18 Common Link Building Techniques to Avoid

Although some link-building strategies appear to be a smart idea, they are not. Here are the 18 signs to look for.

Since the 1990s, Google has been developing its capacity to spot manipulative links in response to aggressive search marketers constantly developing new techniques to create links.

Simply put, search algorithms categorise connections into two categories:

  • Natural (normal) linkages
  • Strange connections

Spam is essentially links that aren’t natural; all other connections are genuine.

Google wants to ignore artificial links and only count and use natural links when determining rankings.

Businesses face a challenge since outdated strategies that Google is aware of keep resurfacing under new names.

When that occurs, spammy tactics that should be avoided become more prevalent, and Google is ready to devalue them again.

Signals of Link Spam

It’s crucial to realise that statistical analysis focuses on something other than a single signal in isolation when discussing signs that suggest a site may be using manipulative link-building tactics.

Single-signal analysis can produce false positives, in which a natural-looking website is incorrectly labelled as artificial.

When that occurs, spammy tactics that should be avoided become more prevalent, and Google is ready to devalue them again.

When multiple signals are examined simultaneously, the statistical analysis becomes more precise.

Therefore, even if specific signals may be included in this article (if they are used), it is likely that they are combined with additional signals to attain a greater accuracy rate.

Google also uses AI to screen out deceptive links.

1. Adding Links to Existing Web Pages

We can only say that Google is using something described in a patent if it verifies.

In light of this, it is vital to consider a 2003 patent for Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data.

The patent discusses monitoring website modifications that could be signs of spam.

The insertion of connections to already-existing web pages is one indicator that it monitors.

It becomes simpler to identify those and delete them from the link graph if the majority of websites that link to already-existing web pages are websites that sell links.

The patent also identified the following factors as useful to monitor:

  • The number of links added.
  • The frequency of connection additions.
  • How frequently links are deleted.
  • How quickly linkages are formed.
  • The frequency of content updates.

It’s impossible to say whether Google looks for unnatural links based on the age of links and content.

We only know Google had this idea in 2003, yet nearly two decades later, Google could still include this in its spam-fighting AI.

The patent’s significance is that it may enable Google to identify paid links by tracking changes in inbound and outbound links over time within a domain.

Resuming from where we left off, adding connections to already existing pages is a tactic that Google can probably detect and devalue.

2. EDU Discount Link Building

In exchange for a link from a university website, a link builder or the company will give discounts to students at local universities.

Google has been using this link development for more than ten years.

3. Free Products Link Building

A version of the paid link strategy provides free goods in exchange for a link.

The curious thing about this strategy is that it might be against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States prohibitions prohibiting posting reviews or recommendations that have been bought with goods, samples, or other forms of payment.

FTC – Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising is where you may find the official rules.

Here is a simple-to-read FAQ on endorsements: What People Are Asking About the FTC’s Endorsement Guides?

Giving away free goods in return for links may be against the law and go against Google’s policies.

4. Brand Mention Links

This linking strategy pays a writer to include links in content posted on a different website.

The business that employs the content writer pays the author. Another company covertly compensates the author to include a link, receiving two payments for one article.

This article frequently fails to declare that the writer received payment for the link, which can be against the FTC Guidelines mentioned above.

5. Link Bait Campaigns

What is Link Baiting?

An outdated strategy known as link baiting was developed in the late aughts to obtain links from the tens of thousands of people who appeared to be blogging at the time.

The strategy is founded on the notion that by producing information that people will find fascinating, you can amplify it on well-known websites, which will lead to links from other websites to the original content.

How can Such Campaigns Be Useful?

Ego bait and resource bait are two common types of link bait that can be effective.

  • Ego bait is when a well-known individual gets interviewed on the website.
  • Resource bait occurs when a website releases a comprehensive resource on a particular subject.

See Todd Malicoat’s 2007 essay on link bait for more details.

If link baiting is done in a way that exposes the site to relevant sites and possible clients, it may generate hundreds or thousands of relevant links.

How can Such Campaigns Fail?

Because the more straightforward methods of accomplishing so are typically off-topic to the core of what the organisation does, link-bait efforts can fail.

Links that are unnecessary as a result.

Simple link-baiting strategies include games, humour, and antics.

The story of a real estate firm that held the world’s worst real estate agent photo contest serves as an illustration.

For years, the real estate website remained relevant for searches like “world’s worst real estate agent.”

Another illustration is a story told during one of my search conference talks from several years ago.

A participant in the audience described how his incredibly successful link-baiting operation collected thousands of links but did not improve sales or rankings.

