As an SEO newcomer, you’ll surely see various kinds of lucrative, creatively designed graphics, sales threads, and even user reviews telling how a so-called SEO link building ‘service’ or package, or ‘blog posts’ or whatever kind of ‘networks’ that may seem very interesting to you.
If you’ve already had a look at Google’s quality guidelines, you’d know that those types of links are clearly frowned upon by Google and are likely to get your website penalized, no matter how much effort the sellers give to make you believe that their service or their link building package in specific is different from the rest and is a lot more safe to use.
Nope, that’s just plain old marketing. If you’d like to know about a few types of easy-to-acquire yet risky links that you may be tempted to get for your site as an SEO newbie, but you strictly shouldn’t, keep reading.
Here are a few kinds of bad links that you should avoid at any cost:
#1. Low-quality Guest Blog Posts
Google very recently went ahead and included low-quality guest blog posts in their list of spammy contents. The thing is, as long as you’re using decently written posts but publishing them on rather low-quality blogs, chances are, the algorithms won’t be able to do much harm to your site unless you’re leaving obvious footprints like an abnormally high percentage of anchor-rich anchor-text. You may still be able to rank pretty well using these guest posts in good numbers, but only till one of them catches the eyes of someone from Google’s search quality team. Then you’ll be sure to get a manual link penalty, which is even worse than getting auto-slapped by Penguin.
With Google’s increasingly aggressive stance towards manipulative guest posting, I wouldn’t be surprised if the penalty involves getting your entire site de-indexed. So, if you’re interested in guest posting, right now, guest post only on relevant, high-quality sites, and don’t use anchor-rich anchor-text (if you do, you’ll still get penalized even if you post on a site as authoritative as Moz). Or, if you want to be even more careful and wouldn’t prefer any risk at all, you can switch to building links only for traffic, not for SEO.
#2. 301 Redirecting Another Company’s (Expired) Domain
While working on a SEO campaign of Book Cab, I got to know about a bunch of its competitor sites using random 301 domain-level redirects to their sites to gain an unfair edge in the SERPs. As the site’s in the car rental industry, and there are tons of other companies as well, meaning that some of them shut down at regular intervals. If you keep track of all the companies in your industry shutting down, it won’t be hard for you to notice when a competitor’s domain expires, and then getting hold of that domain.
A lot of BookCab’s competitors chose the easy way and redirected their competitors domains to their own sites. Now, they could use another type of redirection that doesn’t pass the link juice along to their own sites, but they chose 301, which means that they were primarily interested in their own sites getting benefited from the links to those expired domains.
Getting all the SEO benefits that your competitor had acquired over the years in the form of a domain acquisition for as low as $10 might seem really lucrative to you, but do keep in mind it poses great risk to your site being heavily penalized in case Google’s manual anti webspam team finds it out.
#3. Monthly Rented Links
There are quite a few extremely popular black hat services that allow people to rent links on high PageRank pages of sites that are either hacked or are willing to sell links. Now, renting links on hacked sites is not only unethical and against the guidelines of Google but also illegal. Sadly, most link building packages in black hat forums that require you to pay a certain price monthly, rent links using underground link networks, which in turn leverage hacked sites for link placements.
So, no matter how much “#1 on Google” promises a forum thread delivers, if it requires you to pay a monthly fee, keep in mind that they may as well be placing your links on hacked sites which can get you into legal troubles in extreme cases!
#4. Low-quality Web Directory Links
There are thousands of free and paid website directories out there that allow you to add your site’s link. Except for a few high-quality, well-moderated ones like DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory, most directories (especially ones that aren’t moderated well) link to a lot of spammy, objectionable sites and wouldn’t provide a good neighbourhood for your own links. You should avoid these directories at any cost.
Google periodically de-indexes tons of directories at once, and you definitely don’t want your site’s link on a directory that’ll soon get de-indexed.
#5. Anchor-rich Press Releases
These days, for as low as $5, you can syndicate your press release across hundreds of sites. It may seem really tempting to include a keyword-rich link in the press release, but you shouldn’t include any other links in your release apart from generic / branded / naked URL links. In recent times, Google have even penalized press release sites in addition to sites leveraging press releases for building hundreds of links quickly.
If you’re serious about the long term SEO of your site, you should avoid these 5 types of links at any cost. You should instead focus on crafting high-quality contents, and leveraging your connections in your industry to get visitors and links to your content pieces.
So, what other types of links do you think are devastating for a site’s long-term SEO?