Link building is an essential part of your off-page SEO. However, it’s one of the most overlooked strategies when it comes to improving your search engine’s rankings.
The process of gaining backlinks from external websites can help to build your brand’s reputation and credibility. They can act as the subtle nods of encouragement to searchers that your content is valuable and worth reading.
Backlinks are also read by search engines, who infer the website where these links are coming from. Depending on the website’s own relevance, quality and engagement, search engines decide where to rank your content.
The volume and the types of links you build are two of the most important ranking factors for your off-page SEO. So, you need to dedicate time into building a profile of backlinks from credible, authoritative and relevant websites.
This process is relatively easy to do, but it’s also easy to fall into some easy black-hat SEO habits which search engines frown upon.
You need to make sure that you are building links in a seemingly natural way and avoid any pattern-forming. Otherwise search engines could assume that you’re forging connections for the purpose of increasing your rankings. As opposed to earning them naturally, as a credit to your hard work and excellent bank of content.
Link Building: Take Caution!
The process of building a collection of backlinks is pretty simple. It’s all about getting websites with a high domain authority to place your URL on their page of content, where their visitors can click through to your content (which should be relevant to their search query).
The key here is relevance. You want to make sure that your backlinks are coming from fitting websites. Where the users will find clicking through to your website’s content genuinely helpful and relevant to their search query.
If your backlink doesn’t fit quite right with your content, your site page’s bounce rate will be high. A high number of users bouncing straight off your page will indicate to search engines that your content isn’t relevant. Ultimately, this will mean you won’t be ranked highly because of it.
You’ll also be losing potentially valuable site traffic for the sake of a few backlinks.
It’s all about having quality over quantity.
Over the years, search engines have learned to detect manipulation of link building based on patterns. And have even published their findings on how they have been able to do so.
For example, if you built 25 links each month which linked to the same anchor text and targeted the same URL, then sooner or later Google’s algorithm will detect a pattern, and you could be penalised for trying to trick the search engine.
To prevent getting a penalty, you want to make sure your link building strategies don’t follow a set pattern, and that every connection you gain seems like a natural addition to your link profile.
Despite being led by some of the best artificial intelligence in the world, search engines are still very much machines. They are trained to follow set patterns and formulas. So, when it comes to link building, avoid anything that seems formulaic.
Below are 8 patterns to definitely avoid.
8 Link Building Patterns to Avoid
In order to strive for a seemingly natural link building process, there are 8 link building footprints to be aware of.
Some will even lead you into a false trap of thinking you’re doing link building right. However, you’re falling into some easy patterns that could leave you in hot water with search engines.
Remember, as long as you’re building a backlink profile that:
- Seems natural
- Is humanistic
- And is a credit to your great content creation
Then you’ll be on the right track to increasing your rankings and driving valuable traffic to your website.
1. Avoid Link Building Sites
It seems like an obvious first footfall, but so many companies fall into this trap. There are some extremely convincing sales pitches out there. So it’s unsurprising to hear about companies selling their website to one which is dedicated solely to giving backlinks to people.
But you should avoid these sites at all costs. Search engines will be able to easily detect these websites. They will infer them as spammy, or existing solely for the purpose of artificially increasing your rankings.
As a general rule of thumb, if you link build with a ‘real’ website, which has a real readership for your content placement, you can’t go wrong.
Before doing anything, always check out the website’s analytics and rankings, to see if their audience behaviour seems natural. If you’re still unsure, you can try asking your close network, connections or friends if they’re familiar with the site.
A seemingly obvious move is to go with your gut feeling. If a link building opportunity seems too good to be true, then it probably is. And should be avoided at all costs.
2. Over Optimising Anchor Text
Anchor text goes hand in hand with your link building.
It’s the source of where your link is coming from; the anchor that holds it within a page of content on another brand’s website. And it can have a huge impact on your rankings in search engine results.
If search engines like Google assume you’re encouraging other sites to link to your website using a specific keyword you’re trying to rank for, you could be penalised. So, you want to make sure you’re creating a natural anchor text profile where possible.
In most cases, websites tend to link to each other with very little keyword-based text. Anchor text is normally quite generic and includes phrases such as ‘click here, ‘find out more,’ or ‘check this out.’
To minimise risk of penalty, you need to create a natural distribution of anchor text amongst different sites. This means having very few, if any, keywords as your anchor.
This means not telling sites which anchor text to use. And, if you’re guest blogging, using the most obvious choice of words to link from, not the words which you think search engines will want to see.
If you’re unsure what your current anchor text distributions look like, there are a variety of tools on the market. These tools will allow you to track your domain name, show you your current anchor text placements and notify you of any new links you get.
From here, you can make the necessary changes to ensure you have a natural mixture of anchor texts.
3. Avoid your Own Author Pitfalls
A great way to build backlinks to your site is to write guest blogs on external sites. This will enable you to demonstrate your expertise within your industry.
Guest blogging gives you the opportunity to build your authority as a market leader, whilst obtaining valuable backlinks for your website.
You can leave backlinks within the content itself (if relevant), in the author box, or at the bottom of your blog post so that people can visit your website for further information and guidance on the topic you’re talking about.
On every blog you create, you want to make sure you’re creating a natural distribution of links back to your website. Don’t send traffic to just a single page, as this will leave an easily detectable pattern for Google to trace.
Even if you don’t have a particular page of information to send them to, avoid overuse of your homepage.
Instead, you could direct them to your ‘about’ or ‘contact’ page. It’s better to have an equal distribution of links to improve your overall rankings, rather than focusing on one page.
