Links Do Not Have To Be Indexed To Count!

When I hear things in the SEO or internet marketing industry I always like to check them out for myself. I am a typical questioner, despite the authority of the source I have to go out there and trial it anyway, this is sometimes a good thing and a bad thing.

I have always been a stronger believer that the only links that can possibly send weight are those that are indexed. If Google doesn’t index a page surely it can’t possibly consider any of the links on it are valuable right? Well my opinion is, WRONG!
Links that Google finds but decides not to index definitely count, in fact I strongly believe you can rank a site based on these type of links.

Take a look at your webmaster tools, are all the links Google is finding indexed?

webmaster indexed

no index page

As you can see I have 🙂

Ok Ok, so what if webmaster tools are showing links that aren’t indexed? This proves nothing.

Time to take it to the next level then, I don’t like outing sites for using dodgy techniques, as long as the techniques aren’t outright spam I commend them.

Anyway, without giving the website away I’ll give you some basic info, I am sure if you do a little investigation you’ll find the site, anyway here we go.

On there is a site ranking on the first page for the keyword ‘lawyer’, the site isn’t much to look at but it wasn’t there 6 months ago and the link profile is limited to say the least.

Let’s take a look at the links doing a search on open site explorer;

opensite links

Around 80% of the link profile is made of links just like this, profile links, bio links, signature links.

Don’t get me wrong links like this are no secret, I have built a number myself and ranked sites using them, however it makes a total mockery of the statement ‘Google doesn’t count none indexed links’.

Now I am not suggesting for a second that you should build a link profile based on un-indexed links, however if you need to build up anchor text then why not get them from wherever you can? If a webmaster can rank for the keyword ‘lawyer’ using these type of links you can literally use them to rank for anything.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

29 thoughts on “Links Do Not Have To Be Indexed To Count!

  1. Thanks for the post, I have wondered about this for quite some time now. I just figured that a link had to be indexed in order to count for seo purposes.

  2. What a good article.

    How does such a person find those sites from which they can tailor their own backlinks?

    Email me if you would prefer.

  3. Hi David,

    You can submit articles, these allow you to tailor backlinks. You can also look for forums that do follow, it’s not easy but if you search Google using ( “one of your keywords” + forums/forum/resources/discussions ) you should be able to find plenty of back linking opportunities. There is no exact blueprint to ethical link building, it’s about experience and even when you have that it’s not easy.

    Read as much as you can and just keep plugging away. If there was a quick fix answer I would give it to you.

  4. Hi Aaron,

    Ye I think that was the general consensus, however I am noticing more and more that as long as Google knows about the links they still pass value.

  5. Hey Tim

    I have to say, I am on the fence on this one. I know Dori Friend who runs SEONitro has the same opinion, that non indexed links carry juice because of what GWT shows. But, I have built spammy link profiles as per the lawyer site, using profile links. I always tracked them using Google Alerts (putting some unique text in the About field) and never seemed to get any results until the link was indexed (getting the alert and checking Google for it).

    I started pinging the links using social bookmarks, auto article submissions etc and got some odd results (got two profile links up to PR6 in no time at all).

    Anyhow, interesting post and something I must look into more. Still, it’s a tough one to test, unless there is a away to get unique anchor text into a link you knew would be left unindexed.

    Must look into it more.


  6. Hi Kieran,

    It’s tough one, I have tried it with some sites and got no where, on the other hand I ranked a ‘real estate’ client in the US after 3 months for a really competitive term. I have the forum links on my site with limited effect but the SEO’s that do this properly are building 100 – 300 per month.

    It definitely does have an effect, how it’s worked out at Google’s end is anyone’s guess, but if it ranks sites, I’ll be giving it a try 🙂

  7. Hi Tim,
    Very interesting post. Did a bit of investigating myself and unless I’ve got the wrong site (which I might have:) ) – the lawyer site is no longer in the first 5 pages of the search results! Coincidence, or has someone at Google been reading your post and made a correction??


  8. Matt Cutts somewhere on a blog confirmed that just because a link shows in their list of backlinks, it doesn’t mean it counts for anything.He affirms that there are backlinks that show that don’t actually have any weight to them.
    So its not speculation.

  9. This lends some street cred to the fact a link can be a link. I tend to leave links where I find some value. My last concern is PR etc. My sites are all page one. No fancy linking program. If you pick the right niche and keywords do the proper on page stuff you can rank and make your sales without one link. I see evidence of that every day.

  10. Hi Tired Feet,

    I firmly believe in building a natural link profile and high PR or whatever does not always mean it is a natural link.

    Also I think you’re right, some keywords are so uncompetitive that on page alone and maybe a handful of decent links will see you at the top of Google.

  11. I have thought this for a while. I have occasionally found sites / pages with PR 3/4 but are not cached. They were not spam pages, eg tons of links, they looked wholly legitimate. To me it would seem strange a site could have a PR and not be indexed – but this then leads me to agree with your assertion above.

  12. Good to see a post on this. I looked into this when trying to decide about category and tag pages.To. index follow or no index follow?.some ppl say no index folllow but if its not indexed then there’s no point. but you dont want them indexed to avoid duplicate content on your site from the original post. I have them no idenx follow.

    In regards to your post i do think with links in general they do count. no index to me would just mean it won’t be listed in their search engine however if its found & “crawled” then they know about it and will count like any link based on that type of link. my 2 cents for what its worth

  13. I think the no index follow is very useful and kind of proves the point that these link don’t have to be indexed to count. They still flow PR to your internal pages, it is still a valid website structure, your just telling Google not to cache and index the page, simple.

  14. I could be wrong but I had thought that if a link shows up in Open Site Explorer, that automatically means it is indexed, doesn’t it? How else would Open Site Explorer find the sites? And if the links are all indexed, then that tells us nothing about whether or not unindexed links benefit rankings.

