Regardless of your website’s purpose, white hat link building techniques are vital for increasing your domain authority and SEO presence quickly.
However, few people know how to seek them out or where to turn for support.
Understanding white hat link building is important if you want to see your site rocket up the search engine rankings.
Whether running an e-commerce site or just trying to get your business’ website viewed by more people, link building will always be at the core of your success.
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White hat SEO link building is the idea of gaining more website traffic while sticking to Google’s guidelines.
While this might sound like common sense, there are a lot of black-hat techniques out there – many of which get penalized by Google for their shady actions.
The heart of any link building strategy is to gather authority from various high-authority websites, using that power to boost your website’s SEO presence.
This means greater visibility online, more traffic visiting, and (hopefully) more sales.
Securing high-quality backlinks through white-hat link building is a service any link-building agency will claim to provide.
However, as a site owner, you need to understand the ideal link building strategies if you want to see proper success.
What is black hat link building?
Black hat link building is all about gathering more links through questionable means. This often involves doing things that are not entirely accepted by search engines, usually while attempting to hide what you have done.
For example, instead of approaching other websites for paid links, black hat SEO would involve bulk-buying links from spam sites or creating fake websites purely to link between them.
Black-hat links tend to be low-quality backlinks, often gathered through methods that Google and other search engines would not approve of. This means that they can get penalized if they are ever discovered to be black-hat.
Why is White Hat Backlink Building Better?
White hat strategies fall under Google’s webmaster guidelines. This means there are no questionable practices, such as trying to trick sites into adding links or creating your own blog sites to link back to your main site.
Instead, a white hat link building service focuses on getting high-quality backlinks from high-authority websites through natural links (or, in many cases, fairly paid-for links).
The main benefit of white hat link building is the fact that white hat links are often more valuable and are not going to be randomly penalized in the same way that a black hat link is.
Avoiding penalties from search engines is the main concern here. Search engines can penalize links that seem “incorrect,” which can often mean that spam links will immediately lose all value they had – collapsing a large portion of a site’s link profile.
Black hat link building exploits the ranking factors of most search engines to try and inflate the website’s backlinks, usually by flooding it with cheap but relevant links.
While this might sound very effective – especially if you get decent-quality links from long-form content – the plan falls apart easily. Most link building services avoid black hat tactics for this exact reason.
In general, white hat backlinks are obvious. They are made from manual link building efforts, such as guest posting since somebody wrote the content and has some kind of relevance to the websites in question.
Black hat strategies tend to be focused on quantity over quality or use relevancy connections that do not make sense.
Search engines like Google have gotten good at finding links that do not fit and will slap penalties on their organic search potential.
White hat links can technically come from any link building strategies that fall under Google’s guidelines, but some are much more suited to white hat link building than others.
Depending on the white hat link building service you choose, some link building techniques will be preferred over others, too.
Contributing Guest Posts
Guest posts are one of the most well-known white hat link building options and for a good reason.
A guest post is a blog post written by somebody from your company, meant to be placed on a website that is somehow relevant to your business or site.
The idea is to pay to include this custom content, which contains a link back to your own site.
Guest posts are very common and popular for blog owners since they get paid to publish a blog post they do not even have to write.
Paid Link Insertions
In some cases where guest post outreach might fail, you can push for link placement in existing content instead.
Link placements are basically the inclusion of a link on a specific keyword. These can be added in retroactively and will confer some SEO benefits as long as the web pages in question are relevant to one another.
Unlike guest posts, link placements involve putting a link somewhere in existing content. Sometimes minor changes may be allowed, but some site owners may insist that the content stays the same.
Paying for a site owner to write content that benefits your business is yet another popular link building strategy. This differs from guest posts because you are not writing the content yourself – you are paying the site owner to do it instead.
This obviously is not perfect in every situation, but it can lead to some high-quality backlinks if chosen correctly.
Since paid content is written around the included links, you can often expect the content to reference your business quite seamlessly – if all you care about is SEO, then it does not matter if the content reads like an advertisement as long as the keywords are good enough.
Producing New Content
While placing content on other people’s sites is an option, another white hat link building method focuses on building natural links through your own content. High-quality content is more likely to receive high-authority links from sites referring back to that content.
For example, a high-quality content piece may be linked to by resource pages or other articles that are taking data from your content. By offering users something, you can earn their links back in return, all through entirely natural means.
