11 Things We Should Never Ever Do In Link Building Again

Okay friends, we need to have a little talk.

I am frustrated.

All of us Link Week columnists genuinely care about giving away good (and free, I might add) information on how to do link building the right way. So why, why, pray tell, do we continue to see so much crap? Clearly, we’re going to have to try another approach to turn link building into a “legitimate” online marketing tactic.

We tried. We gave you all a chance, but since you little prissies can't follow instructions, I guess we'll have to try something else.

“We gave you all a chance, but since you little **** teases can’t follow INSTRUCTIONS, I guess we’ll have to try something else, won’t we?” – Dazed and Confused

I’ve narrowed it down to the Top 11 things, in no particular order, that we should never ever do for link building again – like, ever.

1. Aiming For Quantity Over Quality

I will take my one link on a site people actually read over your 25 links on sites we don’t even know if Google’s bots can find.

2. Mass Article Submission

Maybe it’s our fault that mass article submission still exists. Maybe this is what we get for jamming “Content is King” down everyone’s throat. I can accept some responsibility for this one, then; but I still don’t understand the logic behind mass article submission. What do you get out of submitting the same How To Get The Best Deal On Payday Loans or Top 10 Coolest Things About Desk Chairs article to hundreds of different sites?

3. Content Spinning

Along the same lines, don’t take the exact same article, change a couple of words here and there, and then brand it as “new content.” Are people really not creative enough to think of a new article topic for a different outlet? Each site has its own unique audience. Write for them.

Note that this isn’t repurposing content, where you take a topic and convert it to different mediums. For example, let’s say you do a presentation. Repurposing content is putting your slides on SlideShare, writing a blog post about it and doing a webinar. Spinning content is taking the exact same blog post you wrote, changing the words to say the exact same thing, and pitching it to other sources.

4. This:

Stop. Just...stop.

Stop. Just…stop.

5. Ignoring Ourselves

I’ve seen some great links pointing to sites or blogs that are basically ignored. Stop putting so much effort into populating someone else’s site with great content, and start focusing on building up your own site’s content. Yes, it won’t generate a 1-1 link, and yes, you will need to promote it to get visitors — but when you create great content on your own site, you open up the door to acquiring many organic links rather than just one.

6. Buying “Advertising” (Aka “Small Text Links”)

You’re not fooling anyone when you send me an email asking if could “advertise” on my blog. Let me guess: you want your advertisement to read “online pregnancy test” or “cheap web hosting.”

If you’re going to spam me, can you at least be a little more creative with it?

7. Obsessing Over Anchor Text

I’ll admit that I have seen less of this since Penguin first scared the daylights out of people in 2012, but it’s still uncanny the number of backlink profiles that have a higher exact-match anchor text percentage than their company name. You mean to tell me that everyone in the entire Internet knows you by the exact same phrase? Right.

I will take any (quality) link no matter how you want to link to me. Yes, anchor text still matters, and that’s probably the most frustrating thing about it: You need that keyword link, but you don’t want to seem like you need that keyword. That said, you need far fewer exact-match links than you did just two years ago.

8. Definitely This:

Does this really work for you, Josh?

Tell me: Does this really work for you, Josh?

9. Guest Posting

Yes, I said it. We should stop guest posting to build links.

Before I’m hailed a hypocrite (because, let’s be honest, I’m doing it right now) allow me to clarify: You should not be guest blogging unless you actually know — really know — the subject you are writing about. These “article writers” who churn out 10 posts in a day do not make the cut.

If you’re still using guest blogging — and we do because it does work when done correctly — take the time to actually interview your client. As an SEO, you know a little about a lot of different industries from working with a variety of clients. Take the time to be interested in what they do, and uncover what’s timely and relevant that warrants an article.

10. Substituting “Content Marketing” For “Link Building”

These are two vastly different tactics, although they do complement each other. Content marketing is lead nurturing your audience by giving them the content they need to make a purchasing decision. It can build links, but its purpose is not to build links.

 11. Publishing “No-News” Press Releases

Public relations has become a critical part of link building, but committing to releasing two press releases a month is like committing to building  50 links a month. It’s just not realistic or sustainable. You should only distribute a release when something actually newsworthy is happening, like a new product launch or community involvement.

Perhaps I’m taking my frustrations out on the wrong crowd. You fine readers of SEL aren’t the people who do the above (and other equally horrific) things. So, I’d like you to join me in the crusade for legitimate link building. If you see an offender, call them out. Publicly. And preferably with some expletives.


Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Link Building: General | Link Week Column


About The Author: is an experienced digital strategist, content developer and search marketer. She's currently the SEO Manager for The Home Depot and has previously worked agency-side for mid-sized business and Fortune 500 companies. She speaks regularly on digital strategy, content development and inbound marketing at conferences nationwide. Follow her on Twitter @erinever.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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  • http://www.tvsinternetmarketing.com/ Carmen Rane Hudson

    I couldn’t agree more on the “no news” press releases. That’s been driving me crazy for a long, long time.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    “when you create great content on your own site, you open up the door to acquiring many organic links rather than just one.”

