Stop Building Invisible Links – 3 Ways to Find Them

January 5, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

invisibleAre your links invisible to the search engines? Every link building campaign is time consuming and resource-intensive. In order to be efficient and get the most “bang for your link”, it’s important that you know which types of links are valuable and which aren’t. Of course there’s no such thing as a worthless link, but if you’re building links for SEO, you definitely want to focus on the ones that will make the biggest difference.

Search engines don’t see all types of links. In fact, many links aren’t even counted towards your search engine rankings. Do you know which ones? Pay attention because in this article, I’m going to list out the types of links you should avoid or use sparingly. After all, if you’re going to place a link on the web, you want it to count, don’t you?

Nofollow links

The nofollow link attribute was created by Google in 2005 as a way for webmasters to tell the search engines that a link is not editorial and should therefore not be used to influence the link target’s rankings in search. Although not perfect, it’s a way for Google to combat link spam and paid links.

For example, most blogs use nofollow links in their comments section. Leaving comments on other blogs might be a good way for you to establish relationships and bring in direct traffic, but the links won’t do you much good otherwise because they’re nofollow.

An example comment is below. As you can see, the blog comment links are nofollow (as shown by the red highlighting) and don’t offer much SEO value.

Download the SEO for Firefox extension and use it whenever you’re searching for link opportunities. You can highlight nofollow links so that they are easily distinguishable on the page.

Links on non-indexed pages

Google scours the web on a regular basis and constantly adds new pages to its search index. If Google likes a page enough to index it, it usually means that the page has ranking potential (in Google’s eyes anyway). Therefore, it’s important that you attain links on indexed pages for maximum value. You can check whether or not a page is indexed in Google by using the “site:” operator. Below is an example for one of Winning the Web’s pages.

There are a few reasons why Google might not index a page.

  • The page doesn’t hold much value (i.e. duplicate content, lack of content)
  • Navigational roadblocks (i.e. page is done in Flash, poor navigation structure, or search engines can’t access the page otherwise)
  • The page is blocked via robots.txt or a robots meta tag.

Always check to see whether or not the target page is indexed in Google (and Yahoo & MSN) before pursuing any link opportunities. You want to be sure that the page will be passing value and link equity back to your own.

To go a step further, take a look at when a page was last cached by the search engines. A page that is frequently crawled usually means that search engines place a lot of importance on it – meaning your link will be more valuable.

Links in Javascript code

Search engines are unable to read and execute Javascript code. All content held in Javascript, including links, are thus ignored and invisible to the search engines. For example, you might find a dofollow link opportunity on a great high-authority page and think you landed on a goldmine. However, you could very easily be wrong. If the link is generated via Javascript, it might as well be invisible.

To illustrate my point, let’s take a look at a article – Guide to Marketing Your Business With a Blog. At the bottom, you’ll see a comments section where others have left their feedback followed by what seems like dofollow links.

But do these links pass value? We can see what Google sees on the page by viewing the cached version. Simply search for the article using the “site:” operator and then click on the “Cached” link next to the URL.

Loading comments? Ah, here you see that the entire comments section on the page is done in Javascript. None of the links or content are visible by the search engines. What you may have thought to be valuable links actually don’t even exist as far as the search engines are concerned.

Another way to check for Javascript on the page is to use the Web Developer Firefox extension. You can easily turn off Javascript on any page to determine what’s visible and what isn’t.

Have you been building invisible links? The 3 tips above should significantly increase your efficiency and help you to focus on links that pass the most value to your site.

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Posted in Articles, Link Building, SEO
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40 Responses to “Stop Building Invisible Links – 3 Ways to Find Them”

Wesley on January 5th, 2009

One thing you might want to take into consideration still.. Even if you comment on a nofollow blog, a reader might visit your website and like what he/she sees, then proceed to write an article or whatever about your service. Or turn into a customer, etc etc.

Ofcourse, that is assuming what it is you’re promoting is linkworthy 🙂

Nicole Price on January 6th, 2009

I agree. The numbers may be low but they serve a long term purpose.

