Let’s Debunk Some Link Building Myths and Misconceptions!

Link Building Myths

Remember the days when building more links equaled higher rankings? 

Or that link building is not necessary altogether, and good content can naturally attract backlinks? 

Or my favorite – DR is the only reliable metric to consider when doing link prospecting.

These myths were debunked a long time ago, but they still somehow live on, confusing both beginner and seasoned SEOs and link builders.

Link building is one of the most important and challenging aspects of organic search. It involves acquiring links from other websites that point to your own, which can improve your authority, relevance, and traffic.

However, there are many myths and misconceptions about link building that can hinder your efforts or even harm your rankings. In this article, we will debunk some of the most common ones and help you develop a better link building strategy.

Myth 1: “I’ll build a few links and see how it goes.”

While building links may seem slow, the actual problem often lies in the mismatch between perceived and actual effort required to reach the coveted first page. This mismatch stems from inaccurate estimations of the number of backlinks needed for ranking.

To avoid this trap, analyze your competitors’ backlink profiles. Tools like SEMrush Keyword Overview can help you efficiently research top-ranking pages.

For example, consider the keyword “Callaway golf clubs,” boasting 12,000 monthly searches and a CPC of $0.34. According to SEMrush data, the top pages for this keyword have backlink profiles ranging from 47 to 1,600 links. This information provides valuable insight into the link-building effort necessary to compete effectively.

Analyzing Google’s ranking patterns for this keyword reveals a preference for content with a specific range of backlinks. To achieve similar ranking success, your content should likely fall within this range as well.

Building backlinks takes consistent effort and patience. Imagine needing an average of 100 high-quality links to rank for a competitive keyword. If you build 1 link per month, it would take over 8 years to achieve that goal. This is why prioritizing quality over quantity in your link building strategy is crucial.

Even a seemingly small number like 12 backlinks translates to a year-long wait if you’re only acquiring 1 link per month.

To gain a clearer picture of your ideal backlink count, analyze the average number of links held by pages ranking on page 1 of Google for your target keywords. This provides a realistic benchmark to set and guide your efforts.

For quicker results, aim to achieve a third of the average backlink count within 3 months. This translates to a more manageable target and provides a clearer picture of the resources required. Analyzing your competitor’s backlink profile offers valuable insights into the ballpark figure you should be aiming for.

Myth 2: “If I build links too fast I’ll get penalized”

While some fear a Google penalty from rapid link building, the reality is less black and white. High-quality content naturally attracts links organically, often at an accelerated pace.

Take, for instance, a valuable resource like “The best golf clubs in 2020?”. This timely and informative piece will naturally garner numerous links due to its inherent usefulness.

This demonstrates that natural link velocity isn’t inherently negative, but rather a consequence of creating content that resonates with audiences.

A specific article garnered nearly 200 backlinks within a week, demonstrating its exceptional performance.

This impressive feat has translated to a high ranking for the key phrase “The best golf clubs in 2020.” Further solidifying its success, the article has accumulated over 2,800 estimated organic search visits.

It’s a familiar sight: news articles, authoritative pieces, and viral content rapidly amass backlinks.

Not only do they avoid penalties, they even climb the search engine rankings. Research pieces experience similar success, serving as valuable references for others to link back to, thus boosting their own ranking.

This research article garnered significant attention in its first week, with nearly 150 referring domains and 700 backlinks.

This surge in online visibility indicates a strong positive response from the academic community and other relevant stakeholders.

This has led to the content achieving a first-page ranking on the SERPs for a variety of keywords.

While rapid link acquisition can raise concerns, it’s not inherently detrimental. In certain instances, acquiring many high-quality links quickly has resulted in significant ranking improvements.

This highlights the importance of focusing on quality rather than solely on the speed of link building. Ultimately, achieving sustainable success in search engine rankings requires a strategic approach that prioritizes attracting high-quality backlinks at a natural pace.

Myth 3: “If a link comes from a site that’s not exactly my niche I’ll get penalized.”

Contrary to popular belief, link relevance isn’t solely dependent on industry or niche alignment.

While obtaining relevant links is certainly beneficial, effective link building is much more nuanced, emphasizing context.

Take the Ketogenic Diet for example. With a staggering 293K monthly searches and a ~$1.00 CPC, it’s a highly sought-after and competitive term.

Yet, despite not being a direct industry match, ruled.me has managed to secure the coveted #1 ranking. This demonstrates the power of contextual relevance, highlighting how links from seemingly unrelated domains can still hold significant weight.

While the backlink profile of this site suggests that all referring links should be related to the keto diet, a closer look reveals some unexpected links from non-keto niches.

This unexpected diversity in referring domains could indicate a broader appeal for the content beyond its specific focus, potentially attracting a wider audience interested in health and wellness more generally.

