The 10 Commandments of Link Building

All links are not created equal. Effective link building is an art, and whoever tells you different either doesn’t know better or is trying to sell you something. Here are the ten commandments of link building.

  1. Thou shalt not blog comment spam – This is one of the most annoying forms of link building that most bloggers come across every day. The irrelevant, pointless and duplicate comments that akismet filters from our blogs every day. Besides the fact that most blogs use rel=nofollow in their comment section, which render the SEO value of these links useless, it also damages brands and breaks trust in the community. There’s nothing wrong with leaving meaningful and useful comments on relevant posts, but don’t post for the sake of getting a link. Contribute value to the conversation.
  2. Thou shalt not article market – This one is a little tricky. Article marketing on its own isn’t a bad thing per se, but the way marketers have abused this system over the years has left a lasting impact on how Google values links within articles on sites such as ezinearticles. If you’re going to spend time on writing and spinning flimsy articles, why not spend that time on writing a guest post for popular blogs?
  3. Thou shalt not create thousands of forum profiles – Automated forum profile creation tools like xrumer are very popular in the blackhat community, and there are even sites online that provide this as a monthly service. The problem here is the same as blog comment spam; You create a large number of irrelevant links to your site. Not only will Google detect a sudden spike in back links which will raise a red flag, a lot of the links you’re getting will be from “bad neighbourhoods” (sites and topics most webmasters dont wan’t their sites associated with) Again, slightly tricky because Google can hardly punish a site for getting loads of bad links, because a competitor might simply build bad links to your site. It’s very likely that Google ignores these links completely. So why spend your money on xrumer licenses, server resources, and monthly spam plans? Use it to buy stumbles or legit banner advertising instead.
  4. Thou shalt not social bookmark everywhere – Again, relevancy is a key component when it comes to link building. If you buy a “500 social bookmarks” deal from someone for $25, you just lost $25. Keep in mind that the easier a link is to get, the less value it holds for Google. Instead, try to become a power-user on a select few social networks. If you manage to play the social bookmarking game right, you’ll actually hit front pages on the networks. The main reason would not be for instant traffic, but for the additional links that your content will get from the exposure.
  5. Thou shalt not submit to every directory – Directories are a dime a dozen, and 99% of them hold no SEO value. Once again, the easier it is to get a link, the less value it will haver for Google. Try to find relevant directories, and stick with them
  6. Thou shalt not worship pagerank – Pagerank isn’t dead. Every webmaster forum you go to will have a link sales section, and prices are largely influenced by the pagerank a link will pass. Have you ever noticed in the search results, when you look for something random, the top ten results are NEVER ordered by pagerank? Results #1-9 might have a PR of 0, while result #10 has a PR of 7. Seek relevancy, not pagerank.
  7. Thou shalt not email spam for reciprocal links – “Hi, can I get a link from your links page if I give you a link from my links page?” – There’s nothing wrong with a reciprocal link, as long as it’s from a relevant site. It might not be as powerful as a one-way link, but they can’t be completely disregarded. What you shouldn’t do though is run automated scripts that scrape the Internet for keywords and send automated emails to the website owners. You’d be surprised how quickly you and your domain end up on a spam blacklist.
  8. Thou shalt not use link farms – Owning hundreds of blogs is one way you can quickly build links to your site(s). The problem is that it is very likely that you’re leaving footprints from that network for Google to find, and they can undo all your hard work with one slap. Sure, you can go through all the trouble of buying hundreds of domains, getting them all hosted on separate c-block ip addresses, scraping and spinning “original” content for them. I have one word for you. Panda (Even John can’t kill this panda!) Instead, use all that time and money to build one amazing site that can attract links by merit.
  9. Thou shalt not use the same anchor text all the time – Getting over 25% (or even less) the same anchor text links just doesn’t look natural. Especially with longtail keywords over 3 or 4 words. If you ask ten people to write ten sentences with ten links to a page about SEO advice, tips, tricks, and tutorials – chances are you’ll end up with ten different links (e.g SEO advice, SEO tips, tricks for SEO, tutorials on SEO, etc). Best practice is to mix it up within a relevant, unique sentence or pargraph every time. This is very hard to accomplish with automated scripts, so just do the old fashioned by-hand method. Works every time.
  10. Thou shalt not forget about deep links – Your homepage doesn’t have to be your most important page. Let’s say you have an e-commerce site, and you want people to find your products in Google, you’re better off getting a deep link to the most relevant page for a keyword term, instead of the homepage (which is most likely to be generic and less relevant). That way you’re not only helping Google to decide what exactly your site is about, you’re also pushing the relevant sales page up for visitors, who don’t have to go looking for the products on the front page. Less clicks = better user experience for your clients.

