Checking for Clean Links

Link building is often thought of as the least interesting part of someone’s internet marketing or SEO campaign and occasionally the most difficult part too. Viral marketing campaigns don’t always go to plan, link exchanges don’t always get accepted, and spamming the internet isn’t the best of approach to use either.

The goal is to build “clean links”. I’ve used this term in my previous post, link building basics , and just want to clarify exactly what clean links are, and how to avoid the opposite kind.

To put it plainly, clean links are ones which can be crawled by search engine bots, and are what search engine optimisers look for when they come to building links. It is a link that is not blocked by robots.txt, a nofollow tag, nor a Javascript redirect and consequently delivers link juice and improves the search engine prominence of a site.


To find out if your link is being blocked in this way, there are two means of finding out. Firstly, you can check the pages source and search for a robots meta tag, which will look like this:
“robots” content = “noindex, nofollow” or “robots” content = “index, nofollow

These are telling the page not to give any benefit to the link, and therefore aren’t giving you any benefit. However, if the robots meta tag looks like this in the view source code:
meta name = “robots” content = “index, follow

This is an example of your link being followed and therefore giving you some link love.
The other way to check if robots.txt is preventing search engine bots from seeing your site is to check the robots.txt file of the URL in question, for example

In this file you can see:
User-agent: *
Disallow: /includes/
Disallow: /misc/
Disallow: /modules/
Disallow: /profiles/
Disallow: /scripts/
Disallow: /sites/
Disallow: /themes/

The disallow instruction is telling search engines not to crawl the named directories. This is saying any articles or files that are in the /misc, /profiles parts of our site etc will not be searched and therefore have no link juice benefits. You will still be able to click on these links however.


If you right click and view page source on the page your link is found on, try searching for rel=”nofollow” or just nofollow. If this attribute has been applied to your link, for example:
<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Example</a>, this link would not be receiving any link juice from the page it was found on. If you cannot find “nofollow” in the same HTML section of your link, then you’re fine (subject to any other methods). These are most-commonly found in blog post comments (comments on our website are clean).

Javascript Redirect

The way to check if there is a Javascript redirect on a page is to hover your cursor over the link and look at the URL that appears in the status bar (at the bottom of your browser). The majority of the time the link will remain the same and benefit of the link remains in place. Occasionally, this link will be changed and therefore will not be passing any link juice. This is more common with gambling affiliate websites.

This is not to say that links with no value have to be avoided. If you get your link on a popular website, even if it isn’t passing any link juice benefit, it may send you a host of relevant visitors. Or if you’re posting insightful comments on websites that are nofollowed, the webmaster could end up giving you a link with juice somewhere else on the site at a later date.

Michał Domarus

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  1. Another way in which the links might turn dirty is if they get redirected along the way. One way to check this is to use the Live HTTP Headers plug-in in Firefox, but another way is to check via our header checker tool at (Free Login Required).

    One way or another, many links lose some or all of their benefit by generating a response OTHER than a “200 – site found” response. even a 301 is not as good as a 200 response and in the normal course of events, every link should give this response if it is “just normal”.

  2. Many thanks for the Clean Links information, I never thought a link could be bad.

    • I am currently doing “learning hours” to optimize my web page and your article cleared all fog around “nofolow” attribute. Keep up good work!

  3. Hi! I think the backlings are the most difficult part of the SEO implementation and it is not depends on how good could be your webpage or something like that, but I think that backlinks consist of a hard working in a day to day work!

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