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7 White Hat Link Building Techniques to Improve Your Websites Ranking

Modern SEO is a complex discipline. That’s because search engines use a wide variety of signals to determine SERP placements. And that means there are countless aspects of web pages that need attention to achieve results

But without a doubt, link building is one of the most critical parts of the SEO process. The quantity and quality of the backlinks leading to a page play a huge role in its search engine ranking. And it’s been that way since the earliest days of search

But in the old days, all backlinks counted equally. And that led to abuse in the form of link farms and other black hat linking schemes. In response, Google and other search engines cracked down on that type of manipulation and worked tirelessly to update their algorithm to detect it

Today, your site would be penalized for attempting to use black hat techniques to improve SERP performance. But there are still a variety of white hats – or legitimate, relevant – backlink building techniques that work well. And while they do take a great deal of work, time, and care to execute, the payoff is tremendous

To help, here’s a top to bottom guide on the subject. We’ll cover what white hat link building is, how it compares to black hat techniques, and the pitfalls to watch out for. Then, we’ll cover 7 white hat link-building tactics that can propel your site to the top of the search engine results pages. Let’s get to it

What is White Hat Link Building?

White hat link building refers to techniques that encourage other authority websites to link to your own. And they all rely on organic linking and not on paid placement of any kind. And the reason white hat link-building strategies aren’t penalized by search engines is that they result in links that add value to the content they appear in

Recently, even John Muller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has confirmed that it is ok to outreach to the websites and share that you have a good piece published on your website and if they like it they can link to it or let their audience know about it.

White Hat Vs. Black Hat Link Building

Where white hat link building relies on generating useful, high-quality links, black hat link building typically seeks to generate backlinks by any means necessary. As SEO techniques go, they are the polar opposites of one another. And because search engines prioritize their users’ search experience above all else, they frown upon sites trying to gain relevance by resorting to tricks and inorganic linking

Common white hat SEO link-building techniques include things like including backlinks within guest posts on other sites or within a related author profile, or through relationship building with other site owners. Those relationships can then become the basis of niche edit requests, where a site owner suggests some relevant content on their site to the other site owner or proposes a barter arrangement

Black hat techniques, by contrast, are attempted shortcuts around all of that hard work. A popular one is the use of private blog networks (PBNs), which are clusters of blogs that exist for little purpose other than to be a vehicle for backlinks. And another is the use of automated link placement tools that focus on link quantity rather than quality. The thing they all have in common is that they’re risky attempts to trick search engines that can backfire spectacularly

7 White Hat Link Building Techniques

Now that you know the difference between white hat and black hat link-building techniques, it should be obvious that the former is the only viable way to achieve SEO success. It should also be obvious why that’s the case. And to help you to develop creative link-building strategies that result in high-quality white-hat links, here are 7 white hat link-building techniques that you can use to push your website to the top of the search rankings

1. High-Quality Content

The core of any link-building strategy has to be the creation of high-quality content to support it. This serves two distinct purposes. First, it creates real visitor engagement that lets search engines know that sending traffic your way is worthwhile. And second, it provides a legitimate reason for other sites to link to your content

Creating high-quality content is one of the SEO best practices that are so fundamental that it should be obvious. But creating high-quality content takes a great deal of research and work. And that’s why it’s considered a white hat technique

You have to put in the time to analyze the pages that rank well for your target keywords, and then create content that represents the best features of them all. This creates a powerful incentive for authority sites to link to your content, creating a beneficial loop that continually improves your SERP performance

2. Guest Blogging

Another powerful white hat link-building technique is to find opportunities to guest post on related, high-authority websites. 53% of marketers believe that link building helps in improving ranking in search engines. Put simply, Google values the opinions of the websites that score well in its ranking algorithm. And getting a backlink to your content from any of those sites reflects well on your site because it represents that site’s seal of approval in Google’s eyes

But you can’t simply pay an authority site to include outbound links to your own. That’s because Google’s algorithm takes the quality of your backlinks into account in addition to their origin. So you have to find a way to get those backlinks organically, which is what you achieve with guest posting. And it’s an easy but time-consuming tactic to master

You don’t have to be a renowned expert in your field to guest post and you can learn how to do guest blogging even if you don’t have much writing experience. What’s important is to do your research and create content that will add value to the site you’re guest posting on. And if you can do that, you’ll find that other sites will be quite receptive to publishing your work

