Link Building: A White Hat SEO Guide

link building white hat seo guide

You probably know that obtaining high-quality links through white hat link building to your site positions you in Google’s favour. Arguably, link building is a primary ranking factor according to the leading search engine. In recent years, link building assumed a not-so-good reputation. If you want to achieve the best ranking, white hat SEO link building needs to be a key piece of your link building arsenal.

The SEO and link building arena keeps evolving. And the good news is that Google has been able to identify and weed out black hat link builders who’ve been giving it a bad name. At the same time, the importance of building high-quality links is still a necessity.  

In light of this, you need to consider high-quality link building campaigns if at all, you expect to thrive, rank, and compete online. Even though you know the importance of link building, it’s increasingly crucial to know that you cannot do the unorthodox just to get backlinks. As always, there’s a fine line between how you should do it and what you shouldn’t do to build these links.

What Does White Hat Mean?

How you build your links has a significant impact on how your website is likely to rank. This is where white hat SEO in link building comes in. Naturally, it refers to acclaimed SEO practices that align well with Google and other search engine policies.

White hat means keeping your game clean and playing by Google’s books. White hat isn’t limited to link building. You’ll need to prioritise on the user, provide valuable content, and never contemplate manipulating the search rank by using uncouth SEO methods.

What Is Link Building?

Link building is the preferred process of getting links (hyperlinks) from other websites to yours. Hyperlinks are what site visitors use to move between internal pages. At the same time, search engines rely on these links to crawl the web. They use the links to crawl between your site’s individual pages and between entire websites.

The other definition of link building is the practice of persuading and motivating webmasters with relevant websites to link pages on your site. Once a link is earned, Google sees it as a vote of confidence. Its PageRank algorithm can use such a link to determine how well your pages get ranked.

With proper white hat techniques, it’s easy to earn more links pointing to your site. It’s how you become an authority. Still, your links will become a treasure to other sites in your niche. Eventually, using white hat techniques to build your links means you’ll have no problems with search engines and their ever-changing algorithms.

The History of Link Building

Before Google launched in the late ’90s, links had no role to play in the ranking context. When Google started using links as a ranking factor, it helped them provide better search results than any other search engine. It’s what made Google a dominant force.

Soon, SEOs noticed the link impact, and link building became a reckoning practice. The black hat school of thought then realised that they could manipulate Google results with mass-produced but low-quality links.

Over time, the search technology evolved primarily due to the advancement of hardware and software. For instance, Google introduced and fine-tuned its search algorithm to determine how sites were indexed in a given search query. The Penguin algorithm of 2012 mostly brought an end to manipulative link building.

Today, search engine algorithms (not exclusive to Google) are more advanced and sophisticated. If you want your rank to improve, you must be answering every searcher’s intent. Then, it becomes the most opportune moment to leverage white hat SEO to acquire your links. Through white hat tactics, it’s easy to enjoy a sustainable search strategy.

What Is Black Hat Link Building?

The link building discussion isn’t complete if we didn’t mention black hat tactics. But what are they? These denote exploitative link building techniques used to drive a sites rank higher than it should with organic means.

Luckily, search engines, including Google realised the loopholes being used to achieve such. They’ve since developed algorithms that detect such practices. Gradually, black hat techniques aren’t as powerful as they used to be. The discerning marketer wouldn’t want to find themselves on the bad side of Google.

Black hat techniques don’t serve the needs of a user. They simply “boost” site ranking by manipulating SEO rules. One of the typical practices here is using spammy content and posting links on third party sites. Usually, the link posted is irrelevant to the content on the page where it’s published.

Why Do Search Engines Favour White Hat Strategies?

White hat links, also known as natural links pointing to your site, say that there’s something important that your website offers compared to another. The more natural links you have, the higher you’re likely to rank.

Contrastingly, a page with spammy backlinks is viewed as a low-quality resource. As a result, search engines prefer pages with white hat links to provide the best solutions or answers to their users.

