Unnatural Link Schemes You Should Avoid

It seems that every move Google makes lately sends jitters down a webmaster’s spine. It started with the search giant’s Panda update, which caused many websites to see their ratings plunge, and then now, there’s the Penguin update, which made it possible for the search giant to detect unnatural links. To drive home the point, Google also sent out a warning to a lot of webmasters regarding unnatural links coming into their sites and advised them to remove these links or else face penalty.

First, what are unnatural links? Links are the building blocks of ranking on Google. These serve as votes of confidence for your site that tells Google just how valuable and relevant your site is it in terms of particular keywords or topic. It used to be that the higher number of links you have pointing to your site, the better. So what webmasters and search engine optimizers did was to do everything necessary to get more links.

The methods they used, however, do not always adhere to Google’s terms of service and do not do any good for real users. So in short, these are tantamount to spamming the search engines to get a higher rank.

With Google’s Panda, Penguin and other updates in between, the search engine has gained the ability to index a lot of pages in such a short time and find out which links are spam and which are not. Hence, the penalty.

So what methods should you avoid?

Having too many links with only one keyword as the anchor text.

SEO specialists have always advocated using keywords as anchor text for your URL. This will tell Google that your website is relevant to those keywords you target. However, think about it, having 1,000 links using the same anchor text is just unnatural link building and it is easy to detect.

What you should do: Aim for different anchor texts. Not just your keywords, but you should also have links with no anchor text, or use your business name as your anchor text.

Having too many social bookmarking links.

Social bookmarking sites became a very popular way to gain links to your website, especially if they’re do-follow. But remember that if you use too many social bookmarks where anybody can post, you might be putting up a link in what Google considers a bad neighborhood. So when Google punishes links from a certain social bookmarking site, your site will be adversely affected as well.

What you should do: Discriminate and find only the top social bookmarking sites that are relevant to your niche. This will ensure that you get quality links.

Do-follow only policy.

Do-follow links are those that give you link juice while no-follow links do not contribute anything to your link profile. In short, Google does not count no-follow links as votes for your site. For this reason, a lot of sites do link building and go after do-follow sites only. So imagine having 1,000 do-follow links and no no-follow links; that is a big signal that your link profile is unnatural.

What you should do: Stop looking at do-follow or no-follow status and instead invest on building links that are not only relevant, but would also get you more organic visitors even if it is no-follow.

Creating a social profile for links.

Social media profiles allow you to put in a link to your website and this is good for reputation management. If you are not going to be active on a social media site, then why bother creating a profile?

What you should do: Focus on the biggest social networks and those that are relevant to your business. Then be active on these social networks to maximize your social activities.

Spun articles.

There are a lot of article submission sites out there and they are a haven for those who are looking to put up links. It used to be that you can submit one article to a dozen article submission sites, but then Google cracked down on duplicate sites. So what did SEO and webmasters do? Create slightly different articles from one article and submit each “spun” article to a different site.

What you should do: Focus on high quality submission sites and create articles for these. You may have a smaller number of links, but you are assured that these are good links in relevant neighborhoods.

Buying links and participating in link exchanges.

Exchanging links and buying links result in the same outcome: your link becomes one of the dozens, even hundreds and thousands, of links in a page that maybe considered as bad by Google.

What you should do: Focus on creating top-notch content so that blogs and other sites would link to your content naturally without your having to ask them or to pay them.

Forum spamming, directory submissions and spammy blog commenting.

A popular way of building links is to get into forums and leaving your links on there. Or you could look for a blog post that gives out link juice and comment there. Usually you leave your keyword and URL. Directories are also a good way to easily get links. But then again, if you are spamming, you should know you’re doing it wrong.

What you should do: Look for blogs and forums that are relevant to your business, especially niche blogs and forums. Participate in the discussion and leave links only if necessary in providing a credible resource or relevant example for the discussion at hand. For forums, you can leave a link in your signature, but you should always contribute to the discussion in a meaningful and useful way. The trick is to become an authority on these blogs and forums to make yourself known to the people who go there and read your posts.

The bottom line for any natural link building effort is to have a well-rounded link profile that is balanced. This means that you should be getting all kinds of links from all kinds of sites. Be patient in building your links and do not go for the most number of links in a very short time.

