11 Link Building Mistakes Holding Back Your SEO Success



Written By: 
Sujan Sarkar
One Little Web

This article may contain sponsored tags and or affiliate links

Building high authority backlinks is one of the X-factors for ranking success, and it has never been so challenging as it is now.

The good news is that it is more evident now than ever.

One of the recent studies by Ahrefs found that there is a positive correlation between the number of referring domains a site has and the organic traffic it receives.

Source: Ahrefs Official Linkedin Page

But, the bad news is, with the “Link Spam Update”, Google is more vigilant than ever about the webmasters, who use black hat techniques to manipulate their SERP. 

That means, if you are not adhering to Google’s guidelines regarding backlinks, there are high chances that Google will not rank your page for the desired keywords no matter how strong your content is or how many backlinks you have.

Now, you may not be knowingly making these mistakes that are blocking your way to seeing a rank boost.

But, if you can avoid these 11 crucial link-building mistakes, you should expect to see some amazing results with your link-building efforts.

  1. Not Understanding The Competition: 

The core essence behind building backlinks is to outrank your competitors who are occupying the top ranks for your desired keywords.

But, often, we forget to look at the competition before starting our link-building drive.

It’s crucial to understand how authoritative your top competitors are before deciding whether you should build backlinks and aim to rank for a particular keyword with your content.

What to Do Instead:

You have to know about the top 20% backlinks of your competitor to get an idea of how many niche-relevant, in-content, do-follow backlinks you must obtain from highly authoritative sites.

For example, if your website has content on the best hiking shoes, and you want to secure the top rank, you need to know how many backlinks the top competitors have.

We can see that the page on the top position for the keyword has 1286 backlinks. Pretty overwhelming, right?

But, as I mentioned, not all these backlinks are contributing to the link value of this page.

Filtering the Top 20% Competitor Backlinks: So, let’s filter the top 20% backlinks this page has with some basic characteristics of a good quality referring domain-

a. One link per domain: Multiple backlinks from the same referring domains do not make any difference to the link value.
b. Do-follow backlinks: Only do-follow backlinks pass link value. 

c. In-content backlinks: Backlinks that came from within the content, because Google only pays attention to those outgoing links that have been cited within the content

d. Domain Organic Traffic: Referring domains that receive a bare minimum of 1000+ organic traffic from Google

As you can see, only 13 out of 1286 backlinks are contributing to the link value of this particular page.

So, if you can obtain more than 13 backlinks of the same quality, your page will be considered more authoritative than this one.

You should also keep in mind the number of good quality backlinks that are pointed to the homepage to take your domain’s authority to that level.

If you apply the same filter to the homepage backlinks, the number you would see should be the number of backlinks to obtain for the same level of domain authority.

So, you can use Ahrefs site explorer and put the URL of that particular page that’s ranking top for a particular keyword. Then you go to the backlink section to find the number of high quality, do-follow, in-content backlinks for that particular page.

So, if you have content that delivers more value than the top-ranking content, all you would need is (37+13) 50 in-content, do-follow backlinks from niche relevant referring domains that receive 1000+ monthly organic traffic.

  1. Backlinks from Redundant Content:

A common issue that happens when you build links at scale – you’re getting links from some very high-quality websites but there’s still no improvement in your ranking. 

Do you wonder why?

One of the reasons could be the content linking to your page doesn’t fulfill the search intent of readers.

Since the content, on which your website is being linked, is not delivering any value to the readers, your website will not receive any additional link benefit.

Now, you have to accept the reality here. Not every website you will get backlinks from has content that will be a matching fit for your target audience.

What to Do Instead:

It will be always wiser to create an informative, value-driven guest post that serves the readers’ intent so that the readers can get some valuable information after reading the content.

In case you find it difficult to come up with unique guest post ideas for the backlinks, use some of the ideas from the article about creating content for guest post backlinks

  1. Getting Links without Delivering Value:

This is one of the key reasons you may never rank on Google.