3. The Skyscraper Technique

One of the additional benefits that come with creating quality content is that it enables another kind of white hat link-building tactic. It’s called the skyscraper technique, and it refers to the process of creating content that’s superior to something that already ranks well, and then working to replicate its backlinks. It’s a tactic that requires plenty of work, but that can be worth its weight in gold when done right

The way that the skyscraper technique works is a simple three-step process. They are:

  • Identify a target keyword and look for a high-ranking result for that keyword you think you can improve on
  • Create your superior content
  • Reach out to the sites that have linked to the original and ask them to consider switching their links to your superior version

The reason that this is such a great approach is that it’s less risky than creating brand-new untested content. By working to improve on something that has already attracted quality backlinks, you already know there’s ample demand for what you’re creating. And while the skyscraper technique is a little bit cut-throat as far as white hat link building goes, it’s a legitimate and viable tactic to include in your link building strategy

4. Moving Man Method

Because the internet isn’t static, content tends to come and go offline with some frequency. And you can use that to your advantage to execute another white-hat link-building tactic called the moving man method. As its name implies, it revolves around finding ways to replace links to content that’s gone offline or is otherwise inaccessible with your own

The process is simple. You begin by identifying content that has a large volume of quality backlinks, or a handful of especially valuable ones that’s either moved or gone offline. Then, you replicate that content and ask the sites that linked to the original to consider replacing those dead links with ones to your site

The hardest part of this technique is finding broken links to target in the first place. But you can begin that process by looking for competitors in your market that has rebranded or gone out of business. Then, find the sites that still have backlinks to those competitors. Once you’ve identified a missing piece of content that has plenty of broken backlinks, the rest is simple

5. Niche Edits

Another way you can build backlinks is to create content that’s specifically designed to add value to an existing high-ranking page, and then ask that page’s owner to link to it. It’s a process that’s known as making niche edits, and it’s an excellent white hat link-building technique

The reason for that is simple. It benefits both parties and has no real downsides. In other words, you gain a backlink and the site that links to you improves the value of its content, thereby protecting its own page rank

The only caveat is that some site owners will only consider making niche edits if you pay them to do it. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can increase your costs significantly if you’re not prepared for it. So it’s best to feel out the owner of your desired linking site partner before creating too much-customized content. If they’re open to niche edits, then you’ll be clear to proceed

6. Reciprocal Linking

One of the most basic white hat link-building tactics is also the simplest to execute. It’s to link to trusted websites as your content sources and then asking them to link to your article in return. This kind of reciprocal linking makes up a large portion of earned backlinks, as all you’re doing is trading some outbound links for some inbound links to your site. Do it with a limited number of websites only to avoid any risk of creating too many 2-way backlinks

Be aware, however, that not all site owners will be willing to engage in reciprocal linking. This is especially true if your site lacks authority. There’s just not enough in it for the other site to make the effort worth it. So, although it’s not impossible to succeed with a reciprocal link-building effort early in your site’s life, it’s a tactic that becomes increasingly valuable as its status grows later on

7. Blog Commenting

Although there’s some debate about how well blog commenting works as a white hat backlink strategy, there’s reason to believe it can still play a role in your overall link-building efforts. It’s also very easy to execute. All you have to do is look for content on high-authority websites that satisfy three major criteria:

  • The content is related to your industry or the keywords you’re targeting
  • The content allows comments from visitors
  • The comment section doesn’t implement a nofollow tag

If you find a high-authority site with content that satisfies these criteria, all you have to do is leave a comment that includes a link to your website. Of course, you’ll want your comment to add something to the discussion on the page, as obvious link insertions are frowned upon and will likely be deleted. Over time, doing this will improve your site’s SERP performance and should also create some additional organic traffic

White Hat Link Building Techniques are the Core of Good SEO Strategy

The bottom line here is simple. Achieving top SERP performance involves trying to improve several facets of your site and its content simultaneously. And, because Google and the other search engines never reveal the exact composition of their ranking algorithms, it’s like trying to hit an ever-moving target

But making efforts to gain as many high-quality backlinks to your site and its content as possible has always been the one sure way to improve search performance. And although the ways that your backlinks are measured may change, their relative value will always remain high. So that means white hat link building using the methods detailed here should always be at the core of your overall SEO strategy

And taking shortcuts will only lead to penalties and even more work. So all that’s left to do is assemble your SEO strategy using the tactics here that make the most sense for your site, and then execute it with everything you’ve got

Image Credit: provided by the author; thank you!

Vineet Gupta

Digital Marketing Team Lead

Vineet is a software engineer by qualification and an online marketer by profession. He likes studying Google search algorithms and helps businesses by improving their online presence.

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