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Spotting Unnatural Linking Patterns

By Eric Ward
August 27, 2007

The full text with hyperlinks for this Link Week column can 
be read at here

Last week's column Aggressively Seeking Links - How Much Is Too Much? sparked several comments and questions. In the past, I've hesitated to revisit previous columns, preferring to let them stand on their own, but this time I'd like to make an exception to clarify some of the assertions I made.

In that column, I wrote "...spotting manipulated linking patterns isn't as hard as some people think it is" In response, I was asked "What would you classify as 'manipulated linking patterns", and " would be great if you could give examples of easily identifiable patterns".

First, note that I am not saying a manipulated linking pattern is automatically a bad thing. It could be, but not always. Buying links for the sake of advertising on a demographically relevant target site is smart business, and it is arguably manipulated, but it's not spam and doesn't deserve a penalty. Likewise, asking the person who runs this site to give a link to this site is also a form of manipulation, but again, not spam. That's logical and on-topic link seeking at it's best.

I define a manipulated linking pattern as links obtained purely in pursuit of search rank with no thought given to topical relevancy. I further define manipulated linking as any attempt to take advantage of or exploit a weakness in content/server design, like form injection or automated blog commenting, or the recent Google MapSpam incident. Last, and I'm sure I'll hear it for this, I define manipulated linking as any links acquired as a result of sending automated or bulk email link requests to sites that you have never visited.

OK, so now on to an example of how I spot manipulated linking the full column at SearchEngineLand

Link well my friend,

Eric Ward

About the Author
Eric Ward founded the Web's first services for announcing, linking, and building buzz for Web sites, called NetPOST, in 1994, and in 1995 he launched the URLwire Site Announcement Network, which today has millions of readers and remains the only service devoted 100% to announcing useful web content. Eric is best known as the person behind the first linking campaigns for,, and His services won the 1995 Award For Internet Marketing Excellence, and he was selected as one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight Magazine in 1997. Eric is a 4-star speaker at Jupiter's Search Engine Strategies conferences, and he publishes a monthly how-to newsletter called THE WARD REPORT: Link Building and Content Publicity Tactics. Eric writes several online marketing columns including LinkWeek for, and previously wrote for and Ad Age magazine.  Eric, wife Melissa and boys Noah and Abe live in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Content Publicity & Link Building Strategies since 1994
I help content driven sites attract and obtain online publicity, relevant and trusted links
I create linking strategies and conduct link training sessions 
I help people understand the nuances of linking that enable their sites to thrive
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