    You have to build up your own content on your own site first! Every guest post you write is just like leasing an apartment. You might get to stay for years, you might only get to stay for a few months. At least when it is content on your own site you reap 100% of the benefits.

  • Ben Wright

    Angry much? Tell us how you really feel… Would love to see your take on things you should do in link building.

  • http://www.kellywsmith.com/ Kelly Smith

    I think its funny that at the end of the article is an Ad on Link Building that is “Penguin Proof”. Maybe its just on my end and maybe no one else sees it, but it is still kind of funny anyway.

  • Erin Everhart

    I like to think of it more as passionate than angry. And I’ll keep that one on the docket for my next column. Thanks Ben!

  • Colin Guidi

    Agreed, I’d love to see a post of tactics/strategies you’ve seen work Erin. We know (or should) what not to do, but when left with only those options you’re peppered with client requests to bulk up link building efforts.

    It all comes down to client education, but I’d love to see a post written for the ‘flip-side’ of this :)

  • Russell Morling

    Amen to that. Earn links with the best, most engaging content

  • Michael Cottam

    Well said, Erin!

    Oh, and what those articles submitted to 100 different sites will get you is: a manual penalty. I’ve got a couple of clients who came to me for penalty removal, and those articles are the toughest things to find and disavow (there’s really no hope of removal).

  • http://www.gomolo.com/ Amitava Bhattacharya

    ‘Ignoring ourselves’ so resonates with me. Bang on. I’d spend 90% of my time in building great content on my site, and 10% on a few good, relevant sites to gain some traffic / awareness / link.

    I am curious to know if a ‘new’ site can really afford to not apply some of the old schooled link building in order to get a leg up? I think the strategy for the new borns are definitely different from the older ones :)

  • Sachin Dhaka

    Agreed with most of what you say. Re. point 4, I think Erin refers to sending generic responses to low quality blogs. It’s better to only contact good blogs and personalize outreach efforts.

  • http://www.thomasrudy.com/ Thomas Rudy

    Know people.

  • hsaleem

    What do you think of submission in quality human edited web directories?

  • http://wpicommunications.com/ Steve Klinghoffer

    Right on target — bottom line: if what you are offering has no real value then don’t do it.

  • https://plus.google.com/117530250543183103093?rel=author Rick Bucich

    “Similarly, link building is so much important in this time that you cannot even survive without it” bull shit!

  • Erin Everhart

    Definitely a hard trade off with a brand new site or a brand new client. You have a limited amount of time to establish that trust quickly. Typically, I always look for “quick wins” when starting an engagement (both in link building and other aspects of SEO) with a client so I can show authority quickly and build trust while a lot of this stuff is in the works.

  • thisisspain

    Is there such a thing? Quality and directories in the same sentence? Oxymoron?

  • BurtonHohman

    Good post Erin, guest posting is the worst thing in the world. I’d much rather help a client make some quality content for their own site and then help share that across different mediums. Yes guest posting is important and when done correctly (like your post) it can be very helpful. But I definitely want to advise new clients to focus on building their own blog first before they try adding to others.

    Also hope the team at 352 is doing well!

  • Ronnie’s Mustache

    Bruce Lee: “..the art of fighting without fighting.”

    Ronnie’s Mustache: “The art of link building without link building.”

    Bottom line- STOP w the link building shenanigans!

  • Zubain

    Agree, Today link building is the only important practice. You have to stay in competition all the time and the only way out is content and links. If by tomorrow we get social we will switch over to that technique.

  • stracy

    Absolutely agree
    Good content should be shared and linked too by the people who read it. Not the one that produces it. A bit like word of mouth. That is precisely what Google is trying to identify. And it works very well to have good unique and engaging content that gets shared to boost you to the top of search engines. The truth is that most people don’t put the time and effort into creating valuable content. They just wanna get found duh ! But what for ? Ask yourself the question.

  • Zayeed Mohummed

    Nobody ever says link building is gone. It is that stop worrying about link building and focus on good content so that people link to you by themselves.
    Don’t be gipsy who has to wander about the city to make people see him/her. Be the star that everyone pays to see first day first show.

  • Vishal Shah

    I agreed most of your points but still if we don’t do link building and stop creating much links then we lose the competition and business we are getting from search engines! So we need to think wise but can’t stop (ofcourse the great links) link building practice as the site is only stand on search engine who has huge amount of quality backlinks, right?

  • Ben Wright

    Haha. I’ll take that. Look forward to it!

  • Ben Wright

    Haha. I am seeing the same ad. Didn’t even notice it until you said that.

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Big difference between guest posting and being a columnist. Erin is the latter.

  • http://www.v2interactive.net/ Josh

    Hey! You can’t publish my emails! JK :P

  • http://www.v2interactive.net/ Josh


  • benlanders

    Haha – I got the same email from “Josh.” Why not just expose him?

