Search engines have always kept a tight lid on their formulas; Google, in particular, is famous for hiding how they rank pages to prevent giving their competitors an edge over them. While keeping things mostly under wraps has benefited them, it has produced mixed results for everyone else. For instance, as long as search engines keep their algorithms secret, there will always be speculations and myths about what makes web pages rank.
Consequently, there will always be people willing to buy into strategies with little to no proof. This has led to some people discrediting SEO and the value it brings to website owners. An aspect of optimization that suffers from misconceptions is link building—here are things people believe about building links and the truth about them.
MYTH: Link Building Has Nothing to Do with Content
Many people still think that backlinks and content creation are separate and unrelated. Building backlinks involves more than increasing the number of links to your website. It showcases your brand’s value and authority, builds relationships with other websites, and increases your visibility. While link building directly contributes to your rankings, it is not the only thing that affects where you land in search engine results pages.
Therefore, you should integrate your content and link-building strategy. Besides writing engaging and relevant content, you need to ensure that you cultivate connections with other members of your industry through guest posts and outreach. After all, Google ranks your website highly if it sees that you are relevant to visitors, and being highly visible and connected to your audience demonstrates that.
MYTH: Backlinks Are the Most Important Thing
Many people believe this myth because of a Google Q&A with Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at the company. He said that links, content, and RankBrain are the three most important factors for helping pages rank better on Google.
Note that this was back in 2016. Even if it were true back then, these three would have a diminished pull compared to five years ago. After all, other equally significant factors today like UX, query intent, and mobile-friendliness weren’t as significant before.
Google changes the weights of its ranking factors regularly to accommodate the changing ways people look for information online. Though there are correlation studies that link the number of backlinks with a page’s position in SERPs, it’s ill-advised to base your strategy on this alone.
MYTHS: Backlinks Last Forever
You need to renew or reapply for backlinks and monitor your link gains and losses. SEO doesn’t follow “set it and forget it”—websites often lose backlinks. If a website linked to yours a few months ago, there’s no way of ensuring the link will remain unless you periodically check on it. Having an SEO tool or subscribing to SEO services helps. Giving attributions to websites that ask for it is a common practice, and you can quickly lose links when an award expires or when you lose a partnership.
At times, you might do everything you can to keep backlinks but still end up losing them. It’s also possible to overlook something and consequently lose your links. For example, if you change a page’s location and set redirects improperly, it won’t be good for your backlinks. If you use a backlink tool, you should be able to fix broken links quickly.
MYTH: Guest Posting Is Bad for Rankings
This is another concept that has been distilled to its essence and taken out of context. Google won’t punish you for guest posting, especially if you’re contributing a unique angle to a topic that’s highly relevant to your industry.
Besides, Google didn’t say you’ll be penalized for putting out guest posts. What they did say was that they’d be treating guest blogging for SEO as spammy behavior. For example, if you publish everything that other websites submit to you as “guest posts,” the company will likely consider these as unearned—and therefore, spam.
Guest posting, even to acquire nofollow links, could contribute to your brand visibility, which makes you a relevant source of information. When writing guest posts, though, you have to treat it as a way to connect to your network. It isn’t just to boost your backlink profile.
MYTH: Backlinks = More Revenue
Another mistake website owners make is taking the number of backlinks as a baseline for expected revenue, traffic, clicks, or other metrics. A backlink on a reputable website will lend you its link juice, true, but other factors affect whether or not people see your site. For example, is the link on a large landing page or the homepage? If not, only a portion of the linking website’s audience will see it.
Also, what anchor text does the website use? If it’s a single word, people will be less likely to click on it. User intent also plays a part—are the people reading for information only, or do they intend to purchase?
Your Google Analytics account can show you if your backlinks are earning traffic. Navigate to the Acquisition section and sort the traffic by referral—doing this will let you see where the traffic comes from and how much passes through specific backlinks. You can’t control where other website owners place your backlink. However, you can reach out to the authors and request an edit if you think it will help you attain the kind of traffic you want.
In search engine optimization, having a solid backlink profile is a must. If you overlooked backlink building in the past, you could still create a strategy for your website. Create content that other website owners would want to share with their users, raise your brand’s visibility, and always find ways to reach out to authors for backlinks. Doing these will contribute to your website’s SEO and make you more likely to climb the SERPs.
If you think backlink building and outreach takes too much time, we can help! Ranked is an SEO platform and service dedicated to helping small and medium enterprises make their mark online. Get in touch with our team about backlink building, or start your free trial today!