Although link building has become a real job for more than a decade there is still a huge amount of confusion around it.
Some of these controversies, wrong arguments and false myths arise simply from the need to fill a void of content, even if some of them arise from a real concern and confusion.
A classic example? “Don’t ask for links!” “Put a guest post on it and it’s done!” “Try to avoid link building!”
In truth the great confusion derives from something else: the SEO is a constantly evolving sector and what worked yesterday may not work today or in a few months or year.
David Farkas, founder / CEO at The Upper Ranks in Lakewood, has been a professional link builder for over 10 years and for MOZ he decided to shed some light on link builders and myth-buster link building.
- Great content brings results
Among the many digital marketers and SEOs there is the idea that if you simply create great content and precious resources, users will eventually come to the website. If you are a widely known brand / website, this is probably true. If, on the contrary, the website is born from nothing, this strategy based only on the contents could be a failure.
For a website to be seen it is necessary to build the roads that will lead to it. This is where link building comes into play.
Most people looking for Google end up clicking on organic results. In fact, for every click on a paid result on Google, there are 11.6 clicks for organic results!
And to enhance the ranking of a website in search engines you necessarily need links.
Here is the latter statement immediately leads us to dispel the second myth about link building
- The ranking does not need links
Although it seems strange that many SEOs, and not only that, in 2019 still think that there is no need for links to scale the positions of search engines.
David Farkas, in support of this thesis, has recently published a case study on a project he was working on.
Briefly summarizing, the most important and authoritative backlinks acquired with link building were, the more the site ranked for the target keywords. This does not mean that links are the only important factor in Google’s algorithm, but there is no doubt that a robust and relevant backlink profile often brings unimaginable results.
- Only links from sites with high domain authority count
A link builder should definitely look for target sites with high metrics. However, only links from sites with a high domain authority are not enough.
Sometimes a low domain authority (DA) could only be an indication that it is a new site. That’s why we should, when possible, forget the metrics. Along with authority, relevance is a second important value. If a link prospect is perfectly relevant for a website, but has a low DA, it should still point to it. In fact, most of the sites that will be so relevant to a website probably won’t have the most appealing metrics, and this is precisely because they are often niche sites. But more often than not, relevance is more important than DA.
When focusing solely on metrics, highly relevant opportunities are lost. A link that sends trust signals is more valuable than a link that was deemed important by metrics devised by entities other than Google.
Another reason is that Google’s algorithm looks for diversity in every backlink profile. You might think that a profile with over 100 links, all of which have a DA 90+ is the maximum. Instead, Google will probably consider it suspicious. That’s why it’s good to aim for sites with a high DA, but you should never overlook the “little guys”.
- You need to create links to the money pages
Money pages are pages where you specifically try to convert both users into leads or leads into sales.
You might think that direct link building to the money page could be the best solution to adopt. Indeed the exact opposite approach should be adopted. Firstly because we are talking about sites that are in the niche where we want to monetize and therefore in the eyes of search engines a direct link to a money page could pass as spammy / aggressive.
Secondly because generally the money pages are not the pages that contain the most important information. Webmasters are much more likely to link to a page with information rich in resources or exquisitely created content, not to a page showing products or services.
This is why it is always advisable to link to pages of content, thus increasing the chances of success in the long run. also of the money page.
- Create the best linkable asset possible
The resources on a website can be multiple: resource pages, funny videos, games, etc. and all can play an important role in giving visibility and acquiring links.
Of course the best backlink profile does not grow on trees and the process of developing an idea that leads to its realization is not easy. This is why some people rely on “the skyscraper technique”. That is to analyze the competitors’ backlink profiles and simply try to overcome the best of them with something even bigger and better.
It is certainly not a completely ineffective technique, but it is also true that it is not the best.
Linkable assets do not need important words such as “the final guide” or reports based on monthly research. Instead of building something that only goes beyond the number of words used by competitors, it’s always good to do as much research as possible and focus on creating an authoritative resource that people in a niche really care about.
The value of a connectable good has much more to do with the search for a single topic and the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the amount of fine content and itself.
- The more e-mails you send, the more links you get
Many SEOs like to throw huge networks into the sea of Internet, for example by sending e-mails to anyone, but especially to those who also have the smallest authority in their working niche. In truth this strategy is nothing but an old selling principle: the more we talk about a certain topic, the more it will lead to more purchases / conversions.
