Toxic Backlinks: How to Find Them & Remove

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Toxic Backlinks: How to Find Them & Remove

Toxic Backlinks

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Have you ever wondered how internet users find websites?

Similar to digital recommendations, backlinks increase a website’s exposure and trustworthiness.

Links from trustworthy websites indicate to search engines that your content is reliable, much like a recommendation from a close friend can help you build your reputation.

They’re crucial for browsing the enormous amount of content on the web and raising the ranking of your website.

There are two types of backlinks, some are good backlinks that come from reputable sites and others are toxic or bad backlinks that you receive from spammy websites.

In this write-up, we are going to discuss toxic backlinks, their causes & effect on your website, and ways to remove them. 

What Are Toxic Backlinks?

You might have heard the term toxic backlinks being thrown around in SEO circles, but what exactly are they? 

Internet junk food is what toxic backlinks are like. They can impair your website’s ranking and credibility, much like eating too many burgers and fries can be bad for your health.

The websites from which these links originate are dubious, substandard, or spammy.

How does it matter to you? To determine the authority and reliability of your website, search engines such as Google rely on backlinks. Your content may not be as valuable or reliable if your website has an excessive number of dangerous backlinks.

Your website might get penalties or you can receive less traffic due to toxic links in your website.

Causes of Toxic Backlinks

Toxic backlinks can harm your website’s search engine ranking. 

They often come from:

  • Spammy, low-quality websites and link farms, which are sites created to host numerous links.
  • Irrelevant links from unrelated niches and over-optimized anchor text can also contribute to toxic backlinks.
  • Furthermore, sponsored links might incur penalties and be disapproved by search engines like Google.
  • To ensure the health of your website, regularly review your backlink profile and remove any questionable ones. 
  • Keeping backlinks clean and relevant helps boost your SEO efforts. Stay vigilant and savvy to protect your site.

8 Primary Types of Bad Links You Should Avoid

1. Backlinks from Spammy Websites:

The Unknown Risks of Backlinks from Spammy Websites: Some dubious and spammy websites can ruin your SEO efforts in no time, so always be aware of those bad sites. 

Imagine this: after putting in countless hours and producing excellent content for your blog, all of a sudden—wham! You discover backlinks from questionable sources. These search engines may interpret spammy backlinks as indicating that your website is linked to a low-quality source. This may result in lower traffic to your website, a decline in rankings, and even penalties from search engines such as Google.

So, how can you keep yourself safe? Utilize tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to examine your backlink profile regularly. Use Google Search Console to disavow any connections that seem questionable. It all comes down to keeping a spotless, reliable internet presence.

2. Link Schemes/Link Farming

Link schemes affect search engine rankings by strategically placing links to or from your website to other websites. This could be purchasing links, trading them a lot, or taking part in programs that guarantee to improve your SEO with ease. 

Link farming takes link schemes a step further. In an attempt to deceive search engines into believing they are more authority than they are, websites plan together to build a ton of links—often irrelevant ones. Consider it as an untrustworthy network of linked websites that support one another. 

3. Backlinks From Low-Quality Comment Sections/Forum sites

While these platforms may seem like easy wins for boosting SEO, the reality is quite different. Search engines like Google prioritize quality over quantity.

Ineffective forums and comment sections frequently include offensive or even dangerous stuff.

Put more effort into obtaining backlinks from trustworthy websites that are associated with your niche. Seek forums and comment sections with sincere and educational debates.

Always, remember that sustainability and long-term planning are key components of SEO. 

Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to backlinks.

4. No follow Backlinks from spammy sites

Even if they are not followed, links from relevant sources might nevertheless direct visitors to your website.

SEMRush toxic score

It is advantageous that they additionally broaden your backlink profile. Plus, they can protect your site from Google penalties that come with bad neighborhoods. 

But, be cautious: too many spammy links might hurt your rankings. Balance is crucial. Focus on getting quality backlinks from reputable sites.

 5. Backlinks From Irrelevant Websites

Imagine your website sells fitness gear, but you get a backlink from a site about gardening. Seems off-track, right? 

That’s because relevance matters in SEO. Google’s algorithms prioritize links from sites that share similar themes or topics. These relevant links signal authority and credibility, helping your rankings.

They could even confuse search engines about your site’s focus. However, not all irrelevant links are bad. If they come from reputable sources with high domain authority, they can still offer some SEO benefits.

6. Backlinks From Low-Quality Directory Websites

Low-quality directory websites often promises hundreds of backlinks for a small fee, which can be tempting. But do they deliver?

