Link building is a vital aspect of SEO, whether you’re happy to hear that, or not.
Some people in the SEO industry love preaching about how you should “focus on quality content” and improve “EAT”. While you should be doing both of these things. Arguably, neither of them is as important as building quality backlinks.
Link building is important and you are right to be dedicating a lot of time to it. However, not all link-building practices are acceptable to search engines, and employing black-hat strategies could potentially lead to severe consequences like search engine penalties, lower search rankings, and even de-indexing of your website.
Although this is mostly scaremongering nowadays as Google has actively said they will ignore bad backlinks, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Hence, it’s crucial to employ ethical, white-hat link-building practices to improve SEO. But, what is white-hat link building, why is it important, and how can you execute it with deadly precision?
The process of acquiring backlinks (the white-hat way) to your website from other websites can be tedious and time-consuming – we don’t like to sugarcoat things.
However, it is absolutely necessary.
To repeat the common cliche, this is because backlinks are mini votes of confidence from other websites that signal to the likes of Google and Bing that your website offers valuable resources that deserve to rank.
Best White-Hat Link-Building Strategies
Whether you decide to use black-hat, gray-hat, or exclusively white-hat techniques we are not here to judge. Running a website is hard work.
However, sticking with white-hat techniques is the safest way to set your website up for the long term. So, without further ado here are the best white-hat link-building strategies.
How could we talk about white-hat link building without mentioning guest posting? This is the most tried and tested technique for acquiring authoritative and niche-relevant backlinks.
Simply, guest blogging involves creating free awesome content for other websites in your industry and including a link back to your site – this will sometimes be in the body, or alternatively in a dedicated author bio.
Guest blogging boasts a myriad of benefits, from establishing authority in your industry to getting exposure to a new audience.
Writing guest posts is fundamental to building a white-hat SEO strategy.
Broken Link Building
Broken link building (BLB) is no longer the most effective link-building technique, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.
We have utilized this strategy for clients before and it’s helped us secure some good placements.
BLB involves simply identifying broken links on other websites and reaching out to the site owners to suggest replacing them with relevant links to your site.
If the website owner is feeling generous they will link back to you, if not they will still be grateful you identified a broken link for them to fix. This can be a great way to start building a relationship with a website in your niche.
Infographics are awesome.
They are visually appealing, data-driven pieces of content that just look really cool. Readers like them a lot, so website owners are often more than happy to add infographics to their posts.
Additionally, infographics can attract lots of backlinks. Website owners can’t be bothered to recreate infographics, so they will use good ones that already exist.
You could even consider hiring a graphic design agency to help you create something extra-shareable. This can be an awesome way to get over 100 backlinks.
The Skyscraper Technique coined by Brian Dean from Backlinko is an interesting SEO tactic that is entirely content driven.
When you create the best content in the world on a particular topic you deserve recognition. Your job is to find out which websites have linked to similar (but lesser) pieces of content in an attempt to try and “steal” the backlink.
Unfortunately, from personal experience, writing superior content isn’t usually enough. You need something that massively stands out from the competition like a data-backed case study (more on these soon).
Link bait content works. The goal is to create content that is so unique and valuable other websites will want to link to you.
This is perhaps the most organic white-hat way to build backlinks!
As a business owner, you will probably pay for tons and tons of different software platforms, marketing tools, and WordPress plugins.
Are you a fan of them? Well, I’d sure hope so if you’re paying for them.
So, why not offer to provide testimonials for all the products or services you’ve used? Most companies with software tools (bar the major ones) will jump at the opportunity to get a free testimonial. As such, testimonials are an excellent way to earn authority backlinks from businesses.
Podcasts are another interesting white-hat link-building technique.
Everyone knows that podcasts are a popular form of content, but they can also be used for link-building.
How does speaking on a podcast go with getting a backlink?
Well, podcasts have episode notes/show notes. These will be published on the podcast hosts websites. Additionally, the other benefit of appearing as a guest on podcasts is exposure, plus listeners will start to see you as an industry expert.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out)
HARO is one of my personal favorites for link building.
We have built links to this website from HARO like this one:
Unless you get really lucky, HARO is about the only reliable and consistent way to build DR90+ backlinks.
If you don’t know about HARO, it’s a platform that connects journalists with sources who they can quote stories from. By posing as a source on HARO, you can respond to journalists looking for expert opinions related to your industry.
If your response is picked up (and they often are) you will earn a backlink to your homepage from a highly authoritative website. Also, these backlinks are a great source of E-A-T.
Make HARO part of your white-hat link-building strategy, right now!
Link inserts are often referred to as niche edits (if you buy backlinks)… what are they all about.
Simply, link inserts are where websites link to you from existing content – that is often already indexed and getting traffic.
You can get link inserts by using the skyscraper technique or finding unlinked brand mentions (link reclamation). Outreach-based link inserts that are not automated using spam are really powerful!
Aim to get link inserts from DR40+ websites. Also, a top tip is trying to get backlinks from the other websites high-traffic pages.
How to Execute White-Hat Link Building Effectively
You know the techniques, but how do you go about building these links?
Well, unfortunately, we can’t discuss all of them. However, we can give you a template for how to build backlinks the white-hat way.
Set Goals and Objectives
Identify what you want to achieve with link-building a campaign.
Setting realistic and measurable targets such as building 3 links to your pillar page gives you a clear and achievable target.
Focus on acquiring links to specific pages (as well as your homepage) and be strategic about the anchor text you use.
This is a good way to measure the tangible outputs of your strategy. Over time, you will acquire the backlinks you want (and need), so this should not be skipped. Having no strategy and just focusing on outreach can work, but when you have a clear understanding of where you want to get links you will see better results.
