Link building is often misunderstood — even by those who work in the SEO field. This is why many SEOs and companies who outsource their SEO services look at cheap link building services. In doing so, they often strip out the crucial strategic component that is necessary for whitehat link building.
When using cheap backlinking services, people often don't realize they're buying blackhat backlinks. The techniques for getting these types of backlinks often go against Google's guidelines. They focus purely on the manipulation of the search engines without regard for a human audience. Recently SEMRush had to retract their nascent link building service after being called out by Google for unknowingly using blackhat link building techniques.
While we certainly don't condone blackhat link building, whitehat link building doesn't neatly fit into the evil/good paradigm that a blackhat vs. whitehat divide implies. Whitehat link building means the links you are building, and the pages you are building them on, will be interacted with by actual humans. Search is increasingly moving toward user experience and engagement as a major ranking factor.
Whitehat link building does require a certain deftness of touch, as well as a willingness to build relationships and apply context and strategy to the links you are building. With that in mind, here are three of the biggest misconceptions around whitehat link building.
Like an assembly line, all SEO efforts need to start at a single point: keyword research. Keyword research is the act of choosing your most searchable keywords from a greater list of keywords relevant to your website. Pairing this down is one reason why you’d hire an SEO agency, but should also be used in the context of your greater SEO strategy.
Your greater SEO strategy should include your backlinking. When looking to build relationships for whitehat link building, it's important to have this context already baked in. You’ll be able to approach a more targeted host of webmasters and site owners, and also understand how the backlinks you are trying to build will best fit in within their website content.
When performing whitehat link building, understand where the other party is coming from, and the type of content they are looking for. By providing valuable content that contextually has one of your backlinks, you’ll be able to build sustainable links the proper way.
Nothing in life is free and neither are backlinks. No webmaster or site owner is going to link to your highly-targeted piece of content with nothing in return, regardless of how many follow-up emails you send. You're asking for a backlink on someone else’s domain, and it provides value to you and not to them. It's important to understand that link building is inherently transactional but not in a monetary sense.
This is crucial to how you should approach link building. Don't offer monetary compensation. Webmasters and site owners are looking for you to create value for them in exchange for a backlink. Examples of creating value could be promoting the page in which the backlink appears on your own social media channels or creating a customized infographic or other content asset using content marketing techniques that may be of interest to their readers.
Overall, there are numerous ways of demonstrating value when building whitehat links. One way that is sure to get you ignored is repeated attempts to butter someone up without offering anything in return.
At first glance, it may seem that whitehat link building is solely reserved for guest posting which is wildly inaccurate. The real differentiator between whitehat links and blackhat links is human interaction. Whitehat links can also appear on numerous other types of web pages, including existing website content on another website, a PR-style article usually placed in a publication with conventional journalistic standards, a thought leadership piece, or a citation in a contextual industry directory.
Wherever you want your links to appear, ensure that it’s being used by humans. Before looking into an offsite website for whitehat link building, examine the domain’s metrics, particularly its organic traffic and social media profiles. This can provide a strong sense of whether or not the site is really part of the greater internet, or if it just exists as a backlink farm or private blog network.
There are more link building tips you can read about to actually obtain these links, understanding what whitehat link building is — and why it’s generally the preferred method of obtaining links — will help you go a long way in sourcing the right types of websites for your link building efforts. If you'd like to obtain more whitehat links, please reach out to SimpleTiger to schedule a discovery call and see how we can help.