How To Find & Remove Bad Backlinks Today

  • Felix Tarcomnicu
  • Updated on Feb 2, 2024
🔗 Increase your traffic with the 100% Free 28 Day SEO Challenge.

If you want to get rid of a Google penalty or you simply want to prevent one…

 Learning how to remove bad backlinks is important.
There’s no other way around it.

You have to conduct a full backlink audit and find the low-quality backlinks.

While there are numerous link removal services, most of the time they are:

  • Expensive
  • Not effective

…so it’s better to do it yourself.

Finding low-quality backlinks can be a challenging task for some people, but it shouldn’t be that way.

By following the tips I’m about to share with you in this post, you’ll learn how to identify and remove all your website’s bad backlinks.

Once you know how to eliminate suspicious links, the Google penalty recovery process is very straight forward.

Collecting Your Backlink Data

You need to collect all your website’s backlinks from different sources, just to make sure you are not missing any of them.

Take a look at my case study to find the best backlink checker to learn more about that!

Option 1

To get started, go to Google Webmaster Tools and export all your website’s backlinks.Click on ‘Search Traffic’ and then on ‘Links to Your Site’.

links from Google Webmaster Tools

On the next page, click on ‘more’, from the module ‘Who links the most’. Then click on ‘Download more sample links’. Google will download all your website’s backlinks in a CSV format.

download backlinks

Option 2

Another way to find backlinks to your website is to use Open Site Explorer from Moz. Enter your website URL and click on search and then request a CSV report.

export links from moz

You now have two backlink reports, one from Google Webmaster Tools, and one from Moz. Both of them have a list of backlinks, but none of them has any metrics to compare the links value.

You could also get more backlink information from Ahrefs & Majestic SEO.

If your website has only a few links, manually checking them would not be a problem. But if you have hundreds or thousands of backlinks, you must find a way to sort them by their importance.

To help you identify what links are good or bad, you will have to gather more information and SEO metrics.

Digging Up The Dirt With A Backlink Audit

To determine your backlinks value, you can use Monitor Backlinks. In this tool, you can import both CSV reports from GWT and Moz, and you’ll get more insights that will help you identify what links are worthy to keep.

As a side note, you can also connect your domain with Google Analytics with Monitor Backlinks, to find more links.

The tool uses Analytics Referrals and also Ahrefs API, so this will get you fully covered. You’ll have backlinks collected from the most trusted sources, so there’s no way you will miss a link.

Here’s how to import all backlinks reports to Monitor Backlinks.

Click on ‘Add new backlinks’.

add new backlinks

Scroll down and click ‘Import now’. The tool automatically recognizes backlinks reports from GWT, Moz, Ahrefs or Majestic.

import links

On the next page, you have to upload the CSV report exported from Moz or GWT and then choose how many links / domain you want to import. Monitor Backlinks automatically removes duplicate links.

If you later want to know the source of the links, you can tag them. For example, you can tag all links imported from Moz as “MOZ Backlinks”. Next, click ‘Upload & Import’ and in a few minutes you will see all your backlinks along with their SEO metrics on the backlinks page.

upload report and import

Repeat the process to import your links from all sources and then you can move to the next step, which is identifying low-quality backlinks.

How To Find Bad Backlinks

When trying to remove bad backlinks, you usually have to check your backlinks one by one.

Nevertheless, if your website has too many backlinks, you will have to filter and sort them by their value. By doing so, you can save time and check only those that have very poor SEO metrics.

To remove bad backlinks, it is absolutely critical to identify websites with lower domain authority. You should do some other basic checks let searching for the website on Google to check it is indexed and not penalized by Google which should be removed.

Learn more about how to find bad backlins for removal below:

Check Backlinks From Domains That Aren’t In Google’s Index

If a website is not indexed by Google, it means it was penalized and banned from the search results, or it’s a very new website and Google has not crawled it yet.

These are not the type of websites you want to link to your website. Either way, you have to check such links manually, and remove them if they are bad.

Find all your website’s backlinks coming from unindexed domains, by using Monitor Backlinks filters. Click on ‘Filters’ and then on “Domain and Page not indexed”.

domains not indexed

When you find a backlink you want to remove, add a tag to your link by clicking on the settings icon on the right side of the backlink row. I usually tag such links with the word ‘remove’, so that I can easily find them later.

Sort Backlinks by Domain PageRank & MozRank

Next, you can check all websites coming from domains with PageRank 0. Google has not updated the PageRank toolbar for more than one year.

But this is the only SEO metric coming directly from Google, so we have to take full advantage of it.

