14 Link Building Scams That You Must Avoid in 2023

Link Building
On June 8, 2023

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Since link building is the secret sauce for strong rankings and high organic traffic, every other company and SEO agency is offering backlinks and link building services online. While many of them are legitimate, others are not so. In fact, a lot of them are openly engaging in link building scams

Link Building Scams

You should always look for SEO link building agencies that have the experience of developing links for years and understand what Google wants to see and doesn’t want to see. However, it is easy to fall prey to link building scammers, especially when you really want to develop quality, relevance, naturalness, and authority in your content. 


We know how to identify and how to avoid link building scam that any one who is running a website or company performing online business will face sooner or later. So, let’s find out how to identify link building scammers:

What Is Link Building Scam?

Link building scams are dishonest methods used by unethical individuals, agencies, or businesses. They basically claim to boost your website’s search engine ranks by acquiring backlinks.


These link building scammers frequently use strategies that are against search engine standards. As a result, you may face loss of traffic, damage to your website’s reputation, and penalties.

How to Identify Link Building Scammers and Their Scams?

If you intend to outsource your link building strategy to one of the many service providers online, you need to be informed of what you are getting yourself into and what they offer.


This is due to the fact that acquiring the incorrect kind of backlinks will, at best, have no impact on your website and, at worst, will cause your ranks on Google to plummet.


Some of the most common link building scam types that link building scammers often indulge in: 


  • Link buying and selling activities.
  • An unnatural amount of link exchanges.
  • Using links produced automatically.
  • Creating poor-quality bookmark or directory links.


You run the risk of receiving a Google penalty if the service you select employs any of these link building scams.


Here are x link building scams to avoid in light of that.

  • Promised Google SERPs Page 1 Ranking

The reason why this scam is one of the most prevalent link building scams is probably because every company and business owner wants their website to rank #1 for their keywords. Most of these people don’t even want to confirm if it might not be achievable or not. The competition will be severe for the keywords with high search traffic unless you are focusing on niche or low-volume keywords.

Empty SEO Promises

Your rivals did not get themselves on the front page by mistake. Instead, they have been paying for SEO or marketing services at the cost of thousands of dollars per month for years. In addition to being years behind your rivals if you are just getting started with catching up, they have probably invested thousands of dollars over the years to achieve and maintain their rankings.


If an SEO company makes a special, risk-free offer for $100 or $200 per month that includes a promise of making you rank on the first page of Google SERPs within a month, it’s almost probably a scam. With a $200 per month SEO service, you cannot reasonably expect to rank higher than your rivals, and you should never fall for this or any other popular sales trick. If rankings were so straightforward, everyone would be at the top.

  • Link Builders Who Use PBNs

Private blog networks (PBNs) are web-based networks that are used to quickly create a lot of links pointing to another website. PBNs can be a useful tool for improving your ranking, but only before Google learns about the network. When it does, it will lessen any impact the links may have and penalize associated sites manually.



Website owners frequently utilize PBNs to promote their own sites. However, PBNs are also adored by link builders who can use them to easily and quickly construct links to a client’s page. The difficulty in identifying PBN websites is that they may appear to have useful links.

How to Spot Link Building Scams That Involve PBNs 

There are a number of telltale indicators that point to a service using a PBN for link building:


  • Watch out for statements like ‘links from numerous websites.’
  • Promise like placement on websites with high DR.
  • A predetermined number of links.
  • The guarantee that the links will go online in a little while.
  • Surprisingly low costs.
  • There is no way to accept or reject sites.


If you see any of these red flags, proceed with extreme caution.

  • Claiming to Make Your Website Available to Hundreds of Search Engines

If you’ve ever gotten this proposal and carefully checked the list of search engines to which they promise they’ll submit your website, you’ll realize that many of those listed search engines are false or haven’t existed for years.


Yahoo, Bing, and Google control the majority of the US search engine industry. The other numerous search engines are insignificant.

  • Use of Link Farms

A link farm is one of the most well-known link building scams that formerly promised website owners an SEO version of the California gold rush. These black-hat tactics are intended to artificially enhance search engine ranks by spinning a complex web of related sites.

Link Farms


However, search engines quickly clamped down on these misleading practices, levying penalties and damaging reputations. Today, using link farms is a high-risk gamble that jeopardizes your website’s trustworthiness. 

How to Spot Link Building Scams That Involve Link Farms

Detecting a link farm is critical for safeguarding your website’s reputation and search engine rankings. Here are some red flags that can help you spot a link farm:


  • Irrelevant content 
  • Excessive number of outbound links
  • Inadequate content quality
  • Websites with similar designs
  • User engagement is minimal
  • Patterns of domain registration

Link Farms


By remaining watchful and looking for these indicators, you can save yourself from getting entangled in the deceitful web of link farms and instead focus on developing a strong, ethical online presence.

