How to Identify Unnatural Links to Your Site and How to Fix Them?


    Your Backlink profile is one of the most important parts of the whole SEO effort, and making a mistake can be very expensive.

    Unnatural links can fall into one of two camps. There are some unnatural links that you know search engines despise such as blog comments, PBNs, link schemes, injected links, and this list goes on. You can hire the best SEO company in India to get the best services.

    These are the categories of bad links that can result in you getting a Google manual action.

    The unnatural links blur the lines and even if you do not realize it.

    However, these unnatural links will leave you binge-eating Taco Bell all alone in a dark space when your site gets a penalty. You do not want to lose 82% of your site traffic as these folks did after building 2,500+ unnatural links.

    Therefore, to help you avoid this devastating disaster here is how to find unnatural links to your site and what to do about them.

    How to Find Unnatural Links to Your Site?

    How to Find Unnatural Links to Your Site

    My ultimate link-building wish list is for my websites to be tucked away on page one of Google stuffed full of backlinks coming from websites with a domain authority of 60+.

    The reality is the majority of websites have backlinks coming from low-quality, irrelevant websites.

    However, that does not mean we cannot make it happen.

    The first step is understanding what unnatural links or bad links are, then finding them. You need to consult the top SEO companies in India to get remove your bad links.

    Why does Google Hate Unnatural Links?

    Why does Google Hate Unnatural Links?

    Google’s vision of unnatural links is essentially this:

    Any link that was artificially acquired for the sole purpose of manipulating your PageRank directly damages the integrity of Google’s SERPs, because it serves content to users that they may not benefit from at all.

    Put that way, how can you blame Google?

    The truth is this, these unnatural links would not exist in a Google-Free world and they are rarely helpful for the users.

    In fact, most are built purely to game the system and get higher rankings without adding real value. Because of this impact on the integrity of the SERPs, Google has been manually penalizing sites for unnatural links since the very start.

    Unnatural links can be inbound or outbound. If you are issued with a manual action in your Google Search Console, Google will clearly state whether the unnatural links are “to” or “from” your site. Being penalized for unnatural links can mean anything from receding in the SERPs for specific search terms to a partial de-indexing of your site.

    How to Find Unnatural Links?

    How to Find Unnatural Links?

    Before we jump to the (disheartening) realm of unnatural links and how to fix them, it’s a good idea to first tackle how to find these links in your backlink profile so that you know exactly where to act. To find out the unnatural links on your website, you can use Ahref backlinks tools to get the desired results.

    Here you have your list of unnatural backlinks.

    list of unnatural backlinks

    All the above-mentioned links whose DR is zero and has no follow are considered unnatural links and these are harmful to the good ranking of your website.

    How to Fix Unnatural Links?

    How to Fix Unnatural Links?

    When you find some unnatural links, there are some recommendations for them.

    The best way to fix an unnatural is to first look at whether or not it is a worthwhile link.

    Look to whether or not you can make the link look more natural, try to contact the webmaster of the site or even the journalist of the story that has linked to you, and ask them to link from a different part of the article or change the anchor text to something that makes sense.”

    Unfortunately, unnatural links cannot always be fixed or improved.  Sometimes the best way is to remove or unfollow the link in question.

    How to Avoid Unnatural Links?

    How to Avoid Unnatural Links?

    Unfortunately, avoiding unnatural links to your site is very difficult, because you will always find spam everywhere.

    Negative SEO is also a reality, and then there are those bad SEO choices that you will just have to deal with.

    Moreover, you must have control over it with the help of outbound on your own site.

    You can choose your guest writers, advertisers, and any link exchange with your partners or friends.

    However, one thing you do have more control over is the outbound links on your own site. You also have full editorial control over the links on your site.

    When it comes to unnatural inbound links, you can help to avoid them by monitoring all the new backlinks you earn and acting quickly if you receive a manual action.

    Bonus Material: Do Follow Links – Their Importance & Social Media Website offers Do Follow Links?

    Types of Unnatural Links and What to Do About Them?

    Types of Unnatural Links

    Google gives us examples of link schemes that include paid links, excessive link exchanges, and over-optimized content links.

    The experience of SEOs and webmasters in the real world, however, shows that there are more cases where Google penalizes unnatural links. Let us discuss these plans and what to do to fix them. These are:

    ✅ Circular Links Schemes

    Type: Unnatural links to/from your site

    Fix: Remove or No follow

    You might have heard of this kind of scheme before they have been chosen around since the early 2000s.

