Avoiding link building mistakes is not easy. Even the most experienced SEO is forever on a learning curve, as major search engines constantly adjust their algorithms to combat spam.
If you work in the world of search then you’ll probably agree that 2011 and 2012 have been tough years. Search engine giant Google declared war on websites that offer bad usability experiences and has set about making massive changes to it’s algorithm which gave many SEO’s and SEM’s a big scare, and a ton of work if their link building strategy had not been particularly “white hat”.
The Google “Panda”and “Penguin” updates, as they became popularly known by SEO’s, was the search engines way of sending a clear message that it is progressing along with the rest of the internet and will not be easily manipulated. When Google looks at a websites backlink profile its reading literally hundreds of large and small signals that will ultimately help to decide where you will rank within its index for a given set of keywords. When building links to your website there a few things you need to consider; 5 link building mistakes to avoid has be written to help you to understand what a truly natural backlink profile should look like as we move into 2013.
1) Paying for a Link
While not directly related to the latest updates, there is a very clear reason this is number one of the five main link building mistakes to avoid. Throughout constant algorithm updates there has always been one thing Google has warned against again and again. Paying for a link.
Google states clearly that paying for a link is in direct violation of its webmaster guidelines and any websites considered to be involved in this type of activity will have be penalised with a strong negative impact on the sites ranking within its search results. Despite this, I still see these promotions across the internet daily such as “100 directory backlinks for $30” and I am always astounded that there are still people out there who remain uneducated as to the damage this can do to your website.
Don’t believe me? Google even penalised itself when they noticed signs of paid link manipulation by a third party company promoting the Google Chrome browser.
If you have a link building budget why not get creative and spend it in a way that will really earn links back to your site?
2) Too Many “Exact Match”Anchor Text Links
Exact match anchor text is a great way of letting users and search engines know what to expect when they click on a link.
For example; if you click on a link like this: Red Widget Then you would expect to land on a page somehow themed to red widgets.
As an SEO its a natural thing to obsess over keywords and anchor text, but having too many exact match anchor text links does not look natural to search engines. The appropriate amount of exact match anchor text links to your site used to be approximately 50% but it is now thought to be much lower. If you have an existing website with many exact match anchor text backlinks then you should think about applying a “watering down”strategy by following the next three points in this list of five link building mistakes to avoid.
3) Not Enough Semantic Keywords
When considering how to vary your anchor text try and think a little outside the box. Many SEO’s understand to use synonyms liberally, but what about semantic keywords?
Have you ever heard an argument abruptly end with the words “that’s just semantics”?
What the person means when they say this is that the argument boils down to just a simple difference in the meaning of the word. For instance if someone searches the word “orange” do they mean the colour? The fruit? Or the mobile phone company? The answer is; search engines do not know.
Semantic keyword research is one of most overlooked types of SEO but there are many sources that state that they are seeing great improvements in rankings by applying this strategy. They will look for other closely related core keywords and apply them to their website and anchor text links to help search engines try and understand what the keywords actually mean, and this is where semantic keywords can work wonders for your SEO efforts.
4) Not Enough Branded or Junk Anchor Text Links
As the lines between SEO and SEM begin to blur further and further, your brand reach becomes an ever increasingly important factor within marketing of any kind on the internet. Brand name anchor text links also look natural as people linking back to your website are likely to mention your company or brand name when advocating your services.
You can increase your brand name anchor text links easily internally by linking to your homepage each time you mention your company name within a blog post. But also consider this link building mistake to avoid when building links externally too. The absence of branded anchor text looks very unnatural to Google and other search engines. Not only that, if you are not already trying to improve your brand reach within an existing marketing strategy then it could be time to rethink your whole concept of internet marketing anyway.
Junk anchor text is something that was common with the birth of the internet. Phrases such as “Click Here to Continue”or “Read More Here” were often used as a way of pointing a typical user towards what to do next. It makes sense that should still be used today as they are informative and, believe it or not, they actually still work to drive traffic further than a standard anchor text link would. The general public like direction it seems, and so do the search engines. Google see’s these links as calls to action and therefore they should remain part of a natural link profile.
5) Not Enough Social Mentions
With the explosion of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest came a massive increase in people using the internet to share things they love. Google has always worked on a kind of voting system, and social sharing is probably the most natural voting system available currently within the internet. So it makes sense that Google are starting to look more in depth social signals more and more as a more accurate way of gauging the popularity of a website. If you take two sites with similar themes and all other things are equal, the website with the most social signals will rank higher. Add social buttons to your website wherever possible, ask readers to share your content and network with major influencers to increase your prominence as an authority within your field.
Below are a few examples of the types of links that Google see as unnatural:
- Low quality bookmarking sites and directories
- Links within embeddable graphics or widgets
- Anchor text links within forum comments
- Links within articles that make no sense
- Excessive link exchanging
- Text advertisements that allow pagerank to be passed