Click on ‘PR’ and then choose to view only domains with PageRank 0.

domains with pagerank zero

After you are done analyzing and tagging backlinks coming from domains with no PageRank, you will have to filter your links by their Domain Authority.

This metric is coming from Moz, and it’s updated more often, so it should be more relevant and more accurate.

(Click here to learn how to increase Domain Authority).

Choose to view all backlinks from websites with a Domain Authority below 10 or 20 and analyze their quality.

domain authority sorting

Look For Backlinks With Too Many External Links

It often happens that websites with too many outbound links are of low quality.

An example can be auto approved blog comments. Because of the lack of moderation, the quality of the backlinks is very low, especially if it’s abused by spammers.

To find all your backlinks coming from pages with too many external links, from Monitor Backlinks, click on ‘Filters’ and then on ‘EXT’.

external links

This will show you all backlinks from sites that have over 100 external links.

Look For Backlinks From Spammy Blog Networks

It’s no secret that Google doesn’t like spammy blog networks. If your website has such links, you might want to remove them, especially if they are coming from sites using spun content.

Find backlinks from blog networks or from websites using the same hosting IP by checking the ‘IP’ column.

blog networks backlink audit

The number from the right side of the flag indicates how many backlinks your website has from that unique IP.

Identify Bad Backlinks by TLD

Another way to detect bad backlinks is to look at the TLD of the websites linking to your site.

Let’s say, for example, you have a local business selling online products in London. It would make no sense to have backlinks from websites located in India, Pakistan or Russia.

You can filter your links by their TLD using the search filters from Monitor Backlinks.

Check If Adult/Gambling Websites Link To You

Relevancy is another important metric to consider when cleaning up your backlinks profile.

It’s critical to check if your website has backlinks from gambling / casino or adult sites.You can do so, by clicking on ‘from’ and typing keywords like adult, gambling, poker, etc.

Here’s an example of how I found two backlinks from adult websites I need to remove immediately:

remove backlinks from adult websites with a backlink audit

After completing the identifying process and finished tagging all your bad backlinks, you have to remove as many as you can.

How To Remove Bad Backlinks

The removal process can be challenging and tricky. Most importantly, you have to understand that you can’t remove all backlinks.

However, you will be able to disavow all backlinks you can’t remove.

These are the key elements to consider when doing link removal:

  • Be friendly and polite when sending your link removal request.
  • Personalize each email and don’t make it look like you are using a template.
  • Give exact instructions with the location of the backlink you need to remove. No one has time to spend digging for your hidden backlinks. Make the webmaster job as easy as possible.
  • Always send a follow up to make sure your message was received.
  • DON’T threaten the webmaster. Yes, as silly as that may sound to you, it happened to me. I was threatened that if I don’t remove a backlink, my website will be hit by negative SEO attack.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you fail to delete a link. A 10-20% conversion is considered good for link removal.
  • Never pay for link removals. As soon as you will start the removal process, you’ll notice that it happens quite often that webmasters ask money to remove links. You can disavow those links instead.

It really helps if you use an outreach tool like BuzzStream that will save you so much time when trying to lookup contact details and contact site owners. It’s an amazing tool everyone should have in their arsenal.

So how does a correct link removal request looks like? Here’s an example:

how to remove bad backlinks with a link removal request

As you can see, the outreach was very polite and gave me the exact details of where I can find the backlink I was asked to remove.

It was easy for me and didn’t take more than 1 minute to help him out.

To start cleaning your backlinks profile, head back to Monitor Backlinks and load all the low-quality links you have tagged in the first steps.

Next, take each backlink one by one and try to get in touch with the webmaster responsible for the website.

How To Find Anyones Email Address

There are a few different ways you can find someone’s email address or contact page.

First you can use Matthew’s email address lookup guide or his free SEO Tool RankCracker which can look up emails and contact URLs

You can also use the amazing BuzzStream outreach tool which has too many awesome features to list. Search for contact details on their website. Most frequently, you can find a link to the contact or about page, on the header or footer of the website.

If you like doing things manually you can look on each backlinks contact page, try to identify who is the webmaster or who is responsible for the content of the website.

Once found the name of the person that can help you, try to find his email address. Most often, email addresses are built like this:,,

Alternately you can use tools like to find anyone’s email address. After inputting the webmaster name and website, VoilaNorbert will search for their email address.

find email address

If those tips fail, use to find the email address associated with their hosting company.

Most of the time, you shouldn’t need to go that far, but if you are dealing with some very awful backlinks it’s worth spending more time removing them.

How To Disavow The Backlinks You Can’t Remove

So now, let’s see how to disavow backlinks you can’t remove…

After sending your removal requests, give it a few weeks for the webmasters to reply and then send your follow up. Tools like BuzzStream will do that for you automatically.

