Link Building Mistakes

Aaron Haynes
Mar 17
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Link building is an integral part of any effective SEO strategy.

Despite this, there are some misconceptions around how a link building strategy should be tackled.

If carried out incorrectly, instead of strengthening a site’s rankings, it can actually have a catastrophic impact on SERP positions and SEO efforts.

To avoid this, here we’ll cover 8 common link building mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

8 Link Building Mistakes

As detailed in Google’s Webmaster documentation, getting link building wrong can cause Google to penalize your website, hurting your overall SEO strategy and killing site traffic.

Here we detail what to avoid so your website won’t become the next victim of these link building mistakes.

1. Ignoring User Intent

One of the most common mistakes website owners and digital marketers make when looking to bolster their backlink profile is holding the opinion that any old backlink is a good backlink.

This isn’t entirely true, particularly in the context of user intent.

User intent, also referred to as search intent or query intent, is the purpose for which a person is searching the internet. Search engines use a variety of factors to determine what type of user intent a searcher has, including the words they have typed into the search bar, the websites they have previously visited, and their past search history.

So how does this relate to link building?

Well, let’s say you’ve written a guest blog for a third-party’s website and earned yourself a backlink. For example, this page is all about content marketing, but the page on your website the third-party decides to link out to features content that is topically irrelevant.

So what’s the problem here?

Well, not only will Google’s algorithm recognize this irrelevance, but visitors to this third-party webpage are likely to click on the backlink that points to your site. Sure, that’s what you want – referral traffic is a fantastic way to rack up some organic traffic. The problem being, if the content you’ve covered on your webpage is unrelated and doesn’t match user intent, there’s a good chance the visitor will quickly realize this and bounce.

If this one off occurrence turns into a trend, your bounce rate for that page will spike, subsequently hurting its metrics, and, likely, it will be punished in the search engine results page (SERPs).

2. Disregarding On-Page SEO

Like user intent, on-page SEO – the topic covered, the title of the post, the meta description, and the targeted keyword – all work to tell Google what the webpage is about. When building backlinks for this page, Google would expect to find inbound links that are topically relevant.

As we’ve just discussed, content that covers topics that are seemingly irrelevant signals to Google that your link building strategy could be nefarious or spammy. This could lead Google to make the conclusion that your webpage could be a part of a link scheme.

A link scheme is a plan for creating artificial links to a website in order to improve its search engine ranking. The use of link schemes is considered to be a black hat SEO technique, and can lead to penalization from search engines.

Not exactly what you want.

To avoid this, be sure that the third-party pages that are linking out to your content are topically similar.

3. Overusing Exact Anchor Text

Exact anchor text is often overused by SEOs in an attempt to increase the ranking of their website.

Anchor text is the clickable text used for a hyperlink. Users use this type of link to navigate between internal or external pages on websites. You’ll mostly know hyperlinks as the blue text that underlines itself when you hover your mouse over them, but they can also be used on images as well.

While using exact anchor text that matches a focus keyword is good practice, overusing exact anchor text and not using variations of a keyword can backfire.

This happens for two key reasons.

  1. Google could view the overuse of the same anchor text as spammy. And as a result, may even lower your page’s rankings.
  2. You may miss out on keyword variations that cover a larger array of search terms and miss out on subsequent traffic.

In this image, you can see an example of anchor text variations for the focus keyword “yoga teacher training”. As you can see, the focus keyword’s search volume is the highest. But that’s not to say that it isn’t worth using different variations of this same keyword. You never know, by doing this, you may just pick up more traffic from different demographics that use slightly different variations of the same search term.

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So go on.

Use a touch of creativity, or better yet, keyword research to mix it up. Don’t rely on the same anchor text again and again. It could just well be hurting your site traffic.

4. Creating Low Quality Content

In an idealistic world, Google would prefer websites to build backlinks through organic link building.

Organic link building is the process of acquiring links to a website through natural means, as opposed to buying or exchanging links.

In reality, particularly for small to medium-size websites, this can prove to be an extremely slow process, and the purchasing or exchanging of links is still very much an integral part of building a strong website.

Although obtaining organic backlinks is certainly not something you should ignore.

So what’s the best way to attract backlinks organically?

By producing high-quality content rather than low-quality content.

You can achieve this by creating valuable or viral content that others can’t help but share. A few great examples of share-worthy content is written copy that’s both informative and not just a regurgitation of existing content, an attractive and eye-catching infographic, or some form of social media post like an informational YouTube video or super-engaging TicTok.