    Furthermore, if it’s not your site, you can’t just assume the owner isn’t building links pointing to a different domain and using a 301 Redirect to send them to the other site, which could account for his high rankings rather than the benefit of any unindexed links.

    What you would have to do to prove that unindexed links are of no benefit is to create 2 fresh domains with identical on-page SEO, create links in exactly the same fashion for both sites, and then get all the links to one site indexed while not touching the other links. Then you could determine if getting the links indexed did in fact make a difference.

    But you didn’t do that here. You didn’t perform any testing or control all of the variables, which is necessary if you want to prove a point. You didn’t even do anything yourself, you just took a look at a site owned by someone else and just assumed that he was doing well due to unindexed links without any actual evidence to support your claim.

    Overall, this was an incredibly unhelpful, useless article based on pure speculation that lacked substantiation and provided little to no value to its readers.

  15. Zach,

    First of all I wasn’t trying to prove anything, as you can tell by the post this was not a thorough test.

    Secondly, just because a link tool picks up backlinks, it does not mean they are indexed in Google.

    Thirdly 301 redirects are reported in opensite explorer, plus you are given a rough idea of how powerful the redirect is.

    The only way to find out if a link or page is Google’s main index is by performing a site: or info: search on the page, Google doesn’t and never has indexed every page it crawls, yet many webmasters have believed your links don’t count unless they are visible in the index, which is clearly not the case.

    Your third paragraph suggests I was trying to prove unindexed links don’t work, I was actually suggesting the complete opposite. The reason why I knew the site was doing well because of unindexed links is because a) 80% of the link profile wasn’t indexed and b)I know the guy who was doing the link building and the exact amount and quality of links that were been built on a daily basis.

    When you work in SEO you perform and come across techniques daily that are helping a site rank, people who read my blog either trust me (then go out and trial) or leave and aren’t interested like yourself. The fact is I am not going to give every single bit of info away on this blog, however I will try and point people in the right direction, whether you listen or not is up to you, either way I think you missed my point in this article and clearly we are in disagreement on what makes an indexed link.

  16. It’s good to see a professional SEO ‘advocating’ the use of profile/sig/etc links. I think there’s too much disinformation in the industry. It’s time webmasters realised that a varied link portfolio is the key to avoiding site penalties. Obviously, as you said, spamming will eventually result in some kind of hit but a webmaster with a little time on his hands has a multitude of easy ways to rank for long tail phrases.

  17. As I said in the post and comments, I’ll try what works. When it comes to link building the key is to be diverse, a profile build on one type of link building method will eventually fail.

  18. Well Tim, interesting post. But logic dictates that if a page isn’t indexed by Google, the links aren’t indexed either. What you are showing is just vapor logic in my view. Also, does Google know you are buying links? I thought that was against their terms.

  19. Hi Mike,

    When it comes to Google logic goes out of the window, paid links would all be devalued and JC Penney spam would never work. Just because Google doesn’t have a page in the index doesn’t mean it never crawled it and followed the links on there. You have to appreciate I work on over 100 websites and get to quickly see what works and what doesn’t, I am 90% sure that links from pages that never get indexed (indexed not crawled) still pass a little weight through the links on them, whether it be a little link juice or simply anchor text value.

    Have you been trawling through my links?? How dare you 🙂 Listen just because a link is optimised and in a footer or side bar doesn’t mean money swapped hands, there are many ways to leverage these links with a little creativity. I pulled down all my ‘paid’ links last September hence the reason I lost my rankings on terms like ‘SEO’ & ‘search engine optimisation’ . If you don’t believe me you are more than welcome to fill out a paid links report to Google, that should be exciting. I’ll even let you in to a little secret, Google the top 20 results for any competitive term, download the link profiles and you’ll have a field day with all the paid activity! Plenty to go at there 🙂

  20. “You can submit articles, these allow you to tailor backlinks. You can also look for forums that do follow, it’s not easy but if you search Google using ( “one of your keywords” + forums/forum/resources/discussions ) you should be able to find plenty of back linking opportunities. There is no exact blueprint to ethical link building, it’s about experience and even when you have that it’s not easy.”

    Thank you for this tip Tim, Just what I needed. I find it hard to find sites for submitting my articles. It would take me hours of digging the internet for me to find those sites..I am new to SEO world and this posts really is great help. Thanks a lot to this..

  21. A site’s ranking depends on those links too that have not been indexed by Google? This post has been an eye-opener. Your reply to all the previous comments have actually helped clear some of my doubts.

  22. Wow.. whats with the hate in some of these comments?

    Thanks for the post. Unlike some others in this thread, i appreciate the effort you’ve gone to examine this. Cheers Tim.


  23. interesting conclusions…and i like the fact that you report your conclusions that debunk former notions regarding indexed links… it’s interesting because there are so many lingering seo myths out there!

  24. A backlink is like a vote, so if a vote is made by anyone (even an unindexed page) it’s still a vote. Sure a vote from a pr9 webpage counts as a better vote…

    However I don’t suggest you build just profile backlinks because that can sound spammy and unnatural, it’s an “ugly” pattern, spiders can detect patterns and that kind of thing, so I won’t use my primary link building method profiles but if I can get a backlink from an unindexed page as long as spider can at least SEE that page it will see the vote and count it too!

  25. Question: If I am targeting a furniture store and I purchase several domains with my keywords found within them ( and redirect them to my main website, does this send any seo juice to my main website? I would think not because the domains would not have been indexed by the search engines… Please let me know what you think.

  26. Hi Jonny,

    If these domains have links pointing at them, then Google will know they are there, whether they are blocked or sand boxed. If these domains are brand new, never crawled, then they would pass no value from an SEO point of view.

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