Link building has never been so challenging and contradicting as it is today.
– You need backlinks to make your site rank.
– You fear of wrong backlinks that put your site at risk of Google's penalty.
To keep your link-building effective yet penalty safe, you need to instantly identify and neutralise any harmful links in your profile.
That is why today, to help you make sense of what's truly harmful for your site, we'll show you the 7 deadly link-building mistakes that may be poisoning your site now
Find and neutralise harmful links before they ruin your ranks!
1: Backlinks from pages with excessive (over 1,000) outgoing links
When a backlink page links out to hundreds and thousands of other pages, its value drops drastically. And more to that, massive outgoing links can be a sign of low-quality spammy blog or directory. These backlinks are suspicious and need a closer inspection.
2: Links coming from pages with the same IP (same C-class)
Many backlinks coming from sites with identical IP addresses may show that some of your links are attained via link networks — which is a red flag for search engines. Inspect you backlinks for IP addresses.
3: Too many links with exact match anchor text
Standard practice used to be: you'd aim for about a 30% to 50% match. Now those numbers dropped drastically. So, look through your backlink anchor text and take action if exact match anchors exceed 10%!
4: Overoptimised anchor text and lack of anchors diversity
Just as with exact match anchor text, Google frowns at backlink profiles with too many optimized link anchors. Make sure your backlinks have a variety of natural anchor texts (junk anchors, branded phrases, naked URLs, etc.) and review site's links for overoptimized anchors.
5: Sitewide backlinks
A high number of blog-roll, header, footer or sidebar links can trigger Google's "overoptimization" wrath, so keeping them to a minimum would be a rather reasonable thing to do. The fewer sitewide backlinks — the better, so mark them all in your backlink profile for revision and possible removal.
6: Backlinks from pages not indexed in Google
When a web page is not indexed in the search engines, it's possible it was banned for violating search engine's rules. Logically, having links from de-indexed pages is a red flag too. Stay away from banned pages and domains.
7: Backlinks from pages that look suspicious and weak
Beware of the pages that offer quick and easy link opportunities, without even looking at your site's content and moderating submissions. These backlink pages may contain in title/body such words as "forum," "link directory," "article directory," "links," "submit url," etc. On the whole, be cautious about pages with very low PageRank (zero or n/a) and backlink domains with short history.
Website & Business owners have become fearful of link building due to Google's new algorithm updates. While understandable, what people need to comprehend is that links still play an important role in how a website is viewed by the search engines. Yes, it’s true that links can now harm a website for SEO purposes, but there are still good links too and links can also get a website to be viewed favourably. The key is to understand the difference between what constitutes as a bad link for SEO and a good link for SEO. There’s no doubt that the link building rules have changed after Penguin algorithm update, but that doesn’t mean that link building should be cut out of the campaign entirely.
Link building is still worthwhile as long as you follow these rules:
Before the search algorithms became the complex monsters that they are today, any link (within reason) was considered to be worth attaining for SEO purposes. The mantra was, the more links- the better. Today, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As the search engines became more sophisticated they are now able to determine whether the context of one site relates at all to the context of another. If not, it’s a suspicious and sceptical link. For SEO today, the key is to spend time seeking out websites that are relevant to what you have to offer and looking for a link opportunity on those sites. In addition to being relevant to please the search engines, it also improves the chances that visitors to that site will be interested in what you have to offer and are more likely to click over and visit your site. The purpose of a website is to generate visitors and conversions after all. A link is acceptable in the eyes of the search engines if its primary purpose is to drive traffic to the site and not just to gain one more link for SEO.
Use the nofollow tag:
Depending on the nature of the link that you will get from a website, it might make sense to add the nofollow tag. This tag should definitely be used if the link is a paid link (advertising) and if it appears multiple times throughout the site. The nofollow tag essentially tells the search spider not to follow that link or consider it as part of the link portfolio that works to attain search engine trust. While it might not be the best type of link for SEO, what it tells the search engines is that the link is there for traffic generation only. The search spiders still see it, and a well rounded link portfolio of both followed and no followed links is desirable.
Minimal anchor text linking:
Once a staple in your SEO tool belt, anchor text linking was a primary target of the Google Penguin update because website owners were abusing it and it was ruining the overall experience of the web. The average web user doesn’t want to see a page of content full of linked keywords. Keyword anchor text linking should be avoided. The only type of anchor text linking that is still acceptable is the linking of branded terms, like the company name or the product or service that is sold. It’s a much more natural way to link.
If you are just getting started with a B2B SEO campaign or have added additional pages to your site that need to be optimized, it’s necessary to conduct keyword research. Using the Google Keyword Planner tool, you can type in the keywords that you would like to target and it will provide you with a list of additional related keywords and their corresponding average monthly search information (determined based on the location criteria that you set) and the level of competition (High, Medium, Low).
When we are conducting keyword research on behalf of a client and present our findings, we find that some B2B SEO clients become overly consumed with the monthly search numbers and want to only target the keywords that have the highest search volume. They think that by targeting a keyword that has a high search volume it means that their site will generate a high number of visitors. Unfortunately (like everything in SEO), it’s not that easy. A high search volume also correlates with a high level of competition since every other website owner in your niche is thinking the same thing.
At the start of an SEO campaign or if you are optimizing brand new pages, it’s best to stay away from targeting the high search volume and high competition keywords. At this point in the process, it’s advisable to instead target the mid range keywords, or keywords that fall somewhere in the middle. They still have a healthy search volume but aren’t as competitive as the keywords that have the highest search volume. Mid range keywords often include long tail keywords that are used by searchers that are looking for something specific, which actually improves conversion rate. Targeting mid range keywords also means that there is a better chance that your site will begin to rank more quickly for the keywords that you target.
