All about link building: definitions, tips and guidance for effective strategies
That links are pivotal in order to rank on Google it is kind of an open secret, something that everyone knows and often minimize, mostly because the methodology to gain references could escalate in discouraged or straight irregular practices, forcing the hand of the search engine algorithm. Nevertheless, to know what the link building is is fundamental for whoever wants to make his own SEO online strategy more efficient, so today we are going to try and supply a quick and condensed guide to this activity, for a more efficient approach to link building article writing as well.
What is the link building
From a strictly grammatical point of view, link building is the construction of a series of connections between one site and all the others: we have already repeated on several occasions that links are the actual core of the Internet (not casually called Net or Web, with a symbolic reference to the threads of a spiderweb or a weave, exactly represented by links), and to the search engines daily navigating the massive virtual metropolis they can be considered as reserved lanes.
Link building is perhaps the best known of the activities pertaining to offpage SEO, and differs from so-called link earning in the way backlinks are won: with link earning, links and mentions arrive naturally, thanks to the quality and usefulness of the published content, without direct intervention on the host site. Link building, on the other hand, presupposes an effort to convince the site to publish the link, usually found within a specially structured article (which is called a guest post, to remark precisely the feature of being hosted on a different site).
However, it takes great skill in setting up strategies for effective and natural link building, and perhaps unassumingly we can say that the daily activity that we have been carrying out for over ten years in this area with our agency, Seo Cube, has allowed us to practice in the field and to follow all the transformations in the conception of link building and the evaluations that Google makes in this regard. We make no claim to be the bearers of who knows what absolute truth, but only to share some of our philosophy, strategies and advice on how to write an effective and natural link building article.
The importance of links for Google
As we know and as is still verifiable today, links remain one of the main ranking factors on Google, because they convey trust to the site that receives this reference and help search engines evaluate and frame it, as well as rank it. Not all links are equal and carry the same weight, because variables such as the site’s industry, competitiveness, on-site optimization and many other aspects that affect organic ranking must be evaluated.
What we need to understand is that Google values links, indeed it needs them for its functioning and to provide users with the answers they expect when they make a query; in the webmaster guides, it is the Googlers themselves who write that “links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful your content is, the greater the likelihood that another user will find it valuable to their readers and place a link to it.”
Through sophisticated analytics systems, engines such as Google can find out how and in what ways Web pages are linked to each other, evaluating the quantity and quality of these links within the ranking parameters used.
Understanding how Google thinks and how it evaluates the quality of backlinks
The word “quality” is the one really making a difference compared to the past: up until the update named Penguin, it was pretty frequent that in order to increase a site’s popularity and ranking to aim at the increase of the number of inbound links connecting to those resources. No proper attention to the actual content of the linked pages, nor the ones containing those connections, nor analysis of the hosting site: key was, indeed, only the number of people/sites referring to that specific page, apparently at least.
In 2012 Google required a drastic change, with the Penguin update specifically created to defeat spam activities, the unfair link purchasings or exchanges between networks that had as only goal to give a distorted nudge to the ranking (the famous “doping”, according to a striking definition of our Ivano Di Biasi), deeming every attempt and link “only created to manipulate a site’s PageRank or ranking among Google’s search results” as a violation of Google’s instructions for webmasters – an indication that is still present in Google’s guidelines, despite various updates and evolutions.
The evolutions both of Google and SEO
In the last few years, then, Google algorithm’s updates further refined the machine, allowing the search engine to indeed focus on the quality of the links, assessed based on several factors. The useful news for SEOs is that the RankBrain (the name given to that part of the Hummingbird algorithm that “gives credit to the web pages based on links coming from other web pages”, as we were saying a few times ago) keeps on working and representing an important ranking factor, to which no one could not pay any attention given the fact that it remains one of the best way to determine the quality of a webpage.
And so, before providing advice on how to do natural offpage SEO activities and how to structure and write a link building article, it is good to start with the awareness that, in an increasingly precise way, Google interprets and evaluates the context in which the links are placed, and this represents the element that must never be forgotten in order to make this activity effective. At the same time, it is always Google that reminds us that any attempt to manipulate the ranking, even (and especially) through paid links, can lead to penalties for the site, and therefore it is necessary to work carefully and shrewdly.
