The 9 Biggest Link Building Mistakes – And Why You Need a Website Audit Today
Google has been sending signals to website owners about site quality since time immemorial and has been taking continuous measures to improve their search algorithms to return quality search results. Who could forget about the Panda and Penguin updates? And the Disavow Links tool, which lets owners sever unwanted back links.
The website audit is perfect for recovering from these updates because it thoroughly examines your websites. Our auditors check the site for design, structure, content, and keyword problems. The timeliest feature in this service, however, would be backlink analysis. You might have heard it before and it’s true that…
Not All Backlinks Are Created Equal
Some pass “link juice” and help your websites rank better on Google – but what about other backlinks? They weigh down sites! But how do you know if the links you are getting are good or bad?
Here’s what we recommend: First, read the top 9 biggest link building mistakes below and then put your website under auditing. Not only will you know what you should and should not do when building links, you will also get an idea on whether you’re hiring a competent site auditor / link builder or simply about to waste money.
1. Backlinks with Over-optimized Anchor Text
Be careful building links to your site with over-optimized anchor texts. The anchor texts in your inbound links must be a healthy mix of the keywords you want to rank for with other generic words that would naturally occur in the context of your content. An example of this is having words like “click here”, “more info”, “learn more”, etc, as anchor text or part of the anchor text.
This way, you will achieve anchor text diversity and so your backlink profile will look natural and not overly-optimized.
It has been suggested that having over 20% of anchor text keyword density meets the already overly-optimized category. Some are keeping this number down to 5%.
2. Completely Avoiding Pages Rich in Outbound Links
Yes, you want to avoid pages that contain an excessive amount of external links. However, it should be noted that some sites can fall under the exception. If there’s a possibility of getting links from such a site, examine anchor texts for relevancy. As long as links are relevant, and at least natural, it’s worth giving the site a shot.
For example, a page from a prominent online marketing website features a list of the best experts in a particular state. The page contains over dozens of outbound links. You may think the external links are excessive, but wouldn’t you want your link to be on that page?
On the other hand, it’s a clear red flag if that page contains a lot of outbound links and those links happen to be “money term” anchor text that are too far off related to the page’s main topic. These are highly competitive keywords that are commercial in nature. Here are examples of money terms: insurance, loans, mortgage, attorney – the four most expensive keywords in Google AdWords.
3. Backlinks from Banned Pages
A web page is banned from Google, and therefore de-indexed, if it has committed a violation of the search engine’s quality criteria. Outbound links from banned pages are subject to suspicion, and even users would think that way. If you found out that the page you are viewing right now has committed violations, would you trust the sites it will refer to you? Would you still click any link from that page? Now, if those outbound links happened to point at your site, there’s a good chance that users won’t click them at all. Google will also count those links as spam or paid or simply crappy links coming from a banned page.
4. Backlinks from Banned Domains
If linking from a banned page wasn’t bad enough, then you could build backlinks from banned domains which is much worse! If your site is found by users from a banned site, that’s a very bad thing. It is understandable though as sometimes business owners are unaware that their previous SEOs or marketing agencies practiced black hat link building.
5. Backlinks from the Same IP C class
An IP or Internet Protocol address is a machine’s address online. That address comes in a set of four number groups separated by dots. The C class or C block is the third set of numbers (AAA.BBB.CCC.DDD).
In essence, there is nothing wrong with getting backlinks from sites from the same C class. With shared hosting and cloud hosting, it is possible that your site is hosted under the same server (and therefore, possibly the same IP C class) as those sites linking to you. So, getting relevant links from relevant websites that happen to be in the same C class as your site may not hurt your rankings.
HOWEVER…if you’re getting backlinks ONLY from sites within the same C class, and you’re getting ZERO links from the outside world, that’s going to rouse suspicion. Your links will appear unnatural and the only thing that would be natural is for search engines to assume that all those links are coming from different sites owned by the same person.
6. Forgetting Internal Links
Internal links are basically links that lead users from one page to another within the same domain. While they are mostly used for site navigation, internal links are important because they also help spread link juice around the site. For example, instead of the home page getting all the benefits of inbound links, you can spread it to other low-ranking pages or blog posts by linking to them. One good example is when you include a link from your “most read” blog post to a relevant but low ranking post.
Internal links are also crucial for a “crawlable” site architecture. In short, Google cannot rank your pages if their spiders cannot reach those pages. So, always ensure your internal links are working and that you have no faulty redirects.
7. Abstaining from PR0 Pages
Many link builders are obsessed about linking from high PageRank (PR) sites. At the very least, they try to keep everything on the safe side, which many consider to be PR3 and higher. Here’s why that’s a mistake. A page can be a PR0, or in some cases a PR-N/A because the site had just been setup, but it can still be a good source of backlinks especially if the site is a great website with great content. Who knows? Its PageRank may increase quickly and may overtake yours!
8. Not using the Disavow Links Tool
Google has launched a tool last year that enables webmasters to disavow or sever links that are potentially harming their sites. The Disavow Links Tool, as Google search spam chief Matt Cutts described it, “should be used as a machete.” It’s your last option after trying to clean up your backlinks, like in instances wherein you failed to contact the site webmaster. It’s an advanced feature that if used correctly, will free you from the harmful links that, maybe your old SEO agency set up.
There may be cases wherein spammy links point to your site. When this happens, Google sends an alert to the site owner through Webmasters Tools, indicating it has seen evidence of “unnatural” link exchanges or other schemes that violate its terms.
What is the best solution according to Google? Remove as much link spam as possible. This prevents search engines from assuming that your website or business is spammy in nature, and therefore should not be ranked, or worse, indexed. However, there will be cases when you won’t be able to remove such links (for instance when the spammy site’s webmaster is not replying to your messages). In this case, use your last resort: the Google Disavow Links tool.
9. NOT Getting a Website Audit Done
It’s the biggest link building mistake you can do, especially after Google updates. A site audit thoroughly examines all your backlinks to ensure that your optimization efforts comply with the latest updates. It’s also a great way to determine or verify whether your site or pages were penalized by Panda or Penguin updates. And if they were affected, an audit is the best way to start rebuilding efforts.
So these are the biggest link building mistakes. Keep these in mind when you are about to run an SEO campaign.