Natural links are better than non-natural

I got a spam email that I thought about blogging about, but decided not to. Then they spammed me *again*. Sheesh.

So here goes. If you get an email with a subject like “Affordable Link Building Outsourcing,” think twice. Any email that starts out

Make your links appear Natural

Link Building is one of the most significant aspect of the off page optimization process and is a major determinant…

is starting off on the wrong foot. The objective is not to “make your links appear natural”, the objective is that your links are natural. Another rule of thumb for me personally is to be wary of people that email or cold-call you out of the blue repeatedly. Checking my email, these “link building experts” email-spammed me back in April, too.

143 Responses to Natural links are better than non-natural (Leave a comment)

  1. Too funny, do they know where they are sending the emails??

  2. helen

    You could have missed out there Matt – these guys know the secrets of SEO and could get your site ranked highly by Google.

  3. I had a cold call today and the guy told me he “owned” some keywords in Google at #1 – and yes I could buy the keywords from him!! Must admit, I did play dumb for a while it was quite amusing.

  4. Jordan

    I’m not sure the definition of a “natural link” has ever been absolutely explained. Is it simply a requested or paid link? I would think that a requested link could still be (at least to a degree) natural.

    Since the problem problem with unnatural links is that they might link to unrelated sites or sites not worthy of a “recommendation” from the linkers site, might they be considered natural if webmaster-1 brings site-1 to the attention of webmaster-2, whose site is related, and in passing requests a link which webmaster-2 is happy to give as he feels site-1 deserves his recommendation?

  5. Dude, you should totally mess with their heads and ask them how they’d go about either getting MattCutts.com or Google.com to rank #1 in Google with their link building expertise. If they ask which keywords or phrases, tell them “all of ‘em.”

    This is screaming for a mind…er…freak.

  6. Eric Dobberteen

    I recently received a snail mail spam offer for one of my countless domains that is completely undeveloped and contains very obvious SEO/Internet marketing keywords offering search engine submission services.

    I was appalled that a company could be so frivolous with money as to pay for the printing of the letter/envelope/return envelope and postage. Sending “search engine submission service” email proposals to a site with “searchengine” within the URL is foolish enough.. but an actual letter in the mail? Completely idiotic..

    - I hate to think that this strategy must be working to some extent since the company still seems to be in business.

  7. Robert

    If natural links are better than why it’s not honored by google?
    Example
    Site A: natural links 100 + non-natural links 400 (Google Rank 1)
    Site B: natural links 300 + 20 non-natural links (Google Rank 50)

  8. Caleb

    I got an unsolicited email for SEO services from: quickSEO@example.com – is “quickSEO” an oxymoron?
    I always love the emails that promise a number one Google ranking. What am I going to be ranked for? Maybe a string of numbers or just some random long tail phrase? Can you promise me I’ll rank number one for “real estate”?
    Then there are those SEO companies that tell their customers that “we work with Google”. Like they sit down in meetings with Google employees and have them agree to rank a site better.

  9. Manny

    Speaking of links “appearing” to be natural, I was on Lawrence Lessig’s blog, and the translation widget on there does something funny.

    Question: Is it ok if when you mouse-over a graphic it shows a url at the bottom of the browser, but if you click on it, you’re directed somewhere totally different?

  10. Nobody should promise the #1 position for determined keywords in google, the people who does it are not professional.

    A greeting.

  11. dreiden

    I’m particularly fond of the companies that claim to be part of Google, whenever they describe themselves it’s Google is this Google is that. I guess at the end of the day they wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t seeing any results. The problem is, in my opinion, that the consumer is not educated enough, and they simply don’t know better.

    Consumer beware I guess.

  12. A colleague of mine was recently pitching a comprehensive Web solutions package to a Fortune 1000 company when one of the company’s team members pulled out one of these spam emails to use it as a negotiating tool. Imagine the shock on that person’s face when, right there, my pal Googled the letter and the SERP was loaded with negative references, thus indicating without a doubt that it was spam.

  13. One of my favorite things to do is pull out our list for one site we have that regularly gets found for over 5,000 keywords and then compare it to the few highly competitive keywords the same site ranks #1 for. Less than 5% of our site traffic comes from the “BIG TERMS”. If they would just focus on the rich content, make sure all their web pages get indexed and do the basics (accurate page titles, alt attributes etc.) everything will work out much better than playing these silly “make it look real” games. Just BE real and you will win the game.

  14. All links are natural, Matt. They just don’t meet your guidelines. :)

    “It’s not disrespect, Master — it’s the TRUTH.” — Obi-Wan to Qui-Gon Jinn
    “From YOUR point of view.” — Qui-Gon to Obi-Wan

    “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker

  15. We get these e-mails all the time, they’re almost always sent to a very generic contact@website.com or website@website.com. Our sales department, who obviously knows very little about SEO, always forwards them over to me thinking that they might be useful. They always promise something impossible (Top Rankings For Any Keyword) in an impossibly short amount of time (Tomorrow). They are kind of fun to read though.

  16. We are overdue for you to “punk-a-spammer”…looking forward to seeing that post soon :.)

  17. Little Guy

    I wonder if they could also make my hair appear natural…?

  18. Yep natural looking links are the best, the last thing the web needs are links that were influenced by free phone giveaways or cars which are being “lent” to high profile bloggers months at a time ;-)

  19. Yeah, because we don’t want anyone making money from Google except Google. The only people that get to tweak PageRank are PR firms. If you’re an SEO, then you’re probably a spammer. /sarcasm /disgust

  20. Here in Los Angeles this topic would also apply to “Lips” :D Oh, I crack me up!

  21. Most annoying is getting cold calls from people offering adWords and SEO and can get me top rankings when that’s what I do for a living – How on earth do they not get it?

