There’s a common standard to link building, which most successful webmasters seem to agree upon: you need to make it look natural. This is the golden formula for effective link building. And on the flip side of it there are 10 common mistakes which novice webmasters often make, while trying to increase their traffic and popularity.
1. Too soon
You must wait until your website has some measure of content, before you get bent over promoting it. New websites that get linked to before they have anything worthwhile in there are rather suspicious… and prone to land in the sandbox of search engines, where they may be with-held for months before allowed into the search results. Hastily promoting your website is a great way to curb its natural growth!
2. Too much
If your recent website starts getting thousands of links daily it will surely trigger some flags, because more often than not, it’s a sign of foul play. If such a website is manually reviewed, it won’t take long at all before most of its previously indexed links are rendered invalid, and its rankings will soon collapse… and it’s back to square zero. Bottom line, you need to pace your link building efforts over time, for best results.
3. Chaotic Linking Patterns
When people link to the pages in your website by their own volition, it’s generally a random and irregular process… and naturally so. But when careless webmasters artificially build links to their properties it’s outright a chaotic process, and that may turn against their advantage. For sensible results, you should try to even out your link building activities and be as consistent as possible, rather than building links aggressively for two days and then forgetting about your website for two months.
4. Bad neighborhoods
If you believe that link building is a numbers game, and your only focus is accumulating backlinks to your website, irrespective of the source… there’s a good chance you’ll end up disappointed. Most search engines seem to believe in the old saying “tell me who you hang out with, and I’ll tell you who you are”. If you only get links from spam websites, your website will soon be marked as one such website, too.
5. Unremarkable Link Portfolio
Your website’s link portfolio is the entire collection of back-links it (or you) has amassed over time. Ideally it should be diverse, with links from all kinds of good and bad websites, in all kind of TLD’s, from all countries in the world. It should have a niche focus, but still get a few links from random sources. If you fail to mix it up like so, your link portfolio will be unremarkable, and your website will rank nowhere fast.
6. No deep-links
So you have a website with dozens or even hundreds of indexed pages of content, and yet you keep amassing back-links to the homepage only? Generally speaking, that doesn’t look natural, and it will severely dilute your efforts. For better results, you should build deep links as well, with a special focus in your most popular pages, or those with a higher ranking potential.
7. Repetitive anchor text
All too often, a webmaster will obsessively arrange links with their primary keyword as anchor text, because they hear that will eventually land them a #1 rank for that keyword. In truth, that’s actually a great way to tell search engines you’re trying to manipulate rankings, which will likely back-fire on you. Remember… you need to give prominence to your main keywords, indeed; but for the sake of looking natural, it’s best to mix them up with several variations and alternatives (in a ratio of 50/50 or so).
8. Paid Links
The issue of paid links has been highly controversial for some years now, and a definite resolution to it is nowhere in sight. The common agreement is that paid links are not necessarily bad, unless their only focus is to manipulate search rankings. Regardless, you can usually buy the occasional link without incurring the wrath of search engines… but if you try to buy your way to top rankings, it’s only a matter of time before you suffer the dire consequences.
9. Link Exchange Schemes
There’s no problem with setting up link exchanges occasionally, with relevant websites in your niche. But if you focus exclusively on this link building strategy, and you keep getting links from random websites outside of your niche, your link portfolio will suffer… and so will your website. For best results, the mass of your back-links should be one-way rather than reciprocal.
10. Link Begging
Serious webmasters don’t ask favors… they earn their merits. If you go around begging for back-links, you will get nothing except a bad reputation for yourself and your website. It’s perfectly fine to write an e-mail to a webmaster in your niche suggesting he may want to link to a relevant page in your website. But make sure there’s a valid reason why they would want to do such a thing, otherwise you’ll just waste your time and lose credibility.
Can you spot the pattern? All of the aforementioned errors stem from link building practices which are ostentatiously unnatural, and best avoided… especially if you’re serious about developing websites for the long haul.