This also tends to cause a spike in organic traffic, leading to a greater chance of actual visits and conversions from the sites that are linking to your content.
Sometimes simple cold outreach efforts can work. Finding relevant websites and reaching out for link placements or other arrangements can work well, especially if you just need a greater volume of links coming to your site.
While this technically encompasses most methods of building links, this is still a distinct form of white hat link building. Mass outreach focuses on sending out as many emails as possible, then picking through the positive responses for anything useful.
This still leads to white hat backlinks as long as the sites are relevant since you are approaching related sites and arranging a link placement or deal with them.
If all else fails, there is always the option of simply picking a site you want to get a link from, then approaching the site owner and trying to strike up a deal for some content.
This works best if you need to create quality backlinks at any cost or if your SEO strategy requires high-authority websites that you have not been able to obtain yet. There is no guarantee that the site owner will respond at all, but it can be a good last-ditch option.
Bold link building strategies can work well, especially if you are willing to discuss the payment with the site owner. Some high-authority sites may reject a guest post entirely, but a one-to-one discussion can often lead to unexpected link arrangements.
This option is not usually favored by a lot of white hat link building services since it is the most direct and risky way of approaching link building. However, it does weed out sites that are completely against link placement offers and can have unexpectedly good results.
Search engine optimization takes a lot of factors into account, and that includes the links pointing to a site. Link building is a massive part of SEO, and each link building agency you come across will approach it slightly differently.
However, sticking with white hat link building techniques is always the best option. No matter how appealing black hat strategies and black hat link services may appear, white hat methods are the safest route.
Understand White Hat Link Building Services
White hat tactics are the “good” link building services. These are focused on building high-quality links from high-authority domains, using each quality backlink to its fullest potential to boost a site’s organic search presence.
This means that you climb up search rankings at a safe rate, but also means that your high-quality links do not collapse after a single Google crawler scan.
White hat tactics are the more ethical options: paying for placements on other websites, guest posting on a blog, or building links naturally by creating good content that sites want to refer to.
Consider Grey Hat Link Building Services
Grey hat tactics are a midpoint between white and black hat strategies. They skirt the edges of what search engines will accept but are either technically fine or otherwise impossible to fully consider “wrong.”
For example, you might argue that purchasing paid content on a site is grey hat since you are buying a link (a black hat technique) through a medium that gives it proper context.
Some of the more notable techniques include things like paying for business listings or using affiliate marketing programs, which are often overlooked and can range from fine to questionable.
A typical link building agency will fall into grey hat link building at least a few times since the penalties for mistakes are usually still quite limited. However, the real concern comes from black hat tactics.
Avoid Black Hat Link Building Strategies
Black hat techniques are all about misusing the limits and tools that search engines give you, inflating your rankings by breaking the platform’s rules, and hiding important information for as long as possible.
For example, this could mean black hat link building campaigns that focus on buying inbound links directly rather than through guest posting or using link building services that are nothing but spam link bulk purchases.
These will get penalized by search engines, so sticking to white hat link building services is the better option. These penalties can include things that actively make your SEO worse, forcing your site into worse-ranking positions.
If you build links through black hat methods, then you should assume that you will get major SEO penalties, going directly against the point of your link building campaigns in the first place.
Planning White Hat Link Building Services
If you are looking into link building services of any kind – either manual link building or through a link building agency – then you need to plan things correctly.
SEO link building is not just about finding high-quality websites and putting a resource link there. You want to use proper planning to guarantee that you are getting the best white hat backlinks possible.
Context matters for all white hat backlinks. If you are putting a link on a site that has nothing to do with your own site and on content that is not relevant, then you are usually going to end up in a worse search ranking position.
This is because a high-quality backlink relies on both content and context to succeed.
High volumes of irrelevant links will usually just lead to poor performance and a lot of money wasted.
Instead of going for quantity, choose quality. Find links that suit your particular niche well, and make sure that you create content that connects both sites properly by being contextually relevant.
Know your Target Audience
Make sure you understand the kind of audience that you want to target. Even if you do not care about the traffic from the link itself, you want to use keywords and link sources that match that audience.
For example, if you are choosing to include random links that do not really relate to your target audience, then your SEO towards that audience might suffer.
