How NOT to Do Blog Outreach to Avoid Unnatural Link Profile Penalties

How to Increase the Domain Authority of your site

Click image to see full infographic with tips to increase your DA

Many bloggers make a living writing, publishing or placing content. What they don’t know can end up hurting them, their clients, and their collaborators who own sites.

Learn how to SAFELY place content and increase your Domain Authority.

Far too many “SEOs” focus on cheap instead of on quality. Many businesses rely on those they hire who may or may not actually know what they’re doing. That is why so many are wasting hundreds of hours removing even quality links.

Most bloggers are not SEOs. An SEO analyzes link profiles,
provides strategies, and may acquire or advise on acquiring links.

Often those of us who understand quality content are believed by others to be SEOs (as is obvious by all the SEO endorsements my LinkedIn profile garners. That doesn’t make me an SEO.

I don’t spend my time analyzing link profiles for clients – or even for myself. I create strategies for clients and write content that contains recommendations others can apply.

If you need an SEO hire someone like Bill Hartzer, or Aaron Wall, or Rand Fishkin. (If you have hired a link builder in the past, or have been penalized by Google, you probably need to hire someone who can figure out why your link profile is unnatural.)

How NOT to Do Blog Outreach

What bloggers and content marketers need to know is what NOT to do. And the first rule is do not build unnatural link profiles. This image is the best way to understand why what many are doing is going to burn all involved:

Natural graph vs unnatural link profile

An obviously unnatural link profile caused by only publishing on DA30+ sites.

That image is from Qualifying Guest Posting Opportunities to Avoid Google’s Wrath and also appeared in James Finlayson’s post How Guest Bloggers are Sleepwalking Their Way into Penalties.

What this tells us is that even though we might think we only want high authority links that would be a very bad idea. When you place content, focus on reaching the audience that business or site wants to reach, i.e., potential buyers.

When choosing a site, put relevancy above authority.

Do not avoid the perfect site because they are new and their domain authority (DA) is lower than you prefer. If they have the buyers you want, publish there anyway.

Never put content on a high DA site that is not related
to what you are linking to or writing about.

If a site has a huge audience and high DA, but they nofollow all links that does NOT mean they should be avoided.You need a mix of both dofollow and nofollow links and both newer, less authoritative (but relevant) and higher authority sites.

Sites that refuse to link to anything are not as clear cut. Because readers are lazy and often will click but not copy/paste or search you will have to leave it to your client to decide whether publishing on a site that has banned all links is worthwhile or not.

Keyword Not Provided

Everyone loses with Google’s secure search – except Google. That post explains how this change affects users, websites and Google. Inbound Mastery published my Roundup of the Best Keyword Not Provided Solutions.

Basic SEO for Writers

Bloggers do need the basics on how to do keyword research and how to write content that is useful and as safe as possible for those publishing it. Here are some posts worth saving:

Bloggers should start learning at least the basics of SEO. That starts with installing tools like the SEOBook Toolbar, the SEOMoz Toolbar for Firefox (I use both) or Chrome browser extensions. This post lists the top Google Chrome browser extensions for SEO link building.

Stop Using PageRank

Because PR hasn’t been updated since February 2013, if you look at mR (MozRank) and DA (domain authority) you will see many sites whose PR is much lower than their mR or DA.

The problem you then have is wondering whether they’ve just improved their authority or they are under some penalty from Google. If it is a fairly new site and is PR0 or n/a that may just mean it never got visible PR. But if it is an older site it may be penalized.

So then the question is if that site is influential and speaks to your target audience is it safe to publish on it? That is a question we would have to ask an SEO like Michael Gray. His site is PR0 DA68.

What to Use Instead of PR

Most are using DA because it is widely available and free. Serious SEOs and those most worried are probably using domain trust metrics – either mozTrust or MajesticSEO’s Flow Metrics including Trust Flow.

Use Open Site Explorer to see some of these metrics. To see the trust metrics requires a subscription or paid versions of these tools. If you need advise on the best way to create custom content, read Custom Content Creation.

So what do YOU do when a site has low or no PR and high DA?
Safe or not? What does your SEO advise?

Tell us in the comments.

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Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.


  1. Excellent post. I think that we should not choose those blogs which does not have a good domain Authority. Page Rank is nothing now and all you have to do is go for Domain Authority. Domain Authority can help in increasing your Brand image too !
    oyun oyna would love you to read ..Elsa Çamaşır YıkıyorMy Profile

  2. I also think that Domain authority and Page authority is must. Getting high DA for our blog gives higher rank in Google which gives Google traffic to the blog. BTW Thanks for sharing this article with us. Happy Blogging 😀
    Chetan Gupta would love you to read ..How To Add Nofollow Tag To External Links In WordPressMy Profile

  3. Interesting viewpoints here.

    I must admit I set a minimum DA of 30 for guest blogging.