    I recently moved back to my native UK from the US and I reckon cold calling is worse here.

    Cheers

    David

  22. Lucky Lester

    What about the links that are natural and are misconstrued as un-natural by the intention police – when does the “Big G” right those little mistakes?

  23. I love the one where they will do SEO for 29.00 bucks a month. Too Hilarious!

  24. This is somewhat of an interesting commentary on humanity’s desire to “appear” natural. I constantly encounter ads and salespeople trying to sell me makeup that “appears” natural.

    If I wanted to look natural, why would I be wearing makeup? The sublimation is that you look better than nature by wearing makeup, and I think that’s what these “link building experts” are trying to imply as well – which is stupid, frankly.

    False signals and flashy colors might help you attract attention, but what attention does when it arrives is purely determined by whether or not the object displayed is genuine.

  25. Ken

    Matt, have you guys ever considered some sort of “positive certification” process in addition to (or instead of) playing cat and mouse with “link building experts”? Certification would result in a time-limited automatic trust policy. There must be a good reason why you don’t do this — too much overhead? — but was just wondering.

  26. Will their site get banned now? You know, a lot of webmasters use links that “appear natural”. All our major competitors use paid links, most of them participate in link exchanging campaigns, that’s the current real Internet world. Until Google improves its algorithms such spam emails will be around.

  27. Hilarious that they’re spamming YOU with them. Someone at that company needs to be taken out back and, uh, “spoken to”.

  28. Here in Los Angeles this topic would also apply to “Lips” Oh, I crack me up!

    LOL, that’s funny :)

    Matt, do you have any idea how many of these type of spammy emails most sites, with PR5 and above, get a week? Only about 30-40! PLEASE remove PR from the Google Toolbar and the amount of World wide email spam would probably halve over-night. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  29. Steve Hirsch

    I get spam, too. How interesting.

    Not.

    Steve :)

  30. Checking my email, these “link building experts” email-spammed me back in April, too.

    Are they banned from Google?

  31. Just proves that Matt is indeed “Human” and gets affected by spam just as we do! :0)

  32. Great comments!! I send all spam messages I receive to spam@uce.gov. In my opinion, it’s worth the time and effort. We need to crack down on these people. I also encourage my clients who are planning to conduct an email campaign to review current CAN-SPAM laws before pushing that send button.

    So, are you biking to work?

  33. haha,maybe they were not spammer,but they need the money for pay!aha.

  34. Why don’t you ask them for three references from satisfied clients? :-)

  35. Don’t mind my ignorance because 2 weeks ago I had no clue about the impact of incoming links (yep, raging NOOB on a mission to learn here).

    From what I understand of what you are saying to make links BE natural, then as far as I can tell – this would come down to “surrounding text” plus “anchor text”, with less value on reciprocal linking or a standalone anchor text link without surrounding text?

    Sorry to ask the NOOB questions, but did I get this right?

  36. We are getting such spam everyday, something like “SEO Outsourcing Partnership”. As soon as we ask to explain them a little bit about the company – partners are disappearing.

  37. When we build site, we all know text better than “text-on-images” to make search engine happy. We all know links affect ranking. We all know text on link affect search results.

    As much as we want to be a white-hat, we still concern links. Our job is still to make our links look natural, look reasonable. As long as there is a strategy that involves link, in any way, it is not natural any more.

    How could that be “natural”? It is only the “natural” you want & the fantasy you define.

  38. Rick

    This is a fun topic. So I wonder how an employee explains to his boss that he sent an email like that on behalf of the company to Google’s spam Czar.

    “Um, I am not sure how that happened. It was an innocent mistake. Um, do we do spam”?

    Too funny (except that you have to wade through it)

  39. Webmasters around the world have no other meaningful work than spamming with such requests it seems. They never ruminate about building their own sites which would invite other sites linking to them. Its a pathetic thing happening unbridled these days. Hope better time comes when Google would be so harsh on them.

  40. Tommy, you would do best to link out on ANY content pages (use nofollow) to any outside page that compliments or enhances your content pages. If you site is new, do the same, but also submit your site to a handful of *Quality* Directories and request a FEW links from site along the same theme as yours. This will help Google get the ‘flavor’ of your site.

    From that point on, forget ALL about incoming links and frequently add fresh informative content pages (link out with nofollow where applicable) to your site. Then, in time, you notice more and more traffic from similar site that have CHOSEN to link to you based on merit.

    A web business is a Marathon, not a sprint and do NOT start a incoming link trend that you simply cannot maintain.

  41. @Dave – if you nofollow all outbound links how can you expect to get any inbound links of value ( I am not talking reciprocal linking) , but if you aren’t prepared to pay it forward why should others?

  42. I know it has been said above, but the irony of spamming you of all people is hilarious.

    I’ve noticed that I get these calls and emails sometimes, but only because I rank pretty well for a couple terms and occasionally write about what I have learned about SEO. Before that, they wouldn’t know where to find me. So they are offering a better ranking to people who already rank well and who write about SEO. Hmm… Not a great job of finding your target market.

    And when you can’t find their site, sometime even when you type in their company name, it gets even better.

  43. Sla

    We are learing a lot about search engine optimization and one of the first things we learned is: don’t try to “take fun” of Google by using tricks. We respect this.

    That’s why we try to keep our website clean and “legal” from the point of view of Google. We have now good results in SERPs, but one of our competitors have better results because they have some tricks like:
    - title tags with 129 words!!
    - hidden long lists of white keywords on white background

    I’m still wondering why do they have better position than our in SERPs…

    Thank you all and have a wonderful day ;)

  44. Narendra

    Why you guys at Google take some action on these companies? Infact, every search engine should start acting a bit strict on these spammy organizations.

