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25 Things Not to Do When You're Building Links

May 22, 2008
One of the best ways to promote your site and build your authority in your community and for the search engines is to build links to your site.

You might think you have your link building campaign in hand, but are you sure you're doing it right?

Here are 25 things to avoid when you're link building.


1. Hide links off a page.
This is a sneaky CSS trick Google doesn't like.

2. Buy links where everyone else is buying.
Get off the beaten path; if you buy where everyone else is buying, you dilute the value of the links.

3. Purchase links from any link builder that lists their inventory online.
Google can see that list as well ya know.

4. Use automated link building software.
Talk about leaving a footprint.

5. Use the same anchor text over and over.
Your anchor text density should look natural and varied.

For general ideas about anchor text density or variation, check out your competitors' usage.

6. Overuse the same type of links.
Sitewide links, reciprocal, 3 way links, high or Low PR, social media, press releases, article directories;you get the point. Diversify!

7. Have unnatural PR patterns in your backlinks.
It's not natural to have only high PR backlinks, or low ones, for that matter.

You need a healthy mix of higher and lower PR backlinks.

8. Place links in paid or sponsored sections.
Search engines are getting better and better at spotting these and thus lowering their PR and ranking weight.

9. Spam Wikipedia for links.
Get a Wikipedia link you deserve and it will stick around.

10. Spam (insert favorite social media site here) with fake DIGGS.

Do you like your reputation? Thought so. Produce something DIGG worthy instead.

11. Spam gov or .edu forums.
You want gov or .edu links? Earn them. These links are easy to get if you offer them content that fills a need.

12. Comment spam blogs or guest books.
Do this if you enjoy being hated by influential content publishers.

13. Create a onetime link spike.
While some links spikes are good (e.g. press releases, articles, viral campaigns), don't buy or build 50 links that all go live in 3 days and then stop. Spread your campaign out over time.

14. Focus on keywords you already rank for.
Have you calculated what those rankings would cost your business if you lost them? I suggest some preventative maintenance.

15. Create a link directory on your site.
That's so 1999. Oh, and it doesn't work.

16. Send out random "link to me" requests.
Mass reciprocal link campaigns don't work. This can also cause loss of reputation quickly.

You don't want a bunch of junky, non-relevant backlinks cluttering up your profile anyhow. Only send a link request if it makes real sense for both sites to become link partners.

17. Don't send a generic letter if you're requesting a link.

Nobody likes impersonal letters. Take the time to compose a nice email that lays your proposal out in a personal way.

If you're link building correctly, then any link you have to email or call for should be done with the utmost of care and sincerity.

18. Create an article exchange on your site.
Better to host high quality content you produce and link out to high quality content in your niche, rather than having a spate of links on a random page of your site.

19. Use link networks.
Search engines spot artificial link networks easily; those 5,000 instant links you got are going to come back and bite you.

20. Submit to 5000 directories for $19.95.
You get what you pay for and in this case it will be NOTHING!

Instead buy or submit free to hand selected directories that have a relevant page for your niche. Make sure the exact page you are getting a link on has at least a PR1.

Many directories will throw your listing 200 pages deep in a category.

We have tested over 600 directories in fact and found all but a small portion of them were worthless (supplemental results) to submit to. So do your homework.

21. Forget to add anchor link text.
Anchor text is a must-have for any link you get, so make sure you include it.

22. Don't spam forums.
Don't comment just to add a link in to your signature. Forums are great for building your authority in your niche, but behave as a helpful expert, not a low-level sleaze.

Also, keep in mind that some forums disable signature links, while you have to earn them by posting helpfully and gaining authority within the forum.

23. Use 301 redirect urls excessively.
Used in moderation this can be very effective, but do you really think 300 redirects to your site look natural?

24. Don't send annoying updates.
You don't have to email everyone in your community every time you make a post. It's ok to be excited but moderation is good.

25. Stop building links once you reach the top.
Do you stop promoting your site when you become an industry leader? Then why stop building links?
About the Author
Wendy Moyer writes for search engine marketing company AuthorityDomains.com. Authority Domains offers a host of Search Engine Marketing and link building services in addition to an SEM Blog.
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