Backlinks from high-authority websites are your ticket to Google’s top ten search results.
A study by Zazzle Media found that B2B marketers consider link building the third most effective SEO practice after content creation and on-page optimization.
According to a study by Ahrefs, marketers are willing to pay up to $3,300 for a single backlink on a high-authority site.
Buying backlinks is a clear violation of Google’s search guidelines, but brands still take the risk of acquiring backlinks that “look” natural.
Here’s the sad part, though.
Most brands waste a significant percentage of their budgets on totally useless, outdated, and even harmful link-building tactics.
If you don’t want to be one of them, read this article till the end.
I’ll tell you exactly what link building mistakes to avoid at all costs.
Let’s dive in.
1. Not Investing In Link-Worthy Content
One of the biggest mistakes I see B2B SaaS companies repeatedly make is trying to build backlinks to their site without having any link-worthy content.
Gone are the days when you could write a useless 300-word article on your blog or simply reach out with a request and get links from Forbes, TheNextWeb, Entrepreneur, and other authority sites.
Creating in-depth and high-quality content is the first step in the link building process.
You can’t get links from the top sites in your niche without relevant content that they can link to.
What is link-worthy content?
Content that’s so good that other sites can use it as a reference to make their content more valuable. I’ve described link-worthy content and how to create it in this article.
It is relevant, in-depth, and well researched, and includes link-worthy elements like stats, videos, expert quotes, case studies, etc., that other sites can cite as evidence.
For example, studies show that including a video on a page can increase its conversion rates by 80% and improve its chances of getting a backlink by 33%.
To come up with content ideas that are both relevant to your audience and high in search demand, you need to use the right tools and processes.
This infographic sums up the content creation process.
When you create such content, you don’t need to pay other sites to link to you. An outreach email is enough (sometimes even that’s not needed).
Let me share an example to give you a sense of what link-worthy content really means.
Some time ago, an anti-virus company sought our help to build higher authority links to their site.
Creating link-worthy content was the first thing we suggested, and they agreed.
The resource we created was a mammoth 50,000-word guide about Windows 10 troubleshooting.
It wasn’t cheap.
Nevertheless, the investment paid for itself when we used that content to acquire super high-authority links from the biggest sites in their niche, including .edu and .gov links.
The crucial part was the content that helped us get those links.
2. Trying to Build Homepage Backlinks Only
Getting brand mentions and links to your homepage is great.
But it doesn’t mean you don’t need deep links (backlinks to your internal content pages) to rank higher in search results.
A natural-looking backlink profile contains more deep links than brand mentions and homepage links.
Here’s a breakdown of the link profile of one of the leading sites in the health & fitness niche.
Only 0.1% of their backlinks point to the homepage.
That’s an extreme example, I know. But anything above 10-20% of homepage links looks suspicious.
You’re inviting a Google penalty with such an unnatural link profile.
Unfortunately, many B2B companies fail to understand this concept.
As a result, they only value homepage links and insist on using them in link-building campaigns even when it doesn’t make sense.
Here’s the right approach.
Create a content marketing funnel for your business (I’ve described the whole process in this article).
Use your Top Of The Funnel (TOFU) and Middle Of The Funnel (MOFU) content to acquire links and target high-traffic search keywords.
When you have high-quality content on your blog, you can leverage it to get backlinks easily.
Use a well-designed internal link structure to transfer the link authority from your internal pages to the other pages on your site (more on that later in the post).
3. Using Over-Optimized Anchor Text for Backlinks
This mistake is related to the previous one.
Just like homepage links, most B2B brands are obsessed with backlinks that contain exact match keyword anchor text.
What is anchor text?
It’s the clickable text in the links on a web page.
An anchor text that’s made up of the exact keywords that you want to rank for is over-optimized anchor text.
For an invoicing software startup, anchor text such as “best invoicing tool”, “invoicing software for freelancers”, “invoicing tool”, etc., would be considered over-optimized.
There was a time when such anchor text could help you rank for your target keywords faster.
These days, using it too frequently will likely get you penalized by Google’s search algorithms.
Google wants brands to earn links naturally, instead of building them through collaboration or any planned campaigns. When all (or most) of your links consist of over-optimized anchor text, it’s a clear sign that you’ve been building links instead of earning them naturally.
Don’t make that mistake.
A natural link profile is made up of different types of anchor text, for example.
- Brand mentions
- Naked URL (https://yourwebsite.com)
- Relevant keywords that describe the topic of your article. For example, if an article is about different sleeping disorders, its anchor text could be any keywords or terms related to it.
- General words like “Click Here”, “Read More”, “Read this article”, etc.
- Long phrases that include your target keyword.
Using a part of your keyword or a term that’s associated with it in the anchor text is fine. The trick is to use relevant anchor text that describes your article without using exact match keywords too often.
