7 Link Building Mistakes You Ought to Avoid

seo links

If you were looking at your Google Analytics around the dates of March 21-23, then there is a good chance you saw some changes to your site…

Like a 10% to 30% drop in traffic.

It could be on sites you were working on…or sites you hadn’t even touched. Some speculated that the long-term search was being affected with keywords disappearing in the Google Suggestions.

In fact, what happened was Google rolled out a fresh update of Panda in February…and then another one in March.

Some significant changes have been made through those updates that can affect your link-building strategy. So, let’s explore those and other changes to help you maintain, if not increase, your rankings.

Mistake #1: Too many exact anchor text links

For us, as SEOs, it’s natural to obsess about exact match keywords in text anchors, but if you do this too much, you can actually be penalized and lose rank.

JC Penny is the most popular example of a website that gamed the system by getting unrelated sites to link to its site with exact match anchor texts.

An investigation by the NY Times into why JC Penny was ranking so well revealed that these links were in no way natural. This violates Google’s Webmaster guidelines, and Matt Cutts deranked them manually to speed up the process.

Google took it a step further on March 23, when they announced via Twitter the Panda 3.4 update:

google tweet

One of the unnatural link building signals that Panda 3.4 aims at is too many exact anchor text links. Standard practice used to be: you’d aim for about a 30% to 50% match…now those numbers dropped drastically. So, test the waters out and start with 5% or so and increase slowly.

Mistake #2: Not enough semantic keyword anchor text links

To get around the problem of creating too many exact-match anchor text links…you just have to learn how to create semantic keywords.

These aren’t just synonyms of certain phrases, e.g., “amber” or “gold” for “yellow.” Semantic keywords extend into the word’s uses, e.g., “egg yolk,” “interior house paint” or “coward.”

The reason for using semantic keywords is to help the search engines like Google figure out how you are using your keywords. A liberal use of semantic keywords can help them.

If you say “yellow,” then they will know you are actually talking about the color since you also used a link “egg yolk” to describe it…versus describing a personal attribute like in a phrase “a yellow-bellied coward.”

Once you start creating links with semantic keywords, you’ll notice your rankings going up.

Mistake #3: You don’t have enough junk anchors

Panda 3.4 is also looking for the quantity of junk anchors you have on your site.

Junk anchors are text links that could be used anywhere on the web and include such links like “Click here,” “Read more” and “Buy now.”

You might think that you would want fewer of these, but the truth is junk anchors look natural, and you can’t really avoid using them when you create calls to action.

In fact, a careful use of junk anchors in your copy can lead to higher conversion rates. You can do this also with other junk anchors like “Like this post” or “Tweet this post”:

bookmark social buttons

Mistake #4: Not enough brand mention within text links

The key to getting this one right is to link from internal pages to your homepage.

For example, when I’m writing a blog post and mention QuickSprout (the name of my blog or, in other words, the brand name), I link that text to the home page.

On the other hand, if I was writing copy for the home page of QuickSprout and mentioned that term, I would not link at all.

It would be unnatural.

With Panda 3.4, Google is looking for these types of anchors texts to determine the quality of the link building. An absence of these types of links might suggest that someone is out to game the algorithm since most spammers do not think beyond simply creating masses of links.

You should also try to get outside sites to link to your site with your brand name within the link.

Mistake #5: Not enough social signals

With these latest updates, it looks like Google is trying to depend less and less on inbound links to determine the value of a site and is looking at something that is harder to manipulate like social signals.

This was true with Google+ and Search Plus Your World.

That’s okay because when it comes to getting more traffic, attention and higher rankings, there is one concept that is starting to have a huge impact on those goals: increasing the number of shares your content gets across social media.

In other words, Google has started looking heavily at the number of social signals a page gets to determine its value and rank position.

For example, if you have a page on “attracting high-authority links” with 1,343 tweets, 99 likes, 42 +1s…plus nearly a hundred saves in Delicious and StumbledUpon combined, then your page is going to rank better than a similar page that is not doing well on the social web.

That means you need to get on the ball and start promoting your work! Here are some suggestions on how to increase your social signal strength:

  • Make all of your social site buttons very visible on your page – Use a plugin like Scrolling Social Sidebar to provide an easy opportunity for people to share on the social web.
  • Ask readers to share content – Just installing a social share plugin won’t get the job done. Tell your readers to share!
  • Tap social influencers – Promote the content and interact with social influencers who may, down the road, share your content. The exposure to their audiences will prove huge to your content getting across the social web…and increasing your social signal strength.
  • Use Tribber – This social site will increase the number of social shares you get when you join this community.
  • Buy Tweets with Sponsored Tweets – Get a celebrity to tweet your content, and you can drive significant traffic to your site. The traffic may not be high-quality, however.
  • Create great content – Finally, people share content for one reason, and one reason only: if it’s great content. If you’re not creating a high-quality blog with high-quality blog posts, then you are not giving your audience something to share.

Mistake #6: Buying links

While this isn’t connected to Panda 3.3 or 3.4, it continues to be very important. That’s why I also wanted to share valuable link-building alternatives to this mistake.