  • Web Development Firms That Offer SEO Services

SEO services appear to be available from every online marketing firm these days, even GoDaddy! Be aware of these organizations, especially if you research them and realize that they do not even employ an SEO specialist.

Web Development Firms


Many of these companies are likely to have a rudimentary understanding of how SEO works and offer it as part of the service they provide in order to remain competitive. Do not be fooled by it: you will not obtain the same level of services that you would if you hired an SEO consultant.

  • Spammy Forum and Directory Links

Another one of the most common link building scams entails link placement in the comment sections of blogs and forum posts. 

These aren’t inherently negative links to have on their own. They can help you create a healthy, diverse backlink profile if they aren’t the primary sort of link you have, and you pick and select your opportunities intelligently.

Spammy Forum and Directory Links


However, there are unethical link builders and link building organizations out there who will attempt to offer spammy copies of these links to their clients because they are easy to build. Furthermore, by using software that automates the process, they provide a large number of these types of links in a short period of time.


Spammy Forum and Directory Links


The issue with these kinds of link building scammer websites is that when links from these sites are left unsupervised, they are frequently viewed as unnatural by Google, and they rarely stay around long enough for you to notice any of the minor value they would have provided in the first place. 

How to Avoid Link Building Scam That Involves Directory Links

The good news is that it is super easy to discover if any link building firm is trying to dupe you into paying for this form of connection. They will often inform you right away that this is how they build backlinks. 


While being transparent is usually a good thing, many of these link generators will tell you that comment and forum links are valuable when they are not. 


Get link building scam protection from such links by watching out for:


  • Agencies that promise you backlinks
  • Links that are unbelievably cheap
  • A large number of links in a short period of time


Keep these red flags in mind.

  • Proclaiming 1,000 Website Visitors per Day

If you often check other websites’ contact forms, you’ve certainly seen offers for 500, 1,000, or even more “targeted visitors” each day. This deal could possibly include a free 30-day trial period. Do not fall for this trick. This targeted traffic is most probably bot traffic. Traffic is a superficial metric; this traffic will not enhance your conversions.

Proclaiming 1,000 Website Visitors


Bot traffic can also cause your Google Analytics data to be misinterpreted, making it impossible to filter out the bad data later. These offers should be avoided.

  • Content Spinning

Bots and software like ChatGPT have become entirely capable of doing an incredible job of creating content to build backlinks. However, not everything is perfect. Take, for instance, content spinning. 

Content Spinning


Content writers spend days researching, making notes, sorting through mountains of data, creating outlines, and partnering with experts in the field to create excellent content that truly adds value to their readers’ lives. Such software, on the other hand, creates content in a few seconds.


What exactly do these link building scams do? Spin current online content and fill it to the brim with backlinks to your website before posting it. So, what’s the big deal? Most of the time, content spinners do not pay attention to the content, and the results are riddled with errors and plagiarism. 

Content Spinning


While this may “occasionally” aid you, it is more often than not a waste of your true consumers’ confidence.

How to Avoid Link Building Scam Entailing Content Spinning? 

If you don’t have a keen eye for it, it can be difficult to recognize spun content. To avoid such link building scams, take your time shortlisting reputable companies and copywriters who go to the trouble of creating something important for your audience that other websites will be encouraged to link back to.

  • 301 Redirect Sellers Spam

This one is an outright link building scam and possibly one of the laziest ways to gain links; it’s terrible that these services are even being provided to consumers. Many business owners don’t understand SEO and Google, and they often fall for this spammy trick. Since there aren’t any real factors provided by Google that offer genuine measurements (because Google got rid of page rank), other companies have stepped in to fill the void. SEMrush, MOZ, and AHREFs, all offer their own metrics.

301 Redirect Sellers Spam


These indicators are merely a point of correlation rather than causation. Fraudulent link builders understand how to manipulate these indicators and sell you on reaching a specific Domain Authority (MOZ) or Domain Rank (AHREFS) figure, like 60.


To deliver what they claim, link building scammers source various sites and send links to your domain. Once the tool picks up these links, it assigns a number to them. However, this does not imply that your links are of any quality; it simply means that domains of a specific authority are pointing to you. 

301 Redirect Sellers Spam


Link building scammers (individuals and companies) accomplish this by abusing their edit rights on several domains, establishing a new URL on this site, and then redirecting to your site using a 301 redirect. As a website owner, you won’t be aware that the page exists, and only crawlers will be able to detect 301 redirects to your site. This link will never be found by a user and is effectively a sort of link masking.


So, if you come across any advertisement saying that they will get you a link from a 60 DR or DA, stay away from it like it’s COVID.

  • Fake Guest Posts

The main purpose of fake guest posts is to gain backlinks while providing no value to the host website or its users. Because they contravene search engine restrictions, these false guest articles might harm your website’s reputation and search engine rankings. Scammers contribute content to numerous blogs and websites posing as real guest posts.


