How to use Semrush Toxic Backlinks Checker & Disavow tool

Google has introduced many algorithmic updates to filter web pages that build spam backlinks (or toxic links) to increase SERP rankings for keyword positions.

The sad part is that toxic backlinks can unknowingly occur for any website, even on yours. Some competitors use shady methods such as automated websites and PBNs (Private Blog Networks) to build backlinks to other sites so that their authority sites outrank them.

As a webmaster, the solution here for you is to find those toxic backlinks and use the Disavow tool in Google Search Console to maintain the quality of your website’s link profile in great shape. (so, no matter how others try to build toxic links to your site, your site’s SERP ranking will not impact)

Among many Toxic link checkers, the Semrush Toxic Backlinks finder is one the best.

Semrush is equipped with one of the largest backlinks databases in the world, while new backlinks are added every 15 minutes.

  • 17,280,000,000 URLs crawled per day
  • 40,309,000,000,000 total backlinks
  • 1,145,000,000 total referring domains

So, they have got records of every link to your site.

When you audit your site’s backlinks, Semrush categorizes them according to their methods. There are many ways a toxic backlink could occur.

(Note: If you want to analyze backlinks and track their progress, you need to use Semrush’s Backlink checker)

Here are triggers that make backlinks toxic and unhealthy for an SEO-friendly site.

Harmful environment

  • Malicious page – The linking page is reported to be infected with malware
  • Non-indexed domain
  • De-indexed domain
  • Community error – Several Semrush users have already marked links from this domain as harmful and added them to the Disavow file.
  • Spam TLD
  • Frame used
  • Community warning
  • Weak domain – Source domain is old enough to have a high authority score, but inbound link profile is weak.
  • Suspicious follow/nofollow ratio from domain.
  • Domain backlink profile poor – Domain has too many backlinks in comparison with referring domains (it appears the domain’s backlink profile is manipulated)
  • Poor backlink profile – Source domain’s backlink profile is poor.
  • HTTP status error (400, 500)

Spam in communities

  • Page comment spam
  • Blog post signature spam
  • Forum link
  • Mirror pages
  • Link network (by IP)
  • Link network (by URL path)
  • Same page title domains
  • Link network (by GA ID)
  • Link network (whois info)
  • Link network (by AdSense ID)
  • Multiple same root subdomains
  • Author’s link
  • Link directory
  • High link density from referring page
  • High link density from paragraph
  • Sitewide link
  • Frequent anchor
  • Money anchor text
  • Potentially ads link
  • Potentially sponsored content
  • Empty anchor
  • Symbol anchor
  • Link in footer
  • Guest post link

Irrelevant source domain

  • Irrelevant geo
  • Irrelevant domain theme


  • Numerals in domain name
  • Poor layout
  • Suspicious external links
  • Suspicious follow links
  • Poor navigation
  • Long domain name
  • No CSS & JS

First of all, you need to run a backlink audit on your entire website. Like the Semrush Site Audit tool, Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool will analyze your website’s backlinks by cross-referencing their extensive backlink database and providing an audit report.

Note: You must have an active Semrush subscription in order to audit your website. Open your Semrush free Pro account by clicking the button below. (Semrush Pro normally costs $119.95)

Enter your website domain name and click on the ‘Start Backlink Audit‘ button.

Semrush Backlink Audit

Depending on the size of your site, the auditing timing may vary. Once it’s done, you will get to the Backlink Audit report, where you can see Semrush Toxic backlinks-related details.


As you can see, 4.2% of backlinks are considered toxic domains, and 10.0% are regarded as potentially toxic domains.

Overall Toxicity Score and related overview details

On the Overview page, you will see the ‘Backlinks to review’ box that shows exact details: toxic backlinks amount. Click on the ‘Review Backlinks’ button.


You will be shown all the backlinks on the Audit page, and toxic links will be sorted.

Click the Toxicity Score of each backlink to get reasons it’s considered toxic.

Filter options allow you to select backlinks based on many categories. Toxic markers are one of those.

Toxic markers

Another good way of using filtering options is finding backlinks with the highest toxic score.

Filter backlinks based on the toxicity score

Here are high toxic links discovered by Semrush.

High toxic backlinks found by Semrush

Since now you have discovered toxic links, you will have three options:

  1. Whitelist
  2. Move to remove list
  3. Move to disavow list

The Whitelist option lets you whitelist any good backlink you are sure of.

Remove list saves toxic links and helps you contact the webmaster or the website admin to request them to remove backlinks from their sites.

Disavow list tells Google directly to remove specified backlinks from your Google Search Console account.

If your site has got a massive number of toxic backlinks, it is not worth your time contacting webmasters to remove links. Sometimes it works. Sometimes, it does not.

Since toxic backlinks are harmful to your site, the obvious, fastest, and easiest method is disavowing low-quality backlinks from the Google index.

Semrush toxic backlinks checker makes it so much easier.

Click on the ‘Disavow’ button and select the domain type. You will have two options: Domain and URL. If you see a pattern of many link farms, it’s better to choose the Domain option.


In the Disavow tab, you can see all the domains you chose to disavow.


Click the ‘Export to TXT‘ button to download a text file.


Now go to Google Disavow Tool and upload the exported file. If you already have uploaded a disavow file, you need to download the previous file and add its toxic links to the new file.

If you wish to follow the ‘moderate‘ path by requesting the removal of backlinks from website owners, Semrush has facilities for it too.

Select backlinks you want to request removals. Click the ‘Remove‘ and then the ‘Move to Remove‘ buttons.

Move links to remove the list

Here you will see a list of selected backlinks to remove.

URLs to remove

Now you will have to add your mailboxes to Semrush so you can send link removal emails directly within Semrush.


Next, click on the ‘Send‘ button, and you will see a similar to below.


You can edit the template, add more content and send emails.

Semrush broken link checker allows you to find dead internal and external links via Semrush Site Audit. But, the Semrush toxic backlinks tool finds all harmful links from other sites to yours.

Although both (broken and toxic links) are harmful, you can easily find and fix broken links, even with a free plugin like Broken Link Checker for WordPress. However, it is not the same as toxic links.

Semrush’s Toxic links checker is equipped with many features, and here are the benefits I found on it.

  • A complete toxic link checker tool — Unlike other tools, Semrush has it all. Automated Link audit functionality (A project-based system where you can re-crawl backlinks periodically), domain analysis mechanism, and email outreach setup (no need to use email outreach tools like NinjaOutreach, MailShake, and Lemlist)
  • Download TXT file for Google Disavow tool — Semrush generates a disavow text file based on your selection. No need to manually add data.
  • Many options — Filter backlinks based on toxic markers, link attribute, toxic score, website category, authority score, and link type

Final Words

Maintaining a good link profile, particularly inbound links, is very important in search engine optimization because Google has released many updates (i.e., Google Penguin) to punish websites that have spam link profiles.

Link building is a business nowadays. So is a weapon of competitors to harm your site’s organic performance. A good incoming link can increase traffic and keyword rankings. Also, a bad link can ruin existing rankings too.

If SEO is a big part of your business, you need to clean up low-quality backlinks altogether with the help of a link management tool.

Semrush Toxic Backlinks checker and disavow tools are delivered in the Semrush Backlink Audit tool. In this tutorial, you learned how to work with it. Let us know your opinions below.

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