While the #1 ranking result boasts a diverse backlink profile, a closer look reveals the true power lies within the link context.

Though website diversity is a positive indicator, it’s the relevance and intent behind those links that truly matter.

Myth 4: “I need exact match anchors in every link.”

Anchor text, the clickable text within a hyperlink, plays a crucial role in SEO. While you need a variety of backlinks to different topics, diversifying your anchor text on those sites is equally important.

Google’s Penguin update aimed to curb the manipulation of exact-match anchor text, highlighting the importance of natural variation.

Using the most relevant keyword for your anchor text whether it’s external links or internal links is the best way to increase your rankings for those target keywords.

Instead of having the anchor text be “your brand name”, it’s best to make it a non-branded keyword that’s related to your business line or service in order to increase your relevancy in Google’s eyes around that phrase. Try and make the anchor text as unique as possible for each link.

For easier understanding, consider three major anchor text categories:

  1. Exact Match Anchors: These directly include your target keywords (“gluten-free flour”).
  2. Mixed Keyphrase Anchors: These incorporate your keywords with additional words (“gluten-free flour from Bob’s Red Mill”).
  3. Brand, Natural, and URL Anchors: These lack explicit keyword references unless your brand itself incorporates them (“Bob’s Red Mill”).

While the ideal percentage of each category fluctuates based on Google’s algorithm, this article provides valuable guidelines for achieving anchor text diversity.

Examining our ketogenic diet example, we see a diverse spectrum of anchor text usage, highlighting the importance of avoiding over-optimization and maintaining natural variation.

While roughly half the anchors linking to this page are highly relevant to its content and topic, a significant number further down the list deviate from this theme.

Instead of guessing which anchor text to use, analyse the backlink profiles of top-ranking websites for your target keyword.

This “sniper approach” involves examining the proportion of different anchor text categories pointing to these successful pages.

Myth 5: More links are always better

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to focus on quantity over quality when it comes to link building. Not all links are created equal, and some can even be detrimental to your site.

For example, links from low-quality, spammy, or irrelevant sites can trigger Google’s penalties and damage your reputation. Instead of chasing every link opportunity, you should aim for links from authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy sites that add value to your content and audience.

Myth 6: You Can Ignore Nofollow Links

Nofollow links are links that have a rel=”nofollow” attribute, which tells Google not to pass any PageRank or authority to the linked page. Nofollow links are often used by sites to prevent spam or endorse third-party content.

Some people think that nofollow links are useless for link building and SEO, but this is not true. Nofollow links can still have benefits, such as driving traffic, increasing brand awareness, building relationships, or generating social signals.

Google also confirmed that nofollow links are used as a hint for ranking purposes, so they can still influence your organic search performance.

Myth 7: You can rely on link building alone

Ah, the infamous myth that backlinks are the holy grail of SEO. Backlinks are simply one of the many signals that search engines use to determine the authority and relevance of a website. They help search engines understand how trustworthy and credible a website is by looking at the links that point to it.

Factors like website speed, mobile responsiveness, content quality, user experience, and technical SEO all play a crucial role in determining a website’s search engine rankings. 

While backlinks are certainly important, they are far from being the be-all and end-all of SEO. To truly succeed in the world of SEO, you need to focus on a holistic approach that takes into account all of the different factors that search engines consider.

SEO Best Practices For Better Ranking

Understanding the truth behind these SEO myths can empower you to create an effective SEO strategy. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Regularly update your SEO strategies to keep up with search engine algorithm changes.
  2. Focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that resonates with your audience.
  3. Cultivate high-quality backlinks through guest blogging and other strategies.
  4. Prioritize user experience alongside search rankings.
  5. Leverage social media to support your SEO efforts.
  6. Prioritize quality over quantity when adding new pages to your website.
  7. Don’t overlook the power of local SEO.
  8. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
  9. Recognize that SEO is a long-term, ongoing effort that plays a crucial role in digital marketing.

Final Thoughts

In the SEO world, myths lurk like shadows, whispering strategies that ultimately lead businesses down rabbit holes. These misconceptions cause wasted effort and missed opportunities, leaving businesses frustrated and lost in the search engine jungle.

But fear not! By shedding light on these SEO myths, we aim to illuminate the path for businesses of all sizes to optimize their online presence and flourish.

Christopher Smith
Author: Christopher Smith

SEO and linkbuilding expert. More than 7 years of work in the field of website search engine optimization, specialist in backlink promotion. Head of linkbuilding products at GREAT Guest Posts, a global linkbuilding platform. He regularly participates in SEO conferences and also hosts webinars dedicated to website optimization, working with various marketing tools, strategies and trends of backlink promotion.

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