Identify the Right Prospects
Identify websites and businesses that you actually want to get backlinks from.
Using tools like the Semrush Backlink Gap Checker is the best way to find clear-cut opportunities for collaboration.
Find websites where your competitors and larger brands in your niche have backlinks and try to emulate their profiles.
This has worked for them, so it can definitely work for you too.
Focus On Quality
This tip is quite guest post-specific, but this should be a principle you always follow.
Writing quality content shouldn’t end on your own website.
The quality and depth of the guest posts you publish should matter too. When you are writing for a high authority website there chances of ranking for the target keyword are much greater.
So, if you can create well-written and comprehensive content that provides value to their audience it is likely to perform much better in organic search.
If your guest post is performing well organically, attracting links and shares, much more “link juice” and authority will be transferred to your website. So, never skip out on content.
In the long term, quality is rewarded by search engines!
Once you have identified prospects you will want to find the best person to contact. This will usually either be a content manager, a marketing manager, or an editor.
You can use tools like Hunter.io and Snov.io to do this pretty painlessly. Also, most business emails follow these formats:
So, if you find a really good prospect, but can’t find an email, just guess 🙂
Once you do find an email, you need to send a cold outreach email. Personalization is key here, so avoid generic templates (these are likely to be ignored).
Google Sheets are key here. While this may sound like an unnecessary extra step. Having a tracker you can add data to will help you be much more strategic and efficient.
Your spreadsheet should include:
- Domain Name
- Domain Authority
- Prospect Name
- Reason for Outreach
- Potential Topics
- Outreach Email Sent Date
- Follow Up Date
Once you’ve got a response to add that to your tracker too.
White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
White-hat SEO is typically better than black or gray-hat SEO.
It focuses on ethical and legitimate strategies that align with Google’s link-building guidelines.
That’s not to say black hat techniques like PBNs don’t work. However, they carry an extra level of risk that for most businesses is unnecessary.
White-Hat SEO takes a long-term, sustainable approach that is beneficial in establishing real authority online.
But, what is black-and-gray hat SEO and why is it frowned upon? Well, simply these techniques often involve manipulative and spammy practices that can only be construed as attempts to manipulate rankings.
It’s unclear how strict Google is now on black hat SEO, but it most likely will not help with the long-term success of your website.
Keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden links, footer links, comment spam, hidden content, article spinning, automated link building, and private blog networks (PBNs) are all common black-hat SEO practices. However, they don’t work as effectively as they used to. It’s also a big no-no and Google has condemned these methods.
Grey-Hat SEO is interesting as these methods are not “bad” in the same way as black-hat SEO, however, they do clash with search engine guidelines. Link exchanges, paid reviews, and the use of expired domains. These methods are technically not okay, however, evidence suggests websites can (and do) get away with it
SEO isn’t about quick wins. Instead, you should prioritize the long game where white-hat SEO rules supreme.
Black-Hat SEO specifically will damage your reputation and hinder long-term success. Why risk a negative impact on user experience and brand reputation in the effort to make a bit of extra money? With White-Hat SEO you will still get there, it may just take a bit longer.
Best White Hat SEO Tools
Some people think that if they are going to do SEO the “right way” and focus on organic link-building methods then they don’t need SEO tools.
However, this is a mistake, equipping yourself with the right tools can give you a big advantage over new websites in your niche and indeed your competitors.
The three best white-hat SEO tools that we always use include SEMrush, Answer The Public, and Surfer SEO.
SEMrush is a versatile tool, and alongside Ahrefs, arguably the best all-in-one SEO tool.
It’s expensive, but that’s for good reason, and soon enough you will be seeing a staggering return on investment.
We use Semrush for keyword research, tracking rankings, seeing what our competitors are doing (spying), and most importantly finding awesome new opportunities for backlinks.
Using SEMrush seems a bit complicated at first, but it’s really easy to use and a “must-have” for people serious about SEO.
Answer The Public
Answer The Public is incredible and the free version will do for most businesses.
Answer The Public is a free keyword research tool that works in a different way than most tools. Instead of focusing on metrics like search volume and competition, it scours the internet to find the questions and queries people are asking related to your target keyword.
Now, with the importance of establishing topical authority online, answering questions and targeting long-tail keywords is key to building authority. See what your target audience is interested in, write the content, and Google will begin to see you as an authority in your sub-niche.
By using Answer The Public, you can create high-quality content that addresses the specific needs and interests of your audience, improving your search rankings and driving more organic traffic to your website.
SurferSEO isn’t related to link building, but it’s awesome for on-page SEO.
With Surfer, you can ensure that every article you write is optimized for search engine algorithms. It works by analyzing all the top-ranking pages for your target keyword and then provides detailed recommendations (using AI) on ways you can align your content with the search engine’s expectations.
For example, SurferSEO will give you suggestions on how many headings, images, and keywords to use within your content. Effectively, this means every piece of content you write can be the most SEO-optimized piece on the internet. While this doesn’t guarantee ranking it can give you a major edge.
How long does it take to see the results of link building?
Is guest blogging still an effective link-building strategy?
How many backlinks do I need to rank higher in search results?
Can internal linking improve SEO?
What is the difference between white-hat and black-hat link building?
Building backlinks the white-hat way may be more difficult (and expensive) if you choose to outsource your link building, but in the long run, it will be a fantastic way to build trust and true authority with Google.
By working with a reputable backlink provider like us you can be assured that your business is in good hands. We love using outreach-based methods for SEO and we work on a results basis, so unlike most companies, you know exactly what you’re paying for ahead of time.