No matter how good your referring domains are, you will not receive link juice if your audiences leave the page you secured the backlink from without getting any additional value.

Besides, no webmaster will provide backlinks to a website or page that lacks quality and doesn’t provide value to its readers. So, you need to make sure you’re delivering value to your audiences with the content you are getting the backlink for.

What to Do Instead:

The target URL from your website has to contain information that might be valuable for them, the kind of page that talks more about them and less about you.

  •  Link Building for Product Pages: But, what if you want your product page to rank for a keyword? Your product page will certainly talk more about you and less about your audience, right?

    Here the magic can happen with an awesome approach of interlinking.

    There will be endless ways to interlink your product page to informational content.

    And, if you obtain the backlink for the informational content in the right way, the link juice will eventually flow to your product page that you have interlinked to the content page you obtained the backlink for.
  • Link Building for Homepage: The same technique can be applied while obtaining backlinks for your homepage as well. If your visitors can access all the product pages from the homepage menu bar, this will boost the ranking potential for all the linked pages.
  • Link Building for Blog Content: If you have a blog section on your website, make sure you have high-quality and value-driven content that you can target for obtaining backlinks. 

If your website lacks quality content, make sure to do proper keyword research and create content that your readers love to read. 

  • Interlinking for better ranks: Do not forget to do internal linking within the pages. It will not only help the Google Bot to crawl all of your important pages and index them, but also help the readers to find the relevant pages. 

If you don’t know how to do this, read this guide about creating high-quality content for your website.

  1. Considering DA/DR as the Only Sign of Authoritativeness:

Backlinks work more like a vote of approval from trusted or authoritative sites in a particular niche.

Now as important as it is to make sure you are obtaining backlinks from relevant sites, it is also very important to make sure that your referring domains are also trusted by Google.

Google sends traffic to a website it trusts. Meaning that if you can obtain in-content do-follow backlinks from niche-relevant sites that receive organic traffic from Google, you will be rewarded with link value that will help you to rank higher on Google.

What to Do Instead:

So, whenever you see a particular website with high domain authority but low organic traffic, you need to check the prospective domain before you pitch the webmaster for guest posts.

Otherwise, you may end up wasting effort on backlinks that will not help you rank higher, and in some extreme cases get you penalized.

Because the kind of sites that have high domain authority but surprisingly low organic traffic are usually PBNs or link farms. 

So, don’t forget to evaluate the quality of the domain before you get a backlink from it.

  1. Obtaining Backlinks from Irrelevant Sites:

Here’s where most people make mistakes when they build links for their websites.

Imagine, you have a beauty blog but you secured backlinks from a site that talks about electronic appliances. Do you think you can get any value from that backlink?

Certainly not.

While there are high chances webmasters from those sites will not link to your site, you can still end up getting backlinks from a website that’s not relevant to your niche.

What to Do Instead: To gain authority, it’s highly recommended that you obtain backlinks from websites that have certain dominance in your niche. 

So, it is very essential to make sure you get backlinks from a website that’s relevant to your business.

  1. Obtaining Backlinks from PBNs and Link-Farms:

PBN or private blog network is a network of websites that are used to build links for a central website in order to manipulate search engine rankings.

Even a few years ago, PBNs or private blog networks were quite popular among link builders who were looking for some shortcuts to link building.

The reason?

This network of expired domains can provide some link juice to your site, thus helping you to rank quickly on the SERP. 

However, you should know that websites like these have long been on Google’s hit list. You will be highly penalized by the search giant if you get caught.

Webmasters are getting smarter day by day, meaning that you may be getting your backlinks from such notorious websites without even knowing.

What to Do Instead:

You have to be very vigilant while prospecting domains and look for signs that tell you that this site is selling backlinks, which is strictly against Google’s link-building guidelines.

If you don’t want to ruin your domain reputation and lose ranks, it’s highly recommended that you identify the PBNs before you get links from them.

  1. Careless Anchor Text Placement:

Does your anchor text within content sound like a natural inclusion?