  • http://net66.co.uk/ Greg McVey

    I like I just try to follow the mantra of “If Google didn’t exist, would I want this link?”.
    I especially wouldn’t spend too much time obsessing with anchor text as a lot of people still do.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    So right, and so well-written. It is increasingly difficult to “fool” the engines and that is a boon to real websites, marketers and agencies. Quality is hard, and exceedingly hard to do at scale. As quality becomes the only way to go the web will be a better place and quality agencies and in-house teams will benefit.

  • http://www.eyewebmaster.com Rosendo A. Cuyasen

    Good tips but seems all of what you have shared here are what SEO or copywriter are doing. I believe that writing your own content and publishing it to your website or other trusted website are still important. We can see that Google search engine is always focusing now on real authors. Probably the way we do SEO is changing and how we do it. But for me just trust on what you can do to make good things to be known in the search engine result page.

  • Faizaan Khan

    You mean, just do not do anything? :/

  • Social Media Manager

    Yes, As told by @Carmen Rane Hudson:disqus I couldn’t agree more on the “no news” press releases. That’s been driving me too crazy for a long, long time.

  • NanditaB

    The best way to earning links while snoring is – Building great content while you’re awake.

  • http://www.richardharrison.es/ Richard Harrison

    Can you provide some more constructive advice that website owners should follow, like 11 things we should never do without?

  • http://www.linkbuilding-specialist.nl/ bestelinkbuildingbureau

    I agree with most of the points you suggested here.I also
    wants to know about if we should Avoid
    this 11 thing then what actually we
    should do for link building.I am waiting for your valuable output.

  • http://www.inverselogix.com/ Hemanth Malli

    Yah that’s true. I truly agree with your points !!

  • Graham Ginsberg

    Trying to control the internet it like balancing a ball on a wire

  • Graham Ginsberg

    Its only important to Google rankings

  • http://www.spinxdigital.com/ Stephen Moyers

    Hi Kelly, I am also seeing the ad of “Penguin proof” it’s really funny and even I haven’t noticed it. After reading the full article we found the ad on link building .. lolz :)

  • jw andrassy

    There are many firms out there that take SEO jobs way to cheap , this is due to the influx of teams from India driving the SEO market prices down.

    This is in mind many smaller firm resort to any kind of tactic to gain back links for themselves , huge groups of people from India have now invaded Linkedin doing this , it has become their personal link farm.

    In our country right now very few clients want to hear this will take time and cost money so the SEO firms are left with what you have pointed out above.

    This TACTIC is not directly aimed at you I have over 1000 sites and get this all the time , this above is the new age of clients wanting cheap SEO and the SEO firms not explaining in length that it will take time and money and effort.

    Your not a victim here your just one of many that have been hit by the Kim Kardashian school of SEO ( no talent, big rush , quick buck ) NO SKILLS

    Either for themselves or their clients its a bad way to do SEO but then when a clients fights over 400.00 a month to rank for the search terms insurance they get what they deserve.

  • Sahil Jain

    these are one of the best thing thank an help fellow bloggers to get assurance that google might not penalize our site.but i must say that if you going to make fool of google(not i+m possible),don’t do it excessively and do it in a smarter way that te machine can’t realise. :) but at last i want to say make great content,you might make a fool of google not your audience.

  • Janice S. Roberts

    like Emma answered I am shocked that a mother able to make $8960 in four weeks on the computer. did you see this web page w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

  • http://www.thedigitalguy.co.uk/ Ronnie Aliaj

    I would say that a huge problem are the guys from off-shore companies or even individuals (see Fiverr/Freelance etc.), who promise to inundate the web with all sort of links, likes, shares and only god knows what else. To a degree, I cannot blame them since Google is so slow into implementing all those magical tool/algorithms that so wonderfully Matt describes in his videos.

    With this in mind, we have to stick with our “white hat” methods and not get too frustrated by the results “those” guys obtain so easily out there (with the benefit of low-cost client’s approval.

    It’s tough, but hey, it’s not just about money and “losing the business”. It’s about choice and ethics. For those who still care.

  • Illogicalthinker

    People say all the time that you can’t do SEO without link building. That content is not king. Sorry to break it to you, but content is king. For everything, even plumber Joe. The problem is, there is a lot of no-talent people out there. It takes an innovative mind to figure out how to make an alluring piece of content for plumber Joe. Possibly more so to get people to even look at the thing.
    I think this is a great article. People need to stop doing this stuff now or die hard in the future. Bottom line, DON’T LINK BUILD, if you can’t avoid it then /quit. :D

  • http://www.clippingpathspecialist.com/clipping-path.html Clipping Path

    So article marketing is not working more.

  • http://www.shopletpromos.com/ Shoplet Promos

    So in terms of link building, what are some “quick wins” that aren’t mentioned in this article? From what I know, there isn’t anything “quick” about links that show real authority. I’m curious.

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Well she is “angry Erin”, folks. ;-)

  • http://theseonut.com/ Adam

    SEO is dead. Link building is dead. Everyone get out now while there’s still time.

  • http://www.phoenixnap.com/ SEOchirp

    Nothing new here. Long live reciprocal links!!


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