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10 Top Affiliate Marketing Software Platforms To Maximize Sales In 2022

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10 Top Affiliate Marketing Software Platforms To Maximize Sales In 2022

Affiliate marketing has been experiencing explosive growth in recent years, so it’s essential now more than ever for brands to run affiliate programs of their own.

It involves brands hiring affiliates to promote their products and services and rewarding them with a commission from every sale.

As such, affiliate marketing is an excellent low-cost and low-risk way for brands to drive sales and brand awareness without hiring an in-house advertising and marketing team of their own.

Affiliate marketing spending is projected to reach $8.2 billion in the U.S. alone, up from $5.4 billion in 2017.

Affiliate Marketing And SEO

Affiliate marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) both share a common goal of attracting relevant and high-quality traffic to a site with the goal of increasing sales.

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As such, both of these marketing activities shouldn’t be perceived as two separate, competing entities.

Instead, you should look at them as one and the same that work together in perfect harmony to increase website traffic and generate more revenue.

The most successful publishers in the affiliate marketing space combine the two to get the best of both worlds.

SEO affiliate marketing involves choosing the right products and affiliate programs that attract the most search traffic and offer the best commissions.

Publishers often make the most of affiliate marketing by creating content that adds real value for their readers and prioritizes their experience.

Publishers often do this by creating “Best of” or “Top X” oriented posts that address their audience’s needs and pain points, while, at the same time, allowing them to monetize their content by using affiliate links throughout the posts.

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By adding relevant and contextual affiliate links in such posts, publishers foster an authentic user experience that puts their readers first.

This is one of the most significant advantages of affiliate marketing compared to alternative marketing methods such as sponsored posts.

Today’s consumers are increasingly distancing themselves from heavily business-oriented content, as it’s increasingly being perceived as inauthentic and disingenuous.

By focusing on high-quality content that adds value to readers and combining it with relevant and contextual affiliate links, everyone wins!

Additionally, Google rewards publishers who create original content and add real value for their readers.

They reward such publishers by placing them higher in search results and driving more traffic to them.

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But, in today’s highly competitive and increasingly dynamic market, how can brands find the time to manage and grow their affiliate marketing program?

The answer is with the help of the right affiliate marketing software that streamlines the entire process.

In the early days of affiliate marketing, brands didn’t have the luxury of using affiliate software that gave them all the tools needed to run an affiliate marketing program.

As a result, to run successful affiliate marketing programs in the past, brands often needed to be a one-man show and manage every aspect of affiliate marketing on their own.

Naturally, this approach took a considerable amount of time, and brands did not have the bandwidth necessary to undertake such an endeavor. Thankfully, this is no longer the case today.

Therefore, brands need to utilize the right affiliate marketing software to stay competitive and maximize ROI in today’s highly competitive affiliate marketing space.

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This article will go over what affiliate marketing software is and what makes a great affiliate software platform.

We’ll also review the top 10 affiliate marketing software platforms that brands can use to take their affiliate program to the next level.

What Is An Affiliate Marketing Software?

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing software is a comprehensive tool that facilitates all aspects of affiliate marketing program management.

It allows brands to track, manage, and grow their affiliate marketing campaigns.

Most affiliate marketing software platforms share standard features such as affiliate onboarding, collaboration with affiliate partners, affiliate tracking and reporting, and referral, cost, and commission payment management.

What Makes A Good Affiliate Marketing Software Platform?

Though most affiliate marketing software platforms share many of the same features, what sets apart the good platforms from the bad is what’s important.

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For starters, the actual platform must have an intuitive and user-friendly interface.

An affiliate marketing platform can boast all of the best affiliate tools and features available.

Still, it’s a moot effort if the dashboard is complicated for most people.

Additionally, since brands usually utilize a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms for ecommerce and affiliate marketing, affiliate marketing software platforms need to offer tons of third-party SaaS integrations.

The best affiliate marketing software platforms offer robust tracking and reporting capabilities.