    They not only try to mislead the search-engines but alos to the genuine site owners.

  45. Pieter

    @Narendra

    I guess the simple answer would be that most of these ‘companies’ are no companies (with an office, coffeemachine and friday-afternoon-parties that is), but just spammers who are fishing. They just change their name, IP and put on a digital mustache and they’re off spamming again.

  46. Yup, we get much the same thing here, Matt, which for a web development company that has SEO campaigns out there for clients, is pretty funny. It’s sort of like when a van pulls up in your neighbourhood and a troop of folks get out with a sachtel over their shoulder to knock on every door trying to sell you something….knives, insurance, cheap energy programs. We get emails like that….silence for a bit and then a TON of them from mostly the same folks. Dumb, and a total waste of time…except I think that they wouldn’t be bothering unless they can close at least say 1 deal on a million emails sent…..or worse. Sad state of affairs….

    Jim

  47. Jag

    PLEASE remove PR from the Google Toolbar and the amount of World wide email spam would probably halve over-night. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    Then they would show number of inlinks growth or may depend on another ranking system equally :)

  48. @Michael Martinez

    All links are natural, Matt. They just don’t meet your guidelines.

    Nope, not even close.

    There are plenty of automated websites out there where content is generated and links are dropped. And i didn’t even mention the bots that spam blog’s and fora.

  49. Anonymous

    Well, we all agree, of course. Still, it sticks in our craw when we see flagrant link-manufacturers on the first page of SERPs for million dollar keywords. For example, take a look at the non .edu sites in the SERPs for “online degrees”. Obvious, lucrative, link spam. This has been going on forever.

  50. lol

    probably some experts from I***a. They are always doing that, and seems like the whole web is spammed with their special and unique offers..

    Matt – did they offer you to improve your rankings for “Matt Cutts” keyword ?
    :)

  51. emused

    In a way I’m glad you get spammed with these so you know first hand what everyone else receives, even other SEO “experts.”

    Unlike what others have said (Jordan), I don’t see any confusion over the word “natural” as defined. Pretty straight forward actually. The next step is devaluing anchor text so make it more difficult to game the system. Links from authority or sites with better reputation used in context regardless of PR should be worth more (and probably are already:)

    Lastly, I noticed a recent PR update and have to say that it looks at first glance to be a big improvement quality wise. Sites I’ve been watching that had been spamming for links were brought back down to earth somewhat. One legitimate quality site recently employed an aggressive SEO outsource company which provided some very high PR backlinks. It was refreshing to see their PR drop despite the effort:)

    I did see a high quality, popular blog that does not employ nofollow on comments (or get spammed) take a hit however.

  52. Baz Cooke

    What is even funnier is that some people have taken to FAXING me their SEO requests! One company, who for now shall remain nameless, sent me a fax offering me £25 per week “number one results” in Google… guaranteed! Whatever next!

    Use the bloody internet, if you are so good at marketing, and let ME find YOU!

  53. I just don’t get what these spammer get out of it? Surely there are not enough stupid people in the world that will follow up on their spam and end up paying for a ‘service’?

    I’m getting loads of spam from a web design ‘company’ in India. Tommis Information Technologies, Website Team. Contact: dontechit@yeah.net.

    Why do they keep bothering? I must get the same email about 4 times a day. Why on earth would I want their service when I own a web design company (quick plug – myb777 Web Design). I just don’t understand why they do it.

  54. Neildt

    How do you get websites to link to you if you have a brand new website that nobody knows about – without asking someone to put a link to your site as you feel it might be of interest to their visitors.

  55. Man, I get so much of these spam emails. My only fear is that when I delete batches of these I do not consign something legitimate that comes in.

  56. I get loads of these too. I even had one who promised to get me ranked #1 on google for every term i could think of. I wish i could do that! I’d be a millionaire by now! lol

  57. BradleyT

    Matt,

    Was there a TBPR update today?

  58. Simon

    It would be really harsh if you were to manually penalise sites of groups that spammed you offering SEO services. Especially if you were to answer the emails and lead them on a little so you got some clues as to their modus operandi, domains in use etc.

    I mean please don’t do that sort of thing.

    No Matt, don’t even think of it.

    Don’t let people even put the idea into your head.

  59. i got this spam email too, and its true when i asked to show that they will do, they disapear, maybe they are looking for some full.

    natural links it’s good, make more interview, write manuals for some things, but sometimes its not enought

  60. That’s something I like – I’m not talking about spamming – I like doing things the natural way. I follow this in my life as well. How did they get your email id? I don’t think you are have provided it in this blog. If I knew at least I would said you a “Hi” there. LOL sometimes I’m just too….

  61. I love spam. Spam with eggs, spam with toast, spam sushi, and spam sammiches… oh but SEO spam? I get that a lot too. Lots of SEO spam.

    Not to pick on Indian SEOs but they introduce themselves as Indian SEO companies that do SEO for cheap. Hey – they say it, not me! I would probably enjoy them more if they weren’t all using the exact same email titles and body text – and even the same company! These spammers don’t even make it fun! Very disappointing. At least let me have a laugh or two.

    Heck, might even earn my business if they were more honest. I got great responses from people when I cold-call them and are upfront about it being a cold-call. It diffuses things and tensions.

  62. Tonnie, you much to learn about the ways of Links.

    Matt — are you aware that Wikipedia’s links are not natural? They have “nofollow” on them.

  63. Matt,

    What irritates me lately is when I Google my domain and look at the last 24 hours, I usually have a dozen or so new “links” from automatically generated key-word spam domains with .US or .WS extensions. I suppose it doesn’t hurt my site, but why on earth is Google indexing them to start with?