In link building the generality does not work too well, above all because the rule is that you get more conversions and therefore links when the range of action you are going to intercept is purchases / conversions.
Those who receive an e-mail need to be really convinced of the value of the link received. If you choose to send emails you certainly will not have time to create a specific outreach for each destination site.
- The only benefit of link building is algorithmic
As we have said before, the links are fundamental for the Google algorithm. The more quality backlinks you build, the more likely you are to be able to rank keywords in search engines and then scale SERPs.
This is the modus operandi for link building. But it’s not the only reason to build a backlink profile. In truth there are several non-algorithmic advantages that link building can provide.
First the brand’s visibility. Link building will make you visible in the long term not only to Google, but also to users immediately. When a user comes across a list of resources where one or more links are present, he certainly does not think about how this benefits a positioning in Google. More simply, if you think it useful to go into the topic, click on the link to continue reading.
Link building can also lead to relationship building. If we think about it precisely because of the very nature of link building, we will get that visibility that can lead to conversing with many potential influencers and authoritative figures within the niche in which we operate.
These conversations must not end once the link is placed. If personal conversations / relationships end whenever you get a link, you are doing a totally wrong form of marketing.
Once you get the proper attention you should always understand what else you can do for each other.
- Pursue only the exact match anchor text
Not all myths are born from a complete and absolute fiction. Some myths persist because they have an element of truth for them or because they were once true. The use of the exact match anchor text is the classic myth to debunk.
In the old days (and we talk only a few years ago) of SEO / link building, one of the best ways to move forward was to use the keywords / name of the brand as a reference text for backlinks. Keyword stuffing and cloaking also brought great results.
But times change, the internet changes, the user experience, the devices from which you connect and therefore the SEO also changes.
When Google sees a backlink profile that uses only a couple of anchor text variants, most likely it will soon be penalized. Google considers that spammy profile, because in his eyes it is not a natural backlink profile.
In truth it is perhaps even more important to note that the quality of links themselves is much more important than the anchor text that accompanies them.
When creating a backlink profile it would be essential to do it in collaboration with the webmasters who publish the link. Not having 100% control of the situation, often the webmaster ends up using the reference text as he gets better.
This is why it is always good to have an optimized anchor text, remembering however that it is even more fundamental to have a different distribution of the anchor text.
- Link building requires technical skills
Besides being a link builder, David Farkas is also an employer. When you take on other link builders skepticism about their technical skills often comes to the surface.
Many people who are not familiar with link building think that it requires coding or web development skills. In truth, even if having these skills certainly does not hurt the link building efforts, it is also true they are not necessary at all.
Anyone who has the ability to effectively convince, create valuable content or identify trends can do link buinding.
- All follow links have the same value
Not all links are created in the same way, and we are certainly not talking about the difference between follow and no-follow links.
There are also distinctions to be made between the do-follow links.
Take for example the .edu links. These links are among the most sought after by link builders, as they are thought to have immeasurable power.
Let’s think for a moment about a website that has two links from the same .edu site. They are both on the same domain, same authority, but on different pages. One is on the scholarship page, the other is on a professor’s resource page, a page that was created with extreme care, unlike the first one.
Both are do-follow links, so of course both should have the same weight, right?
Nothing could be more wrong. Search engines are smart enough to know the difference between a hard earned link and a link that anyone can link to.
Finally, it is equally important to place a link on a page. Even if two links are exactly contained within the same page (not only in the same domain), an above-the-fold link (a link that can be seen without scrolling the page) will carry more weight than another one placed lower .
Link building and SEO are not exact sciences. Indeed, on the contrary, they are constantly changing. There is still a lot of confusion and probably this confusion will remain for a long time because Google’s standards change rapidly and old habits die hard, as well as answers and strategies implemented by third parties are not always obvious.
That being said, the ten points analyzed above are some of the largest and most pervasive myths in the industry that should always be taken only with pliers.
Every website has its own history, people who care for it and think (not always) with their own mind and therefore find certain answers that are worth erga omnes will never be possible.
Certainly knowing at least ten of the many lies about link building can be useful to avoid falling into common mistakes or rumors that can penalize or not increase the visibility of an online project.