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You’ve probably heard of link building, but you might not know what it really is or how to do it effectively. Sure, you can go ahead and hire a digital marketing agency, but unless you know the ins and outs, you won’t be successful.

What if they use PBNs?

What if they have a bad linking strategy?

What if they waste all your budget and don’t deliver any results?

It’s important to understand link building practices and how Google can change your website — especially with Google’s recent updates.

While working with clients through my agency, Taco, I come across a few common mistakes website owners make as they build links. And even though there are fantastic guides talking about link building, I see these mistakes over and over again. 

Here are six link building strategies that hurt your SEO efforts and how to fix them.

1. Building links to home page links

It seems logical to send all of your SEO power to your homepage because that’s where you want everyone to start. But, it’s wrong. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest SEO myths. The homepage shouldn’t be used for your top phrases.

I know you’re asking right now, “But then how do I target the key phrases I want to rank for?”

You should build out content-rich subpages in your site to target those phrases, then build backlinks to those pages. By following this method, you will have links going to many pages on your site, not just your home page. This is a much more natural way to build links to your website.

Related: Why You Want ‘Backlinks’ to Your Website

2. Too much keyword anchor text

As I mentioned in the previous section, your homepage is not the place to target all of your important key phrases. Use it instead for building the brand and creating trust with the search engines.

So, when you are building links to your home page, the majority of the anchors should come from your brand or some form of your URL.

Most SEO strategies want to build links that have their important phrases as the anchor, but according to the research done by SEOJet, only 3 percent of your links should have an exact match as an anchor text.

This principle of building branded links also applies to subpages, if you want your link profile to look really natural, you need to have some anchor texts that have no key phrase at all, some links with the URL as the anchor, and some with your brand as the anchor.

This is how other website owners would link to you naturally. It is unreasonable to think that anyone who ever linked to you because they loved your site would use your main key phrase as the anchor. So, you can’t do it either.

3. Not enough nofollow links

There is a misconception about nofollow links and whether or not you should get any as you build links for your site. If you look at it from a real-world perspective, the nofollow attribute was created so we as website owners could let Google know that certain links were advertisements and they shouldn’t be counted in the SEO algorithm.

In other words, Google expects that real businesses will have nofollow links because real businesses advertise. So, how do you expect Google to recognize you as a real business if you aren’t getting any nofollow links through advertising?

This is further supported by the fact that on average over 30 percent of links pointing to top-ranked websites are nofollow links. It is good to get nofollow links.

Related: How to Promote a Website Through Link Building in 10 Easy Ways

4. Not enough high-content pages

If you want people to link to your website naturally, then you should create amazing content ever written so people will link to it.

In fact, in order to build a lot of links to a page, you need good, in-depth content. If you’re not doing that then getting a lot of links pointing to a page of yours will not look natural.

Google would never believe that a post with 500 words would naturally get 100 links pointing to it. But, the ultimate guide on a certain topic with 5000+ words could bring in hundreds of links naturally. That is where you need to focus your content marketing efforts.

5. Bad blogger outreach practices

One of the best ways to get links from high-authority websites is to write a guest blog post for them. There are a ton of blogs that will accept your guest post, but the reality is most guest posts never get approved.

This happens for two reasons.

Your pitch email is a template that could apply to any blog in the world or your writing isn’t good enough. When you pitch a potential blog, don’t think of it as a one-time thing but as if you are building a relationship with a colleague. Reach out to your new business colleague and talk to them about their site and their needs.

Then pitch your guest article that helps solve those needs. After that, make sure you write an amazing article. If writing isn’t your greatest talent, then find someone who is a stellar writer and get them to help you.

If you are looking for a good outreach email to copy, check out this one in SEMRush.

Related: 5 Strategies for Better ‘Link Building’ and Improving Your SEO

6. No link building plan

This is the most common mistake almost all marketers make. They think that if they create amazing content, either people will naturally link to you (good luck with that to anyone who doesn’t already have a following) or you just need to go build links to that page and it will rank.

That is a vague SEO strategy. You might as well say, “Just go do stuff and you will rank.”

For some reason, people don’t treat links as they should — like money. Links are money. Links help you get on page one of Google search results. Page one equals money.

With your own personal money, you create a budget (read: plan) and then tell your money what to do. So, if you treat links like money, then you will have a plan in place and can tell your links what to do. You will plan out which anchor texts you need to get and how many so that you can keep a natural link profile. Using this SEO tactic, you will be able to get better SEO results with fewer links.

You would be surprised how much of an impact these things can have on your rankings, so give yourself a leg up on your competition by fixing these link building miscues.

Image credit: annebaek | Getty Images

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Chirag Kulkarni is a serial entrepreneur and advisor. He is the CEO of Insightfully, which is using AI to discover what employees skills and passions are to reallocate human capital within the enterprise. He has also spoken at Accenture, In…

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