    The scheme is circular because you have:

    • Site A linking to Site B
    • Site B linking to Site C
    • Again, Site C links to Site A

    That is the minimal topology of a link farm.

    This scheme is one of the first that Google has been actively fighting since the very start of SEO.

    If there is no legit reason to keep these links as they are not contextually relevant to each other and they do not add value for the end-user), you want to break the circle. You can do that by either not following the links, or by getting them removed entirely.

    If the webmaster does not agree to No follow or remove the link from their site and you are dealing with an unnatural links penalty.

    ✅ Links Exchange Done Solely to Boost PageRank

    Type: Unnatural links to/from your site

    Fix: Remove or No follow

    The social nature of link swapping was never Google’s target, so if you are thinking about removing your friends or partners’ links from the Blog roll or Partners’ page, you can stop it right away.

    However, pages created for link exchanges that exist solely to manipulate PageRank are blatantly part of a link scheme.

    They usually consist of long lists of links to random, unrelated websites, and the webmaster rarely adds editorial comments to the links. You can also expect to see many over-optimized anchor texts.

    This is the main reason why would not Google tolerate them. When Google analyzes excessive link exchanges it is because there is nothing natural or social about this kind of pattern.

    ✅ Injected Links

    Type: Unnatural links to/from your site

    Fix: Stop using automated software, remove or No follow the links

    If you ever used automated software or services to place backlinks across the web e.g. services like, you might have attracted an unnatural link penalty.

    The only positive way to fix these types of unnatural links is to stop using the software or service that spreads links across publishers’ pages and try to get the backlinks removed or not followed by contacting the webmasters.

    If outreach doesn’t work, disavow the links.

    ✅ Paid Links That Pass PageRank

    Type: Unnatural links to/from your site

    Fix: Edit, no follow or remove if needed

    Google is not exactly fond of paid, followed links.

    The main reason behind it is clear. Anyone can simply go and drop some cash to boost their ranking in an illegal way and enhance their search engine visibility.

    Paid links can take the shape of sponsored blog posts, text ads, banner ads, or advertorials.

    Often they have no real value for the user and are blatantly spammy.

    The best thing that you can do here since you already paid for the links is to request that the publishers add a No follow attribute to your links. This will guarantee that you still get traffic from the backlinks, but they will not pass PageRank.

    If the links were over-optimized, you should also request an edit to make them flow naturally with the text and the overall content of the website.

    If you have no luck with those steps, you will need to remove/disavow the links.

    ✅ Links from Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

    Type: Unnatural links to/from your site

    Fix: Remove or Nofollow

    Private Blog networks (PBNs) may sound like a good idea. Connected sites are linked to each other for the sake of the users and SEO benefits.  All the stuff makes things much easier than having to reach out and build links, right?

    In the end, they found out it was a bunch of PBN backlinks that previous company owners had built, making the site’s backlink profile look unbalanced and artificial.

    It was time to act and fix it!

    ✅ Spammy Service Sites

    Type: Unnatural links to/from your site

    Fix: Remove or nofollow

    You know those downloadable SEO tools, wallpapers, or icons—the web is full of them. Often there is a lot of link spam that comes with these services. They sell ads that pass PageRank or ask users to link back to them, or they do unrelated link exchanges.

    If you want to use their stuff, you often do not have any editorial input on the backlink.

    It is likely to be hard to remove these links, so the best you can do is disavow them.

    In addition, if you’re the owner of one of these sites, remove anything spam as soon as possible.

    What creates Unnatural Links?

    What creates Unnatural Links?

    Do you have unnatural links on your site?  What????? You do not have any idea about it. Let us discuss some of its examples. These are:

    ✔️ Swapping Money: This example should be a no-brainer, but if you pay for your link, it’s unnatural, even if all you did was donate.

    ✔️ Swap over Goods or Services:  In this case, you have not given anyone money, but you did send them a free trial of your latest product. It is also a wrong step. Exchanging goods or services for links to a popular site is also considered unnatural.

    ✔️ Countless Link Exchanges:  Too many link exchanging is also harmful. Too much of that can trigger Google’s algorithm spidery senses and send you packing with a red flag to the time-out chair until the problem’s fixed.

    ✔️ Numerous Inappropriate Links: You do not want to write an article about marketing advances and include a link about shower curtains.  A relationship like that will have Google scratching its head and wondering why and if it was a mistake. Your readers will most likely sympathize.

