• Tue. Jun 14th, 2022

9 Link Building Tactics You Should Avoid in 2017

ByVirginia D. Bannon

Oct 20, 2017

Link building is regularly a hot topic among marketers and SEO professionals.

While some call this practice obsolete, others claim it is one of the most effective ways to improve your search rankings.

So who should you believe?

In all honesty, search engines haven’t done a very good job of clearing up the confusion. Yes, bad links can affect your traffic and profits, but how can you tell for sure what counts as a spammy link building strategy?

After all, a few years ago, Matt Cutts claimed that guest blogging is frowned upon by Google and businesses that use this tactic could lose their rankings. But SEO agencies still use this tactic prolifically to boost rankings.

With so much confusion surrounding the topic, it’s no surprise that many companies would rather avoid link building than waste time and resources cleaning up bad links.

But that’s not an effective strategy either. As frustrating as it can be, backlinks are a critical ranking factor, and your ranking can have a significant impact on the success of your business.

To help you understand this dilemma, here are 9 link building tactics you should absolutely avoid in 2017.

1. Buy links

You have to spend money to make money. However, this old business truism does not apply to link building.

You’ll find enough so-called SEO gurus telling you that buying links isn’t so bad. It’s just a way to help you get the ball rolling and pretend until you get it right. In reality, however, buying links was a bad idea then, and it’s a bad idea now.

Ethics aside. This tactic is also ineffective and can penalize your site. The new Penguin algorithm is now real-time, which means that if you are caught using controversial link building practices, you will immediately see a drop in rankings.

Instead of buying links, look to to earn investing your money in other marketing strategies and focusing on creating quality content that will naturally link to your site.

If people approach you out of the blue with the option of buying links, chances are the links they get for you will do more harm than good for your site in the long run.

As the old saying goes, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…it’s a duck!


2. Rely on press releases

Mass press releases were once a staple of link building for SEO agencies and internet marketers, but Google got it.

Sending out press releases from time to time isn’t a bad idea, but it can’t be your main link building tactic. In fact, Google’s algorithm devalues ​​the distribution of content on press release sites. In other words, the links you get by publishing mass press releases will pass minimal SEO value (if any) to your website.

When something interesting happens, of course, feel free to create a press release and send it to relevant platforms that might pick it up. But abusing this method for every little thing that happens in your business can be considered spamming.

3. Getting lots of low quality links

Poor quality links are a real obstacle to the development of a website. Try thinking about it this way: would you like prospects to associate your company with negligence and unprofessionalism? Of course not. Well, that’s what happens when they find out about your company and products from low-quality sources.

More importantly, Google feels this too. If your link profile is littered with low quality websites, Google will also consider your website to be low quality. Say goodbye to rankings.

Beware of websites that have poor quality content or, worse, no content at all. Use Google Link Count to check if a certain website deserves your attention. Generally, a high number of links coupled with a lack of original content indicates a low-quality platform. Avoid acquiring backlinks from these places.

Another reliable tool for determining a website’s Quality Score is Moz’s Open Site Explorer, which ranks a website from 0 to 100 based on its link profile. Anything over 25 is a good Moz authority score, but your goal should be to get into the 50+ range.

Here is a report using Yelp as an example:

Yelp - link building

4. Use or create PBNs

PBNs (Private Blog Networks) have been a go-to link building tactic for many traditional SEO consultants and search engine marketers for years. However, in 2017, they are just as out of place as the other tactics on this list. (In fact, they were irrelevant for several years)

Basically, a PBN is a network of blogs that have been created solely for the purpose of linking to each other and to other websites. These are basic websites, disguised as blogs, that Google has blacklisted based on their linking activity. Usually, if people are selling links, they are selling them to be used on a PBN.

If the PBN has avoided Google’s blacklisting for now, you may see a slight interim boost in search rankings when linked to you. But crawlers and the Google team are constantly on the lookout for these platforms, and if they are discovered, your site will be too. It is therefore better to avoid them.

5. Over-optimize anchor text

Old habits die hard. The same goes when it comes to optimizing your content for SEO. Many companies (and agencies) still tend to fill their anchor text with keyword-rich terms when they get backlinks. This practice is considered “unnatural” by the Google algorithm.

The reason people do this is because the words used in the anchor text used to influence the speed at which Google’s crawlers would index the link, and subsequently give your linked page a ranking boost.

Instead of trying to force keywords into your anchor text, make sure they flow naturally and are relevant to the content. For example, one study found that links to full page title because anchor text actually has the biggest influence on rankings.

6. Get out-of-context links

Links are not created equal. A non-contextual link, for example, will seem out of place and completely detached from the content. Since this link is not embedded in the content, people will perceive it as irrelevant.

what is a “out of context” link? It could be a number of different things. But simply put, if the link doesn’t flow naturally from the page and content it came from, as well as the anchor text, then it would be considered out of context.

Out-of-context links provide no value to your audience or business, and they can actually negatively affect your SEO rankings.

7. Participate in link exchanges

A link exchange occurs when you deal directly with another website and agree to exchange links with each other. “You give me one and I’ll give you one”.

Although it may seem harmless at first glance, it is considered an unnatural link building tactic that can affect your rankings if you do it regularly. Google can recognize if there is a high number of links transferred between websites and will penalize them.

The idea behind a link exchange may seem simple, but in reality, it can be extremely difficult to find a platform with a similar audience to yours and then convince them to participate in the exchange. Not to mention the trickle down effect it can have on your SEO performance. It is best to avoid this tactic and stay safe.

8. Use forums and blog comments

Of course, commenting on a forum or blog isn’t really bad, as long as the comment is relevant to the thread and looks like something someone would actually make. But if you use this tactic only to promote your business and link to your products, webmasters will see it as spam and delete your entries. Additionally, Google’s algorithm has greatly devalued the importance of comment and forum links, so the effort required to build these links is disproportionate to the result you will get.

If you choose to link to your website, you need to make sure the comment is personalized, helpful, and most importantly, relevant to the topic.

Like this example from the Quora Q&A forum:

Quora - link building

9. Getting too many links at once


Google enjoys slow and steady growth, as opposed to overnight expansion. If you get too many links in a short period of time, it may tell Google that you are spamming. This could earn you a penalty and a dramatic loss of traffic and rankings.

I know what it’s like to be a small business, wanting to get the word out about your products or services. But don’t overdo it with link building. Slowly build your rankings by mixing link building with other organic strategies, such as content marketing, keyword optimization, social media marketing, etc. Growing an online business is a long-term process. Trying to skip development stages will likely do more harm than good.

Implementation time

So there you have it: 9 link building tactics you should avoid in 2017. Don’t think you can fool the search engines and get off to a good start by using these practices in the early stages of your business. These tactics have been around for quite some time, and search engines have become extremely good at identifying them.

With the right strategy in place, link building can help you improve your rankings, drive traffic to your site, and establish yourself as an industry expert. But you should focus on delivering high quality content to your audience, only ask for links from high quality websites, and use different tools to optimize your SEO strategy.

You can’t cut corners when it comes to link building. It will probably take time for your website to reach a top position, but steady growth often brings the most benefits.