Ultim-8 ways to check for Toxic backlinks

5 Minutes Read | Published: Jan 27 2023
  • Categories:
  • Link Building
  • Seo Strategies


While backlinks are extremely important for any website’s SERP(Search Engine Results Page) rank, certain Toxic backlinks can waste all efforts. Backlinks are simply signals to Google that a website is trustworthy. 

When other relevant and legit websites have your backlink on their pages, it signals to Google that your website might be helpful to users. As such, websites with more legitimate backlinks (especially do-follows) tend to rank a lot higher on SERPs.

Different Links Provide Different Signals

However, not all links are considered equal. Where do-follows provide high trust signals to Google, toxic backlinks can really hurt a website’s ranking.

The only way to get rid of such toxic links is to disavow them. This means manually appealing to Google that the website is not affiliated in any way with the live URL. The only problem is that the probability of a backlink being toxic is difficult to determine. 

However, there are ways to know if a website linking to you may be toxic or not. Here are 8 ways to identify if your backlink might leave a sour taste in your SEO.

1. Toxic backlinks can come from a spammy website. 

There are certain websites that put up content solely to provide backlinks to their clients. These “Content Mills” try to game the search algorithm to rank up the websites paying for backlinks. However, since the helpful content update rolled out, Google has been keeping a keen eye on ensuring that any content ranked up is solving the users’ queries instead of ranking up solely based on keywords.

Since most of these spammy websites generate content only to rank up and not to help users, these links are likely toxic in nature and look “unnatural” to SpamBrain, which is Google’s link spam detection AI. 

A way to identify such links is to have a look at the website backlinking to you. If it has content that looks eerily similar to blatant product placement, then the link is likely toxic. 

2. Toxic Backlinks often come from Paid Link Mills

Similar to content mills, Paid Link Mills offer backlinks and Guest blog posts for a price. However, instead of giving the right attribute to these backlinks, they simply label them as do-follow. This indicates that they authored the content piece and have given the backlink without any payment. 

However, SpamBrain has become quite adept at picking out websites that exist only to provide backlinks. Since the December Link Spam update, backlinks from such websites have been rendered moot. As such, any backlinks from these websites won’t pass signals to Google anymore.

If you get a link in return for payment, chances are that the link might turn toxic soon if not immediately.

3. Backlinks from forums or blog comments can also be toxic if irrelevant.

Backlinks put up on forums, or blog comments are usually no-follow by default. However, if this type of link-building isn’t done right, then the acquired link might be toxic. 

This is especially the case if the forum’s niche doesn’t conform to your product or audience. Forum link building is often used to get more traffic and directly communicate with the target audience, but being specific is imperative here. 

If you have gotten a backlink from a forum, it’s best to visit the webpage and analyze if the topic is relevant to your product/service. 

4. Backlinks might be hidden as plain text

Some websites often try to hide their backlinks as plain text. This means that the backlink is present but looks like regular text. For example, if you click Google (the word), then you’ll be taken to Google’s website.

This is a deceptive technique since websites won’t be getting traffic from the backlink, but Google’s algorithm might note it as a Do-follow. However, these links are likely toxic since Google is bound to realize the deception. Once detected, These links will start hurting the website’s SEO.

Checking for these backlinks is easy, as one only needs to look up the anchor text and its placement.

5. Links without the proper rel attribute can be toxic. 

Backlinks are supposed to have at least one of the four tags or rel attributes based on their nature.

  1. If a backlink comes from a neutral source without any affiliation, then it should be  Do-Follow
  2. If a backlink’s website does not want to pass authority, it should be tagged No-Follow
  3. If a backlink has been put up on a guest post and paid for, it needs to be tagged as Sponsored
  4. If the backlink was added to the content by a product user, it needs to be tagged as UGC (User-Generated Content)

When backlinks do not have the right rel attribute, Google might count them as unnatural and they might turn into toxic backlinks. 

6.  Backlinks that might come from a website with low trust/DA might be toxic.

DA, or Domain Authority, is a metric created by Moz. It determines the level of trust that Google has placed in the website. If a website linking to you has low DA, it might have been flagged as untrustworthy by Google.

Any backlinks from such websites are best avoided, and you should be vigilant to disavow such links asap. 

7. Check if the website providing the backlink is indexed or not.

Websites indexed by Google are always the ones that are trusted by the search engine as legitimate. While websites may opt to de-index some of their pages to protect their users’ privacy, the domain is almost always indexed for proper websites. 

However, when Google penalizes a website for going against SEO policies, it might also choose to de-index the domain until corrections are made and appealed by the website. But this penalty has a ripple effect as well. 

All the backlinks on the penalized website become toxic almost instantly. So, even if you might see a website’s backlink helping you up the SERPs, it’s important to keep the backlink monitored, so you can disavow it in case the Live URL is penalized. 

Therefore, it is imperative to consistently analyze your referring domains and their domain authority as well. 

8. Analyze Backlinks via Link Wiki

Link Wiki is one of the best AI tools to let you know if you’ve gotten a toxic backlink on your profile. All you have to do is add any new backlinks you get to your project on our dashboard. Link Wiki consistently analyzes all the entered links on your profile every 15 days, keeping you updated about your backlink profile.

Link Wiki also provides its users with a Spam Score. With the Spam Score, users know the probability of a backlink being toxic, allowing for proactive measures. If you want to analyze your backlinks consistently, we suggest trying out our AI tool. The trial is completely free.