Although there are many more things I could talk about in this post, I think this sums up nicely the basics of bad link building. Some of the methods might seem like winners, but in the long run, none of them are sustainable for any business model. Google is constantly evolving to crush anything that’s not considered natural and useful.

weakest link cat

This guest post was written by Bob Jones, an SEO strategist at an SEO Company

72 thoughts on “The 10 Commandments of Link Building”

  1. Great post. I am viewing constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information especially the remaining phase I handle such information much.

    Thank to the sharing.



    1. Hey Bob … thanks for mention that we should not do these things …

      You should also mentioned in the second phase what we should go for.

      1. Bob Jones says:

        If you read the post, you’ll see that I actually do mention several things you could be doing.

        1. Yes I read it but after reading the heading I thought this post is same like old wine in new bottle.

          You should divide each point into … like NOT TO DO … and SHOULD DO.

          That will make your post more clear to the visitors and readers of John Chow.

          1. Erwin Miradi says:

            I think we can find the things we should do in almost every blogging tips articles. It’s what people write the most.

    2. anaokulu says:

      Very right. Shares, a blog that offers a great

      1. Divya says:

        you are right. shares always make idea and income……

  2. very true post, especially #8.

    it is so hard, and expensive to try and build up a link farm and can come crashing down with one swipe of the google hand.

    spending time to build a great site that gets its own links naturally is a much better use of time.

    1. Pete says:

      I agree. I wasted a great deal of money and more importantly time chasing offers of great amounts of links for little effort. All they did was eventually drive my ratings down. Most of them disappear after a relatively short time. When I have taken the time to write a decent post it has had staying power.

      1. @ Brandon

        For point no 8 … now you do not have to do all this labour. Even you can buy this kind of service in mere $25 – $40.

        Here he mentioned all negative things but we would love to hear some solid and great way to build links.

        1. Erwin Miradi says:

          @ ZK

          I think he already told us what we should do by telling us what we shouldn’t do. Like, “Thou shalt not article market” means we should spend more time to write high quality articles.

    2. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yeah I totally agree with point number 8, tough I’ve seen many bloggers made it that way. But Google can just ruin what they have built for years just in one slap. That’s why I always say “Never try to trick Google, unless you really intend dedicate your life for that”

  3. Excellent reading from your post Bob. Well formulated and you bring out some important “nono” things A LOT of IM do on a daily basis.

    On your site I don’t see SEOmoz as a tool you use. Is Raventools a good alternative? I ask cause I use SEOmoz today.


    1. Bob Jones says:

      I’m actually a pro member of both Raven and SEOmoz. Raven is a great tool for keeping track of link building campaigns, and SEOmoz is terrific at keeping an eye on onsite optimization. I couldn’t live without either of them πŸ™‚

      They compliment eachother nicely, and I couldn’t really tell you which s the better one to use, since they both do things differently.

      1. Thank you for your reply Bob. I will look into Raventools. Sounds like a good match with SEOmoz.

  4. PPC Ian says:

    Fantastic guest post, I couldn’t agree more. Helpful tips that everyone building links should follow.

    1. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yup, me too. I bookmarked this one.

  5. PPC Ian says:

    One added point: Blog commentating (in a useful and valuable manner) can get you on the top commentators list. Such lists provide real, dofollow links.

