removed links.

In short his answer was yes.

For a longer detailed response from Matt watch the video below.


Should I use the disavow tool even if there’s not a manual action on my site?

In the video he states that the primary use of the disavow tool is for if you have done bad SEO, or you hired an SEO company that built bad links to your site and you can’t get those links removed. He goes on to add feel free to use it even if you don’t have a manual penalty notification in Webmaster Tools.

Up until this point I hadn’t seen anything where Google said go ahead and do so. The majority of what I have read about the Google Disavow Tool generally talked about using it when a manual penalty warning was received in Webmaster Tools.

To me Google seemed to discourage using it by not providing a direct link to it in Webmaster Tools, and they have a noticeable warning displayed on the page as well.

Google Disavow Tool

If you watch and listen to the video closely he mentions that you might use it if:

  • You think your site may have been hit by negative SEO.
  • You see links to your website that you don’t want to be associated with.
  • There is a possibility that there was link bomb attack on your website.


  • You tried to get a site owner to remove a link, but they ignored your request.
  • You are concerned that someone will submit a spam report about you.
  • You believe that a Google algorithm update may be affecting your rankings.

I am not so sure that I agree with the way Google does things that are very apparent from Matt’s response in this video. The reason that I say this is not every site owner follows Google SEO. There are plenty of sites out there that could be affected by an algorithmic or manual penalty, and not even know it. Not everyone has a Webmaster Tools account for that matter either.

Who the heck has time to check backlinks on a regular basis to see if you have negative SEO, a link bomb attack, or sites that you don’t want to be associated with linking to yours? Not to mention it is widely believed that you don’t even get access to all of your links in Webmaster Tools. Exactly how do they propose that you go about checking them if you can’t see them all?

As for contacting a website owner and asking them to remove your link, that’s a complete joke if you ask me. Where do they come up with this stuff? Additionally if someone were to contact me using a random GMail address how do I know they are really who they say they are? They could be anyone when you think about it.

If you are interested in disavowing some of the links or websites pointing to your site be sure to check out:
Google Seo and the Disavow Tool

You will find a very good free backlink analyzer and disavow creator tool near the bottom of the article. It’s definitely worth a peek.

A word of warning though, the disavow tool isn’t something you want to mess with if you don’t know what you are doing. Your rankings can potentially decrease if used improperly. Make sure you do plenty of research first.

Although I don’t agree with the extremely time-consuming task of monitoring my backlinks that Google implies we should be doing it is clear that we can disavow them even if we don’t have a manual penalty.

About: Jeremy LeSarge - AKA: Ray (209 Posts)

I am the site owner and administrator of I provide help and tips for Boonex Dolphin on the main part of this website where you will also find an assortment of other resources. Here, on the blog I write about a variety of topics surrounding WordPress, technology, social media/networking, SEO, and webmaster resources.


  1. Reply

    Hey Ray,

    I got an email from some site last week that was asking me to remove my link linking to their site because it was hurting their SEO. I’m not linking to that site and I never would have in the first place so I found that very very odd.

    I haven’t run across this issue yet and that’s because I had not received any penalty notice from Google but I appreciate you sharing this because I might have to do some double checking just to make sure. Better safe then sorry right! It’s great to stay in the know! 😉

    Appreciate this share and hope you’re doing well this week.

    Adrienne recently posted..How To Write Content Your Readers CraveMy Profile

    • Reply

      Hi Adrienne,

      I have heard some people have received so many requests to remove a link that they have either stopped doing so, or started charging. It’s funny how at one point the site in question was more than eager to drop a link on a site, and now they don’t want it there.

      I had someone email me about a link on my site about 6+ months ago that they wanted removed. They were very blunt and demanding. I wrote back to them and told them that they would probably have better luck contacting sites in the future if they were a little more polite in their wording. He followed up in a friendlier tone after that. Personally I don’t believe there was a problem with the link. That is the one and only request I have ever received.

      The disavow tool analyzer I mentioned in the past does a pretty decent job at checking who is linking to you along with the anchor text, and whether they are nofollow or dofollow. I found several sites linking to me with very unusual anchor text totally unrelated or what I would expect. I have no idea how they got there. I certainly didn’t do them. So it is nice to check backlinks every now and then, but it is so time-consuming. I don’t have any manual penalty warnings from Google, but I have disavowed a small handful of these. I may add more down the road, but I want to see how it goes first.

  2. Reply

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for sharing such an helpful content. I don’t have a manual penalty notice. But, as you have advised, it’s high time I check my backlinks on a consistent basis and use the disavov removal tool to delete unnatural links.

    Your posts clarified lots of misconception and seal proper understanding on the use of this precious tool from Google.

  3. Reply

    Hi Ray

    I’ve not used the disavow tool before and haven’t really taken much notice of backlinks either.

    I’ve downloaded everything from Webmaster Tools this morning and am waiting for the results from the tool you mentioned.

    I’m actually really looking forward to it. I really like stuff like that, although I can imagine it’s going to be time-consuming to do it very often!

    I’ve not had anyone contact me either about removing a link. If they did and were rude about it, I’d more than likely do the same as you and tell them to change their tone!

    Thanks for sharing the Google SEO and Disavow Tool.

    Enjoy your Sunday!

    Tim Bonner recently posted..HitTail: My Crystal Ball To Long Tail KeywordsMy Profile

    • Reply

      Hello Tim,

      I don’t mess with disavowing links too much at this time. I did add just a small handful that I found using the tool mentioned. Normally I don’t bother, but after it provided me with a few that were very spammy and out of the ordinary I thought I would try a few. So far I haven’t really noticed any changes, but again I didn’t add very many. I don’t want to cause more harm than good so I am very cautious about disavowing anything. The tool is very interesting and provided me with more info and details than I was expecting. Hopefully it works well for you too.

      I don’t run it too often. Maybe 1-3 times per year. I would imagine it would take awhile if one had a lot of backlinks to analyze and to do so on a regular basis might not be practical. I am nowhere near that point myself though.

    • Reply

      I am not sure exactly what you mean by seeing my image and hope I don’t click on it. Glad you enjoyed the disavow tool post and that it comes in handy. You do want to be careful about using it. Make sure you do a lot of research and understand it fully before ever disavowing any links.

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