Their public relations stunt was highlighted on the well-known blog BoingBoing, and his website was linked to and cited in several newspapers and blogs worldwide.

However, because that company offered hardware to government defence organisations and university science departments, its “success” had no bearing on its position in search engine results, reputation as a brand, or sales.

6. Sponsor Links

A sponsor link is a type of link purchase when a person locates a charity that takes donations in exchange for the charity linking to the donors.

This style of link-building has been around for a while.

This strategy gained popularity around the year 2006. However, it quickly became stale and stopped working.

In addition to not working, doing it frequently enough might lead to manual action.

A fantastic strategy to establish relationships with such customers is to sponsor groups well-liked by potential customers.

By wearing a badge indicating membership in or support of a group, a business can demonstrate that its values align with those of its customers. As a result, there may be an increase in customer loyalty and trust in the company.

Sponsorship links may benefit a company, but only if they include the nofollow attribute.

7. Scholarship Links

Algorithms like PageRank and link ranking consider how the web is connected.

After creating an internet map, Google will likely produce a so-called Reduced Link Graph, primarily consisting of non-spam links and pages.

The web is divided into neighbourhoods according to topics as part of the ranking analysis.

Scholarship links are fantastic if your objective is to rank for [keyword phrase] + scholarship.

These links have an issue in that their context is irrelevant.

Most websites that engage in scholarship link-building focus on something other than awards. They deal with issues like personal injury attorneys.

A school’s affiliation with a personal injury attorney does not affect whether the attorney ranks for relevant search terms.

A school’s affiliation with a personal injury attorney has no bearing on whether the attorney ranks for relevant search terms.

The link is essential for things like [scholarship for personal injury attorneys]. The magnitude of the value is shown by how highly Google will rank these types of pages for particular scholarly search terms.

Business owners can’t use this because the links are about something other than their company but rather scholarships.

A personal injury attorney will rank for “personal injury pizza restaurant” if they have links pertinent to the search term “pizza restaurants.”

But you do not want a link to a pizzeria on a personal injury lawyer’s website. The same sort of relevancy issue affects links to scholarly content.

An SEO may claim that.edu links are unique and that they would assist boost a page’s domain authority by adding “trust” to the connection.

In three separate ways, that is incorrect:

  • Domain authority is an imaginary concept.
  • Google does not employ any trust metric. (John Mueller responded, “I don’t know that we’d call it trust or anything crazy like that,” in response to the claim that a website had gained “long-term trust.”).
  • Edu links do not offer anything unique due to their domain.

Scholarship links were abandoned by the industry years ago, yet personal injury SEO continues to use these obsolete link-building strategies for some reason.

Let’s go on to a link-building technique that is even more pointless.

8. Badges for Link Tricks

The badge link-building technique is one of the most dated and out-of-date link-building strategies available.

The badge for links strategy is a variant of the widgets and awards strategies.

Making a bogus award and giving it to websites that would display your image badge and announce themselves as winners is the idea. Giving them the emblem and the code, which includes a covert connection to your website, is the trick.

Any SEO that suggests the badges trick is an effective link-building strategy should be avoided at all costs. This link-building tactic is so stale that it will crumble and blow away if you breathe on it.

The widgets link-building strategy, which Google specifically condemned in 2016, is comparable to the badges strategy.

It’s comparable because, in both situations, the link builder is compelled to link back to the originating website by providing something of value (a prize, a visitor counter).

The strategy is against Google’s advice of “high-quality, relevant links” and depends on people linking to your website for reasons other than your content.

9. Blog Comments

Since blog comments are such a horrible link-building strategy, search engines introduced the “nofollow” link attribute in 2005.

Considering a strategy that failed in 2005 is futile.

Even though the “nofollow” attribute is now a hint, that is still no justification for beginning to spam comments as if it were 2004.

Only those who advertise comment spamming services claim that it is effective.

10. Expired Web Pages

It’s a tried-and-true strategy to buy expiring domains.

This strategy succeeded until Google started resetting the PageRank of expired sites in 2003.

The PageRank of expired domains is reset.

The Google toolbar that showed a PageRank score indicated no PageRank transferring when Google altered their algorithm to reset the PageRank.

Since 2003, rerouting an expired domain has not been adequate to parasite the connection signals.

11. Charity Link Building

This is an alternative link-building strategy to sponsorship. The linkages in this strategy are useless, which is an issue.

An SEO will try to persuade you that domain authority, trust, and the magic of the.edu would improve a site’s ranking, but such justifications have already been proven false.

12. Services For Guest Posting & An Article Directory

Offering content for publishing through a service in exchange for an active link is known as content syndication through article directories and guest posting services.