This post is brought to you by Chris Barnwell of Search Engine Optimization, Inc, a full service search engine marketing agency.  Save yourself a visit from Penalty Penguin; avoid unnatural link schemes and practice ethical link building that abides by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Image source


  1. vishvast says

    hello mitz
    Google always welcome the human activities for SEO purpose is it possible to neutralize these links by increasing the natural number of links.please help about this matter by the away nice article shared
    vishvast recently posted..Free download battlefield 3 wallpapers

  2. Jared Drake says

    This is so true. Its so difficult for a new website to build links without a huge amount of capital. All the links guys sadly fall into this bad links and are forever doomed. It seems like dofollow blog commenting is slowly starting to pick up as people are being less strict with nofollow. Oh, how much I hate that tag.

    • Mitz says

      I am not into social bookmarking as such. I am into sharing on a few social sites only. Then if real people want to share too then that is just great! I do not like social book marking because anyone can create 100 accounts and go for it!

  3. hira says

    hey mitz – lots of website effected from 23-24 april via penguin and other bad links comes to website. Google should do something to detect these bad link which are not submitted etc. some website get the data and showing it on bad website without owner confirmation. thank you for sharing this post.
    hira recently posted..Cure Acne With Top 7 Home Remedies

  4. says

    Certainly, we should try to avoid such kind of links, because they can bring only damages. I personally against buying links, because it’s a little bit dishonest so to say

    Julia Spencer’s recent post.. Catchy Facebook Pages of Top World-Known Brands

  5. Mike Stevenbert says

    I agree that you should also build no follow links so that it can be balance. It is difficult to rank now and it should have patience because it takes a months to index all your backlinks.
    Mike Stevenbert recently posted..Why Us?

  6. Mike Stevenbert says

    My sites was hit by google panda and penguin and some of the sites has not yet recover. However, We are still doing backlinks on our site but we are aware now doing unnatural links. Google wants is to aware doing spammy backlinks.
    Mike Stevenbert recently posted..Why Us?

  7. Mark says

    A Lot of times we can easily see that bloggers put links many times on the same domains just to create a lot of links which is totally a wrong procedure of link building. The above article is very informative……..Thanks for this lesson….Breast Actives Official Website

  8. Jasmine says

    Hey, I agree with you that we should not add our links to every social bookmarking sites on the Internet! Instead need to leverage on the good ones only.

    But the difficult part is, which ones are the good ones for me? How do you decide? Any further tips for this… for example which one do you think will be good for my website 100webhosting.com?
    Jasmine recently posted..SiteGround Thanksgiving Holiday Sale

    • says

      I would say that if you blast hundreds of social bookmarking links all in one go, then it might be dangerous but if you limit the link to around 30-40 per day, which makes it look natural, then it might hold more power than a blast.
      About finding the high authority sites, you can search about “TOP 100 social bookmarking sites”. You will get a list and out of these, you will get around 25 sites where links to your web pages can be posted. In these sites, only manual submission can be done which makes these links far more powerful than other hundreds of automated social bookmarking links.

  9. Richard says

    Hi my car valeting site is only around 6 months old. When I set the site up I was told, as your blogs states, to build your links as naturally as possible. I aim at around 2 – 3 day at the most as the site is so young. The SEO adviser told me to find links from dofollow nofollow High PR and sites related to the industry in which I work as well as sites linked to the area in which I work. If you can mix them up and find a dofollow blog related to your industry with a high PR then that’s even better but it doesn’t matter. I now have over 4000links and I would guess I have created around 500 at the most.
    Richard recently posted..Preparing your Car for the Winter Months

    • mitz says

      That’s sounds like a good mix you have there. I do prefer dofollow links but also always get nofollow too… I am from the old days where “nofollow” did not even exist…

  10. Jacob Wilson says

    Very useful article Mitz and I really agree on your post. Many websites has been affected of google panda and penguin because of doing unnatural links. Not like before if you have more links the more you get high ranking but now it is risky and I am sure if you have hundreds or thousands of backlinks I am pretty sure your site will be penalty. What google want is to have a natural links and not spammy links.

  11. Albert David says

    Nowadays google panda and penguin is very strict and it should avoid doing unnatural links like spamming. Forum posting is really good also as long you are participate in relevant site, directory submission with exact category.
    Albert David recently posted..HAVE A SAFE & SWEET HALLOWEEN

  12. Sameer says

    Busing and selling of the link doesn’t comes under Google TOS. Your account may get banned if Google find out that you are buying links, just to get some advantage over the others in SERPS.

