Link building myths and truths to know for better SEO.

8 Link Building Myths: Uncovering Backlink Misconceptions

Marie Davtyan

Table of Contents

To this day, link building remains somewhat mysterious in the eyes of a lot of SEO professionals. The stats we found are proof of that.

According to a 2023 study conducted by Authority Hacker, 52.3% of digital marketers consider link building the hardest part of SEO. Hence, there are many link building myths that haven’t received explanations yet. And although link building is not a walk in the park, it’s not as complicated when you understand it from every possible perspective.

Thus, we collected the major myths regarding link building and clarified where they come from, as well as why you should avoid them as professionals in this field.

So let’s jump into it!

Why is link building important?

Link building is important because it improves your website rankings in the SERP, your domain visibility, and increases brand awareness and traffic to your website.

Over time, there have been a lot of discussions about whether link building is still important or not. But here’s the thing – link building, like any other marketing division, is ever-changing, as we already discussed. Some old practices are not applicable anymore and more reasonable ones have emerged. Hence, a lot of misconceptions have appeared about certain ways link building is done.

In the next paragraphs, let’s find out what the most common link building myths are and what they’re untrue.

8 common link building myths and truths

Link building is full of different myths and misconceptions because of the progressive aspect of the industry and how fast things change.

Google regularly updates its algorithm (November 2023 being the latest one) to improve user experience continuously. This results in link building statistics, guidelines, and practices being improved as well.

Together, let’s address the biggest link building myths of the century and discuss why they’re untrue.

Myth #1: Backlinks are no longer influential

The truth about backlinks is that they’re still incredibly important.

A backlink is created whenever one website links to another website’s page. They’re important because Google and other search engines to this day view it like this: there’s a solid reason why one website places an incoming link from your website within its content. The reason is that it finds your website useful, authoritative, and trustworthy enough to do so.

As a result, you get a backlink from another website and search engines consider your website influential. This helps you in many ways like search engines raising your rankings, and getting you more organic traffic, and visibility.

A SEMrush study indicates that more than 50% of great sites didn’t reach page one of the SERPs without a backlink. That’s how important backlinks are.

SEMrush screenshot showing a study about backlinks.

However, more than understanding the very concept of backlinks is required. You have to also remember that not all the backlinks are good for your website.

Let’s quickly look at several differences between good and bad links.

Good links:

  • Come from websites that are contextually relevant to yours,
  • They’re authoritative – from websites that have high expertise, experience, authority, and trust rather than from a blog they’ve just started creating content several weeks ago, (according to Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines.)
  • have a higher domain rating – a rating score developed by Ahrefs.
  • Their source has steady activity and traffic, provides value, and has good backlinks too.
  • Those links are placed on relevant anchor texts that contain a keyword.

Bad links:

  • Earned from spammy websites that have low rankings.
  • Built through paid exchanges, and spammy link building practices.
  • Linked from PBNs (private blog networks, built solely for link exchange)

Given these points, you should already know that backlinks still influence your website’s performance in search engines. However, remember to get them through ethical link building strategies.

Myth #2: The number of links on your backlink profile matters the most

This is one of the link building myths that centers around the idea that a certain number of links guarantee the health of your backlink profile, which is not that true. Regarding backlinks, there’s a golden rule that must be taken into account – quality is always better than quantity.

There may have been times when the quantity of your backlinks was set and counted. However, that’s not the case these days.

Your backlink profile is the combination of all the links that point to your website. Thus, knowing how to keep it healthy is crucial, and only the number of links cannot fix it.

The updated search engines of today prioritize value and authoritativeness in websites that provide you with backlinks. Besides, they value several other factors that characterize good links which we discussed in the first paragraph of this article.

Myth #3: You should focus on building links to your service pages

This is a huge misconception.

Google appreciates it less when you have more links to service pages. Not that those will hurt your backlink profile, but focusing on those types of backlinks over and over again will appear unnatural to search engines.

There’s a reason why some people focus on this tactic. Links from service pages obviously result in being more lucrative because service pages contain offerings and call-to-actions, and that’s where users make purchase decisions.

Illustration showing a tag, a link, a website, and more about a messy service page.

It’s easy to assume that this will bring more visibility to your website and increase traffic to your other pages as well. But this misconception can lead your website to appear as spammy for search engines because of excessively targeting one or two main pages.

There’s something you can do to improve this strategy and rely on service pages that provide real value. You can post relevant, SEO-optimized, and valuable content for your service pages. This will increase the chances of them being considered valuable by search engines. Hence, search engines still rate them as authoritative.

Besides, you can diversify your backlink profile by also considering your blog pages for backlinking. Overall, diversifying your approach and linking to different pages on your website besides service pages will be much more effective as a long-term strategy.

Myth #4: Anchor text must be an exact match to the keywords you want to rank for

This is an outdated practice that ended up becoming one of the common link building myths. Using the same text multiple times to place a link may seem unnatural to search engines – they consider it a spammy practice.

In 2012, Google released the Penguin update that affected many sites that used exact match anchors excessively. As an ongoing effort, Google works on identifying and penalizing websites that carry on using exact match anchors too often. Thus, using diverse anchor texts for target keywords can be more effective.

There are several ways to diversify your anchor texts.

  • Examine your competitors and analyze what kind of links and pages they use for the anchor text. When linking, be aware of the quality and topic of the article you use for the anchor placement. It will be more reasonable to match the anchor text with the topic of the link being placed.
  • Use synonyms or related words and phrases for your anchor text. This way you will avoid using the same terms over and over for your backlinks.
  • Don’t be afraid to use terms such as “learn more here,” “visit here,” or “click here to learn” to create a more diverse and organic backlink profile.
  • Do keyword research to find the best options: browse Ahrefs for long-tail versions of your target keyword or find similar search queries from either Google or Switch your curiosity on and find diverse phrases for your anchors.

