5 Common Link Building Faux Pax to Avoid

Dec 27, 2011   //   by Ana | Traffic Generation Cafe   //   link building, SEO Blog  //  26 Comments

how to build better linksIf you have been in the link building business over the past years, you must have noticed that things don’t work the same way any longer.

Generating tons of search engine traffic by slapping a few reciprocal links on your page simply does not work.

Before you embark on your SEO link building quest, it’s useful to understand what strategies DID matter a while ago, but are merely obsolete today – learn from the history, you know.


Previously, SEOs used to optimize their sites by using the same anchor text for all their links.

Well, this strategy is not that hot these days; as a matter of fact, you can be penalized by Google for doing it and not even know it.

Natural anchor texts are the key today.

But what is natural you might ask?

Basically, a natural link looks like it was built by a user, not an SEO. Normal users would not use a precise anchor text in their links, and neither should you – ALL the time, anyway.

In practical terms, when working on your link building, don’t just use your high value keywords in your links, but throw in a few “natural speech” words in there as well, like “cool site”, “click here”, etc.

Don’t over-optimize!


I can’t believe there are still so many discussions about the validity of PageRank in the SEO world these days. I suppose if so much is written about it, somebody wants to read it, right?

As far as link building is concerned, PageRank is not the best indicator of the page strength.

The famous green bar has been a JOKE ever since Matt Cutts of Google confirmed that Google “takes care of people querying the PR data too much or too heavily.”  (The source is a bit old, but if anything changed since then, it would be the fact that Google tried to downplay PageRank even more.)

Sounds like Google returns random page rank data if they feel like it – just because it’s fun to fool SEOs.

But why did I list PageRank as one of the factors I look for in a perfect link?

Simply because we don’t have too many alternatives to measure page authority aside from PR and maybe SEOMoz Page Authority metric, which I use quite a bit as well.

Either one of those metrics can be used as an indicator of the page strength, but not the primary factor by any means.


This metric is geared towards online marketers and does not truly measure ALL the traffic that might come to your site.

It’s based on the sample of Alexa toolbar users, is browser-specific and can be easily manipulated (from what I’ve heard anyway).

Plus, the formula Alexa uses to determine its page rank is overwhelmingly debated.

Once again, it’s a good indicator of the site authority, but should be used along with other factors to determine if any given site is truly a good link building candidate.


Referring to the link:somedomain.com Google query.

Don’t ever trust Google to really tell you how many links a specific website has. Plus, when you do a Google search on your links, random samples are returned, so you might see the spammiest of all the links you have.

Yahoo! Site Explorer used to be a great backlink research tool, but alas, it’s out of commission.

I’ve done a lot of research on the alternatives, and so far my two best suggestions for link research are:

1. Market Samurai: if you already own Market Samurai, look no further.

I love their SEO competition section. It used to be powered by Yahoo! Site Explorer, but was recently changed to Majestic SEO – another great backlink checker that otherwise requires a monthly subscription to use.

Here’s a video on how to use the SEO Competition module of Market Samurai:


2. SEOSpyGlass: this software goes a few steps further than Market Samurai as far as backlink analysis is concerned.

My favorite part is the fact that it measures the VALUE of a link, plus the fact that their free version is free for life.


This metric has also been used and abused by SEOs to the point that it can’t be relied upon. Juicy pages that rank are often returned as having no cache set.

So forget about the cache date as well.

Marketing Takeaway

Simple: if you are heavily relying upon any one of the above metrics to determine whether any given site/page is a good one to get a link from, stop it.

Effective link building is all about diversity.


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  • Yahoo site explorer was such a brilliant tool for competitor analysis, but since its no more SEO’s have to look for some good tools. Opensiteexplorer is a good tool and i use it, i’ve observed that most of the data produced by this tools is bit old as compared to yahoo site explorer. Haven’t tried Market Samurai yet, but would like to know if it provides fresh data or not.

  • Rick

    Will have to agree with you on the seospyglass comment. This is an excellent tool. Unfortunately i’m drowning in tools and links so its easy to forget these top-notch services that actually work:-) Thanks for the reminder and i will put seospyglass back on my todo list.

    Your remarks on Alexa and PR are probably very true and lots of experienced marketers keep saying the same. Even so, it seems like people have a lot of trust in these things…

  • Gerald Weber

    All great points Ana.

    I honestly get tired of people quoting Alexa for SEO. I find this metric to be quite useless when it comes to SEO or link building.

