How Not to Build Backlinks for SEO

Build Backlinks for SEO

Written by Jeremy Earle, JD

April 12, 2022

Best Colorado Springs SEO

Google ignores certain links because they do not constitute a genuine endorsement. Try to steer clear of these 18 typical link development strategies.

Since the introduction of Google’s search engine, the value of links has been steadily declining.

There are links that Google decides to overlook because they do not constitute a genuine suggestion.

I was informed by a Googler in 2005 during a conference Q&A that Google devalued links from unrelated sites, such a footer “powered by” link.

This is an example of Google eliminating non-relevant links from the list of links they consider for ranking reasons.

As long as the website in question is both relevant and beneficial, a link to it counts as a valid signal. Because they don’t provide a real connection signal, all of the following methods have something in common:

1. Tripping Point for Links to Older Data

This is an excerpt from a patent on historical data, such as incoming and outgoing links, link acquisition speed, and frequency of content updates.

Adding links to a page without really updating it is one of the criteria related to link building.

Google has said that a patent or research paper does not imply that technology is used.

It’s also more likely that a new algorithm has been created while the patent was issued, making it outdated.

To be clear, we have no idea whether anything similar is being used. It’s something to keep in mind.

Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data is the name of this patent.

It’s possible to get a picture of the current condition of the web’s connecting patterns via Google.

Adding a link to an existing site is the most frequent and readily spotted error.

Suppose this patent contains a significant anti-spam component. The patent for this invention was issued in 2003. When Matt Cutts was Google’s director of spam-fighting, he was mentioned as one of the patent’s authors.

This is the Algorithm That Keeps Track of New and Removed Links

One of the features addressed by this invention was the ability to monitor changes to links on a website:

There are how many new connections in total.

The frequency with which new connections are being added.

How often links are deleted.

This patent covers changes to links on a page and a website.

The following is an example of what is covered by this patent.

Below, we’ll explain the process of giving weights (or scores) based on the newness of links connected with a document and then utilising those values to rank a site.

It is possible to score documents in part by assigning weights to links depending on a measure of freshness and awarding a score to each link based at least in part on those weights.

  1. The method of claim 26, wherein the measure of the freshness of a link associated with the document is based on at least one of a date of appearance of the link, date of the change to the link, date of appearance of anchor text associated with the link, date of the change to anchor text associated with the link, date of appearance of a linking document containing the link, or a date of the change to a linking document containing the link.

Now, in this portion of the same patent, fines are addressed.

According to claims 54, 55, and 56, it is possible to penalise ranks based on the frequency of time-related link patterns.

An approach that includes:

Determining the linking data’s long-term viability;

using the linkage data to derive an indicator of content change for at least one or more linked documents; and

According to how long the linkage data has been available and how often the linked document has been updated, the ranking of the linked document is adjusted.

Claims 55 and 56 are sub-sections of claim 54, which follows them. The following section explains how Google uses time-based link information to affect ranking scores:

If the longevity shows that the linking data has a short life, then the ranking is penalized, and if the longevity suggests that the linkage data has a long life, then the ranking is boosted.

To penalize a ranking if at least some part of connecting document material is judged to be out-of-date after a certain amount of time, the method of claim 55 further involves updating the linking document content to make it seem more current.

The topic of this section seems to be gaining backlinks from material that hasn’t been updated.

In those days, link selling was a multi-million dollar industry. As far back as 2007, Google could tell which connections were sponsored. Therefore they started lowering their value.

One of the executives I spoke with said this was increasingly true of the linkages he marketed in his company.

Several hypotheses were floating around about how Google was capturing links added to sites that hadn’t been updated in a while. If the Historical Data Patent had been available, it would have been easy for anybody looking for sponsored connections to identify them.

The patent I quoted demonstrates that Google can track historical connection information, which is important. As long as there is a firm foundation, it’s possible.

For example, the patent illustrates that it is feasible for Google to discover purchased connections by tracking a domain’s incoming and outgoing link changes over time.

Web sites are constantly evolving. Certain rates of change do not occur on regular sites, though. A site selling links from existing sites may be punished for doing so.

