10 Link Building Mistakes That Can Kill Your Website Ranking

10 Link Building Mistakes That Kill Your Website Rankings

More and more small business owners are beginning to realize the importance of search engine optimization, and more specifically, link building techniques and their influence on rankings.

That being said, it’s important spend the time it takes to gradually and naturally build up your backlinks portfolio rather than just throwing some money at an offshore SEO firm in hopes to beat your competition overnight. SEO, as with any marketing tactic, takes real time and effort and the more you put into it, the better results you will get.

Below are a few of the more common mistakes we see businesses making, and some ideas on how to make sure your website doesn’t sink to the bottom of the rankings.

1. Expecting Results Overnight

video by: Beachfrontprod

When I first started marketing online, I expected to make good money and I expected it fast. There were, of course, many internet marketers and programs out there that promised exactly that. But the cold hard truth was that over the next few months or half a year, I ended up getting a nice reality check (and I’m not talking about one you can take to the bank).

I almost gave up a few times (it can get really frustrating), but you must keep at it over the long haul. If you have a good product or service, one that provides real value to your customers, then your online marketing efforts will not go unnoticed. People recognize value when they see it (and people link back to content of value).

Some of my first websites were designed with great standards, good usability and user experience, I built many backlinks, wrote articles, engaged with others on social media, but none of it was bringing me the results I wanted (not quickly enough, at least).

I later realized that nobody makes money online quickly. Everyone has to put in hard work, it’s just the way the world works. True, you can accelerate the process by outsourcing some of the work and paying for a bunch of backlinks, and you will see some short term results, that’s for sure, but they will eventually hurt you more in the long run than they help you in the short term.

That’s one main thing I’ve learned about marketing online: the long run is what’s it’s all about. Sustainability. Persistence. Consistency. You need to stand the test of time and the only way to do that is with gradual, continual growth.

2. Freaking Out When Rankings Plummet

Another big mistake a lot of SEO consultants or website owners make is freaking out when their website rankings plummet. With all the changes Google makes to its search algorithm on any given week, many webmasters can see their rankings drop overnight.

Visit any internet marketing forum and you can see this for yourself, almost pin point every time there’s a major update (think Panda and Penguin) and you’ll see a little slice of history as many websites were affected (and some unfairly).


The main point is: don’t freak out! Most new websites will rank high for certain terms at first, but then start to drop down as Google indexes and reindexes pages and posts. There are many ways you can gain back your rankings, most of which take time and effort, but again, that’s the name of the game. And dare I say it, but rankings aren’t everything.

If your website has been around for a while and has recently dropped in rankings, it could be for a number of reasons: one, there was a major algorithm update, in which case you need to do some research and digging and follow closely what Google recommends; or two, the competition has gotten tougher and you may need to work harder to get your position back.

Different ways of doing this can be to update your content more often, build more backlinks or you might even need to reevaluate your SEO strategy. Google’s algorithm changes frequently nowadays so it’s important to figure out what they’re changing and how they’re ranking sites, and make adjustments as necessary.

3. Forgetting About On-Page Optimization

With so much focus on keyword research, social media, competitor analysis and link building, I often see SEO consultants focusing too heavily on the off-page optimization techniques. What you do within your website in terms of SEO is just as (if not more) important than any off-page optimization.

Proper internal linking, internal site structure, navigation, sitemaps, keyword density, image alt text, nofollow tags, etc. are also very important to the search engines. If you use WordPress, there are many plugins available to help you monitor and test these things, so make sure you take the time to figure out what’s working and what you could perhaps do better.

One such plugin that I like a lot is Scribe SEO. This tool takes a look at your blog post content as you’re writing it and makes great suggestions on tweaks you could make in order to better optimize your text for search. Depending on your target keyword or phrase, it’ll recommend variations of that keyword and will show you how to generate better results than you could have on your own.

4. Writing for the Search Engines

Tips and tools above, this is one of the biggest mistakes I see being made each and every day. Even those most seasoned internet marketing veterans occasionally will fall victim to this mistake: writing for the search engines. I’m sure you’ve seen many extremes of this. Many free article directories online are filled with this garbage: articles stuffed with keywords, hardly even making sense, obviously geared towards feeding the search bots.

But you may not know about the other end of the spectrum: the honest, well-intended article that just sounds forced or real awkward at times because the writer was focusing on writing for the search engines, rather than providing value to his readers.


You must always remember the bottom line: the reason we’re all gunning for that number one spot on Google is so that we can attract new visitors who will hopefully buy our product. Those are our target audience, not the Google bots! Sure, if you stuff your page full of keywords and are the number one ranking for “Michigan web design” then you’ll get some decent traffic, I’m sure. But what good is a ton of traffic if none of it’s converting into sales?

