26 Link Building Mistakes That Are Hurting Your SEO Efforts

Link Building Mistakes

It’s no secret.

Links matter if you want to rank at the top of Google search results. Over 95 percent of search marketers agree that links impact rankings.

As a result, everyone today is in a race to build more backlinks, which stands out as a prevalent marketing mistake with the potential to undermine your SEO endeavors.

But, in this rush, search marketers end up making mistakes when building backlinks. And, even seasoned SEO experts can get things wrong. As a result, link-building efforts end up hurting a website instead of helping it rank.

What are these common link building mistakes?

Let’s find out.

1. Disorganized Campaigns

Building backlinks is incredibly difficult and tedious—no wonder 65 percent of search professionals find getting backlinks hard.

As a link-builder, you have to:

  • Find new link opportunities.
  • Research relevant contacts.
  • Send outreach emails.
  • Follow up.
  • Negotiate the link-building exchange.
  • Ensure that the link gets added.
  • Keep your end of the bargain.

You’re constantly juggling a lot of things. And, at every step, you also need to coordinate with other marketers.

With so many balls in the air, things are bound to go wrong. As a result, you may miss out on backlink opportunities. And all that effort you put into chasing the opportunity can go to waste.

If you don’t want to lose out on backlink opportunities, you have to organize your link-building efforts systematically.

Whether you use a spreadsheet or a marketing project management software is up to you. But you need a way to keep track of work.

2. Promoting Sub-par Content

Backlinks aren’t only for SEO.

A backlink can also drive referral traffic. Plus, it’s also an opportunity to showcase your best content, build trust, and generate leads.

Most link-builders, especially newbies, forget this and try to build links to thin-content pages.

So, what exactly are thin-content pages?

Thin content pages are pages that offer little or no value to the reader. More often than not, a reader clicks on a link to learn more about a supplementary topic.

Instead, if you take the reader to an entry-level blog article, or worse, a landing page, what do you think will happen? The reader will hit the back button and may never trust you again.

So, how do you leave a lasting impression on referral visitors?

Instead of building links to every page on your website, focus on promoting a few linkable assets. Then using internal links, pass the link authority to other pages on your website.

But, what exactly are these linkable assets?

Linkable assets are types of SEO content that earn links naturally and easily than other pages. Examples of linkable assets include:

  • Comprehensive guides and tutorials
  • Infographics
  • Online tools and calculators
  • Original research and studies

3. Disrespectful Outreach

No one likes to wake up to an email inbox full of link request pitches.

It’s outright disrespectful if your outreach email is irrelevant, impersonal, or pushy. Using bulk email outreach tools and templates often result in such disrespectful email campaigns.

However, a few blogger outreach tools allow you to personalize your emails. Using these tools, you can reach out to bloggers at scale without being intrusive.

If you don’t have an existing relationship, it’s rude not to offer anything in return.

So, how do you avoid being disrespectful?

  • Research: Know about the person you want to reach out to. Prospects know when you invest time in researching about them. As a result, they understand, you’re less likely to waste their time.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t try to be cute, especially in the subject line. Keep your email short, straightforward, and to the point.
  • Establish relevance: Tell the prospect why your email matters to them. Do you have a mutual interest or connection? Is your prospect working on a project that ties in with your pitch?
  • Provide an out: Don’t be pushy, especially in follow-up emails. Give the prospect an option to opt-out respectfully.
  • Offer something in return: Don’t offer cash or a link in exchange. See if you can help the prospect with the prospect’s project. Also, you can offer to write a case study or testimonial for the prospect’s products.

4. Building Unnatural Links

Because link-building is so hard, marketers are happy to get any link they can. But, low-quality links can end up harming your website.

When chasing quantity, marketers end up with unnatural links.

Don’t make this obvious link-building mistake.

The effort to build a natural backlink is worth around $500. Yet, you’ll find freelancers on Fiverr who’ll build backlinks at a fraction of that cost. It’s impossible unless you have access to Private Blog Networks, aka link farms.

Unnatural Links

Such link farms are designed to manipulate search rankings. It’s obvious why search engines don’t look favorably upon PBN links.

Even worse, some marketers pay for backlinks from “sponsored posts”.

