Linkbuilding Myths

ICYMI: A summary of Rand Fishkin’s latest Whiteboard Friday; ‘Weird, Crazy Myths About Link Building in SEO You Should Probably Ignore’

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We’ve written about linkbuilding a lot before, and we’ve written even more about how a client’s digital strategy should focus on a PR-led approach to content, rather than relying on links to help you win at Google. However, linkbuilding isn’t totally dead, despite many people being too afraid of the potential penalties when the search engines deem that you have done something ‘wrong’.

In his latest Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin went about setting straight some of the biggest myths that still surround linkbuilding. In case you missed it, here’s a summary for you:


1. Links from sites with lower Domain Authority than your site are rubbish

Not true. Domain Authority (DA) does not ‘suggest whether it is a quality website that gives good editorial links’, which are what counts when it comes to ranking ability or sending quality traffic to your site.

So, whilst links from sites with high DA tend to add value, and links from sites with low DA tend not to add much value, it doesn’t take into account very new websites, or sites with few links or links that are locally focused. Generally if a site links to good sites and gives good editorial links, you shouldn’t worry.

2. Directories are a no-go

This is certainly the case if you are looking for or getting links from directories that have been set up purely for SEO purposes. Link networks and paid link directories are bad news, however, it’s a shame to tar all directories across the web with the same brush. Resource lists, like a list of restaurants, for example, are still directories, but they are useful directories. This one is about using your judgement more than anything – if it’s a genuine resource then there’s no harm in getting a link from there.

3. Don’t amass links too quickly

This is a weird one, in that it doesn’t even make sense. I can only stay under a certain threshold for getting links each month? Hmmm. Apparently in the past ‘Google has filed some patent applications around this… a pattern of low-quality links or spammy-looking links that are coming at a certain pace may trigger Google to take a more close look at a site’s link profile or at their link practices and could trigger a penalty.’

Obviously, if you’re practicing black hat SEO and using link networks and link buying to amass links, they will probably be coming in at a certain rate, and this may trip some filter that Google has… But if you are getting quality editorial links then again, you don’t need to fret about how fast you’re getting them.

4. Linking out to other sites reduces the impact of your links

Not so… anymore. In the past, it used to be that all the links going from a page would have equal PageRank, so the more that are added, the less PageRank each individual link has. This is totally old school though.

Nowadays, linking out is actually correlated with higher rankings, so it’s encouraged. PageRank is just one of many, many elements in Google’s algorithm now, so definitely don’t stress about linking to other sites.

5. There’s a special ratio for anchor text

Newsflash: there is no perfect blend of branded, partially branded, or keyword match anchor text phrases in linkbuilding. Sure, there needs to be a mix, but if you’re accruing links naturally and through good practices, this isn’t an issue.

6. Don’t ask for links

Google has made site owners very wary of asking for links, and sure, if you were doing things like link swapping, or offering incentive for a link (essentially link buying) then you should be concerned. Google cracked down on this type of manipulative link building because it meant that ultimately the link profile isn’t natural.

It is a totally different thing though, if, for example, a site writes some editorial about you, and you ask them to add a link because they hadn’t done so originally. That’s a natural link opportunity. Or, if you’ve opened up a new restaurant and there’s an online guide to restaurants in your area, of course you’d want to be on there.

7. There’s no point getting multiple links from the same site

This comes from the idea that having a diverse link profile is important. Whilst having a diverse link profile is good, you should definitely not be saying no to multiple links from the same site. If it’s credible and driving quality traffic to you, why wouldn’t you want those links?!

8. Sites that are not in your niche don’t deserve your links

Relevance is important, of course, but if a link is editorial and coming from a quality site, then there’s no reason not to want it, even if it’s from a site not directly related to you or your niche. In fact, it can be hard to get links from outside certain industries so they can be a good source of new traffic.

Don’t be afraid of linkbuilding

There you have it! When building new links, just make sure that you’re doing it the right way – and all of the above seems to be reinforcing the idea that linkbuilding (and SEO in general) should be PR and content-lead. Just remember, a little caution is prudent, but too much and you could be doing yourself out of some awesome links.

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