As we go through the thousands of guest post orders that have come through our system I keep seeing many SEO agencies and consultants making the same mistakes in their backlinks over and over again.
Some of these link building myths and mistakes might not affect you right now but you are leaving a nice trail of red flags for Google to follow when they decide to do future updates. And we all know what Google updates can do to an SEO agency that is not prepared:
We’re all about future-proofing your SEO so your clients stay safe and stay with you for the long haul.
This post is to show you what the link building mistakes are and to show you how to correct them.
Note: This is not an exhaustive list of link building mistakes. In fact, I am writing this under the assumption that you know that forum, blog comment, and web 2.0 links are basically garbage as primary links pointing to your money pages. So I won’t spend any time talking about those.
1. City Names In Anchor Text
I understand that your local clients are demanding from you to rank for “plumber Phoenix” or “roofing company Cleveland” and so your natural inclination is to then go get links using those phrases as your keywords.
The problem is Google (in my opinion) does not look at keywords like that. Phoenix or Cleveland or any city is a location, not a keyword.
The keyword would be “plumber” or “plumbing services” without any reference to any geographical location.
Google can use your IP address or even the physical address on your site or just the on-page SEO to know exactly what area your business is targeting.
But when you put your city name into your anchor text all you are really doing is throwing up a major red flag to Google saying “check out this awesome SEO I am doing.”
The other reason you shouldn’t do it is that it doesn’t look natural at all in the middle of a sentence.
I’d love to hear an argument for a sentence where the phrase “plumber Phoenix” would happen naturally. People don’t talk or write like that.
Leave the city names out of your backlinks, let Google find your location on your site.
2. Bad Capitalization In Your Anchors
This one goes wrong in one of two different ways.
The first one I see all the time is that some SEOs will always capitalize the first letter of every word in their keyword.
If you are building a link with the anchor “these custom snapback hats”, many of you will send the anchor to us like this: these Custom Snapback Hats.
You forget that these anchors have to go into the middle of a sentence, and you would never capitalize that phrase like that in a sentence. If it is not a proper name or a brand name, do NOT capitalize it.
Capitalizing the first letter of each word in your key phrases just screams to Google, “hey this is My Keyword and by the way this link is manufactured and unnatural!”
The opposite is true as well. If the word is a proper name like a brand or a persons name you need to capitalize it. No self respecting writer or blogger would allow that to get published like that so if you forget to capitalize it can look bad.
3. Building Links To Promotional Pages
Nothing says, “hey I’m doing aggressive SEO over here” more than building a bunch of links to your services pages.
Remember your goal is to build out the most natural backlink profile you can so that Google loves you.
Service pages are 100% promotional. The only purpose they serve is to get people to know what services you or your client offers so they will buy from you.
No one would link to these pages naturally. No. One.
“Oh look, this company offers mold removal as one of its services. That’s so amazing I think I’ll share it with the world on my blog! Hey everyone, check out Mold Removal Orlando!!”
Do you see how Google would perceive a link to your services page as a manufactured link?
The right link building strategy to get these pages to rank is to build amazing homepage brand trust and then build power pages that provide non-promotional informative content to your audience. Link internally to your services pages from these pages.
Then you can build links to these “power pages” like crazy and let the SEO juice pass through to your services pages.
4. The 500 Word Guest Post
Across the world wide web of guest posting the default article length for all guest post services has become 500 words.
Heck we even offer it in our own guest posting service.
Why did 500 words become the standard? Because a 500 word article is extremely easy for a guest posting service to write.
It takes the least amount of time therefore has the highest profit margin.
The only problem is it is impossible to write an article with any kind of depth or meat to it in 500 words. So inevitably the article won’t carry a ton of SEO weight.
The other and more glaring issue with the 500 word article is that since every one offers it as the default, those that are ordering guest posts just make the assumption that 500 is good because that is what the default is.
This means that there are 100,000+ 500 word blog post articles out there, most of which only link to one site.
If I was Google I would do a check for any blog post between 400-600 words and only one external link and then immediately discount its SEO value.
