What are Toxic Backlinks? How to Find and Remove Them

Mon Sep 19 2022

What are Toxic Backlinks? How to Find and Remove Them

If you run a website or have a new webpage, you might have heard of the importance of link building and link building services. However, although you might be eager to buy backlinks or reach out to websites for link prospecting and opportunities, not all websites are created equal. Where your backlinks are from matter, so it's important to avoid toxic backlinks. These are links that can hurt your web page rankings instead of helping. They can even lead to penalties.

Below are some of the basics of toxic backlinks, how to find them, and how to remove them.

What are Toxic Backlinks? How to Check for Toxic Backlinks?

To understand what toxic backlinks are, you should understand the importance of link building, good links, and toxic backlinks.

When a page wants to be seen as authoritative, one of the best things to do is to make sure other webpages link to your site. The more webpages link to your site, the more Google views your site as authoritative. This means you're reliable and won't spam people searching for products, information, or services on the internet.

While link prospecting is an important part of building up your search engine results, not all webpages are the same. Toxic backlinks are those that links to websites that:

  • Are spammy, meaning they are full of backlinks and products or service meant to spam customers.
  • Are considered backlinks mills. These websites are created with the sole purpose of embedding backlinks that are purchased from other creators. For instance, if you wanted your site to rank, you can reach out to one of these companies, offer them a sum of money, and have them post your link on their site. This is an incredibly unethical practice, which is why Google is constantly looking for these toxic backlinks.
  • Post a nofollow link. Most hyperlinks you see online are dofollow links. This means that when you click on them, they redirect you to a webpage or another domain. However, nofollow links are those that don't lead to your webpage, making it difficult to score high on search result rankings. These won't necessarily hurt your rankings, but they won't help either.
  • Are irrelevant. Google's algorithm is trained in providing relevant information for people's search topics. It is also trained in recognizing when backlinks are irrelevant. For instance, if you wrote a blog post about cats, and it appears on the page of an auto mechanic shop, then Google will understand this isn't relevant and will deem it as a toxic backlink.
  • Hidden links. If a page uses your link embedded into their page, but disguises it using text or other types of tactics, this is also a toxic backlink deemed untrustworthy if it is found by Google.

How to Find Toxic Backlinks

It's important to find toxic backlinks before Google penalizes you. For instance, if your backlinks are found on an untrustworthy spam site, or if your link appears in a link mill, Google will send you a notification stating that your backlinks have been flagged. This is tremendously dangerous to your webpage itself and to your post.

To find toxic backlinks, it's best to use a toxic backlinks tool. These tools have a variety of options, including:

  • Being able to identify which sites are using your backlink. You will see a domain log with a listing of the names of websites that use your backlink.
  • Giving you scores for sites that use your page. For instance, a spam score of 17/17 is considered high, so a toxic backlink tool will inform you of this score so you can them remove it from the site.
  • Alert you to sites that use your backlinks and give real-time updates if your backlinks appear on a new site.

How to Remove Toxic Backlinks

After you identify these toxic backlinks using a tool, you can them remove them by also using these backlinks tools. The process of removing toxic backlinks is known as "disavowing." Instead of reaching out to the website themselves and asking them to remove your backlinks, you'll need to use a tool in the most efficient way possible.

Do I Have to Disavow Toxic Backlinks?

You need to disavow toxic backlinks to avoid getting a penalty from Google. In addition, you should never reach out to paid link mills or paid advertisements to link to your webpage. These toxic backlinks can hurt your web results, and make it difficult for you to appear on search results. Not only is this frustrating, but if you've spent money creating high quality content using research and high-quality writers, it can also be costly.

Fortunately, toxic backlinks tools are available to help you increase your search result rankings, while also protecting customers such as yourself from being directed to spam pages.

Written by Casey Bjorkdahl

Casey Bjorkdahl is one of the pioneering thought leaders in the SEO community. In 2010, Casey co-founded Vazoola after working for a Digital Marketing Agency for five years in New York City. Vazoola is now one of the fastest growing and most widely recognized SEO marketing firms in the country.

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