Take this link and shove it

Think any free link is a good one? Columnist Julie Joyce explains why this mindset is no longer beneficial.


When I opened up my email this morning, the top five — yes, five — emails in my inbox were for sites wanting to sell me a guest post, a sponsored post or a text link.

Now, everyone knows that I don’t have any problem with paid links, so why should I care? I care because these sites are a big risk, and I wouldn’t want a link on any of them.

As link builders, there are definitely some days when we’re working hard but not getting any links. Clients get testy, wondering if we’re even working. Life would be so much easier if I’d just open these emails and make the deal right there, wouldn’t it?

But then, you know what? I’d be answering for it later on.

Getting good links isn’t easy. If it’s easy, it isn’t a good link! Of course, there are cases where that isn’t true — but for the most part, the more difficult it is to get a link, the better.

I don’t want to have a difficult job or make my link builders sweat every day, but honestly, the more we tighten up our guidelines and work with clients to develop their own guidelines, the better our links.

Wanna buy a link?

When someone emails you offering to provide you with a link, you might think it’s your lucky day. Think about it, though. If their sites really were amazing, why would they be pursuing you? They’re making money, and good on them, but you have to remember that you aren’t the only one getting these emails, no matter how personalized they may seem.

Every time one of our link builders left, their email accounts would be forwarded to me. After so many years of so many employees, it’s amazing how many of them get the exact same “personalized” email where nothing is different except for the name. I’m not just talking about the “Want to buy a link on my DA 45 site?” emails, either.

link buys


Now, I like a good roundup post, and I typically contribute to them when asked. I have advised doing them and participating in them, too. But, like everything else that’s good, they have gotten a bit out of hand.

I do still read and contribute to roundup articles, but I don’t contribute to every one that comes into my inbox the way I used to. I’ve only rarely gotten a referral from them, so traffic-wise, they aren’t always good for me. If you know the person asking, then go for it. If it’s going to be posted on an authoritative site, have at it. If it’s done by someone you don’t know, on a low-quality site, you might want to pass.

You really don’t have to take every single free link opportunity that comes your way. If you do, you’re going to have a low-quality backlink profile.

Guest posting

I also don’t mind guest posts, but when I get an email from someone I don’t know offering me the chance to write one, all I can think is, “Someone needs content!”

I shut down my agency blog because we simply didn’t have the time to produce valuable content. I did email a few people and ask for guest posts, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was relying on other people to keep the blog active — and what value did that bring?

cheap guest posts

No such thing as a free link

What’s the solution here? We all want and need links, but remember this: we don’t all want or need the easy links that fall into our laps.

First of all, don’t take every opportunity to get a link. I mean REALLY. Don’t do it.

Secondly, monitor your links! I can’t tell you how important this is, and if you aren’t doing it now, please start. Let’s talk about how to do that now. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t do anything about it.

Tools to monitor your links, old and new

I mainly use two tools for this: Kerboo and Majestic.

  • Kerboo has Monitor, which checks your links daily and notifies you if your link is down or has been nofollowed for three days in a row.

  • Majestic has Email Alerts for new links for up to 10 domains or URLs, sending you reports every fresh index cycle, weekly, or biweekly.

I also like to monitor mentions through alerts:

Google and Talkwalker alerts are awesome for letting you know what’s been newly indexed.

Buzzsumo has a Monitoring tool that even tells you if there’s no link with your mention — pretty handy stuff if you see something bad and get worried, but also if you see just a mention on a great site and you want to email and ask for a link.

no link

Just say “no” to low-quality links

Now we come to the big question: If you get a link you hate, what can you do about it?

If you’re like me and always worried about offending, it could be difficult to email someone and ask to have a link taken down. However, I’ve done it many times for clients, and only rarely has anyone seemed offended. I’d rather someone ask me to take a link down than disavow my site, but that leads us to your other option: disavow the URL if you have to.

It’s your site. Protect it.

[Article on Search Engine Land.]

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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