Google is pretty generous about sharing information regarding search algorithms, which we all appreciate since we’ve got businesses that we want to rank on top SERPs. However, some of the algorithms are kept secret, and people try to come up with their own explanations and predictions in an effort to figure out how Google ranks websites.
As a result, every year we come across numerous myths about links and acquisition of links. Since they’re critical to any SEO strategy, some people involved in online business continue to talk about conflicting information regarding link building no matter how ridiculous it is.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve encountered some of these myths and want to find out everything once and for all. If so, let’s get straight to it and bust them so you can deliver your more value to your customer and don’t get distracted by groundless claims by people who call themselves experts.
1. Guest Posting is Ineffective for Link Building
If you have some background in link building, you’ve probably heard several people claim that guest posting is dead. Many of those who make such a claim cite this warning from Google that reminds users “about links in large-scale article campaigns.”
According to this warning, Google developers have reported an increase in spammy links in articles referred to as “guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts.” Such practices are certainly undesirable because they may change Google’s perception about the quality of content on a website, which profoundly affects its ranking.
However, the opponents of guest posting have failed to understand the meaning of this warning (and didn’t even read that warning post to the end).
Just think about it: why would Google punish people who write quality articles in such well-known publications as Forbes and Fast Company? Does this mean that people like Neil Patel will never be able to write his great guides on websites like that?
Of course, it doesn’t!
Here are the factors indicating that an article violates Google’s requirements for guest posting, taken from the search giant’s official blog.
Does writing quality content on topics that you know will violate these requirements? Of course not. Google clearly doesn’t frown on guest posts in general, it just wants to prevent abuse in the form of spammy links. That’s the real reason why the company issued this warning.
And it clearly didn’t discourage two-third of bloggers who admit blogging at least sometimes, from continuing to do so, according to the 4th Annual Blogger survey.
So as long as you follow these guidelines and stay away from unwanted link schemes, chances are good that your guest content will be a great addition to your link building strategy.
2. Links from High-Authority Websites Guarantee Top Rankings
“Just link from top websites such as Wikipedia, and you’ll improve your ranking.”
Have you heard about this “sure-fire” strategy to get higher in Google’s search results? While we realize why such a strategy may sound reasonable, links from Wikipedia and other high-authority websites don’t guarantee top rankings.
In fact, Google treats all websites equally and Wikipedia isn’t an exception to this rule. It doesn’t have any special status with Google developers, just like any other website.
At least, this was what a Google’s representative Gary Illyes, has shared in a tweet.
So instead of listening to rumors, we’re going to trust information that comes directly from Google. And we strongly advise you do the same.
3. Links are the Single Most Important Ranking Factor for Google
This one is just ridiculous. Links are obviously important, but there’s a wide range of other equally impacting factors that you should pay attention to. For example, this Aleh Barysevich, a Search Engine Journal Contributor, has reviewed a number of recent studies on ranking factors completed by some of the most reputable organizations and found not one, but four critical factors:
- Content Quality
- Mobile-First User Experience
- Technical Factors (encryption, headings, anchor text, interstitials, and others).
For example, even the best links in the world won’t help you if your website doesn’t provide a good experience to mobile Internet users. The so-called Mobile First update was implemented earlier this year, which means that Google prioritizes responsive websites.
This and other aforementioned factors will continue to play a deciding role in your ranking in the next years, so focusing your effort on link building would be an unwise decision.
4. Links from Sites that are Irrelevant to Your Industry/Niche Don’t Help with Link Building
The essence of this myth lies in the groundless claim that Google wants websites to link to other websites in their industry or niche. Supposedly, this way ensures the relevance of the content and increases the chance that Internet users will find it such.
However, there’s no evidence that Google penalizes a site that links to another one that is outside its industry. If those links aren’t bought or manipulative, Google won’t have anything against them because they don’t abuse its content guidelines.
While SEO specialists advise against hunting for link quantity since many links from irrelevant websites are bad, many agree that it is more about the linking website authority than relevancy itself. Ronnie Charrier, Social Media Strategist at Northcutt, says: “While too many such links could result in an unnatural footprint, it would be at least as unnatural to only obtain links from sites that are exactly like your own.”
What’s more, these links could be actually helpful to your link building effort because they can be extremely hard for your competitors to get.
5. Domain Authority (DA) Defines Link Quality
There are a number of metrics developed to assess link quality and define how a website compares to others. The Domain Authority metrics is one of the most popular metrics to estimate the backlink profile of a given domain. It isn’t the only one, though. RankWatch enables their users to examine a website’s backlinks and assess their value to the target domain against 300 parameters. The tool then groups the data into three categories, namely Toxic link, Suspicious Link and Neutrals.
Thus, there are many tools like this on the web, each having their own fans. This leads many people to believe that DA, PA and other factors are good ranking signals.
By doing so, they disregard the fact that these agencies, despite reputable, don’t contribute to the development of Google’s algorithms. This is not to say that these companies don’t know they’re doing – in fact, RankWatch is a fabulous informational source in the industry – but rather to affirm that factors like a Toxic link or DA and PA are simple guesses and for how well a website compares to others.
Naturally, they won’t give you the best insight into how good a site is for link building. So, instead of relying on them completely, like many websites’ owners do, it’s better to stay true to Google’s own factors that define whether a link is good, including contextual anchor text, value to users, high traffic volume of linking domain, and others.
Links are critical to any SEO strategy, so people will continue to make suggestions about link building practices even if they don’t have a lot of evidence to back up their claims. So. with that being said, the most important lesson for you here is that you should always avoid spam and follow Google’s recommendations. By doing so, chances are you’ll be able to avoid being penalized or suspected in unwanted practices.
And, of course, don’t believe everything you read on the net because many people like pretending they’re super experts on Google algorithms and can predict the next game-changing techniques.