After Google’s devastating Penguin update, most people in SEO have completely revamped the way they approach link building.
It’s not like they had a choice: Google mercilessly slapped any site that tried to game the algorithm.
Despite the shift away from spammy strategies, there are still a number of link building mistakes that you might be making with your site. It may not get you into hot water with Penguin 1.0, but when Penguin 2.0 rolls around, you might find your site missing from Google’s first page.
Here are 4 of the most common link building mistakes that I see people make (and how to fix them):
#1: Discounting Relevancy
When you want a link from a site, what do you look at? Do you look at it’s PageRank, number of inbound links or social signals? While those are important, it’s also important to start taking a closer look at theme relevancy.
One of the way’s that Google is able to spot a spammy link profile is by looking at how it compares to sites with a natural profile.
And one of the most common things you’ll find if you take the time to look at sites with natural links is that they tend to have most of their links coming from related sites.
For example, let’s take a look at the top links pointing to Moz.com.
As you can see, these are all coming from sites about SEO, blogging and business. You don’t see any links coming from “general blogs” or cooking sites.
That’s not to say that you can’t have a few oddballs in your link profile (that’s natural too). But don’t make the mistake of filling up your link profile with unrelated links or you could get burned.
#2: Anchor Text Distribution
Again, if the goal of your link building is to look natural, then it makes sense that you’d want to mimic the anchor text distribution of authority sites that got their links the natural way.
However, many site owners have resorted to tweaking their anchor text overuse by using their “money keyword” most often and mixing in the occasional bare link or “website” anchor text to keep things looking natural.
Unfortunately, this isn’t particularly natural either.
Let’s take a look at the anchor text distribution of a site with a natural link profile (TechCrunch.com):
That’s a lot of anchor text diversity!
The bottom line is that you should probably be a bit more cautious about the way you use anchor text. Yes, you can use your “money keyword” occasionally, but make sure to use branded and unique anchor text most of the time.
#3: Over-reliance on Guest Blogging
There’s no doubt that guest blogging is a great way to drive targeted traffic and quality links to your site.
But that doesn’t mean all other forms of link building have died off.
Not only is diversity important for a natural looking link profile, but there’s a lot of buzz in the SEO community that Google may someday devalue guest post backlinks sometime in the future.
If that ever happens, you don’t want to be caught with your pants down. Make sure to use guest posting as part of your SEO strategy. Otherwise you’re rolling the dice and hoping that Google continues to give guest post links a lot of love in the future.
#4: Ignoring Creative Link Opportunities
If you’re creative enough you can usually come up with untapped backlink creation strategies that your competitors can’t. For example, while your competitors are spending 100% of their time guest posting, you’re hunting for brand mentions and asking for links.
Or when your competitors are wasting their time syndicating articles to article directories, you’re building relationships with top bloggers in your niche.
This is the type of link building that gives you a huge edge: it never becomes too widespread for Google to crack down on it. And most of your competitors probably don’t take advantage of them.
About the Author
Brian Dean is the owner of Backlinko, an SEO blog that focuses on link building. You can read his latest post about on-page SEO here.