10 Link Building Strategies to Avoid

10 link building strategies to avoid

The Google Penguin was initially released in 2012 and by early 2017, it became a part of Google’s core algorithm. So what does this mean for you?

Well, this means that Google is better now than ever at knowing when to trust a link. Google has invested a lot of effort and money into detecting and penalizing websites that are trying to game the system with unnatural links and bad link building strategies. They can easily determine whether a link is editorially given to you and whether or not it is relevant to your site. 

So if you don’t know what you are doing, you may find yourself in trouble.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of old black hat link building tricks that promises quick results. However, once caught (which you probably will), you can face some serious penalties which can last from a few weeks to several months or until the problem is solved. Thus, you should steer clear of these bad link building techniques.

1. Blog Spamming

Surely, you have seen comments in blogs that just make no sense. You know, those comments that contain an anchor text that exactly matches a keyword phrase? Those are considered spammy comments and they do nothing for you. Most websites see it as spam and they make sure that such posts are deleted. 

Also, in 2015, search engines created “nofollow” which is an attribute that you use to a link. You put this on a link when you don’t want to imply any kind of endorsement. These links will get you nowhere as Google uses it as a hint to not follow where such links point to. So even if you start spam commenting on every website you come across with, it can’t help you in any way.

2. Website Buying

Most people in the past used to buy websites for their edgy tactics. However, redirecting the domain to exploit link signals don’t work any longer. And this is because Google doesn’t pass link signals between pages unless they are a close match. 

Not only is website buying a waste of time and money but it also forces you to double your work. With two websites, you’ll be link building and content writing for two!

3. WordPress Theme Link Building

Just so you know, links in the footer stopped working fifteen years ago. So, avoid adding those “Powered by…” lines. 

4. Linking with Widgets

In the early 2000s, people used to distribute visitor counters for universities to put at the bottom of their website. When a page counter code is added to this, it can result in a link that redirects users to a certain site. This worked for years but then it didn’t anymore. 

Then, WordPress gained popularity and people started using widgets for people to add to their websites. There were plugins for news, weather, RSS feeds, social media, and other useful functions. And they were created so that it links back to someone else’s site. 

But, since this is a tactic that aims to manipulate PageRank, this has since been banned and Google warned webmasters about using widget links.

5. Exchanging Links

Exchanging links with other websites is not recommended. This “you link to me and I’ll link to you” will not do you any good because, for one, your site may have different niches. Second, their website isn’t trustworthy. And lastly, their website is new. If you continue to follow this outdated practice, you may be hurting your website’s ranking.

However, it’s a different story if you link to a website with a high-level authority and they link back to one of your content. If this was the case, then you’re good!

6. Discount Link Building   

Offering discounts in exchange for using your links is prohibited and can result in penalties. This is a type of paid link as you are offering something in return – which violates Google’s guidelines. To give you an example, Overstock.com was penalized in 2011 for offering discounts to students who use their links. If you don’t want to end up like them, don’t do it.

7. Free Products

Free products are another type of paid link. Aside from violating Google’s guidelines, it is also illegal as it can violate FTC rules. If you’re not aware, it is prohibited to publish reviews that are paid for with samples, products, or other types of compensation. 

8. Press Releases

Press releases have lost their effectiveness in helping businesses build links around 2013 and 2014. Among search engines, paid press release distribution services are already downgraded. And, these third party sites have been warned to “nofollow” every outbound link they use. Thus, these links won’t help with your link building strategy. 

However, you can use press releases to announce discounts, sales, and new products or services. Just publish on sites with good traffic to ensure you’re bringing in some inbound traffic to your site. 

9. Profile Link Building

If you’re planning to join forums to drop a link from your profile, don’t. This will only give you a low-quality link that has zero relevance and zero context. Meaning, it’s not a real link. A profile link is useless and spammy. So, forget it.

10. Spammy Article Submissions

Back in the day, you can simply submit articles to websites that run on guest posts. However, since a lot of people started submitting low-quality articles, these sites were depreciated. So they’re not as effective as they used to, especially since such websites are considered low-level. Plus, it’s just not worth it to create content, submit, and wait for publishing. But if you were to submit your great content to a high authority blog, then that’s a different story.


In link building or any SEO strategy, you must do your research. Always check if a strategy is effective, banned or just a complete waste of time. Because… being knowledgeable keeps you from making mistakes and it can lead you to your success.

There are a lot of useful link building strategies that do work. But if you’re having a hard time understanding and applying effective link building strategies, we can help. Whether you’re looking for consulting services or a team to handle your SEO, Stowell Agency is the top marketing company in Orlando. 

Got a project or need advice?

Let's talk about it.

Skip to content