Jacques @ SEO Tools South Africa on January 7th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I also concur with you Wesley. One needs a mix of no-follow and do-follow links for the search engines to classify your link profile as natural too, so whilst it is important to have do-follow links, no-follow links also have value in other ways.


Hey Wesley,
That what I am trying to say against this post.
No no Gyutae, I don’t mean it like that. I mean to say that comment links are very fruitful when you comment in your niche blogs.
The points you said are 100% true but its very hard to get links from dofollow, indexed and non-javascript pages unless you are posting links on very less authoritative forums and other such places.
The best way to get quality links is to post quality content and do a little promotion. Links and word of mouth will spread it all over.
But Wesley, in 1000 people you will get one person who will link back to that article that also when he extremely likes the post.


Gyutae Park on January 7th, 2009

I agree with all of your feedback here. Comment links are important even though they are nofollow – they drive traffic back to your site and help you establish relationships with bloggers. However, in my post, I’m speaking solely about building links for SEO. For those people who think that leaving blog comments will increase their search rankings – they are badly mistaken.

Leo on January 21st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I would have to agree with Wesley here. I think too many bloggers look at comments as a way to build a solid SEO profile. Why not instead, contribute something worthwhile and then leech the traffic from another site?

Then, IF your site is worthy, you may get links from other websites contextually (within a post)…that would carry much more weight than a hundred lame comments from do follow blogs, wouldn’t you agree?

Mario on January 5th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Nice tips Gyutae.

Thanks a lot for sharing.


Ajith Edassery on January 5th, 2009

Nice post Gyutae. What frustrates me at times is the hidden links in many of the widgets we add and many of them not conforming to the XHTML standards. Even the bidvertiser banner that I added broke my conformance.

As far as the last point is concerned, are you talking about AJAX based comments or just the one that script based one that explodes a second or two after loading?

Gyutae Park on January 7th, 2009

Widgets work well in building links, but you’re right – some of them are pretty sneaky about it. Bidvertiser, for example, used widgets as a way to rank on the first page in Google for “internet marketing”.

As for the comments, basically anything that’s done in Javascript is not optimal for the search engines. I’m not really sure what you mean by the exploding comments.

Donny Gamble on January 5th, 2009

You definitely want to make every link count because you put all of your time trying to get quality links back to your blog. You want to make sure that you are getting high quality pr links back to your site.

Gyutae Park on January 7th, 2009

Good point, Donny. Generally speaking, if you can place a link on a site yourself, it usually means it’s not lasting or of high quality. Of course there are link loopholes that offer a lot of benefit, but those are closed pretty quickly once they’re abused.

Legitimate Home Based Business on January 6th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Good advice Gyutae, the SEO plugin for FireFox is a great attribute and tells you straight away if a link is follow or no follow. Blog commenting can still be an effective way to build backlinks if the blog owner has turned them into follow links.


Kev | Cheap Phone Calls on January 6th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I didn’t know JavaScript wasn’t read. Thanks for this advice, now I know where to target, and do it more efficiently.

It’s a same too many people use Nofollow…

Nicole Price on January 6th, 2009

Gyutae, thanks for so clearly explaining the process.

Gyutae Park on January 7th, 2009

No problem, Nicole. I’m glad that I can help you understand the process. 🙂

Glen Allsopp on January 6th, 2009

Great idea for a post Gyutae, making sure you know all (or at least a majority) of your links is crucial when doing standard SEO.



Gyutae Park on January 7th, 2009

Thanks Glen – much appreciated. In SEO, knowing where and where not to get your links is essential to every link building effort. Best of luck to you and your sites. I’m loving your new PlugID network.

bandisusi on January 6th, 2009

Yes.. thanks for realized me to not spend my waste time.

charles palma on January 7th, 2009

Nofollow links is one of the most popular things you should check before acquiring some links. It is an html attribute.. 🙂

Ann Arbor Web Design on January 7th, 2009

That is a very lucid explanation of what links work and how. Thanks for a very informative post.

david on January 7th, 2009

great article, the nofollow firefox plugins are a great way to see if particular directories/associations are worth signing up for.

Singapore SEO on January 7th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

So is the comment links in this blog hidden? 😀

tv on January 7th, 2009

The recent SEO-type posts have been great for newbies like much. Much appreciated!

