If you have ever experienced the sinking feeling of discovering a Google penalty has crippled your website rankings, the chill that accompanies finding unnatural links on your website is likely very familiar. Unnatural links are links on your website, placed explicitly or even unwittingly, that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines about link schemes. These links can not only impact your rankings, but can also lead to a full-on manual penalty from Google. Yikes!

It may seem overwhelming to think about finding, identifying and removing these types of links from your website. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we are talking all about unnatural links, how to identify them and the steps you can take to get them removed from your website. Stay tuned!

Quick Breakdown

Unnatural links are links to a website that have been added artificially, often with the intent of manipulating search engine rankings. These links should be avoided as search engines can penalise websites for having them, which could reduce visibility in organic search results.

What are Unnatural Links?

Unnatural links are those generated by marketers or developers that are intended to manipulate search engine rankings and includes any link-based manipulation technique. They fall into two distinct categories: spammy links, which have been placed with the intent of manipulating search engines; and natural links, which have been generated naturally.

Spammy links are artificial web pages designed to trick search engines into thinking they are legitimate websites linking back to a page. They often include irrelevant keywords, meaningless content, multiple identical designs, etc. Attempts to intentionally manipulate search engine rankings through the use of these types of links is known as “Black Hat SEO” and is widely considered an unethical practise by most search engines.

Natural links, on the other hand, are created when users create content that is linked back to your website from another domain. Created through user behaviour and interactions, these links appear more organic in nature and can be seen as beneficial to overall site rankings. While many feel this type of link building is more beneficial to a website’s SEO efforts, there can still be potential pitfalls such as abuse if not monitored closely for compliance with search engine guidelines.

By understanding the distinction between what constitutes an unnatural versus a natural link it provides valuable context when identifying potential problems and implementing corrections for any link-based issues. It’s important for those responsible for online marketing efforts to stay up-to-date on current best practises in order to ensure their efforts remain compliant and don’t cause harm to their site’s performance in major search engines.

With that being said, it’s clear that having an understanding of unnatural and natural links is essential when considering how unatural links can also affect SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). In the next section we will further explore this idea to gain a further understanding of how unatural links can cause harm and impact SEO rankings.

  • According to Moz, external links, or those from other websites, play a major role in SEO.
  • Unnatural external link practises such as buying or exchanging links can lead to a penalty from Google.
  • According to Search Engine Journal, one of the most common reasons Google penalises websites is due to unnatural links.

How Unnatural Links Can Affect SEO

Unnatural links can often have a negative impact on SEO, since they do not appear natural to search engine algorithms. Search engines rely on sophisticated algorithms to determine a website’s relevance and rank it accordingly. When unnatural links lead to a website, the algorithms are confused by what appears to be a large number of irrelevant or low-quality websites suddenly being linked to the same page. This can cause the algorithm to deem the website as partially or completely irrelevant, resulting in lower rankings or complete removal from search engine results pages.

On the other hand, natural links that manifest organically give the algorithm an indication of higher relevance and value for the website. These naturally linked websites are seen as trustworthy sources, thus improving the overall ranking of a website. As such, many experts believe that unnatural links can drastically harm your website’s SEO efforts and should always be managed carefully when present.

It is important to note that unnatural links gain a somewhat unfair reputation when, in reality, some cases of link manipulation are actually valid and beneficial business practises. Companies often use link manipulation strategically to try and drive competition away from their own site – purchasing ‘sponsored’ links from popular sites with lots of traffic is one example of this type of practise. However, this kind of manipulation should be done cautiously as there is always an inherent risk of harming your site’s authority if done incorrectly or too frequently.

In conclusion, it is essential for webmasters and SEO professionals to identify and remove any unnatural links detected on their website due to the risk associated with them hurting overall SEO performance and potentially resulting in a lower ranking in search results pages. Moving forward to our next section, let’s discuss how you can mitigate this risk by addressing common vulnerabilities associated with unnatural link placement on your website.

Risk of a Lower Ranking

When unnatural links are present on a website, the risk of having a lower ranking is real. Unnatural links are signals to search engines that can lead to a decrease in rankings or even potential algorithmic penalties. Search engine algorithms have become significantly more advanced in recent years and can detect unnatural linking patterns, which can trigger significant changes to a website’s search results.

The risk of having a lower ranking due to unnatural links depends on several factors, including the quality and quantity of the links and how they were acquired. Low-quality or spammy links, such as those purchased from link farms, can be penalised much more harshly than natural backlinks built over time through normal website promotion. Additionally, search engines may be more likely to issue algorithmic penalties for websites with more than an acceptable amount of low-quality content or links.