  • Tessa says:

    Its very surprise to note that Google Cache date also added in this list.

  • Greg Holbert says:

    Dear Ana,

    Thanks for the informative article, but I was using a few of these to measure my link building, and now I’m unsure about how precisely to measure my progress.

    Any places that you find are more accurate at checking the progress of my link building?

    As usual very informative post, and thank you for the read!

    • Ana

      The main takeaway from the post is the fact that we need to use a number of different factors to truly know link value, Greg.

      SEOSpyGlass has a link value measure that I think is great; I just use that most of the times – takes the guessing out of the process.

  • Caleb

    Although I do look at PR and number of backlinks a site has, my backlinking strategy has been rather simple as I mostly just comment on something that really makes me think or trips me out mentally then as I find myself commenting on certain sute more often than others those sites tend to stick in my memory forming a habit that makes me check upon them regularly.

    • Ana

      I am all for simplicity, Caleb.

      Are you tracking your ranking progress though? Do you find it that blog commenting alone gets you where you need to be in search engine rankings?

      • Caleb

        I do realize I need more diversity in that area especially when it comes to guest posting which I will be working on, but blog commenting does get me other benefits besides backlinks like the opportunity of building with other bloggers like you Ana 🙂

        Don’t know if I mentioned this already but I have been ranking number one for the phrase “make money online tips” for a few weeks which caused me to focus more on tracking ranking progress because honestly, it took me by surprise when I first accidentally found out.

  • Ling says:

    How about blekko for backlink data? Looks pretty neat to me..

    • Ana

      I know many people love Blekko.

      Personally, I think they’ve got a lot of work to be done before they become the kind of search engine they’d like to be.

      For instance, Google crawls my site at least once per day. Blekko does it about once a week. Huge difference.

    • Ana

      I know many people love Blekko.

      Personally, I think they’ve got a lot of work to be done before they become the kind of search engine they’d like to be.

      For instance, Google crawls my site at least once per day. Blekko does it about once a week. Huge difference.

  • Hi Ana,
    Thanks for these tips. I’ve only just started on really focusing on SEO and link building and it’s a little overwhelming to get pulled in different directions by numerous tips and tricks.
    But when it comes to you, I know I’m getting valuable advice.
    Diversity, yes. I’m going to follow the best recommendations and see what works for me.
    Have a very nice day!

  • Anthony

    I think the precise anchor text links are the most difficult to get a handle on for me. Only because it has been beaten into my head for so long that anchor text is very important. However, people now seem to be getting penalized for having too many exact matches.

    I would love to know where the tipping point is for anchor text, i.e. where it goes from being enough to dramatically help your optimization for a specific keyword to alerting Google and harming your SEO efforts.

    • Ana

      I wish there was a clear-cut answer to that, Anthony.

      I’ve heard some people go 100% exact-match keywords and not get in trouble.

      However, I strongly believe that trend is shifting and if you’d like to have a number of sorts, tehn I’d got closer to 80% exact and 20% miscellaneous.

      • Gerald Weber


        Here is my answer to that.

        Do a fair amount of exact match, long tail with your root keywords as well as semantic phrases.

        You shouldn’t go completely nuts with the exact match, but using a fair amount has worked well for me, but like I said I still mix it up with long tail and semantic phrases.

        I would definitely never do 100% exact match. I think that’s a very bad idea.

  • Marbella says:

    Hi Ana,
    “Natural anchor texts are the key today”, better expressed could it not be, Google has much opportunity to check every single one of your links and see if there is a natural link or not. It takes no more than 10-15 minutes to write up 20-25 different anchor text and then just to mix them.

  • I cannot agree more with you! Google PR is really a big joke, but some webmasters just fail to understand it. Google PR does not show a blog’s strength nor does it help us make more money. It just gives our mind temporary satisfaction, of course till we come to know the reality of PR.

  • Dave Ventura says:

    Hi Ana,

    Great tips in here, glad to found this post. As this features how link building works in search engines also how it benefits SEO. Link building is one of the most important steps in SEO, it is like building strong reputation all over different websites and it is inclusive of various strategy.
    As you’ve mentioned many people who do this process don’t fully understand what its all about, its limitations and the way on how to do it properly. As you’ve mentioned first on your list is about anchor text which is vital component in link building, same usage of anchor text considering many times will certainly hurt search engines and possibly penalized. Good to know you input the right solution.

  • I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you аre gοing to а famous bloggeг if yοu aren’t already 😉 Cheers!