    And then there’s that dumb 80legs crawler beating up my server. Yeah, they brag can crawl 2 billion pages a day for clients. But it takes intelligence not to spider the same pages hundreds of times a day, and apparently they are lacking. Heck, I could spider a single page 2 billion times by leaving the browser open and putting a paperwieght on the “Enter” key:-)

    Morris

  64. My SEO advice only comes from Matt Cutts. Will any buddy ever get that it takes work and there are no short cuts to anything long lasting in life?

  65. @Dave – if you nofollow all outbound links how can you expect to get any inbound links of value ( I am not talking reciprocal linking) , but if you aren’t prepared to pay it forward why should others?

    I don’t “expect” inbound links. If simliar site wish to link to me, they are free to do so with or without nofollow. Their call.

    I simply wont risk my site (or some pages) being banned or penalized by Google simply because I have linked out to a site/page (to help my visitors) I have no control over. I.e. they MAY become part of a “Bad Neighborhood” even though their content compliments mine and helps my visitors.

    It would be really harsh if you were to manually penalise sites of groups that spammed you offering SEO services.

    It’s not just Matt. Most webmaster get UCE offering unatural links for PR. One quick visit to their site(s) will quickly reveal mutiple SE guidelines being flouted.

  66. These emails are funny. Sadly a lot of people fall for it. But “natural” has a different meanings to different people, right ? If Google has a tie up with Virgin America and plug them to one of their webmaster central posts, its “natural”. What if an SEO company did the same thing on their blog ? Hmm..not quite natural !

    No speculations Matt, your point is very clear :D

    Mani

  67. Hmmm,
    Spammers are not leaving you also..
    Oh my God..are they blind ..to whom they are sending these kind of mails..At least they should open their eyes before sending such mails to a person like you, who can identify their spamed mails in 1 minute or 2..

  68. No they are not blind and stupid – their databases are huge and they find people that are novices and pay them money because they want what they are promissed.

    My sites rank well for their chosen keywords and I get loads of offers for ‘No1 on Google guaranteed’ – they don’t normally specify that it’s Search Results so I guess they’re talking Adwords.

    Upgrade your spam filters and be done with them!

  69. Tim

    Ye these emails are pretty annoying but get filtered out in my mail. What are natural links??

    - Is pasting your blog posts with social badges natural?
    - Endless stumbles when only 10% of surfers actually read the content?
    - Writing content in exchange for a link (guest posts, PR’s, article marekting?)
    - Free give aways or contests knowing it will drive links to a site?

    If the only natural links were those given simply because a webmaster stumbled across reference worthy content and decided to link to it, the search results would be a very different experience.

  70. The trouble with saying ‘appear natural’ is that – reading between the lines – you know that company is almost certainly trying to do something ‘under the radar’, downright dodgy and presumably black hat.

    More importantly, how can Google and the ethical part of the search industry drive out this kind of activity? It seems impossible whatever you do with algorithms ‘et al’ – it’s all various shades of grey, never black and white in this link-building area.

    mark chapman.

  71. Matt,
    What about “natural” link exchange services like Links Manager? Technically you are paying for these links but once you pay the subscription you are free to exchange or not exchange links with anyone else on Links Manager.

  72. In general I dislike the word “natural” because it is so vague. i.e. “All natural ingredients”.

  73. It’s crazy the promises some of these so called seo companies make. “we can get you to the top of search engines for ANY given word or phrase for $99″ was what one recent chancer tried to make me believe. I didn’t bother to try him out :)

  74. Bill Burton

    What I can’t fathom is how the “natural links” logic is supposed to hold up when, magically, Google’s own partnering company clients (like StubHub, for example) all seem to bounce right up to first place slots without any trouble or delay whatsoever, even though those companies don’t know anything about the best practices of SEO and are not “naturally” linked to. After all, who “naturally” links to a monster secondary tickets sales market player like StubHub? Oh, I almost forgot, their many thousands of affiliates and equally ubiquitous shell sites, that’s who! So those links are certainly “natural”…just like their local business listings in every city with Chicago company HQ phone numbers….yep, “all natural”. :D

    Yes, your official dismay at receiving these common daily emails about unwitting companies trying to sell links is quite clear, Matt. It’s called corporate subterfuge. :D

  75. @michael martinez,

    You are very funny.

  76. Well, it is a funny story! Having seen the comments with different view, I am confused about the natural links, and would like to see your response. Thanks.
    PS. I am not an expert in seo.

  77. Too bad the SEO industry is becoming a spammer heaven. We get at least ten of those emails every day. It should be easier to report email spammers to registrars and the search engines should also take some action against them.

  78. Hello Matt,

    For natural links, the Google definition is quite simple; write excellent content and add it in your site People finding this content useful will link to your site. This is how we get natural links right?

    Instead of worrying about backlinks, why not just write excellent content.

    This definition is quite simple and very true.

    Regards

  79. I never purchase links from cold-emails, I always go the natural route. Sure it is very time consuming to create content that is link worthy but much better.

  80. Instead of worrying about backlinks, why not just write excellent content.

    Exactly! Too many Webmasters, that use to do exactly that, are now worrying about SEO more than their visitors and the quality of their content.

    Unless a site is new, I don’t think ANY site should hunt out ‘natural links’ to please SE’s.

  81. Jordan

    Instead of worrying about backlinks, why not just write excellent content.

    Unless a site is new, I don’t think ANY site should hunt out ‘natural links’ to please SE’s.

    Well, it can be difficult for some kinds of sites to get “natural links” otherwise. For instance, I have a forum in a very “unfriendly” niche – unfriendly in that links are given out sparingly for competitive reasons.