Ultimately, there is no set rule when it comes to determining what might cause a website’s rankings to drop due to unnatural links—smart SEOs must approach their link profiles with caution and avoid suspicious or low-quality links whenever possible.

With the risk of lower rankings and potential algorithmic penalties on the line, the next section will explore in further detail about the different types of algorithmic penalties that may result from having unnatural links in your website’s profile.

Risk of Algorithmic Penalties

One of the most important things to consider when it comes to unnatural links is the potential risk of algorithmic penalties imposed by search engines. Algorithmic penalties are automated actions taken by search engines to punish websites that engage in black-hat SEO tactics, including those related to building unnatural links. Depending on the severity of the penalty, it can result in a website being removed from search results and the possible loss of online visibility and traffic.

On one hand, it is important for website owners to understand that algorithmically penalising websites that frequently partake in link schemes is a necessary action, as it helps keep webpages relevant with accurate and up-to-date information. These types of penalties also encourage website owners to invest resources into marketing strategies like natural link building techniques instead of attempting to take shortcuts with potentially damaging techniques.

On the other hand, some people believe that algorithmic penalties may punish innocent parties who were not aware that they were participating in a link scheme. Lower quality websites could be manipulated by black-hat SEO agencies or even competitors who want their pages to rank higher than their own, resulting in unnecessary and undeserved algorithm penalties.

In any case, understanding how algorithm penalties work is an important part of making sure your site does not get blocked from search engine results due to unknowingly engaging in a link scheme. Next we’ll dive into different types of unnatural links and some ethical link building strategies you can use to avoid these penalties.

Must-Know Points

Algorithmic penalties are automated actions taken by search engines to punish websites that engage in link schemes. This helps keep webpages relevant with accurate and up-to-date information, as well as encouraging website owners to use natural link building techniques instead of trying to take shortcuts. However, low quality websites may be manipulated by black-hat SEO agencies or competitors and receive unnecessary algorithm penalties. It is important for website owners to understand how algorithmic penalties work in order to avoid being blocked from search engine results. The ethical strategies for link building should also be considered in order to prevent algorithmic penalties.

Types of Unnatural Links and Link Building Strategies to Avoid

Unnatural links are links that are generated by low-quality link building strategies. These links can have an adverse impact on a website’s search engine rankings and lead to penalties by Google. As such, some website owners choose to remove these types of links from their domain. But understanding the different types of unnatural links and link building strategies to avoid is paramount before removing them.

Types of Unnatural Links

Unnatural links are often created through practises such as keyword stuffing, buying or trading backlinks, and blog spamming. Other types of unnatural links come from websites with duplicate content, irrelevant content, and pages with poor user experience such as slow speed or intrusive popup ads. Furthermore, reciprocal linking (or cross-linking) between two domains in an effort to gain PageRank is considered manipulative by search engines and should be avoided. As stated by Google in its “Link schemes” page: “Excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking will negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results”.

Link Building Strategies to Avoid

When it comes to acquiring natural links that add value to a website without putting it at risk of penalty, white hat SEO techniques are the way forward. Instead of trying to manipulate rankings, website owners need to invest in creating quality content that people genuinely want to share was well as using directory websites and press releases. Link building strategies like guest blogging or influencer outreach should also be used sparingly while focusing on producing quality content. It is also important to remember that link building efforts should be spread out over time naturally, rather than trying to acquire as many high-quality backlinks as soon as possible which may raise red flags for search algorithms.

In conclusion, avoiding unnatural links requires website owners to be mindful about the type of backlinks they are aiming for and their methods for obtaining those links accordingly. Now we will discuss the steps required to go about finding any potential unnatural links so they can be removed from your website appropriately.

How to Find Unnatural Links

When it comes to how to find unnatural links, there are a few methods website owners can take to spot any potential problematic issues. One option is to use a free tool such as Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs which will help you analyse both the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing towards your website. These tools also allow users to easily identify which types of websites are linking back to yours, giving additional clarity when assessing if any links could be deemed “unnatural”.

Another useful method is to simply review the content that has been associated with the backlink. This helps webmasters determine if the source site is reputable or if it meets the Google guidelines for acceptable link building practises. When assessing this aspect, look for keyword stuffing, out of context phrases and grammar mistakes that could signal potentially “spammy” content written for SEO purposes only.

