Biz Tips: Does Your Company Make These 5 Link-Building Mistakes?

Biz Tips: Does Your Company Make These 5 Link-Building Mistakes?

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Does Your Company Make These 5 Link-Building Mistakes?

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Almost every site online benefits from natural links to their content. Links help pages rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and show that site visitors are engaged with and willing to share information found on particular websites.

Google often de-emphasizes links as part of their algorithm, but links are important to readers and user experience. Thus, they remain important to the biggest name in search. When your company sets out on a link-building campaign, or works with a company to get the links for you, there are a few pitfalls that can make or break your efforts (and your investment).

#1: Buying Links

Google considers buying links as participating in link schemes and outright forbids it as part of its outline for webmaster practices. Site owners of all stripes are expected to earn their links, not simply pay someone for them, and Google is likely to rank sites that buy or sell links to one another much lower in its SERPs. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire a reputable link-building firm to create links for you, only that they must use white-hat practices to make sure you truly do earn the links and get links that your site deserves.

Earning links boils down to having content that helps the readers of sites linking to yours. The types of link your site deserves depends on what your site hopes to accomplish. If you were to find a link on a Smithsonian.com article that linked used cars in the sentence “Consumers started buying used cars instead of investing in newer models” to a used car lot in Arizona, would it seem out of place to you? It does to Google as well. Most top sites are very savvy about getting rid of this type of spammy link as quickly as possible. Real links are important.

#2: Begging for Links

Does your company send out emails to sites requesting links? Does it offer something in return? Something that isn’t “buying links”? If not, you aren’t building a relationship with the target site. You’re begging for links. Effective outreach requires giving as much, if not more, than you get. When you guest post on websites or company blogs, you have to give their readers every bit as much value as you expect to get from a link to your company and its assets.

Begging for links leaves a bad impression with many website owners. If you’re a big name in your field, you likely get quite a few poor outreach emails every week or even every day. They start with a generic greeting and pleasantries that could apply to any website online. The email usually continues with how they can help you get more readers if you’ll agree to the link scheme of the day. You don’t bother responding in most cases, right? Why should you expect other site owners to do any different.

An alternative to begging for links is to state upfront what you plan to offer their site visitors. If you’re an expert in the field, explain exactly what you plan to write for them and why you’re the person for the job. This applies whether you’re trying to secure a link on a news site, a national retail chain’s blog or a local cooking blog. Explain the benefits to them. Tune into WII-FM (What’s in it for me?) long before you ask for anything in exchange.

#3: Lacking Content for Readers

Let’s face it. We all want to have content that generates natural links. The endgame should always be to build a relationship with our site visitors, our shoppers and our readers, so that they will get out there and spread the word. Content on your website or company blog establishes you as a leader in the field. It also provides something that others can link among their friends or networking peers. If you have no blog and your site is a storefront and category links, you don’t have linkable content. Your items are merchandise, but they won’t likely sell themselves when you’re competing with Amazon online. That legwork falls to you.

Create content for your website before you go asking people to link to it. Position yourself as an expert in all the things you do. Lawyers should give their take on local or national news. Online grocery outlets might consider sharing recipes, how-to guides for picking fresh produce or other content that helps shoppers. Companies that only produce one type of shellfish shelling knife can write about all the types of shellfish, how easy they are to cook and how to get them fresh locally. There’s always something site visitors want to learn and know. This is the type of content that gets natural links whether you’re putting it on your blog or guest posting for someone else. Get your own house in order first.

#4: Selling to Readers

There’s a major difference in the worlds of search-engine optimization (SEO) and search-engine marketing (SEM). Optimization means ensuring that your site ranks naturally as high in the SERPs as it can for relevant keywords and searches. Marketing means ensuring that your site can monetize those clicks, links and the traffic that your optimization can bring.

Not all of your content should be designed to sell. “Always be selling” is the marketer’s creed, not the webmaster’s. Google, and all the search engines, are focused on user experience as the primary factor. Your blog and social media should be where you share information, not sell to your readers and site visitors. Keep the marketing stuff ready for those who go traveling “down the funnel” to reach it. Readers can sniff out spam a mile away, and they’ll bounce in a moment if they think you’re selling when you should be informing.

#5: Failing to Target Resources and Mentions

Resources and mentions are link-building tactics that work very well in this day and age. While guest posts and blog shares are arguably a lot more fun, it’s important that the content you’ve worked so hard to deliver gets every link it deserves. That means appearing on lists of resources in your community, whether that’s local or online. Resource links can be an invaluable asset for getting those high click-through-rates that convert to sales when you’re SEM-minded, and having site owners vouch for your site’s quality by including them can raise your standing in the SERPs.

Mentions are another fairly easy tool for getting natural links. If people are already talking about your company, you’ve earned a link. Use a Google News alert for your brand and maybe another for your industry (if you don’t already have one). Reach out to site owners and ask that they convert specific (not all or every) mentions to links. Provide the URLs and explain that you’re a site owner and why you feel the benefits to their site visitors make the link worthwhile. Target broken competitor links, as well, and ask if you can get a link to your working website instead. Broken links can even help you find opportunities for building a guest-posting relationship.

BONUS: Ignoring Technical SEO

You can’t get by with links alone. Isolating link building has a bevy of pitfalls, and you should focus on the technical aspects of your website. Ideally, you should make technical changes (site speed, eliminating redirects, etc.) before you begin link building. Google highly prizes sites that load quickly and provide the information desired in as few clicks as possible. Be one of those top sites, deliver quality content and the links will flow to your virtual door.

Of course, if you can’t afford the time and expense of a fully armed and equipped SEO team to build those pages and links for you, there are quality companies who can help. Just make sure you vet them properly and ensure they focus on the white-hat techniques that deliver an excellent user experience. Otherwise, their mistakes can erode the trust and impair the results that you hope to gain with a link-building campaign.

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Does Your Company Make These 5 Link-Building Mistakes? was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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