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Link Building Myths

backlinks mythsLink building has been central to the SEO efforts of any website. However, so-called SEO experts and misinformation has given birth to plenty of myths about link building best practices. Even after Google Penguin, the myths about link building have only grown instead of reducing. This article tries to address some of the most common link building myths and gives you reason why they don’t make any logical sense.

What causes link building myths?

While search engine guidelines tell you what NOT to do, there are no best practices for link building that are provided by search engines. Most misinformed SEOs pander what’s said on blogs and/or webmaster tools and either twist it for commercial reasons or misinterpret the guidelines. This gives birth to many link building myths like the ones dispelled below.

Link Building Myth 1: Directory submissions do not work

This is probably the biggest lie going around. It’s true that \”indiscriminate\” directory submissions do not work, but directories continue to be among the most potent link building channels. It is important to remember that both the quantity and quality of incoming links matter. Directories are a good way to start building the quantity of links. You need to make sure that the directory is not part of a link network, has not been penalized, isn’t spammy. This calls for effort and diligence that many SEOs try to shy away from, and dismissing directories as ineffective is a convenient way to shirk from the effort it calls for.

Link Building Myth 2: Do no link to other sites

The days of hoarding link juice are gone. In the modern era, being a part of a community is more important than being the mere destination of incoming links.

When you offer high quality to your visitors, other websites are encouraged to link to you, getting you quality incoming links. Part of the quality you provide to your visitors is recommending other websites of authority that the visitor would find useful. Taking the above example, if an architect recommends a high quality furniture provider, a visitor to the architect’s site would benefit from the information and link. Search engines recognize the value of being in the right cluster and of providing value to visitors by linking to other useful sites. This will not hurt your SEO. In fact, it can actually help you rank better if you truly link to high quality websites.

Link Building Myth 3: Reciprocal linking is black hat

Imagine this: You are a furniture manufacturer who is recommended by many architects on their website. This gives you links from these architects. In turn, you feature these architects in your client list giving them links. This is a classic case of ethical and effective reciprocal linking that WILL add SEO value to both sites because the links are relevant, from the same or related business niche and completely organic. What is discouraged is meaningless reciprocal linking to a site that has nothing to do with your business just to get a link from it. Reciprocal linking directories are an example of the kind of recprocal linking to avoid.

Link Building Myth 4: Get links only from high page rank websites

It isn’t as simple as that. When you get links, many factors operate. Factors like number of incoming links, the linking text, relevance of the linking website to your website, etc., also play a role. Also, just because a website has a high Page Rank on the home page does not mean that the page that links to you also has a high page rank. Even if it does, if the link is nofollow, you will not benefit from the high page rank site linking to you. Focus on the relevance of the link and not on the page rank of the linking website.

Link Building Myth 5: Only indexed links matter

This is a completely untrue myth about link building. We can cite examples of websites with zero indexed incoming links ranking at no 1 position on Google for the keyword most relevant to the site. Likewise, just because a link is indexed, it’s not necessary that it’s making a huge difference. Getting good links to your website is what matters. Whether it is indexed in Google or reported on Google Webmaster Tools is secondary and doesn’t impact your ranking.

Link Building Myth 6: Links from irrelevant sites don’t count

Those who claim that links from irrelevant websites don’t count would need to explain why directory submission, links from social sites and news websites make a difference. Surely all businesse aren’t directories, social sites or news related websites! Links from these sites would be deemed as irrelevant to a majority of the websites. And yet, they are among the most powerful links you can get.

Link Building Myth 7: Link buying is black hat

Many high quality directories like the Yahoo! Directory and Best of the Web require you to pay for inclusion in the directory. Likewise, you may need to pay to be included in the member directory of many high quality industry forums. These are all perfectly legitimate instances of link buying. However, link buying needs to be extremely selective and should not be disguised as a free or editorial link. Also, if a small fraction of links to your site are legitimately purchased links, it will not hurt you. What hurts is when almost all the links to your website are purchased links that are disguised as organic links.

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Link Building Myth 8: Link solicitation is the way to go

A lot of SEOs will recommend emailing websites soliciting links. There are many reasons why this is just wrong:

  • You are spamming a website. You can get penalized and flagged for this
  • How many times do you respond to unsolicited emails? Why do you expect websites are so eager to link to you that they will respond?
  • Even if someone were to be willing to link, why would they not expect a link or payment in return?
  • It is a waste of time and effort for which you pay without enough success to justify the expense

Link Building Myth 9: Use of link building tools

At the outset, search engines do not like anything that doesn’t seem organic. When tools blast your links on thousands of questionable sites, it’s the strongest signal you could be giving to search engines that you are not practicing organic link building. Link building tools would also not be doing enough diligence about whether the site is penalized or not, whether it is relevant or not, etc. As a result, you could be building tons of bad links that will not help your SEO.

Link Building Myth 10: Link builders should guarantee active links

Most websites exercise discretion when they decide whether or not to link to your website. SEOs who guarantees active links are telling you that are gaming the system or have some way of manipulating and bypassing a website’s discretion. This should scare you. While it is perfectly alright to use tools for process automation and research, tools that automatically do any part of your SEO, particularly link building are a dangerous indulgence.

Ethical Link Building Services

There’s no escaping the fact that ethical link building calls for a high level of human skill, strategic marketing thinking, laborious competitor research and analysis and time consuming effort. Cheap link building services cannot be doing all that. Compensating human time, skill and effort, insisting on transparent reporting of work done and making sure your linking partner is practicing white hat link building is the only way to do ethical and sustainable link building. It will call for a certain amount of trust and investment in the right SEO partner but a common sense evaluation of what’s being promised should help you select the right internet marketing service provider.

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