If you still don’t get any reply, it’s time to disavow the backlinks you couldn’t remove.

To easily create a disavow report, you can again use Monitor Backlinks. First choose the backlinks you have tagged to remove and then click on ‘With selected’ – ‘Disavow domains’.

create disavow report

It will create a disavow report with all the backlinks that contain the ‘remove’ tag.

With the report, go to Google Disavow Tool and simply upload the file. Make sure to double check everything before submitting the disavow report.

Wrapping It Up

Now you know how to remove bad backlinks to your website, you should be safe from link based penalties for the foreseeable future.

Always pay close attention to all your website’s backlinks and make sure you remove or disavow the bad ones with a regular backlink audit before it’s too late.

Grab your backlinks from as many sources as possible and filter your backlinks to identify those that are hurting your rankings.

Keeping a clean backlink profile is essential to successful SEO so make sure you are using reputable link building services in the first place.

How do you find bad backlinks? Have you ever dealt with a penalty? If you need help to detect bad backlinks & recover from a penalty click here.

What Are Your Thoughts?

165 Responses

  1. I have been looking for a service to clean up a site for me. I think I might tackle it myself. Unless you offer that service? I only want someone trusted to tackle it. It’s even riskier to let someone who does not know what they are doing tackle your backlink profile than to just let it be.

  2. The homepage of our website is punished by google this month, we cannot find it on google, while before it ranked to the second and third page of google, I tried to remove all the spammy links. But I’m afraid even if removed them we still cannot have a good ranking since then or it may need about 1-2 years to recovery the rank. Really hope someone to give me some suggestions. We spent abou 2 years to make the website and spend too many time and energy to do seo, but the spammy backlinks destroy all. Desperate!

    1. Check for penalties and get a full SEO audit done on the site – that should highlight what your problems are.

  3. HiThank you for all your relevant information. I just want to ask you a question. Why is linking important? I just don`t get it. Even Google recommends linking. I understand if you write an article about sea fishing and then you post a link to a type of fish. Makes sense. But most of the SEO is being done with irrelevant linking. People don`t consider content anymore.Few weeks ago i had a look at my competition linking on Semrush. 57k links. Most of the links for a carpet cleaning company were coming from un-related businesses. I focus my seo on content and i link my website to other relevant websites. Don`t get me wrong, i rank high. But i wonder why over linking to irrelevant websites is not punished by google? The idea of a search engine is to provide relevant content. Thank you

    1. Hey Alex – Google sees each link as a ‘vote’ for that website and it’s one of the most important ranking factors… but yes you are right. For Google to understand what your website is about you need to build natural looking links to and from relevant sites in your niche (and don’t for internal linking). It’s hard for me to say what is going on with your competitor’s site without seeing it but there may be other factors at play which are giving them a boost.

  4. Hi Matt,This is a very useful post about disavowing bad backlinks. Every half year I check our link healthy. And I have a plan to check our backlinks at the end of this year. This great article was a new inspiration to do that soon.Thanks for inspiring me. 🙂

  5. I found many lost links for my website. Then I was searching on how to remove it and finally, I reached this blog..this was really a useful one.

  6. Nice blog, Your blog is easily understandable and give complete information about remove bad links. Thanks for your great blog.keep it up I am waiting for your next blog.

  7. I found this outdated even though it has been updated this March. It is not the same google console which was changed around that time. As for being simple, I did not find that at all. There are so many explanations rather than just one simple giude to discover the toxic backlinks, which would have been easier.Not the best example from you.

  8. Thank you Matthew for the informative post. I am still building my blog now I notice there are few website of linking spam to my website!! Horrid!! Now I am using your tip on using google webmaster disasvow. Just done it today and finger crossed xxx.

  9. I found this article by chance on google while I was brushing up my SEO knowledge, I never thought that my website was under a negative SEO attack but thanks to you, I disavowed all bad back links pointing at my website.

  10. Hi, Nice and informative post. best tools served by you to know the backlinks of the website by webmaster tools and identify bad backlinks with removal. Thanks…

  11. Thanks for such a helpful post! Most of your suggested tools were quite familiar to me. Only I haven’t tried Voilanorbert and used Snovio email finder and verifier instead. So will give it try too.your really hitting points seriously.

  12. Hello Mathew! thanks for your sweet comment, you’re really on top of the game.let us keep blogging at high speed I like bloggers like you

  13. I gain I really liked this, This looks to be a really educative guide for us that are looking for ways how to remove bad links from the website. thank you for your wonderful post I continue looking forward to read more of your articles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Increase Your Search Traffic
In Just 28 Days…

CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED I’ll show you how step by step

Featured In: