With so much free material about building your brand online, website optimisation and good advice about link building, it amazes me that in the year 2013, I still see such shoddy link building services being offered with even shoddier marketing efforts in place.
One can have their own opinion on the annoying Go Compare and Ladbrokes adverts but they were successful in what they set out to achieve. They’re memorable, making people more aware of the respective brands. And with that, they probably brought in more business.
Many moons ago when I became a link builder for Receptional, the game was a lot different than it is today. Facebook really wasn’t that popular, I hadn’t heard of Twitter, PPC bids were cheap to get your ads to the top and Google’s organic results were where the traffic was at.
Yeah, we built links to get to the top of Google. And it worked. But even back then and throughout the course of my career, none of my colleagues have ever built links on dodgy websites.
We were not building links on unrelated websites for the sake of a link. We have never used automated directory submission tools (we never even tested them).
Sure, we published press releases for the sake of a link. These methods were helping our clients rank high in Google and sending them a lot of traffic and many enquiries for relevant search terms for their business. But we pulled the plug on press releases as a link building method as soon as we released they were not having a positive impact on rankings (more on those later).
So what are the types of ineffectual methods link builders are known to use? In an effort contrary to that exerted by those appearing on my link building list of shame, I’ve diligently compiled a list of traits to help you spot a lazy link builder:
1. Unpersonalised Email Request Text
Believe it or not, I still receive generic emails requesting links that could have been sent to 100s if not 1000s of other people and the link requester hasn’t bothered to personalise any of it. The example below is the first one:
Figure 1: example one
These are two examples I received in July (honestly). The first example has the decency to copy and paste my website into the email. But they haven’t even taken the time to research my name, and other than mentioning they get 240,000 unique visitors per month, they are not incentivising me to link to them. It’s all about them. Not a good message.
Figure 2: example two
Take example two for instance, the name and the person’s name in the email address are both different and there’s not even a mention of their website’s name, despite them addressing me as “Webmaster”. If they had put in a little extra effort, they would have noticed that my name is in both the email address and domain of the website. Again, this is also sent from a gmail.com address and not a company.
I get the feeling that the people sending these emails make commission through each link they build to their respective websites and not by the hour. Therefore they feel they need to send out as many emails as they can in as short a time as possible to make their efforts worthwhile and profitable.
It goes without saying neither proposal interested me nor did I feel the need to waste my time responding.
2. Auto Directory Submission/Mass Submission
Why someone would want to use automated software to submit their website to a mass number of directories in 2013 is beyond me. Why they wanted to do that in 2012, 2011, 2010 and so on is also beyond me.
Yes, I’ve submitted sites to directories before. There were a couple of good directories out there and the likes of Yell and Thomson Local still have their benefits, but using software to submit your site to thousands of sites you don’t have any idea about the quality of, is putting your website at risk. Is this a business website you’re looking to promote? Or should I say, is this your business you’re running the risk of getting kicked out of Google because submitting to 10,000 directories seems a pretty cheap idea?
3. Non-newsworthy Press Releases
Press releases aren’t as popular as they once were but they are still being used for link building efforts. Visit some of the popular press release services (PRWeb for example) and you’ll read some of the most un-newsworthy content you’ve ever had the displeasure to read.
At one point there was value in getting links from press release sites to boost your Google rankings. That quickly faded and the service became very expensive for sites not creating news-worthy enough content to be republished elsewhere.
4. Linking from their own websites
One trick that is still common with some internet marketing companies is to own a number of sites so that they can increase the number of links to their newly won client in a short period of time.
We recently came across a company in the UK that was paying external websites a fee to create a directory on their website so they could put their clients’ links in! I repeat: this is happening in 2013? Very, very, risky and a lazy tactic. Poor form.
Building a network of friends in a variety of industries will lend a hand when you’re looking for client exposure in related industries. This will have much more benefit for you and your clients in the long run.
5. Auto Social Bookmarking
If managed correctly, social bookmarking is good for increasing a brand’s exposure and visitors to their website. But simply submitting the odd article to a social bookmark doesn’t cut it anymore. The lack of effort often results in a lack of traffic and value.
If you can build up your profile on these networks before you submit stories for the same company over and over again you’ll increase your chance of it going viral.
6. Forum Spam
I thought people had stopped using forums for link building. Apparently not. I’ve come across a few websites recently that are still using forums for links by entering a paragraph of text with a target keyword as the anchor text. I cannot see this having any benefit to the website’s rankings in Google and doing nothing but annoy webmasters and users of these forums.
Forum commenting and networking does still have its value. They can be used to build up yours or your brands reputation, relevant traffic and potentially even customers from forums. But this takes time, effort and passion, not just a 60-second job of signing up and copying and pasting a generic line of pre-prepared text onto a topic that is slightly relevant to your business.
7. Comment Spam
Similar to forum spam as mentioned above, comment spam doesn’t give your website any benefit in the long run. We still come across tools and services that allow you – for a fee – to publish a comment on 100s or 1000s of websites with a link in. Yes, you’ll get links in quick succession on lots of unrelated websites and almost-certainly linked to amongst other non-related and harmful websites (it is a common tactic still used by porn and Viagra websites). Do you really want to be listed amongst those? I very much doubt it.
Commenting on blogs does have value, but only if these blogs are created by people or businesses within your industry or publish articles relating to your industry, giving you an opportunity to build up yours and/or your business’ reputation. This can lead to valuable clicks and potential business (as demonstrated on How To Make My Blog).
8. No Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing has seen a boom over the past year or so. The opportunities for freelance writers have risen and companies are employing their own internal content marketers. It’s not just about the content though – to get the most out of your content you will want to plan and put a strategy in place.
Sending the odd article out here and there may get you some traffic and links, sure, but if you put a strategy in place, for example concentrating on one product along with heavy promotion of it on Television, Radio, PPC and other areas with several pieces of content being published on the web around similar times can really boost the interest and sales of your or your clients’ product.
Of course, not all clients and companies can afford to get an advertising slot on TV or the Radio, so this makes it more important to get your content strategy right in order to gain that valuable concurrent exposure.
9. Using Outdated Methods
What works and does not work in link building has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. Many types of link building activities that worked in the past are no longer effective or considered best practice.
With link building changing so quickly it’s useful to keep up – and even ahead of – the times and the changes. Many of the examples in this document are now considered outdated and if the company you’re outsourcing your work to is still employing these strategies you may want to reconsider your working relationship.
The importance of keeping on top of link building trends is both to know what it takes to drive traffic and potential inquiries to your site, but it’s also important to know what is putting your site at risk of being penalised and kicked out of the search engine results.
Beware the Lazy Link Builder
Don’t fall victim to a lazy link builder! At Receptional we see link profiles of potential clients whose previous agency has been using these risky link building tactics even after the drastic repercussions that Penguin, Google’s spam-fighting update has had and continues to have.
If you think your agency may have committed crimes against link building, and have even been kicked out of Google, Receptional offer a Penguin Recovery Service and Link Building services to drive traffic and sales to your website.