Big List of Link Building No-Nos

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Link building is one of the most basic methods that Web professionals use to grow their businesses online. It’s a pretty great system because there are so many different ways to build links on the Internet, but it’s also really difficult because there are so many ways to build links, meaning there are a lot of ways to screw it up.

So, while getting links is an essential task for website owners, they should also make sure that they’re doing it the right way. Otherwise, their brand can be seriously (and in drastic cases, even irreparably) damaged. But with so many options for link building, how do you know what to do and what not to do? That’s easy! Just check out this Website Magazine guide to link building no-nos.

Irrelevant or Duplicate Content
If you’re trying to garner links from websites, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re worth linking to! That means producing original and valuable content that is going to have some relevance to the people visiting the pages you want links from. Also, avoid running duplicate content (either content previously published on your site, or that you’ve written and published elsewhere) and writing guest blog posts for irrelevant sites. This will make your site feel authoritative and be more attractive to high-quality links.

Don’t Spam or Leave Irrelevant Comments
Look, nobody on the Web likes a spammer, so don’t be that guy (or gal). It’s fair game for you to want to visit websites or forums that are relevant to your audience or niche and spread the word about your great site in hopes of building a few links, but that doesn’t mean you should just drop in context-less comments or replies that don’t really help progress any discussions or provide value to other readers, all in hopes that they’ll pay attention to you. Instead, take part in ongoing discussions to build your presence as an authority, and only add references or links to your site when it will add value to other visitors. And if you’re on a forum, you can even include a link to your site in your signature.

Be Social – Not Pushy
Social media marketing is basically a necessity on the Web these days; you’re just not going to get anywhere without it. However, just having a profile on Facebook, Twitter, etc. is not enough – you also have to be social and engage with your fans/followers and other big names in your niche. Be friendly and open, and under no circumstances should you simply and blatantly engage in self-promotion, or spam the walls (and news feeds) of your fans with promotional links.

Don’t Buy Crappy Links
The ultimate goal for people looking to build links is to find those that are high-quality and relevant to your site, so not only is it a waste for you to try to buy links from low-quality sources, it’ll also get you in trouble with Google, which keeps a cautious eye on low quality link sites that engage in a nefarious practice called “link farming.” When it comes to getting quality links, your site and content should be all you need. And while you’re at it, don’t bother with “trading” links with low quality sites just to have them. You’re better than that…

Slow Down on Submitting to Directories
Directories, either paid or free, are great because they can seem like they're these big fields where links grow just for you, but don’t be tempted to just submit your site to a bunch of directories the week it goes live. Remember, good links come naturally and are built up over time. Plus, search engines can totally tell when you’ve just acquired a lot of links by going directory crazy, and that’s going to do more harm than good for your site in the immediate future.

Don’t Over-Link to Your Own Site
If you’re a hard-working content marketer, chances are you’re producing articles and blog posts pretty regularly, including for other websites or blogs that you don’t run. Naturally, you may want to drop a link to your site once, maybe twice, in said article, if there’s a natural and not-totally-obvious way to do it (most authors save this for their bio section attached to the article). Be careful not to “over-link” to your site in these articles, though. Remember, you’re supposed to be offering relevant and valuable information to your readers, not promoting your website, so never drop in more than one link to your site. Besides, Google is open about the fact that it only reads the first link anyway, so more than one link is not only annoying, but also useless.

Link to Various Pages on Your Site
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when linking to their websites is to link only to their home pages. This is a bad idea, because (A) it makes users have to dig to find certain information, so just link to the pages you want them to see, and (B) it gives your site a bad deep link ratio and negatively affects how well your deeper “child” pages will rank on the search engines. But also, if your site has a canonical issue that gives you a “/index.html” URL in addition to your domain URL, make sure that when you DO link to your home page, it doesn’t send users to this index page (or any other home page extensions).

Change Up the Anchor Text
When you’re targeting a specific term that you want associated with your website, you may think it’s a good idea to use the same anchor text in your links over and over again. It’s not. In fact, this kind of narrow targeting will actually hurt you on the search engines. Instead, try to vary the anchor text you use to include OTHER relevant or related terms, or terms specific to the page you’re linking to. This will help your site rank for more terms, obviously. Plus, it would be helpful to include your company or website name in a percentage of your links, as well.

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8 comments

David S Freid aka SEO Seattle® 04-26-2013 3:09 PM

I love this magazine... I spend more time reading good relevant information that an SEO company needs than anywhere.

This again a well written great article on one of the most important parts of your Off Page optimization.

Excuse my exuberance... Next Time I Will Just Say Thanks LoL.

Tommy 04-26-2013 9:40 PM

I too love this magazine and website, you guys always are right on point with issues I am working on or just have been! Keep up the excellant work and great suggestions and topics!

ModernM 04-27-2013 4:41 AM

I had a suspicion about doing all the directory submissions within a short period.  Now I guess I'll just have to schedule a couple per week over time instead of doing them all at once.

TomasB 04-27-2013 7:48 AM

After Panda and Penguin we deleted all Link Directories from all our sites, hundreds if not thousands of links. Number of sites asked to delete articles they contributed to our blogs. Everyone who is serious stopped exchanging links, even commenting on other sites, fearing Google wrath. After being good boys for over a year site updates get indexed fast and that is positive development. But PR has not recovered or stayed same, traffic to sites has gone way down and being found for any relevant keyword is nearly impossible. What feels good is not concerning oneself with links and PR, keywords and SEO, and just do what one really wants to do, work on producing good content in a field one loves. Frankly in this day and age it takes too much time to produce good content, leaving absolutely no time to think about linking and SEO, something that before occupied most of our time. Hopefully Google can reward that kind of honest approach.

Kenneth Paul (EEI) 04-27-2013 9:07 AM

When it comes to not overly the to your own site, I wonder if that applies to internal navigational links well? We tend to use many such links and I'm wondering if our site was being penalized because of it.

JulieA 04-28-2013 12:10 PM

Thanks for the tips. I didn't know about Google only using the first link, but it makes sense. I wonder what else I don't know that's penalizing my site.

Web Design Company 04-29-2013 4:38 AM

Michael thanks for the great advice. Especially the on about varying anchor text and destination url.

Maryland SEO company 11-07-2013 9:30 AM

Michael, great article on linking no no's. My approach is to just create good shareable content. That will always be safe.

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