Article syndication websites were well-liked once. They were essentially collections of article directories that allowed link preservation while being copied and published.

These businesses occasionally advertise as matchmaking services that pair “bloggers” with publishers who might ask for free articles in exchange for active links.

Google has previously taken action against websites that promote guest blog posts.

13. Guest Posts 

Although scaled guest posting contravenes Google’s criteria, those participating in it may also discover that their links don’t work (at best) or that their sites receive a manual action penalty (resulting in a loss of rankings, at worst).

Is it acceptable to use it sparingly?

There are restrictions that, when broken, render guest blogging spammy.

In general, a link-building strategy is not considered spammy if no money or other exchange takes place and no link is required.

Additionally, the United States Federal Trade Commission forbids the creation of advertisements without disclosure (FTC).

14. Widget Links

One of the first types of scaled link building is widget links.

When this strategy was effective many years ago, the top-ranked website for a particular medical issue was a lawyer website that provided visitor counters to universities so they could place them at the bottom of their web pages. A link to the lawyer’s website was present in the visitor count widget.

This strategy was adequate for a while before it lost its effectiveness.

Many individuals began employing additional types of helpful widgets for people to add to their sites as WordPress grew in popularity.

A connection to someone’s website was made by creating plugins for widgets such as a weather display, a news feed, an RSS reader, etc.

Google formally posted a blog entry cautioning against this tactic.

Widget links are one of those concepts that, in theory, sound nice at the kitchen table late at night but lead to a manual penalty.

15. Press Release Link Building

Press releases help announce important company news.

The benefit comes from a news outlet running an article based on the press release.

The links included in the press release do not add value.

Because it is painfully clear that links in press releases with duplicate content do not have the characteristics of being a legitimate link signal, Google may also decide to disregard the links in that content.

According to John Mueller of Google, Google attempts to ignore press release links.

Press releases can still be posted on websites, despite this. A business can spread the word about itself by using press releases.

16. Creating Profile Links

Each participant of a forum often has a profile created.

A member’s name in the forum post turns into a link that points back to their profile page, which may include a member bio and a link to their website or blog when they submit a response or question.

I can tell you right now that forum owners and the moderator of WebmasterWorld’s Link Building Forum are aware of link builders who register with a forum to remove a link from their profile.

Since many websites prevent Google from crawling member profiles and adding nofollow to any links found in a member profile, it is simple to spot.

In any event, it’s a useless, low-quality connection.

This link is not genuine.

A link on a forum profile is about as pointless and spammy as they come. The context of a ranking signal to a webpage is NADA. To think of such a link as a link-building strategy is absurd.

Anyone who advises using this strategy has a credibility issue.

17. Forum & UGC Spam Techniques

Websites with user-generated content (UGC) provide a forum for public discourse. Examples include forums and websites like Reddit and Quora.

Some spammers will do actions like posting a query or an answer, followed by adding a link.

Monitoring for forum spammers who only engage in promotional activity is one of the duties of a moderator on these UGC platforms.

Some SEO experts claim that answering a question and then linking to another website with the phrase “And there’s more information at this site!” is beneficial for both parties.

Many forum moderators will typically view that kind of activity as spam, given my nearly 20 years of experience both as a forum moderator and as the forum’s publisher. Putting a link and leaving the venue is poor community conduct.

However, a more constructive approach would be to show up and demonstrate knowledge, authority, and trustworthiness as a good community member by providing helpful answers to queries and growing into a devoted and long-term participant in that community without posting advertising links.

18. Link building with WordPress themes

Making a theme and including a “powered by” link at the bottom of the article is another “sounds nice around the kitchen table” suggestion.

Including a “powered by” link is customary. Although it’s generally not terrible, could you not count on it to improve rankings?

Links in the footer that says “Powered by” no longer extended function nearly 20 years ago.

The company that built thousands of websites and included a keyword-rich link back to their web design site on each one was one of the top-ranked sites for keywords like “web design” (in any state) in the early days of SEO.

It operated for a while before ceasing to function sometime in or around 2003.


Old link-building strategies (such as purchased links or expired domains) come and go. People must remember that something only works after ten or more years, and the outdated strategy is used again.

Since there are few new link-building strategies, it’s a good idea to study before implementing the process because what sounds like a good idea cannot be.

Understanding the background of link-building strategies is helpful, and understanding how search engines employ links is also beneficial.

A company can avoid making the same mistakes twice by using these strategies.

Making something helpful and letting others know about it is perfectly acceptable. That method of link-building is entirely legal and most likely the safest.

DMA Link Building Services will be able to help generate efficient internal and external links for your company.

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