How to Find and Disavow Toxic Backlinks to Your Site with SEMRush? (for FREE)

Disavow Toxic Links

A huge part of SEO is constantly monitoring your backlinks for toxic ones (unnatural, spammy links) and taking the actions needed to neutralize them.

In other words, you always have to try to reach the webmaster/site owner to remove the link(s) to your website manually.

98% of the time, you won’t receive an answer. But hey, you tried! Now you have no other choice, but to send a disavow request to Google, if you think this domain/link is harming your rankings.

What is a toxic backlink?

When someone links to your website, it can boost your rankings and increase the number of visitors your website receives. This is known as a backlink.

With the quality and quantity going up they allow your website to rank higher in the search results.

However, over the past few years, there have been concerns raised about the negative impact that backlinks can have on a website, particularly when they are considered to be “toxic” or “harmful”.

There is no precise measure for the Internet’s spammy domain percentage, but it is high. Just look at the free .tk domains that happen to be the most used county code domain in the world.

Toxicity is the measure of a website’s ability to harm a web page’s organic rankings. When a web page receives a high number of backlinks from websites that are not in the same industry, with spammy content, malicious links, and scripts, it is said to be receiving a toxic backlink.

What does it mean to disavow a URL or Domain?

As Google states:

 If you can’t remove those links yourself, or get them removed, then you should disavow the URLs of the questionable pages or domains that link to your website.

This should be your last step if you are 100% sure the link is bad for your site’s health.

How Can We Determine Which Links are Toxic and Should be Disavowed?

Here comes the role of tools like SEMRush, which makes it very easy to audit all your backlinks and mark the potentially bad ones.

The different SEO tools have different names for this toxicity score, for example,’s metric for this is called Spam score.

Note: Even if you file a disavow request this is not removing the backlink! It’ll just tell google to not take the negative (or positive) impact that links bring to your rankings.

Just go to this page and create a free account.

Step-by-Step Find and Disavow Toxic Backlinks in SEMRush

Let’s run through the process real quick.

Go to Link Building > Backlink analytics

Type your domain and run the analytics.

You will see tabs with different names, see the screenshots below.

Go to the second tab “Backlinks” and scroll down to

Now if there are toxic pages linking to your website, you’ll see them in red, in my case luckily there are non right now.

If you have any number in there, click on it to go to the list of the toxic URLs.

Important: Manually review every page and if you decide the link is really toxic and potentially harmful, find any contacts on the website and try to ask them to remove the links first!

A lot of times, if the website is really spammy, you will receive an instant “Mail delivery failed” automatic message.

Also note:
Google knows famous spam websites, like TheGlobe or Blogspot subdomain blogs.

In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most sites will not need to use this tool.

You should only disavow links from websites that are very suspicious and harm your SEO.

Now let’s get back to the list of toxic domains in SEMRush.

After you carefully review each one of them, you can choose few further actions:

In the right column, you can choose to add this link to your remove or disavow list if you decide to take this action.

Always try to remove them manually before disavowing any links.

SEMRush provides this very helpful automated template, so you only need to find a contact e-mail and press send.

If you don’t get any response from the other side, your final option is to disavow the links.

From your remove list select all the links you want to move to disavow and press the disavow button.

Then go to the “Disavow” tab and review the links in the list again.

SEMRush will generate a disavow text file that you will only have to download and upload in the Google Disavow tool.

Note that this tool is part of the Google Search Console and you’ll need to have an account with your property listed there.

Select your property, upload the file generated by SEMRush and send it for review.

Voila! Now you have to wait for Google to review your request and make the final decision.

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Disclosure: Some of the links on the page may contain a ref code (affiliate links), that tells the other side that we have sent you. If you liked what we suggest and you make a purchase, we may receive a commission.

I'm Bo, and I've been creating websites with WordPress for 15 years. I was lazy to learn how to code, so I mastered the art of making quality web projects without coding skills. I started with the idea to share my knowledge and personal experience, and suggest better alternatives to you.