How to Recognize Link Building Scams Involving Fake Guest Posting Services

  • Using tools like Moz, Ahrefs, or SEMrush, assess the website’s authority and reputation.
  • Be wary of services that employ unethical strategies to build links, such as link farms or PBNs.
  • Avoid services that need payment in advance or offer discounts for large guest posting orders.
  • Check the links they supply with a backlink analysis tool to ensure their legitimacy.
  • Be wary of services that make exaggerated promises or claim speedy outcomes.
  • Watch for warning signals such as low prices, inadequate communication, and a lack of transparency regarding their operations.


It is critical to focus on writing high-quality, original guest articles that provide relevant knowledge and insights to readers in order to retain a strong online presence and trust.

  • Making Pages That Have Dead Ends

Making Pages That Have Dead Ends


Doorway pages are web pages that are developed expressly to score high for specific search keywords in order to direct readers to their client’s site. This approach is immoral because it denies more worthy websites a position at the top of the SERPs. At first glance, this SEO approach appears to be common sense and guaranteed success: more access, a greater audience, and more revenue; yet, it is far from successful. This technique, in reality, is instantly damaging.

  • Optimizing an Entirely Unrelated Website to Make It Look Like Yours 

White Hat SEO methods can be costly and time-consuming to adopt. Agencies are constantly looking for strategies to retain clients without incurring the significant costs associated with a white-hat strategy. The approach they follow is to create, manage, and own a version of the client’s site that is effectively held hostage if the client decides to quit the agency.

Unrelated Website


Let us tell you how this scam works. If you hire someone to optimize your website, they will build a version of your website (instead of working on your website) that looks identical to your website. They will also place it in a subdirectory or subdomain.


On top of that, these link building scammer websites and agencies have complete control over the new website they have created. They can even apply white hat tactics to rank this website, which may be highly advantageous. This is not a deception. The deception happens when a customer decides not to renew a retainer, and the agency pulls the site, effectively undoing all of the work the client has paid for.

How to Check for and Avoid These Link Building Scams?

We suggest that you study the fine print in your contract with the agency to ensure that there is a clause that states that in the event of the cancellation of the contract, the client retains all content supplied throughout the contract or something similar.

  • Link Builders With Little to No Experience

For website owners and SEO experts, hiring novice link builders might be a risky option. While they may proclaim to have the abilities and knowledge to offer high-quality backlinks and increase your website’s traffic, it’s difficult to know if they have the ability to deliver the necessary outcomes without any real proof. Thorough research is required, as is the search for trustworthy, skilled link builders with an established history of accomplishment.

How to Spot Link Building Scams Involving Inexperienced Link Builders

  • Unproven link builders may lack the required expertise and experience in the sector, resulting in mediocre results.
  • Look for a past work portfolio that proves their skill and competence in developing high-quality backlinks.
  • If a link builder cannot produce references or evaluations from satisfied clients, it could be a symptom of inexperience or failure.
  • Case studies demonstrating successful link builders’ abilities to generate traffic and produce quality backlinks should be available.
  • Unproven link builders may make false promises or promise immediate results, but developing high-quality backlinks requires time and work.


By keeping these things in mind, you can steer clear of working with untested link builders and instead select a dependable and professional firm to assist you in reaching your website’s objectives.

  • Content Syndicators

Content syndicators take the content written by you and repost it on other websites or blogs, with a link back to your article as the original source. If you’re syndicating to websites that have their own audience, such as Medium or Substack, content syndicators can be a wonderful method to expose your material to new readers. It can enhance the rankings of your content, and boost referral traffic.

Content Syndicators


However, numerous content syndicators do not cooperate with the most frequented sites. They duplicate the content written by you on websites with little or no traffic, do nothing for your online presence, and bill you for the link.


Content syndicators can be useful if they have access to good websites or if they know how to diversify links on a single post that already has links going to it from respectable sites. This additional link push could prove more than enough to take you above your competition, but choose your battles carefully.

Content Syndicators


If you don’t know how to evaluate websites for traffic or check their link diversification, we recommend you avoid this strategy, or you will waste money.

Summing It Up

The majority of these link building scams are motivated by laziness and the belief that you can outsmart Google. Keep in mind that Google spends millions of dollars each year paying the greatest developers in the world to combat search ranking manipulation. Therefore, if you’re going to compete with Google, you’ll need more than just indulging in link building scam types.


If you want to build backlinks in a way that you know will never be reported by Google and will help the quality of your site, you should ignore these strategies entirely. Stay from link building scammers. Even with link buying and selling, you need to be able to understand what they’re selling you. Some link building scams depend on consumer ignorance to make money for a subpar product.


In the best-case scenario, it will have no effect on your search rankings; in the worst-case scenario, it may degrade your domain’s ranking ability or even cause it to be deindexed if the spam is severe enough.


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