It may sound like a bit of a stretch, but, seriously, some brands have absolutely exploded into multi-million dollar companies overnight just by creating content that’s gone viral.

Honestly, your overall potential and link profile is only limited by your imagination and outreach skills.

5. Prioritizing Quantity Over Quality

One of, if not the most common, mistakes when rolling out a link building campaign is prioritizing quantity over quality. Some “SEO experts” will sell you on the idea that their brilliant link building strategy is just what your website needs to succeed. In reality, they take your money, point a bunch of low-quality backlinks your way, all while promising it will help boost your rankings.

On paper, this looks great. You open up your SEO tool and see the backlinks pouring in. The more backlinks, the better, right?

Not necessarily.

Not all backlinks hold the same amount of authority. In fact, some are so low-quality or spammy, that they are more likely to hurt your rankings rather than help – something referred to as a toxic backlink.

One reason high-quality backlinks are better than a high quantity of backlinks is that they are more likely to be from authoritative, credible, and relevant websites. When search engines see a large number of links from low-quality or irrelevant websites, they may assume that the website being linked to is also low-quality or irrelevant.

This can hurt the website’s ranking in search results. While, on the other hand, high-authority backlinks signal a website is trustworthy and respected by others in its field.

A big up for your website’s Google rankings.

6. Discounting Nofollow Links

Another common misconception that floats around the SEO scene is the concept that nofollow links add no value to your website. Further, some people will even go as far as to say that the only links that are valuable to your site are dofollow links.

Now, don’t get us wrong. There’s no doubt that dofollow links hold the most value.

Why?

Well, dofollow backlinks signal to Google that you wish their Googlebots to, well, follow it and see where it leads. Conversely, nofollow links signal to Google that, sure, here’s a link but, you know, I don’t really need you to follow it.

The verdict is still out on whether nofollow links hold any authority. Google themselves says that, in general, they don’t follow them. While, the team over at Ahrefs make the subtle argument that perhaps Google does put some weight on nofollow links as a ranking factor.

In this graph, you can see that the correlation between dofollow links is slightly weaker (0.2576) than that of the Spearman correlation score for the total number of backlinks (0.2793).

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The team postulates that “This could be an indication that Google values some nofollowed links from strong pages more than followed links from weak pages.”

Perhaps.

This could also be an indication that a diversity of links in your link profile is more important. So a mix of dofollow, nofollow, social media links, blog comments, links from press releases, etc. is likely the most important and potent ranking factor for your website.

7. Being too Critical of Third-Party Metrics

There is no doubt, sites with a high domain authority that are relevant to your niche make the best backlink donors.

BUT, don’t become a complete backlink prude.

Sure, spammy, low-quality links that contain duplicate content or irrelevant content should be avoided. Although there is an argument to be made for small to medium-sized sites that produce quality content and have established themselves in a niche that’s similar to your own.

By themselves, small, relevant sites will not award your site with a ton of authority.

Although, two, three, four, or more small, relevant sites will.

As a bonus, smaller website owners are more likely to be open to link exchanges, making them an easier way to build backlinks quickly compared to approaching larger, well-established websites.

After all, you don’t know how valuable a backlink from a little guy could be in the future. It may be a small site now. But if they keep on keeping on, building credibility, and producing top-notch content, that seemingly worthless backlink could, in the not too distant future, be one of your most valuable backlinks.

8. Purchasing Links From Low Quality Sites or Link Farms

Perhaps you wouldn’t expect to hear this from us, but purchasing links can actually hurt your search engine rankings. Same goes for link exchanges. Well, at least excessive reciprocal linking where the same website links out to you again and again.

Let us clarify.

Google’s algorithm can easily detect low-quality or bad links used by many link farms and other questionable SEO services.

Thankfully, that’s where a trusted vendor, like Loganix, comes in.

Services such as ours have a strict backlink quality criteria. We use contextually relevant anchor text, bring in high-quality links from high DA (domain authority) websites, and, in the context of guest blogging for link exchange, use US and Canadian writers.

How To Fix Your Link Building Mistakes

It’s important to look at your link building methods and determine where you may be going wrong. By fixing these mistakes, you can improve your SEO and see better results in the search engine rankings over the long term.

If you’re not sure where to get started, Loganix is here to help.

We offer link building services that will help your website gain the high-quality, authoritative backlinks it needs to succeed.

Written by Aaron Haynes on March 17, 2022

CEO and partner at Loganix, I believe in taking what you do best and sharing it with the world in the most transparent and powerful way possible. If I am not running the business, I am neck deep in client SEO.

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