How to Remove Bad Backlinks: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Are you struggling to increase your website’s search rankings even after creating great content? Maybe your site might have bad backlinks that are preventing your website to get more search traffic.

Bad or toxic backlinks can hurt your website rankings.

If you’re looking to find how to remove bad backlinks from your site, this beginner’s guide is exclusively for you.

Maintaining a good backlink profile can really:

  • improve your site’s overall traffic
  • grow your website’s search rankings
  • boost your site’s organic visibility and so on

So let’s get into the details of how to get rid of bad backlinks from your site.

Quick note: Semrush is the MOST useful to finding and removing toxic links from your website. Use the following link to try it for free.

Try Semrush 14 Days Free Trial

How to Remove Bad Backlinks: The Beginner’s Guide for 2024

remove bad backlinks

What Are Bad Backlinks?

Bad backlinks are links from spammy or low-quality websites.

These toxic links can do more harm than good. Why?

Because they can signal to search engines like Google that your website is also spammy or low quality. That’s how Google punishes websites that contain a ton of toxic links.

You can consider a backlink as a bad or toxic link when it is coming from any of the following sources;

  • Sites that are penalized by Google
  • Adult content sites
  • Illegal content sites
  • High spam blog directories
  • Automatic link generate sites

Bad or toxic backlinks are the links that come from “unnatural” and “irrelevant” sources which add no real value to your website. In fact, toxic backlinks can hurt your website search rankings.

To put it simply, good backlinks can increase your website’s DA (domain authority) while bad backlinks can reduce your site’s authority. It’s as simple as that.

Here are a few reasons to remove bad links:

  • Bad links pointing to your site can really hurt your website’s organic rankings
  • Bad links can get your site penalized by Google
  • Bad links give you a high spam score for your site
  • They can literally affect your rankings, traffic, sales, and so on

So how do you find toxic links on your website? Let’s talk about some of the best bad backlink checker tools now.

How to Find & Remove Toxic Backlinks

There are a ton of backlink checker tools that you can use to find bad or toxic backlinks on your website.

If you’re looking for a powerful SEO tool, we recommend Semrush. We’ve been using the same tool since 2016 to clean up bad links from our site’s backlink profile.

In case you’re wondering, Semrush is the #1 SEO toolkit used by over 10 million people around the world.

It also offers a free trial for 14 days which can be helpful for you to easily clean toxic links from your site.

Activate Semrush Pro 14-Day Free Trial (worth $129.95)

Here’s how you can use Semrush to get rid of bad backlinks.

Log in to the Semrush dashboard. Go to Backlink Audit feature which you can see under the “Link Building” section. Once you’re in it, click the “Create project” button which looks like this;

Backlink Audit via Semrush

Now, it will ask you to set up a backlink audit of your website. Here’s what it looks like;

create project

Once you set up a backlink audit of your site, Semrush will show you a whole overview of your backlink profile.

Have a look;

Backlinks Audit

See that? It also shows you all the toxic domains that are pointing to your site.

Here are some of the newly discovered toxic domains on our site.

Toxic backlinks

As you can see above, you’ll notice the target toxic link’s source URL along with the Toxic Score (TS).

That’s how you can easily find a list of all the bad backlinks on your website.

The best part about using the Semrush Backlink Audit tool is that you can directly connect your Semrush account with Google Search Console and update your disavow file with just one click.

Here’s how you can disavow links using Semrush.

disavow with Semrush

As you can see above, for every link, you’ll have an “Actions” button which you can use to easily move bad backlinks to Disavow section.

Here’s what it looks like (once you move toxic links to the Disavow section on Semrush);

disavow section Semrush

As you can see above the status of Disavowed links. You can also improve Disavow links by integrating your domain with Google Search Console.

Make sure to move all the bad links you want to remove in your Disavow list. Then, you can see use the “Export to TXT” button to export your Disavow links. When you click on the export button, Semrush will convert your Disavow list into a properly formatted .txt file.

Here’s what it looks like;

disavow export

In case you’re curious, how the whole process works in a nutshell;

  • You’ll first add toxic backlinks to the Disavow tab on Semrush. Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool lets you easily find all the toxic backlinks and export them to the disavow list.
  • Then you can choose whether to blacklist the specific URLs or the entire domain before exporting it to a .txt file
  • The final step is to upload your file to Google’s disavow tool to remove them. It will show now as “Disavowed” once they’re removed successfully!

How to Use Google Disavow Links Tool to Remove Bad Links?

Once you have your .txt file ready, go to the Google Disavow Tool and choose the property that you want to disavow links from.

Here’s what it looks like;

disavow google

Use the “Upload disavow list” button to import the .TXT file you downloaded from Semrush Backlink Audit (that contains all your site’s toxic links).

That’s it, you’re done!

After uploading your website’s disavow file, you’ll have to wait up to 4 to 6 weeks before Google takes your file into account.

IMPORTANT: Here’s what Google has to say about using the Google Disavow tool. It is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution.

If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results.

We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site.

What should be considered while using Google Disavow link tool?

It is because your competitors may link to your site with bad neighbor links i.e spam links to badly hurt your SERPs or search results in Google. Bing had introduced this disavow link tool sometime back, and many bing users claimed to remove those spammy links from their sites.

What can Google Disavow Links tool do?

It is Google’s best spam reporting tool where you can suggest Google not to consider a few external links pointing to your sites.

That means if you think your site has a few spammy external links, then you can use the Google Disavow link tool to remove them by Google bots.

This way you have total control over your overall links that are pointing to your sites.

By using this Google disavow link tool, you’re helping Google to remove all the bad links to your site and also you’ll be controlling that Google punishing your site in the search engines in the future (for still containing bad links to your site!).

Caution: Google’s official blog itself says that, vast majority of sites do not need to use this tool in any way. If you’re not sure what the tool does or whether you need to use it, you probably shouldn’t use it.

Why? Few bloggers may download all their links to the sites in a .CSV or .DOC format from their webmaster tools. And they may use Google disavow tool to deny, this will result in Google denying ALL of your incoming links to your sites on their search results. How bad if this really happens?

So make sure to use Google disavow link tool ONLY if you strongly believe that your site is strongly affected by bad links pointing to your sites. And be aware of which links you’re disavowing from your site, better use a separate file like notepad to upload those links.

But what if you find a few unknown links pointing to your sites?

The simple answer is.. ignore them.

Use Google disavow link tool only if you’ve done black hat SEO tactics or any other Google unnatural link schemes. Or use the tool if you still think there are many bad sites linking to your sites even if you’ve done everything right according to Google quality guidelines.

If you use Google disavow links tool, how soon the bad links will be removed?

All of us know that… Google uses bots to crawl the pages on every site. So it takes a few days to re-crawl all the pages on your blog and if you’ve used Google disavow links tool to deny the bad links, it may take a few days to weeks to remove all the links which you were uploaded to this tool.

Usually it takes up to 6 months.

Quick note: The best part about removing spammy links from your site is that it helps you fight against Penguin updates. Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, especially those who’re doing so by buying links or using spammy link networks.

Browse More:

What’s the BEST way to deal with bad backlinks?

Here’s a quick tutorial to get rid of toxic links.

Step 1: Find all your website’s toxic backlink sources

The first step is to carefully find a list of all the backlinks to your website. As mentioned above, you can use tools like Semrush Backlink Audit to easily find all the bad links that are pointing to your site.

Step 2: Get in touch with the blog owners

Before using any advanced link removal techniques like the Google Disavow tool, it’s always a better idea to send an email to the appropriate website owners to remove your links.

Here’s what an email pitch looks like (when you’re connecting with website owners to remove your link from their sites).

email pitch links

Here’s another link removal template you can use;

Hi [NAME],

My name is [YOUR_NAME] and I’m running the website called [YOUR_WEBSITE]. I wanted to thank you for linking to our website from [URL_OF_THE_PAGE_LINKING_TO_YOU].

Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that it’s best to remove this backlink. Therefore, I will have to ask you kindly to remove this backlink from your site.

The link is located here: [URL_OF_THE_PAGE_LINKING_TO_YOU]

It links to [URL_OF_YOUR_SITE]

And it’s using the anchor text [ANCHOR_TEXT_USED_FOR_YOUR_LINK].

Thank you for your time.

Awaiting your positive reply.



Now the most important question. How can you even find blog owners’ information so you can ask for a backlink removal of your site?

Here are a few quick ways to get in touch with the bloggers.

  • Reaching out on social media (you can look for their full name)
  • Commenting on a blog post (most websites have blogs and allow comments)
  • Searching the site owner’s name on Google

Now, you can send an email to the blogger and make the location of the link you want to remove. Try to make sure the blogger can find and remove your link in less than one minute. If you are not getting a reply in 5-10 days, send a follow-up email.

Step 3: Disavow everything else that you can’t remove

If you want to skip step 2, simply use the Google Disavow links tool to remove toxic links from your website which you’re going to discover below.

FAQs on how to get rid of bad backlinks

Here are a few important questions you might want to know about removing spammy links from your site in 2024.

How can I remove bad backlinks from a website?

You need a tool like Semrush Backlink Audit to find bad links on your site. Then, you can either use the Google Disavow tool or send an email pitch to the blog owners to remove links.

Are toxic backlinks harmful to your site’s SEO?

Yes, bad or toxic backlinks are really harmful to your website. You need to get rid of them as soon as you notice bad links pointing to your site as they can really affect your site’s overall search rankings.

What are the best tools to remove bad links?

There are a ton of SEO tools that you can use to remove bad backlinks. But we highly recommend you to go with tools like Semrush or Ahrefs. You can also consider MonitorBacklinks to easily find and remove toxic and spammy links from your site.

How do I disavow a link in Google?

Firstly, you need to use Google’s Disavow Links Tool to be able to disavow backlinks from your site. Here are a few simple steps to disavow links from your site.

Once you’re on Disavow links tool, go to “Configure my site” and then select “Disavow Links.” Within the Disavow Links tool, use the dropdown menu to indicate that you are disavowing a page, directory, or domain URL. Enter the URL you want to disavow and click “Disavow.” That’s it!

How long does it take Google to disavow links?

First things first: there’s no specific answer to how long it takes Google to disavow bad and spammy links from your site. Usually, it takes about 48 hours for all the Google bots to take notice that there is a new Disavow file for your domain.

That being said, Google bots might still take 4 to 6 months until Google crawls your disavowed links again and remove all the toxic links pointing to your site.

Link Building Resources for 2024:

Final Thoughts on Removing Bad Backlinks

No matter what niche you’re in, backlinks are an important part of SEO.

Finding and removing bad links is always a good thing for your site. If you suspect that a backlink is bad, you can use Google’s Search Console to disavow it.

That being said, Google disavows links tool is not a RESET button to remove all the bad links and to include only the best links on your site, but it’s a tool that can be helpful if you’ve done link building the bad way or if your competitors hurt you with too many bad links.

Hopefully, this detailed post helped you with how to remove bad backlinks from Google. Let us know if you still have any questions in the comments below.

About Author
Anil Agarwal is the Founder of Bloggerspassion. He is a full-time blogger and SEO expert who has been helping people build profitable blogs for over a decade Now. He has been featured in Over 100 Publications including Forbes, The HuffPost, HubSpot, Shopify, Semrush, Kinsta, Bluehost, Hostinger and etc. Know more about Anil Agarwal from here.

Reader Comments (15)

  1. Hi, Thanks for sharing such a complete guide about bad links. I have submitted a file on Google Disavow 3 months ago but still my site’s spam socre same. Kindly suggest me an idea to reduce spam score of my site.

  2. Good read! I often use SEMrush to reasearch keywords. I didn’t notice that it can help with checking bad backlinks. Your guide toremove the bad backlinks is really clear too.

  3. Hi Deny

    Nice to have you on Anil’s blog.

    I think many bloggers are like me in not wanting to get involved in the process of removing (or even identifying) bad links.

    That’s why the tools you’ve recommended here are a relief.

    Thanks for opening our eyes to this.


  4. Disavow links tool too good start by Google webmaster, now website owner must have control on their website backlinks and after Google Panda update quality links is must as we know. Deny Saputra thanks for sharing this with all publishers.

  5. What really annoys me about this link removal thing is that the companies approach me like it is MY fault that their links are on my blog. The links are there because the companies have paid someone to include them in blog comments, guest posts, or they have used sponsored post networks.

    I have even had TWO companies threaten me with legal action if I did not remove their links immediately.

    • It sounds painful, there’s no more I can say except my own thought is of course it’s not your fault at all as the blog owner.

  6. Hi,

    Well in recent google penguin update it is observed that most of the blogs are affected with low quality backlinks or bad backlinks. So its an important measure to remove all the bad backlinks..

    Thanks for sharing the awesome post.

  7. So what you are saying is that you are in favour of this new tool from Google? Not yet used it as we are relatively a new blog so I am assuming we should have very little bad backlinks. Not sure if that is a good or arrogant way of looking at things.


    • Hey ya!
      Thanks for reading! What I’m saying is favour of this new tool from Google for site or blogs that their rankings got hurts caused by spam links.
      “The vast, vast majority of sites do not need to use this tool in any way. If you’re not sure what the tool does or whether you need to use it, you probably shouldn’t use it.”

  8. Yes Google is too hard in term of search engine ranking. Getting quality links is not soo easy these days. This is a nice step by Google, because spammers don’t have time for articles. I am happy Google is going too good these days.

  9. Hi Deny,
    The Disavow Links tool by Google has certainly been a helpful tool for removing those unwanted links. In fact, when I used the tool, I didn’t even know I had that many backlinks, and from sites I don’t even know or did not place backlinks to. Thanks to the disavow tool, websites who gets plagued with linkfarm backlinks without their consent can easily be denied.


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