When it comes to linking, you’re probably aware of most of the rules. Still, many of you are practicing linking habits that are common and that you may think are harmless, when in reality these practices may be hurting your rankings. Make sure you aren’t committing these four linking sins and you should be protected from most linking penalties that search engines dole out.

Link Farms

They are one of the oldest forms of SEO and also one of the most deadly. Search engines have gotten so good at reading websites that they can spot and blacklist sites that are employing black-hat SEO tactics, the king of these tactics being link farms. Link farms are simply a group of sites that all interlink and connect together with the sole purpose of raising the number of links on each page. This is shoddy SEO practice because it isn’t useful for actual users. Moz has great information for more details about link farming.

Link Stuffing

Do not fill your site with random links that aren’t relevant to your content. A better way to employ linking would be to write a lot of relevant content on all of your pages within your website, and then find credible sites to which you can link your content. Search engines will find credible link to be worth ranking higher, while they penalize heavily for irrelevant links.

Linking to Low-Quality Directories

Linking to low-quality directories is a sure-fire way to get the heat from Google’s penalties. Many businesses know the importance of being listed in business directories and other directories online. However, this is it tricky territory to navigate because if your website is on sketchy or fake directories, search engines will penalize your site. These spammy directories do nothing to help your business or your customers, so search engines will penalize you for it.

Buying Links

Of course, this may seem like a no-brainer, but buying linking to your site is an absolute forbidden. Buying links will just link a million random, irrelevant sites to your website and then will actually hurt your rankings significantly. People who buy links miss the whole point of SEO, which is to make your page as reader-friendly and useful as you can – those are the criteria that Google and other search engines use to rank websites. When you make your site as relevant as you can, you will rank higher.

For a total list of Google’s link policy, they’ve posted it on their Webmaster Tools page. Google doesn’t want you to guess when it comes to linking they’ve posted their whole policy so that you can make sure you fall within the parameters outlined. This way you can be absolutely sure that you won’t be penalized for any of your linking practices.