13 Link Building Mistakes that Killed Thousands of Websites

harmful link building techniques for website

Last week, I was looking for articles related to link building then I found a lot of articles regarding the preferred ways of building links for websites i.e. white hat link building techniques. 

There are so many high authority blogs like MOZ, Search Engine Land, Quick Sprout, Backlinko etc. sharing various ways & techniques to create external back links.
What do you think?
Is it possible to rank in Search results with No backlinks?

I do interact with people on different websites, blogs, forums, discussion boards etc. and I have found that after sharing so much useful information by industry experts and Google also, People are still doing activities that might be harmful for their website in future.

As Matt Cutts has said that natural links are better than unnatural, So we all should focus on building natural links. After all Google is doing everything for better user experience, So we should focus on users rather then search engines.
What is the reason behind this? Are they unaware of the unnatural link building techniquesor they think that they can fool Google. Well, I guess they are aware of all the DO’s in link building but unaware of the DON’Ts.

So I have decided to share techniques and things webmasters are doing which they should not do for the better SEO of their website. 

1. Using Keyword Rich Anchor text for Link Building

Some webmasters have spammed all over internet by building links with the anchor text they want to rank for so that Google released penguin update and penalized thousands of websites for building excessive dofollow links with exact match anchor text.

Using keyword rich anchor text is allowed but it is not recommended to build all the links with exact match keywords as an anchor text.
Google suggests to build links naturally, They said that you should not focus on the anchor text, but your links should look natural.

It is recommended to create an optimized link profile by using different variations of anchor texts.

Read: How expedia.com loose their 25% of traffic for building links with exact match anchor text, Google considered them as paid links.

How a good link profile helps a website:

  • Websites with good link profile ranks higher in search results
  • A good link profile is built with high quality back links
  • Quality of back links is determined mainly using anchor text
  • More diversity in anchor text, more the link profile is optimized

2. Building links outside your Niche 

Let say, there is a travel website & blog and they are talking about office accessories and giving a link to their website, will you click on that link?
Well, if user is looking for travel related information then there is no need to give a link to some accessory website. A travel website should link to relevant travel stuff related site to provide some useful information to their users.
There days Google is taking these irrelevant linking very seriously, because they seems to be paid links.
So whenever you build link through outreach methods, Always choose the content from your niche. The surrounding content should be relevant according to the link you are getting from there.

A few months ago, a website docsheldon.com was penalized by Google for placing one off topic link in their content. The docsheldon blog is about SEO and the link was going out to some lead generation pitch about big data, which was not related to SEO in any means.

Read: Comprehensive keyword research guide for SEO in 2014


3. Participating in Forums and using keyword Rich Signatures

Participation in forums is really very good way of sharing information, build relationships and discussing topics only if it is done in the way it is described above.

Many forums allow users to add their signature link in their posts, and that’s a good thing to increase traffic to your website through forums. But users have started spamming through this.

Google has explained in their link schemes very clearly that using keyword rich anchor text in signatures or post is against their link scheme guidelines webmasters should not do that.

Dropping website or blog articles links in discussions is also not a recommended way of building links.
Example of spam signature in forums with keyword rich anchor texts 
link building via forums and keyword rich signature

You can use different variation of your brand name, naked url’s in signature as an anchor text, just like in the image below.

use naked urls in forum signatures

4. Doing Guest Posting Only for a Back Link

“Guest posting is dead”, Matt Cutts announced this a few months ago on his blog, But is this true? 

Is there any scope of guest posting in future? Yes

If you are doing guest blogging for links only then it is dead for you, But if you are doing this for sharing some really good and useful stuff among people then you can do guest posting and Google is not going to do anything.

If you have checked Searchengineland.com, then you can see there that Barry schwartz is an author there and in each of his posts there are links going out to this websites with their names.

This is how a author bio should look like. There are links to his social profiles, his websites etc.
barry schwartz optimized author bio at seland
Now take a look at this spammy author bio
A spammy author bio with keyword rich links
If you look at this, You can easily find out that it’s spammy and he has done this done this guest post for getting links with keyword rich anchor text.
Recently, Google has penalized the largest guest blog network MyBlogGuest.com.

5. Buying or Selling Links for Money or Free Services

Paid links are the biggest NO in SEO, in last six months Google has been very strict on this and has penalized so many blog and link networks and still doing. 

Buying or selling is not concerned with money only. Here are a few examples of what a Paid link is:
  • Exchanging money for giving or getting link that pass Page rank i.e. a dofollow link
  • Exchanging goods or free services for links
  • Ex. You are writing about any gadget, charging some amount or taking their paid services free of cost and giving link back to their site
Here Matt Cutts is explaining what a paid link is:

6. Excessive Link Exchanges with other Websites

Are you building links with some specific websites only i.e. you’re giving links to your friend’s website and he/she is giving links to your website. If yes then stop doing this link exchange. 

Matt cutts has suggested that building exchanging links with other websites is fine if you are sharing information and if it is natural but don’t do this excessively.

Previously, Google has penalized many group of websites who created a link wheel i.e. 10 websites linking each other’s content and passing page rank.

In an interview at SMX Matt cutts said that just like Yahoo Open directory link to Google directory, they also link back to yahoo at some levels, so they are exchanging links. But it is fine because they are doing it for sharing knowledge and they are not doing it excessively.