  82. MJ

    HAHAHAHA, sorry, Matt, it’s nice to see that you are not exempt from these emails. Now, imagine being in the business where you get over 100 of them a day.

    One of my clients (who I’ve had for years) sends me emails every day saying, “You are not ranking for “hotcakes” on Google, but we can get you ranked #1 in 5 days or less.” First of all, his site has nothing to do with “hotcakes”, so why on earth would he want to be found for it anyway?

    Ignorance truly is bliss.

    *cracking up at everyone else’s comments*

  83. Matt,

    Just took me a few weeks to figure out (hopefully) why a new page of mine that quickly gathered a bunch of natural links through word-of-mouth didn’t get indexed by Google. I create new pages so infrequently that I just use “Save As” from and old page to get the basic navigation and layout, and then edit the Meta Tags. Turns out I missed the canonical link tag (a recent inovation I’d picked up from reading your blog), so the page was busy telling the Googlebot that it really wasn’t there! Hope it doesn’t act like a permanent redirect, I’d hate to have to move it and lose those links.

    Morris

  84. I received a phone call from a lady claiming that she has a top SERP position left in Google and she want to offer me that position. I know her intension, but still I started playing with her. I ask her about keywords she can target – she replied any keyword!!!

    I asked are you going to use Adwords, she said “no”! She said “they had a special relationship with Google”.

  85. What is meant by “natural” link? If site ‘A’ and site ‘B’ have very similar, topically relevant content, and both have great content, features, tools and links that improve and/or enhance user experience, why shouldn’t they swap links? To me, that is perfectly natural, even if technically speaking it is contrived. Furthermore, if those swapped links between the two sites end up giving the site visitors a better experience, why should they not gain some benefit from those links?

    Linking ‘strategies’ should not be seen as some sort of evil, conniving action, but should be weighed and judged on the merits of the links and websites involved… IMHO… ;-)

  86. Big Daddy

    I get those all the time as well. Have you guys ever thought about setting up an email for those who choose to forward them over? Maybe your team can have a pizza party and pick the most creative one ;-) or you could post them somewhere for peolple to vote on the most creative 5 you come up with.

  87. She said “they had a special relationship with Google”.

    Yeah, they get any site they work on banned or penalized :)

  88. Hey Matt its really funny email. we and everyone get those sort of emails everyday. Its worthless and i guess there is no way we can filter it out automatically. recenlty i have found people sending these sort of offers using contact us form of my website instead of sending email. very effective but bad marketing strategies.

    Do let me know if there is any way to stop this contact us marketing strategies… thanks

  89. MJR

    Even just minimal research into how links help rank websites will let you know that you can’t buy better rankings.

  90. Danny

    When i google for “natural link building”,
    then the first result shown is a sponsored link that advertises like this :

    “New link building service.
    High PR one way links. $1.40 / link One Way Permanent Quality Links.”

    While i applaud your efforts, Matt, to educate people in here (eventhough many won’t listen because all they know is ‘link building’ and it’s all they got to sell), it’s a pitty that the ‘uneducated’ site owner out there gets to see the crap.
    I wonder how many ‘uneducated’ out there think that those link and PR selling services must be the way to go when they see that Google ‘rewards’ them with a number 1 position.

    Maybe it’s about time that Google stops selling ad space to companies that sell services which are against Google’s guidelines ?

  91. Hey Matt, your effort to keep spammer at bay, and discourage on link spamming is admirable.
    I have been regular visitor of your blogs, however this is my first comment.
    Your useful tips when i implemented were fruitful.
    Mail which you have received, i too get.
    But there was one mail which was new to me.

    It says,
    —-Hey, i host 100 sites and 500 blogs, we will post your content and provide anchor links, in “very cheap rates” so that you can get, “natural link”, and guaranteed top 10 ranking…….

    I know that this is NOT right to hire their service. I even advice many to ignore such services, as it is NOT good practice.

    However what about those who got trapped in their services?
    I will be thankful if you provide me answer as what happen to the site whose owner have hired this “natural link building” service.
    Thanks

  92. We get people aproching us to do seo on our site even tjough the site says we are a seo agnecy amongst other things – the realy funny ones are ones with no PR

  93. The trouble with saying ‘appear natural’ is that – reading between the lines – you know that company is almost certainly trying to do something somewhat ‘under the radar’.

    Isn’t it better to adopt a more professional natural link-building style as per Dave Chaffey’s post about why most companies fail in their link building?

  94. If people spent time just optimizing their site correctly instead of trying to game the system, they’d have a better long-term business.

  95. The trouble with saying ‘appear natural’ is that – reading between the lines – you know that company is almost certainly trying to do something somewhat ‘under the radar’.

    Isn’t it better to adopt a more professional natural link-building style as per Dave Chaffey’s post about why most companies fail in their link building?

  96. I think the worst part is, how bad a name they give the rest of SEOs out there… I’m constantly walking into meetings where I have to explain the other company that just outright promised to get them first on any keywords regardless – is just taking their money.
    … And then 6 months later they call me back when they realize they got taken for a ride. You would think those companies put themselves out of business, but they just move on to the next unsuspecting company or site… Build good content and engage, the links will come.

  97. I don’t know what seems to you to be “natural” or not. But I believe that a nofollow blog is a pain-in-the-dots and it really does not help anyone.

    A lot of people suffer from a “nofollow” and this is specially true for the owner of such websites.

