Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for your website. Without them, you won’t beat the competition or generate a substantial amount of traffic.
This leads many marketers to rely on unethical strategies for acquiring backlinks, which do more harm than good.
To ensure that you don’t get penalized and to maximize the longevity of your website, avoid these backlink building mistakes.
Is buying backlinks a good idea?
You may think that it’s a great approach instead of earning them yourself. You get to bypass all of the hard work and jump straight to the results, right?
Not so fast. According to Google’s guidelines, this is actually classified as link scheming.
While you might be able to get away with it for a while, sooner or later, your website will be penalized.
You’ll want to especially avoid link farms, which are websites that offer backlinks for a fixed cost. Search engines like Google catch onto these businesses and track their footprints.
They are able to discover how they link to their customers and then penalize everyone at once.
Going for quantity, not quality
In the early to mid-2000’s, internet marketers could spam thousands of links or more to a website with tools like Scrapebox and Xrumer.
These would build blog comments, forum posts, and other low-quality links to a website in massive amounts.
This was before Google’s algorithm became very advanced, and you could skyrocket your rankings.
Nowadays, ranking a website is all about quality over quantity. Don’t worry about how many backlinks you have or acquire in a certain period.
Instead, shift your focus to obtaining links from websites with high domain authority and relevance to your own site. One of these could be worth hundreds or thousands of spam links.
If a link is easy to get, it’s probably not worth it. Social bookmarks, directories, and similar link building tactics are fine as supplements to a more complex approach, but they won’t move your rankings.
Not being patient with the process
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your backlink profile. The average internet marketer will be lucky to build a dozen high-quality links per month.
But that means in one year, you’d be getting over 100. Imagine the impact that would have on your rankings, traffic, and earnings.
Like everything in a business, your SEO should have a blueprint to follow and measure. This will ensure that you have a monthly and quarterly goal to strive for when it comes to acquiring links.
This number could be 5, 15, or any number that you believe is reasonable with your time and resources. What should your SEO plan entail exactly? Read my next point.
Not having an SEO plan in place
92% of people don’t achieve their goals. Do you know what the main culprit is? It’s not having goals in place to begin with.
You can’t achieve anything if you don’t have an idea of what you’d like to actually accomplish. This 100% applies to SEO, as well.
The first component of your SEO plan should flesh out what strategies you plan to use for generating backlinks. Here are some popular methods:
- Broken backlink building
- Guest posting
- Skyscraper technique
- Blog network
Don’t stop there, though. Brainstorm how you can actually execute these and scale them up. For example, you might hire writers to actually finish the guest post articles you land opportunities for.
Next, how many links do you plan to acquire every month? How often will you be doing SEO tasks? These are things you will want to include.
Use a tool like SEMrush to analyze competitors’ backlink profiles. Note how many links they have and where they come from, and reference it as a benchmark for your own backlinking strategy.
A backlink has a powerful impact on a website, yet it is such a simple thing. It is literally a single line of HTML code. When a link is made, it looks like this in HTML:
<a href=”www.example.com”>Example anchor text</a>
Now, a webmaster can choose between two types of links: do-follow and no-follow. These tell Google whether or not their search bots should follow the link and pass on authority.
If you obtain a backlink that includes the no-follow tag, your website’s rankings will not be affected. Do-follow is what you want to aim to achieve.
This is partially in your control and not at the same time. Let’s say that you search for guest post opportunities and find websites that offer them. One website may mention in its guidelines that links will not be do-follow.
Unless you’re interested in purely referral traffic, you’re better off landing guest posting opportunities that include links that pass SEO juice.
Building a PBN the wrong way
A private blog network, or PBN, is a common strategy for building backlinks. It takes a lot of time and effort to achieve a worthwhile network of sites, but it can be extremely rewarding.
There’s a lot of debate about whether or not they are aligned with Google’s terms of service, but it boils down to how you build a PBN from its core.
Blogs of networks with thin and duplicate content are what is considered blackhat. These are intentionally built as quickly as possible to manipulate rankings.
They are not focused on long-form content, user experience, and providing value to users. That is what separates a genuine website from a temporary one that will probably get penalized eventually.
There’s nothing wrong with owning a multitude of websites and interlinking them when it makes sense. Even the head of the search spam team at Google, Matt Cutts, said it’s perfectly fine to link websites you own together if they are related.
But, when you begin linking dozens or more properties, it begins to look like a link farm.
If you decide to build a blog network, here are some practices to avoid:
- Thin content: Focus on producing long-form content that is in excess of 1,000 words. Not only is this better for the website’s SEO, but it also packs more value for the reader.
- Irrelevant linking: Is your health site linking to another about dogs? Then, you might want to re-think your external linking process. Your websites should only be interconnected if they are in the same niche, otherwise, you risk being penalized.
- Lack of content: While you might have great pieces of content that include a high word count, you need to build a website that has many posts. More articles improve SEO, user experience, and how Google views your site.
Every backlink building mistake is completely preventable. How you build your links is completely in your hands.
The first issue many marketers face is the dilemma of purchasing backlinks due to impatience. Always strive to naturally attain links that are authoritative and relevant to your niche.
Be patient with the overall process and form an SEO plan you can reference too. This will give you goals and a consistent structure for generating backlinks.
Ensure that the links that you do receive are do-follow. Otherwise, they won’t make an impact on your performance.
Finally, don’t be afraid to create several sites and interlink them as long as they are relevant and add value for the audience.
You can learn more about SEO and marketing in my online courses.