How to do link building
Cleared any so-called theoretical matter, let’s try and deepen practical matters too, because the link building is a strictly technical SEO activity, maybe the main off-page ranking optimization strategy (even if it also is important to focus on contents and the right management of on-page elements, because to push a poorly developed page would not bring any benefit).
In extreme summary, this expression identifies the strategic activity intended to increase the number of inbound links toward a web site, that in this way gain more authority in the eyes of the search engine. Other than quantity, Google is able to evaluate sourcing, quality, nature, relevance, importance and several other signals concerning the site that sends it, that then determine its weight on a ranking perspective.
Effective management of this activity can start from two basic assumptions:
- The link building campaign must be set up with medium- and long-term goals.
- Placing a link is easy; it is less easy to do LB strategically.
We used the term place in a deliberately disqualifying way, to highlight how receiving links is not enough for those who seek to strengthen their site in a lasting way and know that the results of their efforts will pay off over time.
Link building is in fact not just receiving links by buying space on sites, but is precisely a strategy that must start with thought and study, and a campaign can be effective when it starts with shrewd and targeted planning.
How to assess a backlink and which ones are quality links
Once defined the big picture of the link building, let’s now try to focus our attention on other practical aspect, starting from how to assess a link’s value and if, consequently, the received backlink can offer some kind of advantage in terms of ranking improvement on search engines (always reminding you all that the disavow of a link is an intervention to only use as very last resource). In this context, what we previously said about ranking factors still applies: impossible to truly define them all, because the exact functioning is only known by the algorithm itself, but there still are some parameters and signals that must be taken into account.
The quality of an inbound link is assessed by putting together several parameters: first of all, the site’s popularity, prominence and authority (that has a strong specific weight), geographic and content’s relevance (an in-topic site perfectly in line with the subject to link offers an added value to search engines compared to a generic or straight off-topic – the worst scenario – site), site trust (what we were previously naming a background check: to acquire links from high trusted sites represent a proper boost to the ranking improvement, given the fact that these site are the ones regarded as the safest and most reliable), age of the links (freshness is an added value) and social spreading (a factor still fairly ambiguous, so to say, because it is not clear yet how search engines currently interpret social connections and interactions within their algorithms).
The important elements of a link
Alongside these broader aspects, then, there are other more specific parameters regarding the actual linked content: lots of expert are convinced that even the exact position of the link within the page has a specific value (therefore, a reference placed on top of the page, in a prominent position, should bring more benefits compared to a link placed to the bottom of it), but the subjet is pretty debated. More united are the voices on the anchor text, the fragment of the page actually linked towards another resource (the one generally highlighted by the underline or a different color whenever visiting a page): this is deemed as one of the strongest signals for ranking, but the abuse perpetrated in the past led to a sort of penalty (or high risk of penalty) for all those pages that use an anchor text link with a perfect match for the keyword one is trying to rank for, mostly on sensitive and controlled fields such as finance or health.
How to set up a natural link building campaign
Ideal link building is therefore a slow process, which needs time and patience and which starts with building a good site with quality content and good on-page SEO work, so as to try to intercept the natural links that are created thanks to the interest that moves around one’s own site, to which one can add those that can arise by establishing relationships with authoritative sites that can provide high-quality links, possibly with brand anchors, in line with the sector being dealt with. Interpreting Google’s guidelines, a natural backlink profile is one that succeeds in gathering consensus-expressed in the form of links with follow and nofollow attributes, but also citations and mentions-from various types of sites, which have different levels of authority.
A decisive element to consider for an effective link building strategy is also the trustworthiness of the site from which the hyperlinked reference comes: “real” sites that have good trust and a clean history (a criminal record) are still an indicator of value for Google, while on the contrary sites built only to host guest posts, push others’ enhancement or networks that set up obvious exchanges can be evaluated negatively, even leading to possible penalties. This means that the linked site not only does not improve its search engine ranking, but may see a deterioration or no benefit at all. In practical terms, to recognize the quality of a site and a link there are various SEO Tools, including (of course) SEOZoom, which has various tools for backlink analysis (analyzing so many factors, from sites to anchors used) and especially the Zoom Authority, the fastest parameter to understand the reliability of a website and its eventual liking by Google.
