10 link-building mistakes for your PR campaign to avoid in 2024

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Marketing, Public Relations

Link building becomes more complex year by year. While business owners and marketers understand this complexity, many still look for fast and easy solutions, thus getting into traps of outdated and poor-quality SEO techniques.

2024 is here. Most link-building tactics that worked a few years ago and were enough for a business website to get high in SERPs do harm today. In this post, I’ll share 10 link-building mistakes for PR specialists and marketers to avoid if they want to please Google and build a good reputation for their websites.

Those mistakes seem obvious, yet many specialists can’t resist the temptation of using them when chasing fast results. The game isn’t worth the candle, so do your best to avoid these:

1. Buying links

It’s against Google’s guidelines, but many SEO and PR specialists continue buying links from websites open to such deals. Why? It’s an easy and fast path to dozens of backlinks, promoting a PR campaign and climbing higher in Google’s SERP.

The reality is that it works in the short term only. Websites that sell links are often of poor quality or don’t care about their improvement and growth. I bet you got emails from donors claiming they have “2K of high-quality websites for link-building.” How many of them were more or less relevant and worth your resources?

Google’s algorithms are already agile enough to discern links from such websites and ban them for link farming. So, if you buy links from them, your website’s authority will drop, too.

2. Excessive reciprocal links

Nothing is wrong with this strategy as long as you practice it occasionally, not continuously. A link exchange with some industry experts is okay for networking or “paying forward” for their deals.

However, this “win-win” concept doesn’t work when building a critical quantity of reciprocal links, which doesn’t look like natural backlinking. Google can spot link exchanges, considering it a no-no tactic violating its guidelines.

3. Linking via directories

Article directories are tempting for link builders: They aren’t strict about content quality, which makes them an easy way to get links. In plain English, they’ll publish and backlink to everything! And that’s the catch:

Such “omnivorousness” leads to harm. If too much of your backlink profile comes from low-quality directories, get ready for web spam penalties from Google.

How do you know if a directory is worth your attention? Ask yourself:

  • Is this website reputable? (Check their DA, organic traffic, the traffic’s source, etc.)
  • Does my target audience visit this website?
  • Are any niche experts or top media present at that directory? Did they mention it anywhere on their resources?

4. PBNs (Private Blog Networks)

Even savvy marketers and SEO specialists can’t help but create a PBN for building links. What do they do?

They create a network of new same-looking and niche-related websites or buy already-existing domains with some authority; they use those numerous blogs to backlink to their core business site, thus manipulating search engine rankings.

It’s a black-hat SEO strategy. Once detected by Google, which happens quite often, you’ll get the whole PBN, together with your main website, penalized.

5. Over-optimized anchor texts

Some PR managers focus on keyword-rich or exact-match anchors as they see them as more relevant and commercially beneficial. Well, maybe, but such anchors seem unnatural to Google’s Penguin.

It’s the algorithm checking websites for over-optimization and link-building manipulations, praising natural anchor text and backlink relevancy to the content where it appears. Too many keyword-rich anchor texts in your backlink portfolio will serve as a spam signal, adjusting your rankings accordingly.

Do your best to diversify anchor texts. Imagine yourself as a content writer: Would you use only exact match anchors in all your articles? Really?

6. Backlinking to a homepage only

Your business website is not just a homepage, so why flood it with backlinks and ignore other critical pages?

First, it looks suspicious to Google: All links go to a homepage, which is unnatural for content creators and user behavior. Would they visit or refer to your website’s homepage alone?

Second, you deprive other pages on the site of traffic and conversions. Blog posts, landing pages, e-commerce categories — search engines and users won’t know about them, negating all your efforts on their creation.

7. Having only one link-building method

Search engine algorithms update constantly, thus changing the rules of website creation and promotion too often. One tactic that worked yesterday may bury your online presence and negate all your marketing results tomorrow. That’s why savvy link builders consider combining several methods to diversify risks and build a steady link stream.

Some worth-trying link-building methods include:

  • Guest blogging
  • Creating linkable content assets
  • Digital PR
  • Social media
  • Fixing broken links
  • Online communities
  • Outreach

In other words, don’t put all the eggs in one basket.

8. Relying only on high DA links

DA, aka domain authority, is a metric showing the relative strength of a website’s backlink profile. For many SEO beginners, it’s enough to consider when choosing donors for backlinking to their business websites. It seems logical: the higher the DA, the better the website.

But it doesn’t work like this.

What about other website metrics like traffic, niche relevancy, growth potential, overall health, etc.? They also matter when it comes to link prospecting. A high DA looks promising, but will it really bring benefits with no organic traffic and your potential target audience there?

Moreover, when chasing high-DA websites only, you limit backlinking opportunities. The link-building process gets longer: You wait for big dogs to approve your request, thus slowing down your website’s growth.

Speaking of search engines:

Backlink profiles with only high DA websites look unnatural to Google. In real life, medium and low DA resources would also link back to your website, don’t you agree?

9. Ignoring organic traffic of a website

Continuing with the metrics to consider for backlink donors:

Organic traffic is critical to check when deciding if you want a backlink from that website. It indicates the quality:

More traffic, more signals for Google that a website is trustworthy. Placing your link to such a website will likely help with your rankings. No traffic, no link juice for your resource: Such backlinks are useless.

But …

When you see a website with high traffic, don’t hesitate to check its sources. Where does this organic traffic come from? Also, remember to check the traffic’s geo. If your targets live in the US, it’s pointless for you to appear at the resource with Indian traffic. Tools like Ahrefs or SimilarWeb will help you see the website’s traffic geography.

10. Prioritizing backlink quantity over quality

It’s tempting to build hundreds of backlinks to your business website, but:

The quality, not quantity, of those backlinks matters, especially if your site is relatively new and building its domain authority at the moment. Prioritizing backlink quantity over quality, in this case, you risk getting penalized for web spam.

Another thing is if your website is old and credible already, with a high DA and solid backlinking profile. That’s when a large number of links will work. Still, consider the reputation: PBNs, low-quality directories, and link farms are a no-no.

What about link-building tactics that work?

White-hat SEO is always a good option to stick to:

  • Network and build relations with other websites
  • Create linkable content assets to encourage backlinks from top media
  • Consider guest blogging to promote your best content

And remember to place white hat backlinks yourself to influence your website’s rankings and boost organic traffic.

Lesley Vos
Lesley Vos is a text author, blogging at edu websites and specializing in content creation and self-criticism. In love with words, coffee, and foxes. In the hope of mastering the art of proofreading before she hits "send." Twitter | Portfolio


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