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What Do Unnatural Links Look Like?

Are your links about as natural as Flaming Hot Cheetos?

Unnatural links are the hot topic in the SEO world this month. Unfortunately, most webmasters don’t know the difference between organic links and links that are as natural as Flaming Hot Cheetos.

In a recent blog post titled, Can There Really Be 85 Types of Unnatural Links?, contributor Eric Ward pointed out some the most common unnatural links and some general thoughts on the subject.

His ideas are based on the thought that natural and unnatural are pretty subjective terms on the web, but some links are clearly not of this earth. What follows are some of Ward’s top offenders.

  • Links with no logical connection – We’ve all seen this, and probably done it ourselves a few times. But the days of heavy links between poker sites and ringtone vendors are finished.
  • Generic site links – Ward warns against links generated from sites without about, contact, or author information. It’s another tell that shenanigans are present.
  • Too many links from blogrolls – This is a great example of a few links being legitimate, but too many start smelling pretty funny.
  • Are most of your backlinks coming from a very small number of sites? If they are, they might appear unnatural to search engine spiders.
  • Large numbers of links from blog networks and article directories – As an SEO strategy, these resources have been on thin ice for quite a while. But with Google shining a white hot light on the practices, it’s time to move on.
  • Funky TLD backlinks – Ward warns against a large number of top level domain (TLD) backlinks that contain directory or file named /resources-links.html or links.asp, or /exchange-links.html. It’s a big red flag to Google that you’re not a part of the natural world.

Still crafting your new link building strategy? Check out Link Building Post Penguin in 10 Easy Steps.


Google’s recent crackdowns on content, links and other SEO basics are particularly frustrating because these practices were tolerated for so long. But if they decide that your links are not organic, you need to figure out the problem and fix it as quickly as possible.

Are you feeling the hit from Google’s unnatural link crackdown? Let us know on our SEO Forum.