SEO Link building, main strategies
There are a whole lot of modalities to use to do link building: a valid strategy is to create optimized articles for one or more specific keywords that could represent a possible insight in regards of the topic we are covering both in the text and on the hosting site. In a comprehensive link building strategy, then, it could be useful to vary the frequency of follow and nofollow links, giving life to a natural backlink profile that could help the development of referral traffic towards the site, as useful as could be to rely on quotes, a.k.a references that could also not contain any link, especially if coming from sources considered influential by Google, given the fact that they can increased the perceived reliability of the site. Another methodology that could be effective, mainly for specific typology of online sites, is using thematical forums relevant to the topics covered on the site or to the products offered on the eCommerce in order to link it at the appropriate time.
How to naturally obtain backlinks
In the end, the tip still is not to overdo with bad practices that, as effective as they can look in the short/average period of time, they nontheless risk to expose themselves to possible penalties: the safest strategy from this point of view still is the so-called link earning, meaning the free gaining of quotes and links one could naturally obtain thanks to, for instance, quality contents echoed (again naturally and without any forcing) by other sites as source of info or useful insight. To Google, is very important that every link is organic, so to say naturally inserted by the editorial staff or recommended by the site’s owner in a page, without any intervention or manipulative goal by the linked site; as we can always read on Big G’s official documents, “the best way to encourage the inclusion on other sites of quality links relevant to your own is to create unique and peculiar contents, able to naturally acquire popularity on the Internet community”.
It is quite clear, anyway, that the link building strategies performed by the most efficient and capable experts will succeed in avoiding the perception of the difference between link building and link earning, creating planned campaigns that seem natural at first glance (even to the search engines’ sentinels).
Link building’s risks
Search engines’ systems try to differentiate and discard the influence of paid links among organic search results in order to detect possible inbound or outbound link manipulations: a fairly impossible task, to which they nevertheless devote a lot of time and resources. Whenever they are able to discover sites purchasing links or partecipating in “link schemes” (the most common is the double-ended exchange with no added value, like a simple agreement, called “Link Neighborhood” often directly marked as spam), or to “article marketing campaigns or wide scale guests’ publishing with anchor text links full of keywords” (according to Google’s quality regulations), they could decide to proceed with penalty systems that will strike a page’s ranking or, worse, the entire site’s one. That is the reason why we say that the link building is an art form, one of the most challenging task of the SEO work, because we need to create a strategy that surely requires creativity, intuition, resolution and quick execution, but also expertise and a fair share of budget.
The analysis of the site on which to publish a link
Staying with the practical advice, a relevant aspect of the strategy is to be able to carefully evaluate the site on which to publish, starting by checking whether in its history it has been punished by Google for link spam or other activities that do not comply with the search engine’s guidelines, understand what its usual topics are, that is, whether it is a “generalist” or “vertical” site.
Vertical or generalist site: the criteria for evaluating a site for link building
The first case includes all sites that talk about a little bit of everything: informative editorial portals, but also blogs or other projects that do not expressly specialize on a topic, but publish articles in a multitude of categories. Those that address only one topic are called “vertical” sites, because they focus on one topic and analyze it in depth.
Other issues to check with respect to the host site include, for example, territoriality (does it contain only local news or does it also devote itself to broader topics?) and the quality of the articles: if the site has a “real” in-house editorial staff that produces news, it will probably enjoy greater trust in Google’s eyes than sites created only to contain links.
Of course, in order to estimate the quality of a site that could host a link of ours, it is also necessary to analyze the consistency of updates (is it a site that publishes frequently or is it left without any new recent articles?), the use of follow and nofollow attributes for external links, and above all its main metrics, such as the volume of organic traffic>, any fluctuations in ranking, and so on. Parameters that, as we know, are summarized in SEOZoom’s Zoom Authority, which not surprisingly has established itself in Italy as the most widely used parameter to evaluate a site from a link building perspective.
