8 Backlink Types to Avoid

Google was the first major search engine to use links as part of its ranking algorithm. Since then, SEOs and site owners have tried to work the system to deliver favorable rankings. While building links can provide results, you have to be weary of the types of links you acquire. In the video below, I’ll share 8 types of backlinks you should avoid.

8 links to avoid

Video Transcript:

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We’re going to be talking about the types of links we should be avoiding. There’s been a couple of videos on this channel. We’ve talked specifically about how to build things, how to find links for your website. But today I want to help you know what to look for, whether you’re doing your own building or you’re outsourcing it and you want to make sure that the people doing the work for you are doing it credibly and they’re helping you acquire links the right way.

So when Google launched its search algorithm, it was the first one built around what’s called Page Rank. And it was built around the quality of links pointing to a site. And the theme or the idea for this came out of academic research papers where an author would cite another person’s work to show the proof of what they’re doing and it would give more weight to what they’re doing. And when they were developing the algorithm, they looked and they said, what if we used links in the same way that academic papers use citations.

Now there’s a lot more complexities to go with it, but that’s kind of an overview of what they were looking at. Now if you paid somebody for a link in a citation paper, that link would drop in value, right? And is it from an academic level, you’re also not going to be emailing your friends saying, hey, you know, you mentioned me, I mentioned you, that type of thing.

And so these are the things that Google was trying to avoid. Now, now this is a lot of what happens in the SEO world, right? Where we try to work with other sites or pitch ourselves to get noticed. And I’m not saying that that’s all bad. I think there’s obviously context in that because it’s a different type of medium. But what Google’s looking for is our links that are authoritative and trustworthy, but that also makes sense, right? The relationship makes sense. And a lot of times, there are tactics that are done to gain links that don’t make sense and they can end up harming your site or give no benefit at all, which ends up being a waste of time. So whether you’re building your own links or you’re outsourcing them, these are some things that you want to look for to stay away from.

Article Directories

First we’re going to talk about our article directories. These got hit massively early on when Google started doing the Page Rank updates and article directories are sites where you can host articles, you can put up articles about anything you want, and there are different categories and stuff. And they’re these online hubs with content realities, a lot of the content is very low quality. And the sole purpose for that content being there is for a link. If you’re doing this practice, one Google really does frown upon it and you will get penalized or it’s just going to get ignored. They are low quality. They don’t help anybody out. Don’t be using article directory sites for your link building. Another thing is cheap directories. Now there are a lot of good business directories out there.

Avoid Cheap Directories

Whether it be, Google My Business, Yahoo Business, there are also a lot of niche directories that are very specific to an industry. Some things looking for directories. If they’re free and they’re wide open to anybody, they’re probably not very good quality. So you want to do your homework before placing a link on a directory page. Sometimes you have to pay for some of these better directories, but the benefits can be very, very good if it makes sense.

Links from Locations You Don’t Serve

Don’t be building links on cheap directory sites or directory sites that have no value and no volume. The other thing is links from countries where you don’t do business and a lot of people will go to maybe Fiverr or one of these sites and start getting links built. But those links are being built in places like India or China or Russia, but they do business in the United States.

Maybe they do local business. Now this is a red flag right away for Google. When you have all of these links to your business and regions and parts of the world where you don’t even do business, you may have never even been. So this is one you really want to be aware of; what sites are linking to you, and where those sites are hosted. What’s the language on those sites? These are things that you know people will do to get cheap links and get links quickly. The reality is, they have very low value and they’re seen as extremely spamming comment spam. Now, if you’ve owned a WordPress site or any site that has a comment section on it for your blog, you’ve probably been hit by a bot at some point where somebody is posting a ton or is posting stuff that’s completely unrelated.

You know, this is where you start seeing a lot of those sound like Viagra seems to be one environment, Cialis, wherever the building links for those guys, they use bots all the time. You probably get these really weird comments, that’s what it is. It’s a Bot that is spilling out millions and millions and millions of these in hopes that a couple of them are going to go through. If you think about it,  if you do spray out a million of them in 0.001% of those actually make it and they’re followed links, that’s a thousand links for them. Now, the reality is it may not be the B word thing and Google does see that the behavior is really bad.

I mean, it’s annoying as anything as a webmaster and have to clean that up. So don’t be one of those guys. I mean for any other reason than that, just don’t be somebody like that who’s abusing a comment board and spilling links out.