    As for the “natural” part of linking … hmm is there something like that? I mean, maybe, if you link to Wikipedia to explain something, or Google to suggest a search or whatever. But between two or more blogs talking about affiliate marketing? Come on…

  98. Aussiewebmaster

    So why doesn’t Google drop Digg and Sphinn from the mix? Or kill links as a valuator completely? Know you guys have a backup algorithm that does not use links… what do those search results look like Matt?

    Why not kill adsense – would remove most of the motive for creating a pile of the crap sites out there.

    How do we take it all serious when you are allowing Google get rich program sellers to buy PPC ads?

  99. lots0

    Can’t believe you guys at google…

    You say not to buy links… and I don’t.
    But my competitors do… and they beat me in the SERPS everyday.

    My competitors buy tens of thousands of links at a time and never get penalized or have their positions in the SERP taken away.

    So if I do what google asks and not buy links, I lose to my competitors that do buy links.

    I have reported my competitors that buy tens of thousands of links… I wasted a lot of time, effort and money reporting these people to google (I even named them here in Matts blog (777.com) along with the proof they were buying links by the tens of thousands (https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/search?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.777.com&y=Explore+URL&fr=sfp)… and google did NOTHING but increase the rank of the site that buys links.

    So if I play by google’s ‘rules’ about link buying I lose… and my competitors that ignore google’s rules win… with the help of google.

    So what is an honest webmaster to do?
    In order to stay in business, it looks like I will HAVE to buy links. But google says it will penalize me… although google does not penalize my competitors that buy links…

    Come on Matt do what you say… or shut up about buying links.

    And ya I ticked off at google’s BS….

  100. I have same experience about “natural links”. Tried to do PR as articles about buying cars via internet, which is my core business. Did competitions over the related sites with nice PR and none of these links were even indexed in Google by link:www search. When I bought link it got indexed in few days. So come on…

  101. spamhound

    The people who say build good content and the links will follow are either drinking to much google kookaid or just delusional.

    If you have great content, and do not tell anybody about it, do you really thing Google is going to reward you? If nobody knows about your great content, how do you think your going to get great links? That’s the biggest crock of crap I’ve heard and it dates back to the 2000 SERPS alah Jill Whalen theory.

    If you want people to find your site, promote it. If Google don’t like it, then tough, Yahoo or Bing will. Sure those two only bring a fraction of the traffic, but things are changing and Google’s reach is slowly going to be less broad the way it should be.

    If a Google fanboy like myself for the last 10 years, is sick of Google’s BS and actively gets clients to switch search engines like I’ve been doing, it’s only a matter of time.

    The days of the real Google ended they day they went public.

  102. I wonder how many ‘uneducated’ out there think that those link and PR selling services must be the way to go when they see that Google ‘rewards’ them with a number 1 position.

    Yep, and that’s not the only double standard, as you know.

    Google also sponsor SEO conferences where SE spam it taught! Can you imagine a World known University sponsoring an education conference where cheating on exams is taught? The University would become a joke overnight.

    They also allow Adsense on sites that are clearly spamming Google. Hell, Google even supply them with unlimited free disposable Websites to use and practice on.

  103. I think the greatest thing for people wanting to SEO there sites is Social Media sites. If you want to build natural links fast… than write great content. If you don’t know how to create appealing content, just hang out on http://www.mashable.com

    With all that social media network sites are offering… If your not taking advantage of this, You are leaving a lot of money on the table. Screw everything you learned about link building! Make your site popular with Social Media Marketing and you will see your sites rise in the SERP’s

    Google will always give you more LOVE if you create REAL meaning for searchers.

  104. Marx

    I must say I have recently seen as solid example of the fact that un-natural link building is still very effective, I work in paid search and heard an SEO agency say they would rank a client top 5 from nowhere with a brand new site. On probably one of the most competitive keywords possible ….

    2 months later they are number 3 ….. the yahoo link domain search is a rather interesting read …….

  105. How can Google tracks if the links are natural or not?

  106. Yeah, I think I get at least one of these types of spam emails every day….it is crazy since SEM is what I do for a living…talk about not doing any research, the true definition of a spam email! Oh yeah, relevant links should BE natural, for sure! :o)

  107. They must just generate huge lists or just harvest info from sites. Why else would someone try to “sell” SEO services to Google’s SEO front man? One of my wife’s agents just told her he was approached by someone that could “get us to the top” of Google. Matt, exactly where is Google’s top anyway? :P

  108. DMitt

    @Lots0 The problem is that you appear to be in the online gambling arena where 99 percent of sites have paid links.

    Paid links work and reporting them takes patience. Of the 60 or so reports filed since November, 1 of those actually got a site but not my competitor penalized (assuming that none of my other competitors filed link reports about the same site).

    Reporting paid links can be a waste of time … instead buy a domain like:
    http://www.hey-matt-look-here-sitexyz-buys-links-click-for-proof.com

  109. One of my wife’s agents just told her he was approached by someone that could “get us to the top” of Google

    Yeah, either AdWords or an uncompetitive term. Or, they use SE spam and you end paying them BIG dollars for being banned from Google.

    What a bargain ;)

  110. Mr Cutts,

    Are pure reciprocal links better than natural one way links ?

    Reciprocal links mean a trust relationship has been set up between two competitors. This “quantum of trust” is a hallmark of personal honesty. Sites built to steal credit card numbers never seem to be able to build link exchanges. They just can’t bring themselves not to cheat.

    Luke warm Regards
    Steve
    PS you might also look at the way neurons build connections. Not all connections are a good idea.

  111. Terry

    These link builders make a good case when they call. They showed me a site ( I think it was Interwest Safety?) With over 30,000 links on Yahoo. They claim to do the same with our site for a monthly fee. It seems risky and we’re not even sure they worked on these sites but it does sound like a great deal. Get tons of links and the sites are ranking.

