SEO has changed a lot over the years. Things that you find when researching, especially when you’re new to SEO, are probably outdated. Finding new and relevant information can be tricky because SEO changes almost every week or whenever a new algorithm update occurs. The thing that scares me the most are the new SEOs that are reading books on the basics, and the basics are actually things that will hurt you now. Here are 6 basics of SEO and link building that are no longer relevant and that you should avoid doing. Instead of helping you like they did years ago when the book was written, now they can potentially cause harm or just not be effective at all. If the book or guide you are using has these and is recent, you should probably find a new book or new person to follow and get advice from.
1. Using directories for backlinks
Years ago when DMOZ was a huge part of SEO, everyone wanted to be in directories. Eventually Google and other engines decided that being able to buy placements and be listed with a backlink isn’t a good evaluation on what makes a quality site. I did a post somewhat recently about directories that are still relevant for SEO, however, unless the directories meet the criteria in that post, or are very relevant to you and have age and authority, I would avoid them and remove them from your link building plans and strategies. You may even want to use the Disavow tool to remove some of the links from non relevant ones.
2. Spam Bots or Automated Link Builders
Whether they go out and comment on a ton of blogs and forums or just list sites and prep the fields for you to be able to comment, this is not good for you or for your SEO. Although a slightly aged domain can rank for competitive terms for a few months using spam bots and automated link building software, after the engines catch and ban that url, it’ll be almost impossible to get back in and ranking again. You’ll need to use the Disavow tool and also ask for an exception or forgiveness from the search engines. The problem is if they see you owned the url, did it and then are asking for them to forgive the url, they’ll probably say you should have known better and keep your out of the SERPs. They usually only forgive when it’s a new owner, a new company and not associated with any other sites or urls that have the same patterns. These tools sound good but you should never use them. Always build your links by hand, build quality ones and also make sure your site has a reason for people to want to link to you naturally through quality content and interesting information.
3. Article Sites
A lot of beginner SEO guides recommend article sites for backlinks. This is something that used to be good but you should now ignore. Instead of giving yourself a backlink, write the post and let people know where to go or how to find you. Although the articles can rank well, the backlinks are crap because everyone and anyone can write an article and get the same backlinks. Also, Google went after these sites and crashed most of them because of the low quality with some of their updates in the last few years. This can also mean the links are devalued and if article sites and submissions were a large portion of your plan, your site will take a hit when Google and the other engines look at your linking structure. Article sites are great to use an Affiliate link in if you can get a post to rank, but you should not use them for SEO. They are also almost always general so they aren’t topic or content relevant for you either.
4. Blog Commenting
Blog commenting is one that many people will disagree with me on. Blog commenting should be used to build a following and show off what you know. The backlinks are usually no follow, anyone can have or get them and the ones that use things like comment luv, or other tools to give do follow links can be bad for you. There are multiple reasons why.
- If everyone gets do follow links, the post and topic will be lost since the outbound links are now going to a million different topics and some non relevant or low quality sites.
- If it clearly says it gives do follow links, this is something frowned upon by many search engines. They want links to appear because your site is quality, not because you gave yourself a backlink because someone has comment luv on their site. Comment luv can be awesome for getting more readers and people to share your copy or content, but for SEO it can be a bad thing. I could easily see Google penalizing sites that give away free links with these plug ins for blogs in the future and the sites that regularly leave comments just to get the keyword rich backlinks from them.
- The more outbound links on a page, the less value the links can pass. If everyone is commenting because the Blogger approves a lot of comments, the links count for less.
- The search engines know what is a blog comment and what isn’t. By having a ton of blog comments in your link profile as backlinks, it can easily tell the search engines that no one is actually linking to you and that you are the only one saying your site is quality. This can cause you to not be able to rank or get you removed from the SERPs.
5. Forum Commenting
Although forum comments can be good, if you do it too often or a large portion of your linking structure is from forums and blogs, it is easy to figure out that you are the one building these links and that no one is actually linking to your site based on quality. A couple of forum links from content relevant forums that appear naturally in the forums can still be good. Having signatures and spamming forums that let almost anyone leave a link are not going to be much value to your site for SEO. You can however use participating in forums (not spamming links) and having a link in your signature to build a following that can find you through the link. Just make sure that participating and using links isn’t a huge part or even a large part of your link building strategy or link profile.
6. Building a ton of sites off of free site builders, article sites and blogging sites to give yourself links.
Links from sites on wordpress.com or blogger.com can be good. Some of the subdomains have a high PR and can be extremely relevant for you. However, some beginner SEO guides recommend you build a site or blog on each of these (sometimes hundreds of them) and then spin content and keep them active. Others will tell you to update them once a month and keep updating them to make them look real. Not only is this obvious, but if you are the only site within your niche getting links from these sites and the content is or isn’t spun, it’s easy to map and your site can get penalized for low quality links and kicked out of the SERPs. You should never create fake sites on domains like wordpress and blogger as a part of your link building strategy. However, if your goal is Online Reputation Management SEO, these are sites that you can more easily get to rank for your trademarks and if you do decide to use them, make sure it is only to reserve your name and not part of link building.
Many of the guides you read, including some of the ones written recently will give you a ton of bad advice for the basics with SEO and link building. The only things that remain relevant and probably always will are getting natural looking links from inside of the body and content on a website, and on sites that are content to content relevant. Anything else is probably not good for you and you should avoid. You do need a mix of good and bad links, but using the strategies above for your link building strategy will not benefit you and some of them can actually destroy your url to the point where it won’t be worth recovering and you’ll have to start over.