    The only time I have gone below that is if I can see they have a good social media following and are likely to generate some good traffic.

    In any case guest blogging makes up only a small percentage of my links so overall it doesn’t look unnatural to Google (I hope).
    Mark Ford would love you to read ..50+ Ways to Improve the SEO of Your WebsiteMy Profile

  4. Finally the Pagerank was rolled out yesterday after a very long period of waitiing! my blog s pagerank got dropped thought from PR2 to PR1 but it’s cool.
    I hope that next time I could a decent one :)
    thanks for sharing that awesome post have a cool day ahead (:
    Anis would love you to read ..Learning To DriveMy Profile

  5. safira jorge says:

    Well in business web sites which are related to entrepreneur need the right audience rather than the PR, if you are focusing on the main content and the blog or article post you are providing for the public is related what they are looking for then you do not need PR, your DA and MR will raise your visibility on search.
    safira jorge would love you to read ..What’s in Store for the Payment Processing Industry?My Profile

  6. Excellent post man!
    In my opinion You should not prefer those blog which domain is not strong enough. Thanks for sharing this informative post with us.

  7. Hi Gail, I would like to share here how of I got my first $ 100 after I joined this blog outreach program. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say a name of my employer in fear that my comment will be regarded as spam. But I think after reading your post here, I must be very careful deciding what to post even if I’m making money by that. All posts that created for them are not seo oriented and that I made quite good money, that’s just a matter of luck.
    Nurman would love you to read ..How To Get Rid Of A Bad Mood: Tickle My Fancy!My Profile

  8. Patti Hale

    I finally got a PR2 after two years of having a non-ranked site and was tickled. What’s this about it being a mistake?

  9. Gurwinder Singh Bhinder

    Finally the PR update was rolled out yesterday. As reported by Matt Cutts, it seems to be some mistake. Anyhows, that was most awaited thing for most of bloggers and webmasters :)

  10. Gail, It’s interesting that you bring up the ONLY DA30+ link builders. I learned quickly after the first Penguin update about thinking of link domain authority based on a normal curve. If you get low DA links and your link profile is skewed right, that just doesn’t look all that natural. If you get links from expensive DA30+ sites only, then you’re skewed to the left. With that in mind, a more natural approach to link building might look more like a normal curve rather than a skewed one.Anyways, just my two cents. T

  11. Excellent post. I think that we should not choose those blogs which does not have a good domain Authority. Page Rank is nothing now and all you have to do is go for Domain Authority. Domain Authority can help in increasing your Brand image too !

  12. Hi Gail,
    This is a great article on how to do natural content creation. Many SEO’s have been having a tough time with the new Google updates because they change what they are looking for. My advice is to produce quality content and keep up with your website, that is the number one way to boost your rankings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

  13. Tai Madream says:

    I think quality is obviously the way to go with SEO. But quality does not always mean the quality of the site. Quality should include the content and not just the high DA or PR. The combination of both should really be the way forward rather than just seeking high DA and PR sites while avoiding the lower ones. Just get some good quality content on reliable sites.

  14. This what every bloggers should keep in mind. Never put content on a high DA site that is not related to what you are linking to or writing about. I appreciate to share knowledge about modern link building.

  15. Hi Gail. Wow, thank you. This is a total eye-opener for me. Even though the month just started, I doubt I’ll see a post this valuable for my needs for the rest of the month. So many informative links in it –bookmarked. I guest blog quite a bit, as well as accept guest authors to my site. I immediately shared this to a discussion community where guest blogging is the focus.

  16. Great post, Gail. I finally figured out how to measure my PA, DA and Moz score. They are all much better than my PR, a measly 1 since February. I agree that people need to figure out a better way to do this. The major thing is so many are trying to BS their way through the system, instead of using quality content. Their loss.

  17. Serious SEOs might well look at a whole bunch of metrics, but all that is a moot point, based on the truth you speak in the first half of the article. Serious SEOs are probably sleepwalking into a penalty. Quality is important, but not all quality sites have high metrics. And while it is awesome to land a high DA site, that is no reason to ignore much lower DA sites.

    • Hi David,

      While SEOs and writers and even customers may not want to invest time in being written about on “lesser” sites, they need to face the truth that if you are actively building links you better not just focus on DA30+ or your link profile will be obviously unnatural.

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