A lot of link building strategies can backfire, causing more damage than doing good. If you want to improve your ranking in the long term, using what we call a holistic SEO strategy, you should definitely avoid certain link building tactics. In this post, I’ll describe link building DON’TS: tactics you should most definitely NOT use.
Risky link building tactics
In the old days, link building meant putting links on as much external pages as possible, often by buying or trading links. Since Google Penguin these tactics have become a risky SEO strategy. If your link building tactics include spamming, your site risks a Google Penalty and could be banned from Google’s results completely. Placing a lot of links will probably help the ranking of your site for a short while, but probably not in the long run. I suspect most of you will know quite some of the link building tactics you must definitely not apply. I’ll sum up the most obvious link building DON’TS and will then discuss some less well known – but equally important – DON’TS.
Obvious link building DON’TS
You should not buy large amounts of links. You should not exchange links. You should not use any automated programs to get links. You should not do guest blogging with very thin and off-topic content. You should not comment on blogs or forums if your only purpose is to leave a link in the comment. You should not over optimize your anchor text. You should not have links that are unrelated to the topic of your website. You should not have links from sites that have no real content. You should not have links from spammy sites whose only purpose is to advertise for gambling, viagra, and porn (unless your website is about gambling, viagra and porn).
Not all linking to the homepage
You should make sure to get links to different pages on your website and not solely to your homepage. If you only – or mainly – receive links to your homepage, your link building will look spammy. Of course, if someone is writing about your brand, a link to your homepage is appropriate. But if a website writes about products or about news of your company, they usually link to your product, news or blog pages. That is just the natural way people link to other pages. You should make sure your link building strategy resembles the natural way people link to websites. Extra benefit: linking to a more specific page will probably lead to a better conversion on your website! So you should work on getting links for important product pages, or for your cornerstone content pages. Get links to those pages where the deal is closed! It will get your website a trustworthy link profile and will increase the conversion at the same time!
Pay for specific links? We say: don’t!
Another link building DON’T is buying links. You probably all know that buying links in large bulks from companies claiming to get you ranked fast is not something we would promote at Yoast. But what about a link from an individual company? From a high quality website right in your niche? Is it wrong to buy one link from such a company? How will Google ever find out about that?
Google won’t know about one link you buy from one company. Still, we would recommend not to do so. If this company has sold one link to you, they could sell more links to more people. And although one link will not alarm Google, as the amount of questionable links on a website rises, the risk of getting hit by Penguin or a manual penalty rises as well.
Don’t recycle your content on different sites
A way to get links is to write articles about your company or about your products and try to get these articles published on other sites. Beware to not publish the same content on different sites though! An article in which sentences and paragraphs are switched and a few words are altered still remains duplicate content to the original article. Especially if you repeat this trick several times. Spinning content is not creating new content. It is a link building trick and it could backfire. Write the articles for the audience of the website you’re sending your piece to. Yes, that is a lot of work. No one said link building is easy…
Don’t forget social media
If you’re building links, do not leave out social media! Social media should definitely be included in your link building strategy, although it is not totally clear to what extent links from social media actually help in your ranking. If you’re receiving links from other websites all of a sudden, it would be extremely weird if you would not receive some from social media sites as well. That will not add up and could make you look spammy in Google’s eyes. So alongside your attempts to receive links from appropriate websites, invest in getting shares, tweets and likes on social media platforms as well.
Your link building strategy shouldn’t look natural, it should be natural! Make sure your link building isn’t fake. Links should be placed because the link could be beneficial to the user of a website. Links should fit the content of the page they’re placed on. Your link building strategy should be part of a marketing strategy aimed at telling people about your company, your website or your products. It should never be aimed at getting as much quality links as possible.
Conclusion: links should always be useful
From a holistic SEO perspective, links should be useful for the user of a website. A link should be there because it means something, because the text in which the link is embedded refers to that specific page. If a link is merely there for Google and won’t receive any clicking, the link probably shouldn’t be there.
Links are meant to be clicked on. Link building should therefore be about creating links that are useful for and clicked on by the audience of a website! In my next post, I’ll give you some tips on doing link building the Yoast way.