Even if you can achieve a top three position for a fairly competitive term by buying links, you have to remember three things:

  1. Paid links might drive some traffic, but it will be low-quality traffic compared to the traffic you get from natural links.
  2. You will pay way more than these links are worth.
  3. Most importantly, buy links and you run the risk of getting caught and penalized by Google.

If you are going to buy anything to optimize your site and drive traffic, then buy a blog. That is a sound link-building strategy.

Mistake #7: Exchanging links on a mass scale

If you think that exchanging links with another webmaster is a legitimate way to optimize, you are wrong. And if you think that doing this on a mass scale would be even better, you are headed for trouble.

Exchanging links for the sake of a link back is a scheme frowned upon by all three major search engines. But even if they didn’t frown upon link exchanges and just ignored them, a mass link exchange wouldn’t do you any good.

I mean, how do you know that you are even getting good links? Are you going to sort through all of them if you hundreds of them? Do you have time to do that?

And if you ever get an email requesting a mass link exchange, treat it like spam and get rid of it. Here’s an example of a mass link exchange email from an SEO specialist:

spam email

There’s nothing personal about this email. Just a wide variety of places where she’d like to place the links. That is spam, and it won’t deliver relevant, useful content to your audience.

Are there times when an exchange of links is okay?

Yes, when there is a strategic view on value delivered to your site and the other site…where their readers and your readers will benefit from the exchange of content delivered by a link exchange.

Otherwise, just create killer blog posts, and you will naturally attract high-quality links.


There is no short cut to long-term ranking results. Buying links, creating hundreds of exact-match anchor text keywords and automating link exchanges may get you short-term results…but you’ll eventually pay for it with a dramatic drop in rankings!

It takes time to build relevant, useful and compelling links that both people and Google view as significant and valuable. By focusing on things like creating good content and providing value through your product or service, you can speed up the process.

What other link-building mistakes are important to avoid?

P.S. If you want help with link building click here.


  1. I would say that most experienced SEOs know Mistake #1 and #2 but a lot of times, we make those mistakes without us realizing it, especially when we have others (interns or freelance virtual assistants) who are not fluent with search engine optimization to help us out with the work.

    Being natural is always key when it comes to link building. Any form of automation whether through the use of software or repetitive copy and pasting, will only reap short term results.

    • Gregory Ciotti :

      Not sure I agree 100%, how about those ranking for more “seedy” terms like pills/porn/gambling?

      • There are always exceptions to the rule as most of those space are really really really difficult to build links for. :/

    • It’s all about finding a unique way to get links. For example my real estate buddy goes after .gov coast guard links as they always have real estate pages for people who move to that area and become a coast guard.

  2. Donny Gamble :

    At the end of the day, I think that it boils down to link diversity vs. link velocity and having great content that people want to share to obtain social signals. If you focus on these things, everything else should naturally fall into place.

    • Indeed, constant creation of quality content with proper SEO elements but without having the mindset of trying to manipulate the search engines is a good strategy for the long term.

    • Great content is the key. Because if you have good content it is 10 times easier to build links.

      • Agree, great content is the way I’m always follow but it seem it’s not true in our country. There are a lot of copied content websites still have very high ranking. 🙁

  3. Mark Rhodus :

    Hey Neil – Great Post. There is a lot of discussion going on right now about this topic; especially after the recent de-indexing of blog networks built for links.

    Do you think Panda 3.4 is just looking at junk links internally or also from incoming links? So, should I build incoming links with junk anchors like visit website, click here, etc?


    • Yes you should. Just try to think about what would happen naturally.

      In the real world sites don’t get all their links with one anchor text.

    • I think it is looking at incoming links as well.

      Ideally you shouldn’t have to build links with junk anchor texts as naturally you should be getting links with those anchor texts.

  4. John Hannah :

    So I have a question. What if you are featuring a new site on an established blog that is widely syndicated? Let’s say the new site is about garden supplies. Is that going to be a problem having all these links popping up after publication with “gardening supplies” as the anchor text? It’s totally natural, but I’m worried it might be an issue.

    • I’m sure if it’s natural, you will be fine. If you want to take the worry off your mind, you can just build a few more links using anchor text that is not “garden supplies” or garden supplies related. A couple of guest posts will do the trick. 😉

      • Just think of all of those sites that get mentioned on TechCrunch when they launch. They typically don’t have problems…

    • It shouldn’t in the long run. In the short run you may have difficulties ranking, but in the long run things should fix themselves naturally.

  5. Jeramiah Townsend :


    I’ve been telling people these tactics for the last year. People regularly ask me about link building strategies and buying links. I always suggest against it, informing my clients that natural links are worth far more in the long run.

    Google is killing the link building industry and demanding a more natural approach to site building and link building. No more Automatic links or automatic web building. It takes work.



  6. Josh Garner :

    Great tips, Niel. I’ve had a handful of new clients because of Google’s crackdown(s) over the last few months. This stuff is really important and I think people fall into ideas of fast rankings and find themselves in a bit of trouble. It’s really difficult to come back from some of the penalties I’ve been seeing. The few quick bucks simply aren’t worth the long term stability of your online presence.

    To your point #5. Google Plus is a really big help in creating a strong social signal. Your post on the subject is a great outline: https://www.quicksprout.com/2011/07/15/why-your-business-ought-to-use-google-plus/

    • Yea, I’ve noticed sites with strong social signals do well throughout the updates. If people are sharing your content, then you must have something that is good.