    1. Bob Jones says:

      True, but top commentator lists are always moving around, so the links you get on there are not static. Unless you keep commenting all the time, you’ll lose your spot. And that’s no good when the Googlebot comes looking for links to index πŸ™‚

      1. That is very true. However, making good constructive comments on authority blogs (even though it is nofollow) helps to brand yourself (and blog) and will in my opinion have some impact on SEO. Afterall, a site/blog should have a some nofollow links and not all dofollow links pointing to it, right?

        1. PPC Ian says:

          A very good point as well. I do believe it’s good to have nofollow links too for the reasons you mention. I have gotten lots of blog followers over the last two years by commenting consistently (and trying to add as much value as I can).

          1. Erwin Miradi says:

            Yeah, top commentators list sure is a tempting opportunity for a free high quality dofollow link for us. It’s like an offer that no one can refuse πŸ˜€

      2. PPC Ian says:

        For sure, you need to keep commenting. You need to be persistent, watch every day and comment like crazy! Of course, keep all the comments valuable. πŸ™‚ FYI – I have a top commentators on my blog.

    2. Erwin Miradi says:

      Yeah I agree that the dofollow link in top commentators list is really good. But what is more important is get ourselves recognized. The true purpose of comments is to establish a community, right?

  6. brilliant post, I will try to implement these ideas

  7. fazal mayar says:

    link building can help you done good way but can also ruin you wrong way πŸ˜€

  8. Spamming when leaving comments on a site is a major mistake. I just got a few today from reputable sites but because they didn’t leave a regular comment I didn’t approve them.

    1. Pete says:

      I regularly delete short comments with no content. The ones telling me what a great writer I am make me chuckle before I delete them. Nothing beats a little relevant content.

  9. Great list, thanks for sharing John.

  10. Hey, Bob–nice article and very useful. What you’ve outlined here, in the form of “commandments” concerning link building is a real eye-opener. Appreciate your information, very much.

  11. sudha says:

    I’m actually a pro member of both Raven and SEOmoz. Raven is a great tool for keeping track of link building campaigns, and SEOmoz is terrific at keeping an eye on onsite optimization. I couldn’t live without either of them

  12. Goa Carnival says:

    Very right, Things which you get easily consist less value for search engines.

  13. Sean Supplee says:

    lol, I enjoyed this post because a number of them are things I hear people tell me to do all the time. But to me filling the internet with worthless spam and making it a numbers game is not what I want to do. Instead quality will always outbeat any mass attempt to spam

  14. This means,

    No SENuke, No XRUmer, NO Scrapebox, No ScrapeBoard, No AMR and No BMD

  15. Dane Pymble says:

    Thanks for posting this. One of my linkbuilding strategies has been to participate in a number of forums relevant to my small business niche. I hadn’t thought until now to vary the anchor text in my forum signature. Thanks for bringing this to my attention:)

    1. Bob Jones says:

      Nice to see another flying solo member on here Dan πŸ™‚

  16. HD Cafe says:

    Very useful information, thanks for sharing it.

    Good Luck.

  17. Very useful suggestions are in this post. But as a new blogger and marketer many people make this mistake. They do it just to get a link for their website, Things become worse when we do create a different profile for every website.

  18. There are two bad points with spam comments. Google does not like the page and many readers stop following a blog with 100’s spam comments on each article.

  19. All great points, I like to do things naturally, I try and make my blogs/sites all somewhat related interests of mine so I can engage in forums, other blogs and social media users not only in a way that interests them, but interests me, it all comes off genuine because it is.

  20. Thanks for the info John. I’m new to the blogging world, but I understand that no one including me wants to be tricked into reading crappy content that is not legit. Our time is too valuable to be wasted on scams and/or spam.

  21. fas says:

    Man, that is some tough thing to follow.

    1. anaokulu says:

      Ask why olsunki little patience and perseverance enough:)

  22. Yeah! amazing post John, I agree will all the points that you have mentioned in the post.
    Yes many people think that if they are just launched a blog which is 1 month old get frustrated very quickly that why my blog is not getting visits and why i am not earning enough.

    let me tell you one story that it takes time at least you must wait for 1 year, to see any good results.
    your blog will perform better and better as the time goes on.
    So Just be patience and keep on promoting your blog.