Adding links to previously published articles to manipulate Google may backfire. Within two weeks of purchasing links from an existing website, one guy told me that his page’s position had dropped.

Why hadn’t the page been modified if it was an old, pre-existing one? Maybe something else occurred.

It’s difficult to tell. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

2. Promoting EDU Discounts

Penalties may be imposed using the “give a discount link building tactic.” It’s not worth it.

A paid link is exchanged for anything of value. This is an example of shady practice when it comes to link building. Google punished for giving discounts to university students in return for links back to the site in 2011.

In return for connections to their product sites, purportedly offered universities discounts. A discount coupon for students was provided as a PDF by a university.

As a result of this information being in the paper,’s product pages were presumably included in the outreach. contains a copy of the PDF, which no longer exists.

A few SEOs are still advocating low-cost link building, so be aware. If Google’s standards are important to you, don’t use this method, as you can see from the link above.

3. Link Building with Free Products

This is a paid link in a different form. Although this strategy may be lawful, the FTC laws prohibiting the publication of evaluations that have been paid for with goods, samples or other incentives may make it illegal.

Here are the official rules:

Guides on the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising by the Federal Trade Commission

Here is a simple FAQ concerning endorsements:

what people are looking for in the FTC – Endorsement Guides

4. Links to other websites with relevant content

No guest posting is being discussed here. This article is about a new kind of content marketing.

It’s not easy, to sum up, content marketing. As an alternative, one might concentrate on creating a helpful resource that produces goodwill and connections by writing articles on one’s site.

Another content marketing method is to hire a writer to create an article for a third-party website that includes a link back to the client’s website.

There is no indication that the author received compensation for the piece or the link in most cases. In other words, this is a piece of promotional material.

It is considered advertising when money or other value is given for a link.

According to the FTC mentioned above Guidelines, this may be illegal. Relevant information may be found in this section:

Your spokesperson should declare her affiliation to your company when promoting your items outside of typical advertising media (i.e., on programmes that consumers won’t identify as paid advertising). Expert remarks on blogs or websites would likewise be subject to this similar advice.”

According to the following FTC guidelines, advertising should not exist if it cannot be revealed (such as in a covert arrangement).

Advertising should not be distributed if the disclosure is essential to prevent it from being misleading, unfair, or otherwise violating a Commission regulation if it cannot be made clearly and conspicuously. For ads that need disclosures, if a platform doesn’t allow for clear and prominent disclosures, that platform should not be employed.

5. Viral Link Campaigns

Using Viral Linking Campaigns to Your Advantage

Using viral link marketing may be beneficial. Using a viral link campaign may be beneficial if targeted to a certain audience and results in links from related websites.

The significance of viral link campaigns, in my view, lies less in the development of links and more in the raising of public awareness. Increasing a company’s visibility has certain advantages.

How Viral Link Campaigns Don’t Work Out

The less probable it is that a viral link campaign would produce relevant links, the more off-topic. Rank and awareness development is of little use in this situation.

If your fundamental business model or search phrases aren’t being linked to, then a viral link campaign is a waste of time.

Inbound links from viral competitions and other viral antics tend to be of low quality. Relevant links aren’t ranked highly by Google.

Linking to a site with a relevant connection to the linked-to page is essential. Those links may assist the site’s search engine rankings if the content of the viral campaign is relevant to the link.

A friend shared a tale about a real estate company’s marketing strategy. The campaign was a picture contest to find the world’s worst image of a real estate salesperson ever. Many people still search for keywords like “world’s worst real estate agent” on the real estate website years later.

Imagine bloggers and news organisations link to a toy store’s website because the toy retailer built the world’s largest teddy bear. They’re directing people to a viral link website about the world’s largest teddy bear, which is the target of their link. There is a link to the World’s Biggest Teddy Bear in all of the links.

The place may be home to the world’s largest teddy bear. These thousands of links will not help the site rank for their most significant search queries since none of those connections is related to a single product or go directly to a specific product page.

The world’s largest teddy bear is the subject of most of the links on that site, so how can it rank for yo-yos?

It’s not going to happen. In the past, they have never failed.

At an Internet marketing conference a few years back, one of the attendees was perplexed why his phenomenally successful viral link strategy failed to boost ranks and revenues. Relevant viral link efforts fail to boost ranks and sales for the above reasons.

