Unlinked URL Citations a Natural Link Profile Signal
The same concept that brought Eric Ward out of a 3 year writing hiatus has done the same for me and my 4 year hiatus.
John Mu answered a question about why unlinked URLs appear in the Search Console. He said:
“We can pick up links from text too, but they don’t pass PR, so no disavow necessary.”
The discussion on Search Engine Roundtable continued down a disgruntled link builders’ path of: why don’t news sites, premium pubs, etc. hyperlink my URL when I am mentioned in their articles? They vetted me as a trustworthy source and still nothing! Yes, this is a one of many frustrating obstacles that comes along with link acquisition but Eric calls out many ways unclickable URLs are okay.
Eric Enge even did a brief case study on if unlinked URL citations would impact rankings. He found that it did not.
Why is Google keeping track of unlinked URL citations?
This likely plays a role in how Google determines an unnatural linking profile from a natural linking profile.
When it comes to link profiles there should be a balance across many criteria, not weighted to heavily in any one bucket. A natural linking profile will be composed of a mix of links that have linking text derived from the brand, unbranded keyphrases, image alt text, no image alt text and “click here” generic text. Also, these links will be a mix of both follow and no-follow links. The acquisition of these links should be happening overtime with the occasional spike related to important events (product releases, IPOs, etc.) Being too heavy in anyone of these signals will likely raise a red flag with Google that you have a potentially unnatural linking profile
Unlinked URL citations would fit quite nicely in the mix of criteria that Google is using to evaluate link profiles. A brand, or site, that is building trust and authority via marketing programs (such as PR and press releases for example) will naturally pick-up unlinked URL citations. This is just going to happen as a consequence of running a successful business/site that has newsworthy events to share in a press release. Now, if Google were to notice that you have none or very few of these citations that could begin to look suspicious and potentially lead them to think you have an unnatural link profile.
Moz and Majestic not using unlinked URL citations
The most populate link databases and metrics companies, Moz and Majestic, both are using hyperlinked links as part of their metrics calculations. Additionally, Majestic does have an advanced report that will allow you to see the citations, mentions as they call it, for your site.