  23. allan stuart says:

    “Thou shalt not worship pagerank”

    for me personally, page rank do play a big role… i’m not worshiped it, by appreciate it because through my month of study, a high page rank homepage can actually ease your job in getting other inner pages high in SERP… but the competition must be from moderate to low and including other factor.. but it really help πŸ™‚

  24. nice tips about link building

  25. Impressive blog. Link building is an effective strategy in earning online but sometimes it won’t work because of inappropriate implementation of techniques. This is a good guideline for marketers. Great posting!

    1. panax says:

      yes we need to know the intricacies of the job so you’re right mate

  26. Jon says:

    Are you going to publish a ‘Thou Shall’ List … Negative lists are all well and good … but it seems easier to find information about what not to than to do these days.

    This is one of the ‘harriest’ topics I have ever encountered actually.

  27. I appreciate the guy’s suggestion to invest in Guest Post rather than submitting spammy articles to thousands of article directories out there. Thanks.

  28. David says:

    Great Post, you’ve really put alot of thought and effort into this, keep up the good work John.

  29. Matt Smith says:

    Hey John!

    Good tips here on what people should be avoiding. There is no “quick” way to building a successful blog, the ones that try to do this only find that they go “quickly” out of business!

    Spend time creating a high quality site and people will link to it for you.

    Great post & keep up the great work!


  30. Panax says:

    After taking a look, the contest does seem interesting. I love his peerfly promotion tactic. He’s probably got a special commission rate for referrals.

  31. Panax says:

    content was very nice thank you very much for your help ..

  32. Panax says:

    actually think that Techical Analysis is underrated and misunderstood as a method of investing/trading. Technical Analysis is not a method of predicting the future based on the past, but it is a model that allows an investor to function in a what if, then scenarios.

  33. Bioxel says:

    I’m perfectly content to follow you thank you very much.

  34. Thanks for the useful tips as everyone should take into consideration for link building

  35. panax says:

    John shares’ve done a nice thank you for seo

  36. panax says: site is a site that is also very important if the original site and add content in a nice clean appearance

  37. Cheolsu says:

    That’s a great list. Blog commenting do help in the long run.

  38. smart says:

    thanks for this great post i have real learnt from this article. please how can i start building links that generate good traffic to my blog and rank me high on google.

  39. Erwin Miradi says:

    Wow, this is a nice post. Bookmarked!
    Those actions above usually done to speed up the process of indexing, but surely will lower the quality of the whole site indeed (like link farming). So I think the bottom line is: Never try to trick Google.

  40. Awesome article, John. I agree with everything you said. I preach the same concepts to readers of my blog. I do however use Forum and Blog Posting myself. I do not use them to gain backlinks but rather use them to build my credibility which in turn will increase the click through rates of the links I post. πŸ™‚

  41. I like the 4rth point & social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to organize, store, manage and search for bookmarks of resources online.

  42. Here are fantastic point for learning indeed.

  43. iskandarX says:

    I gotten delete my blog with Google about 3 times, just because their reason my blog was a link farm. If they dont delete my blog just now I may “Eat my fruit, outcome from my blog link farm”. In future i may be more carefully to make linking, or back link in my blog. Thank a lot John, you are my hero.

  44. Yeah good points, nofollow links are good to have as well.

  45. TV Rockstars says:

    Thou shalt not worship pagerank, I think your pages are ranked better automatically because your homepage has a high pagerank. Isn’t that true?

    1. Bob Jones says:

      Nope, ranking has nothing to do with your pagerank. Have a look here for pagerank vs serps:

  46. SEO is my specialty so i was pretty happy to read this post. Although some of the things you posted I don’t necessarily agree with, but to each’s own…

    PR still does matter, your remark about them is correct, but there are several nuances – it’s not as black & white…

    Anyway – Great post

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