I’m not saying you can’t have SEO success with nothing but 500 word guest post links. On the contrary you can have success.
I just think that any time everyone in SEO is doing something exactly the same way, Google has a bad habit of coming in and penalizing everyone involved.
To keep yourself safe just do the majority of your guest posts with a minimum of 750 words. It’s a tiny added cost to give yourself a huge safeguard.
5. If You Write Great Content You’ll Naturally Get Links
This isn’t something I have heard from SEOJet users (they’re too smart for that), but it is an SEO myth related to link building so I will address it.
This might be the dumbest thing ever said by “SEO experts”.
There is only one way that the statement “if you write great content people will naturally link to it” could ever be true, and that is if you already have a cult following of raving fans waiting for you to post something new so they can share it.
And if you fall into that category then you don’t need or care about link building anyways.
No one is going to link to anything you have written, ever, without you actively promoting it first.
And even then they still probably won’t link to it.
But if you write guest posts, you can link back to your own amazing content and get the same SEO effect.
That is the truth.
6. If You Just Get Links You’ll Rank
Again this myth doesn’t come from things I see from SEOJet users, in fact our users have figured out that this is a myth and now are trying a structured approach to building backlinks.
The truth is you can really damage your SEO efforts by link building the wrong way.
Chances are you have experienced or seen from colleagues the dreaded “unnatural anchor text profile” penalty from Google.
Aggressively targeting key phrases can get you penalized.
You can’t just take the shotgun approach to link building and hope that the links you got will be the right mix to get you to the top of the search results.
Google expects to see certain things in your backlink profile and if you don’t have those things you will end up on page 2 of Google or worse yet, nowhere to be found.
7. Targeting Key Phrases On The Homepage
I have written in-depth about how to do homepage SEO link building but the bottom line is this:
Google loves and trusts brands. It is your responsibility to build brand trust with Google and the way that you do that is with your homepage link building.
So instead of using key phrases in your anchor text for links to your homepage, you need to almost exclusively use your brand name or some form of your URL.
Use inner pages on your site to target key phrases.
You can still try to rank for key phrase on your homepage with your on-page SEO, but with your link building try to keep it 85%-95% branded anchors.
For example, I recently launched a men’s apparel brand called Jasper Holland Co for guys that like to wear nice looking t-shirts. When I build links to the homepage I use Jasper Holland Co or “Jasper Holland” or “JasperHollandCo.com” as the anchor text to build brand authority (see what I did there?).
Surprisingly as you build brand authority with Google, you will see your homepage and other high content pages in your site begin to rank with relative ease.
In fact, if you do it right you will find that many pages that have little to no links pointing to them will show up on page one of Google because your brand authority passes SEO juice to those pages.
8. If You Post Content Every Week Google Will Love You
I’m still surprised to see this myth rear its ugly head after so many years. I think it won’t die because a lot of agencies add this on as a service to their clients.
In reality, adding blog content each week has absolutely zero correlation with rankings. In fact some have shown that adding content that doesn’t engage others can hurt rankings.
What you really need to be doing is writing amazing content. Any time you publish a blog post you should make sure that the content is so good that your audience will thank you for it.
It should explain how to solve at least one of their problems and paint you as the expert in your field. The content should ideally be more that 2,000 words.
Then once published you promote the heck out of it.
It doesn’t matter how often you post this kind of content. It can be once a year. It can be monthly. Take as much time as it takes to do it right.
You can still offer that as a service to your SEO clients, but you can actually charge them more and they will get way better results.
It’s a win-win.
9. Bad Content Strategy
I have literally had SEO agencies pay me money to build links for them only to find out they have no clear content strategy.
In other words, as I looked for blog posts to link to, I couldn’t find any that were targeting specific key phrases.
And if they were targeting key phrases the content was very thin.
This is a common theme for many companies who build backlinks with SEOJet.
Some are building links to blog posts that aren’t power pages or pages that aren’t targeting any key phrases.
As guest post links are so time-consuming or expensive it is imperative that you have a great content strategy in place before you start building links to a page.
