Link Building Mistakes

By Published On: May 30, 2019Last Updated: March 29, 202315.5 min read
Link Building Mistakes
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Have you been building links for a while now but your website is still not ranking well?

Are you wondering if you’re doing the right link building strategy?

It is hard to know.

Luckily, we have a comprehensive list of link building mistakes. Once you become aware of these mistakes, you’ll be able to make a more effective SEO strategy.

Backlinks are the links created within one website that point to another website.
If website A has a link to website B, you can say that A has an external link to B. And B has a backlink from A.
Backlinks are also called “incoming links” or “inbound links”. These links are vital in website ranking. In fact, every sound SEO strategy includes link building.

Google calculates a number of factors when ranking and one of them is backlinks. They are considered valuable because they denote the level of confidence one website has for another.

Google spiders crawl around the web to find pages to index, and these backlinks are like aromatic food that attracts them. Backlinks help search engine find websites by acting as markers. If off-page and on-page SEO is done right, it’s possible to jump from the depths of Google to a sweet spot in the first page.

Think of websites as people and the backlinks as their offer of friendship. People only offer their friendship to those with desirable traits, such as kindness, loyalty, honesty, and respect. If many people offer friendship to you, it only means you are likable and possess these traits.
Basically, Google views these backlinks as indications that others guarantee for your website content. If many other sites link to your webpage, a search engine deduces that your content is useful. Therefore, making it worthy to be indexed and to appear on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Google wants to maintain a reputation for being a reliable source of information. Backlinks help them manage websites and put the most credible ones in the first page. One of the most common SEO mistakes is taking quantity over quality in link building. Back-linking from unreputable sources, low traffic pages or off-topic categories may hurt your SEO in the long run.

Why You Can’t Just Skip Backlinking Nowadays?

SEO is never without back linking. Without backlinks, site optimization is almost impossible. Why? It’s because there are more than 1.8 billion other websites vying for Google’s attention. Backlinks are considered the backbone of off-page SEO.

Link building is a sensitive SEO strategy. During the earlier years of Google, many websites abused this strategy to improve rankings. Google discovered this and designed the “Google Penguin”, which is an algorithm that penalizes websites in violation with the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Since it was launched in April 2012, ranking has become more difficult than ever. But the competition also became healthier, which is a great thing for the end user and reputable websites who provide great content.

Manipulated backlinks and getting backlinks from low-quality sources are two of the most common SEO errors, but please read on to discover more frequent mistakes.

Backlinks that point only to a homepage look manipulated. This is because when people build links only for the purpose of increasing backlink count, they tend to use only the homepage URL. This alerts google that the owners of the other websites did not really go through the content.

Be specific!
Linking back to specific pages is a good off-page SEO technique because it is a sign of true engagement. To Google, it appears that the person who formed the external link was really impressed with specific content and wanted to share the valuable information with others. Links that point to internal pages are called “deep links”.

Internal links are those that point to other pages within the same website. Why are they essential for on-page SEO?

  • They encourage the audience and crawlers to explore a website.
  • They help manage information within a website.
  • They help create link equity, or the flow of ranking power from one website to another.

Poor internal linking prevents Google from evaluating the relevance and relationship of pages with each other, and the value of each. If they can’t understand your site it is unlikely that it will be ranked. Part of the ranking algorithm promotes ease of use and readability.

Nope. You can’t simply connect every page with a link.

Hierarchy must be followed and that means the homepage must have most number of links. Too many internal links could confuse Google on what pages are most important, so use your internal linking wisely.

Using automated tools or hiring people to spread thousands of links is a certified black hat SEO technique that could get your site black-listed.

Google grows suspicious of a sudden rise in backlink count, especially for new websites. The sources of these links and the time they were generated will be used to determine if the website is using black-hat techniques.

In the real world, it could take months to years for a website to get natural backlinks. This is why no legitimate SEO company promises overnight results.

Using the Same Over-Optimized Anchor Text All the Time

An anchor text is the characters displayed by a hyperlink. When clicked, it directs the audience to the target site. These days, it is usually blue. Just like this one.

Anchor text may offer contextual information to search engines and the audience.

Over-optimization is one of the most common SEO mistakes people make.

An anchor text becomes a “keyword-rich anchor text” if it is the same as the main keyword within the target website. Positive effects may be gained if you do this occasionally. But if you do it too often, you are looking at a penalty from Google because over-optimized anchor texts are associated with unnatural links.

Not Keeping a Natural Mix of Do-Follow and No-Follow Backlinks

What is a No-Follow Link?