Algorithms Get Better with Time

Usually, there’s no black hat or white hat tag in the link code. It means that search engines might not distinguish between the two. However, it’s recommended that you avoid link building process that goes against the rules. Even if it won’t be spotted immediately, algorithms are bound to get better, and you don’t want to risk the consequences that may befall your site.

Indeed, white hat link building a one-off activity. It takes time and resources for the expected results to show. You need to start with an effective outreach strategy. It pays to avoid harmful practices, such as using unauthorized spam directories for the building process. Always create great content, grow your network, and go for backlinks from high authority sites.

What Is Outreach?

Outreach in link building refers to the process of identifying people who are likely to associate with you. Its awareness that helps you to get to them to establish a relationship or appraise an opportunity to cover your content.

Whatever the reason for exchanging content, outreach is finding and connecting to prospects with interest to link to your site.

How to Use Outreach for Link Building

Is there a strategy you can employ in all your link building strategies? It seems so. Outreach is one tactic that applies in this regard. Surprisingly, you’ll find it essential to use e-mail outreach to strike conversations and land the links.

Even when you observe white hat techniques, outreach pitching to the campaigns, and getting the link opportunities, it feels like the same process through and through. You’ll indeed need to be good at outreach to excel at link building.

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Link Building Outreach Rules

With outreach in the picture, inbound link building is one of the perfect techniques to improve your site’s SEO. But what rules do you have to play by?

Post Unique Content that Publishers Quote Organically

With that in mind, you’ll need a dedicated backlink outreach strategy. This is crucial if your site is new or you’re promoting exceptional content. The more content you produce and promote on social media with backlinks, the higher your search rank and authority.

Exclusively Pitch Guest Posts and Value-Packed Backlinks

Forget asking prospects to link back to your site randomly. Instead, ask publishers to allow you to author posts on their behalf and present valuable and fresh content. You’ll quickly get backlinks that provide readers with solutions.

Send Individualised E-Mails to Particular Publishers

It’s wrong to use mass e-mails with duplicated templates. Not only is it spammy, but it’ll never get you the results you want. What you can do is to personalise templates with a unique message. Always keep an eye for people who’re interested in your content. Remember to use your smart wit to get that elusive backlink.

Link-Building Options That Boost Your Site’s Rank

With the white hat strategy in mind, here are three types of backlinking that drive up your ranking.

Backlinks or Inbound Links

Backlinks or hyperlinks that point to your site from other relevant websites are a crucial determiner of your page rank. If you want to score high with backlinks, consider the right approach, such as getting link diversity, using valuable content, and high authority site connections.

Outbound Links

Backlinks are essential, but your outbound links from your site to others are profoundly impacting. All you need to know is the ideal spot within your content, where an outbound link might be of great help to a user.

Internal Links

Internal links refer to links that direct users to other pages on your website. They can lead visitors to useful content and improve your page staying time. Internal links help a search engine(s) to read your site architecture, content relevancy, and your crucial pages. All this can boost your search ranking.

Essential Components of a Link Building Campaign

Now that you’ve grasped what white hat means, it’s ideal to know the major components to a successful link building campaign they include.

Acquiring Links from Influential Domains

Notably, the quality of links you’re aiming for play a considerable role in link building. Start with finding high authority websites in your niche. It’s not going to earn overnight success, but it’s worth the effort when you establish relationships with these sites.

But wait, how do you know that a given site is an authority domain. It’s simple. You can check their Google page rank or Alexa rank. If you find backlinks from established sites and media sources, it’s an authoritative site.

Get Links from Many Domains

Mostly, it′ s better to get links from numerous domains.  Getting them from onsite makes them look unnatural. Always go for backlinks from different sites, including video and podcast platforms, Q\A sites, forums, and social media platforms.

