There has been a lot of rumors regarding links in the last year or so.
A lot of SEO experts claim that links will lose their previous value. There are even case studies that claim user engagement stats are already more important than backlinks.
It is really hard to determine which way Google will go.
Like always, we have limited knowledge and are left to guess. No matter how you look at it, links are still among the top ranking factors and cannot be neglected.
That being said, whether they are still the first or the fifth most important factor, you need to seriously consider them in your SEO.
However, remember to always diversify your link profile. This will protect you.
Something which works like a charm today might become obsolete or even harmful in future.
Like every year we are seeing a lot of changes. Some link building techniques simply stop being effective.
Here is a list of 15 WHITE HAT link building strategies and tactics that can help you rank in 2017.
Huge content pieces for white hat link building
Power pages, Ultimate guides, Expert round-ups.
No matter how you call these enormous pieces of content, the goal remains the same. Creating big informational articles that will attract a lot of attention and traffic.
Due to their sheer size and amount of information, people are more likely to link to them.
- Compile a list with bloggers within your niche (or relevant shoulder niches) who would be interested in your topic.
- Extract their names email and social media profiles manually or by using some free or paid tools
- Outreach to these bloggers a quick feeler email and ask them if they’d be interested in checking the article you’re currently working on.
- Once it’s finished, send it over to the people who said “yes” for some feedback. Be patient and give them a few days to answer.
- Politely ask the bloggers who liked your piece to share it on their social media channels and to link to you if possible.
Unfortunately, these types of in-depth web content have become overused in the last 2 years. I’m already noticing a decline in the number of links they can acquire, so be advised.
Still, it’s a valid white hat method.
Broken link building
Broken link building is something that will probably still work in the next years although like most of the techniques on this list, it becomes overused.
Basically, your task is to find highly authoritative pages that received a lot of links over the course of time.
These pages have to be dead (404 pages).
Their lacking will result in broken links on all the websites that initially linked to them.
So, simply create a post that is similar to the original one (but a bit better) and start pitching websites that linked back to the broken article.
NOTE: You’ll need to learn and understand how broken link building works as a method for acquiring links. It will take you some time to get used to it, so be patient and don’t quit too soon.
- You can start you campaign by using various programs such as Check My Links plugin or AhRefs. This will help you find pages that got a lot of links and are broken.
- Create similar post to the original one. Have in mind that it has to be of the same quality or even better. Otherwise, people won’t link to you.
- Find contacts of all the people that initially linked. Point out broken link on their page and offer a replacement.
- Not everyone will link back. Some of these links were personal favors and cannot be replicated in this manner.
Guest posting is still white hat
There are lots of experts that will tell you that guest posting is risky. That it’s becoming a black hat link building strategy.
If you asked me, I don’t recall the last time I saw someone get penalized for guest posts. You have to be really bad at it to get in trouble.
Here’s a thorough guide named “How To Succeed With Guest Posts in 2017” which I published a while ago. I suggest you read it.
Also, make sure you check these additional guest posting tips to improve your guest blogging skills.
Google recently warned webmasters against misusing links in syndication & large-scale article campaigns. And yes, you should be careful not to overdo things while guest blogging on other sites.
However, as long as your guest posts are of high quality and are beneficial for both you and a site on which they’re posted, there should be no issue with Google search engine.
- Use queries in Google such as “Write for us” or “Guest guidelines”. This will provide you with sites which most often are great guest post opportunities.
- Find owners emails and pitch them with an idea (or better yet – write the content upfront and send it with the initial pitch!)
- Always prepare several ideas in advance and present them in initial mail.
- Follow guest post guidelines up closely and try to make the article better and longer than the required minimum.
- Guest posting is a technique for building online relationships. Even though getting a link is great the fact that you can get close to a person is MUCH better.
- If you ever decide to purchase a guest blogging service, make sure you check the legitimacy of the service provider you hire and always ask for samples of their work beforehand.
Turning mentions into links
Once in a while your website or brand might be mentioned on other blogs.
An influencer or another blogger may have read one of your posts and decided to mention you on their blog.
These mentions are usually not links. Most often they are just mentions of your brand or name.
By browsing Google or using a free or paid SEO tool, you can quickly find those mentions.
All you have to do now is to contact the webmaster (or author) to ask for that mention to be turned into a link.
- Tools such as Mention, Hootsuite and Social Mention can help you big time.
- Make sure to be polite and friendly as this is a good opportunity to further build your relationship with a blogger.
Truth is that infographics are not converting as they did before.
But they can still be considered a valid white hat link building technique.
A few years ago it was popular having a page completely dedicated to an infographic with little to no text around it.
Nowadays, this is not as common.
Instead, infographics are mainly used as a part of an article or to be shared on social media for extra exposure.
Nevertheless, you can still get a white hat backlink with this method.
- You can use various tools here such as Adobe Illustrator.
- Make sure you have enough data when you start.
- Arrange your data properly and decide which piece of information should serve as a starting point.
- Use proper coloring. Don’t go for more than 5 nuances.
- Keep your design plain and easy to read.