Brands need to be able to precisely track their affiliate sales and access real-time granular data to measure the ROI of their affiliate campaigns effectively.

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Additionally, a good affiliate marketing platform will provide brands with all the affiliate tools they need to launch, manage, promote, and scale their affiliate programs, such as flexible commissions management and customizable real-time affiliate tracking and reporting capabilities.

At the same time, they should offer their clients peace of mind by providing the highest level of fraud detection and other security features.

Lastly, the best affiliate marketing software platforms mean nothing if there isn’t quality customer service available 24/7 to back it up. Readily available customer assistance is equally important for brands as it is for affiliates.

Top 10 Affiliate Marketing Software

1. Refersion

With over seven years in the affiliate marketing industry and over 20,000 clients, Refersion is one of the leading affiliate marketing software platforms on the market.

Its robust and highly personalized dashboard allows brands to manage all aspects of their affiliate program, such as monitoring all aspects of their affiliate activity with extensive real-time reporting capability.

Refersion offers brands all the tools they need to scale and promote their affiliate programs, such as managing commissions, payouts, and providing simplified tax automation.

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Refersion integrates with all the major ecommerce SaaS platforms and features one of the largest marketplaces full of affiliates for brands to discover.

It provides brands with peace of mind by offering some of the best fraud detection and security features available.

Finding any significant cons to such an established affiliate platform is more complicated than it looks.

If we had to choose something, perhaps its pricing isn’t the cheapest compared to a few other platforms on this list.

But then again, it’s hard to find any affiliate marketing software that offers the top-notch affiliate tools, marketplace, and customer service for $89 a month like Refersion does.

2. Impact

Impact is one of the biggest affiliate marketing software platforms for cloud automation.

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Its signature Impact Partnership Cloud allows brands to develop automated affiliate or influencer marketing campaigns.

It offers a decent marketplace, marketing tools, and analytics for brands to track and manage their affiliate programs.

However, pricing is not readily available and requires a custom quote.

3. Tapfiliate

For businesses primarily operating and generating their revenue on ecommerce SaaS platforms, Tapfiliate may be a great choice.

It features an autopilot mode that can automate things such as onboarding new affiliates, sharing via social media, or even drip campaigns.

Tapfiliate offers advanced tracking and reporting capabilities, but most of the features are accessible only through the Pro plan, which starts at $149 a month (not the cheapest on the list).

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The Essential plan starts at $69 a month.

4. Affise

Affise features an intuitive and highly customizable dashboard and is a great choice for agencies that manage multiple affiliate networks on an Enterprise level.

It can be accessed via web, cloud, or SaaS, and offers good third-party SaaS integration.

One standout feature of Affise is its smart targeting function that allows audience targeting via criteria such as geolocation, device, language, or device connection speed.

Affise also offers robust tracking and reporting capabilities.

Still, its monthly starting price of $499 doesn’t make it so readily accessible for most brands running affiliate programs.

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It is better suited for Enterprise-level agencies and brands.

5. Awin

Awin, previously known as Zanox, merged with Affilinet in 2017 to become one of the largest affiliate marketing platforms with more than 200,000 marketers and over 15,000 advertisers.

It features a handful of marketing and reporting features you’d expect from such an extensive network.

Though, it doesn’t feature some essential affiliate features you’d expect, such as affiliate tracking or fraud detection security.

Registration is free on Awin, but its performance-based pricing model means that there isn’t a fixed monthly cost to join the platform.

Instead, brands pay a predetermined cost-per-acquisition.

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6. Cake

Cake is another affiliate marketing platform available via web, cloud, or SaaS.

Cake partners with over a dozen partners to offer a variety of streamlined and automated features, most notably its live reporting and tracking capabilities that allow brands to optimize their affiliate campaigns in real-time.

Cake doesn’t provide pricing on its website and requires a custom quote.

It also doesn’t feature any pre-made promotional tools for marketers, which doesn’t make it quite suitable for novice users just starting out with their affiliate programs.

