How to find and remove spammy backlinks

Sometimes backlinks or the websites that link to your website are untrustworthy, lewd or inappropriate.

This can happen from time to time, if it is only a few links then it is not a problem for alarm because generally Google can tell which links are trustworthy or not.

But if it is happening on a large scale than you may be a victim of the Black hat SEO tactic: Link farming.

Why remove backlinks

The reason you want to remove these sites may be for obvious reasons such as:

You want to protect your brand image from being associated with these undesirable material, or you do not want to get penalized by search engines by being linked to too many low quality websites.

Another reason why you might want to do this is you fear that you may have a manual action coming from Google.

I would never recommend buying links, especially in large quantities and in poor taste but I know there are SEOs out there that do.

So if you unfortunately did this, and want to protect your website, this post can help you too.

So here’s how to find and remove these links with screenshots.

1. Check to see what domains are linking to your website

You can do this multiple ways, but in my opinion Search Console is the easiest, plus it’s free.

With GSC, Login into your account, and navigate to your website.

If you need to verify your website refer to my install guide directions, but if you are good to go then go to your dashboard and scroll down to “Links”.

screenshot of "Links" button on Google search console

Next click “Top linking sites”.

Screenshot of "Top linking sites"

Then click through to see what websites are linking to you.

screenshot to see top linking sites

If you find something that is  inappropriate like this:

Screenshot of URLs to disavow

I would probably remove it, but like I said Search engines can generally tell that this link is not intentional.

But if you find a significant number of these or you bought links, then like I said I would get rid of it.

So to do that, you can reach out to the owner of these websites and see if they will remove the link.

But if it is a large amount than it may be a bit tedious so you can instead use Google’s Disavow tool.

2. Create a list of links you want to remove

So next open a text file, then on the file add the URLs that you want to disavow like this:

Screenshot of disavow txt file example

It may be helpful to add a comment so you know how many URLs you are removing.

Make sure to save your file with a “.txt” extension, I would also refer to Googles’s documentation for character and file size limits, but generally if you only have a few or even 100 or URLs less you will be fine.

3. Upload your list of URLs to Google’s Disavow tool

Okay lastly, navigate to the disavow tool, when you get to the page you will notice that Google warns you that this an “advanced feature” and that you should remove spammy links if there’s a large amount and you believe it may be harming your website.

Screenshot of Google warning you about their disavow tool

Fear not, proceed especially if you fear that a manual action may happen.

Next select your “property” and then press “upload disavow link”.

Screenshot of Google's disavow button

When Google sends you a success message then you’re done.

How to avoid getting toxic links in the first place

Like I said earlier this can happen from time to time because unfortunately individuals may use your website as a part of their link building scheme without regard for your website.

This sucks, but it’s a fact of using the internet. But again this is rare and the amount is usually very low.

But if you are buying links then the simple way to avoid this is to not buy links.

Better to pay for an opportunity to write an article for a website that you want a backlink from, and in your article include your website link.

Then to try and speed up the process by buying a backlink package from Fiverr.

Just my two cents.



Roggie (Raj) Clark is a Senior SEO Manager, specialist & career mentor with 9 years of experience. He has worked with a wide range of clients in many industries including B2B, SaaS, Fintech, home improvement, tech-startups, dentistry, and eye care. He started the blog; Bounce Rank, as a way to help business owners grow their website traffic and to help people who want to get a job in SEO.

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