The Dos and Don'ts of Link Building
Judith Lewis joins the SEO Rant Podcast to go off on horrible link building practices:
Bad metrics for bad links
How to build links the right way
What link outreach requires to actually work
There is no bottom of the barrel to the stupidity that goes on around link building. Not only are these practices not effective they're just downright dumb at this point. Yet, for some reason, all sorts of link-building shenanigans are alive and kicking. In this episode, Judith shares what makes bad link building bad... as well as what makes for good link building!
Here's a summary what we discussed.
Link Building: Right and Wrong
Two things in life are immortal... cockroaches and ridiculous link-building practices. For a variety of reasons, bad link-building practices just refuse to die. People take the wrong approach, track the wrong metrics, and worst of promise paying customers impossible results.
What makes bad link building bad and good link building good? Read on!
Bad Link Building Metrics
Where a link lives matters. It matters both in terms of the strength of the site and where on the site the URL resides. To the former, and as should be obvious, not all links are equal. A link from a spammy or topically irrelevant site doesn't hold a candle to a link from a reputable site that relates topically to the content on your own site.
But even when you get a link from a strong site that has a good DA (or I prefer Authority Score - marketers gonna market) that doesn't mean it's a "win." Yeah, you got a link, but it's from an orphan page of some random sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-subfolder - awesome (sarcastic).
Worst off, some agencies will peddle this kind of stuff to clients. All the client sees is a lot of links from what seems like a lot of reputable sites. However, the specific pages that now make up their backlink profile are not as powerful as they might seem. The agency might know this, but "who cares so long as the client is happy?" seems to win the day, unfortunately.
What Good Link Building Looks Like
Good link building is purposeful. Good link building has a specific goal with a specific purpose with a specific methodology with specific metrics to measure success. A good link builder has a sense of pride in how they go about linking.
For example, instead of targeting pages buried deep within the cavernous abyss of a site, a good link builder will ensure that the links come from the home page and the like. It's part of a larger plan that includes creating good content that people are not embarrassed to link to with a strong page. If a site feels a need to link to yours for whatever variety of reasons but they do so from a random page no one will ever see, there's a good chance they're embarrassed to link to you. Do things the right way to get the right links from the right pages.
Also, doing good link building means looking at the right metrics. Focusing too much on a DA or Authority Score doesn't help anything. A good link is not a link on a site that has a good "score." A good link is a link on a site that ranks for the keywords that are important to you so that it can send relevant traffic that results in sales to your site. Yes, links are also about reaching new audiences, not just "link juice!"
It comes down to pride. As a link builder, you should have pride in the links you are building. The quality of the links should speak to your "quality" as a link builder.
Link Outreach Requires Real Collaboration
If link building requires pride in your work that applies tenfold to link outreach itself. When you reach out to someone without looking at who they are and what they do, it's obvious. At a minimum, you're using a template that shows no real care. At worst, you're reaching out to people about things that would have been obviously irrelevant should you had bothered to spend five minutes doing a bit of research.
Truth is, the idea of cold outreach link building, at least as it's done now, is insane. You put no effort into really targeting your audience. The most you're doing is seeing if the site is relevant in the most generalist of senses. What kind of person would give you a link? Think about it. What kind of absolute idiot would give someone a link based on the typical cold outreach link builders often use? Is that the kind of site you really want to get links from? Does that make any sense?
Link outreach has to be incredibly targeted. As mentioned earlier, it's not about "link juice" - it's about getting your site in front of users that are highly relevant to your business model. That means reaching out to sites that align in a substantial way. That means understanding how the specific content you want a link from aligns. It also means making sure your link actually provides a ton of value to the site linking to you!
For more of the SEO Rant Podcast check out our previous episode on SEO Common Sense