As a marketer, you’ve undoubtedly come across a vast number of methods and techniques to build links back to your websites and projects. Some of these methods might be based on taking advantage of quirks in how search engines rank websites, but it’s smart to steer clear of these techniques as using them can result in your website being penalized or removed entirely from search engines.
Whitehat link building techniques are the kind of techniques that you not only want, but also the kind that search engines like Google encourage you to utilize. They work towards ensuring that quality content rises to the top rather than sketchy content that has little value to visitors.
Let’s examine the philosophy necessary to create proper whitehat links and the methods you can use to acquire them.
Whitehat Links Utilize Something Special
Before examining every major way that you can acquire whitehat links during your next SEO campaign, it’s important that you understand a few concepts about whitehat link building.
The key principle about whitehat back links concerns that you should always strive to work towards quality rather than quantity. The reasoning behind this can be seen in the way that search engines components like PageRank work: links from websites with more authority tend to have an impact in search engine rankings by an entire magnitude.
That means just a few links from high authority websites where there’s quality content may be enough to establish a foothold on medium-competition keywords.
It also means that you’ll be free of suspicious, low-quality links that often denote spam and any of the potential penalties that may present themselves with such an approach.
The second thing you’re going to need to understand is that many of these strategies rely upon your visitors finding not only your links useful but also the content surrounding your links. This is as important in, for example, the viral sharing strategy as it is content marketing.
The last thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that some of these techniques are only suited for certain situations. Not all marketers will be able to use these techniques as they may lay outside of what “makes sense” to use with regards to your niches or products.
Use your own judgment as to which of the following methods will work best for you.
1. Content Marketing
This is the most basic but still extremely effective method for building whitehat back links. It centers around the idea of writing content filled with quality that links to your website in just the right place to ensure that maximum amount of relevance transfers to your website.
When creating content for this approach, ensure that you use content that has synonym strewn about sparingly within the text.
Unless you’re constrained to putting a link in something like a resource box, then you should aim to link the first or second instance of the keyword you’re aiming to rank highly for back to your desired website. This will ensure that search engines pick up on this link as being relevant while visitors are still able to click on it.
2. Social Bookmarking
Back in about 2009, social bookmarking was one of the hottest ways for marketers to acquire whitehat back links. While the effectiveness of this technique has diminished, it can still be a way to obtain whitehat back links and an astounding amount of traffic.
The foundation for successful social bookmarking is divided into two parts: amazing content and sharing on the right websites.
The content part should be easy. You need to write something that brings quality and unique information that people will genuinely find interesting.
The second part might be harder. You need to share it on the right websites that will find your content interesting. In other words, you’ll want to use as niche-specific subcategories as possible to ensure a positive reaction on general social bookmarking websites and to steer away from websites unrelated to your own.
3. Directory Submission
Directory submission allows your website to be listed in a directory alongside other likely related websites. While this puts you near to your direct competition, clever use of things like the description and summary fields that most directories allow will give you the distinct advantage over your competition when it comes to SEO.
The only downfall about this method is that you will likely be able to produce contextual links, which are the kind of links that settle inside of relevant content to produce highly authoritative back links. You’ll need to make what content you can submit both as optimized for your website’s keywords and as visitor-friendly as possible.
4. Leverage Social Media
When content becomes immensely popular in a short period of time, it’s said that content has gone viral. This process happens when people find something unique or interesting, then they proceed to share it with their friends before they share it as well.
Viral content is one of the few ways that you can amass a large number of links for your website in a short period of time without taking penalties. Think of it as a reward for offering something that people genuinely find useful.
While not all content will go viral, most content can still be made to be shared. The advantage of this is that shared content tends to create a myriad of links that can be useful in the SEO process.
Getting people to share your content requires some dedication. You need to either create a valid social media following, which takes a moderate amount of work that must be done each day, or you can find someone who has already accomplished this and persuade them to share your content.
5. Guest Blogging
Recognized as one of the most viable methods of whitehat link building, guest blogging allows for two parties to exchange content for a simple link. It’s a mutually beneficial act that establishes the person providing the guest blog as an authority figure in their respective field.
The way you go about guest blogging is by first searching for blogs that would be receptive to it. You can usually find businesses and individuals who need content that is related but not necessarily about their product focus by checking guest blogging websites or by contacting other marketers.
You send them a proposition that shows you are not only an expert upon the topic you wish to blog about, but that you also plan to deliver high-quality content that will benefit the other party’s website.
You can then submit your content with the small agreement that all you want in return is a link that you should have placed within the guest blog surrounding one of the keywords you want to focus on.
6. A Note on Other Methods
There are an unlimited amount of ways you can point links back to your website during the SEO process, but not all links are created equal.
For example, forum signature links are a less effective way of building links back to your website because they border on blackhat territory. They don’t add any kind of quality and tend to be received by forum owners as spam, which in turn has led search engines like Google to implement measures that severely devalue them.
If you come up with another technique for link building and you’re unsure if it’s whitehat, then you can usually reason if it is by asking the following question: Does the content created by my link building benefit the people reading it in a way other than just trying to persuade them to buy something?
If the answer is a “strong yes”, then the link building approach you’re debating will likely help not only your readers, but also your website’s SEO efforts.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International.
He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.
In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building.