How to Detect and Remove Toxic Links on your Website

Positioning in Google is essential for a website to grow. But we must be careful with negative SEO, which is why we consider it necessary to learn how to remove and disavow toxic links from your website using the Google Disavow Tool.

Unfortunately, toxic links are a fairly common strategy to ruin the positioning of a website. This is done when someone wants to rank for an important keyword and wants to move the competition out of the way.

Negative SEO perpetrators try to ruin a site and knock down its positioning, visits, etc. so that it disappears from the search rankings, and it is easier to position their own site. It is a practice known as negative SEO, and it is more prevalent than you can imagine.

What are Bad/Toxic links in SEO?

Toxic links (or low-quality backlinks) are those that can be considered harmful to our website.

Or we can say that the website whose DA PA is low or spam score is high. If there is a link to your website from a low-quality or irrelevant site, then it is called toxic or referred to as a bad backlink.

These links come from sites with multiple outbound links, websites in other languages, and automatically created sites, comments, directories, link farms, etc.

By this, I do not mean that all the links on these sites have to be necessarily negative, there is a fine line that determines what falls within the natural, what does not, and for this, you have to apply some common sense.

Why is it not good to have unnatural links?

Having automatically created links is usually relatively easy to spot. This is because they typically follow some pattern, either by upcoming publication dates, linked URLs, anchors used, the similarity in the type of text from which the links come, or the types of links that reach us.

Being relatively easy and knowing that Google Penguin already learns without human intervention, it is necessary to link that naturalness or simulate it.

That is why it is essential to develop a link-building strategy looking for a middle ground between quality and quantity.

It is always said that quality is better than amount, but, when it comes to links, several links with low authority but with relevant topics may be better than one high-quality link that isn’t in line with your content.

If you run a website about dog grooming, you would not benefit from a link from a site about jet airplanes, even if the site had a super high DA. 

Best Tools to Detect Toxic Links

Here are some of the best tools; with these tools’ help, you can find bad Backlinks coming into your website and download the list of bad Backlinks to be able to take action.

Let’s look at some of the best tools to detect toxic links quickly.

Google Search Console

With it, we can control several of the links that point to our website and from which domains. The problem with the Search Console is that it does not show you all the information, so we need to resort to other tools that provide us with much more information.


Ahrefs will help us to extract a lot of links that point to our website. We can also easily see, through a timeline, the evolution of the acquisition or loss of links, which can warn us that something is happening.

Another exciting feature is the ability to analyze links by anchor text.


Moz is a fairly simple tool with which you can see some metrics to assess the quality of sites, see links that point to your website, and assess the types of anchor text from which those links are coming.

They have functionality that detects spam’s level on a website, making it attractive in this regard, but it is not one of my favorites.


The Semrush tool has a link analyzer that points to your website to feed with Search Console and other tool listings, uploading them through a CSV file.

To detect links that point to your website is not that it is excessively good, but the functionality of uploading links by file helps you balance that loss.

After analyzing the links, he will explain the reasons why, in his opinion, they are good or bad, and you can disavow them.

To detect toxic links, we can use various tools, but mainly we must pay attention to seeing specific signals that indicate the website’s health.

These points are:

  • Content of the site or page that links us. This is not a determining factor, but it will help to understand the quality of the link. The more thematic it is, the better its quality and its relationship with our site.
  • Free website. Many links from pages created automatically and from subdomains tend to be low-quality links in general (not always). Yes, some blogs maintain quality and a series of publications over time, but it is also true that sites are often created on Blogspot, WordPress, and other similar sites to publish two or three texts and put some links to our site.
  • Hotlinking. They are automatic websites that scrape image content and link to your website. These links can negatively affect your site.
  • Weird domain names and extensions. When we detect links from these types of pages, it is convenient to review the content and metrics to verify the site’s health.
  • Website in other languages. The websites in different languages, for outstanding metrics of DA, PA, DR, etc. They do not have a positive impact on your website in the long run if they are not related to your theme (besides, it is not common in some instances that two pages of different languages ​​are related to each other).
  • Pages or website with too many outgoing links. A website with too many outgoing links can signal that you will get a penalty sooner or later. That is why we must be careful when choosing the site where we get the link.
  • Anchor text abuse. When we have multiple links that abuse the anchor text, it can be a sign of low-quality links and is usually related to automatic links.
  • The sudden increase in links. When we detect a sudden increase in links, it will be necessary to review why this is happening and if it is for some natural reason or not. Sometimes this is due to a content dissemination strategy. You have to be careful with this type of strategy, since there are portals where you pay to spread your news and include it with a link on many websites of inferior quality, and on the portals that you expect the link to appear (good portals ) publish the news but without a link.
  • Many links to a specific page on the website. Having many links to a particular page on the web can be a sign of manipulation. Be careful with link over-optimization.
  • Website with visibility problems. If we detect websites with low visibility or drops in visibility, these signals can help detect sites that negatively affect our website.
  • Website with low metrics. Having low metrics from other tools, or having very high metrics but with visibility or keyword positioning problems, can signify that the site is not of good quality.
  • A website that positions by keywords other than their theme. This is a clear sign that the site is not of quality.
  • The website with many links from low-quality sites. A website with many low-quality website links can be a sign that the website is not good.