Or the webmaster forcefully included the anchor text within the preset content, because you offered them something they liked?

If it is true for a number of your backlinks, you know it will not be hard for Google to identify you are trying to manipulate your SERP with unethical link building.

What to Do Instead:

You have to place your anchor text within the content in a manner that looks like a natural inclusion.

In order to achieve that, you have to dedicate a part of your content to form a build-up, so that when you put the anchor text, it does not look like you forcefully included the text just to earn a backlink.

Placing the anchor text will be one of the key elements for Google to determine if you should get the link juice. 

  1. Not Diversifying the Anchor Text Profile:

Google hates unnatural links, and one easy way to make your link profile look unnatural is by using the same anchor texts repetitively for all your backlinks.

                                   Image Credit: Google Search Central

This develops a pattern that becomes very easy for Google to detect. As a result, many SEO practices do not get the expected results even after obtaining backlinks from powerful sites.

What to Do Instead:

Instead of using the same keyword-specific anchor texts, you should create a natural mix of the following:

a) Branded keyword
b) Partial Match Keyword
c) Exact Match Keyword
d) Naked URL
e) Generic text

This will make your backlink profile look natural and help you earn more trust from Google.

  1. Not Removing The Toxic Links:

I am sure you know the consequences of getting backlinks from spammy PBNs or link farms.

But, did you ever notice if you already have such backlinks?

If not, then you may not be far away from getting brutally penalized by Google.

The reason behind the Link Spam update was simple – encouraging you to remove toxic backlinks from your site and ensure a good backlink profile. 

What to Do Instead:

In case you don’t want to harm your search engine’s ranking, there’s still time. Analyze your backlinks, and get rid of the toxic ones.

How to do it?

There are tools like SEMrush that can help you do the analysis of backlinks. You can then use Google’s Disavow Tool to remove unwanted links.

  1. Building Backlinks Too Early:

Google hates the idea that webmasters will use unethical ways to manipulate their site’s rank.

And, when a new site or fresh content starts getting backlinks very frequently, it draws Google’s attention to the content or the website to see if the content is truly worth the backlinks.

Because a brand new site is not expected to receive a ton of backlinks to one of its fresh contents unless it is something really unique or revolutionary.

What to Do Instead:

1. If it is a brand new site, channel your link-building effort to content creation by publishing as much high-quality and value-driven content as possible.

2. If it is fresh content, please wait for a month or until the content gets indexed and starts receiving some traffic through social shares

3. When content is shared across social media, it earns social proof that justifies earning backlinks. So, before obtaining a few backlinks, please make sure your brand new content is shared a couple of times across different social media.

  1. Building Links from Homepage Only:

If you are thinking that backlinks from the footer or sidebar of the referring domain homepages are going to make your backlink profile stronger, you are wrong.


Even a few years ago, it was a popular practice and considered safe. However, Google now considers it a bad practice and you need to start obtaining in-content backlinks if you want to be on the safe side.

But, now Google only cares about backlinks that you get from within the content. Those backlinks stand as a point of reference for your authority in your niche.

And, if the link isn’t placed within the content, it likely won’t get any link juice. 

What to Do Instead:

If you really want to get some link juice and attract relevant traffic to your site, start building in-content backlinks that are placed naturally within the content.

In this way, your link profile will look natural to Google and you will be able to avoid some penalties.

Final Thoughts

As time passes, lots of changes evolve around the link-building process. 

What worked successfully yesterday may not work today. That’s why it’s crucial to stay updated and follow the best link-building practices approved by Google.

However, if you need professional help, you can surely consider OneLittleWeb’s link-building services. We have tested them, and they exceeded our expectations. 

The best aspect of their work is they would manually outreach for you and let you approve or reject each prospected domain before each link goes live. This way, you will always be in control. 

You can get started with a special offer, “Buy 1 DA50+ Backlink, Get 1 DA40+ Backlink FREE” that is currently going on their site.