Don’t underestimate the power of a viral link campaign for raising awareness. As a method, using viral linking may be effective. However, I don’t anticipate a viral campaign to impact search engine results.

Take the viral links page and move it to a new location.

This tactic has been around since the days of Digg. As long as we discuss viral connections, this is a failed technique. An elaborate plan was devised to create many viral (and so irrelevant) connections leading to a viral link page. Remove the page and perform a permanent 301 redirect to the home page or a product page a few months later.

Since a long time ago, this method has been no longer effective. A redirect (or canonical) will not pass PageRank or relevancy signals to a website if there is no one-to-one relevance between the two pages, as stated by Google.

6. Sponsored Links

In my view, a charity event is unlikely to build linkages from a relevant context. A viral link campaign may be compared to this. The finest links come from a relevant context to a relevant page on your website.

This kind of connection is simple and quick. Those are the reasons some SEOs endorse them. This is advantageous to the link builder but disadvantageous to the customer.

This isn’t the type of connection that will help your search engine rankings at all. This is something I can attest to firsthand. Around 14 years ago, several of us tried them out. This isn’t a new phenomenon. They do not affect the rankings at all.

That may not be enough for you? Then have a look at what Webmaster Hangout host John Mueller had to say regarding Google’s stance on charity sponsorship links:

The webspam team could take action if you’re supporting a variety of groups and websites where the main goal is to gain a connection to your site.

If this is something you do regularly, like sponsoring other websites or items to obtain links to your site, or if it’s something that’s simply a part of the web in general, I recommend looking at the broader picture.

7. Links to Scholarships

Algorithms such as Google’s PageRank and Majestic’s link popularity measure the strength of a connection.

Google develops a map of the Internet and then creates a “Reduced Link Graph,” which consists of primarily non-spam connections and sites.

A topic-based neighbourhood system is then used to determine rankings.

To rank for [keyword phrase] + scholarship, you’ll want to have plenty of scholarship links on your site. These sorts of linkages are problematic since they lack context.

In most cases, scholarship-related websites aren’t linked to scholarship link building. Topics include personal injury attorneys.

A school’s relationship to a personal injury lawyer has no impact on a website’s ranking for personal injury lawyer keywords.

For example, “personal injury attorneys scholarship” might benefit from following the link. This is the extent of the value for Google to rank these types of sites for specific scholarly search terms.

It’s pointless for businesses to utilise this since the links aren’t about their company; they’re about scholarships.

To rank for “personal injury pizza restaurant,” a personal injury lawyer must have links that are related to the search term.

On the other hand, personal injury lawyers don’t want to be linked to a pizza joint. There is a similar dilemma when it comes to linking to academic resources.

For example, an SEO may claim that connections from an educational institution can boost a page’s domain authority, increase “trust,” and that Dot Edu links are particularly valuable.

That’s erroneous in several ways.

Domain authority is a myth.

Google doesn’t utilise any kind of trust measure. “I don’t sure if we’d call it trust or anything insane like that,” John Mueller stated in response to the allegation that a site had gained “long-term trust.”

DUE TO THE DOMAIN, dot EDU connections aren’t any different from other links.

I suppose we’re done with the scholarship connections.

Let’s go on to an even more pointless link-building strategy now.

8. The Link Badge Trick

The Badges link development approach is one of the most archaic and out-of-date link-building tactics. Awards and Widgets are both variations of the Badges for links method.

Create a fictitious award and provide it to websites that will display your picture badge, proclaiming them a winner. The idea is to provide them with the badge and the code that includes a hidden link to your website.

Any SEO who claims that the Badges technique is an effective link-building strategy should be avoided at all costs. If you breathe on this link building strategy, it will collapse and blow away.

“Widget” link building, which Google expressly pointed out in 2016, is comparable to the badge link building strategy.

In both situations, the link builder provides something of value (an award, a visitor counter) in exchange for a connection to the original site.

Using this strategy, you may get links to your site that have nothing to do with your content. Since at least 2004, when Google stopped transmitting PageRank from sites unrelated to the page they’re linked to, those sorts of connections have been devalued.

