5 Link Building Myths and Facts
Between the Google Guidelines, Penguin, and plain old history, the subject of link building can get messy. Stick around while we clear things up.
First of all, links can be confusing, so it’s important to know the language around the subject.
Let’s start by defining two kinds of links:
- A backlink occurs when another web page references your page. It’s sometimes called an inbound link (IBL).
- The links from your page to another page are called outbound or outgoing links.
Makes sense, right? For some, that’s where the “making sense” stops. That’s why we’re here.
A link building primer with 5 Link Building Myths and Facts
MYTH #1: The more the merrier!
In the days before Google changed their algorithm, this was true: the more pages that backlinked to yours the better. But do you remember how messy and ridiculous it got? Even links that were a result of link farming and other unethical practices were indexed by the crawlers and given the same weight as organic backlinks.
Search engines have said time and time again that when it comes to being found, quality will always trump quantity. What does a quality link look like? Keep reading.
MYTH #2: Link building is about traffic.
While that’s an obvious takeaway, it really becomes about increasing the visibility of your brand by introducing your product to a new audience. Also, like any good marketing, it will put coins in your credibility bucket, pointing to you as an authority in your industry.
Also, consider how that link was “acquired?” If you’ve developed a good relationship with another organization, that’s certainly a win.
MYTH #3: I can still rank without backlinks.
Industry leaders like Moz, Search Engine Journal and Neil Patel all read the data a little differently on this idea. Though nobody denies the possible impact of a good link, we aren’t exactly sure how they affect ranking. But two things are for certain:
1. Google isn’t a fan of backlinks. Here’s what their guidelines say:
“Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
And yet we also know that if you play by Google’s rules, link building can be one ingredient in the recipe of Google favor.
2. Content will always be king when it comes to ranking. No backlink, regardless of credibility or promotion, will trump an organic, natural connection between one source of information (website) to another (your website). Yes, it’s almost as if Google can feel the chemistry.
MYTH #4: A backlink might not help me, but it’s not going to hurt me.
This one’s complicated.
A few years ago, a bad backlink could earn you a Penguin penalty. Now, negative links won’t help your ratings, but they also won’t cause penalties (and the low rankings that came with them) as they would have before.
That said, manual penalties are stricter than ever. Since you likely don’t build spam links, though, this one should not be a concern for you.
You might like: Tips on how to link build for SEO.
MYTH #5: A good link is undefinable.
Thanks to Kristopher Jones at the Search Engine Journal, we don’t have to live in the dark. He’s taken a stab at determining what a good link is:
- Linking domain offers content relevant to your business.
- Linking domain has high traffic value.
- Anchor text is contextual.
- Linked-to page offers value to users.
- The website has an editorial process in place for content.
Don’t be afraid to build a relationship with managers of other sites and ask for a link. It’s against Google’s policy to purchase links, so beware of link-selling operations. If it’s too good to be true, then it isn’t.
Likewise, be sure to link to reputable content that your customers would appreciate. After all, you want to direct your site visitors to relevant, quality content that will keep them coming back to you.
You might like: 4 Steps to Rank Higher on SERPs