How to Find & Fix Toxic Backlinks?

How to Find & Fix Toxic Backlinks?

Toxic Backlinks are one of the major woes for search engine optimisation (SEO) which hurts your page rankings. Detailed knowledge to identify such toxic backlinks is necessary. It avoids creating spammy links and plagues the quality of the content. Avoiding toxic backlinks helps you to get better search rankings apart from increased organic traffic. You should know the way to identify such toxic backlinks to protect your page visibility. Also, you need to fix them so that you can ensure the safety of your page from being spammed.

So, here are some detailed concepts for identifying and fixing toxic backlinks.

1. Overview of Toxic Backlinks

Backlinks are inbound links which are created to link your website content with another. High-quality backlinks are treasures for SEO. However, toxic backlinks are harmful or bad backlinks which negatively influence the rank of the pages on Google by compromising the quality. Usually, low-quality websites with poor content are considered bad backlinking options. You should disapprove their use to ensure the safety and quality of your site along with good SEO performance.  

Bad or Toxic backlinks are to be checked from the introduction in the website because their site of origin is considered of low value. It diminishes another website’s SEO efforts and makes Google avoid recognising the true value of the site. Such links can easily be identified based on their toxicity score. You check the toxicity score of bad backlinks from SEMrush which has services for free backlink checking. Just log in to the site and go to the “Backlinks” tab. Here, select the “Backlink audit” tool to check for toxicity scores. A score of 100 in a toxic backlink audit indicates an extremely poor link that must be avoided.     

2. Impact of Toxic Backlinks

Toxic backlinks cause the site to undergo manual and algorithmic penalties from Google. An algorithmic penalty is a common consequence of poor algorithmic updates due to bad backlinks. It can last nearly 6 months depending on the reason for the penalty. The penalty is faced when Google updates any of its algorithms to show greater emphasis on any ranking factor for content. In case your website shows a poor backlink, the algorithm treats it as an inappropriate measure used to rank content. Goggle imposes penalties leading to the blocking of your site or content. The only way to resolve or avoid it is to understand the ranking factor that led the backlink to be considered toxic.

Manual penalties are imposed by the search quality team in Google while reviewing a website. It is imposed when a website vividly violates any of the key guidelines for content ranking on Google. The “Manual actions” tab on the Google Search Console provides alerts for such penalties. You can use the Ahrefs tool for sorting the bad backlinks on your site. For this purpose, you need to go to the “backlinks” section on AHREFS and select “Toxic score” for the indicated backlink. A high toxicity score as similarly found in SEMrush will indicate poor backlink which needs to be removed. 

3. Way to Find Toxic Backlinks

3.1 Poor Websites

One of the prime and easy ways to find toxic links pointing to your website is the ones retrieved from poor and unpopular sites. A good website backlink is always identified from a popular and credible site where regular content is upgraded to suit Google’s algorithms. You can look for the domain authority of a site to determine whether it will be a good or bad backlink. This is because domain authority indicates the likelihood of the website to rank higher on the search engine result page (SERP). A site with high domain authority is possible only if it produces quality content, avoids unnecessary page pop-ups, presents content transparency, shows enhanced user experience and supports safe browsing. So, sites showing poor domain authority are better to be avoided.

SEO backlinks from spammy websites that have excessive advertisements and pop-ups are considered poor. Further, irrelevant domain names without HTTP, poor user comments, unsafe warnings and others indicate websites that are poor backlinks. Poor anchor texts without target keywords on URLs are toxic backlinks. It indicates there could be a lack of correlation of presented content.      

3.2 Paid Links

Google Webmaster guidelines specifically mention to avoid the use of paid links. It indicates organisations should avoid any nature of payment to websites to buy links from them. Such links are mostly unauthentic and lack credibility. However, there can be some exceptions. You may use paid links as valued backlinks on your content to share an audience from another party for your site. However, transparency is to be maintained by indicating no follow and sponsored attributes to the links. It will avoid flagging the link as unnatural while showing adherence to effective guidelines.

3.3 Hidden Links

To find toxic backlinks, look for concealed links on a webpage. They are regarded as hidden links which are not visible to the naked eye but are identified by crawlers. It is a manipulative technique used earlier to increase page rank. Currently, it is rarely seen.

3.4 Private Blog Networks

These types of networks are often developed on expired domains. The purpose is to later create SEO backlinks on them to target another site. It manipulates the SERP and enhances the visibility of the website on the results page of the search engine. Private blog networks use domain authority of expired sites to overcome the link juice in boosting the page ranking. However, the use of such a network is part of Blackhat SEO and bad backlinks.

3.5 Forum Comment Links

Well!! all the forum links are not toxic backlinks. The poor-quality sites with non-established users and irrelevant content are part of toxic backlinks. If you find an influx of links from a load of foreign websites with random discussion, ignore them. It is probably a toxic backlink which will jeopardise the page rankings.