Making an awards page and including a link to it in the badge is the goal. PageRank will be passed on to your site by linking to a similar theme website.

Badges for links have failed since the link is only useful if your site is about awards. Your page rank for “Keywords + Awards) will improve as a result. Is it beneficial to you? It isn’t possible.

9. Blog Commenting

In 2005, the search engines came up with the link attribute “nofollow” to penalise spammy blog comments. Is there any use in reviving a previously tried and tested strategy in 2005?

There’s no justification for comment spamming like it’s 2004, even when the “nofollow” property is now a clue.

Nobody believes Google would make the nofollow a suggestion without handling the 2004 link building method of nofollowed links.

10. Buying and Selling of Web Sites

It’s a risky move to buy a website. It’s no longer possible to redirect a domain to take advantage of link signals. As a result, unless the sites are very similar, Google will not transfer link signals between them.

Creating a second website just increases the amount of work you have to do since you’ll now have to maintain two distinct websites.

11. Charity link-building

This is a different way to develop sponsorship links. The difficulty with this strategy is that the linkages are pointless.

Domain authority, trust, and Dot EDU magic are all things an SEO would attempt to tell you that will help a site rank higher. On the other hand, these explanations have already been shown to be bogus.

12. Syndication of content

This is a worse version of guest blogging.

Content syndicators create their material and allow others to do the same in return for a link.

His renowned piece on guest blogging, titled “The rot and fall of guest blogging for SEO,” cautioned the SEO community about the dangers of guest blogging.

13. Link-building contests

Viral link building is a version of this. You end up with a scenario in which other websites connect out of a lack of interest in the subject matter of the site they are linking to. Links that are irrelevant to the issue at hand are never a good thing.

14. Widgets with Links

Widgets have been around for a long time when it comes to link building.

In the early years of the new millennium, a law firm‘s website scored well for Mesothelioma-related searches because it offered free visitor counters to colleges and institutions.

The lawyer’s website was linked due to the page counter code. Years of good service came to an end.

People began employing additional helpful widgets for their websites after WordPress became popular.

A connection back to someone’s site was included in plugins for weather displays, news feeds, RSS feeds, and other helpful tasks.

Google issued a strong caution against this tactic in an official blog post.

15. Link Building via Press Releases

Useful for publicising crucial company news, press releases are an excellent tool. The press release has worth only if a news outlet publishes an article based on it.

The press release’s real worth isn’t in the links attached to it. There are a lot of low-quality press release syndicators out there.

Google might ignore Links in duplicate material since it is evident that links in duplicate content do not constitute real link signals.

According to Google’s John Mueller, press release links are something the search engine strives to avoid.

A Googler’s comment, on the other hand, maybe enough to persuade you that this is a low-quality strategy.

16. Link Building for Your Profile

WebmasterWorld’s Link Building Forum moderator and close acquaintances with many forum owners can tell you that online community managers are aware of link builders who join up to a forum only to post a link.

Don’t. Period. In reality, there is no connection. Having no context or significance, it’s a low-quality, pointless connection.

A link to a user’s profile on a forum is as pointless and spammy as it gets. For a ranking signal, there is no context whatsoever. Such a connection can’t possibly be considered a link-building strategy.

Anyone who suggests this strategy to me has a credibility issue, in my view.

17. Spamming on Online Forums

Link builders are those that submit a few pointless “me too!” postings and then answer a question with a link to another site claiming, “And there’s more information at this site!”

If you’re offended, please don’t post that on the forum. Those types of postings will cause the moderators to fall over each other to remove them.

If you want to promote your company in a negative light and produce a lot of negative publicity, go for it.

18. Link Building for WordPress Themes

More than a decade ago, all of the “Powered by” link at the bottom of the page ceased functioning. Please, just put a stop to it.


If you want to be stylish, you must follow current trends. There is a slew of strategies for developing links, just as in the world of fashion.

It’s helpful to know the origins of different link-building strategies. Search engines utilise links in a variety of ways.

You may avoid making costly blunders if you are well-informed.

Knowledge is beneficial. Not knowing about patents or research is not worthless. A better understanding of how search engines evaluate links might help you avoid wasting time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

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