Go for Deep Links

It’s important to have natural backlinks pointing back to your suite. However, you’ll do better with deep links to other pages. It helps you to diversify your backlink profile and optimise for long-tail keywords that aren’t that competitive.

Get Local Links for Local Rankings

If your business is based in Singapore, consider getting local kink connections in local directories or local organisation domains.

Get Appropriate Anchor Texts

If you’re getting lots of commercial anchors for the products you sell, it means you’re ranking higher for the keyword. Don’t forget; there’s a thin line between getting too much in rank and getting penalised too. Use your brand and company name and include non-descriptive phrases.

Top White-Hat Link Building Techniques

Now that it’s not prudent to buy, sell, or trade links, what techniques can you employ to build relationships? Here are some white hat strategies you can leverage without going the black hat way.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is a proven way of acquiring links back to your website. It depicts you as an authority on a given subject matter. What’s more, you have control over the number of backlinks that point back to your pages. Guest posting will indeed help you to foster relationships with bloggers and influencers who have a hold over your targeted audience.

Blog About Trending Topics

Creating captivating topics is a magnet for your link building activity. Not only is it white hat based, but it makes you the go-to source of information on subject matter that is yet to be exhausted. Just make sure that you’re the top-in-mind author of such content and see the vast number of links you’ll get.

Broken Link Technique

Broken links aren’t uncommon in your website or that of your competitors. They can be a source of link juice in your link building efforts. You can resort to discovering broken links on other sites and requesting webmasters to refresh the topic under such broken links.

Reasons Why There Are Broken Links on Your Website

  • The webmaster entered the incorrect URL for the link
  • he site containing the link was removed leaving behind a 404 error
  • The site with the link is no longer existent
  • Firewall or software is blocking the destination website
  • The webmaster linked to a site that is firewall blocked

Building Link Relationships

You must build professional relationships with the view to establish a good link profile. Consider joining niche respective communities to link up with websites that share the same ethical link building activities. You can offer testimonials to sites of interest in the quest to earn a backlink.

Start a Blog for Your Site

Operating a blog on your site is a sustainable method of building relevant links. Indeed, you can write authoritative, niche-specific content. This is how you open up link building opportunities with high authority sites.

Turn Mentions into Backlinks

You know you have mentions out there, right? Turning them into backlinks is a smart hack in your link building efforts. This is how you do it. Every time somebody mentions your website or your product offering, you can request them to turn that mention into a backlink.

Skyscraper Technique

Though it’s a demanding technique, it’s a highly productive link building technique. So, how do you skyscrape? All you need is to create superb content around a niche-specific subject. Then, you need to offer solutions for it in your content. To get the right links here, make sure you provide the right solution.

Some Link Building Directives and Takeaways

  • Avoid extreme reciprocal link building to crosslink to a site. It can lead to search engine penalties
  • Forget links with over-optimized anchor text
  • Don’t add your site to web directories just to get a backlink. If you do, make sure it’s relevant
  • Don’t add optimised links in the post signature or comments section.
  • Avid trading links
  • Post valuable content to get a link
  • Write a good guest post and earn a backlink

How Can Link Building Benefit My Business?

As you can see, links are critical in the process of getting your site ranked by search engines. When done the white hat way, they pose numerous benefits for your website. Some benefits are:

Building Relationships

Link building involves outreach. Outreach leads to long-term relationships. If you use outreach to connect with influencers in your niche, your business gains credibility and trust.

Brand Building

A decent link building effort helps you to create and promote your brand. If you have mastered the art of content creation, for instance, you can showcase your brand’s capacity. If the content you publish is data-driven, you have the chance to expand and become a real authority. Remember, outreach will help you tell others about you and what you can do for them.

Optimising for Mobile

Today, over 50% of search is done through mobile. If you’ve not optimised for mobile, you won’t rank high.  If you’ve optimised, the sites where you’re getting links from should be mobile-ready as well. Always use relevant tools to check if a site of interest is mobile friendly before you reach out.

