The Dos and Don’ts of Link Building for SEO [Bonus Tips]

Getting quality backlinks is crucial for good SEO. But you have to be careful – low-value and manipulative links can actually hurt your search rankings.

I want to share the biggest dos and don’ts I’ve learned for ethical, effective link building. This will help you boost rankings without risking penalties. Read on for my top tips! 

The Dos and Don'ts of Link Building for SEO
Dos ✅Don’ts ❌
✅Create high-quality content❌Buy links
✅Build relationships❌Use link schemes
✅Vary link building tactics❌Build links from low-quality sites
✅Track link building results❌Stuff anchor text with keywords
❌Neglect internal linking
❌Use automated link building tools
❌Black hat techniques (cloaking, hidden links, etc)

Dos of Link Building for SEO

Dos of Link Building for SEO

When done properly, link building can have a big positive impact on your SEO and search rankings. Here are some recommended dos to incorporate into your strategy:

Create High-Quality Content

Focus your efforts on creating long-form, comprehensive content like in-depth guides, detailed reports, and insightful thought leadership pieces. This type of content, if crafted well, tends to attract more organic backlinks compared to short blog posts or web pages. Make sure your content offers something unique and valuable to your target audience. Don’t just regurgitate what’s already out there on the topic – provide new research, fresh perspectives, actionable tips, or interesting data that others will want to reference and link to. Promote your content through social media campaigns, outreach emails to industry influencers, contributor guidelines pitches, and strategic guest posting opportunities on authority sites related to your niche. Amplifying the reach of your content and getting it in front of the right audiences is key to earning links.

Build Relationships with Other Website Owners

Take time to actively engage with webmasters, bloggers, and influencers in your space by thoughtfully commenting on their content, socially sharing their posts, and linking to their articles from your own content when relevant. Helping to promote their work shows you support them and want to collaborate, not just compete. In turn, they’ll be much more inclined to support you by linking back to your site and content over time. However, relationship building requires effort and consistency – it won’t happen overnight. Consider collaborating with peers through co-authored posts, joint webinars, podcast interviews, or other partnerships. Working together to help each other’s audiences can strengthen relationships and lead to link sharing.

Use a Variety of Link Building Techniques

Relying too heavily on just one or two link-building tactics can seem manipulative and transparent. Instead, diversify your efforts through strategies like broken link building, strategic guest posts, contributing expert quotes, sponsorships, infographics, and more. Mixing up your link building approach makes your overall backlink profile look more organic, natural, and less spammy. Having a variety also allows you to continuously test and analyze which techniques deliver the best ROI for your niche. You can then adapt your tactics over time, phasing out what doesn’t work and doubling down on what proves most effective. For instance, brand mentions might generate more worthwhile links than guest posting for your particular website and audience. Tracking results is key here.

Track Your Results

Consistently use link tracking software to monitor new backlinks as they come in and analyze which specific link building activities are generating the most valuable links that impact rankings. This allows you to continuously refine your approach over time and focus efforts on what works based on data. You can also quickly identify any suspicious, spammy links pointing to your site so they can be disavowed before causing issues. Make link tracking part of your regular analytics routine. Watch for trends and actionable insights that will inform your ongoing link building strategy and optimize your efforts.

Don’ts of Link Building for SEO

Don'ts of Link Building for SEO

While link building is critical for SEO, there are also some don’ts to avoid in order to steer clear of penalties:

Buy Links

Buying backlinks is an extremely risky shortcut that should be avoided. Link farms, link sellers, and other services claiming to offer guaranteed links for a price are expressly forbidden by Google. There’s no assurance the links you pay for will benefit your site at all. In fact, they could actually harm your site by attracting a penalty. It’s far better to invest your time and effort into earning links organically through valuable content and relationship building. While buying links may seem like a quick fix, focus your strategy on link building techniques that play by the rules.

Use Link Schemes

Avoid link schemes meant to manipulate PageRank, like private blog networks (PBNs) where you create a network of fake sites to cross-link each other. Google is very sophisticated at detecting these types of schemes and will penalize your website for participating. Any approach that seems focused solely on redirecting PageRank rather than helping users is a red flag. Keep your link building completely above board by sticking to ethical tactics from legitimate sites. The risk of trying to exploit loopholes simply isn’t worth the potential consequences.

Build Links from Low-Quality Websites

Not all links are considered equal in Google’s eyes when determining rankings. Some links actually have the potential to harm your site if they come from spammy, sketchy, or otherwise low-quality sites. These dubious backlinks have little to no SEO value and could raise red flags with algorithms. It’s far better to focus on building links exclusively from reputable, established sites with real audiences in your industry. Quality trumps quantity when it comes to link building. Valuable links from authoritative sources matter much more than lots of worthless links.

Stuff Your Anchor Text with Keywords

Aggressively optimizing your anchor text by overloading it with target keywords or phrases looks extremely unnatural and transparent. Avoid “stuffing” anchors to manipulate rankings. Instead, sprinkle in relevant keywords amidst natural, conversational anchor text. Strategically word your anchors for clarity while also catering to search intent. Having variety and balance with your anchors is important, as is hiding your intentions. Obvious optimization raises flags.

Neglect Your Internal Linking

Don’t forget about optimizing internal links between pages within your own site. An intelligent internal linking structure reinforces the relationships between important pages and helps authority flow seamlessly site-wide. This in turn aids search bots in understanding the overall hierarchy and boosts the rankings potential of key pages. Make sure you craft smart internal links alongside your external link building efforts.

Black Hat Link Building (cloaking, Hidden Text Links, Injecting Links)

Avoid black hat link building techniques like cloaking, hiding sneaky links, or injecting non-editorial links at all costs. These tactics are meant to manipulate search engines and violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. Using cloaked links that show one thing to users but something completely different to bots, hiding text links through tiny fonts or background colors, or injecting unrelated links just to pass PageRank are all examples of black hat techniques. Not only are these meant to deceive, but they can seriously harm your site’s reputation and trust if caught. Employing black hat link building is an awful idea that risks getting hit with a manual or algorithmic penalty. Focus exclusively on ethical white hat link building strategies.

Bonus Tips – Why Link Building Matters?

Before jumping into specifics, let’s briefly cover why link building holds such importance in SEO in the first place. At a high level, backlinks signal trust and authority in the eyes of search engines like Google. When many external websites link back to your pages, search engine bots interpret this as a “vote” in favor of your content.

More cumulative quality backlinks typically result in higher search rankings. However, search engines don’t count all backlinks equally – they evaluate the trustworthiness of the specific site linking to you and how naturally the link fits within the source’s content. A link from an authoritative, relevant publication like Entrepreneur holds more weight than a link included primarily for promotional purposes.

In addition to influencing search rankings, backlinks can increase referral traffic to your site. If an influencer’s blog post links back to your page, it may send new visitors your way.

So in summary, strategic link building can have a dramatic impact on both your SEO visibility as well as direct traffic. Now let’s explore smart practices for acquiring value-driving backlinks.

End Notes

There you have it – the key dos and don’ts for smart link building! Stick to high-value links from trusted sites in your field. Avoid shady tactics that can get you in trouble. Focus on helping your audience with great content that earns links naturally. Patience and playing by the rules pays off here. Thanks for reading this quick guide. I hope it gives you a game plan for building links safely. What other link building tips do you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments! I’m always happy to learn more.