The more relevant your link building efforts are toward your SEO goals, the better your success will be. For example, choosing relevant sites with a connection to the keywords you are trying to target can really help.
Explore Your Options
Link building is all about finding link opportunities wherever you can, which often means exploring the options you have available, no matter how niche they might be.
Many people lose link building opportunism because they forget to take stock of all the available options, completely overlooking something incredibly useful that could boost their Google search presence dramatically.
Use Common Sense
It is important to use common sense throughout all kinds of SEO work, no matter which search engines you are focusing on. Most problems can be solved by just thinking logically about them and applying that to your link building methods.
For example, white hat backlinks are often common-sense connections. If your business sells furniture, getting backlinks from a furniture resource link or a high-domain authority site focused on furniture is the obvious choice.
This also applies to online media outlets, internal links, and even the keywords you are targeting to appear higher in search results.
Think carefully about what you are doing and consider whether it is the right option for that situation, especially if you struggle to know where to go next.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed by SEO, but you can always fall back to just outsourcing. If you outsource link building strategies to a third party who knows what they are doing, you can get major benefits to your rankings in search results without doing much yourself.
A link building agency is often made up of experts in the field of link building, covering a range of strategies and techniques that can all apply in different ways. If you want to approach link building correctly, third-party expertise never hurts.
A link building company can be a great option for ensuring that you get the maximum possible link building benefits out of even the most basic link opportunities and can streamline a huge part of the process of building links.
Understand Search Engine Guidelines
Knowing the guidelines that you have to follow for each search engine can be very important.
Not only do these guidelines dictate what separates white hat from black hat, but they can also be vital for ensuring that you are approaching SEO correctly.
SEO link building usually means working within the limitations of a search engine to improve your rankings within that search engine. As such, you need to know what the platform actually values and how its guidelines are meant to facilitate growth in a specific way.
While you can technically keep filling your site with black hat techniques and making sure that they are almost undetectable, you still miss out on some potential.
If you are not using the techniques that search engines approve, you are usually falling behind.
Don’t Underestimate Traffic
Traffic might not be the focus of SEO link building, but it still helps. Getting more natural or referral traffic still benefits your site and can also mark how valuable the links you constructed are.
Sometimes it helps to have links with lower SEO benefits but higher levels of interested traffic. Traffic itself is not bad, and many link builders underestimate how useful it can be, especially for a brand-new business.
Even if you are trying to pick out a keyword that mostly boosts your SEO, having customers arrive via that link and remain on the site can also provide its own SEO boosts in some cases.
Remember that traffic will not always be relevant, so you will want to keep common sense in mind. More visitors can look good on paper, but how many are actually engaging with your site? Relevant traffic is useful; irrelevant traffic is not.
Purge Old Links
Do not be afraid to remove old links, especially ones that are no longer relevant or are heavily outdated. Clearing them out can boost your SEO and help you avoid penalties for irrelevant links – and you might even notice some spam sites in there too.
Naturally, the sites linking to you will change as well, so there is no harm in removing (or at least disavowing) links that might be causing more harm than good.
Even if you are looking for broken link-building opportunities within your own backlink profile, truly broken links from broken sites are not worth pursuing.
Always rely on data and metrics. From finding broken links for broken link building to picking out a particular area of success within a campaign, having hard data to work with is incredibly useful.
This is especially important for things like broken link building, where having actual data can be important to understanding if a link is even worth pursuing. If you are not using data for your decisions, you might be making major mistakes without realizing them.
Platforms like Google Search Console exist to give site owners a huge level of understanding about the markets they target and how they appear to users.
Do not underuse or ignore these tools and options, especially as a brand-new business.
Whatever you are planning to do with your link profile, and however you want to improve your SEO, you need to think ahead and plan carefully. Going in without an idea of your goals in mind can cause all kinds of problems.
Take things slowly, and do not be afraid to use alternate methods to get what you want – remember that white hat options are almost always the superior choice, especially if you are worried about penalties from the search engines that you are using.
Scott Calland is a highly regarded content specialist with an English Degree. He has a passion for creating compelling content as a UK journalist that engages, informs, and entertains readers. With over 10 years of experience in creating news publications as a reporter, Scott has developed a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of how to craft content that resonates with audiences. Working closely with data analysts Scott’s research on topics is unrivalled for latest news updates.
Scott is also an investor in Searcharoo.