Buying links is against Google Webmaster Guidelines. And, Google’s Penguin algorithm update specifically targeted websites that sold links. After the Penguin update, sponsored websites and the ones that they linked to lost rankings overnight.

Lack of quality control is the second big problem with sponsored and PBN links. These websites are happy to link to any number and kind of pages as long as they get money.

In the long-run, this can end up hurting your website’s authority.

5. Ignoring Page Authority

The next big mistake is to focus exclusively on domain authority to acquire links. In the process, they completely ignore the linking page’s authority.

Ignoring page authority is a mistake. Here’s why:

First, a link is a vote from one page to another. Not from a website to a page. Or from a website to another.

Second, the link authority of a website is distributed across all its pages. Links acquired from a page with no authority are less valuable compared to pages that have authority.

So, how does Google decide if a page is authoritative?

A few years ago, Google shared a PageRank browser plugin. For every webpage, this plugin displayed a 0-10 score indicating the page’s authority. Since 2014, Google has discontinued this plugin.

Today, no one outside the Google Search Team knows.

But, since Google ranks authoritative pages, then the reverse is also true. Pages that rank high will almost always have higher authority.

Another way to judge a page’s authority is by using third-party metrics, such as Moz’s Page Authority (PA) rating or Ahrefs URL Rating (UR).

Page Authority

While these are not official metrics, they do indicate a page’s authority.

It’s not that domain authority isn’t essential. But, along with domain authority, you also want to consider the authority of the linking page.

6. Ignoring Link Quality

A link is a vote that helps search engines identify pages that are worthy of ranking. But, all links are not equal.

We’ve already seen how page and domain authority affect link quality. In addition, are four more factors to consider:

  • Relevance:Let’s say two linking pages have the same authority. And you get links from both these pages. Which link do you think carries more weight? Evidence from Google suggests that links from relevant pages are considered more authoritative.
  • Link placement: It also matters where a link appears on the linking page. As a thumb rule, links from the main content are more authoritative than from sidebars and footers. Within the main content, links that appear higher are considered better, possibly because of better CTR.
  • Anchor text: Often, the anchor text describes what the linked page is about. It shouldn’t be a surprise that search engines consider anchor text to understand better what the linked page is about.
  • Link attributes: Nofollow Links (with rel=”nofollow” attribute) are less likely to influence your rankings. Similarly, user-generated content (rel=”UGC”) and sponsored links (rel=”sponsored”) have significantly less value than natural backlinks.

7. Undiversified Link Building Tactics

According to Google, ideally, links should happen naturally. You shouldn’t be soliciting links for your website.

But in the real world, things are not so straightforward.

Your competitors are already building links. And there isn’t yet technology available to clearly distinguish between natural and unnatural links.

So, instead, search engines like Google rely on link-building behaviors.

Here’s how:

First, link-building experts and agencies often rely on a link-building method that they’re comfortable with.

Second, they focus on building links from high domain authority websites. Also, they tend to ignore no-follow and user-generated content links.

Over time, your website’s link profile starts looking unnatural. It contains links with similar domain authority, attributes, and placement.

In the real world, if links happen naturally, your link profile should look more heterogeneous.

How do you fix this?

Build a natural link profile with links from varied authoritative pages and attributes. Using some of the many link link-building tactics is an effective way to build a natural link profile.

Here are ten popular link-building tactics:

  • Adding your website to business directories
  • Commenting on blogs
  • Posting to industry forums and community websites
  • Creating job listings
  • Sharing your content on social media
  • Guest blogging
  • Sharing feedback in the form of testimonials and case studies
  • Broken link building
  • Sharing infographics and other media resources
  • Help a reporter out with your expertise

26. Not Using Link Attribution Tags

Link attribution tags like nofollow and sponsored are important for SEO because they tell search engines about a website’s links and their intent.

Links marked as nofollow do not receive any SEO credit from search engines. It’s useful when a website links to a page but does not necessarily endorse the content.

For example, if a blog is referencing a news article, it might use a nofollow link to avoid suggesting that the article is an official source of information.

Such links could potentially skew search rankings and mislead users if search engines treated them as regular endorsements.

