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I currently disavow the domain example.com using Google's disavow links tool.

What can I do if I want do disavow a subdomain? i.e. spam.site.com. I'm also assuming that if I were to disavow the domain it would include all subdomains?

  • Please review my updated answer which has been confirmed correct by Google now as well. – zigojacko Dec 17 '14 at 11:41
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After receiving clarification on this from John Mueller at Google, disavowing a root domain will also disavow all other sub domains under it.

For example, disavowing:-

domain:example.com

Will also disavow:-

sub23.example.com
sub4646.example.com
www.example.com

You can of course, disavow individual sub domains like domain:sub23.example.com though which will only affect that individual sub domain.

Here is a link to the old answer from the revision history

  • any proof? From what I see on webmaster forums (including google product forums!) disavowing a domain disavows all subdomains. – Alex Dec 16 '14 at 16:10
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    No, I'm afraid not, no proof. I'm sure this was how it was originally provided in terms of handling sub domains but with so many others (as you point out) stating that disavowing a root domain will also disavow all sub domains, I've raised a discussion point in the Technical SEO community on Google+ and called in John Mueller to see if he can confirm for us. – zigojacko Dec 17 '14 at 8:34
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    @jitbit - you were right, I've updated my answer and cited source. – zigojacko Dec 17 '14 at 11:40
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    Good work tracking down John Mueller. – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 17 '14 at 19:11
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    @BhargavJoshi Hmm, yeah they could explicitly clarify about sub-domains in disavow files here which would be useful. But if anyone searches about it, I'm sure they'll come across this page now. – zigojacko Sep 5 '18 at 10:40
3

In addition to Geoff's answer:

When you talk about disavow, are you talking about Google's Webmaster Tools disavow links tool? If so, then this isn't the correct way to go about it; I will explain at the end.

Firstly all domains, for example: example.com, is a website with the Top-Level Domain being .com.

So in a simple way example.com is a subdomain of .com, obviously entering .com doesn't bring anything up, however the subdomain example.com will bring up the website as it is a separate entity.

Now expanding this, http://example.com and http://www.example.com these are both to completely separate websites. www and non-www websites both redirect (normally if set up correctly) to the same server and resolve as the DNS setting normally has 2 A records pointing to the domain name - one for non-www traffic and one for www traffic.

Now thinking about this I'm sure you can now understand that subdomain.example.com acts in the same way that www does as this is also a subdomain of example.com.

Now with regards to disavowing links, if you mean Google Webmaster Tools disavow links, this option should only be used after all necessary manual removal of the links has been made as this will show Google that you have taken the time and effort to amend whatever it is that you are doing (this is more in the case where you have been penalized by Google for unnatural links, etc...).

So in summary:

  • .com is a top-level domain (TDL).

  • example.com is (basically) a subdomain of .com, however this is your domain name.

  • www.example.com is a subdomain of example.com, but is often redirected back to the same place as example.com. This can be used for anything you want, but remember it is completely different.

  • Disavow each sub-domain individually, as diavowing example.com will not disavow a.example.com
  • Any prooflink? Seems like you're wrong, disavowing a domain DOES include all subdomains: googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ru/2012/10/… (and even disavowing a subdomain will sometimes disavow the ENTIRE root domain) – Alex Dec 16 '14 at 16:16
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    "Disavow each sub-domain individually, as diavowing example.com will not disavow a.example.com" appears to be incorrect based on clarification from John Mueller in Zigojacko's answer. – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 17 '14 at 19:08

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