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I know a lot of fellow bloggers are in the midst of learning about SEO. If they want free traffic from search engines, they really have little choice. Google isn’t quite at the level that you can rank well without having at least have a clue about what you’re doing.
The problem is that there is so much info out there that no longer applies or was just unproven theory/assumptions. So this week I’ll try to clear the air about one area of misinformation.
If you’re new to this series, check out some of the previous blogging tips posts:
- Choosing the Best Blog Web Hosting Sites
- Importance of Link Anchor Text Variation
- Top 10 Common Mistakes I See New Bloggers Making
- 10 Recommended WordPress Plugins For Your Blog
- Google PageRank, Not Just About Links
- Blog Link Building – Not All Links Are Created Equal
- Importance of Blog Networking
- Effectively Using Keywords On Your Blog
- Optimal Blog Keyword Research for SEO
Now let’s talk about what you should be avoiding when building links for your blog.
5 Outdated Blog Link Building Strategies to Avoid
For a long time now Google has used a blog or website’s backlinks as the primary factor for determining how high they should rank for different keywords. In the past every link you acquire would have the potential to help, but now Google has shifted more towards quality over quantity when it comes to judging a backink profile.
So here are some standard link building strategies that previously worked well, but Google has cracked down on…
I have actually recommended directory submissions in the past, but that is just the nature of SEO. What works today might not work so well tomorrow.
This is not to say that all web directories are not worth the time, but these days there are relatively few web directories that will help your SEO. It makes sense if you think about it. Most web directories do not have particularly strong backlink profiles, yet they link out to thousands and thousands of websites. With that kind of setup there isn’t a whole lot of PR or ‘link juice’ that can be sent to each website. To make matters worse, the majority of submissions use the exact same site description that they used on a ton of other web directories.
So gone are the days that you can submit to every web directory you can find and get a significant SEO improvement. Instead you’ll want to focus on niche specific directories and well established directories with solid stats. For example with a finance blog, you might still find decent benefits from getting listed in finance specific directories as well as blog directories. Some of the more established directories do require that you pay a submission fee in order to weed out the spam submissions. Just don’t assume that every paid web directory is worthwhile. Many of them are a waste of time too.
For a while submitting to article directories was the link building strategy of choice of a vast number of SEO pros. Back then you could submit a single article to hundreds of article directories. If you were lucky other websites would also republish your articles, creating even more links. When search engines cared a lot about link volume, this tactic was priceless.
Most article directories had the same problem as web directories – weak backlink profiles and a ton of external links. With the increase in popularity of automated submission software, the problem quickly became exponentially worse. In the end, each article was far too diluted to have much benefits. Since all of the lower end article directories didn’t have any unique content, Google actually started cracking down on them more.
After the dust settled, there were only a handful of article directories that were still beneficial to submit articles to. Still, with countless SEO spammers continuing to blast away articles to these directories, your articles are unlikely to be seen by anyone. Your links get buried too quickly to get good SEO benefits either.
Automated Software Link Building
Because link volume was previously so important for SEO, it was only natural that people would try to find shortctuts via automated software. Why spend days on end manually building links when you can use software to create the same effect? With a few clicks of your mouse, your link could be spread across tens of thousands of websites. The more advanced software even tried to make it look more natural by spacing those links out over several days or weeks.
The big problem with this strategy is that you can usually only create low quality links using automation. As Google started phasing out the importance of link volume, these automated ways of creating links went the way of VHS videos. Just like with VHS, there were people who kept using them. In the case of automated links, it was Yahoo and Bing where those strategies may still work. The thing is, it’s not worth risking things with Google in order to get a bit of secondary traffic.
I do acknowledge that I haven’t used any automated link building software recently. There very well could be software that is still worth using. I probably wouldn’t try using the ones that automatically build links anymore, but they can be useful for helping locate potential link opportunities.
I touched on this in a previous post about the importance of anchor text variation. In the past you could get away with building all of your links using a single keyword phrase. To the search engines it looked like your site was extremely relevant for that keyword. Eventually Google caught up and acknowledged that this situation looks very unnatural.
If a website really was genuinely relevant for a specific phrase, they should naturally get links with a wide variety of link anchor text. If the site was particularly trusted, they’d probably get a lot of links using branded keywords.
This is the other part of why strategies such as article directory submissions lost effectiveness. Unless you made a point of mixing up the link anchor text with every submission, you’d end up with very unnatural looking anchor text distribution.
In today’s SEO landscape, you want to make your link building look as natural as possible. If an exact anchor text is used for too high a percentage of your links, don’t expect Google to be very accepting of that.
Yes, I said blog commenting. Some of you may be panicking a bit reading this as I know lots of bloggers use commenting as their exclusive link building strategy. Ok maybe you shouldn’t straight up avoid blog commenting. It does serve other purposes beyond SEO. Just don’t expect it to help your SEO link building efforts.
With blog commenting you can generate substantial direct traffic with your comments, especially if you are commenting on a popular blog or one that is very relevant. Also it can help build connections with those bloggers and show more of your personal side.
When it comes to SEO though, the links that you get from comments are very low value. You’ll find that a lot of blogs have comments set to use nofollow links. That means the links won’t pass PageRank or SEO benefits.
The exception would be the blogs that do use dofollow links, particularly the ones that have dofollow links in plugins for recent comments or top commenters. Those can give you high PR links, but they are usually short lived.
The list above is just a sample of link building strategies that are not as effective as they once were. If you’re going to spend the time trying to build links for SEO purposes, be sure you are not wasting time on outdated strategies. Take the time now to do sufficient research so that you are helping your SEO today and tomorrow.
If you do come across a link building strategy that sounds promising, check when that article was written. Also check for recent articles about that strategy. In the ever changing world of SEO, you need to make sure you’re not following outdated tactics.
What kind of link building strategies do you focus on? Is SEO or direct traffic more important to you?