Does it Deserve to Link?

Does link earning or deserving to rank come to mind? If it hasn’t, well, it should. Your link building campaign should start with something worthy of the link. Building links that point to low-quality webpages is an effort in vain. If you have great content to link to, it becomes profitable within a short time.

Other Advantages Of White Hat SEO Link Building Include

These Links Stick

The prominent benefit of building links the white hat way is that they stick. Even if you were to delete these links down the line, your site ranking remains intact.

No Penalties

Google algorithms, despite their sophistication, will fail to spot black hat techniques. Luckily, this happens in the short term. The incompetent tactics used end up working for a short time, and they leave you with a hefty penalty.  With white hat tactics, you no longer fear your pages getting de-indexed.

Difficult to Copy

When you employ white hat tactics, it’s difficult for the competition to duplicate your strategy. Top-notch link builders spend time to hone their skills and relationships. They deliver solutions that aren’t easy to copy.

Get Referral Traffic

White hat links enjoy a lot of referral traffic. If an article with your link is posted on a reputable content website, you’re likely to experience huge volumes of links from such sites. The referral traffic will last for a long time, not to mention the authority you’ll keep enjoying.

How Fast Does Link Building Increase A Site’s Ranking?

We’ve mentioned previously that that event though you’ll opt for white hat link building techniques, it can take time for the results to show. The length of time it takes can depend on:

  • Niche or industry competitiveness
  • Competitiveness of your targeted keywords
  • Competitor activity-is, are they actively building links as well
  • The kind of links you’re building
  • The influence and history of your domain

Truth be told, the factors above indicate that it can take days to months for your site rank to be realised. If you’re working with a link building expert, both parties must acknowledge that instant results are highly unlikely.

Before you start, always note your current rank and the keywords you’re ranking for. Also, you need to track how your rank changes as soon as you implement the link building strategy.

Realistically, you should expect to see results if you’re constantly tweaking and improving your website and online activity. Never at one time should you take link building as a one-off activity. Instead, make link building a sustainable process of content creation, customer service, and social media outreach. The consistency you’ll dedicate is what will accelerate the rank results.

Why Engage in White Hat Link Building Exclusively?

Did you know that black hat link building tactics are faster, more comfortable, and more alluring? But are you aware that the same tactics won’t withstand the algorithmic test of time?

Before you consider going the longer but more assured white hat way, it’s crucial to note that white hat techniques would never endanger your website.  The seriousness of it is that manipulative black hat techniques will earn you scary manual penalties and you might never recover.

There’s a whole lot of activity you’ll need to avoid. This includes trading links, buying, selling, leveraging auto-generated content, or going for link farms. The best way forward is to go for links exclusively earned the white hat way. This is the best way to future proof your website without worrying about the next algorithm update.

Does White Hat Link Building Work for Everyone?

Surprisingly, the answer to this question is no. If you’ve poorly optimised our website and posted low-value content, link building won’t help your cause.

Before you start link building, consider doing a site audit. This is what tells you whether your site is a prime candidate for the profitable kind of link building. Also, check the keywords you want to rank for and make sure to have pages that deserve to rank.

The truth is, a pack of white hat built links won’t transform your website if you have pages that don’t fulfil the user’s intent. Remember to include linkable assets as well. These are resources that are informational and non-promotional. They can be content, visuals, or images with demonstrable value to the user.

Considerations for Hiring SEO Link Building Services

Whether you’re running a small or an established venture, including is a fluid component of the search marketing mix. You want to realise results fast, and maybe; you don’t want your internal staff to do it. So what do you consider when hiring SEO link building services?

Diverse Linking Is the Best

Don’t keep your eggs in one basket. Surprisingly, this rings true in the link building front.  Always choose a link building service that offers diversity and specialists who can handle various services.