  112. “Natural links are better than non-natural” ..bit like breasts, eh? But some strange people likes da biiiig boobies soo much ; )

  113. Very Funny :) maybe they try to impress you :)

  114. Hi this is so and so with Super Duper SEO. I work with Yahoo! and Google to get you on the first page for your search terms. *CLICK!!*

  115. Despite my digital store already among the top 3 on page 1 of Google I’m getting about
    3 emails daily from seo “gurus” offering services to get better serps for my digital products.

    Probably they want me to beat ClickBank for the keyword of “digital products”.

  116. I generally advise clients to buy links from relevant websites directly (rather than through brokers) on the understanding that the site only links to other relevant websites. This is good practice in my opinion.

    However, when websites such as http://www.worldpress.org heavily influence the search results of niche motoring sites that have paid for text link ads throughout their site I am not surprised that competitors then feel that they have to do the same in order to work their way back up the results. Sites should not be penalized for selling links but I think that the link relevancy should be G’s focus. If a link is relevant then it should hold some weight, if not then it shouldn’t.

  117. Hi there,

    I certainly do remember getting an e-mail similar to this one. Glad that I did not take up the offer ;) Thanks for sharing this to your readers. If every blogger made readers aware of spammers this way, it would be great for the not so tech savvy to avoid such SPAM.

    Cheers,
    Eddie Gear

  118. There is a guy around the Orlando area here, he made up a bunch those political yard signs and has plastered them all over downtown. He offers a guarantee number one ranking for your particular keyword in Google for $99.00. This made me giggle.

    I was sitting in afternoon traffic another day and saw one of his signs again, so just for fun I decided to give him a call and take him up on his offer. I picked a very, very, completive KW and he said no problem.

    Three days later I get an email from him saying the job was complete. I was like wow, not only can he nail a top spot, he can nail it in three days =)

    So in my email I get a screenshot of my site sitting at the number one position for the KW we discussed, number one all right, the link to my site was number one for the KW term in adwords =)

    Ah, I need a hobby lol, =)

  119. spamhound

    Save the emails and hire them to throw links at your competitor with their prized anchor text. With the state of the current SERPS, it will not knock them into -50 or worse penalty area.

    And who said you couldn’t influence other sites rankings.

    I see a whole new industry starting.

    Nice job Matt!

  120. I receive those email daily about outsourcing SEO and link building, it’s really getting annoying. I’ve also had calls from people claiming to be working exclusively with google saying that they can guarantee top positions for a certain fixed fee. Whilst this is possible via ad-words or organic SEO I hate the fact that they try to mislead people, they know some people or desparate and sick of their websites not performing and are preying on them!

  121. I agree with you Web Design Lwighton Buzzard. I get cold called all the time from people claiming they are working with Google, almost as if they work for them. They are misleading a lot of unsuspecting people.

  122. I am actually pretty frustrated with Google’s performance on detecting paid links. We do hard work to have good (as opposed to evil as well as numb) marketing done for our site, invest a lot of creativity and implementation and yes, we see results – hovering between page 1 and 2 on the SERPs for our products.

    And BOOM comes a competitor totally out of the blue. Their site is up and active since a couple of months, occupies #1 spot plus indent on our industrie’s most competitive key word with 99 % paid links (that is in Germany). All those links are so blandly bought, like your typical header or footer link in light grey on white background on a TOTALLY unrelated website. Thousands and tens of thousands of them.

    Now when they first popped up there at the top of page 1 I though: Give it a couple of weeks and they’ll be gone. Matt keeps telling us that buying links is evil, and certainly now in 2009 they know how to detect and discount that stuff.

    But NO, they are still there reaping the rewards of their spam-strategy. And yes, this is indeed frustrating. Google is actually still maintaining incentives to do your web-business in an unsound way. Is it really so difficult to reduce the rankings determining link base and kick these header/footer or other off-content links out of the pool?

    Before this doesnt happen, spammers like the ones who sent you the email will get business AND provide a real service to those who pay them, but certainly will not provide a service to neither Google, the user or the webmasters at large.

    just my two cents
    Phillip

  123. I got a phonecall from one of the SEO outsourcing companies and played along when he explained how SEO works. Putting aside he was a complete scam, they don’t even check what kind of company they are calling. It’s ridiculous.

  124. “Natural” is so passe, so pastoral. How about “authentic” links.. oops, that’s too trendy. Or perhaps language should target “unnatural” links.. oops, that’s too agrarian… :)

  125. Damn it I HATE companies and emails like this, as it makes our jobs as web developers sooooo much harder; now as well as trying to actually get the customer to add themselves to directories, publisize their site to get some decent NATURAL links I have to spend about 3 days firstly trying to assure them that these services are a waste of time and finding evidence on the net to prove it!

    It’s funny what people believe when it means less work for them ;o)


  126. He is an interesting article that discusses how to create natural links and better SEO.
    The article is part one in a three piece series that help to better understand the evolution of the Internet and how to take advantage of it.

  127. Paid or not, every internet marketer’s aim is to drive traffic, may it be instant traffic or not. Thing is, to what degree are you willing to drive traffic to your site.

    It’s your option. No matter how you do it as long as you know that you will profit from it and if you don’t… let’s say.. charge it to experience.

    Don’t we all receive spam mails every day?

  128. JP

    I guess this will not end before Google decides to stop using inbound links as a ranking factor. And that will most likely not happen anytime in the near future, as it actually works…in spite of all the comments above and the spam-linkers trying to abuse the algorithm…it actually WORKS and it gives the users of Google some of the best search results available on the Internet, if not the best i.m.o.

