How to do Link Building the White Hat Way

Ethical link-building for SEO

Google regards links as a principal ranking signal and there is no evidence to suggest that this is set to change in the future. It therefore goes without saying that building the right links to your website will help you to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Link building is a technique that has been used and abused for a long time so if you have been tempted to pursue a few risky strategies to try and get ahead of your competition, you’re certainly not alone. Although “black hat” strategies can deliver short-term gains, they’re always detrimental in the long term, so it’s always prudent to adopt a white hat SEO strategy, especially when it comes to something as potentially toxic as link building.

Let’s have a look at some tried and tested white hat link building tactics that you can take advantage of;

Differentiated Content

Sometimes referred to as “link magnets,” differentiated content is highly regarded because unique content and link building are a match made in heaven. You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “content is king” lauded everywhere from blog posts to industry articles, and it’s true. The digital landscape is noisy and cutting through can be difficult.

It can be extremely easy for anybody jumping in to content marketing to sink large amounts of time and money into content creation. To successfully compete with enormous quantities of other content that are created every day consider:

  • Focusing on adding depth to well-trodden topics. This will give you the opportunity to showcase your industry knowledge and credentials, but won’t require hours of research.
  • Providing in depth, accessible and readily available content, particularly if your competition is pursuing a downloadable content strategy.
  • Varying your content by producing engaging imagery, infographics and videos.

Syndicate Content

Although there are a variety of ways to build links pointing towards your onsite content, content syndication might be the best method to effectively increase the numbers of people that see and engage with it.

It is important to note that Google strongly dislikes duplicate content, so taking it easy on this technique is key if you want to guarantee that your site will benefit.

Respectable syndicated content sites will include a link to your original article both on the page and via canonical tags placed within the page’s HTML. This is important because this is what tells Google that it’s not the original article.

If your site is new or you want to enhance your brand awareness, the existing audience of your chosen syndicated content site is likely to boost key metrics and push you further towards achieving your core objectives.

Directory Listings

Directories have been the source of much discussion and controversy in recent years, but only because they were once used by dishonest practitioners pursuing spammy techniques that were eventually penalised by the introduction of Google’s Penguin algorithm.

Although it is very easy to quickly dismiss the viability of directories, with the right approach, they can still deliver meaningful results in today’s modern link building landscape.

Crucially, the identification of worthwhile directories should be a considered process. Working with a clear set of criteria prioritising relevancy and quality is recommended because operating on a number-focused basis is unlikely to deliver the results you ideally want to see. Remember, the best directories:

  • Are well-established and have endured despite Google’s Penguin algorithm
  • Have their own solid backlink portfolio
  • Have a human admin team approving all listings

Directory-focused strategies can deliver significant bursts of traffic but aren’t always able to produce consistently valuable results.

Broken Link Building

Although a favoured technique amongst many optimisation experts, it is worth noting that it can be tricky to secure meaningful results that are worth the required time investment at any sort of scale.

Essentially, broken link building involves reaching out to websites with broken links and persuading them to replace those links with an unbroken link to your content.

There are a couple of different ways that you could approach this strategy, including:

  • Auditing your website for high-quality content and searching for sites who would find linking to your content beneficial.
  • Recreating content that doesn’t exist anymore and reaching out to sites displaying links to the piece of content that’s no longer there.

Fundamentally, the process results in a win-win situation for all parties because website owners don’t want broken links to negatively impact their user experience, but it would be unwise to imply that the reality is as simple as it might initially sound.

Guest Blogging

If you want to showcase your expertise, establish yourself as an authority within your niche, and boost traffic to your site, guest blogging is something that you should strongly consider.

Google’s former Head of Web Spam published an article in 2014 declaring that guest blogging was over, but after an uproar of panic and confusion from the SEO and wider blogging community, he later clarified that guest blogging can still be effective, provided that it isn’t being used as a primary link building technique because things can get spammy very quickly.

Importantly, good link building is all about being adaptive and responding to change effectively and efficiently.

When done well, link building will drive real referral traffic, increase brand awareness and authority, and help you to build a loyal audience that will secure your success long into the future. And all this whilst also building up your site’s authority in the eyes of Google’s algorithm.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by SEO and digital marketing expert, Derek Iwasiuk. You can connect with Derek on Facebook, LinkedIn or find him on Twitter at @diwasiuk.

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