Link Building is always the hardest part of any SEO campaign, and it’s usually the area where a lot of people will choose to take shortcuts to cut their legwork. It’s hard.

I understand the frustration for some, but I do think it’s much better to put in the time and effort to source better quality links, and to do things in a way that looks as natural as possible to Google and other Search Engines. It pays off.

With that being said, there is always one SEO who takes things to the extreme and finds a new level of stupidity to display their lack of knowledge, or just their sheer level of laziness. I spotted a good one today.

How Not to Build Links for SEO Clients

I work at a marketing agency in Liverpool and I’m in charge of managing and growing local search visibility as well managing clients, and so part of my job is to keep an eye on competitors as well as their tactics. This is important to ensure we stay on top.

Anyway, there are many sites competing with us who are utilising some very, very shady tactics in an attempt to get to the top, but these tactics are 5 years too late.

Competitor 1: Blog Widget Links

This one made me wipe my eyes a couple of times just to make sure I was actually seeing all of those links, many of them to the same website, which is just pointless.

The competitor in question purchased a few expired domains and are publishing regular spun content to them whilst throwing silly amounts of links in the sidebar widgets, both to their own sites and those of their clients. Very amateur stuff that worked years ago.

Here’s what the sidebar looks like:

Blog Widget Links

And here’s the source code for that sidebar:

Blog Widget Links

Can you guess who the competitor is? ;)

I don’t understand what they’re trying to achieve by linking to each site so many times.

PageRank (PR) flows through each link, but Google now limit this in such situations for this very reason. This is a very old tactic that did work very well many years ago.

But that’s just one! Some of their other sites have double the amount of links on them, which is just taking the piss really. It hasn’t gotten them penalised yet but I suspect it’ll only be a matter of time with Google moving to more regular Penguin updates.

Worse still, they have one with a hidden sidebar altogether. Yikes!

Competitor 2: Anchor-rich Blog Comments

This competitor has been doing large-scale SPAMMY stuff for a while, but I’m just going to use their anchor-rich blog comments as an example from them on this occasion.

Leaving comments on blogs is fine, but you should always leave these as yourself or your business name. This means you’re linking back to your website with a branded anchor rather than a keyword that you want to rank for. Google don’t allow that.

Here’s one example, from Ahrefs:

Anchor Text Blog Comments

In the image above, you can see the green text which is their anchor-text, followed by ‘said’ which is obviously the standard for each comment left on a blog post.

This is a big no-no and will eventually lead to a penalty from Google. This specific competitor has been doing this stuff as well as many other shady things for quite a while – it’s interesting to see just how long it still takes Google to recognise this activity and punish it. I suspect this will chance as Google transition over to regular Penguin updates.

How to Build Links for SEO Clients

With those two obvious examples of how you should not build links for your SEO clients, here are a few great ways that you should build links for them.

Here are some link building ideas:

  • Blog & Forum Engagement for Brand
    This is often under-utilised in my opinion. It’s a great way to dilute and diversify a link profile, not to mention the visibility and potential traffic you can gain by engaging in the right places. Remember – never use anchor-rich links.
  • Quality Business Directories
    Good business directories do still exist and they’re great for citations, brand and getting found locally. Try to avoid low quality, general web directories.
  • Share Your Expertise
    Sharing your expertise is still one of the most powerful ways of earning a link. Whether you want to call this ‘guest blogging’ or something else, it works, although I’d tread carefully when selecting sites. This isn’t your primary strategy.

Are your competitors being naughty? Let us know in the comments below.