When Link Building Goes Wrong

Link building. To some, these two words represent a confusing, time-consuming, never-ending process yet to produce any tangible results. And understandably so; after all, link building can be all of these things–especially if you’re making some common mistakes.  Take a look at the list below to see if any of these mistakes are hampering your link building campaign.

•    Linking Only to Your Home Page– One of the most common mistakes I see when examining back links is finding every link pointing to the same page. Most of the time, these links are always to the home page, but this rule applies to any single page. You don’t want every inbound link aimed at the same page. Why? There are several reasons. Most importantly, it doesn’t look natural to the search engines. Second, it doesn’t help you improve your rankings for the long-tail keywords, the bread and butter of search traffic, on the deeper pages of your site. Third, it’s terrible for usability. People want to go directly to the information they need. Making them land on your home page before finding what they want will lead to a high bounce rate.

•    Not Getting Links Consistently Over Time– This happens a lot with new websites. They get a ton of links right off the bat, and then they never get another. Again, this doesn’t look natural to the search engines. Link building isn’t a one-time process; it’s something that takes a long-term commitment. The best way to consistently get inbound links over time is to focus on publishing quality content that begs to be linked to. They don’t say “content is king” for nothing.

•    Not Linking Out– It’s one of my pet peeves—the idea that you can’t risk losing any of your “link juice” by linking out to another website. Or even worse, that if you link out to another website, your visitors won’t come back. Both of these notions are flat out ridiculous. Linking out is important because it helps you build relationships with others since blogs typically ping the webmaster when there’s a new inbound link, it enhances the user experience by assuming the link is relevant and adds insight, and it establishes your blog as a leading resource when you put all the info people need in one place. And if you provide great content, you don’t have to worry about your readers coming back.

•    Always Using the Same Anchor Text– Occasionally, situations will arise where you will have control over what anchor text you want in your back link. Obviously, you want the anchor text to include relevant keywords for search engine placement purposes. However, don’t fall into the trap of using the same anchor text every time. Quite simply, it doesn’t look natural if every link pointing to your website says the same thing word for word. Don’t give the search engines any reason to suspect you’re involved in shady link building practices.

•    Completely Ignoring Reciprocal Links– Every so-called SEO guru out there preaches against getting reciprocal links for your website. The reason for this is that reciprocal links essentially cancel each other out in the eyes of the search engines. But if these “gurus” could stop worrying about pleasing the search engines for a second, they’d see there are benefits to occasionally engaging in reciprocal linking. It can generate highly relevant traffic to your website, and it helps you build a relationship with the other linker that could prove profitable down the line with guest blogging opportunities, referrals, etc. Plus, it improves the user-experience, assuming the link is to a relevant site.) Remember, it’s not always about the search engines; humans count too.

•    Trying to Push Every Post to the Front Page of Digg– If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I’m all for social media marketing. I think it’s a great way to build links, to engage with your target audience, and to generate traffic to your website. However, you need to realize that not every post you write is worthy of the front page of Digg or of any other social media site for that matter. If you’re constantly pushing every single post on these social networking sites people will begin to ignore you. Even worse, you could end up getting banned.

•    Not Knowing Your Competitor’s Back Links– If you don’t know what your competition is up to, how can you expect to pass them in the SERPs? Take a look at their back links by entering the link: www.yourcompetitorssite.com (example URL) into the Yahoo search bar. Not only will this help you understand what you need to do to outrank them, but it could also provide a great starting point for your link building campaign. You may be able to get inbound links from the same sites that link to your competition.

Now that you know some link building pitfalls to avoid, you can kick your campaign into overdrive. And remember, quality trumps quantity every time.

What link building mistakes have you made? Share them with us in the replies!

About Eric Brantner

You can follow Eric on Twitter at @Eric_Brantner.

13 Responses to When Link Building Goes Wrong

  1. Si says:

    No.7 – Giving Up:
    Been building links for a month and still not seeing any action? Too bad! Don’t be a wimp . . . You need to keep going, going, going!

    No. 8 – Focussing on the easiest area:
    Listen, I could get you 5000 easy social bookmarking links a day if I wanted to but they won’t count for jack. Mix and match links from all sources – articles, recipricols, press etc, etc for the biggest impact.

    No. 9 – Believing everything you read:
    If you knew where the gold was, would you tell me if I asked? Thought not. You’ll get some good pointers by reading SEO blogs and forums . . . but don’t take everything at face value.

  2. Great article for small business owners, may start pointing my clients to this post, as they all make these simple mistakes!

  3. Link building process must be well thought and planned. It’s not a one-time action. Links must be build gradually and consistently and look as more natural as possible. Here a varying anchor text comes into play. Not all the sites are worth to get links from. Links from bad web sites can even hurt the site.

  4. Jeff Baas says:

    Too many people treat linking as a means to an end: simply building links for links sake. I liked your comment in one of the tips where you said, “Hey, people count for something, too!”

    Ultimately, the only reason to build links is to build relationships with people. Link building can be a form of networking, a form of promotion, or a form of credibility building with the search engines so that they will send you more people. But the end goal of link building – and the ONLY real goal of link building – is to build relationships with people.

  5. Yanuar says:


    Nice article i think every webmaster should see this when they want to build their backlink properly also giving the link to another website is the worst case scenario, if you create an article and link the article to different website which clearly doesnt have that article, then you're indirectly doing a 'charity' to that website.

  6. nontracau says:

    Hi. Very good article. Lots of good info. Too many times webmasters are only building links to make money, not realizing that if people don't see value in the content of the link, they (the linker)loses credibility. All links should provide benefits.

  7. Loren Howard says:

    Thank you Eric for this great article on link building.All the points you have discussed are helpful.

    Keep on writing such useful articles.I will be your regular reader.

  8. Tuesday says:

    @Jeff Baas, I agree with you on this point:

    Ultimately, the only reason to build links is to build relationships with people.

    Sometimes a small business owner is so anxious to get the word out that linking becomes another tedious task to get over with. Kudos to Eric for making linking sound more human.

  9. Mark McLaren says:


    These are all solid tips.

    I think it is still fair to say that, in certain cases, reciprocal linking improves natural search rank. I know first hand of examples where online businesses improved results enough that they were able to reduce AdWords spending and still come out ahead.

    I also know of at least one example of a website for a particular kind of exercise training that shows up consistently on page one of Google for a number of related keywords. The site makes a perfectly obvious appeal for reciprocal link building with a link on its home page that says, "LINK TO US". It even provides the text that anyone linking to the site should use. And it advises folks to link only to the home page. The site dominates its particular niche.

  10. Hey,nice post.This is an informative article.I enjoy while reading this article. This article will definitely help us to  avoid the wrong link building & boost the ranking of the web page in the eyes of the search  engine. This  will automatically  drive the targeted traffic  to your web page.

  11. SEO Training says:

    Hi nice article on the link building.All the point are very helpful.This very useful information thanks for sharing this information with us keep sharing with us

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  13. Davidzerry says:

    A well managed link exchange with other websites in your industry is the number one method for getting good quality links back to your site.You have posted great video on link building.I really liked it.Thanks for sharing.