7. Submitting Articles to Directories

There are hundreds of article directories available on internet and people are continuously submitting their articles over different directories to get back links.

A few months ago Matt cutts published a video saying a NO to article directories submission because it looks spammy.

8. Hidden links in Widgets with Keyword Rich Anchor Texts

Are you developing different plugins and widgets and sharing it with users and getting a link back to your website, If yes then stop doing this.  Google has clearly mentioned in their link scheme guidelines that:
  • Keyword rich, hidden or low quality links embedded in widgets or any plugins that are distributed across various sites.
  • Adding a link back at the bottom of the theme is also not recommended, If you are building links of this type then make sure that these links are nofollow.
Here is an example how a back link is pointing back to the widget owner website and if you see the code of the widget, there is no code for the link present.
widget links at the bottom

9. Building Reciprocal links with Web Directories

Building links with web directories has been one of the most popular way of getting links. There are thousands of high quality web directories are present over internet, which allows to submit your website under a specific category, then they will review your website and add it to their website.

There are mainly three ways of link building with web directories

  • Pay some amount and get the link ( takes 1 day )
  • Add website badge or link in website html code ( takes 2 days )
  • Free directory submission ( takes 3-4 months )
Paid links are not allowed in SEO, But for the early process to get link people usually add a badge to their site and give a link back to the web directory. This is reciprocal link building and this is not recommended by Google.

10. Links from Footer & Sidebar

Footer links are not recommended by Google, Giving links to other websites in footer or sidebar is not a good way and that may cause your website to get penalized.

If you are linking your other websites then make sure that you make footer or sidebar links as nofollow.

Cyrus shepard has explained some rules of building links for webmasters.

11. Linking to Illegal or Penalized Websites

Google is penalizing a lot of blog networks, link networks and other websites these days. If you are giving links to penalized sites then this may be harmful for your website, because Google will loose trust in your website.

Matt cutts is saying in a video that Google stop considering all the links going out from a penalized website, So if you are getting any back link from a website penalized by Google, then there is no value of that link.

Disavow all the links coming to your website from websites penalized by Google. Don’t link to the spam, or illegal websites.

12. Commenting on Blogs with Keyword Rich Anchor text

Comment section on the blogs are for asking queries, giving appreciation and sharing useful information, But many users are using it for building links for their website. 

Using some keyword as the name while posting comment or writing some meaningless comment and leaving a link with an anchor text at the end of the comment is really looks spammy.

Most of the time, these comments are not approved by website moderators and declared as a spam and Google is smart enough that they know where the link coming from. So if you think that these comments provide the same value as the body text link then you are totally wrong.

Always use your name while commenting on any other website. Always give some meaningful comment and try to add some value.

13. Submitting Entries on Low Quality Press release & Social Bookmarking Sites 

Press release are a very good way to promote your brand, But the site doing press release should submit it to high quality press release websites.

There are so many low quality websites are present on the website and they provide press release and a back link free of cost but those low quality sites are not recommended and sometimes they penalized by Google for spamming. So its better submit press release to high quality websites.

There are many social bookmarking websites are evolving these days, but most of them are low quality and allows spamming on their site. 

Don’t submit your entries on low quality sites as it makes negative impact on website sometimes.


Link building is still one of the main ranking factor for any website to rank in search results, but time have changed now, Google has become smarter enough and the old link building techniques are not going to work anymore.
Its the time to build links smartly, Acquire new techniques of link building and build natural links. Remember that once you get penalized by Google for unnatural links, Recovery for your website is very very tough. So its better be safe and build quality links rather then quantity. 

Thanks for reading this article. Comment below if there is any query or suggestion. Please like this post and share it with your users and friends.
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  1. Manik

    May 23, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    Hi Bhavuk,
    Thanks for the great stuff. All points are well described and really important to get good result in SEO. Some points are new for me and i should try to ignore.


  2. Bhavuk Khandelwal

    May 23, 2014 at 8:50 PM

    Thanks for reading this article Manik, I am glad you liked my article


  3. TechGopal

    June 7, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Bhavuk really awesome points to follow & most of time many blogger penalized by these linking mistakes..Reallyt must read for every blogger.


  4. Bhavuk Khandelwal

    June 8, 2014 at 10:15 PM

    Hey Thanks, I am really glad that it helped you and you liked it. Well, I would be more happy if you share it with your friends 😀 🙂


  5. Johnson Julong

    September 13, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    i really got lot of info from this article, i hope to get more detailed and effective link building strategies in forceble future


  6. SEO Blogger

    October 11, 2015 at 7:11 PM

    Awesome update ! I can see this happens and personally, I myself have been the victim of this a bit. But learning from this now. Thanks for this awesome share!


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About Me

Myself Bhavuk Khandelwal, I have keen interest in writing about Digital Marketing and this is the reason of establishment of this blog Tech SEO Tricks, I am Blogging about Search Engine Optimization, Blogging Tricks, Content Marketing, Make Money Online, Affiliate Marketing, Online Marketing Promotion Strategy, Sharing How to Guides and many other topics. I am doing various Experiments and will be sharing all the Findings and Tricks on this Blog in Future.

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