These tips can help you create more “natural” anchor texts and avoid penalties from Google.

Myth #5: Internal linking is an “extra” step

There’s this misbelief in the link building community that you can pay less attention to internal linking, and instead, focus heavily on external linking. This is, surprisingly, not true.

First things first, let’s quickly define internal links.

Internal links are hyperlinks directing your users from one page of your website to another. There are two types of them – navigational, placed on menu elements, or the sidebar, and contextual, placed on different words or phrases in your web content. Well-planned and executed internal linking practices can bring equally great results. These links are assistants for search engines to crawl and index your website.

Besides, internal links contribute to the UX of your web pages. Thanks to them, your users easily navigate through your website and find whatever information they need without any complications. They guide your readers so that they can land on the pages needed for a productive browsing experience.

Another great benefit from internal links is that they carry traffic and SEO impact from more authority pages to other pages with less authority.

Overall, don’t underestimate the importance of internal links in your link building practices since they’re equally beneficial for your outcomes.

Myth #6: Link building is a black hat practice

Link building is one of the link building myths, isn’t that quite funny?

It has become a taboo word for some businesses because some consider it a spammy or a black hat practice. This is happening for several reasons.

Some link builders send mass emails hoping for an answer, some offer malicious services, and some never cooperate properly. However, there are link building statistics and facts to consider before making such assumptions. The above are spammy practices that have ruined the image of link building, but we’re here to fix that.

Link building is in no way a black hat practice if you focus on practices that are meant to lead you to:

  • Increased organic traffic
  • Better search engine results
  • Enhanced domain rating and trust
  • Brand awareness and visibility

Such good practices include but are not limited to:

  • A-B-C link exchanges that rely on websites with good traffic, domain rating, consistent traffic, etc.
  • Getting backlinks through guest posting that offers value, relevance, optimized content, and generates proper organic traffic.
  • Sharing backlinks with existing partners or new ones that match your values, topics, and genuine interest.

By understanding the difference between good and bad link building practices you can eliminate this negative stigma around link building.

Myth #7: Asking for a link is a spammy approach

One of the widespread link building myths is that asking for a link is a spammy practice. It might have been the case if you spammed the same person over and over for links, or anything like that. But if you truly want to commit to link building for your website as a long-term practice, you’re going to have to be okay with initiating conversations and building relationships for backlinks.

Your attempts to create great content so that you’ll be linked naturally will definitely pay off. However, sometimes you have to support your backlink profile and build links through asking for them on different platforms. This process is called link prospecting and offers many benefits for surprisingly good link building results.

Here’s a summary of how you can initiate this outreach process by building links:

  • Come up with a larger link building strategy: link prospecting should be part of it, not the entire strategy. Establish values to follow and common practices you’ll use.
  • Pick a relevant niche you will focus on.
  • Identify what metrics matter to you most and which you will track along the way.
  • Create a list of potential partners, or “prospects” that you can target – Ahrefs can help you do so.
  • Finally, after you find the contact information of your targets, start your email outreach.

Great platforms for link building collaborations are email, LinkedIn, Slack, etc. There are Slack channels that can help you connect with fellow link builders and establish reliable and long-term partnerships with them.

Through LinkedIn, you should be able to establish yourself as an industry professional so that reaching out can be reasonable. Create your brand by uploading a professional profile pic, and crafting a good headline that tells users what you do or what you like in your profession. Maybe also start sharing your insights on what you do and what you stand for. This way, you won’t appear as a scammer when reaching out for links.

Myth #8: “No referrer” is the same as “No Follow”

Last but not least, here is one other misconception you can avoid while building links. When talking to your partners and adding their backlinks to your blog, you might often get a response that “I’ve noticed my link is “no follow,” when in reality, it’s a no referrer or a no opener.

A no follow link is considered less effective than a do follow one in link building because Google’s search engines cannot crawl no follow ones.

To clarify this myth for you, let’s define the 3 common terms regarding links.

  • rel= “no referrer” – this type of link means any traffic from Website A to Website B will show as direct traffic instead of referral.
  • rel= “no opener” – this means the attribute gets added automatically to open a link in a new tab and has nothing to do with a no follow link.
  • rel= “no follow” – this is the real bad boy. This means once it’s added after your target link, search engines won’t pass the SEO impact to the linked page.
Illustration of a no referrer and no opener links in the code.

Now you know that these terms cannot be used interchangeably and won’t use them mistakenly when talking to your partners.

Final words

To understand what truly matters in link building you must analyze and find out what search engines consider good or bad. This way, you can avoid some of the most typical link building myths.

As stated above, many things can lead to these assumptions. However, finding out the real cause behind them can help you support essential link building practices and spread the truth about backlinks.

Fortunately, there are enough link building statistics and common good practices that can guide you to believing that backlinks truly matter when earned ethically. At the end of the day, don’t fall into the trap of the fantasies that non-professionals may create. Stay true to a data-driven approach like a true professional!

FAQ about link building myths

What are link building mistakes?

Practices that search engines consider mistaken or “spammy” are private blog networks, link schemes, links in outdated directories, paid exchanges, etc.

What are the challenges of link building?

Building and maintaining great partnerships, mediocre content, lack of authority or relevant websites, unprofessional contacts, and facing rejection when initiating outreach can be considered link building challenges.

How to ask for a link?

Personalize your message by clearly representing your offer and intention for the partnership. Avoid spam-triggering words or sounding too salesy, and include a call to action that they can follow to increase the chances of their response.


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