Actually, there can be more harm than good from backlinks from subpar directories. High-quality links can be distinguished from spammy ones by search engines.

Your website may receive a penalty and suffer a drop in search engine ranks if it is linked to an excessive number of substandard directories.

Don’t forget that SEO is a journey, not a race. Avoid using short cuts that guarantee speedy outcomes.

 7. Header and Footer Links

Think of your website as a book: the header is like the chapter titles, guiding readers to different sections, while the footer is the index, summarizing key points and offering quick navigation.

Links in the header and footer should be placed carefully to improve your site’s search engine ranking. You will increase your chances of appearing higher in search results by using these connections to help search engines efficiently crawl and index your sites. 

For users, these links provide convenience and accessibility. They can easily find essential pages like About Us, Contact, or Services no matter where they are on your site. This improves usability and encourages longer visits, reducing bounce rates.

Next time you design or update your website, ensure thoughtful placement of header and footer links as it can significantly enhance usability and SEO performance.

8. Auto-generated links

Auto-generated links are little troublemakers and are often produced by spammy software or bots. 

They clutter up your content with irrelevant links that add zero value to your readers. Google has become pretty savvy at finding out such links, and it can seriously penalize your site for using them.

Instead of resorting to auto-generated links, focus on organic and relevant connections.

How to Find And Remove Toxic Backlinks 

Dealing with toxic backlinks can be a headache, but it’s crucial for keeping your website in a good condition and user-friendly.

Use a Backlink Checker

First, you need to identify the toxic backlinks pointing to your site. Use a reliable backlink checker tool such as:

  • Google Search Console: Free tool by Google to monitor your site’s backlinks.
  • Ahrefs: Paid tool with comprehensive backlink analysis.
  • SEMrush: Insightful paid tool that provides a detailed backlink audit.
  • Moz Link Explorer: It is a paid SEO tool that offers backlink analysis.
  • Majestic: Known for its extensive backlink index.

Steps to Find Toxic Backlinks

  • Log into your backlink checker tool.
  • Analyze the backlinks: Check the quality of each backlink.
  • It is advisable to look for;
  • Low domain authority sites.
  • Irrelevant or spammy content.
  • Links from penalized or blacklisted sites.
  • Links with over-optimized anchor text.
  • Export the backlink list: Most tools allow you to export the list of backlinks for further analysis.

How to Remove Toxic Backlinks?

You can use the following methods to remove toxic backlinks from your website.

Option 1: Manually Removing

  • Obtain contact information: Look for the webmasters’ information on the websites that are linking to you. Typically, the website’s “Contact Us” page or WHOIS lookup services provide contact details.
  • Send a removal request.
  • Be polite and concise.
  • Explain why you want the link removed.
  • Provide the URL of the page where the link is located and the anchor text.

Option 2: Disavowing Backlinks

If you cannot remove the backlinks manually, you can use the disavow tool provided by Google to inform them that you do not want certain links to be considered when assessing your site.

  • Create a disavow file:
  • List all the URLs or domains you want to disavow, one per line.
  • The file should be in .txt format.

-> Example disavow file:

# Disavowing the following URLs

# Disavowing the entire domain

-> Upload the disavow file:

Check out here how to disavow backlinks.


With the potential to destroy your hard-earned search engine rankings and online credibility, toxic backlinks pose a serious threat to the SEO health of your website. Keeping up a strong SEO strategy requires knowing the different sources of dangerous backlinks, which range from low-quality and irrelevant directories to spamming websites and link farms. 

Your site can be protected from penalties and maintain traffic and rankings by routinely checking its backlink profile using dependable tools and taking proactive measures to remove or disavow malicious links.

You can safeguard your website against the negative consequences of poisonous backlinks and keep developing a reliable and authoritative online presence by remaining watchful and giving quality precedence over quantity in your backlink strategy. Never forget that long-term SEO success depends on having a clean and relevant backlink profile.


Although eliminating dangerous backlinks is challenging, you may reduce the danger by staying away from link schemes, emphasizing high-quality content, and forming connections with reliable websites.

First, identify and remove or disavow the toxic backlinks. Then, submit a reconsideration request to Google, explaining your actions to clean up your backlink profile.

Irrelevant backlinks can be considered toxic if they significantly outnumber relevant ones, confusing search engines about your site’s focus and potentially leading to penalties.

Search engines may penalize, rank, and drive people away from your website if toxic backlinks indicate to them that it is linked to low-quality resources.

Written By

Mayur Bhatasana
Mayur Bhatasana
Co.Founder & CEO @Jeenam infotech LLP || I help B2B & SaaS startups to achieve insane ranking through link building 🚀

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