During the past few months, SEOs have been on the look out, preparing for the next big Google update to follow Penguin. As SEOs evaluate their link building efforts each month, many have already given up on old “white hat” tricks as they’ve slowly become grey.  As a result of these “grey hat” efforts, many web sites have seen significant drops in ranking and traffic or have been hit with an overly aggressive penalty. Whether you consider your link building tactics to be black, white or any shade of grey, here are some forms of Link Spam that should be avoided.

 

Blog Networks & Poorly Executed Guest Posts

 

If you participate in a blog network, you may as well wave a big red flag at Google that reads SPAM. Google hates blog networks as they consist of fake blogs that members pay or contribute content to in order to get back links. Within a blog network, each blog has content with a specific ratio of works to links. It posts externally multiple times to random sites with a cluster of anchor text that looks unnatural.

 

On the other hand, guest posting on a blog is considered a “white hat” method of earning back links, but if done inappropriately, it can also be seen as spam. A link builder should focus their efforts on guest posting for a few high quality blogs, not a lot of low quality blogs, as a backlink profile full of low quality guest posts can look like a blog network spam situation. Share your content with authoritative and reputable bloggers. A quality blog shouldn’t require a specific post length (ex: 400-500 words) with a bunch of other criteria and won’t care if you have 2 links within the author biography paragraph.

 

Article Marketing SPAM

 

Many SEOs have become addicted to article marketing simply because it’s easy. You have an article that contains links (with anchor text of your choice) and you go to place it on an article directory, no, stop right there! Google has slammed article directories for SPAM! Google has actually made article links count for very little as they continue to penalize article directories/sites like “Ezine Articles” for poor quality content. Just an FYI, article directories are gone and they’ll never be back. However, even though article links are slightly devalued, they can still be legitimate if the article is placed in the proper site.

 

Link Exchanges, Link Wheels, etc.

 

So let’s say you’re just starting to link build for a new client and you need links ASAP! Some SEOs would say, “Hey, buy some links!” while others would say, “Patience is a virtue.” Some SEOs still acquire links from paid link sites and then do “link wheeling.” First of all, purchasing links through link schemes involves trusting strangers and then once you begin link wheeling, you’re only as strong as your weakest link and it’s a matter of time until Google picks up on it. Don’t waste your time building a wheel of trust with paid “black hat” sites. Link wheels are too risky!

 

Directories

 

I know, you’re sick of hearing about Directories. Everyone knows they’re bad and Google has already begun to devalue links from directories that are little to no value. While local business directories are still seen as legitimate (ex: Yelp), other directories are simply just collecting a boatload of outgoing links and aren’t really serving a purpose, especially those that are paid.  There are a few directories that are reputable (ex: Dmoz), but I wouldn’t aim for getting dozens of backlinks from directories. Before you know it, a directory that you recently got a link from may be penalized and you don’t want your site associated with that directory!

 

 

Social Bookmarking & Sharing Sites

 

Contrary to common belief, people don’t care anymore about your bookmarks. This could be why many social bookmarking and sharing sites have been abandoned in addition to the amount of SPAM that has occurred on these sites.  Links from the majority of social bookmarking sites carry little to no value so having them in your backlink profile won’t really do anything for you. Many sharing sites even have their own “spam” filter or ways of eliminating trash. Reddit is known for their filtering which is why the site still has many visitors. However, sites like Digg, don’t have a filter and just let the SPAM build up. After a while, no one comes to the site much anymore and no one is viewing your bookmarks.

 

Forums

 

Spammers still invade forums and this may be something that will never end. As link builders, we too used to have beautiful anchor text in our forum signatures, but the value of those links, is gone. Forum signature links became quite a discussion about a year ago and many forum owners are now using SPAM filters or are making the links “NoFollow.” Regardless, these links are of no value and all the anchor text in the world isn’t going to help your site rank.

 

Well link builders, now you have 6 spammy tactics to avoid when link building. Carson Ward over at SEOMoz has the remaining 11 methods of link spam to avoid if you’d like to learn more. In conclusion, it’s good to move past these so-called “Foundational” link building methods and move more towards providing good quality content that people truly want to share and link to. It’s also good to keep in mind social signals, as many believe these are becoming more prominent in Google’s algorithm. While links are still important, don’t build links, earn links. Keep the user in mind. If the user isn’t going to see your link or utilize it, it’s probably in a place it shouldn’t be. If you’re unsure of how to perform proper link building, consult a reputable Digital Marketing Agency.