5 Biggest Link Building Misconceptions That Keep Coming Back

A few months ago, I was speaking at a large, well-known digital marketing conference. Besides me, there were several other popular link builders talking, some of whom were also running paid courses.

One such expert shared a case study on how he generated NNN links and achieved solid organic traffic growth to his site.

During a Q&A session, he was asked how he managed to persuade so many people to give him a link. His response was, “People were happy to give us a link because we were promoting their content on our social media.”

At first, I thought I misheard the guy because I knew for a fact it didn’t exactly work that way.

We’ve spent the past few years primarily building links and I can hardly imagine anyone who would be happy to trade a link for a social share.

So that made me think:

  • How many other harmful misconceptions are circulating on blogs and social media?
  • How many people waste their time and money trying to follow these inaccurate recommendations?

With that thought in mind, I decided to put together the most common misconceptions about link building that I keep coming across in my daily work.

Myth 1: Don’t bother building links – If your content is truly engaging and insightful, the links will come

Of course, quality content deserves links.

But then why is the majority of content not getting any links?

If you take any average blog and check how many links each of its posts has, you will most likely see something like this:

Here, I sorted the articles by number of links and among 120 of them, only a few had more than 5 referring domains.

By the way, the second post in the list is published by me, and the reason it has so many links is that I deliberately invested time in building them.

In fact, I contribute to quite a few blogs and love to reference them in my other guest posts.

That being said, small to medium sized sites aren’t the only ones struggling to acquire links.

Even popular blogs with a decent number of readers struggle to gain links organically, as they say.

5 Biggest Link Building Misconceptions That Keep Coming Back

As you can see, 15 is the most links a post on coschedule.com could get, and it’s actually not that bad if you know how things work in the industry.

Misconception 2: It doesn’t matter if you buy or earn links

Many of my clients see no difference between an earned link and a purchased link.

To them, a link is a link, no matter how they got it.

Here I must note that it is a very slippery slope.

Earned links are a great long-term investment. They become more valuable over time as the sites that gave them to you increase their DR scores and organic traffic.

In other words, a link obtained from a site with a DR score of 39 gets more weight once its DR score reaches, say, 51.

Regarding purchased links, you cannot be sure what will happen to the referring site in the future.

First, you need to understand that if they sell you a link, they are selling it to many other websites. So, it’s unclear if (or more likely when) they will be penalized by Google.

Also, the price per link built and purchased is currently at the same level, so it makes no sense to buy links, especially in the long run.

Myth 3: The best links come from digital PR campaigns

This statement is my personal “favorite”. I know a lot of people who are willing to do a 30,000 PR deal in order to build a few top notch connections.

If you’re one of them, I have to ask you this: have you thought about the limits of digital PR?

Here are a few to get you started:

  • You get links only on media. In other words, there won’t be links from niche industry blogs and corporate sites that are usually, let’s face it, more relevant to your business.
  • You build links to your main page or to a page with PR content. Normally, people want to improve the ranking of their already existing pages, but with a PR campaign, this is rarely possible.

In addition, and this is the most important, the price of a link acquired during a digital PR campaign explodes.

Long story short: a lot of stars need to line up for you to get a substantial return on your investment in a PR campaign.

Myth 4: The best way to build links is to guest blog

Although I regularly guest blog myself, I strongly disagree that this strategy may be the only way to get links.

How many guest posts can you produce on a monthly basis?

20? 30 ?

One person cannot do everything.

Sooner or later, you will start thinking about outsourcing production, which brings new challenges.

But that mainly brings us to the following question:

How many of these guest posts will actually be a good read?

Remember that all will be associated with your brand name, i.e. reputational risks are as high as possible.

Here are the issues I see with guest posting:

  • If you want to do it right and produce quality content, the price of a guest post is way above average. Even if you create quality posts, it’s absolutely impossible to scale them, which means you won’t get enough links.
  • For all your effort and time spent finding the right blog, building a relationship with an editor, etc., you will only get one link per post. Not too huge of a return on investment, right?

However, there are several things to optimize to streamline this process. If you’re curious for more, I’ve listed them in my article on the right way to guest blog.

Misconception #5: Contacting relevant blogs is the right way to secure links

If only it was true!

Here’s a quick exercise for you: Google “how to link” and calculate how many blogs recommend submitting sites relevant to your content to link to.

My guess is all.

Now here’s the sad truth:

The response rate for such a pitch will be around 8%, according to research by Brian Dean, one of the most experienced link building theorists in the industry.

Also, one answer does not equal one link built, which means the number of backlines will be even smaller.

In my opinion, the game is not worth the candle.

If you want to build a decent number of links, you will have to send out thousands of emails, which can turn your link building campaign into spam.

That’s why we prefer to first connect with people who are relevant to our client’s brand. It requires a lot of online and offline networking, but leads to outstanding results.

People who know you and your brand are much more eager to respond to your link building pitch.

You should never forget the relevance of the site’s content to what you are presenting. The closer the subjects are, the easier it will be to establish the connection.

Summary

Link building is a comprehensive task that requires many specific practical skills.

More than that, it is constantly evolving: common tactics become obsolete as practitioners invent new and more effective ways to bond.

However, the digital trace of ancient practices is still there, reproducing misconceptions.

Even industry experts can’t tell the difference between an actual job tactic and a popular lie.

So stay alert and keep educating yourself on the most effective way to build links.

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Image credits

Featured Image: Created by author, January 2020
All screenshots taken by author, January 2020

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