It’s no secret.
Links matter if you want to rank at the top of Google search results. Over 95 percent of search marketers agree that links impact rankings.
As a result, everyone today is in a race to build more backlinks.
But, in this rush, search marketers end up making mistakes when building backlinks. And, even seasoned SEO experts can get things wrong. As a result, link-building efforts end up hurting a website instead of helping it rank.
What are these common link building mistakes?
- Disorganized campaigns
- Promoting sub-par content
- Disrespectful outreach
- Building unnatural links
- Ignoring page authority
- Ignoring link quality
- Undiversified link building tactics
Let’s find out.
1. Disorganized Campaigns
Building backlinks is incredibly difficult and tedious—no wonder 65 percent of search professionals find getting backlinks hard.
As a link-builder, you have to:
- Find new link opportunities.
- Research relevant contacts.
- Send outreach emails.
- Follow up.
- Negotiate the link-building exchange.
- Ensure that the link gets added.
- Keep your end of the bargain.
You’re constantly juggling a lot of things. And, at every step, you also need to coordinate with other marketers.
With so many balls in the air, things are bound to go wrong. As a result, you may miss out on backlink opportunities. And all that effort you put into chasing the opportunity can go to waste.
If you don’t want to lose out on backlink opportunities, you have to organize your link-building efforts systematically.
Whether you use a spreadsheet or a marketing project management software is up to you. But you need a way to keep track of work.
2. Promoting Sub-par Content
Backlinks aren’t only for SEO.
A backlink can also drive referral traffic. Plus, it’s also an opportunity to showcase your best content, build trust, and generate leads.
Most link-builders, especially newbies, forget this and try to build links to thin-content pages.
So, what exactly are thin-content pages?
Thin content pages are pages that offer little or no value to the reader. More often than not, a reader clicks on a link to learn more about a supplementary topic.
Instead, if you take the reader to an entry-level blog article, or worse, a landing page, what do you think will happen? The reader will hit the back button and may never trust you again.
So, how do you leave a lasting impression on referral visitors?
Instead of building links to every page on your website, focus on promoting a few linkable assets. Then using internal links, pass the link authority to other pages on your website.
But, what exactly are these linkable assets?
Linkable assets are types of SEO content that earn links naturally and easily than other pages. Examples of linkable assets include:
- Comprehensive guides and tutorials
- Online tools and calculators
- Original research and studies
3. Disrespectful Outreach
No one likes to wake up to an email inbox full of link request pitches.
It’s outright disrespectful if your outreach email is irrelevant, impersonal, or pushy. Using bulk email outreach tools and templates often result in such disrespectful email campaigns.
However, a few blogger outreach tools allow you to personalize your emails. Using these tools, you can reach out to bloggers at scale without being intrusive.
If you don’t have an existing relationship, it’s rude not to offer anything in return.
So, how do you avoid being disrespectful?
- Research: Know about the person you want to reach out to. Prospects know when you invest time in researching about them. As a result, they understand, you’re less likely to waste their time.
- Keep it simple: Don’t try to be cute, especially in the subject line. Keep your email short, straightforward, and to the point.
- Establish relevance: Tell the prospect why your email matters to them. Do you have a mutual interest or connection? Is your prospect working on a project that ties in with your pitch?
- Provide an out: Don’t be pushy, especially in follow-up emails. Give the prospect an option to opt-out respectfully.
- Offer something in return: Don’t offer cash or a link in exchange. See if you can help the prospect with the prospect’s project. Also, you can offer to write a case-study or testimonial for the prospect’s products.
4. Building Unnatural Links
Because link-building is so hard, marketers are happy to get any link they can. But, low-quality links can end up harming your website.
When chasing quantity, marketers end up with unnatural links.
The effort to build a natural backlink is worth around $500. Yet, you’ll find freelancers on Fiverr who’ll build backlinks at a fraction of that cost. It’s impossible unless you have access to Private Blog Networks, aka link farms.
Such link farms are designed to manipulate search rankings. It’s obvious why search engines don’t look favorably upon PBN links.
Even worse, some marketers pay for backlinks from “sponsored posts”.
Buying links is against Google Webmaster Guidelines. And, Google’s Penguin algorithm update specifically targeted websites that sold links. After the Penguin update, sponsored websites and the ones that they linked to lost rankings overnight.
Lack of quality control is the second big problem with sponsored and PBN links. These websites are happy to link to any number and kind of pages as long as they get money.
In the long-run, this can end up hurting your website’s authority.
5. Ignoring Page Authority
The next big mistake is to focus exclusively on domain authority to acquire links. In the process, they completely ignore the linking page’s authority.
Ignoring page authority is a mistake. Here’s why:
First, a link is a vote from one page to another. Not from a website to a page. Or from a website to another.
Second, the link authority of a website is distributed across all its pages. Links acquired from a page with no authority are less valuable compared to pages that have authority.
So, how does Google decide if a page is authoritative?
A few years ago, Google shared a PageRank browser plugin. For every webpage, this plugin displayed a 0-10 score indicating the page’s authority. Since 2014, Google has discontinued this plugin.
Today, no one outside the Google Search Team knows.
But, since Google ranks authoritative pages, then the reverse is also true. Pages that rank high will almost always have higher authority.
While these are not official metrics, they do indicate a page’s authority.
It’s not that domain authority isn’t essential. But, along with domain authority, you also want to consider the authority of the linking page.
6. Ignoring Link Quality
A link is a vote that helps search engines identify pages that are worthy of ranking. But, all links are not equal.
We’ve already seen how page and domain authority affect link quality. In addition, are four more factors to consider:
- Relevance: Let’s say two linking pages have the same authority. And you get links from both these pages. Which link do you think carries more weight? Evidence from Google suggests that links from relevant pages are considered more authoritative.
- Link placement: It also matters where a link appears on the linking page. As a thumb rule, links from the main content are more authoritative than from sidebars and footers. Within the main content, links that appear higher are considered better, possibly because of better CTR.
- Anchor text: Often, the anchor text describes what the linked page is about. It shouldn’t be a surprise that search engines consider anchor text to understand better what the linked page is about.
- Link attributes: Nofollow Links (with rel=”nofollow” attribute) are less likely to influence your rankings. Similarly, user-generated content (rel=”UGC”) and sponsored links (rel=”sponsored”) have significantly less value than natural backlinks.
7. Undiversified Link Building Tactics
According to Google, ideally, links should happen naturally. You shouldn’t be soliciting links for your website.
But in the real world, things are not so straightforward.
Your competitors are already building links. And there isn’t yet technology available to clearly distinguish between natural and unnatural links.
So, instead, search engines like Google rely on link-building behaviors.
First, link-building experts and agencies often rely on a link-building method that they’re comfortable with.
Second, they focus on building links from high domain authority websites. Also, they tend to ignore no-follow and user-generated content links.
Over time, your website’s link profile starts looking unnatural. It contains links with similar domain authority, attributes, and placement.
In the real world, if links happen naturally, your link profile should look more heterogeneous.
How do you fix this?
Build a natural link profile with links from varied authoritative pages and attributes. Using some of the many link link-building tactics is an effective way to build a natural link profile.
Here are ten popular link-building tactics:
- Adding your website to business directories
- Commenting on blogs
- Posting to industry forums and community websites
- Creating job listings
- Sharing your content on social media
- Guest blogging
- Sharing feedback in the form of testimonials and case studies
- Broken link building
- Sharing infographics and other media resources
- Help a reporter out with your expertise
And those are the big seven link building mistakes that can harm your website’s authority. Staying on top of everything may seem daunting.
But, hopefully, this article will help you avoid making these mistakes.