Even though I’m a professional link builder, I don’t have a big team. I tell myself it’s because I don’t have the time to train anyone but it’s actually because no one has ever shown initiative (for longer than 2 weeks) to WANT to be taught.
This means that I’m personally in the trenches every day, working hard to track down and attain the type of links my clients need in order to rank in Google.
As owner of CanadianSEO, I’ve been doing this at home, mostly on my bed in my pyjamas, for the better part of 3 years (why yes, I do drink lots of caffeine and rarely brush my hair, thank you very much). Before that, I directed SEO departments at a few Edmonton agencies and even further before that, I had my own profitable ecommerce site that I sold and made a butt load of money from.
I work with small mom and pop type businesses, as well as big American, Canadian and International brands. I build links for the clients of other well-known SEOs and trusted SEO agencies. I build infographic links to citation links to contextual links and everything in between. I build both small quantity and large quantity links while always striving for quality. And I respect and follow (who I consider to be) some of the top link builders in the industry.
This is why, when I hear reckless advice being spewed about link building or the link building industry in general, I sometimes feel compelled to voice an opinion that happens to be based on years of actual experience.
That said, here are my thoughts on the top 3 link building rumors I’ve been seeing since the Penguin updates began and why I believe they are
smoldering piles of crap myths that average site owners need to be aware of.
Myth 1 – You shouldn’t build links anymore.
You’ve probably been hearing that link building is dying or that’s it’s no longer important to try to get links to your site. In case any of my competitors are reading this, then I completely agree and you should definitely stop building links.
For the rest of you, who I actually care about helping, the truth is that if you listen closely, Google’s recent Penguin updates aren’t telling us that links are no longer important. If anything, the fact that Google has become so zealous with their policing of links, means that links are STILL as important as ever (if not MORE important) when it comes to a site’s rankings.
What’s changing is how Google views your links.
In Google’s ideal world, site owners would be expertly creating thought-provoking, stellar content and other sites would naturally stumble all over themselves wanting to link to it. I’m here to tell you that, in the ‘real’ world though, it rarely happens this way… especially for small business owners.
I’m also here to tell you that trying to get online exposure without link building is like hosting a wedding without invites. Great if you don’t want to share your champagne. Not so great if you’re trying to be the most talked about wedding of the year.
As always, stay away from shady link schemes and tactics (you know what they are!), but folks, never stop facilitating quality links to your website. Your online success depends on it.
Myth 2 – You shouldn’t use anchor text anymore.
By now you’ve heard that using anchor text on your links will put your site into the seventh circle of hell with Google. This simply isn’t true. Anchor text is not the enemy.
The key (as it always has been) is to diversify your anchor text in order to emulate as natural a link profile as possible. You should also be focusing closely on relevance. If your site is about ‘wood products’ and the link comes from a page dedicated to ‘wood products’, then you don’t need the anchor text ‘wood products’ to make your point to Google. Relevance makes the point for you.
The fact is that this aspect of link building hasn’t changed much over the years. If you’re in it for long-term success it is STILL bad practice to build 1000 links using the exact same ‘commercial’ anchor text… especially if those links are coming from irrelevant sites. This isn’t breaking news.
What Google Penguin tells us, is that Google is finally taking notice of sites that use these tactics to manipulate the SERPs, and if you were/are involved in doing so, you’d better switch tactics to make things look more natural. This is actually good news for average site owners who have been struggling with cheating competitors.
As a site owner, by all means use anchor text where you have control. If your page is about ‘cute kittens’ then it’s logical to assume that another pet site would link to your page using ‘cute kittens’ somewhere in the link, isn’t it? Then go for it. On that same token, other pet sites might also “naturally” link to you using terms like ‘click here’ or ‘learn more’ or even just a straight url. Diversify!
Today’s “natural” link profile is about being smart and includes all of these components and more. For the average site owner though, using anchor text – where it makes sense - isn’t going to send your site straight to search engine hell (as much as we wish some sites would go there).
Myth 3 – You should hire a company to remove all the links that Google might think are “bad”.
Since Google starting sending out unnatural link notices, I’ve watched in utter fascination as site owners (and even some SEOs) scrambled to have portions of their backlinks removed. This is well and fine IF you had some links that were shady/irrelevant/obviously paid.
It’s sad to see unwitting site owners getting rid of perfectly good links though, simply out of fear or because they saw some blog post or, worse yet, because some SEO company told them they should.
I’ve even recently had clients reject good links I’ve obtained for them because they’ve heard one thing or another about contextual links or footer links or blogroll links or pagerank or links from pages that aren’t “social” etc. I’m not saying that site owners shouldn’t be picky about their backlinks, what I am saying is that there is an irrational fear being built surrounding backlinks and decent people are losing out on perfectly good links as a result.
It’s also sad to see an entirely new industry springing up which is pretty much designed to bilk frightened site owners out of their money. Especially in the cases where there has been no evidence of Penguin penalization but link removal companies are happy to remove links anyway.
Things ARE changing but in a lot of ways they’re staying the same. If you have questions or doubts about what to do as far as your backlinks, it couldn’t hurt to contact a few of the well-known link builders and ask for some advice before you decide to do something drastic. Except if you’re a competitor of mine, in which case please disregard this post entirely.
Have you heard any reckless link building BS lately? Please share with a comment.