How to Find Unnatural Links to Your Site & What to Do About Them

What is an unnatural link? What is a bad link? And, how do I fix unnatural links? Find the answers here. Plus, 11 examples of unnatural links.

Unnatural links can fall into one of two camps.

There are the unnatural links you know search engines despise: blog comments, PBNs, link schemes, link exchanges, injected links, the list goes on.

These are the types of obvious

bad links

that can result in you getting a

Google manual action


Then there are the unnatural links that blur the lines – even if you don’t realize it.

The guest blog post, press releases, sitewide footer, directories, etc.

Both types can lead you down the path toward a Google penalty.

CognitiveSEO removed

1,901 unnatural links

to lift a penalty and saw rankings for position #3 only three weeks after submitting the disavow file.

And, Marie Haynes disavowed

50% of a client’s unnatural links

to see a nice bump in traffic in less than a month.

Building unnatural links may feel great the first month when you show your client the backlinks you gained.

But these unnatural links will leave you binge-eating Taco Bell all alone in a dark space when your site gets a penalty.


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You don’t want to lose

82% of your site traffic

as these folks did after building 2,500+ unnatural links.

So, 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

My ultimate link building wishlist 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.

But, that doesn’t mean we can’t make it happen.

The first step is understanding what unnatural links or bad links are, then finding them.

What Are Bad Links or Unnatural Links?

Unnatural links are bad links.

Their intended use is to manipulate a webpage’s ranking in the search engines.

Unnatural links (or bad links) are often purchased or built by spammers.

Unnatural links joined the Google family in 2012, after the

Penguin update

in April 2012.


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11 Examples of Unnatural Links

Below are 11 examples of unnatural

links that could result in a penalty


1. Link Schemes

Link schemes

(also called link farms or private blog networks) are an old school link building tactic. Essentially, you build links by linking from other websites you own. Remember the

J.C. Penney link scheme controversy



is another. And,

Rap Genius


How to fix

: Stop using them immediately and add to the disavow list.

2. Low-Quality Directories and Bookmarking Sites

Don’t get me wrong — some

bookmarking sites

and directories are still very relevant. Sites like Reddit, Alltop, Manta, Yelp, Google My Business, etc. are all good sites for users and search engines.

The key to this is good sites for


. If they don’t offer value to the user, then skip it.


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