Link building is an important part of any successful SEO strategy, and a key search engine ranking factor. Used alongside unique content, on-page SEO, solid technical SEO foundations, and great user experience, it can effectively drive more organic traffic your way.
Links can help you earn expertise, authority, and trustworthiness from Google. They also count as votes of trust, and as such, the more votes a page receives the more important it’s considered to be. What is more, links don’t usually stand on their own, and not all of them are equal. To produce a more accurate ranking score, search engine algorithms also consider page content, anchor texts, trust signals, user engagement, and more.
Today, link building is often an indicator of a good digital marketing strategy, and marketers who understand this can surely benefit from it. Links can help improve a brand’s competitive advantage, reach and lead generation strategies and overall help provide quality user experiences.
To ensure that your link-building strategy is strong enough to achieve your SEO goals, it’s important that you know the dos and don’ts of this practice. So, in this article, we’ll demystify 7 common link-building myths and help you avoid harmful biases.
1. More Links = Better Ranking
According to Monster Insights, backlinks are the second most important ranking factor for Google after contact, but they’re not all created equal. There are good domains, better domains, and low-quality domains, and you need to know the difference between each so you can make smart link-building choices for your strategy.
The rule of quality over quantity plays true here. A few quality links that come from authoritative domains are better than tens or hundreds of links from low-quality sites.
A good link follows Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and comes from trustworthy websites with quality and that is relevant content to your topics. Alternatively, a bad link violates Google’s guidelines and these are usually links that come from unrelated pages and spammy websites with low domain authority.
The benefits of building links with authoritative domains are self-explanatory. As Niel Patel mentions they are trustworthy, reliable, and really valuable for SEO. However, the tricky part is that to actually build links with these authoritative sites, you need to earn a reputation as a high authority domain as well. This means putting in the right link-building efforts and producing quality content that is valuable and relevant to your readers.
2. Backlinks Cause Good Organic Traffic
Achieving good organic traffic for your website is hard work, and while it correlates to effective link building it’s not necessarily caused entirely by it. Google rewards sites with an original copy that can provide inimitable value and that use white hat SEO practices to help them rank better. Such practices include:
- Using the right keywords.
- Optimizing your titles.
- Having appropriate images to support your point.
- Making your site secure and mobile-friendly.
When your website is optimized the chances of it being recognized and linked back to by quality pages increases, and with it, it’s value for Google. Hence, you shouldn’t neglect other equally important SEO strategies and in order to get a higher score on PageRank, you should check all your ranking metrics.
You might like to read: Advanced SEO Tips: Get Listed on Google Discover
3. Bad Links Count Only if You Build Them Yourself
A big misconception is that if you have built any links from low-quality domains they won’t matter. According to Moz, spammy sites can link to your websites without you even knowing about it, and they might have done it years ago. However, Google takes into account all links leading to your site, even the old one you might not remember anymore.
This also plays true to any new links, regardless if you or someone else built them, or if they are organic or not. So, remember that a site is responsible and accountable for all external links leading to it.
For this reason, it’s important to make backlink auditing and analysis regular practices. This way you’ll stay on top of any potential threats that can negatively impact your SEO as well as new opportunities that can benefit from it.
4. Nofollow Links Don’t Affect Your SEO
Nofollow links include a rel=“nofollow” attribute to the <a> HTML tag indicating to search engines to ignore them when estimating page rankings. These links are primarily used by spammy or low-quality sites, and when users share your page in comments, reviews, forums, and so on.
The purpose of nofollow links is to lower the risk of having your rankings be negatively impacted by toxic/bad links. However, nofollow links don’t actually pass Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, so you won’t benefit from them either. Yet, you should keep in mind that Google’s current algorithm does not completely dismiss nofollow links either, meaning that in general they are excluded in your site’s assessment, but sometimes they might not be.
5. Paid Links Are Equivalent to Paid Ads
Google generally frowns upon paid links as these violate their Webmaster Guidelines, however, just like with other links, not all paid ones are equal. If a paid link is intended to manipulate PageRank it could be considered as a violation of good practices.
Scheming with paid links happens when a site exchanges links in return for money, goods or services. If Google catches a link of yours that falls under one of the mentioned categories you can be penalized for it.
There are, however, some paid links that don’t violate Google’s guidelines. When using paid links for advertising purposes – not for manipulating rankings, then you won’t be penalized for them. To ensure Google understands that you have good intentions it’s important to indicate that to them. You can do this by adding a nofollow tag or redirecting links to a page that is blocked from search engines.
6. Linking to Long and Short-form Content Is the Same
Both long- and short-form content play an important role when it comes to SEO, and they both can be a strategic addition to your content marketing tool box. However, when it comes to backlinking, longer content has some more advantages.
Long-form copy provides your brand with proof of your authority and expertise. This gives you the opportunity to improve user engagement, get a better Google E-A-T evaluation and build links with quality and reputable websites.
According to a study by Backlinko, long-form content can on average get 77.2% more links. They also found that certain types of posts and infographics received more links. For example, “what” posts, “why” posts, and infographics get 25.8% more links compared to videos and how-to’s.
This of course doesn’t mean that you should forget about short-form content altogether. It just means that with long-form content you can provide much more valuable and unique information that can be linked back to for many more purposes.
You might like to read: Content Writing for SEO: How to Create SEO-Friendly Content
7. Your Anchor Text Should Include Generic Words
An anchor text is a text in hyperlink that upon clicking leads to another location on the web. It can provide both users with contextual information about what content they will find at the link’s destination. Whereas search engines use it to understand what your pages are about. Hence, it’s important to make sure that the information included in your anchor text is useful, relevant, and descriptive.
To ensure that your anchors are SEO and backlink friendly, you should use concise, non-generic words that are relevant to your page and with a low to medium keyword density. Try to use fewer words when possible that are straight to the point, accurate, and succinct.
Make sure that the source page topic and your anchor text are relevant and related to one another, as this will help both pages rank higher for related queries. Moreover, be careful with keyword-heavy links and try to avoid them so you don’t make Google’s algorithms suspicious.
Links are powerful tools for boosting your SEO, and the better you know how to use them in your link-building strategy, the more effective your efforts will be. They have their fair share of technicalities, but once you get the hang of it all you’ll be reaping some amazing benefits.
Links act as a vote of trust but they’re not all created equal. It’s important that you audit your backlinks regularly so as to avoid negative impact from toxic, paid and nofollow links. And what is more, make sure to link and backlink to authoritative and quality content using anchor texts relevant to your target audience.