A Step-by-Step Guide to Disavowing Toxic Links to Recover Your Site’s SEO

March 18, 2024
Posted by
Andrew Pottruff
A Step-by-Step Guide to Disavowing Toxic Links to Recover Your Site’s SEO

Backlinks have always played an important role in determining search engine rankings. However, not all backlinks are created equal. Toxic backlinks from low-quality sites or obtained through manipulative tactics can actually hurt your search performance. If your site has been hit with a Google penalty or you notice a drop in organic traffic, you may be suffering from toxic links. The good news is you can take action to identify these harmful backlinks and disavow them to recover your site's SEO.


This guide will walk through how to use Google's disavow tool and other methods to find and remove toxic backlinks damaging your site's search performance. Following these steps can help restore your site's ranking and organic visibility.

Find Toxic Links Hurting Your Site

The first step is conducting backlink audits to uncover any risky links pointing to your site. Check your backlink profile in Google Search Console for any unnatural growth patterns that may indicate manipulation. Use tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to analyze backlink data and metrics to identify potentially toxic links. Look for paid links, suddenly redirected domains, and other suspicious links that violate Google's guidelines. Sorting by domain rating and traffic can help prioritize high-risk links.

Disavow Toxic Links

Once you've identified toxic links, you can upload a disavow file to Google Search Console to notify Google about links you want ignored. When disavowing, be selective and strategic. Only disavow clear spammy links, not all links from a domain. Disavow a subset of toxic links at a time to see the impact. Monitor results in Google Search Console and organic performance to determine if more disavowing is needed.

Remove Toxic Links at the Source

In addition to disavowing, try to remove toxic links at the source for faster recovery. Contact webmasters to request removal of manipulative links pointing to your site. If you find toxic links on your own properties, take down any blog posts, pages, or assets receiving spammy links. Use 301 redirects for manipulated domains to pass link equity to your clean domains.


By regularly monitoring your backlink profile, identifying toxic links damaging SEO, and disavowing risky links, you can avoid Google penalties and maintain your search visibility. Disavowing should be part of your overall strategy to build high-quality backlinks and keep your site's ranking strong. Focus on earning links from authoritative sites through valuable content and outreach. With vigilant link audits and selective disavowing, you can keep your site's backlink profile clean and recover your organic performance.