  7. Really good interesting article, like I always advise my customers: “you must and have to concentrate on producing good original content, in the long run it will pay off…” I personally believe that Google, and other search engines, are only trying to clean up the Internet from all of the “junk” that is out there offering users better search results by penalising “bad” websites.

  8. Aliosha Kasin :

    Yes I started focusing on social shares a lot more more than building links these days as it seems that search engines are placing more emphasis on how many Facebook and twitter shares you have vs how many links you get. I mostly build links by being active in comments on do-follow comment blogs. Do commentluv links from PR 4/5 blogs work well?

  9. Great information, thanks. I’ve heard many “professional” SEO folk saying the exact opposite of #1-3 – basically, bang out as many links with specific anchor text for the keywords you want to rank for. I guess at one time that worked, but it makes sense that more natural patterns should be what google is looking for.

  10. I am so guilty of the home page linking. Or better yet, not linking. For what ever reason I can’t remember the last time I linked to my home page from one of my posts. Guess I better work on my game, lol. All the other recommendations are something I do and recommend my clients do as well. Even the junk anchor, which I use in both internal linking and when linking from other sites 🙂

    • It looks like you got things under control. 🙂

    • Web Design Resource :

      Really, these tips help to do link building in the right way which will give effective benefits such as rank well in the search engine in the natural way.

  11. Eleazar Acampado :

    The game of link building is really changing right now. Tricking to fool search engines specially Google will no longer work and the old and traditional SEO is DEAD. We are now heading to the new Social Media era where sharing matters most to get targeted traffic and at the same time relevant and quality backlinks.

    • Social is a big portion. If you get a ton of social shares, you can see your rankings temporarily popup.

  12. rohit kothari@techotalk :

    Hi Neil,
    again a nice post and atleast from this post got to know 1 mistake i normally use to put same anchor text which no doubt gave me rank in short time but with in a month i got so bad ranking that google not showing my post in 50 page 🙁 i ll start working on it and ya from so long people is giving importance to social media sharing and its seems those who started this is getting good result

  13. I absolutely understand and agree with the issue of natural link building. What worries me is how blogs that are aimed at and only appeal to a very specialised niche, will fare if the emphasis is placed on social sharing.

    • Well you can still get a good amount of shares and social love compared to the rest of the blogs in your space. I think they measure stuff by industry and not compared a niche blog to big one like Huffington Post.

  14. Wasim Ismail :

    Totally Agree, some also think that SEO is all about link building, where else, Acquiring links is one of the many factors of SEO, and your whole campaign should not really whole on acquiring links, as SEO has evolved, with new dimensions being introduced such as social signals.
    One of the best way of acquiring links is through guest blogging, where it’s a win win situation for all.

    • I have seen some sites get penalized for guest blogging. But they were creating really bad guest posts and posting them on spammy sites.

  15. Hi Neil,
    I am subscribed to your email and enjoy your articles because I know they are thoughtful and sharing the substantive information.
    In my previous job, I would review the stats, data and make decisions based on the data. As I am working on my first blog and reading articles on SEO, I am finding that there seems to be a lot conjecture and speculation. I hope that there will be actual case studies with at least 3 months data and disclosure of the all methodologies. I understand that it is a time consuming proposition and SEO folks have to produce the articles related to the current Google updates, etc.

    I guess, Neil, are you planning to do ‘case studies’ with stats and lessons learned (We know Google would not provide the insight information)?
    The question to all, do you know of any websites that publish case studies with the data and analysis.

    As for me, I am simply testing different strategies and watching if there is impact seen in Google Analytics.

  16. Bryant Jaquez :

    Thanks Neil,

    One of the easiest ways to avoid “anchor-spam” is to build links to internal pages. Use your products, or blog post titles as anchor text. It’s better to have 100 pages rank for 100 different keywords, then only one page rank for one keyword.

  17. Stuart Wooster :

    Hey Neil,

    I was left scratching my head for a number of days wondering why my site had taken a beating. It popped back up to normal traffic levels for a few days, then back down and has now again returned to normal – in fact I’d say it is doing better than it was before in the serps too.

    I wonder if it was up and down because my sites keywords closely match my domain name, in which case no matter if you use my domain name or the subject, the anchor text quite often is an exact match for what I rank for.

  18. Charles Montgomery :

    I love being able to see the future LOL… I’d been discussing the Anchor Text Variety with team for a couple of weeks now. With the conversation turning to what a natural profile looks like, this was inevitable…

    Neil as far as the quality in blogging goes, there are no articles I look forward to more than yours. You have been putting out the best information on the most important topics. From everyone in the industry – thanks!

  19. Craig Pennings :

    This a great article. It’s really hard to find actually good information on link building since I feel everyone has different opinions. It seems like these are more facts than opinions which is really insightful. Thanks for posting!

  20. I love each and every Google update – it means the small guys like me doing it all themselves and just creating what their customers want, with no money to pay for SEO companies , may finally bump that spamming site off it’s No 1 Google perch.
    Great article as always.

    • Yes in many cases, but not all. Typically the sites with great content and a good product/service win. Thats the key to succeeding.

