In SEO, link building is considered as one of the best ways to achieve two goals in the business: traffic and ranking. Because of this, the technique is deemed to be the most effective tactics in boosting a website’s performance.

However, there are several link building practices that are counterproductive because they are considered bad practices by search engines like Google. Interestingly, some bad link building practices tend to appear like a legit tactic to gain better ranking and traffic, but the truth is, it is all about how the strategy was executed.

To help you prevent losing those hard-earned points in SEO, we have gathered information on 5 bad link building practices you should avoid.

1. Inappropriate Directory Submissions

Let’s begin with one of the lesser evils in link building: inappropriate directory submissions. When SEO was still young, directories were deemed the best starting point to any website who wishes to establish links online. At the time, directories even provided a way for search engine web crawlers to find a website relevant to a user’s query.

Unfortunately, some people have abused and misused this link building practice to the point that they even put up links in directories that are already outside the scope of their niche. Because of this, search engines have penalized websites with many directory backlinks that aren’t being used by their target audience.

The bottom line is that directories aren’t generally bad— it’s how you use them in SEO that matters.

2. Cloaking

Unlike the first item on this list, cloaking is a greater evil in link building simply because it is manipulative. People who use this tactic to gain backlinks tend to show an entirely different picture to search engines compared to what users actually experience on the website, something that is akin to a false advertisement.

3. Injecting Links

Like cloaking, injecting links to a website owned by another person is considered a bad link building practice and is even categorized under Black Hat SEO. Be wary of this practice because while it can provide your page with a lot of backlinks very quickly, it does not give any advantages to your page in the long run and can even cause your website to suffer after getting penalized by Google.

4. Trading Links

“Trading” links in SEO has been a good practice for many years as it allows people behind websites to interact harmoniously. However, it has been abused over the years as some have opted to trade with every single website they come across, leaving Google no choice but to update their algorithm for such pages to be considered spam.

Since it is deemed spam in the eyes of the search engine, these backlinks do not present real SEO value, so be sure to avoid having your website tangled up in this kind of a mess. Of course, you can still trade links with reputable sites, but be sure to choose those that are relevant to your industry or the niche you are working on. Not only does this make sure that the page doesn’t get flagged, it also allows a more relevant viewership that has better chances of converting.

5. “Spammy” Guest Posting

Many of you may be surprised why guest posting is added to this bad link building practices list since it is deemed an efficient SEO strategy for many bloggers, but rest assured your confusion will be clarified shortly.

Same as the other generally-good SEO practices mentioned earlier, guest blogging isn’t bad to the core— it was only abused and misused. In fact, the former Google Head of Web Spam Matt Cutts made a bold announcement about it in 2014, saying that guest blogging is no longer a good SEO practice to build links since it has become “spammy.”

The thing is, guest posting should be approached more ethically and should be done with trustworthy websites that are curated by real people. When writing a guest post, it is also best to avoid other bad SEO practice such as keyword stuffing and abusing anchor texts. To be sure, never rely on guest posting alone.