Can You Build Links too Quickly?

SEO Question: I believe link popularity is the #1 criteria to rank in most search algorithms. Is it possible to gain links too quickly?

SEO Answer: Yes you can gain links too quickly, however I think gaining links too quick is rare. Here is an example of Google temporarily banning one of their own sites for building too many links too quickly. You have to appreciate the strength of Google's brand, and that is part of the reason their then new AdSense blog could have gained so many legitimate links so quickly - it is anomaly.

When people get in trouble for building links too quickly typically they are using automated link building methods, link exchange networks, or lack focus on link quality - all of which give a site an unnatural link profile with an emphasis on low quality linkage data (see TrustRank and the Company You Keep as an example).

If you are getting natural citations in a viral marketing campaign I would not want it to stop for anything. Even if a site did temporarily get banned by a bad search algorithms as long as the fault is not your own the site will come back strongly. Plus natural viral link campaigns have the following bonuses:

  • are hard for competitors to duplicate

  • competitors even requesting links the wrong way from certain opinionated high authority authors can end up hurting their brand equity.
  • drive usage data - ie: they usually spread through the active portions of the web
  • give you a safety net...if your site is ever removed from the search results viral links will still provide direct traffic (and revenue) as well as help fill up search results for your brand with positive comments that further help improve your trustworthiness and conversion rate

If you are building links by submitting to directories and submitting articles to syndication sites I don't think it hurts to build 20 to 50 links at a time so long as you keep actively building links over time or already have an old estabilshed site.

Of course when you build links it makes sense to mix up your anchor text and descriptions so that you are relevant for a basket of keywords and do not make your link profile too unnatural looking.

Published: March 14, 2006 by Aaron Wall in Q & A


August 30, 2007 - 3:55pm

50 directories per month are not too much. maybe in 2008 it will change.

March 25, 2006 - 5:26pm


I believe the idea of submitting to directories just to make Google happy is over blown.

We have been submitting to many directories (at least 100 of them) for 1 yr now, and have not seen any recognition by Google or an increase in traffic from Google.

So, I believe it is not relevant anymore.

May be 2 yrs ago, it was, but these days, I see no evidence that it is.

The Buddy

March 26, 2006 - 2:37am

nice anchor text there on the sig link mr directory submission.

I think some directories still help in Google (in fact I know they do by knowing the link profiles of some sites) but on average they help far more in Yahoo! and MSN.

Trojan Fan
June 20, 2008 - 2:05am

I've made this mistake more than once - where another site or two will add a link to my site on their sitewide blogroll and I see a decrease in serp's about a week or two later. I believe this is the cause - too many links too fast - as my serp's always come back shortly after then, maybe a week or two after. Seems that the search engines put your site temporarily on hold to verify that the links are legit. Does that sound right?

October 10, 2008 - 11:30am

75% of all incoming links to a specific page of mine( Dutch domain ) are coming from foreign sites ( .com domains ) ...will this also be concidered as a unnatural linkprofile?

October 11, 2008 - 12:18am

It depends on a number of factors. But it is not uncommon for a local site to become internationally acclaimed and more popular around the world than it is locally.

There is nothing about the world that says you have to live in the United States to be a subject matter expert, and if you live in a small country it may be common that most of your links come from elsewhere.

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