All you link builders out there, get this: there are no new link building tips. There weren’t any last year, there aren’t any this year, and there won’t be any next year. Got it?


That out of the way, there are two types of flawed assumptions people make about link building:

(1) Some think they (or the link building agency they hire) can always outsmart Google and get their sites or apps to the top of the SERPs by sheer force of quantity, finding loopholes in the search algorithm, or using new, bleeding-edge tricks.

The keyword here is “always.” If you’re in the other PPC industry, what I’m going to say is probably too time consuming for you; stop reading here. If you’re not, read the above paragraph again.

(2) Others think link building is dead.

This myth is propagated by lazy, “feel good” blogs that endlessly spew out rehashed commandments on how to “earn” links naturally. (God, how I hate rehashed terms!) You need to build links. And a lot of posts tell you how to do it.

So here’s a quick list of things not to do while you’re building links. In 2016. Or 2017.

Tiered link building

This is one big head-bang.


I just clicked the Feedback button and left a message saying, “Heh! Does Google’s web spam team second that?”

Google the term and read the first three posts on the subject. Poke around the same blogs and see if they have other posts deriding the types of tiered links they mention as “low quality.” Come back and hear me: It’s no longer worth the time and effort.

Letting the links you build rot

It’s very difficult to keep boosting the value of links that you build. But promoting, sharing or linking to URLs with links to your pages periodically is a better alternative to tiered link building. And hey, that’s like more tiers of the same level – sort of like truck tires instead of concentric circles.

A simple example: See how this recent guest post links to this (year and a half older) guest post on the same site, and they both link to this (older by a year more) post on the author’s site, which could in turn link to a money page on that site.

Sorry for showing what to do in a post that talks about what not to do.

Using the same content format

Folks like to stick to what they do best. Infographics work like a charm for some. Others continue to do hundreds of guest posts. Still others have mastered the art of creating link bait in the form of interactive quizzes and widgets. A surprising number can’t let go of social bookmarking and press releases.

Not good. Diversify your content assets. Create them in different forms. Share them on different platforms. Build text and image links to and from these.

Not updating your target site list

When you start out building a list of target sites for your link building campaigns, you’re very meticulous about it. You look at the authority and backlink profile of each target, the traffic it gets, the credibility of other links, social shares, engagement and comments, and so on.

Then you build a few good ones that work well. And then you get greedier and lazier. While your client wants more. Then begins the downhill slide.

Artist: Rand Fishkin

The worst part is, people are still looking for readymade lists of sites to get links from.

gp list

Don’t bother with the unlocking; it’s Pandora’s Box. Or Osama’s coffin. It belongs at the bottom of the sea.

Targeting a fixed number of links every month

This is a corollary to link building with lists. And I blame the scapegoats – er, clients. Since marketing is so closely tied to erstwhile sales departments, we can’t let go of our targets – 2 pieces of content a week, 5 business listings a fortnight, 10 blog links with 30+ DA a month, and so on.

Cut it out.

One, you’re leaving crumbs for Google to pick up.


Two, metamorphosing your strategy into a set of numbers just for the sake of “performance measurement” will lead your campaign to take a hit in quality and lose every last smidgen of potential to go viral.

Flush your monthly link building reports down the drain. The purpose of reporting isn’t to help meet goals, it is to cause change.

Not looking beyond organic links

Who said “earning natural links” was the only way to grow? What about spending some to earn some more?

Buy a domain and put up a micro site. Build that private blog network. Get some industry influencers to tweet your posts. Or leave you a favorable review. Ask partners outright to link to you. All in exchange for favors, goodies or bucks, of course.

Just don’t get carried away.

link money

Which brings us to the next mistake.

Snubbing Penguin

When building links, constantly look over your shoulder. The quality and credibility of the sites you get links from, the anchor text you use, what methods you used to get links, and in what way you paid for them, all matter to Google, who want to keep their SERPs spam-free and their algo hack-proof.

Agreed, the last Penguin update was 15 months ago. But don’t let out of mind be out of sight. This guy draws link blood by the pint.

batman penguin

Avoiding nofollow links

Nofollowed links serve to bring in traffic and lead to more awareness, conversions, sales, site authority, and even more links. No disputing the fact. But that doesn’t seem to matter to traditional link builders (or their clients).

Regardless of traffic or leads, Google may have a mechanism on how to value nofollow links for PageRank – they can differentiate between nofollow links from ads, post content, author bios, menus and footers. We have seen that nofollow links sometimes lead to a penalty, so in contrast, they just might pass some link juice.

IMHO, a link is a link is a link.

Giving your community the cold shoulder

Reaching out to influencers, bloggers, journalists and industry web platforms in the hope of getting your content featured is one of the most effective ways of link building ever.

And yet, once the job is done we turn our backs on the very people that helped us out. Don’t fall into that trap. Spend some time helping out members of your online community. Do them a few favors now and then. At the very least, stay in touch with automated emails. How long does it take to say Happy Weekend or Merry Christmas?

Don’t forget to water the plants.

Forgetting what you’re linking to

Your money site, product or service should always be at the top of your mind – whether you’re building content, relationships or links.

What intent does your landing page provide for? Does it offers logical next steps to the content that links to it? What context and expectations will the user have when she gets there? Will she convert?

Ask yourself these questions at regular intervals. And rework your online assets accordingly.

In a nutshell, if you are an SEO company offering link building services, then just build links from blogs about link building.

See what I did there?


So long!