Sponsored links, on the other hand, indicate that the linked page is part of a paid sponsorship or advertisement. This is important for transparency and compliance with advertising regulations. Without proper disclosure and labeling of sponsored links, websites could mislead users into thinking that the links are organic endorsements rather than paid placements.

Overall, using link attribution tags like nofollow and sponsored is a best practice for SEO because it helps ensure that search rankings are fair and accurate, and that users are not misled by deceptive practices.

This is an ethical practice that helps to maintain the integrity of your link profile.

9. Focusing Solely on Do-follow Links

While do-follow links pass on more link equity than no-follow links, don’t dismiss the no-follow links altogether. A healthy mix of both types of links can actually appear more natural to search engines.

Pursuing only do-follow links may result in low-quality links and missed opportunities to drive valuable traffic to a website.

It’s important to prioritize obtaining quality links, regardless of whether they are do-follow or no-follow, to diversify a website’s link profile and ensure a natural-looking profile that is less likely to be penalized by search engines.

10. Over-optimizing Anchor Text

The over-optimization of anchor text can negatively affect a website’s SEO performance. Link building can be hampered by it, causing penalties to be imposed, looking spammy to users, being ineffective, and feeling ineffective.

Rather than building low-quality links with the same anchor text, website focus on building high-quality links with diverse anchor text to create a natural-looking link profile, which will improve their search engine rankings.

10. Using the Same Anchor Text Repeatedly

Using the same anchor text repeatedly in link building can have a negative impact on a website’s SEO strategy. It can be viewed as an attempt to manipulate search results, which can trigger a penalty from search engines.

Additionally, repeatedly using the same anchor text can appear spammy to users and lower click-through rates, ultimately leading to reduced traffic to the website. Furthermore, it can restrict the opportunities for natural link building, which is a more sustainable way to improve a website’s search ranking. Moreover, relying solely on one anchor text can reduce the diversity of a website’s link profile, which may appear unnatural to search engines.

Therefore, it is vital to focus on building high-quality links with diverse anchor text to create a natural-looking link profile that can improve a website’s ranking in search results.

11. Not Considering Relevance and Context

Search engines rely heavily on relevance and context to determine the quality and trustworthiness of a website. If your links are irrelevant or lack context, search engines may deem your website untrustworthy or spammy, which can have a detrimental effect on your rankings.

On the other hand, building high-quality, relevant links that provide valuable context to users can be a game-changer for your SEO. When you build links that are contextualized within relevant content, it not only signals to search engines that your website is a trusted source of information, but it also provides valuable context to users, making them more likely to engage with your website and become loyal customers.

So, if you want to take your link building efforts to the next level, make sure to focus on relevance and context. Building high-quality links that are both relevant and contextual can help improve your search engine rankings, increase visibility, and drive more traffic to your website.

12. Not Updating Broken Links

But broken backlinks don’t just hurt the user experience – they also hurt your search rankings. When search engines crawl your website and find broken links, it can negatively impact your website’s authority and relevance. This is because search engines view broken links as a sign of poor website maintenance and may perceive your website as less trustworthy or authoritative.

So, how do you fix broken backlinks? The best way is to redirect those broken links to relevant pages on your website. By doing so, you can improve the user experience and preserve the authority and relevance of your website. You can also reach out to the website owners linking to your broken pages and ask them to update their links.

In summary, fixing broken backlinks is crucial for your SEO. It helps improve the user experience, maintain the authority and relevance of your website, and signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and well-maintained. So, make sure to regularly check for broken backlinks and fix them promptly to ensure the best results for your SEO efforts.

13. Buying links

Buying links means paying other websites to link to your website. It may seem like a quick and easy way to improve your search rankings, but in reality, it can do more harm than good.

First of all, buying links is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which means it can lead to a penalty or even complete removal from search results. This is because Google views buying links as a form of manipulation and a way to artificially inflate your website’s authority and relevance.

Furthermore, buying links can also lead to poor-quality links from low-quality or irrelevant websites. These links can actually hurt your search rankings and authority, as search engines prioritize high-quality and relevant links.

Additionally, buying links can be costly and not a sustainable long-term strategy. Instead, you should focus on building high-quality, relevant content that naturally attracts links from other websites.

