20 link building mistakes to avoid


Oct 2023
link building mistakes

Link building is an essential component of any successful SEO strategy. It’s the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own, thereby boosting your site’s authority, traffic, and search engine rankings. However, like any other strategy, link building comes with its own set of challenges. Many marketers and website owners, in their quest to secure more links, often make mistakes that can harm their site’s reputation and even lead to penalties from search engines.

In this article, we’ll delve into 20 common link building mistakes that you should be wary of. By being aware of these pitfalls and understanding how to avoid them, you can ensure that your link-building efforts are both effective and compliant with best practices.

1. Ignoring User Intent: 

User intent refers to the primary goal or motivation a user has when entering a query into a search engine. One of the prevalent link building mistakes is ignoring this user intent, leading to acquiring links from sources that don’t align with your content or audience. For instance, if you run a website about “organic gardening,” securing a backlink from a “tech gadget” site might not resonate with your audience or the content you produce. Such links can dilute the relevance of your backlink profile. It’s crucial to ensure that the links you’re building or acquiring align with the intent and interests of your target audience, enhancing the overall value and relevance of your website.

2. Over-Reliance on Exact Match Anchor Text

Anchor text, the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink, plays a pivotal role in link building. While it’s beneficial to have keyword-rich anchor text to signal the linked page’s relevance, over-relying on exact match keywords is among the common link building mistakes that can appear unnatural and spammy to search engines. For example, if every backlink pointing to your “organic gardening tips” page uses the exact anchor text “organic gardening tips,” it can raise red flags. Diversifying your anchor text strategy by using branded (e.g., your website or brand name), generic (e.g., “click here”), and partial match phrases ensures your link profile appears natural and reduces the risk of search engine penalties.

3. Neglecting the Value of Internal Links

Internal links, hyperlinks that point to another page on the same website, are invaluable in a comprehensive link-building strategy. However, one of the often-overlooked link building mistakes is neglecting the power of internal linking. While much emphasis is placed on acquiring external backlinks, internal links serve multiple purposes: they distribute page authority throughout your site, enhance user navigation, and signal to search engines about the structure and hierarchy of your website. Linking relevant pages within your content guides users to more in-depth information, increasing page views and reducing bounce rates. A well-structured internal linking strategy is essential for both user experience and SEO.

4. Focusing Solely on High Domain Authority (DA) Sites

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). While securing a backlink from a high DA site can be a feather in your cap, it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your link-building efforts. Sometimes, a link from a lower DA site that’s highly relevant and authoritative in your niche can offer immense value. It’s essential to look beyond just DA and consider the overall quality, relevance, and context of the linking site. After all, a relevant backlink from a budding blog in your industry can be more beneficial than a generic link from a high DA site that doesn’t align with your content.

5. Not Monitoring Your Backlink Profile

Your backlink profile is a collection of all the external links pointing to your website. Failing to monitor and audit this profile can leave you vulnerable to negative SEO attacks, where malicious actors build low-quality or spammy links to your site to harm your rankings. Additionally, over time, you might unknowingly acquire low-quality links or lose valuable ones. Regularly auditing your backlink profile allows you to identify and disavow harmful links, ensuring your profile remains clean and beneficial to your SEO efforts.

6. Overlooking Local Link Building Opportunities:

Local link building is a goldmine, especially for businesses that operate within a specific region or locality. However, one of the frequent link building mistakes many businesses make is focusing solely on acquiring global or national links, missing out on the immense value local links can provide. Local links not only boost local search rankings but also drive targeted traffic from users within the vicinity. Partnering with local bloggers, participating in community events, or getting listed in local directories are excellent strategies to avoid this link building mistake and effectively build local links.

7. Using Automated Link Building Tools Indiscriminately

While automation can save time and effort, relying too heavily on automated link building tools can lead to a slew of low-quality or irrelevant links. Search engines have become adept at identifying unnatural link patterns, and indiscriminate use of automation can result in penalties. It’s essential to use these tools judiciously, ensuring that the links you acquire align with your content and audience.

8. Not Diversifying Link Types

Relying solely on one type of link, such as guest posts or directory listings, can make your backlink profile appear one-dimensional. Diversifying link types ensures a natural-looking link profile, which search engines favor. Incorporate a mix of editorial links, forum links, citations, and more to create a well-rounded backlink profile.

9. Ignoring Broken or Lost Links

Over time, some of the links pointing to your site may break due to various reasons, such as the linking page being removed or the website undergoing restructuring. Ignoring these lost or broken links means missing out on the potential SEO value they offer. Regularly monitoring your backlink profile and reclaiming lost links can help preserve your site’s authority and rankings.

10. Not Prioritizing Link Relevancy

A common misconception is that any backlink is a good backlink. However, the relevancy of the linking site plays a crucial role in the value of the link. Acquiring links from irrelevant sites can dilute your backlink profile’s potency. It’s essential to prioritize links from sites that are relevant to your industry, niche, or content, ensuring that they add genuine value to your SEO efforts.

