The 10 Commandments of Link Building

All links are not created equal. Effective link building is an art, and whoever tells you different either doesn’t know better or is trying to sell you something. Here are the ten commandments of link building.

  1. Thou shalt not blog comment spam – This is one of the most annoying forms of link building that most bloggers come across every day. The irrelevant, pointless and duplicate comments that akismet filters from our blogs every day. Besides the fact that most blogs use rel=nofollow in their comment section, which render the SEO value of these links useless, it also damages brands and breaks trust in the community. There’s nothing wrong with leaving meaningful and useful comments on relevant posts, but don’t post for the sake of getting a link. Contribute value to the conversation.
  2. Thou shalt not article market – This one is a little tricky. Article marketing on its own isn’t a bad thing per se, but the way marketers have abused this system over the years has left a lasting impact on how Google values links within articles on sites such as ezinearticles. If you’re going to spend time on writing and spinning flimsy articles, why not spend that time on writing a guest post for popular blogs?
  3. Thou shalt not create thousands of forum profiles – Automated forum profile creation tools like xrumer are very popular in the blackhat community, and there are even sites online that provide this as a monthly service. The problem here is the same as blog comment spam; You create a large number of irrelevant links to your site. Not only will Google detect a sudden spike in back links which will raise a red flag, a lot of the links you’re getting will be from “bad neighbourhoods” (sites and topics most webmasters dont wan’t their sites associated with) Again, slightly tricky because Google can hardly punish a site for getting loads of bad links, because a competitor might simply build bad links to your site. It’s very likely that Google ignores these links completely. So why spend your money on xrumer licenses, server resources, and monthly spam plans? Use it to buy stumbles or legit banner advertising instead.
  4. Thou shalt not social bookmark everywhere – Again, relevancy is a key component when it comes to link building. If you buy a “500 social bookmarks” deal from someone for $25, you just lost $25. Keep in mind that the easier a link is to get, the less value it holds for Google. Instead, try to become a power-user on a select few social networks. If you manage to play the social bookmarking game right, you’ll actually hit front pages on the networks. The main reason would not be for instant traffic, but for the additional links that your content will get from the exposure.
  5. Thou shalt not submit to every directory – Directories are a dime a dozen, and 99% of them hold no SEO value. Once again, the easier it is to get a link, the less value it will haver for Google. Try to find relevant directories, and stick with them
  6. Thou shalt not worship pagerank – Pagerank isn’t dead. Every webmaster forum you go to will have a link sales section, and prices are largely influenced by the pagerank a link will pass. Have you ever noticed in the search results, when you look for something random, the top ten results are NEVER ordered by pagerank? Results #1-9 might have a PR of 0, while result #10 has a PR of 7. Seek relevancy, not pagerank.
  7. Thou shalt not email spam for reciprocal links – “Hi, can I get a link from your links page if I give you a link from my links page?” – There’s nothing wrong with a reciprocal link, as long as it’s from a relevant site. It might not be as powerful as a one-way link, but they can’t be completely disregarded. What you shouldn’t do though is run automated scripts that scrape the Internet for keywords and send automated emails to the website owners. You’d be surprised how quickly you and your domain end up on a spam blacklist.
  8. Thou shalt not use link farms – Owning hundreds of blogs is one way you can quickly build links to your site(s). The problem is that it is very likely that you’re leaving footprints from that network for Google to find, and they can undo all your hard work with one slap. Sure, you can go through all the trouble of buying hundreds of domains, getting them all hosted on separate c-block ip addresses, scraping and spinning “original” content for them. I have one word for you. Panda (Even John can’t kill this panda!) Instead, use all that time and money to build one amazing site that can attract links by merit.
  9. Thou shalt not use the same anchor text all the time – Getting over 25% (or even less) the same anchor text links just doesn’t look natural. Especially with longtail keywords over 3 or 4 words. If you ask ten people to write ten sentences with ten links to a page about SEO advice, tips, tricks, and tutorials – chances are you’ll end up with ten different links (e.g SEO advice, SEO tips, tricks for SEO, tutorials on SEO, etc). Best practice is to mix it up within a relevant, unique sentence or pargraph every time. This is very hard to accomplish with automated scripts, so just do the old fashioned by-hand method. Works every time.
  10. Thou shalt not forget about deep links – Your homepage doesn’t have to be your most important page. Let’s say you have an e-commerce site, and you want people to find your products in Google, you’re better off getting a deep link to the most relevant page for a keyword term, instead of the homepage (which is most likely to be generic and less relevant). That way you’re not only helping Google to decide what exactly your site is about, you’re also pushing the relevant sales page up for visitors, who don’t have to go looking for the products on the front page. Less clicks = better user experience for your clients.

Although there are many more things I could talk about in this post, I think this sums up nicely the basics of bad link building. Some of the methods might seem like winners, but in the long run, none of them are sustainable for any business model. Google is constantly evolving to crush anything that’s not considered natural and useful.

weakest link cat

This guest post was written by Bob Jones, an SEO strategist at an SEO Company