Why mistakes make you a better link builder

Whenever I’ve trained link builders, I’ve been consistent about one major process over the last decade: throw them in and let them learn by doing it, screwing up and finding their own way. I always tell them to expect to make mistakes, and they always do — some worse than others. But making mistakes is, in my opinion, the best learning experience. I still make stupid mistakes myself, and I expect I’ll make many more.

In this article, I’m going to cover the most egregious mistakes that I can remember any of us making. Enjoy the opportunity to learn from our missteps!

Mistake #1: Contacting someone who specifically says they don’t do whatever it is you want

Whether you’re trying to get a guest post up or just get a link, look and see if that’s even a possibility. Many sites specifically say they do not want to be contacted for guest posts, they do not offer text links, they do not use outside authors and so on. You can find this information in various places, but if you don’t see it in an obvious place (like the About Us page, for example), then do a quick site: search and slap in whatever it is you want, just to see if you’re wasting their time and yours.

Mistake #2: Getting a link on a hacked site

Oh, this one makes me furious! I’m happy to say I’ve never done it (yet), but some of my link builders have.

Hacking isn’t always immediately obvious. You’ll run across some sites that look fine but have hacked pages, so you don’t notice them unless you’re doing a site: search. That’s why I always do that search.

By the way, it’s a nice thing to contact the webmaster and tell them about the hack…

Mistake #3: Getting a link on a site that isn’t indexed in Google

If you use Google for your discovery, then this likely won’t be an issue for you (though you still want to ensure that the page you’re getting a link on is indeed in their index). However, we’ve had link builders that use other methods for discover, and they’ve secured links on sites that are deindexed.

It might seem like it would be glaringly obvious if a site was poor enough to be deindexed, but I’ve seen a few that look pretty good at first glance, with decent metrics. Google isn’t the only search engine, of course, but it’s not a good sign when they deindex a site.

Mistake #4: Contacting a site for a local client… using the city in the wrong country

Yep, this one was me. I rank it as the most ridiculous mistake I have made in quite some time. The best thing about this was that I didn’t notice, the person writing the content didn’t notice, and the link builder working with me on outreach didn’t notice! We were all perplexed when the webmaster asked why in the world we would think she would publish our content there. It was totally relevant to the industry, after all! But yeah, wrong country.

Mistake #5: Letting someone jerk you around for ages

This one is tricky, as it can be hard to tell when someone is just having fun with you. We have always had issues with people toying with us, and I’m sure many link builders can relate.

Recently, we had a webmaster go back and forth with us for two solid weeks — asking lots of questions, agreeing that our link would be a good fit for him and so on. After not hearing from him for a couple of days, he emailed to say he’d never be stupid enough to link to us. No reason, really — just him being a jerk.

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