7. ClickBank

ClickBank was one of the first affiliate platforms, launching all the way back in 1998. Since then, it’s grown to one of the largest affiliate marketplaces with over 200 million customers.

ClickBank offers native support for brands that offer ongoing subscription services.

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It makes it easy for brands to create one-click repeatable purchases, allowing them to provide monthly products without requiring manual monthly payments.

It also offers some of the standard affiliate features commonly found on most affiliate platforms, such as affiliate reporting, payments, commissions management, and third-party integrations.

However, compared to most of the other affiliate platforms on this list, it doesn’t offer a demo, free trial, or monthly pricing.

Instead, ClickBank charges a one-time activation cost and a non-negotiable fee of 7.5% + $1 per sale.

8. CJ Affiliate

CJ Affiliate offers access to hundreds of markets and brands on one platform. It provides a customizable dashboard and a variety of reports and specialized tools.

Most notably, CJ Affiliates offers specialized tools, such as Deep Link Automation and Product Widgets, that enable brands to improve their affiliate program ROI.

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CJ Affiliate also allows brands to boost lead generation by maximizing their partner’s content.

However, it also doesn’t provide a demo or free trial, and pricing is only available via a custom quote.

9. TUNE

TUNE allows brands to build, manage, and grow their affiliate partner networks through its proprietary marketing technology.

TUNE offers customizable tools, reporting, commissions, payments, and real-time affiliate tracking and reporting like most other platforms on this list.

However, it doesn’t provide affiliate promotional tools like most other platforms, and pricing is on the steeper side at $279 a month for the Professional plan and $799 a month for the Enterprise plan.

10. LeadDyno

LeadDyno specializes in affiliate program promotion and perhaps offers the most amount of promotional tools available in an affiliate marketing software platform.

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LeadDyno allows brands to create various promotional campaigns like email and newsletter campaigns and share them on social media.

It offers extensive tracking and reporting features that allow brands to monitor and optimize their promotional campaigns.

Because LeadDyno specializes in affiliate promotional tools, it lacks some of the more robust affiliate tools that enable brands to manage and optimize their affiliate campaigns in real-time, like most of the other platforms on this list.

Also, there are no fraud detection features available.

Still, pricing is on the affordable side, starting at $49 a month for the Starter Plan, $59 a month for the Biz Builder Plan, and $79 a month for the Accelerator Plan.

Wrapping Up

Great affiliate software solutions enable brands to easily launch affiliate programs and track referrals and sales made by their affiliate partners.

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Excellent affiliate marketing software should provide brands with all the tools needed to launch, promote, and grow their affiliate program.

At the same time, they should provide customizable and easy-to-use reporting capabilities that allow brands to track affiliate program performance in real-time.

Because, after all, without reliable tracking and reporting tools, brands cannot effectively assess the success and profitability of their affiliate campaigns and partnerships.

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Websites Created With Google Business Profiles To Shut Down In March

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Websites Created With Google Business Profiles To Shut Down In March

Do you have a website created through Google Business Profiles for your local business?

If so, you must find an alternative website solution as Google plans to shut down websites created with Google Business Profiles in March.

Websites Created With Google Business Profiles Will Redirect Until June 10, 2024

A redirect will be put in place from your GBP website to your Google Business Profile until June 10, 2024.

“Websites made with Google Business Profiles are basic websites powered by the information on your Business Profile.

In March 2024, websites made with Google Business Profiles will be turned off and customers visiting your site will be redirected to your Business Profile instead.

The redirect will work until June 10, 2024.”

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How To Find Out If You Have A Google Business Profile Website

To find out if your business has a website made with Google Business Profile, search for my business or your business name on Google. Once you find your Google Business Profile, edit your profile and check for your website in the contact section.

If you have a Google Business Profile site, it should say, “You have a website created with Google.”

Otherwise, it will allow you to add the link to your website.