4. Wasting Backlink Juice Due to Poor Internal Linking
Internal linking is one of the most important parts of a successful link-building strategy, yet many B2Bs fail to understand its importance.
It’s a low hanging fruit that will help you increase your site’s authority.
Let me explain how.
Internal links help you in a couple of ways.
- They keep your visitors engaged and route them to the other pages on your site.
- They transfer the link juice from one page to another and help you increase the overall authority of your website.
When you get a backlink to an article or an internal page of your site, it increases the authority of that page. With a well-designed internal link structure, that authority is distributed to all the other relevant pages of your site.
Similarly, if your site’s homepage gets a link, its authority is distributed to all the internal pages that are linked through it.
Without internal links, the benefit of a backlink remains limited to the linked page only.
What’s a well-designed internal link structure?
Let me share an example.
The internal link structure that you see here is known as the “Hub and Spoke Content Strategy” or the “Content Hub” strategy.
The concept is simple.
Identify the main topics of your site and create super high-quality pillar pages about each of them. Every pillar page links directly to the homepage of your site.
Then every pillar page has its own set of cluster content that is based on its subtopics. Every cluster page links to its pillar content which indirectly links it to the homepage.
Collectively, a pillar page and its clusters are called a content hub.
Depending on the size of your website, you’ll have multiple content hubs existing independently from each other.
Occasionally, the pillar pages from one content hub might link to the pillar or cluster pages from the other hubs.
But in general, the pillar pages only link to their respective clusters and vice versa.
If you’re following this internal link structure, the authority from any backlinks to your cluster pages will automatically be transferred to the pillar page and the other cluster pages of its hub.
Similarly, any links to the homepage will automatically benefit all the content hubs on the site.
AuthorityHacker tested this link structure on more than 1 million internal links and found that it had a direct impact on a site’s search rankings. You can read the complete study here.
5. Not Prioritizing Link Prospecting
The difference between a successful and a failed link building campaign lies in link prospecting.
Still, most B2B companies don’t even know what it is.
What is link prospecting?
It is the process of finding potential link building opportunities before you even begin a link building campaign.
Link prospecting allows you to understand the following points:
- The sites you can target to acquire backlinks.
- The type of content you need to create to get backlinks.
- The content length you should aim for.
- The linkable assets you need to add to your content to get backlinks from a site
- How much time it would take to execute a successful link building campaign.
- The best ways to reach out to your target sites.
- The budget you should allocate to your link building campaign.
In short, link-prospecting gives you the complete plan to build high-authority links to your site.
Most B2B sites never go into such details before kicking off a link building campaign.
They simply create a piece of content and then go out looking for sites willing to link back to it.
This explains why most B2B blogs struggle to get high-quality links.
6. Using Low-Quality Guest Posts for Link Building
When you have great content and linkable assets on your site, guest blogging becomes a powerful way to acquire backlinks from the top sites in your niche.
But there’s a problem.
The top blogs in every niche get hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of guest post proposals every month.
The vast majority of those proposals are extremely poor, thin, and low-quality guest posts that are only written to get backlinks.
These kinds of posts are the reason whyMatt Cutts famously said “guest blogging is dead”.
They’re written by people who think:
- They can hire a cheap writer from Fiverr and put together a generic 700-word guest post that offers no value to the readers but still get a backlink.
- They can use the same guest post on multiple sites.
- They can use a spun version of their guest posts on different sites without getting caught.
- Every editor is dying to accept their content because they’re offering it for free.
If you have outsourced your guest blogging strategy to an agency or a freelancer, make sure they’re not doing this.
It not only wastes your time and money but also gives your brand a bad name.
What’s the right approach?
Understand the audience and topics usually covered by your target sites, come up with a unique angle that their audience would love to read about, and, most importantly, write a high-quality article that offers tons of value to their readers.
Within the content body, use links to the linkable assets on your site, for example, an infographic, a survey you might’ve published on your site, a data source, or a case study, etc.
Then reach out to your target sites with the ready-to-publish article, assure them it’s completely original, and highlight the fact that it carries lots of actionable advice for their readers.
The response rate for guest blogging pitches is low because of all the spam blog editors get these days, but using this approach is your best chance.
7. Using the Same Guest Bloggers on Different Sites
This is a common mistake, and it can cost you dearly.
If you’re investing money into a guest blogging campaign, make sure you hire a diverse team of guest bloggers who don’t represent the same agency.
The mistake many companies make is hiring one or two guest bloggers to write for them on dozens of different websites.
This leaves a clear footprint for Google algorithms to understand that the writers are doing paid guest blogging for you.
What’s the right approach, then?
The most effective approach is to identify your target sites and reach out to the authors who are already writing for them.
For example, if you’re running an email marketing company and want to target a site like Forbes, find the writers on the Forbes team who regularly cover this topic.
For example, John Hall is the writer of this article on Forbes about email marketing.
If you click on John’s name, you’ll be redirected to his author page on Forbes.
Here, you can see his author bio, his website address, and the links to his social profile.
Contact him personally, introduce your brand, share the links to the best link-worthy content on your site, and work out a way to get your brand mentioned in his articles with a backlink.
Do this for every site you want to target.
These writers already have access to the sites you want a backlink from. Even if they charge a small fee for it (which they will), it’s better than hiring unknown freelancers and pitching guest posts yourself.
8. Targeting Only the High-Authority Sites in Your Niche
Who doesn’t want to get backlinks from the highest-authority sites in their niche?
Despite this, limiting your focus to only the top sites is unwise.
These sites get thousands of guest post proposals every month, and their content calendars are booked for months in advance.
They rarely respond to guest post proposals, and even when they accept an article it takes months for it to go live.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t target them.
Still, keep targeting the low-middle tier sites as well.
Ideally, go for any site that’s relevant to your niche and has a higher domain authority and more traffic than you.
This infographic describes the different website tiers perfectly.
The advantage in targeting low tier websites and then gradually moving up is that you continue to get easy links on your way, slowly build authority, and have more published samples to show once you pitch a post to a top-tier site in your niche.
8. Sending Copy/Paste Email Outreach Templates
Any blog owner who runs a DA30+ blog usually gets several guest post proposals every week.
The funny thing is that most of those proposals use almost the same email outreach template.
Here’s an example.
I’ve received the same guest post proposal format from multiple bloggers who claim to have enjoyed reading my blog even when I haven’t been publishing anything new lately.
Why are they using the same email template?
Because they’re lazy.
Their favorite blogger must’ve shared this outreach template as an example and they simply copy/paste it every time they’re pitching a guest post.
The response rate to such emails is very low. They’re poorly written, fail to build a connection with the target site, and are clearly simply looking for a quick backlink.
If you want website owners to respond to your guest post proposals, try connecting with them on social media and interacting with them first.
Then craft a compelling email pitch that builds a connection with the owner and comes across as a genuine outreach message instead of a generic template.
As this image shows, an effective email pitch is personalized, well-researched, concise, and provides proof.
Your chances of getting a positive response will be much higher if your pitch has these core elements.
10. Getting Links From Irrelevant Sites
When it comes to backlinks, always go for quality over quantity.
Not every backlink is good for your site.
Especially if it’s coming from a completely irrelevant site that has nothing to do with your niche or the topics you cover.
The image below shows a good example of this.
So the next time your agency or a freelancer proposes to get your software company a backlink from a gossip magazine, think twice.
Too many links from irrelevant sites will negatively impact your backlink profile.
What’s the right approach?
Focus on building contextually relevant backlinks from sites in your niche or niches that are closely aligned with your topic.
11. Wasting Resources on No-Follow Backlinks
Whenever I see B2B sites wasting money on outdated link-building techniques like blog commenting or posting on forums (and the other stuff that some agencies are still selling) I die a little inside.
First of all, 99% of backlinks from blog comments and forums have the no-follow tag, which means they have no impact on your rankings.
Secondly, these tactics are only used by spammers these days.
I’m not saying blog commenting is useless.
If someone from your team can take the time to write really valuable and insightful comments on high-authority blogs, you can still drive traffic to your site and also build new relationships that can lead to guest blogging opportunities.
But commenting or forum postings just for backlinks is a waste of time.
12. Using Automation to Get Hundreds Of Cheap Links
Any link-building technique that involves automated backlinks created through software or scripts is plain black-hat SEO.
These tactics are for bloggers who have nothing to lose, not for B2B brands who’re looking to build a long-term business.
Stay away from them at all costs.
13. Purchasing Links From Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are groups of websites owned by the same person or entity.
There are PBNs with thousands of websites and regular users can’t even tell if they’re related to each other.
Getting links from them is playing with fire because even if a single website in a PBN is caught by Google algorithms, the whole network will be uncovered and penalized.
As a result, every site linked to these PBNs also suffers.
Again, it’s not a tactic that B2B brands should resort to. You should especially avoid it if you’re acquiring links for your main website.
14. Getting Links From Sites With Excessive Outgoing Links
Digital agencies and freelancers based in third world countries still offer “Directory Links” as a part of their link-building packages.
Article directories or any other sites with loose editorial control are never good places to get backlinks.
Since it’s so easy to get links from them, every dubious site uses them for link building.
When it comes to building backlinks, you should always stay away from bad company.
Because when Google algorithms strike, no one is spared.
The only links you should go after are from sites with proper editorial control so that you’re never in danger.
Are You Ready to Build Backlinks the Right Way?
As I said at the start of this article, backlinks are crucial for your site’s search rankings.
But as I’ve shown you in this article, there are lots of foolish link building mistakes that hurt your rankings instead of improving them.
To stay away from them, you need to hire proper SEO and content marketing professionals who know how to drive sustainable results without violating Google search guidelines and putting the future of your brand at stake.