Unnatural Links: Definition, Its Effects, and Types

Nur Fadilah Kurnia

Published at June 21, 2024 05:21 AM

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    Have you ever wondered why some websites can appear at the top of search results, while others struggle to get there? One of the reasons for this is unnatural links. While there are many strategies to achieve this goal, some tactics can backfire and harm your website's visibility in the long run.

    In this article, you will learn all about unnatural links, explaining what they are, how they can negatively impact your website's ranking, and the different types to be aware of.

    What Are Unnatural Links?

    Unnatural links are inbound or outbound website links created to manipulate a site's ranking in organic search results.

    These links, which can be purchased, exchanged, or created by other means, often trick search engines into overestimating a website's authority. These bad links also provide no value to site visitors and are considered "link spam".

    Search engines like Google penalize sites that use these links to ensure that users receive the best possible experience and search results.

    This manipulation can involve keywords and outbound links that don't really match the user's search goals but are designed to artificially boost rankings.

    Google considers any link intended to manipulate search rankings to be link spam, which covers a wide range of behaviors, including behaviors previously considered harmless.

    The Effects of Unnatural Links on SEO Performance

    Unnatural links can greatly affect a website's SEO performance, especially for small businesses. When Google suspects these bad links, it will take manual action, removing the site from search results.

    The site owner is given about six months to remove these links and submit a reconsideration request; otherwise, it will be subject to further penalties.

    Such penalties often lead to a significant drop in search rankings, making it difficult for users to find the site and reducing organic traffic.

    Small businesses, especially those without SEO expertise, may struggle to recover from this drop in visibility, as a key channel for lead generation is disrupted, potentially causing significant business setbacks.

    Unnatural Links Penalty

    As mentioned earlier, Google penalizes websites that engage in unnatural linking practices to manipulate search rankings, following its linking guidelines in the spam policy.

    These penalties, known as manual actions, involve a manual review by the Google team. When a site is found in violation, it can suffer a significant drop in search rankings or even complete removal from Google's search index.

    Google evaluates link quality without considering the age of the link or the domain authority score or PageRank, which means even well-established and reputable websites can be penalized for these unhealthy links.

    Types of Unnatural Links

    These bad links come in various forms, each of which can harm your website's SEO and lead to penalties from search engines like Google. Here are seven types to avoid:

    • Blog Comments or Forum Posts: User-generated spam in the form of blog comments or forum posts linking back to your website.
    • Spam Listings: Business profiles use keyword stuffing or false information to gain unfair search result advantages.
    • Low-Quality Directories: Generic directories with poor standards, difficult navigation, and insecure protocols that signal spam to search engines.
    • Link Exchanges: Reciprocal links between websites, especially in bulk or across unrelated industries, which Google views as manipulative.
    • Poor Quality PBNs (Private Blog Networks): Networks of websites that sell backlinks, risking temporary SEO boosts but likely leading to penalties.
    • Sitewide Links: Excessive links on every page of a website, particularly outside the navigation and footer, can make a site appear spammy.
    • Automatically Generated Links: Links posted by spammers to harm your website's credibility, necessitating enhanced security measures to prevent penalties.

    What Must You Do with Unnatural Link?

    Small businesses affected by these bad links can improve their search rankings and site traffic by following a few steps.

    First, they should perform unnatural link removal, which involves downloading their backlinks and analyzing recent link activity. However, it is important to be careful to avoid removing useful natural links, which can also hurt rankings.

    Utilizing Google's Webmaster Guidelines helps businesses identify practices that are favorable for page rank and avoid practices that can lower them.

    For example, adding the "rel=nofollow" attribute to purchased links or redirecting them to pages blocked by the robots.txt file can prevent penalties.

    Ultimately, the best strategy is to build reputable backlinks by maintaining a strong content strategy that encourages visitors to link to the website naturally. This approach helps balance the negative impact of bad links with a healthy flow of backlinks from legitimate sources.

    That was a complete explanation of unnatural links that you should avoid. Remember, search engines prioritize websites with trustworthy and natural backlinks. Now, it's time to focus on building a healthy link profile for your website.

    To check the health of your website, you can use a tool like Sequence Stat, which makes it easy to do every SEO activity.

    Sequence Stat offers a comprehensive set of SEO tools that are more than just backlink analysis. With features like site audits and competitor research, you can proactively identify potential issues and develop a strategic SEO approach.

    Don't let unnatural links drag your website down. Take control of your SEO performance with Sequence Stat. Sign up for your free trial today and experience the power of data-driven SEO optimization!