5 Linkbuilding Pitfalls to Avoid

I’m consulting this morning with a client who needs ongoing linkbuilding, but wants to have it done in house by employees who have some free time. We get this. If you have people on the payroll already who have some down time during the day, it certainly makes sense to have them devote that time to linkbuilding. Linkbuilding, after all, has to be done regularly if you want the best results. Ongoing work plus regular employees seems like a natural fit.

We also have clients who want to outsource their linkbuilding to inexpensive providers in countries where the cost of living is lower and prices are in consequence much lower than ours. We get that too.

So we do trainings and consultations to help whoever is available to be successful with linkbuilding. Over the years, we’ve identified some common pitfalls lying in wait for the unwary new linkbuilder:

  1. Quitting This sounds like a joke, but it’s actually one of the most common problems for neophyte linkbuilders. Once you pluck all the low-hanging fruit, linkbuilding suddenly gets a lot harder. You woo webmasters with link requests, and they ignore you — or agree, but then don’t follow through for months while your boss demands evidence of those links. You spy on competitors’ linking strategies, only to find that they’re paying for their links. You suggest linkbait for the website and the IT department refuses. No wonder people get disheartened and give up! Long term linkbuilding requires creativity and perseverance.
  2. Failing to follow the rules  While it is true that linkbuilding calls for some degree of daring, it also requires the ability to find and follow rules. Sometimes the rules for posting at a site seem very complex, and it can be hard to track the rules down. This is specifically in order to discourage robots. Only humans are clever enough to find and follow those rules — so new linkbuilders who aren’t thinking of linkbuilding as a creative and difficult task sometimes fail to bring their best game, and miss or skip the rules. Not only can this lose your website the link you wanted, it can also get your computer identified as a robot, so that later attempts to fix the problem also fail. In one case that we know of, it cost money, since the linkbuilder didn’t distinguish correctly between the free and premium options. Follow the rules very precisely.
  3. Getting harmful links Search engines know that you can’t control who links to you, but they also know that link farms don’t generally choose to follow a single site in droves with identical anchor text. Linkbuilders who have been successful with high quality relevant directories may decide to move on to poor quality, badly chosen directories rather than stepping up to the more difficult options. This can give you a very unnatural link profile, and make your site look shady. Search engines don’t like shady sites. What’s more, low quality links are a waste of time, reducing the ROI of your linkbuilding efforts even if you’re getting done cheaply.
  4. Creating an unnatural link profile Closely related to the previous problem is the problem of getting respectable links — but getting them in unnatural ways, or in ways that appear unnatural. The best outcome of a linkbuilding campaign is to have your site look as though a number of good quality sites decided, over the course of time, to link to your wonderful website. If you place links with identical anchor text at a large number of very similar sites, you don’t get this look. Making identical spam comments recommending your tuba music at all the forums on music one day will look to search engines as though you’re trying to game the system, even if those comments aren’t all deleted by the forum owners. Ditto setting up 100 free blogs, each with one post and a link to your site.
  5. Linking only for search engines Search engines care about your links, certainly, but good linkbuilding also drives human traffic to your website. Thinking of linkbuilding just as something to do in the background for the sake of numbers is going to make you miss out on opportunities for bringing serious customers to your site.

Fewer, better quality links will perform better for you than more poor quality ones. More high quality links will perform even better.

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