Dawid Ryba on January 7th, 2009

Hi Gyutae
Great article.
I hope I will be able to make my homework.
Nofollow links, Links on non-indexed pages And Links in Javascript code.
Gyutae give as less homework in your next post. 😉

Dawid Ryba

max on January 7th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Well, I have 1 more to add, you can actually add links inside a javascript using tag, a hidden secret. 🙂

Legitimate Home Based Business on January 7th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I avoid all these types of links bar blog commenting. Commenting on blogs can give you seo benefits IF the blog has a top commentator plugin but you can also gain some traffic from blog commenting so its still useful.


Franck Silvestre on January 8th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Well, aside from being tedious, linkbuilding entails ‘grunt’ work. So, this post serves a good guide for all people and newbies to linkbuilding who might be doing it all wrong.Great post, thanks for sharing it!

Market Secrets Blogger on January 8th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Proper use of your robots.txt file seems key here.

Mike Huang on January 9th, 2009

Link building is sooo fun now that there are tons of scripts to help you leave comments all over the blogosphere. Nofollow is basically the only way to stop the spam, but bloggers tend to give out Dofollow to show appreciation.

designed2perform on January 10th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Another great post Gyutae, the best part of this post is how you’ve explained that comments are no-follow even with an image. Yet people are still trying to get a little SEO juice. When building links I always use the mentioned SEO tool but you must remember is that it sends automated query’s to Google which could get your your ip blocked. If your not using it switch it off by clicking the icon in your status bar!

Brian D. Hawkins on January 11th, 2009

I comment if a blog is follow or no-follow, obviously since yours is no-follow but those are some great tips. I knew JS was a roadblock for Google but I didn’t realize sites used it to display comments.

Is there any solid information from Google that using Java Script or no-follow tags even helps the publishing site’s page rank? I’m not picking on you and I hope you don’t mind if I use your our blogs as an example. Your site has 3.5x more pages indexed, 6.4 more back links and a lot more traffic according to Alexa than mine. I don’t use no-follow tags and you do. Yet we both have a Google PR of 03/10. I’ll be the first to admit your blog is better in every way I can measure. I’m just referring to page rank and SEO.

Would you loose PR or search engine traffic by allowing the search engines to follow those that comment? I’m sure I’m missing something.

Again, just trying to learn, I’m not attacking. When I re-read before I submit it could sound either way. No way to express tone or intent 🙂

Make Money Online on January 11th, 2009

No Brian, I doubt you will lose PR or SE traffic because these come from your own link building effort!

Gyutae Park on January 11th, 2009

Hey Brian,
No offense taken. 🙂
Using Javascript or nofollow tags can help a publishing site to preserve PageRank and distribute it to internal links. This shouldn’t mean that you horde links to yourself though.

As for this site, it dropped down to a PR 3 because my IM Top Blogs list has been getting the majority of links lately (it’s at PR 5 now compared to 3 for the homepage). I wouldn’t worry too much about toolbar PageRank though. The site still ranks the same regardless.

Brian D. Hawkins on January 11th, 2009

Thanks Gyutae, I knew there was a reason. I had the same thing before I converted to blog format. I used a splash page on the index page which had a PR3 and for the front page I used indexx.html which had a PR5. Then I did a bad thing 😉 I redirected the indexx page to index.php (now a blog) thinking the page rank would follow. Been pr3 ever since. No big deal though, I like the blog a lot better and it’s just a lesson learned.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Aggressive Dog Behavior on January 18th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

This is a great post. I recently started my link building campaign, and these tips will definitely help me. Thanks so much for writing about this!

Block Paving Bolton on January 19th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

An excellent post and having a mixture of do follow and no follow links does not do any harm to your site

thanks for sharing 🙂

Minneapolis Real Estate on February 21st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks for sharing the info.

Exotic Cars on April 21st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Gyutae,you have focused on good points which many newbie are not aware of.No follow blogs do add value.They are useful to get organic reader.But site using Java Script does not add anything to the commentors.

SEO-MAMA on May 12th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

This is a great post. I recently started my link building campaign, and these tips will definitely help me. Thanks so much for writing about this!

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