Link Building FAIL: 5 Kinds of Unnatural Links You Don’t Want

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Tad Chef

Latest posts by Tad Chef (see all)


This is a guest post from Tad Chef  (Onreact), you can check out more of his blogging on SEO 2.0 and over at SEOptimise.

Over the years Google has maintained that inbound links can’t hurt your site yet many webmasters get notified via Google Webmaster Tools of “unnatural links” when they get penalized. What are unnatural links and how can you spot them? Aren’t all links great? How to prevent an epic link building FAIL?

The bad news: Not all links are created equal, some of them are evil. The good news: We know how the evil links look and we can spot them. There are even tools which assist you with this task.

As we all know good natural links grow on trees, so to say.

As on the Web there are no trees, unless in games like Farmville, you have to grow your organic links on websites. Unlike organic food sadly websites do not have clear badges proving that a site has certified organic links. Some sites may boast they have such links but you have to check and find out yourself whether it’s true.

Here are 5 kinds of links you don’t want like you don’t want to feed your newborn genetically modified Frankenfood.

100.000 site wide footer links – Unless your name is WordPress or Joomla nobody will believe you 100k footer links are organic, not even Google.

out of context exact match anchor text links – Imagine somebody asking for your name and you answering “best SEO company London”. Does that sound natural? So consider not getting after artificially sounding anchor text links on places like your aunts yoga studio.

10.000 nofollow blog comment links – Do you like spam? Do you like reading blog comment saying things like “Hey, exceptional weblog. I like your design. I recently got carried out with cosmetic classes and want to initial my own personal site. Thank you for the truly great publish!” on a site that does have nothing to do with cosmetics? Now imagine how natural it looks when you spread them all over the place?

juicy xxx site links – Unless you sell these images of three legged bald teens showing off their feet you don’t really want to get links from adult sites. Also cheap herbal online poker won’t help you much and they might look just a bit unnatural when they link to your car dealership.

obvious paid links – Paid links are evil Google says. SEO practicioners aren’t so sure as they don not even know exactly what paid links are in some cases. I know, not everybody can be a famous SEO guru like myself and thus spot paid links from afar. Nonetheless you have to shun obvious paid links. Where the site says sponsors, or even donations, has PageRank 7 or higher and your rich anchor text link is in Bulgarian instead of English like the rest of the site the link is probably paid. I know it, you know it and everybody else who can see and report it does know it as well.

So now that you know what to look for how can you do it without having to spend ages on checking your links? Well, I use the impressive link building tools by cognitiveSEO. You can use a plethora filters to search for

  • anchor texts
  • xxx links
  • footer links
  • nofollow links
  • high PageRank links

among others.

You may not yet get notifications for all of the above mentioned “unnatural links” but you can rest assured that they do not affect your site positively. So you better find out before Google does.

* CC image by Organic Nation.



  1. says

    @Tad Not tried CognitiveSEO yet…just signed up for closed private beta. Seems I’m in a waiting list, feel free to get me a push up the ladder :)

  2. says

    Hi Gareth,

    I am the Chief Architect @ cognitiveSEO.
    We will be launching in about a month. Until then the backend is highly modified so i would suggest to wait a bit until we have all the important things cleared out. I will notify you by mail when we are ready to take it for a test with you.

    Just shoot me a mail to put you on my personal waiting list of the product, before launch 😉


  3. says

    At this particular point of view here you have to say which natural links are supposed to be better and what are the facts behind those links to follow for getting positive results o fa long period.

  4. says

    If you operate a site in a niche like. for example, “laptops”, for sure links on adult,warez,etc sites will not help you at all.

    Also links that come from “Abused Pages” (ex:blogs that were abused by spammers posting automated comments, etc).

    You can find all these links and more with our toolset making your life as as a SEO much easier.

  5. Jon cooper says

    Hey Tad,

    I’ve managed to land some blogroll links through dead link building from some authoritative blogs. Are these good, or bad considering they’re on every page of their blogs?

  6. says

    Very informative post, But I thought the idea was to get links from as many sites as poss using the anchor text that matched your keywords??