search marketing

4 Link Building Traps You Need to Avoid

Written by Kurt Steinbrueck

venus fly trapLinks are still very important in SEO.  They are bacon to on-page optimization’s eggs.  The jelly to optimization’s peanut butter.  If you want to rank well for popular, competitive keywords, you have to have links.  With all the demand for links, some bad characters have sprung up with amazing promises, but which can steal your money or lead you into the dark ally of Google penalties.  So, what are these bad characters?


Here are 4 Link Building Traps to Avoid

1. Companies offering thousands of links virtually overnight.
Like the latest fad diet pill saying you’ll lose 20 lbs in 1 week for only $19.95, these companies offer you thousands of links and high rankings for a couple hundred dollars or less.  And, just like the diet pill where you are probably getting saw dust in a capsule or worse, something that could really harm you, these companies generate thousands of low quality, spammy links that, at best, do nothing for you and, at worst, put you Google’s cross hairs.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is.  Real links take time and effort.  There’s no quick, cheap, silver bullet.

2. Buying links.
Why put the time and effort into building good, natural links when you can just pay a bunch of people to put links on their websites?  After all, these can be on quality sites.  Well, for starters, you’ll have to keep paying them month after month to keep the links and, more importantly, you’ll probably get a Google penalty.  Google has gotten pretty good at identifying paid links.  You may get away with it for a while, but when Google does catch you, you’ll lose everything and be worse off than when you started.

3. Links that are supposed to “look natural”.
As Google makes more and more of the old link building methods against their guidelines (manipulative reciprocal links, excessive directory links, spammy forum profile links, spammy blog commenting, syndicated article links,  followed guest blogging links, etc).  Creative, if not slightly unethical, people keep coming up with ways to create links to manipulate search rankings, but which supposedly “look natural”.

The most recent way this is being done is private blog networks, where companies setup thousands of blogs and let people pay them to post articles with links on the blogs.  They go through all kinds of creative ways to trick Google into thinking that these are just normal, unconnected blogs with “natural” links on them.  The thing is Google is very good at detecting patterns and all these pseudo-natural links leave a pattern.  This is made evident by the dozen or so private blog networks Google has penalized in the past several months.

As Matt Cutts from Google would tell you, links aren’t supposed to look natural, they are supposed to be natural.

4. Just trying to build links.
Since we all want links, it’s easy to get into the mindset that you are just trying to get links.  However, if you don’t have something worth while to link to, you’ll never get good natural links.  Sorry, no one wants to link to your product description or you list of affiliate links.

The first thing you need to do is have something worth while that people would want to link to.  It might be a funny video, a great article, or even just being a great website at whatever you do.  Whatever you have or create, you need to have something people would want to link to first.  Once you have that link-worthy thing, then you can build links by getting it in front of people, contacting people about linking to it, etc.

So, what do you do?
Be great or make great content and put it out there for people.  Identify quality websites that may see your organization or your content as valuable and worth linking to and connect with them and see if they’ll link to you.  The bottom line is there is no cheap, easy, quick link building magic anymore.  Link building takes time and effort to create something worth linking to and then connect with people.  But if you do that, you’ll get a lot more than links.

Share your thoughts:

  • Are there any other link building traps you’d include in the list?
  • What are you most successful ways of building links?

About the author

Kurt Steinbrueck

Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .


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