Semalt Advice On How To Deal With Toxic Links

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction 
  2. Toxic Links: What Are They?
  3. How Do They Come To Be?
  4. Why You Need To Get Rid Of Them
  5. How To Deal With Them
  6. How To Avoid Toxic Links In The Future
  7. Conclusion 


Toxic links are given birth to during link building - the process of getting more backlinks to your website. Most times, they occur out of innocence, and other times, as a result of trying to take shortcuts. But one thing remains paramount - toxic links are so bad that they can reduce your rankings. Even worse, you could be penalized for having too many toxic links if they get out of hand. 

Note that link building is very essential and cannot be evaded in the quest to eradicate toxic links. Without backlinks, you would likely drag your way to the top - which can take months or even years. So what should you do? The way out is to identify what toxic links are, how they come in, how to stop them, and what to do to prevent them in the future.

Lucky for you, those are precisely what will be discussed in this guide today. So buckle up your seat belts and get ready to expose and eliminate toxic links for good. 

Toxic Links: What Are They?

Toxic links are exactly what they are - toxic. They are links that don't do you any good but instead bring you down (just think about a toxic relationship). But how can you identify a toxic link? The following are examples of backlink sources that can turn out to be toxic links:
  1. Sites that were created only to link out to other sites. They usually have poor content, no SEO structure, and a lot of poorly constructed links and anchor texts.
  2. Sites that have no relevance to the linked website. For instance, Google will sense spam when a child-care website links repeatedly to a website that talks only about car engine oil and maintenance.
  3. Sites that are not indexed. If a website cannot be crawled by search engine bots, then any incoming link from such a website is tagged as a toxic link. 
  4. Aggressive linking when it doesn't even seem natural.
  5. Link spamming. You will be penalized when your link appears too many times on a single website. 

How Do They Come To Be?

Toxic links happen when the number of 'bad sites' that link to you overshadows quality ones. Take a step back and look at the full picture - backlinks.

Backlinks occur when another website links to your website. Sort of like a 'vote of confidence' or reference to a valuable part of your website. The more the backlinks, the more your votes of confidence right? Wrong! The only way the 'vote of confidence' works in your favor is if the site that is linking to yours is a quality one. Look at it this way.

Backlinks are only counted in your best interest if quality sites link to you. Inversely, if poor or scam sites link to your web pages, you will be seen also as a scam website. Can you see the 'toxic relationship' now? So toxic links exist as a result of bad backlinks.

Why You Need To Get Rid Of Them

Generally, toxic links don't do good for your website. They make your site look bad, reduce your rankings, and worse, you can get penalized by search engines. Below are a few of the things toxic links will do to you if you don't get rid of them fast. 

1. Search engines will penalize you: 

Besides your page not doing well in terms of ranking and position, Google will also penalize your site. This can be done automatically and manually. If it is an automatic process then it will be performed through a programmed algorithm filter. As for how it works; Google's webmaster guidelines would have been programmed onto the filter. Then, when the system runs through your site, it will look for things that comply and don't satisfy the guidelines programmed onto the filter. 

If the bad eggs supersede the quality links, your site will be automatically penalized. To do this manually, a staff (working with the spam team) can review your website and penalize you if there are too many toxic links leading to your site. 

2. Susceptibility to spam reports 

Not only can search engines take action against you, but your competitors can eliminate you from the game by filing a spam report against you. 

3. Your web traffic will drop drastically, almost hitting zero. 

4. Reduced visibility or complete removal from SERPs.

5. All further efforts you make towards improving the position and link structure of your site will be ignored and disregarded.

For these reasons, it can be concluded that toxic links need to go and fast. 

How To Deal With Them

There are three ways to deal with toxic links - remove them, disavow them, and make sure they don't come back. Where the first two will be carefully explained in this section, the last one will be taken care of in the next segment. 

  • Remove Toxic Links

This is only possible if the carrier domain sent you an email after the backlink. What you would need to do is to compile a list of all toxic links that are connected to your website. You can create this list via your audit tool or simply outsource this process to get your website audited for toxic links. When you have created the list, connect your email address with your audit tool, and send a bulk mail to the admin of those sites through their email addresses. 

The primary message of your mail should be to request that the toxic links be removed from their site and changed to a 'no follow' link. To ensure that this process is complied with, follow the progress from start to finish by monitoring the status of your requests. Nonetheless, if there is no email address in view, you can use the second option - which is to disavow.

  • Disavow Toxic Links

This is and should be a second option with the hope that your website's ranking can be repaired. When you disavow, your request will be directed towards Google and not the admin of the carrier domain. Requests can only be sent through the Google Disavow Tool and it would be to request that the toxic links be ignored (not taken down). The aim of disavowing is so that the toxic links won't affect your overall website performance, reputation, and position during your webpage's indexing. 

To send a request to Google using the recommended tool, you'll need to first upload a disavow file that will contain all the toxic links you have compiled. After sending your request, you will then wait for a response. Only that this can take anywhere from 5 to 6 weeks. 

How To Avoid Toxic Links In The Future.

Below are the ways you can keep toxic links far away from you and your website.

  • Don't buy backlinks

Despite the tons of advice online about staying away from paid links, many website owners still do this. Truly, paying for links will get you quick results, rankings boost, and a  rapid increase in your website's visibility. But the long-run effect won't look good. Most of the services that offer to give you 50, hundreds, or thousands of backlinks would usually hook you with spam sites and rip you off your money. So instead of stabbing yourself in the foot by hurting your SEO, take your time to grow your backlinks the right way. 

Some of the things you can do to build your backlinks naturally are:
  1. Take your time to create valuable and link-worthy content.
  2. Collaborate with the top dogs in your niche.
  3. Create 'how-to' posts and other relatable. content types that are easily shareable.
  4. Optimize your content across multiple channels.
  5. Tell your friends and colleagues to share and publicize your content.

  • Don't use the 'comment' trick

This smart technique isn't so smart any longer. If you don't know what the comment trick is, it is when you go on other people's blogs, comment under their posts, and include your links as a form of backlinking - sort of. Search engines are much smarter now and can sense that this is a subtle way of doing it the easy way. So refrain from adding your URLs to other people's comment boxes. Create great content and optimize your site nicely so that it gets enough visibility to be shared and referenced.

Finally, to keep toxic links at bay, you need to do a regular audit so that you can immediately spot a toxic link before it begins to affect your SEO. The consistency of this audit, however, depends on you. You can decide to do it weekly or monthly. But if you want to get the best results, audit your site twice monthly.


No doubt, toxic links are not in any way good for your website's SEO. They should be avoided at all costs and dealt with - with immediate effect. If not, your website could be permanently removed from SERPs (which means zero visibility, clicks, and traffic). But at the same time, managing a website can be a lot of work. With the constant need to check for keywords, audit the site, update content, and so on, natural link building can be a handful. To take off the burden while ensuring a professional result, hire an SEO expert to help build your backlinks naturally and avoid toxic links.

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