3.6 Poor Directory Submission

A legitimate business directory is one which provides genuine information to the users. They are usually beneficial if they are relevant to the business meaning they are related to the target niche or local area. However, poor directories will include low-quality links from websites to manipulative information which does not show any value to end users. Keep an eye out for such issues to identify bad or toxic backlinks.

3.7 Guest Posting

This is like forum comment links in the sense that all guest posts are not bad backlinks that you need to focus on avoiding or removing from content. Increased guest blogging within the page leads to poor backlinks. This is because sites that are accepting contributions from guest blogging may not always look for quality. They may be focused on creating increased content to create preferable backlinks. The low-quality content on any site should never be backlinked as it is regarded to be toxic.

The other issue of bad backlinks which arises with guest posting is that most of the organisations that support the process are mostly content farms. The partners using them are executing the action just to manipulate the ranks which is wrong.

3.8 Reciprocal Link

A reciprocal link is developed when two or more websites wish to link with one another to enhance their visibility and rank on the SERP. In normal conditions, such links could be beneficial. However, using low-quality content by the websites for the sake of link building and manipulating Google algorithms is wrong. Usage of such links will result in penalties and poor ranking on the search page.  

3.9 Miscellaneous Factors 

The use of backlinks which are irrelevant to the content of the website is toxic. Sometimes, site owners use such methods to backlink potential blogs to get a higher rank. However, the Google algorithm considers it as spammy content leading the backlink to be considered poor. Extensively high outbound links on a page such as over 50 are considered poor backlinks. Further, websites which are not indexed by Google, contain paid comments, inappropriate content design and others are part of poor backlinks.    

4. Way to Fix Toxic Backlinks

4.1 Manual Fixing of Backlinks 

The manual fixing of toxic backlinks involves requesting the site owner via email to remove the link from the web. It not only helps your page to avoid toxic backlinks but also allows other pages never to identify those links and make the same mistake. To remove toxic backlinks manually, you are required to have direct information about the email of the site admin. It helps in direct communication and assurance of reaching effective professionals for the link removal request. The process is time-consuming but is result-oriented.

4.1.1 Steps to Manually Remove Backlinks are as follows:

  1. On detection of all the toxic backlinks to be removed through free backlink checkers like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz and others, a Gmail account is to be developed. It will help to send a request for all the toxic backlinks to be removed in a single click. The tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs provide the opportunity to integrate your email. It streamlines the process of finding addresses and sending emails based on the created list. To integrate email. simply add your email next to the mailbox. It helps in sending emails to all toxic backlink owners in a single click as well as supports follow-up actions.   
  2. Sending the email does not make your job done. You are required to monitor the progress of all emails and actions taken to remove the toxic links. Email status in SEMrush includes four actions which are sent, opened, read and replied. For each action, a green bubble is indicated. In case you see an email is open but no action is taken, you can send a follow-up email to continue the action.
  3. After SEMrush helps in removing the toxic backlinks, you can export the list of the links removed for further reference.

4.2 Disavow Toxic Backlinks 

Disavowing in SEO practices indicates discarding harmful links that are present on your website. A disavow request for toxic backlinks on your page to Google will tell them to ignore the link. It does not affect your SEO practices as the link is not considered part of ranking the content. To disavow the links, a simple .txt file is to be created which includes the address of all the toxic backlinks. You can use Google Docs to create such a file as it will be easier to track the file. You can also add comments by the side of each link to inform regarding the links. Mention them through # to indicate they are not part of the URLs. The disavow file size should be 2MB, otherwise it not be loaded. 

After the disavow file is created, open the disavow tool on Google Search Console. Now select a website as a “property” and upload the file. A successful upload will require Google weeks to modify it. This is because the crawler continuously analyses the mentioned web pages to determine their toxicity before deletion. In case there is an error on the file, they will be shown as a list and the disavow file will not be uploaded. In case you want to change the disavow file, click on “replace”. To go through the disavowed links, you can download the file from the Google Search Console.            

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to identify any toxic backlinks?

Look for spammy backlinks, sites with low-quality domain authority, unnatural inks, irrelevant sources, over-optimised anchor texts, etc as they are key toxic backlinks.

2. How to correct toxic backlinks?

The toxic backlinks can be removed by disavowing the links and contacting the webmaster via email.

3. Which tool is helpful in finding and removing toxic backlinks?

There are lots of tools all over the internet but a few important among them are SEMrush, Moz, Google Disavow Tool, Ahrefs, etc.

4. Are toxic backlinks harmful to SEO practices?

Yes. Toxic backlinks lead Google to consider the quality of your content to be poor and affect their rank on the SERP. It can also lead Google to spam your content and does not allow it to appear on the results page.

5. How to remove toxic backlinks from Google?

Google uses the disavow tool to remove identified toxic or bad backlinks from sites.


The key to finding toxic backlinks is acknowledging the factors which lead to toxicity. You need to use backlink audit tools to create a list of bad backlinks to be removed with ease. There is nothing to worry about bad backlinks if you know what they represent. But don’t think removing toxic backlinks will enhance your context and rank it well on the SERP. For that, you should remain focused on different best SEO practices to ensure quality content. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *