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How To Identify And Remove Spam Backlinks: A Guide For Marketers

How To Identify And Remove Spam Backlinks A Guide For Marketers

Spam backlinks can be a huge problem for website owners. They can mess up your backlink profile and SEO and hurt your site’s credibility. But don’t stress; we’re here to help you handle this issue with ease.

Whether you are a website owner and handle your SEO in-house. Or you work on your client’s website. Keeping the backlink profile clean is crucial.

At Outreach Monks, with years of working with various clients. We’ve seen how spam backlinks can damage a website’s performance. 

In this article, we will learn how to identify and handle spam and backlinks.

Ready to take control of your backlink profile? Let’s get started!

What Are Spam Backlinks?

Spammy backlinks, also called toxic backlinks, are links from other websites that can harm your SEO.

These links usually come from low-quality or unrelated sites. They aren’t there to help users but to manipulate search rankings. They break Google’s rules and can hurt your website’s visibility in search results.

Google looks at your backlinks to see how important and trustworthy your site is. Good backlinks can improve your SEO, but spammy ones can do the opposite. Google has rules to stop these bad practices. Some toxic links are ignored, but many can lead to penalties, pushing your site down or even out of search results.

Examples of Spam Backlinks:

  • Random Blog Comments: Links in comments that don’t relate to the blog post.
  • Link Farms: Groups of websites made just to link to each other.
  • Unrelated Websites: Links from sites that aren’t relevant to your industry.

Brief Contextual Background

Spam backlinks have been a problem since SEO began. Google’s Penguin update targeted these bad practices. It penalized sites with unnatural link profiles. Over time, Google’s algorithms have become better at spotting these spammy links.

Why Should Marketers And Business Owners Care About Spam Backlinks?

Spam backlinks can cause big problems for your website and business. Here’s why they matter:

1. Hurt SEO Rankings

Spam backlinks harm your SEO. Google and other search engines aim to provide the best content. Links from bad or unrelated sites make it seem like you’re cheating. This can lower your search rankings or even remove your site from results.

2. Risk of Penalties

Google can issue penalties for bad links. If Google finds your links break their rules, your site can drop in rankings or disappear from search results. Manual penalties are rare but very serious.

3. Algorithmic Penalties

Even without a direct penalty, Google’s algorithms can spot patterns of bad links and lower your site’s ranking. A lot of low-quality links can significantly drop your site in search results.

4. Damage Credibility

Spam links can make your site look untrustworthy. If users see links from shady sites, they may question your credibility. This can hurt your brand and drive away potential customers.

5. Poor User Experience

Bad backlink profiles can lead to a bad user experience. Users may find unrelated or low-quality content, causing them to leave quickly. This increases bounce rates and lowers engagement, hurting your metrics and revenue.

Identifying Spam Backlinks

Finding spam backlinks is crucial to keeping your website healthy. Let’s talk about how to spot these harmful links using some great tools. Understanding spammy anchor texts, and recognizing low-quality websites.

Tools for Detection

Using the right tools makes detecting spam backlinks much easier. Here are some updated recommendations:

  • SEMrush: SEMrush’s Backlink Audit tool helps you find and remove toxic backlinks. It highlights links that might harm your SEO. SEMrush assigns a “toxicity score” to each backlink, making it easier to identify harmful links and take action against them​​.

backlink audit semrush

  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs provides a comprehensive Site Explorer to analyze your backlink profile. It helps you identify spammy links and see their impact on your SEO. It includes features like filtering backlinks by dofollow/nofollow status, checking anchor text distribution, and assessing the spam score of linking domains​​​​.

Check backlinks using ahref

  • Google Search Console: Google Search Console is a free tool that gives insights into your site’s backlinks. It allows you to monitor and manage your backlink profile effectively. It’s like a health checkup for your website. You can use the “Links Report” to identify and review your top linking sites for any suspicious activity​​.

Here you can check your link profile on GSC:

How to track links using search console1

This shows the list of all linking domains to your website:

How to track links using search console2

  • Linkody: Linkody is another useful tool that offers real-time email alerts for new backlinks, checks anchor text, and evaluates the spam score of linking domains. It also provides white-label reports, which are great for agencies​​.

linkody-backlink report for OM

Identifying Spammy Anchor Texts

Spammy anchor texts are a clear sign of bad backlinks. Here are the main types you should watch out for:

  • Money Anchor Text: These are exact match keywords used for ranking purposes. For example, “buy cheap shoes online.” If you see a lot of these, it’s a red flag.

money anchor- semrush backlink audit

  • Compound Anchor Text: These are partial match keywords combined with other words. For example, “best place to buy cheap shoes.” They mix your keyword with some extra words.
  • Irrelevant Anchor Text: These are links with anchor texts that have nothing to do with your content. For example, a link with the anchor text “click here” from a fashion site linking to a tech blog. This is suspicious and irrelevant​​.

Detecting Low-Quality Websites

Low-quality websites often host spam backlinks. Here are some key indicators:

  • Poor Content Quality:
    • Thin Content: Pages with very little useful information.
    • Low-Quality Main Content: Poorly written or generic content.
    • Grammar and Spelling Errors: Frequent mistakes in the content.
    • Copied Content: Plagiarized or duplicate content.
  • Misleading or Irrelevant Content:
    • Misleading Page Titles: Titles that don’t match the content.
    • Irrelevant Topics: Content that has nothing to do with the website’s theme.
  • Lack of Trustworthiness:
    • Inadequate E-E-A-T: Lack of Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
    • Missing Information: No details about the content creators or website.
    • Negative Reputation: Bad reviews or negative information on credible sites like Wikipedia or news outlets.
  • User Experience Issues:
    • Distracting Ads: Ads that interrupt the user experience.
    • Disruptive Pop-Ups: Pop-ups that cover the main content.
    • Aggressive Advertising: Ads that push down the main content, making it hard to find.
  • Technical and Security Problems:
    • Malicious Pages: Sites with malware or phishing attempts.
    • Error Pages: Pages that show errors or insufficient information.
    • Abandoned or Hacked Sites: Neglected or compromised sites.
  • Manipulative SEO Practices:
    • Keyword Stuffing: Overuse of keywords in an unnatural way.
    • Deceptive Design: Layouts that trick users into clicking ads or links​​.

Here is an example of a bad website: Arngren

bad website example- arngren.net

By using these indicators, you can spot and avoid low-quality websites that may link to you. Keeping your backlink profile clean is essential for maintaining a healthy website and strong SEO.

How To Remove Spam Backlinks

Removing spam backlinks is essential for maintaining a healthy website. Here’s a guide to help you remove these harmful links using a clear, simple process.

Request Link Removals

You can contact the website owners and ask them to remove the backlinks:

Step 1: Find Contact Information

  1. Check the Website: Look for a contact page, email address, or social media links.
  2. WHOIS Lookup: Use a WHOIS lookup service to find the website owner’s contact details.
  3. Contact Forms: Use any available contact forms on the website.

Step 2: Send a Removal Request Email 

Use a simple and polite email to request link removal.

Template: Initial Request

Example Email Template

Subject: Request for Link Removal

Dear [Website Owner/Editor],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Name], and I am the [Your Position] at [Your Company]. We have noticed that your website is linking to our site [Your Website] on the following page(s):

[URL of the page with the backlink]

While we appreciate the link, we believe it is not relevant to our content and could harm our site’s SEO. We kindly request that you remove the link(s) mentioned above.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Best regards,

[Your Name] [Your Contact Information] 

Follow-Up Request: If there’s no response, send a follow-up email using a similar format.

Using Google’s Disavow Tool

If link removal requests don’t work, use Google’s Disavow Tool.

Step 1: Understand When to Use the Disavow Tool 

Google advises against disavowing links unless:

  • You have a manual action for unnatural backlinks.
  • You bought links in the past and cannot remove them.

“Essentially, if you weren’t buying links, don’t disavow.”

– John Mueller (@JohnMu), June 22, 2023

“Disavow files often hurt more than they help unless there’s a manual action. Negative SEO is rarely the cause of traffic drops; algorithm updates or site issues are more likely. Only disavow if penalized, and link removal isn’t possible.”

– Gary Illyes, Google

Source: https://www.seroundtable.com/google-buying-links-disavow-35601.html 

Step 2: Prepare Your Disavow File

  1. Compile Your List: Gather all spammy backlinks. Use tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush to identify these links.

Create a .txt File: List the domains or URLs you want to disavow. Example format:

Disavow links txt file example

Step 3: Submit Your Disavow File

  1. Go to Google’s Disavow Tool: Disavow Links Tool.
  2. Upload the .txt file.

Step 4: Confirm the Submission 

After submission, use your backlink management tool to recalculate your site’s Toxicity Score.

google Disavow tool

Step 5: Submit a Reconsideration Request (if necessary) 

If you had a manual action against your site, submit a reconsideration request through Google Search Console.