Buying links is not the best practice for your SEO. It can lead to penalties, poor-quality links, and is not a sustainable long-term strategy. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content that naturally attracts links and improving your website’s authority and relevance through ethical and white-hat SEO practices.

14. Not Tracking Your Backlinks

Backlinks signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy, relevant, and authoritative. However, not all backlinks are created equal, and it’s essential to track them to understand their impact on your SEO efforts.

By tracking your backlinks, you can:

  • Identify high-quality backlinks that are driving traffic and improving your search rankings.
  • Monitor the anchor text used in backlinks to ensure it’s diverse and relevant.
  • Discover low-quality backlinks that could be hurting your search rankings or be a sign of negative SEO.
  • Identify new backlinks as they occur and reach out to the website owners to build a relationship and potentially attract more backlinks.

Overall, tracking your backlinks can help you make informed decisions about your SEO strategy, improve your search rankings, and protect your website from negative SEO. You can use tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz to track your backlinks and gain insights into your website’s backlink profile.

15. Ignoring Internal Links

Internal linking is the practice of linking to other pages on your own website. It may seem like a small thing, but internal linking can have a big impact on your website’s SEO. Here’s why:

First of all, internal linking helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website. When you link to other pages on your website, it tells search engines that those pages are important and relevant to the content on the current page. This can help improve your website’s search rankings by providing more context to search engines about your website’s content.

Moreover, internal linking can also help users navigate your website more easily. When you link to other relevant pages on your website, it makes it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for. This can improve the user experience and increase the likelihood that users will stay on your website longer, which are both positive signals to search engines.

Finally, internal linking can also help distribute link equity throughout your website. Link equity is the authority or “SEO juice” that a website can pass on to other pages through links. When you link to other pages on your website, it can help distribute link equity more evenly, which can help improve the overall authority of your website.

Internal linking is a critical component of your website’s SEO. It helps search engines understand the structure of your website, improves the user experience and distributes link equity more evenly. So, incorporate internal linking into your SEO strategy for the best results.

16. Using Automated Link Building Tools

Some automated link-building tools promise to quickly build backlinks for your site, but they can actually harm your ranking in the long run. Search engines are getting better at identifying automated link building tactics and penalizing sites that use them.

17. Not Focusing on User Experience

When it comes to link building, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game and forget about the importance of user experience. However, neglecting user experience while link building can be harmful to your website’s SEO efforts.

One reason why this is the case is that building links to low-quality or irrelevant content can lead to a high bounce rate. If users land on your website and don’t find what they’re looking for, they’re likely to leave quickly, signaling to search engines that your website isn’t meeting their needs. This can result in lower search rankings and reduced organic traffic.

Another reason why not focusing on user experience can be harmful is that it can lead to spammy or manipulative link building practices, which can result in penalties from search engines. These penalties can harm your website’s SEO efforts and take time and effort to recover from.

On the other hand, if you prioritize user experience and create valuable content, you can attract high-quality organic links naturally. This can lead to improved search rankings, increased organic traffic, and higher engagement metrics, such as lower bounce rates and longer time on page.

18. Not Optimizing Your Landing Pages

It’s a mistake not to optimize landing pages when building backlinks. Neglecting to do so can lead to a loss of potential customers, lower search engine rankings, and missed opportunities for lead generation and sales.

Optimizing landing pages for user experience and conversion, including visual appeal, ease of navigation, and clear calls-to-action, can help improve engagement and search rankings. Regular A/B testing can identify areas for improvement and increase conversion rates.

19. Disregarding Local Search

Disregarding local search in link building is a mistake because it limits the effectiveness of your link building efforts in attracting potential customers in your local area. Local search is becoming increasingly important, and targeting local keywords and locations can improve your website’s visibility and attract more relevant traffic. Local links are also more valuable for local businesses and can boost search engine rankings.

To optimize link building for local search, focus on building links from local websites and directories, sponsoring local events, creating relevant content, and optimizing your website for local search.

20. Not Building Relationships with Influencers

When it comes to link building, neglecting to build relationships with influencers can be a critical mistake that can impact the success of your strategy. Influencers have an established and engaged audience that can provide significant exposure and backlinks to your website, amplifying your reach and authority in your niche.

