Scholarship Link Building – Penalized !

I believed in scholarship link building back about 15 to 20 years ago. It was a novel concept that seemed legit. Offer a scholarship on your website, then write to every school and college and ask them to add a link to your scholarship page on their site.

Problem is, is that between about 2008 and 2020, at every conference that has a link building panel, someone stands up and talks about how great scholarship link building is…and further, in any list of “50 Ways to Build Links”, one of the ways is bound to be “Scholarship Link Building”… it got used…and it got abused.

Back in 2017, in my conference presentations, I used to have screenshots of Payday L0an scholarships, and casin0 scholarships…and worse yet, when you know a method has definitely “turned to spam” when I’d show all the SEO Scholarships.

I’ve never thought that these links would hurt you, but I’ve guessed for years that Google would just ignore any links on pages that mention the word “scholarship” (same for pages with “sponsored” or “guest post” etc)..but again, I never thought that Google would hurt a site for offering a scholarship and getting good trusted sites to link to their scholarship…I just never thought they’d help any (after say 2010).

So a new client just came to us today. Unfortunately in December, they received a manual action penalty for “Unnatural inbound links”.  

After their first reconsideration request that they did was turned down , Google then gave 3 examples of “unnatural links”.  

Two of those were guest blog posts, and the third example URL was:


Yes, this site was offering a $1000 scholarship, and they had written to many edu’s and schools and colleges and they has collected about 100 links to their site by doing this. About 90% of these links went to their scholarship page.

This is the first I’ve seen of Google penalizing a site for doing scholarship link building. Sites that have gone down the scholarship rabbit hole, beware, it’s probably been filtered for years, but now it appears that it can get you penalized.

FYI, part of our solution to the Google penalty was to 410 the scholarship page (plus that’s the page that had most of the backlinks to it from their campaign), and to disavow those scholarship links that went to other pages of the clients site…oh yeah, and disavowing the paid links I found, and helping to rewrite the reconsideration request (this time, admitting guilt and not blaming scrapers and negative SEO).


Find Out More

Marketing Tips You Need

Keep In Touch

Quick Subscribe

Client Reviews Tell The Tale.

Dan was a delight to work with. I needed a few headshots taken for my LinkedIn profile and Dan provided the easiest and most comfortable experience using state-of-the art equipment in a very professional setting. Also, the turn-around time on results was quick and I felt completely engaged and satisfied during the entire process. I highly recommend his services.Donny RitcharoenDecember 19, 2023
I got headshots taken and they turned out so well! The lighting was amazing.Tessa ChanMay 30, 2023
We used Appture to build a lodging website, and they were awesome! Dan went above and beyond to show us the functions and make all of our changes. Appture is our go to for web design from now on!Abigail HaleOctober 26, 2022
Dan did a fantastic job making me feel comfortable while shooting. He also made me look great! I don't photograph well, so I am very pleased with the results and speed at which I got the final product.Lily GostinSeptember 13, 2022
Appture knows their business and will go the extra mile for their customers. They do high quality work and provide great ongoing support.Chris McCorkindaleMay 24, 2022
Anita CauthornMay 24, 2022
It’s so rare in these times to find one man with so much wow factor and more rare to find men with similar interest and passion in their life journey as myself . Dan Elliott has been introduced to many in what is now considered as the Terror Dome , a place where many dreams are not deferred they are detoured to routes that lead to dead ends , he comes in full of optimism so infectious that he, maybe with out knowing is energizing those who have ventured where others would fear going with just the right jolt to forge on in the way of helping fallen humanity … His various fields of expertise has helped many in my region and I can only imagine the number he has effected beyond those I know … from day one I knew “ this was a man of kindred spirit “ Dan Elliott is a Gem and adds glimmer to things he touches … I’m a Witness ….and eternally grateful….L.Rashaan RichMay 21, 2022
Dan and his group are highly capable and knowledgeable. They work fast and get the job done. I highly recommend Appture.Justin FrankMarch 26, 2022
They are highly specialized in their work and constantly seek innovation.Ismail YenigulMarch 14, 2022
Dan is a marketing wizard. Honest, Experienced and a read deal. I am blessed to have him in my journey online :) Highly recommended.Sabbir HasanMarch 7, 2022
So much to say. Creative, Intelligent, Talented, Limitless, Affordable. It's amazing what these guys can do.Hack mackMay 17, 2019
We'd used some other agencies before, but man, they simply knocked us all over. After being in business for 30 years, I wonder how much more business we'd be doing if we'd hired them earlier.Rebecca HoneaMay 17, 2019