Remember, if you’re guest blogging to build your backlink profile, mix up the anchor text where you’re including the link.
You don’t want to fall into the trap of continually using the same old ‘check out my website’ line. Or else, you could find yourself being penalised for creating an unnatural anchor text profile.
4. Content Length Placements
Another consideration when link building is the length of the content from which your links are coming from.
Having a disproportionate chunk of your links coming from content which is identical in length can leave a pattern for search engines to detect.
For example, you might be writing lots of 800-word guest blogs on various websites and linking back to your site. By doing this, you’re creating a trackable pattern for Google’s algorithms to detect.
Instead, always ensure that your backlinks are coming from a variety of sources with which their content varies in length.
If you need some shorter content link placements, make sure your website is on all the relevant online directories and forums.
Alternatively, if you are missing some longer content pieces in your backlink profile, consider reaching out to your network. Offer to create some long-form articles and blogs which are relevant to your industry and their visitor’s interests.
As long as you make sure you have a seemingly natural mix of content lengths, you shouldn’t have any reason to worry.
5. Consider Link Seasonality
It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting the goal to obtain a certain number of links each month.
Doing so makes it ideal for search engines to detect your patterns. They might assume you’re simply link building for ranking benefits, instead of obtaining them naturally for your content.
To avoid this, pay attention to the quantities of links you build each month. Consider the seasonal peaks and dips where your number of links may increase or drop.
For example, if you own a floristry business, you expect one of your busiest periods to be Valentine’s Day. It would seem obvious for more people to talk about your brand and link back to your site during this period. This would be a natural period for search engines to see an increase of links and would go undetected.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, it’s all about creating a natural link building profile. Mix up your link quantity each month, and always consider the long-term seasonal implications to your link building strategy.
6. Shake Up Your Strategy
Once you get into the rhythm of building links for your website, it can be tempting to follow one method. This may be a reliable method which has helped you get some valuable links to your website in the past. However, you want to avoid this and incorporate an equal balance of link building methods.
There are so many techniques you can try, these include:
- Guest blogging
- Press releases
- Infographic promotions
- Directory listings
- Social media citations
- Link exchanges
Always think, if it seems like a tired old technique or a routine, then it’s probably been overused. Each month try a technique you didn’t try the month before and keep your link building strategies on its toes.
Anything that seems robotic will lead to a pattern which Google will very easily detect. And you want to avoid patterns at all costs.
7. Quick Comment Drops
SEO is a pretty time consuming process. Putting keyword research, content creation and on-page optimisation to the side for one moment, even the link building process can take up valuable time and resources.
A lot of marketers will often look for quick routes to climb to the top of search engine rankings. And in terms of link building, this can mean leaving short comments on forums. Or on other people’s blog posts which include a link back to their website.
Yes, this may seem an easy way to gain a valuable link back to your website, especially if your comment drives a lot of valuable traffic.
However, doing this type of backlink building regularly will set a pattern, which search engines like Google will soon catch onto.
In addition, if your brand’s niche is small and specific, you may even find yourself commenting on forums or blogs which aren’t that wholly relevant to your site. This could traffic to your site which could bounce straightaway and negatively affect your rankings.
So, though it may seem like an easy activity to do on a Friday afternoon, avoid regular or scheduled comments. As with anything in SEO, link building is strategy which takes time, research and perseverance. Don’t expect any quick hacks to get you to the top.
8. Churning Out Content
Sometimes, when we’re wrapped up in the practices of content marketing, we may often feel like we need to churn something out just for the sake of it.
The same can happen for link building.
When there’s a new advancement in our industry, or a cutting-edge piece of research is released, we can get easily flustered. We may want to rush in and produce something quickly. Perhaps some content that shows we’re on-trend, in the hopes that someone will link to it.
Instead, we could end up creating something that’s really mundane to read, or worse, repeats what our competitors are saying.
The golden rule of content marketing is to never churn out content just for the sake of link building. It won’t work. Your content needs to be innovative, creative, and share a different opinion to the one that’s already been shared online. Otherwise, who is going to want to link to it?
Remember, search engines are all about connecting users to content which is most relevant, engaging and entertaining. If it isn’t, you’ll struggle to rank at all.
Link building is critical to your website’s SEO, and your brand’s online persona.
It’s very easy to do, but equally it’s easy to fall into patterns. You may build links for your rankings, as opposed to building links that offer genuinely relevant and insightful further reading.
Search engines are very clever and will pick up on any link building patterns you start to create. They’ll also assume you’re creating these patterns on purpose, to inflate your rankings. As a result, you may be punished or prevent yourself from ranking entirely.
Therefore, you need to ensure your link building strategy is seemingly natural, spontaneous, and definitely not related to rank boosting.
Outsourcing your SEO to a Marketing Consultant
In order to create a natural link building process, you need to be innovative. You also need to keep up-to-date with the latest search engine updates in order to risk being unknowingly penalised.
All of this takes a lot of time and research. Time, which, if you are a small or new business, you may not have available to dedicate to your link building, let alone SEO strategy.
Instead, many businesses choose to outsource their SEO to a marketing consultant -such as myself. This is so they can focus their energies on other important aspects of their business.
With over a decade’s experience in digital marketing, I know exactly what it takes to build a successful SEO strategy. One that can transform your company’s online engagements, driving valuable, high-converting traffic to your site.
If you’d like to hear about what services my team and I can offer to your brand, please get in contact. I’d be more than happy to have an obligation-free chat and walk you through some of our previous work.