  21. When link building I often ask for a link to a page without giving any details as to how. This leaves the writer to choose the anchor text and so it will be relevant but also completely natural.


    • That’s a good idea. I personally like controlling my anchor text, but that can work to vary things up.

  22. Dainis Graveris :

    I don’t know about others, but my blog really felt Google algorithm changes, which is strange because all the years they have been loving it. Now I am still really confused what SEO techniques to forget and which ones to learn. Thanks for bringing this topic up, Neil, glad to see I am not alone on this topic and then everybody is getting damage.

    • Only a small percentage of sites are getting affected, but it is still a large number as there are billions of sites on the web.

  23. Lewis LaLanne :

    I am most grateful to you Neil for #5.

    This is something I’ve just flat out been lame about maximizing and the evidence is now overwhelming that social signal is something that needs to be paid attention for more than just the idea of looking cool in the eyes of your followers.

    Thank you for all the links to how to remedy this category of optimization.

    • No problem. Make sure you stay up to date with the latest tactics as their algorithm has been changing a lot.

  24. Very useful article Neil. Will review all this on my sites.

  25. Diane Radack :

    Would you consider writing a simple post showing simple step by step instructions on how to put sharing links on a site? something like “how to share for idiots”

  26. In my disappointment, i know a site still ranking on the first fold of search engine with more than 10 keywords after the blog network penalty. This site is guilty of not only blog network link buying but also less variation links.

  27. John Abrena :

    Hi Neil,

    Been long since I visited QuickSprout, but this posts here is all worth it.

    I totally agree with #2 , #3, and #4. Hell, I agree with everything, but those three topics caught my eye more. Link builders should definitely try to use different anchor texts for their posts, whether in guest posts or for their own blog. Junk anchors is especially one way to increase trust and be an easy form of call to action for readers.

    Another mistake, if I may add, is getting too many dofollow links, and not enough/no nofollow links. Let’s face it, lots and lots of dofollow links (and all exact match keywords) is NOT natural, and screams “We are manipulating links here Google!”. This makes more harm than good, with Google trashing the website into really low ranks. True Story. I learnt it the hard way back then. A good thing to do is balance your link sources, that way, everything looks more natural to the spider’s eyes.

    Again, great post Neil. I always expect these kinds of posts from your blog. More power to QuickSprout!

    • I never really looked into getting nofollow links, but I think you are onto something there as it looks natural.

  28. You are right here. I loved it.
    But can you suggest what should the ratio between exact anchor text and broad match to link back for a keyword campaign?

  29. A great collection of scraps from different sources. It is hard to avoid all the things and build links in natural way, but we must think a bit about all these mistakes. At least do all these activities less.

  30. Agustin@website design :

    See, its true but one thing always bother me ,you know Google asks for getting natural link as well as theme based links. But from how many sites you can get do follow theme based links?

  31. Nhick @ IT Rush :

    Hmm, looks like I really need to work on #5.. Thanks Neil for the tips.

  32. Neil,

    I’d say that many SEOs, myself included, are starting to use junk keyword anchors for external liks far more than they were six months ago, but are still being super aggressive with exact match anchors with their internal links.

    What are your thoughts about implementing these tips externally vs internally?

  33. Mohideen @ seo blog :

    I think need to concentrate more on point 2 thanks for tips Neil

  34. Learning our mistakes is one of the great step towards our growth. I learned my mistake of having almost no junk anchor texts on my site. I will correct my mistake quick. Thanks Neil.

  35. Blogging Tips :

    I am little confused !! please tell me should we change the keyword while commenting also..

    And I am strongly agree with your point that wrong link building is really very bad for blog.

  36. So buying links isn’t natural, but buying tweets is? Google may have put the entire link-buying industry out of business, but it seems to me that a ‘like-buying’ and ‘tweet-buying’ industry will merely spring up to replace it. Am I missing something?

    • Some Googler’s said they didn’t like the concept of buying tweets, but I haven’t seen a big push on Google’s end about paid tweets.

  37. Link building takes time and is best done the natural way.

  38. I find it really funny how things come around full circle on the internet. For the longest time I remember always hearing… never use “click here” on your site, always link using anchor text. Now it seems like you can get yourself penalized for using anchor text and you should be using click here …. LOL!

  39. Scott Hopkins :

    Thanks for sharing these. These are a great list and I will take advantage of the opportunity this afternoon to place some natural links. I always change up my anchor text from the obvious keyword rich anchor text to the more natural and spamless of just my name or even as you suggest, click here, read more, etc. These are very important and help Google determine you are not a bot. Thanks for the post.

  40. Great tips Neil.
    I’ve always thought about these stuff, to make it all as natural as possible.

  41. Trin Salaloy :

    Agreed… great write up. We are always looking for new tips…what to do and not really paying much attention to things that might ding us. Thanks for pointing these out.

  42. Hi Neil,

    I agree with most of these points. However, I don’t think Google would penalise for having exact anchor text matches alone. With JC Penney, this was only one factor that contributed to the penalty – they were also involved in suspect link schemes that involved exact anchor texts from hundreds of unrelated sites. That was enough to sound off any alarm bells.

    Typically, the web results that have the #1 position will naturally have many exact match anchor text because that is what they are known for. As long as there are also semantic and junk anchor text, it won’t be penalised.