While it may be important (in theory) to have a certain keyword density and internal structure to your blog posts so that the search engines know what your content is about, it’s of the utmost importance that you write for the human visitor first.

Some SEO analysts say that for every 100 words of content, you should have your keyword in there once. So, for an average blog post of 300 – 500 words, you’ll have your keyword in there 3 – 5 times. I think that’s a good guideline to have. I would also highlight the importance of placement. Definitely include your keyword right at the beginning, in the opening sentence at least (and maybe even the opening phrase – if it sounds natural). Place your secondary keyword (or variation of your first one) somewhere in the middle of the post, anywhere that’s relevant. And then, in closing or at the end of the post when you’re wrapping up the points you’ve made or your call-to-action, include it again.

As always, make sure your article sounds natural, like you’re talking to a friend or business associate. Read it aloud if need be. I know it helps me. Your articles that sound conversational will have the most impact. And that’s the whole purpose of writing for the Internet anyways, isn’t it? To inform, to educate, to entertain, to network. Always keep your visitors and readers in mind while you’re writing and I promise you you’ll always have good quality content that not only they will love, but Google will, too!

5. Not Updating Your Content Frequently Enough

Links are the building blocks of the Internet. They are what makes the web, the web. So, it is obvious that the more high quality backlinks that point to your site, the higher your search engine rankings will be. You’ll be seen as an authority on your topic to the Google bots, and, as a result, you’ll show up high in the SERPs and people will also see you as an expert in your field. You’ll get tons of traffic, and hopefully you have a well-designed website, and you’ll convert those visitors into loyal, paying customers.

While this is a basic, tried-and-true approach to increase your rankings, why not take a different approach, one that Google (and Bing especially) is putting a lot of weight into recently? Fresh content.
Google loves websites that update their content, and update it frequently. New news is better than old news (don’t you love those oxymorons?)

You hear those stories of SEO firms that spend hours and hours building backlinks to their clients websites every day and still they can’t guarantee results unless you work with them for 6 months or a year (SEO takes time – and it does, but you need to expand your reach and don’t put all your eggs in one basket).

If you (or your team) spent one hour a day writing high quality, fresh, original and industry relevant content, I promise you you’ll end up higher on the search results than those competitors who don’t. And what’s more, this is a significantly more effective way for long-term results.


Another reason for developing good content on a consistent basis: long-tail keywords. Google reports that up to 20% of searches performed each day are for phrases that have never been searched for before. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s millions of searches each and every day that are brand new combinations of words and phrases. That means that you can target (and rank for) an almost infinite number of keywords, and most of those phrases won’t have hardly any competition at all!

Again, the importance for writing for people and not search engines. Think like your customer, what problems do they have, what information are they seeking? Answer their call, provide a solution to their concerns and wha-la!

6. Not Being Consistent

If you are serious about building a business online (or marketing your business online) than you need to be consistent, persistent, (and have faith).

This can be the biggest roadblock for many people. They have the best intentions, they’ve read up on internet marketing best practices and how to rank well on Google, but they lack the dedication and consistency needed to succeed online.

Even if you break free and reach the first page of Google for your targeted keyword, it takes real effort to remain there. The Internet (and the Internet marketing world, specifically) is a competitive place. Search engine optimization is an on-going process. Don’t get discouraged.

7. Building Thousands of Low Quality Links

You’ve seen it before, maybe you’ve even tried it yourself (sometimes the offer seems to good to be true – and you know what they say: if it seems to good to be true..) but there are still many people out there who can’t seem to pass up an opportunity to get 1,000 backlinks for $5 or some other crazy offer.

This is not good for your site. It may increase your rankings in the short term, but it will definitely hurt your website in the long term (maybe even permanently). Google itself explicitly states that purchasing backlinks that pass PageRank is frowned upon.

I think a little common sense is all that’s really needed when you’re thinking about marketing your company online. You get what you pay for and if something this cheap can be obtained this easily, you know it’s not going to be of high quality. Anyone telling you differently is trying to give you a run for your money.

Instead, spend some time and effort in reaching out to a few webmasters and I promise if you get one solid PR5 backlink from an industry relevant site, it will be much more powerful and yield much better results than any of these quick and easy (quick and sleazy) low quality, non-relevant, link building marketing schemes.

8. Not Diversifying Your Link Building

Going off the last point, link building (as with many other aspects of marketing and promotion) is more about quality than it is quantity. To make your website’s backlink portfolio look good and natural, it’s important to get backlinks form many different sources.


