To outsource link building, or not to outsource link building… that is the question. The problem is that, on the surface, link building seems pretty simple and straightforward.
Link to authoritative sites, add backlinks to your guest posts, and you’re good to go, right? Perhaps not. What many marketers are overlooking is just how important a healthy backlink profile is… and just how easy it is to get it wrong.
What is a backlink profile?
Before we go any further, let’s take a closer look at what a backlink profile really is. Essentially, your profile is connected to one of the many different SEO types that businesses can use: optimised backlinks. These links are those that are placed on websites other than your own (or even on social media accounts not associated with your business) that direct users back to your homepage or a relevant landing page.
One of the main reasons why companies choose to outsource link building is because maintaining a healthy backlink profile is actually more challenging than it may seem. There are many obstacles standing in the way of success which could have a pretty serious impact on reputation and ranking. We’re going to take a look at what not to do when building your backlink profile. Check out 5 of the most common ways that businesses can ruin their backlink profile, and explore alternatives to help you achieve your SEO goals.
1. Disregard important aspects
There are many different aspects that make up a backlink profile. Some are highly valuable. Others, not so much. The issue is that many marketers are failing to understand which aspects are valuable and which aren’t, and end up overlooking and disregarding some vital areas. Nofollow backlinks are one.
There’s no denying that nofollow backlinks, which Google itself admits they don’t follow, aren’t as valuable as follow links. After all, they have absolutely no influence over ranking. But even though nofollow backlinks don’t show any direct benefits to, they aren’t too bad at churning out the indirect benefits. Despite the lack of rank influence, nofollow backlinks can work to improve online visibility, increase brand awareness, and bring in referral traffic. Ultimately, they help to keep your brand accessible online in a highly saturated market, giving you a competitive edge others can’t achieve.
An important thing to mention are upcoming changes regarding nofollow links marketers should be aware of. For those who still didn’t hear, in September 2019, Google made an announcement saying rel=“nofollow“ attribute will be treated as a „hint“ for organic ranking. Also, two new attributes have been introduced rel=“sponsored“ and rel=“UGC“ – their purpose is to help Google identify the nature of hyperlinks. Since this is big news for all of us we still can’t say how will all this impact SEO world – we’ll have to wait for March 2020.
Don’t: Ignore vital aspects of your backlink profile simply because you think they’re unimportant
Do: Look at how some of the smaller factors can generate huge impacts for your online reputation
2. Ignore spammy links
Many marketers ignore low-quality links because they think they are outside of their control, but there’s actually a way to take more control over the health of your backlink profile with Google Disavow.
So the question you’re probably asking is this: why would I want to remove low-quality links? It’s because of Google’s ranking algorithm – links are one of the search giant’s biggest ranking factors. Google strives to provide the highest quality results for its users, which means it takes into account the domain authority of websites that link to yours when determining SERP position. Basically, if you’ve got a lot of low-quality sites pointing in your direction, your position is going to suffer. Google prioritises associations with high quality, authoritative websites that it believes can bring more value to its user base.
Don’t: Sit by and do nothing while low-quality websites affect your SERP ranking
Do: Find ways to connect with authoritative websites through blogger outreach and guest posts
3. Target irrelevant sites
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make in their backlink campaigns? Prioritising quantity over quality. Sure, it may seem like a good idea to target any site that you can get your hands on in terms of visibility and awareness, but in terms of keeping a healthy backlink profile, relevance is absolutely key.
What do we mean by site relevance? We mean that it’s better for your backlink profile and for the results of your backlink campaign to have links pointing to your website from other sites that share some sort of characteristic or value. Imagine you’re a vegan recipe website. How healthy is your backlink profile going to look if you’ve got links pointing to you from local meat suppliers? And perhaps worst of all, your campaign probably isn’t going to achieve the desired results. Want more traffic? Focus on targeting websites where the readers are likely to want to click through and learn more about you.
Don’t: Go for quantity over quality and waste your valuable time and effort targeting the wrong sites
Do: Look to increase backlinks from websites where there is overlap with your own target audience
4. Have too many backlinks from too few domains
So we already know that backlinks are an important part of SEO, but what many don’t know is that it’s not just about how many links point back to your website, but how many different and unique destination these links come from. Always remember the saying, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’.
There’s a lot of things that the Google bot doesn’t like, and one of them is when a backlink profile is dominated by just one or two referring domains. This looks a bit spammy to Google, and suggests some sort of forced relationship between the two sites, rather than an organic referral. A healthy backlink profile looks less like 20 links from a single domain, and more like 1 link from 20 domains. In fact, SEO support centre Edgy reports that Google’s top 100 websites each have more than 10,000 different domains pointing to them. Coincidence? Probably not. It’s all about what Google likes to see.
Don’t: Focus only on just one or two domains, or be deterred from reaching out to new blogs
Do: Work to build up a strong, reliable, and extensive network of authoritative websites
5. Play it safe
As we looked at, there are many things that Google doesn’t like. Ranking penalties are being dished out pretty regularly, even to big-name brands, so marketers naturally want to play it safe, especially when it comes to the number of backlinks in their profile. But slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.
Playing it safe, and having too small a backlink profile, certainly won’t do any harm, but it’s not going to thrust you up the ranks and make your backlink campaign a roaring success. Is there such a thing as too many backlinks? It’s possible. Google isn’t exactly the most forthcoming when sharing the details of its ranking algorithm. What we do know, however, is that in an interview with former Google leader Matt Cutts, he confirmed that all backlinks on a page contribute towards page rank, which essentially means that the more links you have pointing from a guest post, the more likely you are to see rank success.
Don’t: Keep your backlinks to a minimum to avoid a Google penalty
Do: Ensure that any links that are included are relevant, and contain suitable anchor text
Acknowledging the challenges
As we can see, it is very easy to ruin your backlink profile, and many marketers are doing this without even realising that they’re hindering the overall success of their backlink campaign. That’s why more and more are choosing to outsource link building, ensuring that vital aspects of a campaign are never overlooked, and doing whatever they can to minimise risk and boost the chance of better visibility.