  43. Hey Neil, Thanks for the Great Post. But i have little confusion on #1 Too many exact anchor text links .

    Suppose we have 10 keywords on the website then how to gain links for these 10 Keywords. How many time we can use single keyword while doing forums, Blogs, bookmarking etc.


    • The general rule of thumb is not have rich anchor text for more than 30%. Anymore than that, and you are pushing the limits.

  44. The Young Bigmouth :

    Thanks Neil. You also need to tell us what we need to do.

    But the problem is I am a blogger (just another writer!) what do I do to build good links? You had advised link baiting is tougher than it sounds. Guest posts can’t be a constant source of links…

    • Your main source will be to write good content that spreads throughout the social web. That’s the easiest way as that’s how I build links for Quick Sprout.

  45. Thomas - Lucidica IT Support :

    Great blog post and superb example from JC Penny.

    Matt Cutts is becoming Google’s chief inquisitor, or maybe ‘Judge Dread’ 🙂

    I think the main thing to remember is there are no shortcuts. If you think you’ve found a new way of creating mass links, the chances are someone at Google has thought of the exact same thing and it’s only a matter time before they figure out how to stop you.

    If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t

  46. pankaj shrestha :

    Great tips, Niel. I’ve had a handful of new clients because of Google’s crackdown(s) over the last few months. This stuff is really important and I think people fall into ideas of fast rankings and find themselves in a bit of trouble.

  47. C.Mohan@ CCNA final Exam :

    Great and nice work for making the clear path .. As per my understanding what is the best way for link building apart from this . Maximum of ways affected here .. Simply i am going to concentrate social book marking . Because this is easy way and not bothered for Google panda ..

    I wish to plan for posting regularly .. who wants to Make money try to impress some others with irrelevant content apart from you niche ..
    I am New to this and i dont know what to do for getting more traffic for blog … Lets wait what play google again and again …
    Last 2 year only Learning no earning .. some this i was missed out surely .. but one day I got the point . I am waiting for that day …


    • Social bookmarking is always a good way to build links and traffic. If you get on the delicious popular list, you bet that you will get some good links.

  48. shapes for kids :

    I totally agree with the Mohan. Focusing on social bookmarking can be the way to go to not be so affected with these constants Panda updates.
    I was so surprised with some things you have said in this post Neil. I am always learning so much with your knowledge. Making the anchor texts seem as natural as possible building semantic keywords (which i knew by the name..lsi words)..it is a very good advice!! I got amazing SEO results using lsi words.

  49. Thank you for great blog.
    I wonder how you manage to deal with the broken links in the comments?
    And second: Though I.m searching through the Internet I cannot find the step by step explanation when and how to use no-follow or follow links. I’m absolutely lost here. Can you help us, because I think I’m not the ony one.
    Thank you!

    • I have a webmaster who goes through Quick Sprout to find broken links and he fixes them.

      Nofollow means links don’t count. http://cmsteachings.com/what-nofollow-link

  50. Austin @ NNFT :

    It’s much more beneficial in the long run to build your links naturally. Too many people forget that Quality > Quantity when it comes to link building.

  51. Thanks a lot for this wonderful post. I was searching on google about backlinking and come to your site. This post is very good for all the beginners who are new to make a website. you have mentioned good points on things not to do while backlinking. Thanks again for such a wonderful post. Surely i will keep these 7 mistakes in my mind so that i may not perform theses things.

    • No problem. Let me know how the tips work out for you.

      • I am a newbie and have my own website http://www.techfreeks.com/ which i owned 20 days before. I wanted to increase it’s rank and i came to know it depends on backlinking from then i was trying to see good post and reached your post. really awesome post, Thanks once again for this wonderful post.

  52. Bilgisayar Servisi :

    Great information, thanks. I’ve heard many “professional” SEO folk saying the exact opposite of #1-3 – basically, bang out as many links with specific anchor text for the keywords you want to rank for. I guess at one time that worked, but it makes sense that more natural patterns should be what google is looking for.

  53. Curtez Riggs :

    Good Info and I appreciate the referral to triberr.com. I was actually looking for information related to link exchanges and I found your site on google. I’m in a very small niche and I was curious if it was worthwhile to exchange links with other sites in the niche, or would google frown upon the practice…


  54. Earn Money Online Blog :

    Great tips sites like Fiverr for example are a great way to pay someone to build backlinks but make sure they only give you a few backlinks soit looks natural, and make sure they are high quality links and only do it periodically.

    I stick to natural linkbuilding and it has paid off blog commenting, blogging, youtube video’s, etc…

    And make sure if your a blogger that the content you post is unique and written by you. Trust me it will pay off in the long run.

    • Plus it is cheaper in the long run than if you buy links. I have seen sites buying thousands of links and getting no where.

  55. Tudor Davies :

    I definitely agree with mistake #4, not enough brand mentions. People should focus on the quality of the link and the context of it and let Google figure out the important keywords.

    • Think of it this way, it is always better to get 1 link from the LA Times than 10 links from new blogs.

  56. Guess I better work on my game, lol. All the other recommendations are something I do and recommend my clients do as well. Even the junk anchor, which I use in both internal linking and when linking from other sites 🙂

  57. Excellent article on this topic. I have found that with anchor text it needs to be varied so much that only 5% of your anchor text should be a particular keyword. I also make sure that around 20% are keywords such as “Article” or “Find it Here”. Just a tip from what I have done in the past.