How and what to link for link building
Having completed the analysis on who has given willingness to host our link, the time comes to check our site properly and understand what and how to link, both in terms of URL and anchor text to be used. In fact, this aspect cannot be disconnected from the context in which the link will be placed, because we know that Google also evaluates and considers important the thematic relevance of the backlink, which carries more weight than a link received from a site completely unrelated to ours (and the theme of our content).
Planning and site study phase
This is a more specific onpage analysis, geared toward understanding what you need to work on in your link building strategy, keeping in mind two other basic rules:
- One should not aim at pushing a single keyword, but at the high and ambitious goal of generating traffic and giving trust to the whole site
from which it follows that
- in order to drive traffic, one should not focus only on one page and one keyword, but on the whole pattern
In concrete terms, among the aspects to check are the optimization status of the page we are thinking of linking to (for example, checking the presence in the content of the keywords for which we are seeking rankings or the quality of the text), the general health of the site, the possibility of using manipulative anchors, our backlink profile and, an element not to be overlooked, the sector in which we operate: each field is different and needs completely different times, costs and difficulties. The results are not replicable and each site needs specific strategies, with more or less preparation and more or less links.
Competitor analysis to set the strategy
A smart starting point can be the analysis of competitor strategies, which allows us to have a few more cards to play: first, this way we find out which sites are likely to accept external collaborations, host guest posts or publish articles with links.
From a more strategic point of view, if we rank competitors in SERPs that do link building and use manipulative anchors, it means that Google considers the behavior acceptable, conforming to what users expect, as John Mueller also confessed some time ago, and with positive factors outweighing the negatives.
Choice of anchor text depends on contexts
It follows that there is less risk for our campaign as well, which can then include the inclusion of links with exact matching anchor text; on the contrary, if the landscape of opponents and the SERP shows a cleaner picture or when sectors are particularly susceptible to spam (such as topics pertaining to the YMYL group), better to keep a different profile and work on diluted anchors or, more simply, link to the brand.
Brand linking, a useful tactic
Linking to brand is probably the one that offers the least risk and gives effective results to strengthen the whole project: it is usually combined with a link to the home page, so as to trigger a process of distributing link juice to the pages of the site, and it is also the one that, with a little experience and copy skill allows for more natural and less blatantly commercial link building articles, which are also useful to clean up a backlink profile built with too aggressive strategies in the past. In addition, by using this tactic judiciously we will make our brand important, get people to talk about us and not just our keywords, make ourselves recognizable on and for Google, realizing in parallel a brand awareness activity.
When to use branded links and on-page links
If the goal is to strengthen the site in its entirety (or precisely to create the basis for building a natural backlink profile), the link to the home page with still branded is therefore the weapon to use; if the strategy is different (or to vary the distribution of links) it is possible to go deeper, targeting the pages that can offer better returns and that are already ready for “promotion”, already optimized and close to entering the SERP on Google with specific keywords.
A further cue to think about is the importance of categories, repeatedly defined as the pillars around which we build our project: also in terms of juice, linking to a category can be an option to be evaluated in order to give strength to all the pages of the whole, which will benefit from the value of linking and could receive the decisive push to overtake those of competitors.
A medium to long-term strategy
What we are trying to say is that an approach prior to “link placement” is essential, an analysis that is preparatory to increasing the likelihood that subsequent link building activities will work and bring results. Interventions focus on content and basic onpage optimizations, which can already bring an improvement to the site’s ranking, but which may continue to break down at the threshold of SERPs: often, when better results do not come even after these optimizations, it turns out that our competitors have a few tricks up their sleeves, usually precisely link acquisition campaigns.
And so, doing link building is about overcoming that limitation, about pushing pages up a little bit more and competing more efficiently with your opponents. And doing it in the ways we’ve tried to describe means implementing link acquisition techniques that aim to safely increase organic traffic, to withstand Google’s various updates and stay on top consistently over time.