This can be done by writing articles and submitting them to directories (linking back from your author bio or within the article itself, depending on the specific directory’s guidelines), being active on social media networking sites (engaging, promoting other’s content as well as yours), guest posting on other related blogs (again, links back from author bio or from within the post itself), commenting on blogs (adding value, not just a keyword enabled link), participating on forums (helping others, contributing to others’ success), etc.

Diversifying your link building efforts not only makes your portfolio well-rounded and looking good for the search engines, but it also expands your reach and influence to other webmasters, blog owners and forum members around the world.

Links are good and great for many online marketing efforts, but the relationships you can build with these organic and natural efforts can far outweigh their influence.

9. Not Getting Enough High PR Links

Every time you are working on your backlink portfolio and link building efforts, you should be searching for places you can get high quality links from high PR websites. High page rank websites obviously means that Google will place a higher value on the links that it’s linking out to, so if you spend some good time doing this, you will reap the rewards in the long term.

A higher PR website may be more difficult to reach, they probably have many more SEO marketers reaching out and pitching them each week, but with link building you have to put forth the effort needed. These links may be harder to get, but they’re much more valuable than your average link.

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday – Link Quality vs. Quantity

Each webmaster or website owner is different, but what I’ve found is reaching out to them in the traditional way still works. Do a little bit of research – read their blog (and not just one recent post, but really dive into it – if it’s relevant to your site you shouldn’t have a problem reading a few posts anyways, they should be topics that you’re interested in). Comment on their stuff. Offer some value to their readers. Perhaps you have a similar post on your site or maybe something that would be a good follow-up to the article they’ve posted.

Write them an email. Keep it short and to the point, but make it stand out. Write from the heart. Tell them why you’re reaching out to them and make sure to highlight what’s in it for them. Tell them perhaps that you feel their readers will benefit from some of the writings on your website, and maybe it’s something that’s closely related to their subject matter, but something they don’t routinely cover on their blog.

Whatever the case may be, make a real effort. The worst that can happen is they say no. Or they ignore you. At that point you’ve probably gained some knowledge or new insight from reading their articles, and you’ve practiced your writing skills and can make the necessary adjustments for next time.

10. Not Being Aware of Nofollow and Dofollow

The last tip I’ll leave you with may be something you already know, but I was surprised to learn how many people actually have no idea. When I first started out in the SEO industry, I had no idea myself. It is Nofollow vs. Dofollow.

What good is following the above steps and building up tons of great quality (and natural) links if none of them pass the “link juice” that you want them to? Another way to say it is, not all links are treated equally. Nofollow links are ones that have a specific piece of code attached that tells the Google bots not to follow them. This means, in essence, that the Page Rank, domain authority, etc. from the linking site will not follow over to your site.


In theory, it’s still good to have Nofollow links to your site (after all, people can still click through and maybe you’ll gain a new subscriber or two) but keep in mind that they won’t help your search rankings.

Dofollow, on the other hand, are links that allow the juice to follow and these can be very beneficial for the rankings of your pages.

I know we’ve covered a lot in this series, and at times it can be slightly overwhelming. But if you take the proper time and formulate a strategy (and, above all, think logically and like a human – that should be easy, right?), then you’ll have great success in building backlinks for your website and, in turn, ranking well for the keywords your customers use.

Is there anything that I missed? What other strategies do you incorporate to your link building efforts? Anything you’d do differently?

Comments for this post

  • July 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks immensely for this post. I recently was discussing these same issues with a client, SEO is most certainly a moving target. Great info.

    • July 19, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Yes, you’re right: SEO is a constantly moving target. That’s what we explain to our clients as well.. you need to keep at it for the long haul if you want to see good results. The ROI will come, but as with everything in business, you need to spend money to make money.

  • July 23, 2012 at 2:14 am

    I agree no follow still good but not really good coz we all want do follow.it is to let search engine
    know that we are not spamming and obvious we only want do follow links.That is an awesome post. You have really layed out your points in great detail.

    • August 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Becca,

      Yes, with the people (or bots) who were spamming blogs and blog comments, Google’s algorithm update made it so that most of these links were no-follow, thus rendering them irrelevant. As you mentioned, we as SEO consultants wish to get do-follow backlinks to our clients’ websites.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • August 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Nice list! Good SEO requires regular maintenance and attention and I think you laid that out well.

    • August 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      Thanks, Robert! You’re absolutely right: good SEO is an ongoing process. It takes a great deal of dedication and perseverance to get long-term results.

  • Pingback: 30 Ways to Increase Your Revenue in 30 Days - Freshtight Designs

Leave A Reply