Screenshot from Google, February 2024Websites Created With Google Business Profiles To Shut Down In March

Choosing An Alternative Website Builders For Small Businesses

Google suggests Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, Google Sites, Shopify for ecommerce, Durable, Weebly, Strikingly, and WordPress as alternative website builders to create a new website or ad landing page to replace the Google Business Profiles site.

While some, like WordPress, offer a free website builder with generative AI features, its users’ content may reportedly be sold to OpenAI and Midjourney as training data unless they opt out.

Regarding Core Web Vitals, WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace showed the most improvements in performance.

It’s also worth noting that while Google Deepmind used a Google Sites website to introduce Genie, its new AI model, Google Sites may not be best for SEO.

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Updating Ad Campaigns

If you have a Google Ads campaign that links to a website created with Google Business Profiles, the ad campaign will also stop running on March 1, 2024, until the website link is updated.

There’s still time to update your business website to ensure visitors are not sent to a 404 error page after June 10, 2024. If you haven’t chosen a new website builder or hosting service, review the reviews to find the most reliable, affordable, and optimized solution for your business.

Featured image: Vladimka production/Shutterstock

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How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

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How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

Building a successful agency can be a daunting task in today’s ever-evolving space. Do you know the secrets to succeeding with yours?

Watch this informative, on-demand webinar, where link building expert Jon Ball reveals the closely guarded secrets that have propelled Page One Power to become a highly successful $10 million agency.

You’ll learn:

  • The foundational principles on which to build your business to succeed.
  • The importance of delegation, market positioning, and staffing.
  • More proven lessons learned from 14 years of experience.

With Jon, we’ll provide you with actionable insights that you can use to take your business to the next level, using foundational principles that have contributed to Page One Power’s success.

If you’re looking to establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur or grow your agency in the constantly evolving world of SEO, this webinar is for you.

Learn the secrets of establishing a thriving agency in an increasingly competitive SEO space.

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View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

How An Enterprise Digital PR Firm Earns 100’s Of Links In 30 Days

Join us as we explore how to scale the very time-consuming and complicated process of earning links from digital PR, with proven case studies showing how you can earn hundreds of links in 30 days.

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SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

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SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

Toxic backlinks are links that some SEO tools say could hurt your website’s Google rankings. The implication is that you should disavow them to keep your site safe.

But there’s some disagreement and confusion among SEOs as to whether “toxic” links are actually a thing and what, if anything, you should do about them. 

If you believe Google’s John Mueller, they’re not: 

Yet, according to my poll, the majority (just!) of SEOs think they are: 

So… what’s the deal here? Are toxic backlinks actually a thing? Are they hurting your site? And if so, what should you be doing about them? 

Before we can answer those questions, we need to understand the terminology… 

Every website has some spammy backlinks that just don’t make sense. But that doesn’t necessarily make them manipulative or “toxic.”

For example, here are a couple of obviously spammy links to our site: 

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Example of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

We didn’t build or buy either of these, so they’re not “manipulative” by definition. They’re just low-quality links we’ve attracted over time because the internet is rife with spammers. 

If you study Google’s link spam documentation carefully, you’ll see that, in theory, these aren’t the kind of spammy links they have a problem with. They warn only against the ill effects of spam links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages. Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. 

Here are the examples Google gives of these manipulative links: 

What Google says are manipulative linksWhat Google says are manipulative links

As for “toxic backlinks,” this is just a term made up by certain SEO tools to describe backlinks they think could hurt your rankings based on several so-called “markers.”

Key takeaway

  • Spammy links are low-quality links that every site attracts through no fault of their own. 
  • Manipulative links are links built or bought solely to improve Google rankings. 
  • Toxic links are links that certain SEO tools say could hurt your website’s rankings. 

If you asked this question before September 2016, the answer would have likely been “yes.”

So what changed? 

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Penguin 4.0.

With this algorithm update, Google switched from demoting pages to a system that tries to ignore bad links.

Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site. 

Since then, Google’s stance has been that you can ignore spammy backlinks. 

If you’re seeing individual links that pop up and you say, “oh this looks like a spammer dropped the link” or whatever, I would completely ignore those. […] because these spammy links happen to every website and Google’s system has seen them so many times over the years that we’re very good at just ignoring them. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

But is this true? Is Google really as good at ignoring low-level spam as we’re made to believe? 

Judging by my colleague Chris’s recent poll on LinkedIn, a good chunk of SEOs (38%) don’t think so, as they’re still disavowing them. 

Most SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinksMost SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinks

Does that mean they’re right to do so? Not necessarily. It just means they don’t fully trust Google that they won’t do any harm. They’re being careful. 

Personally, the person I trust most to answer this question in 2024 is Dr. Marie Haynes. I don’t think anyone’s done more research into this than her. She’s spent well over a decade working to understand Google’s search algorithms and auditing link profiles on behalf of business owners. 

Now, the interesting part of that statement (and why I actually trust her!) is the obvious conflict of interest. Until fairly recently, she made her living selling link audit and disavow file creation services—and for a pretty hefty sum at that! 

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Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023
Pricing from Marie’s link audit services page in March 2023

Clearly, it would be good news for Marie if Google were still terrible at ignoring spammy backlinks because she could sell more link audits! 

Yet, these days, she no longer appears to offer such services. In fact, she’s actually been warning folks against the need to disavow low-quality, spammy backlinks for a few years. 

Here’s a quote from a 2022 blog post of hers:

While there is no harm in disavowing low quality spammy links, it likely does not help improve rankings. We believe that Google’s algorithms are already ignoring these links. […]. When we do see improvements these days after disavowing, it is always in sites where we have disavowed links that were purposely made for SEO and very little else. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

It’s clear that Marie is being cautious with her words here. But overall, her opinion after digging into this for many years seems to be that, yes, Google is now pretty good at ignoring most low-quality spammy links. 

Does that mean they’re perfect? No. But it does mean that worrying about obvious low-quality link spam is probably a waste of time for most people.

If you’re buying or building the types of links that Google class as “link spam” then, yes, they can absolutely hurt your rankings.

But before you panic about that link exchange you did with your best friend’s wife’s brother, Google is likely looking for patterns of manipulation here. In other words, manipulative link profiles rather than manipulative individual links: 

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Danny Richman, founder of Richman SEO Training, agrees: 

Here’s a bit more context from Danny: 

As for Marie Haynes, she echoes a similar sentiment in this post. She states that manual actions aside, she would only recommend a client disavow links if they have “a very large number of links that [they] feel the webspam team would consider to be ‘manipulative.’ ”

In these cases, Google often slaps the worst offenders with an unnatural links manual action. If you get one of those, that’s Google telling you, “Hey… you’re being demoted in search because we think you’ve been trying to game the system with manipulative links.” 

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But this doesn’t have to happen for manipulative links to be a problem. It’s possible for Google to algorithmically demote a site if they detect a large volume of spammy and manipulative links, at least according to John Mueller.

If we see a very strong pattern [of spammy links] there, then it can happen that our algorithms say well, we really have kind of lost trust with this website and at the moment based on the bigger picture on the web, we kind of need to be more on almost a conservative side when it comes to to understanding this website’s content and ranking it in the search results. And then you can see kind of a drop in the visibility there. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

Either way, the point remains: it’s patterns of manipulation that are likely to hurt rankings. There’s very little chance that you need to worry about the odd potentially dodgy link here and there. 

While it might be tempting to use an SEO tool that finds “toxic backlinks” for you, I’d seriously urge you to reconsider. Trusting these can do more harm than good. Way more. 

Just look at this unfortunate Redditor’s reply to John Mueller: 

Someone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO toolSomeone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO tool
A 60% drop in traffic! That’s no joke! 

