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Mistakes in Link Building: Lessons Learned

Posted by Thomas McMahon on Feb 11, 2013 3:16:37 PM

If Introductory Salsa Dancing 101 taught me anything, it was that I am a lot farther from perfect than I would like to think. Another realization came about when I started link building and made rookie mistakes that lost me, and our clients, potential links. I’ve learned from them and can laugh about them now, so here are some of the mistakes a greenhorn link builder is liable to make.

I Created an Obviously Fake Email

The majority of SEOs use personas to protect their employees who are link building. In this case, it was the first time I had to make an email for a new persona and went with a generic [email protected]. Now I use Gmail all the time, but the problem were those silly number at the end. I was using the email for a while when I got a reply asking me to essentially prove that the persona was a real person and that those kinds of emails are often associated with fake accounts.

Hmmmm, well that’s awkward. I quickly made another account that followed my work email tmcmahon . pageonepower [at] gmail.com. Even if you’re using a free service like Gmail, adding in the client’s brand name to the email address makes it seem much more official.

I Didn’t Establish a Web Presence for a Persona

The webmaster asking for proof wanted to see the persona’s web presence, which basically meant social media profiles or featured content on other sites. I supplied some guest posts the persona had its name attached to, but that didn’t do anything to prove the persona was real. The webmaster shot me down, convinced the persona was just a façade for a handsome link builder - and he was right! Needless to say, all of my personas have up to date Twitter and Google+ profiles which help build my case for content.

Double, Triple, Decuple Check

I was outreaching to a webmaster on a relevant site that had some nice domain authority and it would have boosted the links list that month. Unfortunately, I squandered a great chance at a great link when I didn’t double check my emails. Everything was going smoothly until all of a sudden I didn’t hear a word back from the webmaster, and this was after 20+ emails back and forth. Always the persistent link builder, I followed up until I got an answer which wasn’t exactly kind. “Listen, you keep calling me Justine and I’m not a fan of it, don’t contact me anymore.” That was all she wrote… except she wasn’t a she, she was a Justin and I called him a girl’s name for a week and a half. I had no idea I was doing it and it was an honest mistake, which I tried to explain, but the damage was done and I didn’t get the link.

Don’t Get Greedy

After sending off an approved guest post to an editor, I got the piece back along with requests for some minor edits and to include some more links to resources. More links? I thought while a roasting chicken turned on a spit inside a thought bubble over my head. I licked my lips and gladly put in the resource links, but I decided to go ahead and slip another keyword content link for the client in as well. I figured I was home free until I got an email back telling me they wouldn’t be able to accept the article since “it was obvious I was only doing it for the backlinks,” now I only backlink in content when I know it’s all right with the editor and if it adds editorial merit to the reader.

These aren’t the only mistakes I’ve made, but they’re some of the biggest and easiest ones to prevent. I’m sure I’m not done with mistakes, but I’m much more aware of the right and wrong way to do things now that I’ve got more experience under my belt. So please, learn from me and refrain from making these same mistakes.