- Try to make your sentences shorter and easier to retweet or share.
- Make sure to add some text to surround your post so that your content isn’t thin.
Method that is becoming more popular and will likely explode in the next year is animated explainer videos.
These videos are short video clips (1 to 3 minutes long) that explain a term or a process in short. They can stand alone but are much better when used with textual content.
You can embed such video on one of your pages and then, pitch some of the bloggers in your niche.
Due to the nature of the video and the fact it addresses commonly used methods and phrases, it can be linked from various pages.
That being said, it can be universally used by the majority of websites in your industry.
- Get high quality video equipment.
- You can use any video program on the market for creating explainers.
- You will need some graphic solutions that will help you promote the channel as well as your website.
- Make sure your brand is mentioned and is easily noticeable during the video.
- Ask people to subscribe. If they have you on their list, there is a higher chance they will ultimately visit your website as well.
Testimonials are often mentioned as a valid white hat link building technique. They definitely are but there is a catch.
Not every website or business wants your testimonial.
In other words, you need to reach a certain level for your testimonial to be worth something. There is no point in vouching for a person or a website if no one knows you.
But that isn’t the only issue with testimonial links.
It is crucial to actually know a the company or to have purchased their service.
Unlike some other white hat link building techniques where you can cold-pitch a blogger, you need to have some sort of a relationship prior to this one.
- Have in mind that in order to leave a testimonial you should be using the product or service first.
- Start with bloggers and companies to which you gave testimonials.
- Be careful when approaching all others and focus on people with whom you already have working relationship.
- Give testimonials to companies you truly believe are good at their job. Otherwise you may tarnish your reputation.
- Focus on companies that are within your industry or in a shoulder niche. The link needs to be relevant.
Links through relationships
Now, have in mind that I am not referring to a direct pitch.
This is something quite different.
As time goes by you will create your own set of contacts. Most of them will be closely connected to your industry or working within it.
When you create a post, that you wish to rank higher in Google, you can gently promote it among your warm contacts.
Of course, you can always just share it on social media but that’s not the point.
Instead, ask some of your friends for an opinion or feedback. Stimulate a conversation on the topic and be genuinely interested in their response.
Create real, long-lasting friendships. Not because you need something in return.
Don’t be selfish, people will easily see through you and this won’t end well.
Actually, you shouldn’t ask for a backlink at any point.
Let your warm contacts judge your article and link to it if they feel like it.
There is no need to antagonize your friends for such a small favor like a backlink if most of them will be willing to do it anyway.
With this approach you might get less links than by asking but you will retain good relationships.
And this is priceless!
- Make sure not to overdo it with this method as it may annoy people. Sometimes it is better to retain relationship than get a single link.
- Focus on content that helps your clients make more money; commercial content.
Overpower other top ranking pages
This method is a bit intrusive and can harm your reputation if you’re already an established expert.
It is a bit similar to broken link building in a sense that you’re trying to be featured instead of some other blog.
But here is what makes it messy.
With this white hat link building tactic you are trying to replace an existing article.
You can overpower a page by creating content that is much better and much more thorough.
Think skyscraper content.
Unfortunately, it can be perceived as a sneaky method and it is questionable how websites will respond to it.
On top of everything, you are directly trying to remove links that some other website acquired which can lead to repercussions.
Is it white hat? Probably. Would I recommend it? No!
- Try to focus on articles that are old. This may help you out especially given that you’ll be writing fresh content.
- Your article needs to be much better than the other one. This is the only way for a blogger to consider the proposal seriously.
- Start with links that are not from the same industry. It may indicate that these two bloggers are not so closely related and there is a higher chance that a person will remove a link.
- Offer something in return if necessary. Given how aggressive this method is, you cannot expect that people will go down easily.
Although this is a somewhat obsolete white hat link building method, it still work nicely in some cases.
Certain niches have a lot of websites with resource pages. In others this method is simply not possible.
Resource pages are lists with the most useful blogs and articles within that particular industry.
By contacting the website owner or editor, you have a chance of getting on that list.
Word of precaution though.
A lot of these pages were created back in the day when link exchange was popular. This means that a lot of these bloggers expect a link back from your website in return.
Be careful about that.
Although link exchange is not disastrous in small quantities, it can lead to a penalty if done on a larger scale.
Also, if there’s been a few years since a resource page was created you might not receive any answer from its editor. There’s a good chance for it to have been abandoned already.
- Make sure your content is high quality and resonates well with all the other content on these resources
- Type in KEYWORD + “Resources” or KEYWORD + “Resource page” in Google search bar. Find all the pages that are have many outbound links and contain your keywords.
- Avoid pages where resources seem irrelevant to your niche. Good example are governmental bodies which are linking to each other naturally
- Avoid local resource pages.
- Start pitching bloggers through email with a title such as “Valuable addition to your resource page” and be short and straightforward with your request.
- Most bloggers will expect a link back. Avoid this at all costs and try to strike a deal that will not include a links back. For example you can offer a guest post just so you’re featured on a resource page. Be flexible and creative!
Help A Reporter Out
HARO or Help A Reporter Out is a website where journalists and bloggers are connecting.
