Link building is one of the cornerstones of SEO and essential to rank for most competitive search terms. Doing link building the wrong way can quickly get your website into trouble and many websites and business have gone from the top of the SERPs to almost bust overnight due to the wrong link strategies so people are naturally cautious. This has also lead to many myths about link building spreading across SEO blogs, forums and social media over the years and this article is going to put a few of them straight.
Links from directories do not have any value
Back in the old SEO days when link building involved submitting your website to as many places as possible directories were high up on the list as a main place for getting links from. When people started to spam this tactic too much and many link directories started to lower the standards of what they accepted or even let any website add it’s link with no oversight things started to get out of hand. Many directories deemed to be low quality or simply for the purpose of adding links were heavily penalized by Google and then after the Penguin updates people quickly stopped using them.
However, this does not mean that all directories are bad. Like with all links it depends on what the quality of the site is and what it’s doing. If there is a website run specifically for businesses in your local area with a directory and they are accepting listings and vetting them then by all means you should be looking to get a link from that site. As with all link building, use your judgement and analyse the quality of the site beforehand.
Getting links too fast will get you penalised
Another myth and one which even seasoned SEOs believe! There is some truth to this though, if you create a new website or publish a new page and then get a lot of links with the same anchor text or text that is overly optimised for search terms than Google may not see these links as natural as when a link is truly built naturally it is normally not using your target search terms! However, if your business happens to blow up in the news or a piece of content goes viral and suddenly you are getting lots of links then this is fine and Google can tell that they are natural. So yes if you are doing forced, low quality link building too quickly then expect them to either not count at all or for Google to come after you, otherwise you’re fine.
Don’t link out to too many sites
This is something else that did have some truth to it in the past but in the last few years Google has stated is not true anymore. Many years ago in the Google webmaster guidelines it said “Keep the links on a give page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100)”, however people took this as a web spam rule and soon after 100 was the benchmark figure a page should not go over for outbound links. Matt Cutts helpfully cleared this up in 2009 though explaining that this was more of a user experience guideline which is why it was not listed in the web spam section.
“Does Google automatically consider a page spam if your page has over 100 links? No, not at all”
Even though the advice was dropped from the guidelines in 2008, Google publicly reinforced this in 2013 but also added a note that they make take action against that page if there were signs of obvious manipulation and/or spam.
Do not ask for links at all as it will get you penalised
This is not true but again it does share similarities with other situations where companies have offered discounts on their products and services or even free samples in return for links. If Google sees a website or company doing this on any kind of large scale they will see it as manipulative and most likely issue a penalty and warning.
However doing general outreach to niche related sites and asking them to link back to you is just fine. If a website has a resources page and you have something that you feel would be a good fit for that page then by all means ask them to add it.
Don’t get links from sites with less authority than you
As long as a site has quality content and isn’t spamming then the link is still valuable to you if its DA 50 or 20 site. Of course links from higher authority sites will carry more weight but lower ones can still help especially if the content is closely related to your site, don’t turn your nose up at them!
More than one link from the same domain has no value
Getting links from as many different domains as possible is of course desirable for any webmaster or link builder. Getting a second or third link from a domain that has already linked to you may not help you as much as the first link did but it still passes value in the same way other links do. If Forbes.com was linking to you multiple times from their site would you be upset? Of course not.
Links from non-related sites will not help
Your priority target sites should be sites related to your industry but it doesn’t mean that links from other niches will not pass value and help your rankings.
Link building is an independent strategy
This is another hangover from how SEO was done in the past and before the rise of content marketing. Any modern day SEO or content marketer knows that these two fields now go hand-in-hand. High quality and useful content is integral to nearly all link building campaigns especially if you want to attract links organically (without having to do manual outreach) and if you are planning a piece of content that you are hoping will get links naturally and/or you want to use for outreach to get links then making that piece of content as stand out as possible should be your main priority. If you have an attention grabbing piece of content that is head and shoulders above your competition then this will do a lot for the work for you!
Reciprocal link building will always get you penalised
No it will not. If you link to a site that happens to link back to you by chance or even intentionally then Google will not have a problem with it. However, if they see you conducting what looks like a reciprocal link scheme where there are many sites and you are all linking to each other then they will take action.
I’m sure you are beginning to see a pattern here now, don’t spam, Google isn’t stupid!
Links are permanent
You may have heard people say thins like ‘pay per click is temporary, SEO is forever’ and there is some truth to this, although SEO takes a lot longer to achieve results the affects can last for a long time and organic SERP results historically have a much better click through rate than PPC search ads. However this does not mean that if you build XX number of links for a website that those links are still going to be there in a few months or a year later. Editors may remove links or entire pieces of content, websites are bought or shutdown, businesses may go bust and there are numerous other reasons that any number of highly valuable links to your website disappear overnight. Link building should never be a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy and should be on-going which is adds further emphasis to why it needs to be baked into your overall content and digital marketing strategies.
Nofollow links have no value
As we covered here in a previous post nofollow links should actually be part of your linking strategy to ensure that your link profile looks natural as Google does not like to see too many followed links and you want to have a link portfolio with a good mix of followed and nofollow links. Some SEOs and content marketers these days even say that you shouldn’t even think about whether a link is follow or nofollow and instead focus on reaching out to the right websites and people.
Author: David Jones
David is lead digital marketer at Performancing, he also blogs at Bloggingtips.com and Bloggingpro.com.