How to build backlinks without getting penalised by search engines

Backlinks are the backbones of Search Engine Optimization. However, Google says building links to influence search results will do more harm to your blog versus helping your blog. Isn't it conflicting?

In the late 90's when I started blogging, I wasn't doing a separate task called "SEO". That doesn't mean I was sitting idle after writing my articles. I was trying to figure out how to make search engines like my articles and send more and more people to my site. I just didn't know what I was doing was called "SEO".

I was always skeptical about building a lot of "backlinks". In last 16-17 years of my blogging, I have been trying to make my content suitable to get backlinks but I tried to stay away from approaches like blog commenting, link exchanges etc or limited it to very minimum. My common approach was to ask for a link to my content than spamming other sites to get links.

Until 2 years ago, most of the new bloggers depended on forum footers and blog commenting as the easiest way to build lot of quick links to their websites. The scenario has changed a lot now. Google has started penalising sites that focus on link building than content creation.

Should we build backlinks to our blogs?

Even after Google started penalising sites for link building, quality backlinks remain the backbone of search engine ranking. So, how do we get quality links to our blogs without getting penalised? This is a very common question and one of the biggest confusion for today's bloggers.

I have done a few experiments on link building and also had few bad experience on some of my blogs which naturally acquired some backlinks which were considered as bad links or artificially created backlinks to influence search results. Based on my own research and experience, I would like to share a few points:

  • Backlinks are the backbone of search engine ranking. The more quality back links you have, the better ranking your website could get.

  • Backlinks are one of several factors that affect search engine ranking. Some of the other important factors are quality of content, overall value of the website, optimized pages and so on.

  • Consider the ingredients of a recipe. Every ingredient should be added in the right proportion. However, excessive amount of this would spoil the whole food.

  • Backlinks are one of the most important ingredient of the SEO recipe. It should be added in the right proportion along with all other ingredients like quality content, regularly added new content, good social media presence etc.

Watch this video from Matt Cutts on what is paid links:

And here is a video from Google's John Mueller, who suggests stay away from link building (for ranking):

How to build backlinks safely, without getting penalised?

I get a lot of questions in my Facebook about link building. If someone ask me a quick question on whether they can build backlinks to their blog, my general answer would be, "it can harm your site". And that's true. Building lot of links to your blog can seriously harm your site and could result in vanishing your site from Google search results.

So, how do we build links carefully, without hurting the site?

Here are some points that you could take care while working on links to your blog.

NOTE: I rarely check the backlinks for my big blogs and I believe it is not required to worry about them once your blog is well established. Link building is big concern only for small blogs which are struggling to come up in search results.

  1. When you start a new blog, do not start link building right away. Wait for a few months and make your website as good as possible. Add quality content and fine tune your articles to make them impressive to search engines.

  2. Do not expect lot of traffic from first month; build your traffic slowly.

  3. Think about your ability to build backlinks in the long run. Your efforts have to continue for years. If you plan to build backlinks for your site, you should continue the same efforts consistently for few years.

  4. Do link building in the same pace for years. Do not accelerate for few weeks and then slow down for another few weeks. If you are building 3 links per month now, continue about the same pace for several months or few years.

  5. Do not build excessive links. Unless your website is getting very popular, building 2-5 links per month is the limit recommended for most blogs and websites, in addition to the natural links your blog is getting.

  6. If the number of artificial links you build exceeds the organic links you receive naturally, there is a big chance that your blog will be penalised. There is no way anyone can tell how Google is going to identify organic and artificial links, but trust me, they are pretty smart and is more than 75% accurate.

  7. These days, most websites give only no-follow links. However, most of the links that are purchased or artificially built are going to be do-follow, which will give a strong signal to search engines about artificial link building. I would suggest you make sure your links are a good mix of do-follow and no-follow links.

  8. Do not get all your links from the same type of source. Work on a variety of sources like social media, high authority forums, blogs in your niche, a variety of websites, image sites, video channels etc.

  9. Do not stress too much on keyword based anchor texts. I would suggest you get a balanced distribution of anchor texts in the form of keywords, url, image and common link words like "this site", "visit this site", "click here" etc.

Bottom line - what is bad link building and what is good link building?

I would like to summarize the results of my research and experience this way:

1. Focusing on linking building as the main strategy to promote your website can seriously harm your site.

2. Link building should be one of many approaches you use to promote your website.

3. Posting links to your site all over the web can harm your site.

4. The best and safe approach to build good links is to bring your content to the attention of people who would be interested in linking to your site. For example, if you write a good review of a product, show your review to the company/brand. They might link to your blog. And nothing wrong in directly asking for a link.

Read What is negative SEO? How to protect your website from negative SEO?

Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including,, and many more.

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Author: Korra17 Feb 2015 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 4

These are the best ethical link building tips. I always prefer contextual link building and interlinking my similar articles to each other. Bloggers who are in trouble regarding spam links to their blogs can make use of Google & Bing's Disavow tool. It was first introduced by Bing and later Google in 2012 to help bloggers against spam links.

Author: Timmappa Kamat17 Feb 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

These are most helpful tips on how to make use of back links. This will help bloggers to make a better use of the links to earn better.

Author: Bhakti Savla26 Feb 2015 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

Thanks Tony John Sir for highlighting the importance of having backlinks to our site or blog in the right proportion. I too share your view of building atleast 1-2 quality backlinks every month and keeping this frequency constant right through year. This would prove more helpful to the SEO of our blogs and eventually help increasing the traffic.

Guest Author: Preferencesoft06 Apr 2015

Thanks for these tips.

According to some bloggers, it becomes very difficult to get free backlinks. Many offer no follow links that do not have much value in SEO.

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