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What Is Unnatural Links

Search Engines despise unnatural links. And using unnatural links can get you penalized. As a small business owner, a drop in search rank deprives you of much visibility. This simply means that you cannot get your services across to the right audience, hence costing you time and money. Also, SEO enthusiasts and digital marketers would not want to see their efforts flushed down the drain by getting penalized. For this reason, it is best to know how to handle unnatural links. But handling unnatural links can prove to be tricky and even a big challenge. This is especially so if you do not know how to identify such links.

Here, you will find out all there is to know about unnatural links, how to find such unnatural links on your website, and what to do with such links. But first, let us see what unnatural links are.

What is an unnatural link?

Unnatural Links

The result of a typical digital marketing and SEO effort is the building of links – natural links. If you can engage your audience and convert them after creating great content, it is majorly because of a natural link. An editorial link is any link found in your blog post that directs your audience to another page that further informs the reader on the subject. And this describes a natural link.

However, unnatural links are loosely defined. They are bad links. The arrival of Google’s Penguin update in 2012 saw the introduction of unnatural links to the Google family. Such links are artificial links on a website. Users insert such links to manipulate their rank on a SERP (Search Engine Result Page). Typically, unnatural links include spammy links and purchased links. In fact, there are more examples of unnatural links. Let us consider some of them and how to handle them.

5 Unnatural links and how to fix them

In recent times, some links that were once thought to be good have been categorized as unnatural links. It all stems from Google’s description of what constitutes an unnatural link. The search engine giant – Google – considers any URL aimed at manipulating the ranking of a website as part of a link scheme. Such schemes violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

From the guideline given, Google's interest lies in the creation of great content that will engage audiences across the board. Yes, creating good content that audiences will want to share with others. So, all these rules simply check webmasters who attempt to play the system. Well, here are some of the links considered to be unnatural and their suitable fixes.

1.) Low-quality bookmarking sites and directories

Although the relevance of some directories and bookmarking sites maintain their relevance, not all offer value to users. Alltop, Reddit, Google My Business, Yelp, Manta, etc. are outstanding examples of user-focused sites that also perform well on search engines. If the directories are not good for users- that is, they offer less value, then you should skip using it. However, directories and bookmarking sites remain great sources of quality backlinks.

Fix – Withdraw your profile and delist.

2.) Syndicated links and Press Releases

The issues with Press Releases arise when you write for the search engine and not the user. Stuffing Keywords in a Press Release is a common practice that Google frowns at.

Fix – Clean up your Press releases and utilize Keywords properly. Do not disavow but optimize your Press Releases for users and not the search engine.

3.) Link Schemes

Whether you get your links from private blog networks, link schemes, or link farms, you must bear in mind that Google frowns at such link-building tactics. This link-building technique involves linking your web pages to other sites that you own.

Fix – Quit using such link-building techniques. Also, add these links to your list of disavowed links.

4.) Forums

Links derived from Forums are usually spammy. With keywords stuffed bios and tons of user-profiles having automated posts that are hardly read, Forums remain a major spam source.

Fix – Avoid forum link-building techniques as it stands a high chance of producing spammy links. Disavow such links.

5.) Widgets and badges

Widgets and badges present users with another avenue to build links. However, doing it wrong can attract Google’s penalty. As widget links must be ‘nofollow’ links, you must ensure you set your widgets and badges in order.

Fix – Add ‘nofollow’.

How to find Unnatural Links

So far, we have seen that unnatural links are ticking time-bombs waiting to explode on your website. Hence, you must do your utmost to put them in check. Here are some key ways to find unnatural links on your website.

  1. Employ the use of Ahrefs, SEMrush, Majestic, or any other great SEO tool to identify bad links.

  2. Audit your website’s backlinks and sort through links with toxic scores.

  3. Review your websites manually, even though it is tasking and time-consuming. Here you have to identify and separate unnatural links. Also, search for patterns as you are likely to encounter spams there.

  4. Disavow Links. This is often the last step in getting rid of unnatural links. After identifying and isolating bad links, the disavow tool helps you safeguard your site. Simply create a disavow file and get it uploaded to Google’s Search Console.

Wrapping Up

Ranking high on a Search Engine means a lot. Apart from the satisfaction of seeing your effort in play, it translates into increased engagement, conversions, and sales. All of these can be lost if Google penalizes your site for using an unnatural link- bad link. Hence, the need to take preventive measures. Putting a check to the unnatural links on your website will no doubt safeguard you from any penalty, it will also improve your site's quality in the long run.


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