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Link Building Mistakes SEO Gurus Teach You To Make

SEO digest

UPDATE: Apparently the alternative suggestions looked too much like the objections, so I’ve modified the article from its original format to break the alternative suggestions out into separate blocks.

Every day much of the same bad linking advice is being given out across the SEO Web. Here are some of the popular ideas that so-called SEO experts and gurus advocate. I’ve followed up with explanations of why this trusted conventional SEO wisdom is mostly hogwash. I’ve also tried to provide some suggestions on how you can obtain some links (if you can’t stop obsessing over them — it’s not like links help you as much as you have been led to believe they will).

  1. Use Yahoo! for your link research.
  2. Obtain links from “authority” Web sites.
  3. Research your competitors’ backlinks.
  4. Contact Web sites to ask for links.
  5. Become an expert or authority in your topic by writing articles.
  6. Get a major blog to write about your site.
  7. Trade links with the most influential non-competitive sites in your industry.

Why you should not use Yahoo! for link research

  • Yahoo! reports links that don’t exist.
  • Yahoo! indexes Javascript links.
  • Yahoo! cannot tell you which links Google knows about.
  • Yahoo! cannot tell you which links Google allows to pass value in Google’s index.
  • Yahoo! doesn’t tell you which links pass value in Yahoo!’s index.
  • Knowing how many links a site has doesn’t teach you anything useful about how to compete with it.

Instead: You’ll get better competitive intelligence by using all the major search engines to look for references to Web sites regardless of whether links or specific anchor text is used.

Why you should not look for “authority links”

  • There is no standard use or definition for “authority site”, “authority link”, etc.
  • There is no metric for determining the amount of supposed authority a site or page may possess.
  • You cannot easily determine whether a supposed authority site’s links are passing value.

Instead: You will find more resource sites than supposed “authority” sites (because anyone can be a resource).

Why researching competitor links is a waste of time

  • You have no way of knowing which of your competitors’ links are passing value.
  • Allowing your competitors’ backlink profiles to set the standard always ensures you stay behind.
  • Most links are provided for reference, so you’re not going to obtain many links from your competitors’ linking sources.

Instead: You’ll learn more about how to promote your site by studying how other people promote their sites without thinking about links.

Why you should not ask other sites for links

  • Depending on the kindness of strangers is not a generally successful marketing strategy.
  • Viral marketing depends on the kindness of strangers, but asking for links is not viral marketing.
  • The next stranger you ask for a link could burn you in ways you cannot possibly imagine.
  • Risking the animosity of strangers who didn’t know you exist until you annoyed them with a link request is not a generally successful marketing strategy.

Instead: Informational and influential sites are more likely to link freely to new information than to anything else, so providing new information to strangers (on your site) is more viral and efficient.

Why you cannot become an authority or expert by writing articles

  • True experts and authorities don’t establish their expertise through article distribution.
  • Search engines have no way of identifying who is an expert or authority.
  • Writing brief, self-promotional articles that misrepresent your site as a leader in the field makes you look stupid rather than authoritative.

Instead: Making a bold statement and backing it up with sound reasoning and indisputable facts makes you right. Doing this repeatedly makes you an expert.

Why asking major bloggers to write about your site is stupid

  • Most bloggers could not care less about your site.
  • Most major bloggers are already being hounded by people asking for free publicity.
  • You’re more likely to win money off your local lottery than to obtain a link from a major blog (unless you know the blogger).

Instead: It takes just as much effort to write an email asking for a link as it does to write a blog post where you tell your visitors about the site you want links for.

Why reciprocating links within your industry is inefficient

  • If you want links from relevant sites, think in terms of “relevant copy”, not “in my industry”.
  • Many hobbyist sites are dedicated to topics, passionate, and more influential than many industry Web sites.
  • Many news sites have dedicated topic categories and are more influential than many industry Web sites.

Instead: If you want to swap links with people, think in terms of supporting content that supports your site.

published @ September 4, 2008

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