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by Oliver Ewbank on 25th July 2012
Recent Google updates have highlighted the importance of keeping a really natural link profile. So today I’m going to talk about what makes a natural link and, more importantly, how you can avoid unnatural link patterns.
So before we get started, I’m going to suggest three main tools to use when you look at your links. Number one will be Google Webmaster Tools, number two will be Open Site Explorer, and number three will be Majestic SEO. These are excellent tools for looking at your links, exporting the data, and finding out what makes a good link and what makes a bad link.
So once you’ve got your tools all set up, we can start looking at the following factors. The first thing I will suggest looking at is: Are your links relevant? So you want to export your links and see if they’re on topic. For example, if you’re a travel website and you have links from a financial domain, this is going to look extremely unnatural to a search engine. So I’d start just weeding through your links. If anything comes across as unnatural, we would suggest removing this link from your domain.
The next thing I’ll look at is anchor text. Now you need to be really careful with over optimised anchor text. So, for example, if you’re a travel insurance website and you have thousands of links which just say “travel insurance,” again this will look extremely unnatural to a search engine. So we would suggest removing some if there’s too many. The alternative is to build other variations. You might use plural keywords. You might use “click here.” There might be nofollows. There might be follows. You can also use your brand name in the anchor text as well, but it’s extremely important that this is very varied when you’re linking back to your domain.
The next thing I’d look out for is site-wide links. Now by all means it’s fine to have a site-wide link if you’ve got a banner ad and it’s nofollowed. But if you have a text link on every single page of a website that links back to your domain, this is going to look extremely unnatural. What we’d suggest is contacting the link provider and just asking for one link, maybe from the most appropriate category page or even from the home page. What we want to try and avoid is having a link from every single page on the domain.
The next thing to look at is an IP address. Now again, if you have lots of links from the same IP address, this is going to look extremely unnatural. So you might have lots of links from directories on the same IP or lots of links from different websites on the same IP. You want to make sure that there’s lots of variety there so it looks nice and natural. Again, the same IP address will depend on the campaign you’re running. So if you’re running a local SEO campaign and you’ve got links coming from an IP address in France, this is going to look extremely unnatural. It’s just another thing to bear in mind.
Moving on to reciprocal links. This is quite an old-school tactic. Again, if you have lots of reciprocal links, we would suggest removing these from your link profile. By all means, if you do have a partner and you want to have a reciprocal link with them, that’s fine. That is completely natural. It’s not natural to have hundreds and thousands of these reciprocal links back to your domain.
Moving on, the next one we’re going to talk about is interlinking. Now interlinking, again, can look unnatural. You might have five different websites all on a similar topic, but if they all interlink to each other, this will start to look like you’re manipulating the system, trying to clog up the search engines with different domains. So again, this is something we would try and avoid and maybe just stick to having links to one website.
Last, but not least, paid links. This is something we would obviously suggest to avoid. If you’re using a paid link provider, they might be using any one of the tactics above. They could be using over optimised anchor text. They could be using site-wide links. They could be having links from the same IP address, or they could even be using link farms or reciprocal links. So paid links is definitely another source that we try and avoid.
So if you do spot any of these links, there are three main things you can do to remove them. You can just remove the link completely, you can add a nofollow tag, or you can tweak the anchor text or trim down the amount of links that are already there. Obviously, with the Penguin update, having a really natural link profile is going to be extremely important moving forward.
If you’d like any more information on natural link building approaches, please visit our blog on Koozai.com or use any of the social profiles below. Thank you.