Because link building is becoming one of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of SEO, there has been tons of advice coming from every direction. Between what works, what doesn't work, what has changed, what tools to use, and what works sometimes but sometimes doesn't, it's confusing. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be.
When it comes to Google, there are a few types of backlinks that the company absolutely does not want to see. They've never wanted to see them, and they will never want to see them. Master a few of the "don'ts" and you're halfway to understanding the basics of SEO.
Below is a list of all the different types of backlinks Google wants you to avoid:
- No Paid Links. Buying and selling links is seen as unnatural because there are other motives aside from user experience for one or both of the websites involved. If you paid for it and it passes PageRank, it counts. Sending someone a product for free in exchange for an article and link about the product falls into this category.
- No Unnatural Link Exchanges. The word "unnatural" is key. It's okay to link to other websites and have those other websites link to you, but it must be natural. In other words, those links need to add value to an article or page for a user. If you're a law firm, don't try to exchange links with a dentist.
- No Automated Links. This one is obvious. Don't try to use an automated program to build links. These pop up as huge red flags to Google and you're sure to get penalized.
- No Advertorials. You do not want to have an ad out there that has a link within it that passes PageRank. Feel free to use a rel=nofollow attribute if you want to include a link. You wont' get the SEO benefit, but consumers can still engage with the link.
- No Optimized Anchor Text. Optimized anchor text is hard to see in most cases, but it can be made obvious if you do it all the time. If your content is full of links, all appearing to be keywords, you could get penalized. Consider learning about SEO cocitation to help this problem.
- No Footer Links. This mostly deals with keyword rich links. If they're in your footer as opposed to your content, it still counts as "bad" in the rulebook of Google.
- Spammy Comment Links. If you are commenting on a blog post that has several hundred other comments written by people who have products/services for names, then that is a big red flag.
It is of course important to pay just as much attention to what types of backlinks Google does want to see (natural links within content, essentially). There are lots of little things you can do to improve your link portfolio, which you can learn more about here.
How do you make sure you're not using any of these backlinks? Has your site ever been penalized in the past because you used one of these types of links? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.