You need to be building backlinks to rank for key phrases that are going to drive conversions.
If you don’t have the right content set up to target those key phrases properly, then create that first and then start building links.
As I have emphatically stated many times in my Backlink Strategy That Works post, you need awesome content pages first and then build links to those pages like crazy with a strategic plan.
10. Crappy Guest Post Links Will Be Enough
I’ve said this before but not all backlinks are equal. The problem is the better the backlink, the more money or time it is going to cost you to get it placed. Plus most of your SEO clients are going to have a really limited budget and you can’t afford to spend too much on backlinks.
So the solution that you come up with is to just get them DA 10 guest posts and hope for the best. Sometimes that is the best you can do, and sometimes that is enough. But most of the time a website will need at least some backlinks from higher authority websites in order to gain brand trust with Google.
Plus, DA 10 blogs will often disappear or die because the blog owners don’t stay motivated to keep building them up. It takes work to get a website to be a DA 20+, once that work has been done a blog owner is less likely to abandon ship.
Bonus – 11. If You Build Backlinks Too Fast You Will Get Penalized
Google has done a great job of spreading fear into the hearts of SEOs everywhere, causing many of us to become petrified when trying to build backlinks.
This is literally why I built SEOJet. I was scared to build backlinks too quickly, or to build the wrong backlinks too quickly so I erred on the side of caution and lost a really high profile client.
The truth is, if your backlink profile looks natural, you can build backlinks as fast or as slow as you want. Let’s pretend that this blog post on link building myths you are reading right now goes viral tomorrow and becomes the most shared and linked to piece of content ever and overnight I get a thousand backlinks pointing to it.
Would that be unnatural? No, that would be totally natural. But Google would expect my anchor text profile to look a certain way. If all one thousand backlinks had the anchor text “backlinks”, then yes that would look unnatural. But if you follow the proper percentages (as SEOJet helps you do) then you will be fine and most likely scream to the top of the rankings.
Bonus – 12. Exact Match Anchors Will Hurt Your Rankings
Around 2012 Google had their huge anchor text profile algorithm update that essentially killed any website that used key phrases in their anchors too much.
The result of that has been what seems to me to be an overcorrection.
Based on all of the data and search results that we filter through inside of SEOJet, what we continue to see is that top 10 ranked pages will do anywhere from 5%-20% exact match anchor in their backlinks.
One key seems to be the more brand authority a site has the more aggressive you can be with exact match anchors.
Another key seems to be that as long as you build out a more natural-looking anchor text profile to a page first, then you can get keyword anchors and they seem to do a good job of moving the needle.
If you simply start building keyword anchors to a new page, depending on how many you do, you will probably struggle to see results.
Bonus – 13. Nofollow Backlinks Do Not Help Your SEO Efforts
I wrote about this extensively on the SEMRush blog but one of the most widely accepted backlink myths is that nofollow links don’t help you in SEO.
The truth is that every #1 ranked page we have ever researched has had 20%-40% nofollow links pointing to that page. In other words, in a natural backlink profile, Google expects to see at least 20% of your links come through as nofollow.
I have tested the effect of nofollow links on rankings with some really surprising results. But as I thought more about it I realized that a nofollow link sends a message to Google that you are paying for a link and it shouldn’t be counted for SEO.
But Google is smart enough to realize that if you are paying for a text link ad, what that anchor text says is actually important. A paid text link ad might give Google more insight into what you should be ranked for than any other type of link. This is why I deliberately get nofollow backlinks to my homepage using keywords as anchors.
Again I want to reiterate that I recognize there are many more myths and mistakes in the SEO world than what I have mentioned here. These are just the mistakes we keep running into as we work with many people building backlinks.
How SEOJet Helps You Build Links The Right Way
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With each page you are building links for, SEOJet uses #1 ranked backlink data to build you a link map that tells you exactly which links to build so that your backlink profile looks 100% natural and matches other #1 ranked pages.
The software is extremely effective because there is an SEO strategy built into the software.
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