Moreover, influencers can help you forge meaningful connections with other websites and businesses in your industry, paving the way for mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships that can drive your link building efforts to new heights.

To build relationships with influencers, start by identifying the key players in your niche and reach out to them through social media, email, or other channels. Offer genuine value and engage with their audience, sharing their content and providing insights and feedback that demonstrate your expertise and interest in their work.

21. Not Using Social Media for Link Building

Social media can be a great way to build awareness and drive traffic to your site. Make sure to share your content on social media platforms and engage with your followers to build relationships and promote your brand.

Here are some ways to use social media for link building:

  • Share valuable content: Share your blog posts, infographics, and other content on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. This can attract the attention of other websites and bloggers who may link to your content.
  • Engage with your audience: Interact with your followers on social media by responding to comments, asking for feedback, and answering questions. This can help you build relationships with potential link partners.
  • Identify link opportunities: Use social media to identify potential link partners by searching for keywords related to your niche and identifying websites and influencers who may be interested in your content.
  • Reach out to influencers: Reach out to influencers in your niche and offer to collaborate on content or promote each other’s content on social media. This can lead to valuable backlinks and exposure.
  • Join relevant groups: Join social media groups related to your niche and engage with members. This can help you build relationships with potential link partners and gain exposure for your content.

22. Not Leveraging Guest Blogging

There are some reasons why not leveraging guest blogging can be detrimental to your link-building efforts:

  • Missed opportunities: By not leveraging guest blogging, you may be missing out on opportunities to gain high-quality backlinks from relevant and authoritative websites in your industry.
  • Limited reach: Without guest blogging, your content is only reaching your existing audience. By guest blogging, you can expand your reach and attract new readers and potential customers to your website.
  • Limited authority: Guest blogging on reputable websites in your industry can help establish your authority and credibility in your field, which can lead to more opportunities for backlinks and improved search rankings.
  • Limited content variety: Without guest blogging, you may be limited to the types of content you can produce on your own website. By guest blogging, you can diversify your content offerings and reach new audiences with fresh perspectives and ideas.

Guest blogging can be an effective way to build high-quality backlinks to your site. By providing valuable content to other websites in your niche, you can earn backlinks while also building relationships with other industry professionals.

23. Using Spammy Tactics

Some link-building tactics and practices, such as buying links or creating keyword-rich anchor text, can be considered spammy by search engines. Using black-hat tactics can result in penalties that hurt your search rankings, so always stick to ethical link-building practices.

24. Not Analyzing Competitor’s Link Profiles

Your competitors’ link-building efforts can have a direct impact on your SEO success, making it essential that you keep tabs on what they’re doing. 

It’s easy to be complacent and assume that your competitors aren’t doing anything to build links. However, taking the time to analyze their link profiles can help you identify potential opportunities that you may have missed.

Analyzing a competitor’s link profile can provide valuable information on their link-building strategy, including the number and quality of their backlinks, the types of backlinks they have, their anchor text and keyword strategy, the domains and pages linking to their website, and potential new link building opportunities for your own website.

25. Not Using Visual Content

Not using visual content can hamper link-building efforts in several ways. Visual content, such as images, infographics, and videos, can make your content more engaging and shareable, which can lead to more backlinks and improved search rankings. Here are some reasons why not using visual content may hinder your link-building efforts:

  • Missed link opportunities: Visual content can attract links from websites that may not have linked to your text-based content. This can expand your backlink profile and improve your search rankings.
  • Reduced engagement: Without visual content, your content may be less engaging and shareable, reducing the likelihood of others linking to it.
  • Reduced social media sharing: Visual content is highly shareable on social media, which can lead to more exposure and potential backlinks.

Limited content variety: Without visual content, your content may become repetitive and less interesting to your audience, which can decrease the likelihood of others linking to it.

26. Rushing the Process

Lastly, building a strong link profile takes time and effort. Rushing the process or taking shortcuts can hurt your search engine rankings and do more harm than good. Be patient and consistent in your link-building campaign to see long-term results.


And those are the big link building mistakes that can harm your website’s authority. Staying on top of everything may seem daunting.

But, hopefully, this article will help you avoid making these mistakes.

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