Even if this is an extreme case, worrying about these links likely only wastes time because, according to Marie Haynes, they’re rarely truly toxic: 

I find that the truly toxic links…the ones that could have the potential to harm your site algorithmically (although you’d have to really overdo it, as I’ll describe below), are rarely returned by an SEO tool. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

Sam McRoberts, CEO of VUVU Marketing, seems to agree: 

So… how do you find truly toxic backlinks that are likely to be hurting your site? 

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The truth? You might not even need to look for them. If you haven’t built or bought links that Google considers link spam at any reasonable scale, chances are you’re good. 

If you’re not confident about that, do a manual backlink audit with a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

The Anchors report is a good starting point if you’ve never done this. It shows you the words and phrases people use when linking to you. If they look unnatural or over-optimized (lots of exact matches of keywords you’re trying to rank for), that could be a sign you have paid or other links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Example of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinksExample of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinks

If things look fishy there, use the Backlinks report to dig deeper and check the context of those links. It’s usually quite easy to spot paid and unnatural ones. 

The Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlinkThe Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlink

Just remember that you’re looking for patterns of unnatural links, not just one or two. 

WARNING

If you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for when doing a backlink audit, hire someone who knows what they’re doing. You need to be confident that the links are truly “toxic.”

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If you have a manual action for unnatural links or a bunch of what you believe to be truly toxic backlinks, yes. Google’s advice is to disavow them (assuming you can’t get the links removed). 

You should disavow backlinks only if: 

You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, 

AND

The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site. 

Marie Haynes advises the same: 

There are two situations where we will recommend to our clients a thorough link audit followed by filing a disavow: 

  1. The site has a manual action for unnatural links in GSC. 
  2. The site has a very large number of links that we feel the webspam team would consider to be “manipulative”.
Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

If you just have a bunch of spammy backlinks that most sites naturally attract or the odd paid backlink, probably not. Google probably ignores most, if not all, of these links, so disavowing them is likely a waste of time. 

While there is no harm in disavowing these links other than the time spent analyzing them, there is likely no benefit either. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

But what about negative SEO?

Being the victim of a negative SEO attack is indeed the possible exception here. This is when a competitor sends a load of spammy or toxic backlinks your way to try to get your site penalized. 

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Google remains adamant that it basically never works, but it really comes down to what you believe. 

[I’ve] looked at hundreds of supposed cases of negative SEO, but none have actually been the real reason a website was hurt. […] While it’s easier to blame negative SEO, typically the culprit of a traffic drop is something else you don’t know about–perhaps an algorithm update or an issue with their website. 

Gary IllyesGary Illyes

If you see a traffic drop after an influx of backlinks in Site Explorer, I’d say that it’s at least worth a bit more investigation. 

Site with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinksSite with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinks
This site experienced a traffic drop coinciding with an influx of referring domains. Maybe there’s benefit to disavowing here… and maybe it’s something else!

As Gary said above, something else could be to blame—but you never know. There’s always a chance that Google’s algorithms rule it was you who built or bought those backlinks to try to manipulate rankings and penalize you for it. 

If you just found a bunch of so-called “toxic backlinks” in an SEO tool, probably not. Again, most of these are probably just link spam Google already ignores. 

Here’s yet another quote from Marie Haynes backing this up: 

While there is probably no harm in disavowing [links reported as toxic in SEO tools], you are not likely to see any improvement as a result. Disavowing is meant for sites trying to remove a manual action and for those who have been actively building links for the purpose of improving rankings. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

There’s also the risk that you could end up disavowing links that are actually helping you… 

Patrick showed further evidence that this can absolutely happen when he experimented with disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog. Traffic dipped, then went back up after he removed the disavow. 

The impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blogThe impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog

Final thoughts

“Toxic backlinks” is a term made up by certain SEO tools to scare you. That’s not to say bad links can’t hurt your site. They absolutely can. But fortunately for most site owners, it’s rarely a problem worth worrying all that much about. 

Got questions? Disagree? Ping me on Twitter X.

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