Therefore, this natural and strategic link building strategy is divided into various phases, between the preparatory ones, with onsite optimizations and research of possible host sites, and the more active ones, in which links start to come out. It is important that the run-up to the SERP is done cautiously and steadily, without the risk of falling for too much haste, and that we can give Google time to get to know, evaluate and (hopefully) appreciate our site. When we closely tail the competitor in SERPs, then, you can aim for more serious and heavy links, from more authoritative sites, which can give the strength for the final shot, without ever forgetting to also strengthen the brand and not only our keywords.
How to write a quality link building article
But let’s go even further into the practical details of the activity, focusing now on the issues of strategic SEO copywriting applied precisely to how to write a link building article that can accompany and enhance the strategy of building a network of backlinks pointing to our site.
So let’s change our perspective and speak directly to copywriters engaged in this activity, or managers who need guidelines to submit to employees to optimize procedures and maximize results through quality link building articles. That is, texts that are not just an advertisement for the linked site, are not a press release telling about the site’s activities and services, are not (just) a channel for placing a link. On the contrary, a link-building content is useful and effective if it is a real article that represents added value for the site that hosts it, that can offer information to the reader, who must also be incentivized to click on the link, remembering that we never write just for Google and its crawlers, but for the people who read the resource.
Content that is useful and interesting to the reader and the site
The link building copywriter must be able to craft interesting, original and useful content to submit to sites, and the article must be well contextualized, thematic and in topic with the link we want to place. Similarly, the linked page must be consistent with the link so as not to mislead the reader and take them to different resources than those anticipated in the article.
The skill of the copywriter lies in being able to find a way to bring together the promotional needs of the site to be linked to with the editorial needs of the site that will host the contribution; for this, it is important to analyze the editorial line of the portal, study the general tone of the articles, the possible geographic or thematic location of the pieces, the general target audience, and adapt one’s work accordingly to accommodate these needs and create an integrated and fitting link building article, also finding useful resources to point to with in-depth internal links.
Offer added value to the reader with article and links
The backlink should not be the sole focus of the article, inserted by force or unnaturally and only so that the cited site can receive trust, but should be designed to offer a useful service or insight for the reader. One should therefore always try to give the user additional information, asking whether, in the reader’s shoes, we would ever click on that link.
Using the right tone for link building
The tone of a piece is decisive in achieving the goal: the style must be appropriate for the site, its editorial line, and the context for which it is intended. Therefore, it is good to know whether the link building article will be published on a blog, an online newspaper, a specialized site or another particular type, because each channel has its own forms of expression that must be respected in order to reach its average reader. In addition, one should always try to use a professional, possibly objective and detached tone that is not too blatantly favorable toward the client’s site to be linked.
Adapt to the context and target audience
This also means that you have to take care of the language of the article, which should not be too cathedratic, difficult and technical in tone, but neither can it be too banal and common: for example, the you in articles is to be limited only to blogs that use the second person to address the reader directly, while if you publish on a news site you have to write an article with a news, or again on a site specializing in guides you have to write such content, and so on.
The language and style for link building articles
A sign of authority and usefulness can also come from the use of synonyms, language variations, plurals and words that belong to the same semantic field as the keyword of the link or at least the keywords of the article, in order to offer the reader a more complex text and demonstrate a wide vocabulary relevant to the topic.
Tips for writing link building articles
The discriminating factor in the work of the link building copy is the ability to find the right slant to give the article and the best topic to capture the reader’s attention; a tip in this sense is to use data, statistics, true and verifiable citations, studying the hot topics of the moment, events, trends, studies or research that have relevance to the link to be inserted, the services offered by the client’s site and the topics of the site hosting the contribution, then deepening the discourse by inserting the link in a natural way.
Do not be afraid to use links
When using such cues, then, it is good to always provide citation with links: do not be afraid to link, either to other external references such as authoritative sources, or to resources internal to the site hosting the article. Also, in some cases it may be the client’s own site that becomes the source of an in-depth article, when, for example, it offers specialized content on a topic, a study, or otherwise a useful and original reference.
Cite and use sources well
Speaking of originality, a cornerstone of any kind of text production, even link building articles must, of course, adhere to common sense norms regarding “copy and paste” from other resources: the skill of the copywriter (another one!) lies in taking inspiration and cues from other articles and competitor sites to rework concepts and make them new in a judicious manner.
