What are toxic backlinks and how to remove them?

Not all backlinks are good. While most backlinks could improve your search engine position, toxic backlinks have the opposite effect. Ever since the Google Penguin update, sites with a bad backlinks profile have been demoted down the search engine rankings.

Because of this, it is important that not only do you know how to identify backlinks, but you also learn how to get them removed.

What Are Toxic Backlinks?

You can think of toxic backlinks as spammy links. They hold absolutely no value. They are the sort of links that scream, “I paid for my backlinks”. Remember, Google wants to rank sites based on how useful they are. If they see a site has a ton of toxic links, then it would indicate that the site isn’t as great as the extensive backlink profile would indicate.

Toxic backlinks can include:

  • Links from spam link directories
  • Links from sites that have clearly been designed for link building
  • Links on sites that Google is not indexing for whatever reason.
  • Links on sites that include malware, viruses, etc.

How Do You Know If You Have Toxic Backlinks?

Most of the time, Google is going to explicitly tell you that you have toxic backlinks. You will need to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools for this. They will drop you a message if any toxic backlinks have appeared.

If you see a massive decrease in site traffic, then there is a good chance that you have toxic backlinks too. This is because toxic backlinks almost always result in a drastic decrease in search engine position.

If you are signed up for Google Webmaster Tools, you can also see your toxic backlinks and any other notifications.

How Do You Get Toxic Backlinks?

Most people get toxic backlinks by working with blackhat SEO companies. These tend to be the cheaper companies. They often have a network of sites that allow incredibly quick link building. This means that pretty quickly, a site will climb up the searches. However, it isn’t long before Google works out that all of these links are toxic and give any linked site a penalty.

In some cases, you may even have created toxic backlinks yourself, albeit without intending to. This means that you have submitted your site to various link directories, posted on certain social media sites, or even dropped your link as a comment on a blog or forum.

How Are Toxic Backlinks Removed?

If you do have toxic backlinks, then it is important that you remove them as quickly as possible. If you fail to do so, you will continue to receive a ranking penalty in Google. If those toxic backlinks remain, then you may even struggle to get back up there in the searches. Thankfully, getting toxic backlinks removed isn’t too tricky.

Contact The Site Owners

This may not be possible with all toxic backlinks. Still, if you can, get in touch with the site’s owner. They may be able to remove the links for you. Although, do bear in mind that because toxic backlinks are spammy in nature, there is a good chance that nobody will answer your email. Still, it is worth trying to get as many backlinks as possible removed like this. Google loves it.

Disavow Tool

If you have many toxic backlinks and seem to be getting no response from the site owners, you can use Google’s disavow tool. The disavow tool allows you to tell Google to ignore certain links when ranking your site. However, do bear in mind that it is not as effective as having the links removed manually. These links still exist, and it may take a while to recover from the Google penalty. You must manually disavow every single link. Once you have disavowed, we suggest that you still work on getting in touch with the sites that host the links.


Toxic backlinks could undo all of your hard work when it comes to SEO. Because of this, it is vital that you work with a company that creates quality backlinks.


What are toxic backlinks and how to remove them?
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