I know what you are thinking.
What on earth is an accidental backlink?
Well it is exactly what it sounds like, it is a link that has been placed to a domain in error.
Creating webcontent and placing backlinks is (and always should be) a process that is governed by a human being.
There is a great truism in the statement that “To be human is to err”
We accept that everyone makes mistakes, especially when it comes to typing.
Although, if you are active on social media and encounter someone who posts a status update in which they use the incorrect form of their, they’re or there; you may soon realise that not every one accepts that typographical or grammatical mistakes are to be accepted as a part of life.
As much as they may cause a social media uproar, or a simple rebuke in a comment section, these errors are alive and well within the ahref section of a link.
It is all too easy to misspell a domain name when you are placing a link.
The Most Common Types of Accidental Link Mistakes
The chances of a mistake in the spelling of a domain increase dramatically with the length of the domain name and the specificity of its spelling.
I have also encountered plenty of mistaken links heading out to Australian websites that have forgotten to include the .au at the end of the domain.
I have encountered multiple instances where the linker has misspelled a word within the domain itself. I personally had to outreach to over numerous webmasters who had links to a removal company who had accidentally used the word remivolast or some other misspelling.
I have seen quite a few where the link placer has used an acronymised domain name and gotten a few of the letters back to front or in the wrong place.
I have seen links sent to similar sounding domain names, as opposed to the correct domain. This happens frequently as top websites fight it out for the most keyword sensitive domain name they can imagine. The result is that all of the websites almost look identical when only the url is viewed.
How to Discover Link Opportunities from Accidental or Erroneously Placed Links
A good SEO has access to some pretty advanced link checking software.
I trialed quite a few packages and just could not go past Ahrefs.com for detail and quantity of links that could be found online.
Using this software you can start to truly experience the “back hallway” of the internet.
It often makes me feel like NEO in the Matrix after he discovers the back door network.
All of a sudden you start to see the internet for what it is, a series of websites that have created passage ways from one another to others within their network.
The things you can enter into the search field for Ahrefs to check are:
- misspellings of your brand name
- versions of your site without the appropriate regional suffixes, such as .au
- websites with a very similar acronymised domain as yourself
Tip: Some great ways to find the common misspellings of your brand name is to dig into Google Analytics, or Google Search Console statistics and see if you are generating traffic from misspelled searches for your brand.
When You Find Accidental Links to a Competitor’s Site
Depending on your engagement model and thesis of how you operate your campaigns, there can be some great opportunities when you discover links erroneously pointing to your competitor’s websites.
If the link is clearly a mistake, then you can contact the relevant webmaster and point out their mistake, and chances are they will remove or change the link.
In the Art of War, Sun Tzu states that “One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one’s own”.
In a linkbuilding sense this equates to the idea that for every link your competitor does not have, it is just as good as one more link that you do have.
Even better again, if you can take this accidental link and then create an opportunity for it to become a link to one of your own properties!
Tip: If you discover a competitor’s PBN, then almost all of the links pointing to it will be accidental links, they never used to be but they are now 😉