Search engine optimization is an ever-evolving process. The major platforms – Google and Bing being the most popular – update their algorithms frequently in order to provide the best service to their users.
For those trying to rank their sites, these changes can be confusing. However, backlinks still remain at the heart of SEO, with only their application changing.
Simple or outdated mistakes when backlinking can damage any chances of a site ranking, but these errors can almost always be avoided.
The following mistakes have been made by all SEO professionals, with the experience playing a part in future successes. Also remember, not anyone, not even I know exactly what Google really thinks about links.
Over-Optimizing Anchor Text
Anchor text should appear natural, but an over-reliance on a small number of terms is common.
SEO typically takes time to achieve results, so many people attempt to quicken the process by acquiring more links. However, the overall result is to make your link pattern appear unnatural.
SEO requires patience and planning, so ensure you are cautious with your backlinks. A typical backlink profile will include branded terms, the URL, main keyword variations, and broader industry terms.
Linking from Irrelevant Sites
Relevancy has taken on a greater importance, with search engines better able to discern the theme of each page. If you have a large number of links from irrelevant niches, this will look unnatural and could cause problems.
If you have a site about golf, for example, a link from a powerful golf site will have authority and relevance. You can still get results from vastly different sites, but this could cause a problem in the future, particularly when it is done in bulk.
Using Sites with Spam Penalties
Links from sites with spam penalties can be problematic, particularly if you receive a high number of them. A site can look normal, but it could have been flagged in the past.
There are a few quick checks you can perform, though, and they should give you a clear impression.
A search for the URL in the search engines should give you one of the top placements.
If the site does not appear on the first few pages, or is not even indexed, it is likely penalized.
Using the Wayback Machine, check if there are any signs of low-quality content, spammy niches, or excessive linking activity in its previous incarnation.
Finally, Moz Open Site Explorer has a spam rating that could flag up any problems with a domain.
Again, not every site’s backlink profile is perfect. Every site has one, two or even a few bad links. Just don’t make a habit of building spam links.
Always check before building. Another great place to do this is Link Research Tools.
Building Links Too Quickly
As mentioned, SEO requires patience, but it is easy to go overboard when you first start promoting. A burst of links is not always a problem, with a new piece of content naturally bringing about an influx of backlinks.
However, if a new site suddenly starts receiving many new links, particularly in niches where this is uncommon, it can appear strange.
It is important to build authority first, using quality press release services, directories, and citations, so any subsequent links do not cause problems. And notice the word quality.
Stopping Link Building
Another common mistake is to promote your site heavily, see some good search engine results, then stop promoting your site. An authority site should be receiving backlinks on a consistent basis, with content releases and news causing an increase.
When a site stops receiving new links, it can appear unnatural, but it will also suggest that the site has lost popularity. A site that is no longer as popular should eventually start to slip down the rankings.
Individually, each of these mistakes should not be too damaging on a small scale.
However, if these mistakes are made a great deal in unison, for example quickly gaining a large number of spammy links with limited anchor text, you can expect problems.
Look to gain authority by finding quality links from reputable sites, track your backlinks with a service like Moz or Majestic, and ensure your on-page optimization is taken care of.
Search algorithms will continue to change, but avoiding these mistakes will put you in the best position for long-term success.
If you really try and take short cuts, you are only setting yourself up for disaster. I have seen many people spam their way to the top of Google, were there for a little while and then an update hit and they were gone.
While this may be ok for blackhat Seo’s who play the game of churn and burn, it is not a strategy to take with a real business or client who is paying you good money and depending upon you.
When approaching linkbuilding, you need to think long term. And, if you do things right, you can gain a lot of traffic in the process.
What you need is to, stick with quality relevant links and don’t worry about things like no=follow. If the link will bring you traffic and is relevant, then get the link. Not everything needs to be about Google all the time.
There is where many Seo’s make mistakes, thinking about nothing more than Google.
But, there is so much more out there than just a search engine. Yes, it is one of the best and highest converting sources of traffic out there. But you need to protect yourself and your business and build links that will send traffic also.