In the last months we have been working on an automatic unnatural links classification system. Before going into the details of this new tool, I would like to share with you the challenges that we had in implementing such a complex system. (if you are not interested in those just skip to the tool)


1. User Oriented Concept

The Unnatural Links subject generates a lot of confusion among website owners, webmasters and even SEO professionals. I can tell you that the unnatural link concept is a hard to grasp concept for the majority of the people. You can easily “feel” the confusion that most people have if you read the Google Product Forums, where a lot of people talk about their unnatural link warnings and Google Penguin penalties.


Some other techniques that classify links are based on a certain “toxicity” level or “potential” risk. We consider these techniques generate a poor user experience and are only adding complexity to an already complex formula.


The route we took is to simplify the unnatural link understanding and disavowing process.

We developed the system in such a way that it will split the links in

  • Unnatural Links.
  • Suspect Links.
  • OK Links.

As simple as that!


2. False Positive Ratio

It is important to have a really low incorrect detection ratio. To put it simple you would not want a system that detects only 10% of your unnatural backlinks or misclassifies the good links as being unnatural.


This was hard to achieve. No automatic detection system provides 100% certainty (Google misclassifies site links also … it is all about the final False Positive ratio).


We took the performance up to 97% percent well-done classifications and a false positive ratio of only 3% on our testing dataset.


3. Incorrect Metrics

An important factor for a well-done classification, are the metrics that are used in order to draw any valid conclusion out of it.


For example using external metrics such as the Google PR or the indexation status of a link in Google are flowed ways of identifying an unnatural link. That is because you simply are able to identify this link only after Google has potentially marked it as unnatural and are looking at Google as the major sign of an unnatural link. This means that using such metrics in an automatic system makes the system rely on things that have been already flagged. These might only work for sites that have already been penalized.


We do not use any external metrics in our algorithm in order to detect unnatural backlinks. This made the development process harder but in the end more accurate and trustworthy.


4. Detection Algorithm

I am not going to share the algorithm that is used in order to classify links as natural or unnatural but I can tell you that this algorithm does not use external metrics and it relies on AI, in-depth content and link profile analysis in order to segment the so called “toxic” links from the natural ones. The rule set we use is based on the official Google Quality Guidelines.


Let me give you a quick example considering a web-directory link. In the context of a natural looking link profile that web-directory link will not be flagged as unnatural as it simply is not. The same link put in a unnatural link profile will be looked from a different POV and will be flagged as unnatural due to the high amount of unnatural link patterns found in the suspect link profile; patterns that falls into the black hat SEO category.

And the new tool is called:

Unnatural Link Detection

The tool that simplifies the “unnatural links” complexity!


Some of the most important features of the tool are:

  • Automatic unnatural link classification.
  • Transparency & detail on each classified link. (why it is unnatural)
  • Google Disavow Export.
  • Fast Double-Check using the Link Snapshots.
  • Flag & Tag Links. (bulk actions available also)
  • Advanced Link profile segmentation using unnatural filters.
  • Can be used both on your site and the competitors.
  • Ignore Links that are already disavowed, or unimportant to the analysis.

The Unnatural Links Detection widget is found in the inBound Link Analysis module, on any campaign that you run in cognitiveSEO.


Mixed with the Visual Link Explorer, this new set of data points will instantly give you the unnatural link profile of a site.

Who should use this new tool?

Everyone really, and here is why.


1. Penalized Sites Owners

This is the ideal tool if you’ve received an unnatural link warning or have been penalized by the “Google Penguin Updates”/ received a manual penalty.


The tool helps you find every link to your website and then analyse the potential risk they carry. Even if you have a lots of links, you can easily check the inbound links to disavow or remove is a breeze now with. You can easily check the links using the already generated screenshots . If we were wrong on the classification you can easily re-classify the link.


After you manually checked the entire list of links and disavow links just hit the Google Disavow Export and you have the file ready for the Google Import. If you see a link that uses links schemes you have the posibility to remove the link or apply other manual actions. 


For the links you want to manually remove just create To-dos that you will later review.


Links that pass the unnatural test are marked as OK because those are natural links. Keep those links and use them as an example of high quality backlinks. 


2. Non-Penalized Sites Owners

For sites that haven’t been penalized by any unnatural link warning or update, the tool helps to manage the link risk by monitoring your site and competitors on a weekly basis. 


You will stay ahead of the game by being able to:

  • Make informed Link Building Decisions.
  • Know your risk to be penalized and monitor it weekly.
  • Monitor your competitors’ link toxicity and risk.
  • Monitor your site for Negative-SEO campaigns.

Link Risk and toxic links or harmful links, as concepts, are only useful if you know your bad links before Google takes any action against your site. If you know it before they do, you are able to manage it.



Matt Cutt has recommends using the Disavow tool even if your site wasn’t penalized:

If you are at all worried about someone trying to do negative SEO or it looks like there’s some weird bot that’s building up a bunch of links to your site and you have no idea where it came from, that’s the perfect time to use disavow as well. 

I wouldn’t worry about going ahead and disavowing links even if you don’t have a message in your webmaster console

Matt Cutts Matt Cutts
Former head of the web spam team at Google


Recover Your Site Now!


To be able to test the system we give free 14 day trials, so you might want to take advantage of that first and see if the tool is up to your expectations. You will also get the full functionality of the tool, including full backlink analysis, daily rank tracking, social visibility and a plethora of cool & useful stuff.

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