Beyond these standard measurements there is still some debate over what an “unnatural” link is actually defined as. For instance, many website owners receive contributions from external sources such as bloggers or guest posters. While technically classified as an external link, these often represent a legitimate connexion that provides valuable information while bringing in potential customers and search engine rankings. On the other hand, some artificial link building techniques such as buying links, participating in link farms and engaging in other questionable tactics can be considered unnatural and pose an unneeded risk of penalty.

Ultimately, it may require a combination of both qualitative and quantitative analysis coupled with professional judgement before determining if something contains an ‘unnatural’ link. With that said, having a reliable process for spotting unwanted backlinks can protect websites from being penalised by search engines for shady behaviour. With that established, let’s move onto exploring how to remove unnatural links from your website.

How to Remove Unnatural Links from Your Site

Removing Unnatural Links from Your Site

Unnatural links can have a negative impact on your website’s visibility in search engines like Google and can lead to penalties or demotions. It’s important to assess the risk of keeping an unnatural link versus the risk of removing it from your page.

Here are a few tips for removing unnatural links from your website:

1. Assess Links for Quality

Take the time to look over each suspicious link on your page using a tool like Moz, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or LinkResearchTools (LRT). This will help you review each link’s quality and determine whether it should be removed. Use caution if you decide to manually remove any of these links without first evaluating their potential impact on your website’s ranking performance.

2. Contact Link Publishers

Depending on the type of link, you may be able to contact the site owner or webmaster directly (if they’re not anonymous) to ask that they remove the link(s) in question. This is especially helpful if you’re dealing with private blog networks or link schemes which require manual removal. Be aware that this process might take some time depending on the response rate of each publisher.

3. Implement Disavow Tool Techniques

Google provides an ‘Advanced Disavow Links’ tool which helps webmasters mark specific external links as ‘unnatural’ and therefore ignore them when Google crawls your website for rankings – thus decreasing potential harm. To use this feature, simply enter all suspicious URLs into a .txt format file and submit them via the Disavow Tool (found within Google Search Console Settings). Make sure to add annotation comments next to each URL explaining why these links need to be removed – e.g., from which page the link was found on, who owns it, etc.. Doing so will streamline the document review process and make it more likely that Google will accept your request for link removal.

Debate: Removing unnatural links can present its own challenges as doing so could potentially cause further harm by weakening legitimate backlinks when automated algorithms try to identify which links need to be removed. On one hand, removing certain unnatural links could improve search engine performance; however, it must be done carefully or else there is risk of losing beneficial backlinks while trying to clean up the ones deemed bad or damaging. Therefore, both sides of argument should be considered before proceeding with removal or disavowal tactics in order to ensure that SEO isn’t negatively impacted in the long run instead of improved.

Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers

What are some of the consequences of having unnatural links on my website?

Having unnatural links on your website can have several negative consequences. Firstly, it can lead to a decrease in search engine rankings, making it harder for customers to find you. Secondly, unnatural links may draw attention from search engine companies, leading to potential penalties like decreased rankings or even being blocked from the index altogether. Finally, having too many unnatural links pointing to your website can provide a poor user experience and reduce trustworthiness, resulting in lower conversions and fewer sales. Therefore, having unnatural links on your website should be avoided at all cost in order to protect both your reputation and bottom line.

Are there any ways to remove unnatural links from my website?

Yes, there are a few ways to remove unnatural links from your website. The most effective way is to use the Google Search Console’s Disavow Tool. This allows you to submit a list of backlinks that you do not want associated with your website. Google will then disavow these links, meaning they will no longer affect your rankings or visibility. Another way to remove unnatural links is to contact the webmaster of the page and ask them directly to remove the link. Finally, if all else fails, you can manually go through each page and delete the offending link. Doing this will certainly take time but can be necessary in order to get rid of unwanted links.

How can I identify unnatural links?

Unnatural links are links that cannot be traced to the source or are not part of the original content. To identify unnatural links, look for obvious red flags such as a large number of low-quality links from unrelated websites, links from sites created specifically for the purpose of linking, or linked domains with suspicious names. Additionally, some search engine algorithms may flag a website with too many unnatural links and display a warning message in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

It is also important to conduct a comprehensive review of your own website’s link profile to identify any potential issues. This can include examining both external and internal link networks to ensure they follow best practises such as using descriptive keywords in anchor texts and avoiding duplicate content. Conducting an analysis of your competitors’ link profiles can also provide valuable insight into what types of links are successful within your industry.

Last Updated on April 15, 2024

E-commerce SEO expert, with over 10 years of full-time experience analyzing and fixing online shopping websites. Hands-on experience with Shopify, WordPress, Opencart, Magento, and other CMS.
Need SEO help? Email me for more info, at info@matt-jackson.com