  58. Mohideen @ seo blog :

    The link building should be natural so that we can earn a benefit from Big G

  59. Excellent tips given, I never ever trusted those link building farm systems they were offering for dirt cheap. Glad to see that they finally got penalised and that I made the right choice of ignoring them!

    • You can get away with poor links for a while but eventually google will chat you. It is worth the time and effort to do it right the first time.

  60. Hello, I had one question in my mind as well. After this 3.4 Panda update, Dose any one have idea about Google Passing Nofollow Link

  61. Mike from Maine :

    Truth is that really no one knows how Google ranks different websites based upon the anchor text that there links. In my opinion, I think that you just need to continue building links over time so that it will look natural in the search engines.

  62. I used to think link exchanging was a great idea. I thought it was the right way to go to getting backlinks. I have since realised the best way is through guest posting with dofollow links. I think this is more natural to Google and the other search engines.

  63. Thanks for the post.

    I’m fairly new to blogging so getting any help to drive traffic up will help.

    Thanks for the recommendation of using the scrolling social sidebar. I’ve been looking for something similar but didn’t really know a name for it.

  64. Google is definitely going in the right direction by penetalizing the ones with the shady link building techniques.

  65. Craig @ computerlearnhow.com :

    I think the fact is that nobody can really understand how google ranks sites and the best we can do is concentrate on the quality of our content surely good content will eventually win out.

    Im amazed at the number of shady link exchange emails I get about getting me 6000 backlinks. I think if you work hard on your site and linking to good qulaity relevant sites naturally the rest should take care of itself. At least I hope so or my plan is in a mess lol

    Thanks yest again Neil very informative

  66. Evolution Pakistan :

    Glad to see that they finally got penalised and that I made the right choice of ignoring them

    • Delaware SEO :

      True, but consider how well some of those tactics have worked for people up until this point.

      Consider how well some of them STILL work.

      It’s also tough to define what constitutes “shady” linkbuilding and what doesn’t in Google’s eyes.

    • Eventually Google always catches up.

  67. stilton cheese :

    These are all really important things to watch out for. Especially with all the updates google has been rolling out. You should be extra careful.

  68. cursos online :

    Great Post. There is a lot of discussion going on right now about this topic; especially after the recent de-indexing of blog networks built for links. I would say that most experienced SEOs know Mistake #1 and #2 but a lot of times, we make those mistakes without us realizing it, especially when we have others congratulation

    • Thanks,

      People are going to make mistakes, I make them constantly the best thing you can do is learn and improve.

  69. John @ Holden Beach Self Storage :

    These are great tips, Neil, but I struggle with the social media part. I think lots of small businesses do.

    • Social media can be tricky but if you keep at it then you will see the benefits in the long run.

  70. Excellent Neil, you just reveal secrets of Google Panda updates, hats off 🙂

  71. Excellent article, thanks very much for the useful information Neil!

  72. Hey – Thanks for sharing a great article. Your advice is very useful for small Businesses just starting out online. So many small Businesses have no idea about Link Building and what mistakes they should avoid.

  73. I read somewhere that with the latest Panda updates, Google is looking for a more ethical SEO. And you know i really like thinking of it this way. Spamming and mass linking is annoying to everybody, bloggers, readers, everyone. Let’s hope these updates will make our work more interesting and creative!

  74. Get good grades :

    That’s a good way to break down the subject. Too bad they didn’t stop there and released 2 more updates soon thereafter, their estimates of 3 point something percent of searches affected seems to be a low estimate.

    • Google will never stop, updates will keep coming and people will have to learn to adapt to the changes as they come.

  75. I’m a bit confuse with some points on mistake #4:

    On the other hand, if I was writing copy for the home page of QuickSprout and mentioned that term, I would not link at all.

    It would be unnatural.

    What does it mean with writing copy for the home page? Would you please explain to me? I’m sorry if it sounds like a silly question since I’m a beginner.

    • Hey Tim,

      Copy is a reference to “text.” I just meant if I was on the home page it would be unnatural to link to the home page in my text or “copy.”

  76. Magazin de role :

    I had no idea Google appreciates back links with anchor text like “Click here”….

  77. one thing i like to ask is that what do u actually mean by semantic keyword anchor texts ….?

    • Hey Deepak,

      If you click on the link I had provided in the article it will show you how to create semantic keywords. You then continue by using those keywords in links you create.


  78. I have found that there is just such an absolute tidal wave of bad advice when it comes to SEO, so it’s greatly appreciated that you take the time to provide the ‘how’ and ‘why’ as opposed to “This is how I did it and I made thousands of dollars.”

    Great article as always Neil.

  79. Such a great article! I am so glad I came across your blog. As someone fairly new in blogging, I was really confused about all of the SEO strategies and what I should and shouldn’t do. What you noted about the semantic anchor text and text links within pages was new to me. Really appreciate the tips!

  80. Hi Neil, thanks for your post. But on #1 I have some questions for it:

    1. How many percent is too many? Sometimes the other webmaster put useful links on their website (natural) and it may create a bunch of links with same anchor text like brandname.
    2. How about if my competitors link to my site with same anchor text? Is it a kind of negative SEO, right?