Careful Consideration

Before using the disavow tool, remember:

  • Only disavow links if you’ve received a manual action or have a significant reason to believe the links are harming your site.
  • Disavowing too many links can remove valuable link juice, negatively impacting your SEO.
  • Always attempt to remove links manually before using the disavow tool.

Using these methods ensures that you can effectively manage and remove spam backlinks, helping maintain your site’s health and SEO performance. Regular monitoring and proactive management are key to sustaining a strong backlink profile.

For more information and detailed guides, check out resources from Ahrefs, SEMrush, and SEO experts​​​​​​.

Preventing Future Spam Backlinks

Now that you’ve learned how to remove spam backlinks, let’s focus on preventing them. Here’s how to keep your backlink profile clean and build high-quality, ethical backlinks.

Best Practices for a Healthy Backlink Profile

Here is how you can keep your backlink profile healthy:

Regular Backlink Audits

Check your backlink profile often: Use tools like Semrush or Ahrefs to monitor your backlinks regularly. This helps you spot harmful links early and address them promptly. Aim to do these audits every few months​​​​.

Monitor Your Backlinks

Set up alerts for new backlinks: Google Search Console can notify you when new links appear. Review and address suspicious links quickly to prevent any potential harm to your SEO​​.

Create High-Quality Content

Make valuable content that people want to share: High-quality content attracts natural backlinks from reputable sites. This reduces the chance of getting spammy links. Focus on creating informative, engaging, and relevant content​​​​.

Strategies for Building High-Quality Backlinks

Guest Blogging

Write guest posts for reputable websites in your industry: This builds your authority and earns you valuable backlinks. Ensure your content is relevant and useful. If needed, experts can connect you with top blogs in your niche​​.

Build Relationships

Network with influencers and other businesses in your niche: Engage with their content, share their posts, and collaborate on projects. These relationships can lead to natural backlink opportunities​​.

Use Social Media

Promote your content on social media: When your content is shared widely, it increases the chances of earning natural backlinks. A strong social media strategy can boost your content’s visibility​​.

Importance of Ongoing Backlink Management

Here is why you need to keep and eye on your backlinks:

Stay Ahead of Algorithm Updates

Search engines update their algorithms often: Monitor your backlinks to adapt to changes and keep your site compliant with the latest guidelines. This proactive approach helps you avoid penalties and maintain your SEO performance​.

Protect Your Site from Negative SEO

Competitors or malicious entities might harm your site’s rankings with spammy backlinks: Monitoring helps you detect and disavow these links quickly, protecting your site from penalties​​.

Sustain Long-Term SEO Success

A proactive approach to backlink management helps maintain your site’s SEO success over the long term: Consistent efforts to keep a healthy backlink profile can lead to better search rankings and more organic traffic. Seeking expert help can keep your backlink profile in top shape​​​​.

By following these practices and strategies, you can build and maintain a healthy backlink profile that supports your SEO goals and protects your site from the negative impacts of spam backlinks.

Expert Insights


Now, you’ve learned how to handle spam backlinks. Let’s recap the main points:

Identify spam links using tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Search Console.

Then, disavow if necessary. Finally, keep an eye on your backlink profile.

At Outreach Monks, we help keep your backlink profile clean and boost your SEO. Need expert help? Reach out to us. Our team supports you with link-building services and more.

Call to Action: “Keep your website healthy and your SEO strong. For expert help with managing your backlinks, visit Outreach Monks. Let’s work together to build a strong and spam-free backlink profile.”

Thank you for reading! Managing your backlinks well can make a big difference in your SEO success. Stay alert, stay informed, and keep growing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of anchor text in identifying spam backlinks?

Anchor text that is overly optimized or irrelevant can indicate a spam backlink.

How can I identify spam backlinks from forums or comment sections?

Check if the backlinks come from unrelated topics or low-quality sites.

Are there specific times when spam backlinks are more likely to appear?

Spam backlinks can increase after publishing popular or viral content.

Can disavowing spam backlinks impact my website’s traffic?

Yes, disavowing can affect traffic; do it carefully to avoid removing valuable links.

How do I handle spam backlinks that come from expired domains?

Use a backlink analysis tool to identify and then disavow links from expired domains.

Ekta Chauhan

Ekta Chauhan

Ekta is a seasoned link builder at Outreach Monks with six years in the digital marketing trenches, specializing in the SaaS niche. Professionally, she’s a wizard at navigating multiple niches with finesse. On the personal side, despite her calm and quiet nature, don't be fooled—Ekta's creativity means she’s probably plotting to take over the world.


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