All these signals that I describe (and there are others that I’ve not included here) are usually accompanying signs. That is, websites that can negatively affect your site with links generally have multiple signals from the above list; that is why they are relatively easy to detect, although it is necessary to go domain by domain at times.

How to Detect Toxic Links?

Our next target is how to find toxic links on your website. For this, there are two ways we recommend.

Firstly, you have to create a list of your site’s backlinks from the search console and then remove the sites you find spammy or unrelated from your niche. So always try to get quality backlinks from high DA PA websites.

Let’s look at a few ways and tools you can use to find toxic links.

Method: 1 – Find Toxic Links Using Google Search Console

Step 1: First of all, login to Search Console.

Click on the links in the menu. Now click on MORE below here in the box with Top Linking Site.

Step 2: Now, here, you will have a list of the sites from which your site is getting backlinks.

Click on “Download Sign” and download this list.

Now you have to check them manually. If you find any spammy, unrelated, or unnatural link in this list, note it down. We will talk about how to remove it below, but first, let’s look at another method of detecting toxic links.

Method 2: Using Moz Explorer

As you know, MOZ is a huge SEO tool. We will use this tool to find bad backlinks coming in to our site.

With this, you will be able to uncover unnatural and spammy backlinks quickly. Remember that Moz is a paid tool. You use it for free for a limited time.

Step 1: First of all, visit the site of Moz Link Explorer and sign up or sign in.

Add the site’s URL address. Click on this search icon. Now click on Spam Score on the left side.

Step 2: Now, you will start showing the list of spam backlinks at the bottom. You will likely have a few links shown here. To show the rest of the spam link, you have to buy a paid plan. Start by downloading this list and doing what you can with the free version.

Click Export CSV. After that, the whole list of bad backlinks will be downloaded.

Now all the sites you find in this list will be spammy. These links will harm your site’s search ranking. So it is imperative to remove them.

How to Disavow Toxic Backlinks for Your Website?

To make a disavow file, we can create it from some of the tools mentioned above or create the file ourselves and upload it manually.

We need to create a file with the notepad and save it with the extension .txt to upload it.

Let’s learn step by step how to remove toxic backlinks for your website.

Step 1: First of all, go to Google Disavow Tool and log in with your Gmail account.

Select your website here.

Step 2: Now click on the button of Disavow Links here.

Step 3: Now create your .txt file, then upload it here.

Select text file by clicking Choose File. Now you have to click on Submit.

All Done! After 1-2 weeks of uploading the disavow file, your website’s bad backlinks will start getting removed.

Finally and as advice. If you need to do an extensive link cleaning, you can always apply a phased deauthorization strategy.

This strategy consists of dividing the disavow file into several and every 2-3 weeks, uploading the file again with more links.

This may apply if you are unsure how disavow can affect inserting certain domains into the file. It usually takes a little time to see these results (although after 2-3 weeks, they are typically seen).

With this, you will get some clues if you have disavowed a strong domain and with which you have doubts.


The Disavow tool is not the panacea for SEO tools, and it will not return your positions and traffic overnight. However, it is one of the tools that you can and should use to improve the SEO of your website and protect yourself from negative SEO.

The disavow links are not glamorous. It is much more satisfying to see inbound links from content marketing strategies or experience the joy of receiving tons of traffic legitimately rather than from ranking toxic links.

However, you have this resource at your disposal for those times when nothing else can solve that problem with unwanted inbound links.

You have done everything in your power, and, of course, you want to know the effectiveness of all this work. This question does not have an easy answer.

This is not a situation where the answer is yes or no. Your website’s ranking was good with these links before the penguin, and now “you are in the workshop with the damaged car” because of these same links.

Even after Google removes the penalty, even at this point, there is no guarantee that you will get the same ranking as you had before. The improvement of positions in the SERPs depends on finding the benefits of those links from the toxic links now removed.

Now you will have established new traffic standards, and with a clean link profile, you will be able to seek to improve your ranking without fear of unknown “penguin shakes.” What has been your experience with the Disavow tool? Don’t forget to share and comment on the article if you liked it.

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Vishal Meena
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