Link building and SEO articles
If these represent the general guidelines for writing a link building article, we now focus on the aspects more closely related to the SEO activity that is linked to this tactic, and thus to link management and mention of the client’s site.
How to choose anchor text for link building
The first concern is, of course, that of choosing the anchor text to use for the link, which we have already mentioned is something that must be done according to a precise strategy. We know, for example, that Google looks with suspicion at the over-optimization of anchors, especially if they have exact correspondence with the keyword for which you compete and that you are trying to place. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid manipulative and forced keywords, used perhaps without prepositions, ungrammatical and blatantly aimed at treading on trust to improve ranking, and instead choose softer but clearer anchor texts, even for the reader.
Where to place the link in the article?
The million-dollar question is “where should the link be placed,” and thus what is the right location to place the link? The answer is actually inevitably vague: there is no absolute rule for placing a link, but one must try to find the right place at the right time. Theoretically, a link in a high content area and in a prominent position could represent a stronger signal to Google, but in a more complex strategy it would still be preferable to vary the positioning, always respecting a criterion of being natural.
How to cite the site in link building articles
The same principle should guide the choice in citing the site, which in our opinion should always be made explicit so that the user understands that the link he sees in proximity is directed to a specific site, on which he will find useful resources. A practical suggestion is to avoid always mentioning the name of the client site with the same formula, and then alternate mentions with brand name, site with www. etc., and to understand whether it is preferable to include it in the text before or after the link.
The basic rules for link building articles
So, to recap, in general, effective link building articles must be of good quality, written in grammatically and syntactically correct Italian, with well-formatted text of an acceptable size (never under 300/400 words, but excesses in length should also be avoided, where not expressly requested), with interesting and readable content and not too branded. In short, they must be real articles, as we said before, also written with a journalistic bent and not only with the aim of inserting a link and possibly other related keywords. In addition, if we perform effective keyword research we may achieve a twofold goal, namely to write a quality article with links that succeeds in ranking, offering a higher trust to our site.
Such a structured activity takes a natural form, seeks to really interest readers and can also serve to intercept new spontaneous links through users’ sharing, who find the proposed content useful and responsive to their needs.
The 10 link building mistakes not to make
Despite these premises, when setting up an offpage strategy (and especially when jumping into buying links without proper prior assessments) it can happen to run into missteps that can jeopardize the success of the campaign or, in the worst cases, even result in a page- or site-level penalty.
Summing up a bit also the information we provided earlier, we have therefore identified 10 frequent mistakes with link building to steer clear of in order to avoid investing money and time in an activity that may not only not yield results, but on the contrary generate damage to the site.
1. To improvise a link building campaign without any strategy
The first link building error, that can though be extended to every kind of SEO activity, is the one to improvise and not follow a true and proper strategy. We defined link building as an art, and as such it must be interpreted and put into practice: the content we would like to promote must be of quality, offer an added value to the user’s experience and information, as pondered as it has to be the (potential) choice of the site to publish on or to which propose the specificly created content.
2. Not to assess the quality of the link
As we know, nowadays there are a lot of SEO tools allowing to determine the quality of a link, and even our SEOZoom suite has a totally dedicated area to the backlink analysis. Therefore, the second error we could commit on a link building campaign, correlated to the previous one, is not to properly use the tools’ metrics in order to assess authoritativeness, traffic and links presence of our own site and of the one is going to host the link itself.
3. Not to interpret metrics
There is a further specification to add to what we have written before, though, because the metrics not always say it all, and to simply stop at the mere data reading without interpreting and delve deeply into them risks to be equally superficial and to not bring any benfit in terms of performance optimization of the site. A frequent error is the one to evaluate a hosting site on an “authority” scale basis only, without investigating what that number stands on; for this, the advice is to more comprehensively look at the site’s health status and its search performance on Google, to study its backlink profile but also the generated traffic, so to understand if it is a real site or merely a link container. Have we already said that this is precisely what Zoom Authority is for?
