10 Bad Links That Can Get You Penalized by Google
by Brian Harnish, Search Engine Journal
April 9, 2019

While Google maintains they are good at ignoring bad links, enough bad links can harm your site’s ranking.... [Here are] 10 different types of bad links that can get you penalized, and what you can do about them.

1. Press Release Links
Google considers press release links a link scheme because these are so easy to manipulate. You especially want to avoid any press release links that rely on over-optimized anchor text targeting your main money keyword.

2. Discussion Forum Links
o be clear: not all forum discussion links are bad. If a link is coming from a good quality site, an established user, and the link itself is not manipulative or spammy, you probably will want to keep it. However, if you have thousands of links coming in from foreign discussion forums, they are all low-quality spammy links, and they continue to come in, you may want to disavow them.

3. Links From Foreign Guestbooks
Links like these are also manipulative. Links from foreign guestbooks can be placed manually or with the aid of an automatic program.... When in doubt, disavow.

4. Many Random NoFollow Links
Think you can fool Google by randomizing your footprint just enough so that your spammy link building will go undetected? Think again. If you are not using an automated program, Google will find your footprint. ...

Why? The simple act of nofollowing the link is a footprint. Thousands of links from many different sites that are all nofollowed is an indicator that something spammy is going on.

5. Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
PBNs used to be a great way to build links to get rankings. You could randomize your footprint and all would be well. ...

Not anymore. Google is able to detect – and punish – most PBNs. Some PBNs may take longer to spot than others, but eventually Google will catch on.

6. NoFollowed (& Followed) Social Bookmark Links
Social bookmarking links are also considered to be manipulative by Google. ... They are all manually-placed and are spammy as hell. It’s no wonder Google considers these a link scheme.

7. Directory Submissions (or a Directory Submissions Service)
Directory submission services love to tell you that you will get great traction and gains from their links. However, submitting to low-quality directories will likely do more harm than good for your rankings.

As with many things in SEO, there is an exception. It is OK to use relevant and targeted directories for natural link building – especially in local SEO. In fact, here are 21 Web Directories That Still Have Value.

8. Blog Comments
Comment spam is an ancient link acquisition tactic to avoid. It. Does. Not. Work!

9. Links From Fiverr or Other Cheap Link Services
This is so egregiously bad that, while they are not part of Google’s guidelines, the patterns and footprints left behind are likely obvious to Google’s algorithms. ... Just always remember – that person you’re talking to on the black hat forums regularly could very well be a Googler.

10. Links Built by Automatic Link Building Programs
Ever heard of tools like GSA Search Engine Ranker, Scrape Box, or XRumer? Sure these tools can build you lots of links. However, in recent years, these programs have become less effective. ... If an SEO can think of it, it is likely that Google is already several steps ahead with pattern variations already built into their algorithm.

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