Despite Google’s insistence that link building isn’t a good way to increase your rank and regular naysayers warning that traditional link building is either useless or counterproductive, it remains an integral and valuable part of a well-rounded SEO strategy. Building the right links in the right places can greatly increase your overall search visibility and drive tons of new traffic to your site.
However, with the wrong approach, your links might do nothing at all for your search ranks—and you might not even realize your mistakes. If you notice your ranks aren’t moving despite link building for weeks or months, there are seven probable causes that could be interfering with your efforts:
1. You’re Posting on the Wrong Sources.
Remember that the quality of your source has a direct bearing on the impact of the link you build on it. Building a link on a low-quality article directory won’t have the same positive impact as building a link on a well-established government organization’s site. In general, links on .edu and .gov sources are the most authoritative, followed by links on highly renowned and well-respected publishing sites and major brands. The lower you go on the totem pole, the easier it is to build links, but if you go too low, you won’t build any authority for yourself.
2. Your Link Diversity Is Low.
The types of links you build also have an impact on your authority. For example, if you use the same link over and over—such as one pointing to your home page—you probably won’t see much of an increase in your search rankings. Instead, you need to use a diversity of different links pointing to multiple internal pages of your site. If you can, avoid using the same link multiple times and instead focus on using only the most relevant link for the context of your post. Having a wealth of blog posts and articles to choose from can help this considerably.
3. You Use the Same Sources.
Let’s say you have three or four high authority sites that you use as link building sources. Because they’re high quality, the authority they pass to your domain should be proportionately high. But over time, you’ll notice your rankings start to level off; this is because having highly authoritative sources simply isn’t enough. You need to have a wide range of different sources pointing back to your domain. Otherwise, Google will assume you’re involved in some sort of link exchange scheme, and your domain authority will never increase.
4. Your Content Isn’t Relevant or Valuable.
Google’s search ranking algorithm is incredibly advanced. It does more than just detect where you build links and where they point—it also analyzes the context of your links and uses that information to determine how relevant or valuable your links are to the conversation. If you post a simple link with a simple comment in a thread that is otherwise ripe with valuable contributions, that link won’t end up passing much authority. On the other hand, if your link helps support the author’s argument or if it deeply adds to the conversation in some way, it will appear to be far more valuable.
5. You Aren’t Using Brand Mentions.
Mentions of your brand on high authority sources, without a link, can also pass authority to your domain. They’re practically risk-free, since Google won’t penalize you for building brand mentions, and they serve as a perfect complement to a core link building strategy. If you aren’t using brand mentions regularly in addition to building traditional links, it could be the reason why your ranks haven’t moved much lately. Be sure to wrap your brand mentions in well-written content, and post regularly on high-authority external sites.
6. Your Bounce Rate Is Too High.
It could be that your links are fine—they’re spaced out appropriately, they’re diverse in nature, and they’re built on a wide range of different high-authority sources—but your website’s quality is preventing Google from moving your ranks accordingly. For example, if Google notices that users who follow your links on external sources tend to leave within a few seconds of landing on your pages, it will keep your rank fairly low. You’ll need to improve the design, layout, navigation, and writing of your website to ensure that your incoming visitors like to stay there.
7. You’re Only Focusing on Links.
Link building is a valuable SEO strategy, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a bit player. Site relevance, content marketing, proper onsite structuring, mobile optimization, and social media marketing are all more important to Google when it comes to determining a site’s overall rank. If you’re neglecting any of these strategies in favor of link building, it’s no wonder why you haven’t seen results—instead, you need to focus on the fundamentals first, and then work on the peripheral items like link building.
Take action to correct these link building errors immediately. The sooner you perfect your link building approach, the sooner you’ll get on the right track for SEO development, and the more time your domain will have to cultivate authority. Successful link building campaigns are the product of years of effort, and only when complimented by more valuable strategies like content publication and social media marketing. Remember that there are no shortcuts to great SEO: results are only the product of hard work and dedication.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International.
He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.