4. Publishing on spam sites
Even more specifically, it may be a potentially critic mistake for a site’s reputation to go and publish link contents only on openly spammy hosting sites, born with the only goal to monetize through the guestposts sale. On these cases, the bad name of the spam site can negatively influence Google in the evaluation of our site, and for that the link itself could not only not bring any of the boosting effect we wished for the keyword’s ranking, ma could even end as an owngoal and generate penalties.
5. Posting link containers on PBN
Until a few years ago, a popular method of forcing keyword and page rankings was to create sites specifically to link to those resources. Today, Google’s algorithms work in a much more refined and efficient way and are able to assess, as mentioned, the quality of links, but they also take into account other factors to avoid the presence of “any link aimed at manipulating a site’s PageRank or ranking in Google’s search results.” This means that it is not advisable to post links on PBNs (Private Blog Network, i.e., on a network of sites/blogs that can be traced back to one owner, who has full control and management) if these PBNs are not properly structured and optimized: in this sense, it is necessary to check if the domains are registered with the same data, if they share servers, hosting providers or even the same IP address, if they use the same CMS and theme, if they lack the necessary information pages (those related to “about us”, contacts, privacy details).
6. Creating link schemes
It is Google itself, in its quality standards, that points out how the use of link schemes, i.e., procedures and plots put in place to attempt to manipulate the ranking of sites, which include behaviors referring to both incoming links on one’s site and outgoing links from it. Examples of link schemes that “may adversely affect a site’s ranking” on Google include excessive one-to-one link exchange (of the “you quote and link to me and I reciprocate” type), creating partner pages solely for link exchange, conducting large-scale article marketing campaigns (with duplicate content or overly dense keyword anchor text links), using automated programs or services to create links to your site, and so on.
7. Being off topic
Relevance of content is an important factors in terms of ranking on Google, so not considering them in your link building strategy can be problematic. Instead, the goal to be achieved is to get a link from a site that deals with similar topics to those in the resource we intend to link to and push, because only in this way can the content represent added value for both the host and the reader, but most importantly be viewed positively by search engines. Being in topic also means paying attention to the writing style of the site on which you are going to publish, using a tone of voice and forms similar to the usual ones, in short, adapting to the context in which the article will be placed.
8. Linking to unoptimized pages
Off-page SEO is likely to be ineffective if it is not accompanied by proper on-page optimization: if you try to push a page that is not well structured, has poor and low-quality content, does not please Google, or even does not contain the keyword that is then used as anchor text, the goals you are trying to achieve with link building will not be met.
9. Do not study an anchor text strategy
Anchor text – literal translation of anchor text – is one of the most complex elements in managing link building activity, because it represents a signal that allows search engines to understand what the page you are linking to is about. The most frequent mistake is to abuse anchor texts of a manipulative type, that is, that presents an exact correspondence with the keyword you intend to place, because this method risks being interpreted by Google as a forcing, especially when it analyzes some specific sectors, such as those that fall under the well-known YMYL Pages (acronym for Your Money or Your Life, a more or less ironic reference to segments such as health, finance, savings and so on, where the information provided can have impacts on the physical or financial well-being of those who use it).
That being said, other mistakes that can be made in a non-strategic approach to link building is to always use the same anchor text in a systematic way: the hyperlink must be a cue that intrigues the reader, inviting him or her to click to learn more about the topic, and the anchor must drive toward this path. It is then also important to properly use branded anchors, that is, those that feature the name of the site or company, which serve to reinforce the brand’s reputation.
In practical terms, then, it would always be to try to direct links to different pages and not to concentrate all referrals on the same page, even if it is the home page: the concepts to keep in mind are link juice, which is the value that links directed to specific home or categories can also convey to other lower pages, and deep linking, which is the development of links directed to internal pages of the site.
10. Offering low-quality articles
This last mistake should be predictable by now, because we have mentioned it before: thinking about link building by offering low-quality or even copied articles does not bring results. On the contrary, content should be capable of improving navigation and providing useful information to visitors, written with a correct grammar, with adequate and well-formatted text, readable and interesting; above all, it should not be articles made for the sole purpose of containing a link for promotional purposes. This is also the way to try to really interest readers and intercept new spontaneous links from the natural sharing of users, intrigued and fulfilled by the proposed content.