How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks


How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

Let's begin at the beginning and evaluate backlinks, how they work, and how they affect SEO rankings.


Backlinks, also known as incoming links or inbound links, are links that connect one website to another.

Search engines, such as Google and Bing, view them as a vote of confidence from the referring site.

As a result, backlinks are an essential component of off-site SEO strategies.

Because link building is so important, there is a special type of SEO professional known as a link builder.

Link builders devote their entire workday to creating and maintaining backlinks to increase traffic and page rankings.

Because we know that link quality varies, it's time to dig deeper into what distinguishes a good or "safe" link from a bad or "toxic" one.

Good Backlinks

Good Backlinks Are From Authoritative Sites

Backlinks from well-known and trustworthy websites can significantly improve your search engine rankings.

This is referred to as "domain authority," and sites with a high level of authority can pass that "juice" onto your site.

Good Backlinks Use Specific Anchor Texts With Your Target Keyword

The word or phrase that users click on to go to a linked URL is known as anchor text.

Good Backlinks Are From Sites Related To Your Page Content

Because Google seeks relevant content that provides supplemental information, links from related sites are more valuable than links from unrelated sites.

This ensures that queries are answered with relevant content rather than random links from sites with no obvious connection.

Good Backlinks Are Dofollow Links

"Do follow" links from one site to the next are tracked by search engine spiders.

These are the standard links you're used to seeing.

Search engines, on the other hand, ignore no-follow links or those that explicitly instruct crawlers to ignore them.

Toxic Backlinks

Toxic Backlinks Are From Spammy Sites

There are entire websites dedicated to selling illegal or irrelevant products, and these sites are usually stuffed to the gills with spammy backlinks, some of which point to your website.

These are not only inconvenient, but they can also be damaging to your website.

As a result, it's critical to always be on the lookout for spammy, bad backlinks.

Paid-Link Mills Often Produce Toxic Backlinks

Paid link schemes have existed almost as long as search engines have since the first person realized that backlinks affect rankings.

The operation of paid link schemes is simple: links are sold separately or as part of a package to provide backlinks to site owners looking for a quick way to climb the rankings.

When search engines discover a new link mill, they begin penalizing sites that use it.

Toxic Backlinks Can Come From Forum Or Blog Comment Links 

If you have hundreds of low-quality links coming in from foreign discussion forums, you should disavow them before they harm the ranking you've worked so hard to achieve.

Toxic Backlinks Are Sometimes Hidden

Unscrupulous webmasters are still attempting to deceive search engines with hidden backlinks, which are exactly what they sound like.

Paid or sponsored links with PageRank are harmful.

Another no-no in backlinking is passing PageRank to the ad buyer. To avoid being penalized, you should always use qualifying attributes (e.g., rel= "sponsored") to identify these links.

How To Check & Remove Toxic Backlinks

So, we now know those safe backlinks are good and toxic backlinks are bad. But what now?

What is the best way to check your links and remove any that are harmful?

Using a link auditing tool is another faster and more efficient way to ensure that your link profile is always clean.

The tool we are using for all SEO activities is SEMRUSH.

It's not a free tool; it has a monthly fee, but you can use it for a variety of tasks such as keyword research, featured snippet optimization, competitor analysis, keyword position tracking, and many other important SEO tasks.

Here are the steps to using SEMRUSH to find bad backlinks.

  • Sign in to SEMRUSH.
  • Select Projects from the left-hand menu and then Add New Project.
  • Give your project a name, enter your domain, and then press the Next button.
  • Under the Backlink Audit option on the Dashboard, click SET UP.
  • Choose Root Domain as the campaign scope and then click Brand Settings.
  • Enter the name of your company. Semrush will detect your brand name based on your domain name, but if you use any other names for your brand, enter them here and then click Domain Categories.
  • Select all of the categories with which your domain is associated and then click Target Countries.
  • Finally, enter the country associated with your target audience and press the Begin Backlink Audit button.

SEMRush will begin analyzing the links that they are aware of.

To get more accurate results, connect Semrush to your Google Search Console so that they can import the Google-reported links.

  • Next to Google Search Console, click connect.
  • Examine potentially harmful links
  • Examine potentially hazardous links

Step 1: Create a list of links to disavow

Make a list of the pages or domains you want to disavow in a text file that you'll upload to Google.

Link file format:

  • Disavow only one URL or domain per line. You can't disavow an entire subpath, like
  • To disavow a domain (or subdomain), use the "domain:" prefix, for example,
  • The file must be a text file in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII format.
  • The file name must end with the letter.txt.
  • The maximum length of a URL is 2,048 characters.
  • The maximum file size (including blank and comment lines) is 100,000 lines and 2MB.
  • If you want, you can include comments by beginning a line with a #. Google will ignore any lines that begin with #.

Step 2: Upload your list

  • You may post a separate disavow list for each property that you own. When you upload a new list for a property, it will overwrite any existing lists for that property.
  • To upload a disavow list, you must be the owner of the property.
  • Disavowed links will still appear in the Links report.

To upload the list of pages or domains to disavow:

  • Navigate to the tool for disavowing links.
  • Choose a property from the list of available options. The list will only apply to this property. If a list for this property already exists, you will see a summary of disavowed pages and domains. When you upload another list to this property, it will replace the existing list.
  • To upload your list, click the button.

  • As directed, select the disavow file from your local computer.
    • If there are any errors in the file, you will see a list of them right away. Your previous list will not be updated. You can revise your new list and re-upload it.
    • If the upload is successful, Google may take a few weeks to incorporate your list into the index as it recrawls the web and reprocesses the pages that we see.

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