Almost every good search engine optimization strategy involves some form of link building. Links from reputable websites act as votes in favor of your website’s authority. The more reputable the website the link comes from, the more that vote counts in your favor. In contrast, links from websites that are not reputable may harm your company. This is especially the case if the website sells links or has become blacklisted by Google. Is your website guilty of any of the many practices that could get it de-indexed?


1. Buying Backlinks

Black hat marketers tend to find websites that sell links from shared directories. They then send out mass emails to these websites and try to purchase backlinks for as cheaply as possible. Many of these websites get blacklisted for this link building strategy. In addition to this, because they often get paid to link to many other websites, the significance of that outbound link to your website becomes diluted over time.

There are instances where reputable websites accept promotional posts as long-form ads. Note that reputable websites do not accept many of these and scrutinize pitches carefully to ensure they meet the highest quality content standards.


2. Using Mass Emails

The previous point mentioned that many black hat marketers do this. Unfortunately, well-meaning website admins are guilty of this as well. They may send the same emails out to all the websites they have in mind when creating an outreach strategy. This link building tactic often backfires.

If these websites made it onto your radar, a lot of your competitors are scoping them out as well. Failing to address the admin by name, highlight an article you liked or even name the website you’re asking about all signal red flags for experienced admins. Take the time to personalize your message, especially when you find websites that catch your eye more than others.


3. Getting No-Follow Links

It’s important to remember that SEO works on a ranking system. When one website moves up, another must move down. Because of this, many website admins try to reduce how many websites they pass their authority on to. One way to do this is to use no-follow links when offering link building opportunities to other websites.

When getting a link back to your website, always ask if it is a do-follow link. This is especially important if you paid for a sponsored or promotional post. Otherwise, that money may have been mostly wasted. Still, it’s only “mostly,” as there are some benefits from no-follow links. They do pass on referral traffic to your website and may even bring in a few customers.


4. Focusing on Links Over Content

Google is in the business of returning high-quality webpages as responses to their users’ queries. Its ability to do this effectively determines its ability to maintain its near-90% share of the search engine market. The problem is that the focus on Google as the search engine to optimize for makes it possible for some black hat organizations to game the system with link building. Because of this, Google continually updates its algorithms to weed this out.

In fact, some websites can get backlisted for focusing too heavily on SEO without improving the actual content on the website. To do this, they may resort to keyword stuffing and other practices Google warns marketers not to use. Instead, the company encourages companies to focus on building high-quality content that other websites link to on merit and that will provide the answers users need.


5. Forgetting To Format Content

The main focus of any SEO link building strategy is words. Marketers have an idea of the article lengths that do best in certain fields or even for a specific website. They may also know what keywords are easiest to rank for and the density that will deliver the best results. However, user experience is also important.

Failure to consider this leads to high bounce rates and negative comments on social media and your website. SearchEngine Land Journal advises website admins to break up their content. Large blocks of text can seem overwhelming, especially for technical topics that require readers to remain focused. You can incorporate photos, infographics, videos or even polls.


6. Obsessing Over Domain Metrics

It is absolutely important to ensure a website is reputable. However, obsessing over a website’s domain authority can become problematic. Some factors admins may become stuck on include the following:

  • Ranking for specific keywords
  • Domain authority score
  • Website traffic
  • Alexa ranking

Unless you’re paying for the link building opportunity, accepting a link from any reputable website is a good move. Save the excessive analytics for instances where you’re purchasing ad space. If you’re not sure if a website is reputable, then it may also warrant further digging. Otherwise, the end result is that by the time you finish your analytics, that opportunity may have passed you by in favor of a competitor.


7. Focusing on Saturated Areas

There are some articles you expect to see when you google particular keywords. For example, if you look up “SEO,” you may assume to find the following in your results:

  • Beginner’s Guide to SEO
  • What Is Search Engine Optimization?
  • Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
  • SEO Made Simple: A Step-By-Step Guide for 2019

There’s nothing wrong with covering the basic topics. In fact, it’s important that you do this. However, focusing on the low-hanging fruit makes it difficult for your website to stand out from others. Instead, pay attention to the specific questions people are asking and create content that answers these in the best way possible. This is one way to ensure your content doesn’t become too focused on link building.


8. Hiring Bots

A common practice among some black hat marketers is to spam the comments section of websites with high authority. Some bots even venture on to popular social media posts with high engagement levels. This never turns out well. Here’s why:

  • Even basic WordPress sites have built-in spam detection tools that automatically block these.
  • Google blacklists the websites behind these spam links when they detect them.
  • Social media users report the accounts that do this as spam.


9. Spamming Guest Blog Opportunities

There are some websites that use a content marketing strategy based entirely on user-generated content. These websites accept guest blog posts for free or may even pay a small amount to writers if their posts get published. Unfortunately, many people use this opportunity to write low-quality blog posts so they can get link building opportunities for their website.

Forbes warns that from as early as 2014, Google started to penalize websites for spammy blogging. This is not to say that companies cannot insert links into well-written guest blog posts on other websites if the admin allows it. It does mean that submitting poorly written content for this purpose may get you blacklisted.


10. Failing To Track Effectiveness

This is not a mistake tied only to link building. Business owners may fail to track a number of key aspects of their marketing campaigns or SEO strategies. This makes it impossible to know what’s working and how to allocate funds in the best way possible.

The easiest way to track links is to check your referral traffic. See what external websites and web pages send the most visitors back to you. WordPress has this feature built in. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are also free tools that can help. You should also ask your SEO specialist about using UTM parameters to better track referral traffic.


Boost Your Strategy

Link building is not the only factor Google takes into consideration when deciding a website’s authority. Even so, it does play a big role in how well a website ranks. In fact, a Google representative confirmed that it falls within the top three factors, which also includes content and RankBrain. After all, there is no ignoring the significance of links from government websites and universities.

A solid SEO strategy requires a more holistic approach. This goes far beyond just relying on link building. Get started with a free SEO analysis from Boostability today.


Colton is the former Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He was part of Boostability for over 8 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.