Guide to disavow low-quality backlinks using Semrush and Google tools

How to remove a toxic backlink using SEMrush Audit tools?

Backlinks are the key factors for ranking your website higher on the SERPs. But it’s crucial to manage them and remove or disavow toxic backlinks regularly. No doubt you are working harder to get the backlinks; you might come across many such links that might affect your page.

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How to identify such backlinks?

What is the perfect way to get rid of them?

What is disavow links?

When to disavow links?

How to disavow links in Google?

How to disavow bad links?

Read this article to get answers to all such questions arising in your mind regarding disavowing backlinks.

You might have heard about the concept of “web penalties” No matter how old this concept seems, it’s still functional. Yes, your online asset is subject to link penalties if there are low-quality backlinks associated with it. Hence, you need to conduct regular audits of your website and get rid of the low-quality backlinks.

Here are some typical characteristics of low-quality backlinks that you need to get rid of. The links from

  • Sites that are set up solely for links
  • The spam sites
  • Backlinks from sites that do not belong to your target country
  • Spam comments
  • Mirror pages
  • Blog post signature spam
  • Non-moderated low-quality forums
  • De-indexed domain
  • Non-indexed domain
  • Pages infected with malware
  • A domain that was reported to the search engines as harmful
  • A domain with a poor backlink profile
  • Sites with suspicious external links

If a backlink shows these properties, we can call it a “bad link” or toxic backlink.

How toxic backlinks are defined - SEMrush
How toxic backlinks are defined – Semrush

Let’s first make it clear that disavowing a link is actually a message that you send to Google indicating that those links are possible threats to your site. Hence, you need to understand if you actually want to remove these links or not.

Disavowing some good backlinks can also affect your ranking and SEO. So, if you doubt that a link marked as bad might actually be useful, you can reach out to the owner through email or social media to remove the link. If you cannot connect with the owner and have to remove the link somehow, then send it to the Google Disavow tool!

Please note: Don’t disavow links without analyzing their genuineness properly.

How to Disavow Low-Quality Links using Semrush, and Google Disavow Links Tool?

As mentioned above, it’s important to audit and check the toxicity of a backlink before removing it. To ensure that you don’t let go of some useful backlinks, use the Semrush Backlink Audit tool. Here are the two main steps involved in disavowing a backlink from your site:

  1. Identification of toxic backlink
  2. Trying to remove the toxic links manually
  3. Requesting the Google disavow tool to remove the toxic backlinks

The Backlink Audit tool by Semrush identifies all the backlinks that are potential threats to your website. Here is a stepwise process to identify such toxic backlinks:

Step-1: Create a new project on Semrush. Add the project domain (the domain that you want to analyze for toxic backlinks) and project name and click on the “Create project button.”

Step-2: Go to the Site Audit and select Backlink Audit from the panel on your left-hand side.

Step-3: Look at the overview of the overall backlink status of your website. Semrush will mention the overall toxicity score in the overview tab. The higher the toxicity score, the higher the risk for your website.

Step-4: Click on the toxic domains mentioned in the overall toxicity score report (The topmost part of the toxicity bar that shows red colour is the link to all the toxic domains).

Step-5: Now, you will land on the Audit tab, where all the toxic domains are displayed along with their corresponding toxicity score. Some additional fields are also mentioned in this tab. You can click on the headings to know about the details of each field.

SEMrush backlink audit tool to find toxic backlinks links or domains
Semrush backlink audit tool to find toxic backlinks links or domains.

Step-6: Click on the toxicity score to check the reasons behind the toxicity of that backlink.

Step-7: Check the website associated with the toxic backlink by clicking on the blue icon next to the name of the site.

After confirming the toxicity manually, you need to disavow the link. Thus, you can identify the links that are harmful to your site using the Semrush Backlink Audit tool.

Google always suggests that you should try removing a backlink manually before approaching the Google Disavow tool. Semrush assists you in manually sending the request to the website owners to remove toxic backlinks.

Remove toxic backlinks using SEMrush
Remove toxic backlinks using SEMrush

If you don’t have any prior list of links that you wish to remove, then continue with the steps of Backlink Audit. In order to move the Audit tab to the Remove tab, you need to follow these steps:

Step-1: Select the row that displays the link and the corresponding scores.

Step-2: Click on the remove button in the top-left pane just above the sheet that displays the link.

Step-3: Decide if you want to remove the link or get disconnected from the domain that gave you a faulty link.

If you already have a list of toxic backlinks, you can upload the file to the Semrush Backlink Audit tool. Here are the steps for the same:

  • Go to the disavow tab of the tool
  • Click on the “upload disavow file” button
  • Click on the .txt file that contains toxic backlinks and drag it to the tool
  • The links will be uploaded in a maximum of 15 minutes in the tool

Have you connected your Backlink Audit tool to the Google Console Account? If yes, then the process of getting a list of low-quality becomes easier. You only need to click on the green button that says, “Import from GDT.” You will directly have the list of backlinks ready in your Disavow tab.

Here are the steps to remove these links manually from your site:

Step-1: Click on the row that displays the site URL

Step-2: Go to the URL and open the webpage.

Step-3: Get the e-mail address of the website owner from the website.

Step-4: In the extreme right of the row in the remove tab, you will see a button that says “Send” with a mail icon. Click on the button. You will see that a pre-prepared mail body will appear, asking the owner to remove the backlink.

Step-5: Customize your e-mail

Step-6: Paste the owner’s e-mail address and send the email

Once the email is sent, you will see a tracker near the URL. If you get a reply from the backlink owner, the tool will notify you about the same. This means that the owner had either removed your backlink or tried to explain the authenticity. What if you don’t get a reply in a week? Follow the next step for further actions.

If the website owner does not reply in a week, don’t wait further. Follow these steps to notify Google that the links are harmful to your website:

Step-1: Select the links that you want to disavow and move them to the disavow tab finally.

Step-2: Now click on the export button, and your links will be exported in a .txt file.

Export toxic backlinks using SEMrush backlink audit tool
Export toxic backlinks using the Semrush backlink audit tool.

Step-3: Go to the Google search console disavow tool.

Google search console disavow tool
Google search console disavow tool – to disavow toxic backlinks.

Step-4: Click on the “Choose file” or “Replace” option

Step-5: Upload the file that contains all the toxic backlinks

Step-6: Click on the “Submit” button

If you find more such links after submitting the file to Google, delete the previously uploaded file and add new files. Upload this new file in the same manner and click on “Submit.” This is because Google recommends using the disavow tool only once.

You can always go for manual link removal through the Semrush Backlink Audit tool. Also, remember that Google will take a considerable amount of time to remove those backlinks. So, if you can reach out to the owners through email and get them disavowed, do it as the first resort.

When you send the file of toxic links to Google, you are free from all the possible penalties that the backlinks can give you in the future. However, you will have to wait for a very long time to get the links removed from your website.


Toxic, low-quality, or spammy backlinks have a bad impact on your ranking and visibility in SERPs. These links might be generated by your competitors or the sites that are meant to create spammy backlinks.

To get rid of such links manually, you can follow some simple steps in the Semrush Backlink Audit Tool and send an e-mail to the link owner to disavow the link. If you can’t reach out to the owner through e-mail, you can also choose to contact him/her through social media or personal contacts.

When you finally can’t do it manually, go to the Google console disavow tool and notify Google about these links.

Remove all the backlink hurdles that lower your website ranking using the Semrush Backlink Audit Tool!

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