    JP

  129. Andrew

    I saw people use a new strategy to rank up for any competitive keyword. This method works for any niche. People purchase old domains with .edu .gov direct back links for very big prices and set up a site completely different to the original one. For example a charity site to a gambling site. Unfortunately google places these sites on the top. Google blindly consider the trust rank.

  130. This is hilarious, I guess they could guarantee a number 1 search position in Google, maybe I could get my website submitted to 500,000 search engines, oh and wait, I almost forgot to say, there is a 100% money back guarantee,

    Haha, these people or so called professionals really make me laugh,

    When ever I get a phone call, I answer the phone call, and respond with, “Tell me something about Canonicalisation” they usually hang up.

  131. Tom

    Hey Matt,
    I have a quick question about links. My website links to my blog via a javascript link (this is because it is part of a javascript driven horizontal menu). This is the only link to my blog and yet it has pagerank and fully indexed in google. Does google count javascript links? How about all the javascript link ads? I’m hearing a bunch of different points of vew to this. Hopefully you can get some time to clear this up. Thanks for your time!

  132. Hello Matt,

    Search engines and SEO professionals emphasize having good quality relevant links that match the content of the pages. Despite that I see many leading websites obtaining hundreds and thousands of low quality links from unrelated websites – paid and natural – managing top rankings on search results.

    Most leading SEO sites have over 50,000-1,00,000 external links. Now how and why would a small cooking website in Bangkok would like to link to a leading SEO site in USA, unless they are a client, which seems unrealistic since their high fee. It seems the name of the game is number of links not their quality. Link Ad Networks seems to be doing good business with many links costing as high as $100 and more per month.

    Is posting to SEO blogs like yours can increase my rankings, even though you have “nofollow” attached to my URL. Google claims to follow “nofollow” strictly and would not crawl those links. By not having the “noindex” on the posts, does that mean when Google will index your page it will index and associate my link to your page as well, and pass some link juice if my site talks the same subject. Please correct me if I am wrong. What if being a SEO professional with a passion for fishing, I drop my website links on my signatures on fishing forums.

    Thank you.
    Ashish Kothari

  133. I’m getting regular calls from so-called Google resellers either offering link building or PPC.

    As John Dennett (above) mentioned, a few questions about their thoughts on the recent PageRank sculpting / nofollow debate gets them off the phone pretty quickly.

  134. My Only Self

    No offense to intended to “Natural Links” but how the heck are you supposed to get a natural link? You need incoming links to get indexed, you need incoming links to get high in the search results, so it follows that you need incoming links to get traffic which you would need to get “natural links”

    Most of us are not Matt Cutts of Google who has everyone and his dog linking to him.

    Commenting on blogs is unnatural because you have to look for non no-follow, posting on forums in not natural because everyone has the same “Make a million dollars ask me how” link in their siggy so I sure know why they are posting and it has nothing to do with wanting to visit with all their buds online.

    Submitting to directories is unnatural because your submitting, heck submitting to google and waiting 6 weeks would be unnatural because your ASKING to be indexed and then you’re gonna be so far down the SERPS that you might as well never asked to be indexed to begin with.

    Sucking up to all the “online community” leaders is unnatural because you don’t really care about that community you just hope someone puts you on their blogroll.

    Writing articles at the article sites and the lenses/hubs/barrels are just backlinks.

    I’ve had the occasional blog get indexed for 3 days without any incoming links but it vanishes quick and never comes back.

    If you want natural links you need to think up a better system because at the moment the internet is littered with blog farms and crap directories, and a zillion and a half “submit your site” here sites.

    Maybe if CONTENT was more important than LINKS instead of linkfarms we could all just type a bunch of nonsense sentences and call it CONTENT.

    All that being said, I love googles search engine, but unless you can come up with a system that does not entail actively looking for incoming links to your website which by the way you WANT to get listed or you would’ve just wrote it in MS Word instead, you are going to have to accept the fact that all the most of the natural links are not.

    They are just natural appearing links between friends, associates, and other desperate webmasters trying to stay in the index.

    Thanks for your time

    My Only Self

  135. It might be true but Google is weak at analyzing back links and there real quality . Google should have to give more weight to fresh relevant content rather then links so that searchers can get the best .

  136. I tend to agree with “My Only Self”. Yes, I suck up to High Ranking bloggers, not just to learn, but for the opportunity for backlinks. What other way is there?

  137. Every linkbuilding service I’ve run into that has provided thousands of links at a low cost to my clints ended up creating splogs, comment spam, and forum spam. What a great way to wreck the Web – clog it up with garbage.

  138. I think the only way to eliminate spam is to change the internals of the search engine. Like any system, Google can easily be manipulated. People have figured this out about Google and it seems that the only way Google can control this is through fear and undefinable words … “natural links.” It’s kind of a shame that good things can be ruined by the masses.

  139. Link bombing not only gets your site blacklisted by Google but makes the web a cruel place!

  140. @Matt I agree, exploring the internet about this topic I was amazed how many webstes are trying to tricker me for paid links and/or so called free links, I found directories were an average surfer never wil find his goal, it´s getting worse by the day.

    best regards Frank

  141. I find the whole linkbuilding thing extremely complicated. Is a natural link like leaving a comment on a blog or a forum? If so, if I leave a comment on 5 different blogs every day 7 days a week is that considered unnatural?

    I just don’t want to do the wrong thing but as I say, it is quite confusing for someone new to blogging like me.

  142. I probably receive 2-3 emails per day from people offering link building or other SEO services. I feel sorry for the people who buy into these services when all they really receive will be comment or forum spam links back to their sites.

  143. Responding and commenting on relevant articles is definitely the way to get back links for your web site. I spend time using Google Alerts to find the articles that meet my criteria.

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