Ideally, your website’s link growth should emulate the natural growth patterns of the Internet. Natural links are links to your site that were built without your assistance. The Search Engines look at links links from trusted sites as votes on the popularity of a website. The search engines know that people try to artificially increase their links and are on the lookout for signs that links were not attained naturally. Google, as usual, has lead the pack in developing features that filter out websites with too many signs of unnatural backlinks. They have algorithms that flag patterns that are uncommon and/or often associated with low quality sites.
Top 15 Signs That Your Links Are Not Natural
1. Poor distribution of anchor text. A quality website with natural links would have a wide variety of anchor texts in their incoming links. When a website’s anchor texts do not have a natural pattern the search engines can deduct that link popularity was not obtained organically. Google has excellent data on your site. See “Links to your site” on Google’s Webmaster Tools. Google provides great stats on the distribution of your anchor text. Their algos likely use much more sophisticated data than they provide us.
Your website should have a very wide array of anchor text. At the very least include plurals, synonyms and related words. Truly natural links tend to have many poor keywords as anchor text (e.g. this, here, great site, useful info, click, www.domain.com). A website with natural links would definitely include quite a few of these.
2. Link acquisition timing. The link growth pattern is the history of a website’s link acquisition. Spikes occur when a website goes a period with few new links and then gets a bunch of new links in a short period of time. Spikes are more obvious when the process is repeated one or more times. If the spikes occur because of viral methods or because of news events then there should not be a problem. If the spikes occur because of purchased links or other low quality links then this problem could be serious. The spikes would be more serious if they occur along with other factors such as similar link text or similar IPs.
On the other hand, a site naturally goes though some ups and downs in link acquisition. An overly consistent acquisition strategy may not look natural either.
3. Low deep link ratio: The deep link ratio is the percentage of links pointing to internal pages (deep links) to overall links pointing at a website. A low deep link ratio can mean that the website does not have legitimate natural links. The norms for a natural ratio may be different from one industry to another. Again, see “Links to your site” on Google’s Webmaster Tools for a distribution of your incoming links.
4. Links from the same IP. Naturally attained links would normally come from a very wide range of IPs. If a disproportionate amount of links come from relatively few IPs or IP C classes then red flags could be raised. It would often point to some sort of link scheme by networks of sites run by the same owner. The chance of the links representing quality votes is slim. This sign would be worse if these links were attained within a short period of time. In the best case scenario, the search engines would just ignore these links.
5. Reciprocal links. A large amount of reciprocal links would not usually occur naturally. Reciprocal links added to both sites, around the same time, would look especially suspicious. Don’t even think of sitewide reciprocal links.
6. Site wide links. There are a few legitimate cases for site wide links such as blogrolls or large corporate websites that use multiple domains. At best, site wide links are simply ignored by the search engines. At worst, the search engines will be on the alert for paid advertising or sites that are operated within a network of sites.
7. Footer links. Footer links rarely occur naturally. They would normally be purchased. There is no advantage to having too many footer links.
8. Links from bad neighborhoods. A bad neighborhood can be defined as “Free for All” sites or link farms that allow almost anyone to add a link to their site or websites that link to questionable sites. It would be natural to have a few links from these “low trust” sites but a website with a disproportionate amount of links from bad neighborhoods would attract suspicion. If the rest of your link profile is clean then you likely would not have to worry about these links.
9. Links from unrelated sites. A related site would cover the same topics as your site. A quality website would have links from related and unrelated sites. A disproportionate amount of unrelated links could draw unwanted attention.
10. Type of website links. A natural distribution would contain links from an array of site types (e.g. websites, blogs, blog comments, articles, forums, press releases, social media, directories). A website with a disproportionate amount of links from one or two types of sites may look unnatural. In addition, You should also avoid periods of getting links exclusively from just one type of platform, such as WordPress.
11. Only high PR links. A natural allocation of links would include links from a wide range of PageRanks. Links gained without your assistance would have quite a few low PR links.
12. Text surrounding your anchor text. Natural links would have a wide range of text surrounding them. A website with a lot of identical text surrounding the link may look suspicious to the search engine. Directories submissions may be included here if the same description is used over and over. Other examples would be paid links and spammy blog comments.
13. Few variations of anchor text case and special characters. I recently noticed a new feature on Google’s Webmaster Tools. Google’s database actually keeps track of all the variations in anchor text along with special characters used. (e.g. Read more, read more, Read More, Read More…, Read-more, READ MORE, ..Read more, [read more]). Natural links would include many variations.
14. Only links from new sites. A quality website would have links from both established and new sites. A website with only links from new websites may not be looked at highly by the search engines.
15. No non-linking citations. Many people talk about a site without providing a live link to it. This seems to be more prevalent than it used to be. A natural site would have non-linking mentions as well as links. Your site should not have a disproportionate number of links to mentions.
Have all of these signals been implemented in the search engines? I can’t say. Google has never ceased to astound me. I would not be surprised if all of them are included somewhere in their algos.
If you are guilty of one or two of these transgressions then you are likely alright, especially if your website has been around for a while and your content is strong. If you are guilty of too many of these signs then you should
| Published on May 11th, 2010 ||2 Comments||Posted by admin|