Once you have started to gain some traction by targeting mid range keywords, you can then start to incorporate some of the more competitive keywords into the mix. SEO success is largely based on the trust of a website, which takes time to achieve. The search engines don’t want to rank web pages within a website that just started out and could potentially be a fly by night site that only exists for a short period of time. The search engines want to rank pages of a website that is established, has generated quality inbound links, and publishes quality content on a regular basis. It takes time for a website to gain that momentum and “move up the ladder” so to say which is why it’s important to target long tail keywords that will be an easier “win” with the search engines, at least initially. Over time, a competitive keyword is much more realistic to target, it just requires lots of work in order to get to that point.
This can be frustrating to many website owners, but it’s all part of why SEO is such a long term process. If you aren’t involved in SEO for the long haul, success is going to be minimal.
Before the big social media sites really took off, social bookmarking sites were a great way for users to collect and share content. Some social bookmarking sites, like Reddit and StumbleUpon, still get thousands of users a day and could be great source of traffic for your website provided you categorize your content correctly. But there are dozens, if not hundreds, of old social bookmarking sites that have fallen by the wayside in recent years. These sites might still allow you to post content but don’t provide any real value to your website other than a quick and easy link.
Who knows—in a few years we might not even really be able to call in “link building” because to build something means to actively create it. And if you are actively creating something how can it be natural? From what I’ve seen from Google in the last year or so they really want sites to earn those inbound links with great content, an active social media presence, and more organic online activity.
Google’s Webmaster Tools Guidelines explicitly say “Links with optimised anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites” are no considered unnatural. This means site owners can no longer use keywords as anchor text in their online press releases and should only use branded anchor text or direct links in the press release itself. Should your news story get picked up by a journalist the links can be followed, because they are earned, not placed.
Google is really pushing for link building to become more about link earning. The new attitude centers around the diea that if you wrote a guest blog post then you put the link in there, meaning it’s not an editorial “up vote;” it was a pre-planned link. In the Webmaster Guidelines Google’s John Mueller states;
Generally speaking, if you’re submitting articles for your website, or your clients’ websites and you’re including links to those websites there, then that’s probably something I’d nofollow because those aren’t essentially natural links from that website.
Should you get quoted or referenced in a post on another site (one that you did not write yourself) then that link can be followed since it is a naturally earned link.
B2Bs have always had a much trickier relationship with social media than B2Cs have. B2Cs typically have a much larger target audience than B2Bs, which tend to operate on a niche scale. The broad target audience is much better suited for the major social media outlets, which also appeal to the masses.
B2Cs can utilize social media to promote sales, share coupons, and publish discounts intended for social media followers only and this is the primary reason why people follow B2C brands in social media- to be in the know regarding deals and to save some money. B2Bs don’t have the luxury of reeling people in to their page with the allure of a page full of discounts and promotions, since many B2Bs just don’t operate that way. A B2B service or product, in many cases, has a perceived value that can be ruined if there are always coupons or promotions. B2B customers might wonder “really, how good is this product?” if it’s always discounted.
So, B2Bs need to utilize social media in a different way. Social followers are a combination of current customers and potential customers, much more so than with a B2C brand. Most followers of a B2C brand already are customers, and the social media page just serves to keep them interested and engaged and to encourage repeat business. B2B social media is used as more of a lead generation tool. B2B social media followers are visiting a social media page, and following a B2B social media page because they are looking for information. There’s a good chance that they are very early in the buying process. If a B2B is utilizing social media properly it means that they are sharing lots of useful, informational content in the form of blog posts, white papers, videos, webinars, etc. Each of these pieces of content are giving social media followers the information that they need about your industry and your business while they are still in the decision process. A social media connection on a B2B social media page doesn’t necessarily equal a sale, and even if it does equal a sale, it’s likely that it won’t come immediately.
This is a concept that can confuse B2B website owners, who are already confused enough by how to best use social media. They wonder why they are getting a handful of new followers every month, but that they haven’t seen any increase in leads or sales. These website owners need to understand the typical sales cycle of their product. It could be more than a year before a business is ready to commit. If you are slowly growing your social media count, that’s an important step in the process, but it’s really only one of the first steps in the process. Think about a new social media follower as an initial “meeting” between your business and the individual. If you meet a prospect any other way, at an industry event or a trade show for example, you might give them your business card. Do you think they will call you the next day and buy from you? Most likely not. They will keep the information handy for when they might need it. This is the same concept with a B2B social media follower, they are following you to learn more about what you have to offer so that they have the knowledge for when they are ready to buy.
If you are working with other agencies that specialise in PR, social media, or content, there should be an introduction to the SEO firm. All of these activities are tied together which means that all of these service providers need to be on the same page.
Every business evolves through the years. Sometimes that means eliminating services and products that are no longer selling well and sometimes it means adding products or services to your offerings. Website changes will need to be made to reflect these changes which means that additional SEO work will need to be done as well. A new product or service page will require new keyword research, optimisation, and potentially a new area to research in order to find relevant link building activities.
Web design and SEO are tied together since they both involve making changes to the website. What many website owners don’t understand is that making design and development changes on the back end can affect the SEO of the site, even if the text content itself isn’t changing. An SEO firm can communicate what needs to be done to ensure that all SEO efforts remain in tact when technical changes are made on the back end of the site.