Link Building Pitfalls New Webmasters Often Fall For

When executed correctly, a solid link building strategy has the power to deliver value to your website for years to come, generating significantly more traffic (and therefore revenue) for your business. But link building is a complex strategy that requires nuance and careful thought – which is why so many newcomers end up falling into avoidable pitfalls.

The good news is that most link building pitfalls are easy to identify and proactively prevent. As long as you are mindful and invested in your own results, you should be able to avoid them and maximize the value of your link building efforts.

The basics of link building

let’s cover the basics of link building first. Link building is the process of manually earning and creating links pointing to your website. More often than not, people link to their best content, home pages, landing pages, and other important pages on their site.

Building a bond has several positive effects. For starters, linking creates a path for traffic to get to your site. When people come across the link and click on it, they turn into visitors, which leads to referral traffic. If you publish content with top publishers, you can generate hundreds of thousands or millions of visitors.

On top of that, link building is essential in any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy; each link will convey authority to your site, making it more trustworthy and increasing its likelihood or ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant queries. That’s a long way of saying that earning more and better links will get you ranked higher in search engines.

Why newcomers are vulnerable

Why are newcomers so vulnerable to the common pitfalls we’ll be referring to?

  • Inexperience. If you are unfamiliar with the strategic fundamentals of link building, you won’t be able to recognize red flags or indications that a strategy may be failing. For example, if you don’t know that building repetitive links on the same source has diminishing returns, you might be tempted to waste time working with the same publisher over and over again.
  • Naivety. Newcomers may also be unfamiliar with the SEO landscape. While there are plenty of reputable agencies that can help you bond in a positive, constructive, and ethical way, there are also plenty of scammers in the business. If you lose your confidence because you think all agencies have the same reputation, you could find yourself facing your consequences.
  • Zealous. When building is an exciting strategy, it tends to make newcomers overly impatient. If they are in a rush to get as much traffic as possible as quickly as possible, they may ignore some important tips or be too aggressive in their link building strategy.

So what are some common pitfalls newcomers fall into?

Building links too aggressively

One of the biggest problems is link building too aggressively, which is a direct result of being overly enthusiastic about link building and SEO. If you just launched a new website, you might want people to visit it as soon as possible. If you have a business model in mind, you will be on the verge of desperation to start generating income.

However, this leads new webmasters to far too aggressive tactics.

  • Source and format issues. If you’re desperate for links, you probably don’t care what sources you use or how you format those links. Building links on low-quality sources can be quick and easy, but it could hook you up with the wrong kinds of online authorities. Likewise, if you skip content writing and just start building bare links, you’ll get lower results.
  • spam. There is a fine line between manual link building and link spamming. If you are caught in the act of link spamming, your site may be penalized, which ultimately negates any benefits you might have gained from link building in the first place. Newcomers often don’t have the experience or knowledge to toe this line appropriately.
  • Speed/timing. You might also run into issues depending on the speed or pace of your link building development. If Google notices that you’re building too many links too quickly for a new site, it can trigger a red flag, ultimately resulting in a penalty. You need to start slow and steady and then gradually increase the pace, which is hard to do if you’re trying to quickly build momentum for your business.

Rely entirely on passive link gain

Some link builders fall for an opposite type of traffic. Rather than link building too aggressively or unethically, they take a totally passive approach. The philosophy here is solid; if you write site content well enough and work hard to promote that content, you should be able to naturally get citations from outside authorities. In fact, many link building agencies and SEO professionals include it in their overall approach to search optimization.

The problem comes into play when you rely entirely on passive link gain. Link earning is natural, so there’s almost no risk of penalty, but it tends to be time-consuming, inconsistent, and unpredictable. This is why the best link building strategies have both natural link building and manual link building elements.

Link Building Partner Issues

Another common pitfall that newcomers fall into has to do with choosing the right link building partner. There are several types of service providers and SEO services that can sabotage your campaign before you even build enough momentum to start seeing positive results.

  • Hard-core crooks. Some Link Building Agencies and Freelancers are pure scammers or fraud. They are not interested in providing quality services and may not be interested in providing services at all. They can take your money, refuse to work, and completely disappear when you call to complain.
  • Black hat practitioners. Link building tactics can be broadly categorized as “white hat” or “black hat”. White hat tactics are seen as ethical, honest, and reliable, while black hat tactics are seen as unethical, dishonest, and sketchy; there are also “grey hat” tactics that occupy an ambiguous middle zone. Black hat tactics have the potential to give you a short-term gain, but they almost always lead to negative long-term consequences. It’s important to avoid black hat followers at all costs, but newcomers are often unfamiliar with the warning signs that an agency is using such tactics.
  • Non-native writers. Offshoring some of your SEO work may be viable, but content is central to your link building campaign. If you employ non-native or unskilled writers, it will only work against you.
  • Expensive services. Some problems are much easier to identify. Link building can be expensive, and if you pay too much for the services, it will hurt your bottom line.

Refusing to learn and adapt

The the world of link building is constantly changing. Google releases new algorithm updates to unveil new features, improve functionality, and streamline user experience almost constantly; in fact, these updates are rolled out so easily and quickly that SEO professionals sometimes have a hard time telling these updates apart.

On top of that, new link building strategies are always being devised and experimented with. New competitors are emerging to threaten your SERP dominance. And new market trends and technologies can shape the landscape of link building even more.

As a result, one of the biggest mistakes newcomers to link building make is to remain stagnant indefinitely. If you want to keep pushing for better results, you need to work hard to measure your results, learn from your mistakes, stay up to date with the latest updates, and constantly adapt.

Link building certainly has many variables to consider, but it’s not entirely opaque or inaccessible to newcomers. As long as you know the most common pitfalls and work proactively to avoid them, you can get the most out of your link building approach.

Nate Nead

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO and Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic consulting services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing, and software development. For over a decade, Nate has provided strategic advice on mergers and acquisitions, capital sourcing, technology and marketing solutions for some of the best-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 clients as well as SMEs. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.

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