  13. venkat says

    Wow it is a really good post according to me.Thank you for sharing this post.May be it is useful to me.

  14. Maja says

    Google always welcome the human activities for SEO purposes.
    Mitz is it possible to neutralize these links by increasing the natural number of links.Please guide me in this regards so that I can be forward for my sites.
    Maja recently posted..Massage at Hair Salons

  15. venkat says

    Thank you for sharing this post.and according to this post i want more information about SEO. and finally Thank you for sharing this post.

  16. Soniya Sharma says

    Hi Awesome Post. Really This is very helpful.I already know about the anchor text thing, forum/blog commenting, and link exchanges. I am already doubtful about spun articles. I think it would be better to do a manual re-write from an original article.Well thanks for sharing with us.

  17. says

    I think being patient is an important factor. If you build your links slowly and continually and using different sources and anchor text, your profile should be diversified and looking natural.
    By the way, what is a good ratio between no-follow and do-follow links?
    Frank recently posted..Handtuchheizung im Bad

  18. Suresh says

    Google needs to read the definition of transparency. This is NOT transparency. This is closer to yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

  19. Andrea Smith says

    Great post and your are absolutely right that unnatural links are easy caught by google. doing seo now is not easy and it should be careful of putting backlinks on your site. One more things about blog commenting, I think it is okey if your are commenting in blogs if the blogs you are joining are not relevant to your site as long as you are commenting in the relevant topic.
    Andrea Smith recently posted..Advice On Creating A New Home Entrance From Your New Jersey Contractor

  20. Adam Gordon says

    I totally Agree that google possible track unnatural links or spammy links and not only just focus on one keyword or money site. It should be keyword rotations and web page rotation. For me, It is better to do a no follow links even though google does not count no follow links but this is the way that you show you are doing a natural links.
    Adam Gordon recently posted..Panther Vision’s POWERCAP® LED Hats Save Halloween

  21. prabhat says

    hello mitz,
    i have a small silly question. i have almost 7000 backlinks according to ahrefs, obviously they are nofollow and some dofollow but i don’t do it on daily basis, sometimes i comment on many blogs and sometimes i don’t. does it mean that its unnatural for google?
    prabhat recently posted..3 Useful Apps For Enhancing Photos

  22. nikol says

    Surely the point is that Google WANTS you to be confused. Google WANTS to provoke discussion in threads like this. Google WANTS you and everyone else to be fearful. The question is why?

    Well… however good the Google algorithms they can never hope to root out all the rogues – there are just too many websites and too many clever SEO experts trying to constantly buck the system. So, Google puts the fear of God into everybody so that every website owner and every SEO expert finds the need to police themselves.

    That means that every rogue, shark and trickster involved in the Internet is having a pretty uneasy time just now whilst all the good guys are saying I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

    Pretty cool on the part of Google don’t you think?

  23. xelin says

    what I only know about unnatural links is building a huge amount of links in such a short time. I didn’t know it has to be like what has been mentioned above. I was a bit afraid to see social bookmarking because we’ve been doing that ever since. Good thing we only focus on less than 10 high pr bookmarking sites.

    Also, I already know about the anchor text thing, forum/blog commenting, and link exchanges. I am already doubtful about spun articles. I think it would be better to do a manual re-write from an original article and do posting to top web 2.0/blog sites.

    Lastly, thank you for reminding on do-follow and no-follow. I have built links with no-follow sites as I believed that a link is a link and Google would see it no matter what. I guess having only do-follow links would definitely raise an eyebrow on Google’s end.

    what you’ve presented is really significant, especially in post panda update. I did learn something new and I appreciate it a lot (to think that these info are free).

  24. Priyank says

    Thanks for the nice article Chris.
    I’ve just a problem with the forums. I’ve to face lot of problem at the time of taking backlink form forum. Is there easy way to get forum backlink in less work.

  25. Juphet Mislang says

    With the recent changes on Google a lot of webmasters should really be careful especially on how they acquire links. I do not mine whether I get do or no follow links, what’s important is that I acquire natural links and will not be published by either Panda or Penguin update! Useful article Mitz as always.
    Juphet Mislang recently posted..Weekly Music Playlist – October 29, 2012

Letsbuildwebsites.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress

When I changed to the Genesis Framework and the eleven40 Theme my page load score went from 58 to 79 instantly. This was without any optimization at all. The other thing about this framework and theme is that it was so simple to setup that I can highly recommend it to each and every person that visits this blog! Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.