This is a great opportunity for websites to get an enormous exposure in a popular media.
Besides exposure you can also build links with HARO.
All you have to do is provide something that is newsworthy which might pose a problem in the first place.
In order for your article or study to be featured on the most popular news blogs, you really have to have something spectacular on your hands.
You might’ve done an extensive research about a topic or discovered a new method for solving a common problem. Now, all you have to do is pitch a reported and get featured.
Unfortunately, this is also HARO’s biggest flaw.
If you already have something so sensational on your hands, there is a good chance that you’ve already been discovered by the media. Otherwise, something that you think is really great might not be so great after all.
So time is of the essence with this white hat link building method.
- First check whether reporters are interested in your topics. If they are not, be creative and try to find something that will intrigue them even if it means you have to write something from your shoulder niche.
- Try to provide something that is different. Recycling one and the same content will do you no good.
- Studies are especially popular as well as latest news that haven’t been published on other portals. Start with them.
- Make sure to create something of value and quality. If this content goes viral and your thesis is wrong, you will be the laughingstock of the industry.
Starting scholarships and contests
One of the oldest ways of getting .edu links is by starting scholarships.
This white hat link building method is still alive and well in 2017 but will cost you a some money.
Usually the minimum starts from $500, but I’ve seen great results with a budget of $1000.
The general idea behind it is that your scholarship page will be featured on a university website.
In a nutshell, the .edu website will point their students to your page so that everyone can read the requirements of the scholarship and participate. By doing so they’ll give you a juicy backlink to your page.
Similar goes with contests where you are working with organizations in order to achieve a goal.
Again, you will be promoted through organization’s website.
- Go for as many educational websites as possible but always give advantage to those that are more popular and authoritative. They usually have better stats and attract more attention.
- Think about your scholarship budget. Is it really worth it to create a scholarship just for a few links?
- If possible try to get an article on their website and not just a link. This can serve well for additionally promoting your company.
- Give longer deadline to your scholarship campaign. This will allow you to get more links before it ends. 6-12 months is a good choice.
Organizing charity events
Almost any organization is prepared to join a charity event.
If charity doesn’t work, find something that can be done throughout the industry.
Have in mind that you will need to do most of the work and financial investing.
However, if you reach out to enough websites and they respond positively, you will suddenly be featured and linked from all over the place.
On top of the fact that you’re getting links, you will also develop a good reputation for yourself and your company.
- Scrape all the companies but start with the biggest ones.
- Promote your charity in a way so that people think they are not the only ones. Try to make it look bigger than it actually is during the pitch phase.
- Try to create a long-term project. This way you can get multiple links and some prolonged exposure.
- Do things that are good for your industry and for all its participants. You never know with whom you will cooperate tomorrow.
Find your own broken links and fix them
Besides the fact that you can find other people’s broken links and profit from them, you can also find your own links that don’t work.
If your domain has existed for some time there is a good chance that some of the pages are not working.
Of course, this would result in you losing all the links that pointed to them.
Not entirely. They will still point to your domain, but not to any working page.
This means you’ll be losing link power and missing out on a lot of ranking opportunities.
Make sure to recreate those pages or redirect them so that there is something people can link to.
If necessary pitch all the people that previously linked and alert them about your remade content.
- Given that people have already linked to you and linked your content, try to create something even better and stimulate even further sharing from third-party websites.
- Try to sweeten the pie and offer a free guest post if necessary. Keeping these already working relationships is vert important.
- Use programs such as Ahrefs or Screaming Frog for finding your broken links targets.
Lastly, I want to mention podcasts as a way to build white hat backlinks.
In a way, podcasts are similar to guest posts.
However, it is much easier to set up a podcast and it takes much less time (on average hour, hour and a half).
The only thing you have to be careful about is whether a website posts videos and links to guests from their domain.
If they create videos solely for YouTube, then you won’t get anything except for the exposure.
- Make sure to have high quality audio equipment.
- You will have to optimize your YouTube channel beforehand and properly advertise your website.
- Before you create a podcast focus on things that people are interested in. Still, try to find terms that are lucrative and rankable.
- Start a weekly show and make sure to promote your podcasts through all social media channels. This way you will have continuous traffic.
- Finally, when you get enough views, start commercializing. That will at least cover some of your ongoing costs.
White hat link building techniques haven’t evolved so much since 2016.
A lot of it still revolves around different guest activities and creating content that is currently popular.
If we do not see any significant change in Google’s algorithms, there is a good chance that most innovations in the forthcoming period will be limited to content trends.
In other words, you might get a competitive edge if you’re able to create something innovative.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is no new white hat link building techniques in the next year or more.
My advise to you in to never stop learning about how search engines work.
That’s really easy of you know the best SEO resources to start with.
Given how Google is slowly placing emphasis on user engagement, SEO and marketing experts may completely disregard (or at least pay less attention) getting links from high authority websites and focus on increasing their audience engagement instead.
Which legit white hat link building techniques are you using in 2017? What are your results? Add me in Facebook or Twitter and tell me about your biggest struggles.