Link Building Must Be Modern

Previously, reciprocal linking or directory links enough for link building endeavours. But the times have changed. Consider services that embrace current trends and outreach. If they don’t leverage social media, digital resources, and linkable assets, consider an alternative.

Linking Is a Responsibility

One variable that shook define the link building choice you choose is work ethic. Are they all hype and no action? Are they putting their money in effective campaigns?

A critical variable that defines your choice of link building service is ethics. It surpasses the importance of diversity and cutting edge linking. Is your choice all words and no action? Are they okay with grey hat tactics? These questions should tell you where to go. A service that puts your link building efforts in jeopardy need not be your priority.

Are They Reputable?

If you know the history behind the link building service, there’s no doubt you’ll make the right choice. An SEO service that’s known for longevity and commitment to white hat tactics will have a record that speaks for their prowess. Surprisingly, the content on their blog or forum thread should tell you how well they understand your link building needs.

What Links Lead to Their Website?

You’re talking to a link building service within your niche. Then the links that point to their site should be your point of reference. Always check whether they have good backlinks check if their backlinks point to an SEO link builder that is worth your time and resources.

What’s Their Pricing Strategy?

Link building services should provide different rice plans. Of course, your business has its unique needs and budget. Check their monthly, tiered, or annual price plans and make a wise decision.

The Benefits of Link Building Services

By now, you know working with white hat link building services has its advantages. It’s prudent that you know the pros and cons before you take the plunge.

Enjoy Higher Domain Authority

If you have a high domain authority, the higher your rank is bound to be depending on the search terms you’re targeting. A link building service will help you to get relevant links that boost your domain authority. As such, your web pages will keep ranking higher.

Save Time

Simply, working with a link building service will save you lots of time. Your technicians can go back to handling other essential tasks.

Competitive Edge

Links are visible in public everybody can see where the links point to. A link building service will assist you in doing strategic competitor analysis. This will tell you how and from where they get their links.

Professional link building services will get you real results. They will not be instant, but the results will be achievable within a short duration.

Link Building Service Costs

No two companies, competitors or websites are made the same. With that in mind, you’ll need to avoid the one size fit all approach. A blanket pricing policy won’t work when you want to outsource link building services.

To arrive at an appropriate budget, you’ll need to review aspects including an on and off-site analysis, content, and backlink preview, not to mention the competitor analysis is crucial. It’s what helps you to determine the ideal link building budget.

Where competition is rife, it requires a detailed budget to get the cogs moving. Alternatively, local businesses might need smaller budgets since the competition is less. What you need to know is that cheap is always expensive. A dirt-cheap service offer can hurt your efforts more than build them.

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At the same time, you’ll need to acknowledge the price differences between the link building options out there. For instance, curated or broken link building requires an elaborate approach. It all depends on what you feel is fit, depending on the budget and the techniques needed to make it work.

Whether your tentative budget is in the $SG500 or $SG50000, the best move is to work with a service provider that offers scalable and flexible link building packages.

The Future of Link Building

In the Singaporean and global context, it’s prudent to ask whether link building will still be a formidable ranking factor. Before analysing the future of link building, there are pertinent questions to ask: they include:

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Will Links Remain a Key Ranking Factor?

There’s no doubt that Google’s algorithm will keep evolving. However, links still have the potential to be imposing ranking factors in the foreseeable future. The other fact tis that backlinks can be spammy or noisy, but they’re still an integral part of search.

What Type of Link Building Will be ‘Future Proof’?

White hat links and those editorial type acquired through organic or outreach means will continue to be safe in regards to Google algorithms and penalties.

What Type of Link Building Won’t be ‘Future Proof’?

It’s anticipated that Google (and other search engines) won’t be relenting when it comes to identifying manipulative and suspicious links. There are chances that black hat techniques may graduate with AI-like capacities, which could throw a spin into the link building scene once again. But there’s hope that Google’s AI/Ml capacity to keep things in check.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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July 29, 2020

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