A no-follow link is not counted by search engines. It is created with a nofollow link HTML tag:

rel=”nofollow”>Link Text

The no-follow tag signals search engines to ignore the link, which makes no-follow links useless in winning a spot in SERP.

What is a Do-Follow Link?

A do-follow link points the audience and the crawlers to a website. It is created this way:

Link Text

Do-follow links are important in boosting ranking because they serve as backlinks or “votes of confidence.”

Why Mix the Two?

If no-follow links are not counted, why do you still need them? Simple: to make things look natural. If all your links are do-follow, you might be penalized even if you really didn’t do anything wrong. If it’s all no-follow links, you won’t be punished but your links won’t count as ranking factors or “votes.”

There should be a good balance of no-follow and do-follow links because in reality: not everyone wants to link to your site and a good SEO strategy must mimic the real world to follow Google’s algorithm.

Sponsored links are those that advertise for certain companies. Google Webmaster Guidelines classify them as paid links so all websites that link to them must use to no-follow tag to prevent influence on their rankings.

Many people think they can easily spread links across the web by leaving comments in thousands of different websites, forums, and personal blogs. This is called “link spamming”. It also includes posting a single comment in multiple sites, and directory submission.

Some of the characteristics of spammy links are keyword-rich anchor texts, irrelevance of the sites where the links are placed, and suspicious amount of links pointing back to your site.

Google respects websites with editorial control. This means the content is constantly monitored to ensure that it is unique, error-free, informative, and relevant.

If your backlink is from a site that doesn’t care of its content quality, the reputation may flow into your website and harm your ranking.

Associates with Poor Sites That Are In Bad Company

Your link building efforts will be futile if you are associated with poor sites. These are sites with incoherent designs, tricky navigational structures, low-quality graphics, low-quality content, and lacks mobile compatibility. In short, sites that clearly do not put effort in on-page SEO.

Also, avoid sites that deal with gambling, pornography, trafficking, and any sort of illegal activity. Such sites do not give high-quality backlinks.

The .edu link used to be incredibly powerful because it is attached to academic websites, which often have high Domain Authority. Until people started using scholarship offers as a search engine marketing technique. This has made scholarship links equivalent to “paid links”, which are prohibited by Google.

Backlink building through scholarships can still be profitable as long as the scholarship is legitimate and all other SEO practices are right.

How About PBNs?

PBNs or Private Blog Networks are a collection of authoritative sites that are usually owned by one person or company. These sites link to the main website of the owner to boost ranking. PBN must be used with extreme care because Google Panda can easily detect patterns.

Linking From Sites That Have Nothing to Do With Your Niche

Speaking of patterns, links from sites that has slim to zero relevance to your niche can be detrimental to your ranking. Google would think, “What does a cosmetic website want from a hardware supplier if not fake backlinks?”

Of course, irrelevant links are inevitable because sometimes they are generated naturally. As long as they are limited, your ranking won’t be harmed.

A sitewide link is a link that is present in every page of a website.

A footer link is any link that is posted at the bottom of a page.

Sitewide links can be achieved using footers.

Sitewide links allow websites to get dozens of backlinks from a single website. Before the dawn of Google Penguin, this brought desirable SERP rankings.
But not anymore. Sidewide links are now considered spammy by search engines.

Putting an external link in the footer can also put your website at risk of being tagged as spammy. You may still put a link in the footer as long as it is leads to page within the same website, such as the contact information, terms of use or testimonials page.

The Importance of Using Alt Text in Image Links

Alt Text is a description that can be included in the HTML code of an image. It is often ignored when it actually offers a valuable chance to insert a keyword and to attract Google crawlers.

Every Image Needs An Alt Text

Google crawlers and screen readers cannot “see” the images, but they can read the alt text attached to it. That is why you should make it as descriptive as possible—but not too long and too stuffed with keywords.

For example:

Keyword: three-seater upholstered sofa

If you use the code…

Crawlers and screen readers will read the image as “sofa”, which is just okay.

But if you use this code…

This is better because screen readers are provided with more details. It is now easier for visually-impaired individuals to picture out the image. Descriptive alt text also makes the image search easier.

You are also given a chance to insert the keyword “three-seater upholstered sofa” for the Google crawlers to find.

Link exchange programs are like clubs that unauthorized by your school principal (Google). Your participation in these programs is not only without value; it can also hurt your records.

How Do They Work?

Link exchange programs are schemes that intend to manipulate the ranking of participating sites. Site A adds the link to Site B. In exchange, site B adds the link to A. More sites can participate to form a “ring”, and to gain more backlinks. They are used both in global SEO and local SEO.

