17 Ways Link Building Can Go Awry


17 Ways Link Building Can Go Awry was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

This is a report from SMX East 2016. Search Marketing Expo (SMX) features speakers from industry-leading digital marketers and search engine representatives. Subscribe to the BCI Blog to get coverage of key sessions sent to your inbox.

Shah Menz at SMX East

Link building specialist Sha Menz

Link removal specialist Sha Menz has a word of warning for SEOs: Manipulating the link game is like everything else — it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

A superhero SEO can come along and save your site, but there are much more powerful things your superhero SEO could be doing rather than link cleanup.

Menz shared 17 areas where link building can go awry and 3 ways link building can be done best!

17 Ways Link Building Can Go Wrong

1. Anchor Text

link anchor text slide

2. Paid Links
There’s nothing wrong with a sponsored link, by the way — but call it out. Note that it’s sponsored, like Search Engine Land Editor Barry Schwartz does in the below example.


3. Reciprocal Link Exchange

These seem to be having a resurgence, said Menz. If you’re shaking hands and agreeing to trade links with someone, it’s not necessarily a bad thing — if there’s some actual reason that both of your sites can link to the other in a natural and useful way. BUT if this is the case, don’t hesitate to use a nofollow tag. Getting traffic and being useful are the key things you’re doing here.

4. JavaScript and CSS Tricks

Don’t hide things here. Search engines will see it.

5. Irrelevant and Spun Content

6. Footer Links

People can get very sneaky. In the below example, the word “C-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t” actually has a link on every letter.

linking from every letter

7. Comment Spam

8. Wiki-loading

9. Bad Directories

10. Guest Posting

11. Kiss-of-Death Domains

kiss-of-death domains list

Learn about suspect domains at DomainTools.com.

12. Link Networks

13. Redirect Madness

Watch out for third-party redirect passes through high-quality domains. This might appear in the form of intentionally misspelled domain names in the code. Use the SpamFlag Chrome extension in conjunction with Majestic SEO.

14. Coupon Capers

15. Link Builders You Forgot to Fire

This may sound ridiculous, but it can happen. Ensure previous link builders have been informed and are not building additional links.

16. Rogue Themes, Toolbars and Plugins

17. Black Hats Masquerading as White Hats

3 Ways Link Building Works

It’s all about doing the work. None of the tricks are worth it. Investing your time in actual work is much more profitable. Consider, then, doing the following:

1. Help Others to Help Yourself

Sometimes you’re just out there in a forum being really helpful, or you have written a blog post that’s really valuable. Those kinds of things can pay you back dividends with links.

2. Share Your Expertise

Loan a developer, teach a local class, etc.

3. Do the Unexpected

The Elephant in the Room: Penguin in the Wild

Menz would be remiss if she didn’t bring up the elephant in the room: Penguin. Is the newly hatched real-time Penguin the light at the end of the tunnel for your site, or are you clinging to a runaway train?

“Recognition of your cleanup work will be quicker by the search engines, but results will be harder to spot,” said Menz, adding that the only real results she’s seen (so far) have been people who are ill-affected.

One thing she wants to note is that disavows are still important, which we also confirmed with Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes earlier this week:

Bruce Clay, Inc. is a global digital marketing agency specializing in SEO penalty repair, SEO services, SEM PPC management, content development and social media marketing. Looking for a partner to grow your online business presence? Let’s talk.