    ✔️ Identical Anchor Texts: Similar to your competition’s anchor text your links word-for-word to help increase your rank will only backfire on you. Doing this can result in Google recognizing what you are doing and either ignoring or flagging that page.

    ✔️ Numerous Advertisement Links: Excessive advertisement links will trigger a Google Manual Action, unnatural links warning, and you will be controlled until you decrease the number of ad links on your page.

    How to Remove Unnatural Links to Your Site Penalty?

    To rid a site of these poor links the first step is to review all backlinks pointing to the site. Depending on the size of the site this can be very time-consuming, however, it must be done to overcome the penalty.

    1. Login in the Search Console, navigate to the site’s dashboard, and under the Search Traffic drop-down select “Link to Your Site’.

    2. Download the complete list of links and upload them into Google Drive.

    3. Review each link on the list. This is done by going to each site, checking their linking metrics, page/domain authority, etc. Make a rational decision if the link is hurting or benefiting the site.

    Also Read: How Can You Increase Your Domain Authority and How Long Does It Take?

    4. Mark each spam site and begin contacting the sites that are marked spammy. Email the webmasters of these sites asking them to remove the link. This process can take some time, but it is important to contact the site multiple times to try to get the link removed.

    5. If the link is not removed manually a disavow list will need to be created. Insert all domains that did not remove the links and submit the disavow list to Google through the Search Console dashboard.

    After the disavow list has been submitted a reconsideration request will need to be sent to Google as well. This will show what links were removed manually and disavowed, showing Google the site is proactively trying to improve the site.

    How to Remove Unnatural Links From Your Site Suspension?

    There are two approaches to removing this penalty.

    🔵 Review all outbound links going from the site. In most cases, a site will be able to pinpoint where these links are going out. It may be a link exchange page that has a large number of outbound links or an article that is oversaturated with outbound links. These links should be removed from the pages, or if it is a page like a link exchange, it should be removed completely. Link exchanges are outdated that add no value.

    🔵 Locate all the paid/spammy outbound links coming from the site and add a rel= “nofollow” tag to the link. This will block any link passing juice along with restricting Google bots from crawling the link. Now if there is a reason to keep the links active, this is the best approach. The links will remain active and can still pass referral traffic to the sites, yet will not add any SEO value.

    Each section includes the reason why Google took action against the link or issue and what kind of effect it will have per each manual operation.

    Once the outbound links have been cleaned up, a reconsideration request will need to be sent to Google. Keep in mind it may take some time for the request to go through and be implemented. In many cases, the requests are processed in 30 days, but other circumstances may arise.

    After you have fixed the things mentioned above, you must submit a reconsideration from the Google webmaster. Revoking the penalty issued by Google is a process and can take some time. Have patience and make sure you follow the rules next time.


    Q: What do you mean by unnatural links to the website?

    A: Unnatural links are unnatural links aimed to manipulate a page’s website page ranking. For example, purchased links, links created by spammers, etc.

    Q: Can unnatural backlinks hurt the SEO of the website?

    A: Unnatural links are also called toxic links that don’t come from high-quality sites or trusted authorities. If websites take these links to earn organic traffic, they will not get the optimum results as per the expectations. 

    Q: How can website owners detect unnatural links?

    A: Unnatural links are a part of SEO audit, and they can be detected in the following ways: –

    • Ensure to check the number of links from referring domains
    • If there are too many links from low-DR websites
    • Make sure to check anchor texts
    • Check the overall quality of referring sites or pages

    Q: What are the basic penalties for unnatural links?

    A: Some of the common penalties are lower ranking on SERPs, and your website may be completely removed from search results.

    Q: Why is it important to take care of unnatural links as soon as possible?

    A: The reason is that unnatural links will penalize the websites. So, check your website every now and then for the best results. 

    Final Thoughts

    It is important to be aware of the guidelines involving links to and from your web pages. If they find a site-wide match, then you could face a drop in your page rank. Link to your advantage and always have genuine intentions and sources. Essentially, just do not have weird intentions and you should be fine.

    If you are interested in growing your popularity and profits for your online business, that is literally what we do. Contact top SEO companies in India and let us show you the road!

    About author
    Gurpreet Kaur
    Gurpreet Kaur is a highly-skilled and exponentially experienced content writer at IndeedSEO. She has a passion for content writing and has written several quality blogs, articles, press reports, and more in several niches. Her expertise has helped several of our clients achieve their objectives and sustainable results in the long term.

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