Okay friends, we need to have a little talk.
I am frustrated.
All of us Link Week columnists genuinely care about giving away good (and free, I might add) information on how to do link building the right way. So why, why, pray tell, do we continue to see so much crap? Clearly, we’re going to have to try another approach to turn link building into a “legitimate” online marketing tactic.
I’ve narrowed it down to the Top 11 things, in no particular order, that we should never ever do for link building again – like, ever.
1. Aiming For Quantity Over Quality
I will take my one link on a site people actually read over your 25 links on sites we don’t even know if Google’s bots can find.
2. Mass Article Submission
Maybe it’s our fault that mass article submission still exists. Maybe this is what we get for jamming “Content is King” down everyone’s throat. I can accept some responsibility for this one, then; but I still don’t understand the logic behind mass article submission. What do you get out of submitting the same How To Get The Best Deal On Payday Loans or Top 10 Coolest Things About Desk Chairs article to hundreds of different sites?
3. Content Spinning
Along the same lines, don’t take the exact same article, change a couple of words here and there, and then brand it as “new content.” Are people really not creative enough to think of a new article topic for a different outlet? Each site has its own unique audience. Write for them.
Note that this isn’t repurposing content, where you take a topic and convert it to different mediums. For example, let’s say you do a presentation. Repurposing content is putting your slides on SlideShare, writing a blog post about it and doing a webinar. Spinning content is taking the exact same blog post you wrote, changing the words to say the exact same thing, and pitching it to other sources.
5. Ignoring Ourselves
I’ve seen some great links pointing to sites or blogs that are basically ignored. Stop putting so much effort into populating someone else’s site with great content, and start focusing on building up your own site’s content. Yes, it won’t generate a 1-1 link, and yes, you will need to promote it to get visitors — but when you create great content on your own site, you open up the door to acquiring many organic links rather than just one.
6. Buying “Advertising” (Aka “Small Text Links”)
You’re not fooling anyone when you send me an email asking if could “advertise” on my blog. Let me guess: you want your advertisement to read “online pregnancy test” or “cheap web hosting.”
If you’re going to spam me, can you at least be a little more creative with it?
7. Obsessing Over Anchor Text
I’ll admit that I have seen less of this since Penguin first scared the daylights out of people in 2012, but it’s still uncanny the number of backlink profiles that have a higher exact-match anchor text percentage than their company name. You mean to tell me that everyone in the entire Internet knows you by the exact same phrase? Right.
I will take any (quality) link no matter how you want to link to me. Yes, anchor text still matters, and that’s probably the most frustrating thing about it: You need that keyword link, but you don’t want to seem like you need that keyword. That said, you need far fewer exact-match links than you did just two years ago.
8. Definitely This:
9. Guest Posting
Yes, I said it. We should stop guest posting to build links.
Before I’m hailed a hypocrite (because, let’s be honest, I’m doing it right now) allow me to clarify: You should not be guest blogging unless you actually know — really know — the subject you are writing about. These “article writers” who churn out 10 posts in a day do not make the cut.
If you’re still using guest blogging — and we do because it does work when done correctly — take the time to actually interview your client. As an SEO, you know a little about a lot of different industries from working with a variety of clients. Take the time to be interested in what they do, and uncover what’s timely and relevant that warrants an article.
10. Substituting “Content Marketing” For “Link Building”
These are two vastly different tactics, although they do complement each other. Content marketing is lead nurturing your audience by giving them the content they need to make a purchasing decision. It can build links, but its purpose is not to build links.
11. Publishing “No-News” Press Releases
Public relations has become a critical part of link building, but committing to releasing two press releases a month is like committing to building 50 links a month. It’s just not realistic or sustainable. You should only distribute a release when something actually newsworthy is happening, like a new product launch or community involvement.
Perhaps I’m taking my frustrations out on the wrong crowd. You fine readers of SEL aren’t the people who do the above (and other equally horrific) things. So, I’d like you to join me in the crusade for legitimate link building. If you see an offender, call them out. Publicly. And preferably with some expletives.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.