    I also have another quick question. I have one website that dropped 50% traffic on 19th (GMT+7), is it because of Google Penguin or Google Panda or Classified for parked domain issue?


    • The percentage constantly changes as search engines are constantly adjusting their algorithms. You have to tweak and test.

      The competitor stuff shouldn’t really hurt.

      This post should help you with your last question: https://www.quicksprout.com/2012/05/14/what-you-ought-to-do-if-youve-been-punished-by-googles-penguin-update/

  81. Asigurari rca :

    Nice post Neil!

  82. If paid links are harmful for websites, why textlinks ad networks like TLA still work well ?

  83. Gravityhunt :

    Thanks a lot for this wonderful post. I was searching on google about what is backlinking and how it is helpful to us. This post is very useful for all the beginners who r new to blogging. These 7 mistakes that u have mentioned i will definitely prevent them. Thanks again for this wonderful post.

  84. Raheel Mushtaq :

    very nice explanation of link building exercise..! things have quite changed from what they were before penguin. This is the first time any action is taken on similar anchor text it may become hard to target keywords but it became better for gaining social presence of your website rather than ranking with keywords…!

  85. Michael Borger :

    Good list — the rules are changing. Yesterday’s tricks don’t work anymore. Time to focus even more on quality content, max visibility and max sharing ability.

  86. i don’t think it’s good to rely upon social signal as it will completely give bigger websites a big advantage as when they publish something it’s is viewed by thousand of people and obviously they get more shared and likes than a new good content website as it has less eye balls on it’s website and they will just start dominating the search engine and it will become much harder for small guys to make their presence even if they have strong quality content on their website.

  87. eCommerceFuel.com | Andrew Youderian :

    As I mentioned in a previous comment, one of our sites got killed due to the recent Penguin over-optimization update. As I was compiling some data on our backlinks, I noticed an interesting correlation: the more inbound links a page had, the higher the sensitivity to exact match anchor text.

    If a page only has two inbound links, and both say ‘coffee mugs’, there’s a chance that was a coincidence and no intentional spamming effort is underfoot. However, if a page has 25 inbound links and 90% include ‘coffee mugs’, it is almost certainly an intentional link building campaign.

    The takeaway? As we try to recover from Penguin, we’re focusing first on pages that dropped significantly with FEW inbound links. Hopefully, with just a few additional natural (read non-optimized) links, they’ll be able to bounce back.

  88. Vanzari auto :

    Your post is very good written Neil. I must admite it you’re very good at this domain of activity.

  89. Online Mastering :

    hahaha yea jc penny sucks, they would never naturally be that popular. so how did they get all those links? and how many did the have? i really wonder how much time that took…

  90. Online Mastering :

    the whole social bookmarking thing is definitely what I’m focusing on most now. its just hard to get people to start talking about you…

  91. Great spirit neil! Keep it up and I expect you to post more information.

  92. Pretty good advices, especially #1, it’s obviously unnatural to have all links with anchor text exact like your domain or your website keywords.

  93. Selena Spice :

    I agree that you can’t just add bunch of links with same anchor text and expect good results.

  94. All Things Juliet :

    Had I known these before I started my blog, I would not suffer the penalty. All Things Juliet had a PR2 before but now it’s down to PR1. The only right thing I did was not doing Mistake #6: Buying links – not because I know it’s wrong but because I cannot afford it. I’m starting to connect my blog in Google+. Hopefully, this could add some traffic.

  95. Hey Neil,

    thanks for this post.

    I was wondering about mistake #4: on my site (as in most sites) I have my logo at the top as a link back to my homepage.

    So, due to first link priority, is it worth adding a “second” link inside the post with my brand name? Won’t that link be ignored?

    I thought as a solution adding a link as “htttp://mydomain.com/#” with that extra hash symbol in the end as tests have shown that it count as a different link than just “http://mydomain.com”

    What do you reckon?

    Thanks again!


  96. Admins ,
    Post is written well and explained too good i like it will mind all steps to safe my blog and make my blog best 🙂

  97. I try to build links in a variety of ways, links from the same industry as mine ie automotive, links from High PR sites, links from blogs from the towns and citys which i operate in. I then get a wide variety of back links to my site

  98. Hey Neil, your tips always help and i have been working on my website for the longest time. Dont forget im new to this. But when i see one of my competitors one page website that they didnt spend any time building it ranks first on google., it makes me wonder is it that easy??

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  101. Nice analysis..Fortunately my main site survives to all “zoo updates” from Google

  102. Austin Web design :

    Hey Neil,

    Excellent post. i have been looking for these methods and you have explained very well.
    I am agree with all of your points but i want to say that do not use same anchor text in all back links, It can take your website in penguin. 😀

    Thank you

  103. Well, certainly the Worst one is Number 1 and Number 2. Penguin killed the Anchor Texts so its pretty sure that you need to change the tactics of linking as well. As you also Linked to the SEMANTIC KEYWORDS. that’s great to do as well.


  104. hey neil,
    thank you for giving us insight about these mistakes. this is an informative article.



  105. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely think this amazing site needs a lot more attention.
    I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!

