The Link Building Traps That New Webmasters Often Fall For


When executed properly, a solid link building strategy has the power to provide value to your website for years, generating much more traffic (and therefore revenue) for your business. But link building is a complex strategy that demands nuance and careful consideration – which is why so many newcomers end up falling into avoidable traps.

The good news is that most link building traps are easy to proactively identify and prevent. As long as you’re attentive and invested in your own results, you should be able to avoid them – and maximize the value of your link building efforts.

The Basics of Link Building

let’s cover the basics of link building first. Link building is the process of earning and manually constructing links that point to your website. Most often, people build links to their best content, their home pages, landing pages, and other prominent pages of their site.

Building a link has several positive effects. For starters, establishing the link creates a path for traffic to get to your site. When people encounter the link and click it, they turn into visitors, resulting in referral traffic. If you publish content with prominent publishers, you can generate hundreds of thousands or millions of visitors this way.

On top of that, link building is pivotal in any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy; each link is going to pass authority to your site, making it appear more trustworthy and increasing its likelihood or ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries. That’s a long way of saying that earning more and better links will make you rank higher in search engines.

Why Newcomers Are Vulnerable

Why are newcomers so vulnerable to the common traps we are about to reference?

  • inexperience. If you aren’t familiar with link building strategic fundamentals, You’re not going to be able to recognize red flags or indications that a strategy may fail. For example, if you don’t know that building repetitive links on the same source have diminishing returns, you might be tempted to waste time working with the same publisher over and over.
  • naivety. Newcomers may also be unfamiliar with the landscape of SEO. While there are plenty of reputable agencies that can help you with link building in a positive, constructive, and ethical way, there are also a lot of scam artists in the field. If you misplace your trust because you believe all agencies to be equally reputable, you could end up facing so if your consequences.
  • Zeal. When building is an exciting strategy, so it tends to make newcomers overeager. If they’re in a rush to generate as much traffic as possible as quickly as possible, they may skip some important advice or be too aggressive in their link building strategy.

So what are the common traps that newcomers fall for?

Building Links Too Aggressively

One of the biggest problems is building links too aggressively, which comes as a direct result of being too excited about link building and SEO. If you just launched a new website, you might be eager to get people visiting it as soon as possible. If you have a business model in mind, you’ll be borderline desperate to start generating revenue.

However, this leads new webmasters to tactics that are far too aggressive.

  • Source and format issues. If you’re desperate to get links, you’re probably not concerned about which sources you’re using or how you’re formatting those links. Building links on low quality sources may be fast and easy, but it could get you associated with the wrong types of online authorities. Similarly, if you skip content writing and just start building naked links, you’ll see inferior results.
  • Spam. There’s a fine line between manual link building and link spamming. If you’re caught link spamming, your site can face a penalty, ultimately negating any benefits you would have gained from link building in the first place. Newcomers often don’t have the experience or the knowledge necessary to walk this line appropriately.
  • Speed/timing. You could also face problems based on the speed or pace of your link building development. If Google notices that you’re building too many links too quickly for a new site, it may trigger a red flag, ultimately resulting in a penalty. You need to start slow and steady, then gradually escalate the pace – which is hard to do if you’re trying to build early momentum for your business.

Relying Entirely on Passive Link Earning

Some link builders and the falling for an opposite kind of traffic. Rather than building links too aggressively or in unethical ways, they opt for a totally passive approach. The philosophy here is sound; if you write good enough on site content, and work hard to promote that content, you should be able to earn citations from external authorities naturally. In fact, many link building agencies and SEO professionals include this as part of their comprehensive approach to search optimization.

The problem comes into play when you are entirely reliant on passive link earning. Link earning is natural, so there’s almost no risk of penalty, but it tends to be time consuming, inconsistent, and unpredictable. That’s why the best link building strategies have elements of both natural link earning and manual link building.

Link Building Partner Problems

Another common trap that newcomers fall into is related to choosing the correct link building partner. There are several types of SEO service providers and services that can sabotage your campaign before you even build enough momentum to start seeing positive results.

  • Outright scammers. Some link building agencies and freelancers are outright scammers or fraud. They’re not interested in providing quality services and may not be interested in providing services at all. They may take your money, refuse to do work, and totally disappear when you call to complain.
  • Black hat practitioners. Link building tactics can be broadly categorized as being “white hat” or “black hat.” White hat tactics are considered ethical, honest, and reliable, while black hat tactics are considered unethical, dishonest, and sketchy; there are also “gray hat” tactics that occupy an ambiguous middle zone. Black hat tactics have the potential to give you a short-term payoff, but they almost always result in negative long-term consequences. It’s important to avoid black hat practitioners at all costs, but newcomers are often unfamiliar with the warning signs that an agency is resorting to such tactics.
  • Non-native writers. Offshoring some of your SEO work may be viable, but content is at the center of your link building campaign. If you employ non-native or unskilled writers, it’s only going to work against you.
  • Expensive services. Some issues are much simpler to identify. Link building can be expensive, and if you pay too much for services, it will compromise your profitability.

Refusing to Learn and Adapt

the world of link building is always changing. Google issues new algorithm updates to unveil new features, improve functionality, and streamline user experience on a nearly constant basis; in fact, these updates are rolled out so smoothly and so quickly, SEO professionals sometimes have difficulty differentiating between these updates.

On top of that, new link building strategies are always being designed and experimented with. New competitors emerge to threaten your SERP dominance. And new market trends and technologies can shape the link building landscape even further.

Accordingly, one of the biggest mistakes made by link building newcomers is remaining stagnant indefinitely. If you want to keep pushing for better results, you need to work hard to measure your results, learn lessons from your mistakes, stay updated with the most recent updates, and continuously adapt.

Link building certainly presents a lot of variables to consider, but it’s not totally opaque or inaccessible to newcomers. As long as you’re familiar with the most common traps and you work proactively to avoid them, you can get the most out of your link building approach.

Nate Nead

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO & Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting company that provides strategic advisory services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing and software development. For over a decade Nate had provided strategic guidance on M&A, capital procurement, technology and marketing solutions for some of the most well-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 and SMB clients alike. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.


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