Comment Spam

Now, comments can be valuable if it’s in the right context. Let’s say it’s a very, very specific niche. It’s a blog that makes sense. You have something valuable to add to the conversation. By all means, add your comment there. And if you want to add a link that’s fine. But comment spamming, absolutely not cool. Guest posts, spam, kind of the same thing. I guess. Posts are not a bad thing. You know, you can get your content out on higher quality sites. If it’s industry related. That’s niche specific. That’s again, good content. But if you’re just churning out articles and you’re spinning content for the sake of posting it out there, that content with a lower value, on sites that have lower value is not going to do any good for you and it’s going to take you time to write that content and to proofread that content.

Guest Post Spam

You’re even trying a little bit, but you also see a lot of guest posts, sites that have content that’s bad and it doesn’t make sense. The only thing you can tell is that it has anchor text in there that it’s hyperlinked, misleading anchor text. Now, this one frustrates me more than anything as an end user, if I’m reading an article and I see a link and I’m like, oh, that’s going to give me more information, I click on it and then it doesn’t take me to what the anchor text says or even the context of the article I’m done with that site. I guess one of the most frustrating things for me to deal with. So make sure when you’re creating anchor text that it tells the right story. That you’re leading somebody to the page that you’re talking about in that anchor text.

Misleading Anchor Text

Make sure that you use the appropriate context. Maybe sometimes it’s URL, maybe sometimes it’s your brand name. Other times it should be keywords, but again, don’t force it in there. Make it natural and let it make sense. Flutter links is another type of link. These are usually at the bottom of the page and this is typically done in the web development world where you put an image or a link. We used to do this and as I started thinking about the process, one of the things is I hand this over to the client, it’s their website so I’m not going to sit there and brand myself on their company. I think that’s kind of poor taste.  Not saying that you have to believe or agree with what I’m saying. But the other thing is you end up having a lot of links from one URL that aren’t really contextual and it can actually do more negative than good.

Footer Links

So if you have this with your client, you’re doing it for branding purposes and you want your links in the footer, you can do that. But make sure that they are no follow links. And if you’re going to brand, we have one follow link on the homepage and then everything else may get no follow. But if you’re going in and dropping footer links into everything that you do, it can end up hurting you. Yes, you’re going to acquire a lot of links, but if you don’t, I’ve seen sites where they have maybe seven referring URLs and 5,000 links. Well all your links are coming from seven sites. It’s not really good. And Google is saying, look at this guy’s is trying to spam us. He’s trying to fool us. That’s what the bots have. Again, it doesn’t look natural.

Unrelated or Poor Quality Links

And another thing is poor quality and unrelated sites. Just because somebody is going to offer you a link or allow you to play something on their site doesn’t mean it’s a good lane. Maybe it doesn’t make sense contextually. Maybe the site is poor quality. Let’s say you’re using something like domain rank to track your pages, authority and your sites at a 20, and then somebody at a site 12 offers you a link that’s not worth it. That site doesn’t have any value. It’s a site that’s less valuable than yours, less authoritative than yours. Unless they have something targeted and you’re doing some co-branding together, then it makes sense. But most of the time those are poor quality links. So those links on sites that have very little or, have no authority, aren’t going to benefit you. More links is not always better.

You need to have the right links, you to be focusing on creating relationships, putting your brand out there, creating awareness so that other people will be excited to share and tell your story as well. I used to do some training for a number of years with a guy named Eric Ward and his nickname was Leek Moses and he was doing links before links were part of any search algorithm.

And one thing that he taught on, even after the Google era was this, this is a question that I always ask myself when I’m doing stuff for a client or for myself, would I still want to be on this site where I still want this link if there was no search volume, if this leg was only there for referral traffic or for branding or for relationship status. But if this link had no value as far as the search you’d go, would I still want it pointed to my site and at the questions? No. Most likely not going to spend time engaging and trying to build that out.

So these are some things that we want to think about when we’re building links and things we want to stay away from. If you have any questions about what we’ve talked about here or anything else related to link building please comment below. We would love to continue the conversation with you, and until next time, Happy Marketing.

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SMA Marketing Global Digital Marketing Agency Ryan Shelley Founder and CEO Headshot
Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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