Link building has been central to the SEO efforts of any website. However, so-called SEO experts and misinformation has given birth to plenty of myths about link building best practices. Even after Google Penguin, the myths about link building have only grown instead of reducing. This article addresses some of the most common link building myths and gives you the reason why they don’t make any logical sense.
What Causes Link Building SEO Myths?
While search engine guidelines tell you what NOT to do, search engines do not provide best practices rules for link building. Most misinformed SEOs ponder the information on blogs and webmaster tools and misinterpret the guidelines. This gives birth to many link building SEO myths like the ones dispelled below.
Link Building Myth 1: Directory Submissions Do Not Work
This is probably the biggest myth going around. It is true that indiscriminate directory submissions do not work, but directories continue to be among the most potent link building channels. It is important to remember that both the quantity and quality of incoming links matter. Directories are an excellent way to start building the quantity of links. You need to ensure the directory is not part of a link network, has not been penalized, and is not spammy. This calls for effort and diligence that many SEOs try to shy away from and dismissing directories as ineffective is a convenient way to shirk from the effort it calls for.
Link Building Myth 2: Reciprocal Linking is Black Hat SEO
Reciprocal linking is when two websites link to one another to give customers easy access to related information. Search engines tend to look past reciprocal link building when websites are within the same industry or with relevant information to one another. However, do not get carried away with linking to websites which are linked yours. Search engines do not like when backlinks do not have relevant content for you to link back to. Reciprocal linking directories are an example of the kind of reciprocal linking to avoid.
Link Building Myth 3: Do Not Link to Other Sites
The days of hoarding link juice are gone. In the modern era, being a part of a community is more important than being the mere destination of incoming links.
When you offer high quality to your visitors, other websites are encouraged to link to you, getting you quality inbound links. Part of the quality you provide to your visitors is recommending other websites of authority the visitor would find useful. A search engine recognizes the value of being in the right cluster and of providing value to visitors by linking to other useful sites. This will not hurt your SEO. In fact, it can help you rank better if you truly link to high-quality content websites.
Link Building Myth 4: Get Links Only from High Page Rank Websites
It is not as simple as it sounds. When you get links, many factors operate. Ranking factors like number of incoming links, the linking text, relevance of the linking website to your website and domain authority all plays a role. Also, just because a website has a high Page Rank on the home page does not mean the page that links to you also have a high domain authority. Even if it does, if the link is a nofollow link, you will not benefit from the high page rank site linking to you. Focus on the relevance of the link and not on the page rank of the linking website.
Link Building Myth 5: Links from Irrelevant Sites Do Not Count
Those who claim that links from irrelevant websites do not count would need to explain why directory submission, links from social media sites and news websites make a difference. Surely all businesses are not directories, social media sites or news related websites. Links from these sites would be deemed as irrelevant to a majority of the websites. Moreover, they are among the most powerful links you can get.
Link Building Myth 6: Only Indexed Links Matter
This is a complete myth about link building. We can cite examples of websites with zero indexed incoming links ranking at number one position on Google for the keyword most relevant to the site. Likewise, just because a link is indexed, it is not necessarily making a huge difference. Getting good links to your website is what matters. Whether it is indexed in Google or reported on Google Webmaster Tools is secondary and does not impact your ranking.
Link Building Myth 7: Link Buying is Black Hat SEO
Many high-quality directories like the Yahoo! Directory and Best of the Web require you to pay for inclusion in the directory. Likewise, you may need to pay to be included in the member directory of many high-quality industry forums. These are all perfectly legitimate instances of link buying. However, link buying needs to be extremely selective and should not be disguised as a free or editorial link. Also, if a small fraction of links to your site is legitimately purchased links, it should not hurt you. However, when too many are purchased links and disguised as organic links, this can hurt your efforts.
Link Building Myth 8: Link Solicitation is the Way to Go
Many SEO professionals will recommend emailing websites soliciting links. This is considered spammy links and there are many reasons why this is just wrong:
- You are spamming a website. You can get penalized and flagged, damaging your search engine rankings.
- How many times do you respond to unsolicited emails? Why do you expect other websites to be so eager to link to you that they will respond?
- Even if someone were to be willing to link, why would they not expect a link or payment in return?
- It is a waste of time and effort for which you pay without enough success to justify the expense.
Link Building Myth 9: Use of Link Building Tools
At the outset, search engines do not like anything that does not seem organic. When tools blast your links on thousands of questionable sites, it is the strongest signal you give to search engines that you are not practicing organic link building. Link building tools would also not be doing enough diligence about whether the site is penalized or relevant. As a result, you could be building tons of bad links that will not help your search engine rankings.
Link Building Myth 10: Link Builders Should Guarantee Active Links
Most websites exercise discretion when they decide whether or not to link to your website. SEOs who guarantee active links are telling you that are gaming the system or have some way of manipulating and bypassing a website’s discretion. While it is perfectly all right to use tools for process automation and research, tools that automatically do any part of your SEO, mainly a link building campaign are a dangerous indulgence.
Ethical Link Building Services
There is no escaping the fact that ethical link building calls for a high level of human skill, strategic marketing planning, laborious competitor research and analysis, and time-consuming effort. Cheap link building services cannot be doing all that. The main way to make sure you and your linking partner is practicing white hat SEO and maintain sustainable link building is to compensate and record human time, skill and effort, and insist on transparent reporting of work done. It will call for a certain amount of trust and investment in the right SEO partner, but a rational evaluation of what is promised should help you select the right internet marketing service provider.
Flying Cow Design has been providing high quality and professional website design and internet marketing services to our clients for over 20 years. Talk to us today, not just about your link building needs, but also about your needs for building a strong online presence.
CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area