  106. Suppliers Pakistan :

    A well written post…Keep it up Neil

  107. Napoleon Nalcot :

    This is a great advice from a nice post of a well-ranked site. It’s all worth my coming across your site. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the good work.

  108. Hi Neil, this 2013 I promised to myself that I will start taking care of my blog sites little by little and after reading your post I am getting more informed on what is necessary and what are those things that I should avoid to be always on the safe side.

    Thanks for sharing.

  109. Web Solutions :

    This is very interesting, You are a very professional blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to seeking more of your wonderful post. Additionally, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks

  110. Hello,
    It’s good to know these mistakes on building links Neil.

  111. Bhuvnesh Rohilla :

    amazing post sir! You’ve always produced exquisite content!
    Read the following article to know more about some of the most common link building mistakes!

  112. Great content Neil, thanks for sharing this link information.

  113. Thank you very much Neil. I am currently working on link-building and your tips has definitely helped me a lot and now, I am aware regarding what to do and what not to do. Thank you.

  114. rebecca miller :

    Most of the time, bloggers get over anxious watching the offers like 2000 links or 3000 links from specific source like forums or comments or other things for just $5 or so, it is our tendency obviously. But I got to agree with the author that even after ignoring these kind of bulk linking strategies, we have to be careful while developing the seo strategies and we also make up our mind with few alternative steps that we need to do, because SEO is all about assumptions and conditional statements.

    • Neil Patel :

      Rebecca, well said. It is very important to make the right decisions when implementing an SEO campaign.

  115. I’ve been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours as of late, but I by no means discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s pretty value enough for me.
    Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the internet will be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  116. Wow! At last I got a web site from where I be able
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  117. Mistakes number 1 & 2 are very common and earlier I have made them many times. But now I understand. I am a big fan of you Niel and regularly follow your blog.

  118. Yes of course if we want to rank well in search engines than we should avoid this 7 link building tactics.

  119. Hi Neil,

    Not Enough Social Signal – I am still not able to relate the social signal and link building. Have you written any other detailed article around this topic.

    • I haven’t written a lot on this topic. But typically more social shares means more traffic. More traffic means higher chance someone will link to you.

  120. Neil bro,
    Thanks for this article. I have used 4 of the above methods massively to get more backlinks. And now I will take more care!

  121. Yes, you are right. By buying link and exchanging links are great mistakes. But, I think, creating link in an unrelated site is also be given up. Thanks for your nice sharing.

  122. I see this all the time now. Clients come in with excessive amounts of exact match keywords from lots of sites that are shady, unnatural and even dangerous. I usually have to give them the bad news that we might not be able to divorce all the craplinks and might even consider a new domain. They are usually burned by some cheap service they saw on some website that made it seem simple and fast. Often they even got the ride for a month or two, but then G algo nailed them. DO NOT BUY SHADY SERVICES FOR SEO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS! That damage cannot be undone sometimes.

    • Neil Patel :

      JD, thanks for this. It’s important that people follow the proper procedures at all times!

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  131. web design austin tx :

    So a couple of items that you might also mention here.

    1) Caution with autopilot. When you have a X factor growth for links, the variety and context of the sites linking had better be good. I have seen a lot of people shoot themselves over this.

    2) velocity. It has to be constant. Nothing that stops and starts will do long term good for anyone, so that is the second part of any good autopilot program you make for your links as well.

    Good stuff here, thanks!

  132. Yes of course if we want to rank well in search engines than we should avoid this 7 link building tactics.

  133. Everything i know about SEO, I’ve learnt from Quick Sprout. This guy is amazing. There is no other website on the net provide you with as much step by step how to do SEO on the web.

    Keep up the good work Neil.

  134. Hi Neil,

    I am a big fan of your blogs. Reading more and more to learn SEO better.

    I have a question – One of friend is doing link building. What he is doing is making multiple blogs in different free blogging sites like blogspot, wordpress etc. He is writing few articles on per month basis and linking to the client’s website (different internal pages) with different anchor texts.

    My question is whether it’s correct that all the links of a blog pointing to one domain only.

    Please help !

  135. Stéphane Thirion :

    Thank you very much for your explanations

  136. Great work, thank you

  137. Hi Neil, Your article is really knowledgeable and brilliantly written.. I am new to the blogging. Your information helping me a lot and also learn a lot as am doing the same …

  138. I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

  139. Elise Forsyth Mort :

    Well I agree to you to post of the points but after the Penguin update they made it clear that your back links should look natural for these many SEO companies and blogger are also targeting No-Follow links a mix up of Do and No follow links make it look natural with few additional things link anchor text the domain name itself is also important after Penguin update

    • Thanks for the clarification Elise. Yes and produce content with a high level of quality to make the link building that much easier.

  140. Just last year, I decided to to test the method of link buying. I’ve been amazed for money that was made from blogging.This is great way to make money on my blog. Next time, I will be more careful in choosing selling links to avoid penalties from Google. Thank you for sharing.

  141. Hi Neil,

    Forgot to ask, what about business listings? If say I list my website there will it be bad to my website’s SEO or Google doesn’t care about suck backlinks?


  142. Hello Neil Bro,
    Thanks for sharing information with me. I hope, from today I able to build links with proper way. Thanks for share this information.

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