11. Not Analyzing Competitor Backlinks

Studying your competitors is a cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy, and link building is no exception. By neglecting to perform a thorough competitor backlink analysis, you’re essentially flying blind, missing out on a treasure trove of insights. Competitor backlinks can reveal industry-specific websites, blogs, or forums that value and link to content similar to yours. These are prime targets for your own link-building efforts. Moreover, understanding the quality and relevance of your competitors’ backlinks through competitor backlink analysis can help you gauge the strength of their SEO strategies and identify gaps in your own approach. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz are invaluable in providing detailed insights into competitor backlink profiles, offering a roadmap for your link-building endeavors.

12. Failing to Offer Value in Exchange for Links

In the world of link building, reciprocity is key. Cold outreach requesting a backlink without offering anything in return often yields minimal results. Instead, successful link building is rooted in mutual benefit. Whether you’re offering a well-researched guest post, an exclusive interview, or a unique tool or resource, providing tangible value increases your chances of securing a backlink. When reaching out for link-building opportunities, always lead with what you can offer, ensuring it aligns with the interests and needs of the linking site.

13. Neglecting Mobile and Voice Search in Link Building

With the rise of mobile device usage and voice-activated searches, it’s essential to consider how these trends impact link building. One of the common link building mistakes is neglecting the importance of mobile-friendly websites and content optimized for voice search. When acquiring backlinks, ensure that the linking sites are mobile-responsive, as mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor. Additionally, as voice search becomes more prevalent, consider how users phrase their queries verbally and aim to acquire links from content that answers these voice-activated questions. This approach ensures your link-building strategy remains relevant in the evolving digital landscape.

14. Not Building Links to Deep Pages

While your homepage is the face of your website, deep pages often contain the rich, valuable content that users are searching for. By focusing all your link-building efforts on your homepage, you miss out on driving targeted traffic to these content-rich pages. Deep linking not only diversifies your backlink profile but also boosts the authority of internal pages, helping them rank better for specific queries. For instance, a detailed guide on “how to brew the perfect espresso” on your coffee blog deserves backlinks just as much as your homepage.

15. Relying on Link Exchanges

The age-old practice of “you link to me, and I’ll link to you” has lost its sheen in modern SEO. While reciprocal links can occur naturally and aren’t inherently harmful, excessive link exchanges, especially with irrelevant sites, can be detrimental. Search engines prioritize links that are earned due to the quality and relevance of content. Engaging in blatant link exchanges can dilute the quality of your backlink profile and may be perceived as an attempt to game the system. Instead, focus on building genuine relationships with industry peers, where any link exchange is rooted in mutual respect and relevance.

16. Disregarding Nofollow Links

Many marketers prioritize “dofollow” links because they pass on SEO value, often overlooking the importance of “nofollow” links. While “nofollow” links don’t directly pass on link equity, they offer other benefits. They can drive targeted traffic, increase brand visibility, and diversify your link profile. Moreover, having a mix of “dofollow” and “nofollow” links makes your backlink profile appear more natural to search engines. Disregarding “nofollow” links entirely can mean missing out on valuable opportunities for exposure and engagement.

17. Not Tracking Link Building ROI

Like any marketing effort, it’s essential to measure the return on investment (ROI) of your link-building campaigns. Simply building links without tracking their impact on traffic, rankings, and conversions can lead to wasted efforts. By not setting clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and tracking them, you might be investing time and resources in strategies that aren’t yielding results. Utilize analytics tools to monitor the performance of your backlinks, adjusting your strategy based on data-driven insights.

18. Building Links Too Quickly

In the realm of link building, patience is a virtue. Rapidly acquiring a large number of backlinks in a short time can appear suspicious to search engines, potentially leading to penalties. It’s essential to pace your link-building efforts, ensuring they appear organic and gradual. Instead of aiming for quantity, focus on securing high-quality, relevant links over time, building a robust and sustainable backlink profile.

19. Ignoring Unlinked Mentions

There might be instances where websites or blogs mention your brand, product, or content without linking back to you. These unlinked mentions are often overlooked link building mistakes. Treating them as low-hanging fruits in your link-building strategy can be beneficial. By not capitalizing on them, you’re leaving valuable backlink opportunities on the table. Regularly monitor brand mentions using tools like Google Alerts or Mention. Reach out to the authors of these mentions, thanking them for the recognition and politely requesting a backlink..

20. Not Keeping Up with Search Engine Guidelines

Search engine algorithms and guidelines are continually evolving. What’s considered a best practice today might be deemed manipulative tomorrow. Not staying updated with these guidelines can result in unintentional violations, jeopardizing your site’s rankings. Regularly review search engine guidelines, especially those related to link building, ensuring your strategies are compliant and up-to-date.


Link building remains a cornerstone of effective SEO, acting as a testament to the credibility, relevance, and authority of a website. However, as with any strategy, it’s riddled with potential pitfalls. The 20 link building mistakes highlighted in this article serve as a roadmap, guiding marketers and website owners away from common missteps and towards a more robust, sustainable, and effective link-building approach.

As you forge ahead in your link-building journey, remember to continually assess, refine, and evolve your strategies. In doing so, you’ll not only avoid common mistakes but also unlock the full potential of link building, propelling your website to new heights in search engine rankings and online visibility.