What makes link exchange dangerous is the possibility of being linked to a site with a lower authority or has no relevance to your niche. The exchange can also lead to “link farming.”

Link exchange is a gray hat SEO. Links may be deemed natural if these are not spammy and the two sites share a same ground. For example, your site sells organic juice and you exchanged links with a site that sells books on organic farming.

But this usually happens with two truly involved sites. Software generated exchanges are riskier.

Outgoing links are important because they help Google and the readers understand your niche better (as long as you’re connected to relevant sites). They boost the value and reputation of your website. But too many of them can harm your ranking!

Determining the right number of outgoing links can be tricky. But the golden rule is to keep them relatively sparse.

Too many outgoing links distracts readers because their attention is veered off to a different place too often. Linking off the page too often may cause readers to just leave your site.

Excessive outgoing links are also sketchy in the eyes of Google because you are promoting too many websites.

Forgetting to Break Things Up

In order for a webpage to become valuable it must contain all the important information the audience would need. This has become know as user intent.

Based on competition this usually means a certain average number of words per page, additional keywords in conjunction with the desired ranking keyword, correct use of titles to break up the content and more.

The F Pattern

Forgetting to break long paragraphs into shorter ones pushes audience away and pulls down ranking. People usually read following an “F pattern”: they start with the header then scan the first words of on the left side, until a certain line catches their attention.

Readers stay in pages that give them important information right away!

The best thing to do this is to shorten sentences and paragraphs, use bulleted or numbered lists, and subheadings that promise answers to their questions.

Limiting Your Guest Blogging Efforts to Top Tier Sites

Guest posting is publishing content on another website with an external link to your own website.

It was mentioned that being connected to high-authority sites help boost ranking. Guest posting is one way to create that connection. Limiting your network to top tier sites is one of the most common SEO mistakes of the past decade!

To Google, this could look like you’re more focused on getting backlinks that helping the larger community.

Try the Second Bests

Posting on second tier sites balances search engine optimization efforts. Many of these sites have relatively large audience. Second tier sites are not often considered by five-star bloggers. Meaning: less competition, higher chances of getting published.

Writing Poor Quality Guest Post Only to Get Backlinks

Just because the site owner approved your guest post means Google feels the same way about it.

No matter how many guest posts your make, they won’t help your ranking if the quality is consistently poor. Worse, they can get your site penalized.

Some of the characteristics of poor quality guest posts are:

  • Irrelevant to the niche of the site where you intend to publish
  • Poorly-researched content; doesn’t actually help the readers
  • Spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Keyword saturated
  • Link saturated
  • No Alt-text

Giving Up Too Early

Link building is not a one-time project. It is a continuous effort. But if you do things right, backlinks will be generated naturally and you do not have to work as hard any more.

It takes a long time for results of link building to take effect.


Backlinks have to be generated gradually in order to make them look natural to Google. Also, the pages where your backlinks are created need to be crawled on and indexed first. After that, you still have to wait to get ranked.

Many factors also affect the ranking process. They will be calculated before ranking is adjusted. While waiting, stick to your planned strategy to create traction.
If you give up too early, you will lose the momentum. You could be just a day or two to jumping into the page 1.

Studying your enemy is a proven and tested war strategy. But SEO speaking, it’s only to give you a general idea of another site’s strategy so you can formulate your own.

Chasing the link profile of a competitor may put your site at risk. How?

  • The backlinks could be from sketchy websites that Google hasn’t discovered and banned YET.
  • Your website is completely different from theirs. Copying their link profile will obscure your own link building strategy.

It’s like copying a friend’s garden while knowing that his/her plants do not suit the soil quality of your property.

Not Diversifying Your Strategy

“Do not put all your eggs in one basket.”

Do not give your 100% on any link building strategy. A diversified strategy lets you reach out to more people and gives you a safety net in case one strategy ever fails.

Maintain a good balance between off-page and on-page SEO helps make backlinks appear natural.


Link building is a meticulous process. There are numerous rules to keep in mind and you have to monitor the progress constantly. Results also take time to show up.
Remember these things

  • never do anything in excess
  • never copy someone’s entire strategy or focus 100% on a single one
  • stick to white hat SEO techniques
  • never give up

It is also important to understand that links are just one component of SEO. There are many other aspects to look into for your website to achieve a good ranking.

If you can’t figure out or fix link building mistakes on your own, work with a reputable Tampa SEO company with a proven track record.


Kyle Theil

Kyle is the owner of Visual Realm a full service marketing and ad agency, specializing in web design, ppc and seo. He has been running Visual Realm since 2005 growing with the ever changing online landscape.Learn more about me

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