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7 Tips to Avoid a Failed Link-Building Campaign

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

Don't assume people will click on images of products to go to the product page itself, and never put critical information in image files.

Don't assume people will click on images of products to go to the product page itself, and never put critical information in image files.

Link-building is a tedious and time-consuming process. Here are a few tips on how to avoid a failed link-building campaign, along with advice on what to do instead.

1. Don’t Ask for Shares If You Want Something Else Instead

Include calls to action to share links in a manner that doesn’t interfere with your overall objective. For example, when you create a marketing video and post it on YouTube, a standard call to action is to like the video, subscribe to the channel, and share the video. This request is actually facilitated by YouTube where the like button, social media sharing button, and subscribe button are all right next to each other on the screen. In short, by asking for these three items, you increase the odds of all three happening, which improves the ranking of your video with YouTube (the world’s second-largest search engine) as well as Google (the world’s largest search engine).

A mistake some make in a link-building campaign is asking people to share the content on social media in place of asking them to buy the item. Once someone clicks the link to share it and is given a pop-up to the social media site, there is a good chance you’ll lose the sale. Now you risk losing sales while the marketing content goes viral. Remember—the purpose of the social media outreach is either brand recognition in the hope of selling more, or actually selling something.

2. Don’t Share the Product Pages

Leave the links off of your product pages. When these links get shared, they come across to consumers as spam. A slightly better tactic is one already used by Amazon, offering someone the ability to Tweet or share on social media the fact that they bought the item. Yes, some of those messages as to what someone bought or ate are actually encouraged by the vendor. What better marketing do they have than someone showing off what they just did or received?

One way this happens is when your company’s personnel put company links in forums and social media threads repeatedly. For example, every single comment includes their personnel link on the company directory.

Another version of this is the over-zealous tech support people who paste links to everything that may be useful to the customer in online discussions, a tactic read by search engines as spam and consumers as unhelpful. If someone asks for the user manual for a product, post that link. If they ask for more information, then post another link. If someone asks about a particular event, go ahead and share the press release link. But don’t spam the forum users in the hope they’ll be able to sift through the data dump for something of value.

Another mistake along these lines is when someone on a forum is talking about your competitor and posts links to your products instead. For example, someone reading about a Ford truck problem starts talking about the issues like this found on their GMC truck and posts a link to your content. That link is likely to be removed as spam. You can reduce this issue by preventing marketing interns from posting links to your content on places where it gets flagged and removed.

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A potential solution is writing a higher-level article like “how to solve the X problem on Y type of product” that isn’t brand specific, so that it can be shared on other sites and voted up or discussed because it is still relevant.

It is surprising how many people work off a list of links and keep sharing them without checking them. Then they end up posting links that are dead, maybe or maybe not putting up a 401 error. Almost as bad are the links that get redirected somewhere else, something visitors see as a red flag and will likely stop.

Verify that the links you want to share are valid in regular intervals so your link-building campaign doesn’t result in dissatisfied potential customers and SEO signals taking people to unavailable content.

When you cite other sources, do cite them by source, name, and author. However, you do not have to include links to these other sources, especially if those links may take people off of your page or away from the discussion thread about your product.

Another variation of this is the web pages that put so many internal cross-links on a page that people are distracted from the content. Only add cross-links that are likely to take people to the information they are truly looking for, such as where your store is located if they land on the “About Us” page or information about your model B when they land on the page about model A.

It is difficult for video content to result in backlinks, though they are very good for viral marketing that improves brand awareness. One way you can turn viral video sharing into link building is by putting the links to your business, channel, and product in your video description. Links to your legitimate social media profiles should also be included.

The most important links should be the ones visible in the first two to three lines under the video, because like just like on search engine results pages, very few people click the button to see the second page. The links that belong here are the links for paying for your podcast, links promoting the products for which your channel receives a commission, the social media links you want people to follow most, or links to buy tickets to your next show. Links like “read more by this author,” “Thanks to these translators,” and “our recommended reading list” should be lower down.

You can find local business directory entries where someone has put the business phone number or address in an eye-catching graphic … that someone cannot hear if it is read by an information appliance or copied and pasted into a map. A worse offense is putting the website address in a similar graphic instead of an active link. If you have embedded the link in the graphic, say so in the graphic or beneath it with a message like “click here to go to our site.” Otherwise, they don’t see a link to follow, and you lose out on their traffic.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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