10 Powerful White Hat Link Building Strategies
In the following post you’re going to learn some of the most powerful and safe link building methods to use in 2013 beyond, completely white hat and straight forward to implement.
Back in December 2012 I posted an article on link building methods to avoid in 2013 (if you haven’t read it then I recommend you do).
This post left a burning question; what link building methods should we be using in 2013?
Please note: if your idea of SEO or “link building” involves finding push button solutions such as firing out spun articles to splogs or blasting out spammy blog comments in the vain hope at trying to “trick” Google then you’ve got 2 choices.
- Change your tactics to a white hat approach
- Watch as Google comes in and destroys your website and your online business
I hope its number 1 because if it’s number two then be warned – you’re going to have a bad time! (If you need some more reasons why you should adopt a white hat link building strategy check out – 6 Important Reasons to build White Hat Links in 2013)
If you’ve been continuing along a black hat route then I understand, SEO has become somewhat of a mythology because individuals and companies alike have abused people’s lack of knowledge and just lied to get business.
Thankfully it’s getting more and more difficult for the lies of such companies to stick.
Please also bear in mind that while this post is about link building strategies and tactics you need to be thinking about something more than link building while you read and also put this guide into action.
I’m talking about building relationships because all of the link building tactics that I have listed below will give you the best results possible if you use them to build relationships.
Ok, now let’s get stuck in.
White Hat Link Building Strategies for 2013
Yes, another post talking about guest blogging/guest posting and all that fun stuff.
You may even be thinking that this has been done to death and hearing scare mongers talking about the death of guest posting in 2013. Even Pro Blogger and Daily Blog Tips have stopped accepting guest posts.
The truth is that there could well be a crackdown on guest posting as a link building tactic by Google but personally I don’t believe this will be a problem for you unless you are shovelling out thin and garbage content and/or getting published on low quality sites (possibly sites engaging in black hat tactics).
I could write an entire post on guest posting, actually I’ve already written several posts on the subject already so I won’t cover old ground here but make sure that you follow this advice moving forward –
Don’t submit rubbish content and don’t submit content to rubbish sites – only give your best to the best.
Note – if you’re struggling to find guest posting opportunities try searching for the author bylines of your competitors to see where they are guest posting or put a full list of the blogs that you have found into the BuzzStream blogroll tool to bulk out your list. You can also use BuzzStream to manage the entire process for you.
- Blogger Outreach – Let’s get it Right
- Blogger Outreach: Finding Contact Details the Easy Way
- Link Prospecting For Large Scale Outreach Using 100% Free Tools
- Top 15 Tools for Intelligent Blogger Outreach
Blog Commenting (no, not spamming)
Some may not agree with me on this but I don’t think blog commenting is dead just quite yet, now it’s not a “powerful” link building tactic when you consider it just in terms of link power but if you consider the ability to build relationships and get involved in the discussions of your target audience directly then it can be VERY powerful.
There are a few rules of the road to observe here –
- Write only detailed and valuable comments (contribute to the discussion)
- Direct your comments to the post author
- Don’t use keywords in your name
- Be nice (no brainer you’d think!)
- Choose to be notified of replies and continue the discussion
If you observe the rules above then can be a valuable link building/relationship building tactic for you but whatever you do don’t venture over to the dark side, even if they claim to have cookies.
They have got cookies, but the packets been open a while so you don’t risk it!
Social media (not “social bookmarking”)
You’ve probably seen a service on Fiverr or a piece of software that will blast a load of social bookmarks to your site.
You’ll get the major social media sites then you’ll start seeing horrible sites like “submitsocialbookmarks” or something similar.
This is NOT the way to move forward because these types of sites are full of shocking links and usually are setup with the simple purpose of providing a hub for linking out. There’s usually no moderation process and those that are legit usually end up getting hammered by spammers because the owners don’t have the resources to properly police their own website.
So when I say use social media sites to build links, the links are the end result but there is a way to do this and sites that you should be using for this.
The idea here is to use this as a tool to build relationships, build your authority within your niche and drive traffic to your site. You will get your content in front of other authorities and experts within your niche and get people involved within a discussion on your site.
This will then lead to social shares from your industry peers, engagement on your site, possible back links from your industry peers (this will take a while but is well worth it).
This all adds up to insane social proof and massive validation of your authority and solidifies your authority with your existing visitors.
Remember; social shares are a ranking factor within Google and they’re going to be looking at social influence more on the whole in the near future.
Here are a number of social sites that I’d recommend you focus your efforts on that will give you the biggest ROI in terms of your time (which is precious).
- Twitter – network and engage with your target audience
- Google Plus – get involved in a community of your peers and engage
- Linkedin – join a group of your peers and engage
- Facebook – not as good as it once was due to heavy advertising but still worth investing your time in
- Reddit – get involved in discussions within sub Reddits of your peers and engage
- YouTube – upload great videos and network with your peers
- StumbleUpon – start stumbling and networking with those that have the same interests as you
- Pinterest – this isn’t for everyone but works wonders if you’ve got some great images or a visually orientated blog
There are a lot of other sites that you could try using, not forgetting niche social networking websites but these are the ones that have worked best for me in the past on the various sites that I’ve managed.
It’s easy to get things wrong with the sites I’ve listed above and so many people do. The idea is not to use these sites as a place to drop links, but a place to start discussions and build relationships.
The links you get as a result will be more powerful and will expose your site to a larger audience than if you just dropped links.
Sure on Twitter it’s difficult to drop links and I’ve got a personal habit of firing my posts into Facebook but it’s difficult to fit much of a discussion into a Tweet and personally I’m a disgruntled Facebook user (that’s not to say you should follow suit, I just don’t like the direction they’re going in).
So if you’re going to drop a link, ask questions and engage your audience and members of the community. Personally I wouldn’t even say “please check out my latest post” I would recommend you ask a question about the content of your article.
It’s all about the conversation.
Link out to other blogs
I can imagine what you might be thinking. “Link out? This is supposed to be about getting links not giving them away!”
Now, I won’t sugar coat this – if you’re looking to get some quick links then this isn’t the best link building strategy for you to use but this can yield some extremely great results providing you’re patient and give it time.
You can link out to other blogs/bloggers in any post you write but there are a few specific types of posts that tend to work better than most others.
- Lists of products/services
- Lists of bloggers
- Round up posts
Why are these types of content so great? They provide extremely valuable and insightful content but the main reason is that these types of posts are a form of ego bait.
The beauty of this is that if you do it right and your content is amazing and also extremely difficult to recreate then the content itself will reel in links on its own.
At some stage in creating interviews or Q&A posts you’re going to need to reach out to authorities in your niche, industry experts, product creators or service providers in some shape or form to actually be able to create the post.
Generally speaking the last 3 content types can be done off the bat just with some research and a bit of Googling but after you’re going to need to reach out to those that you link to via social media and/or emails to let them know about the content.
Some may see trackbacks in their CMS, for example if they’re using WordPress they will probably get a notification but don’t rely on this.
Your first instinct maybe to just inform them about your content but there’s no harm in asking them to share or subtly hint.
I’ve had some success with straight up asking people to share what I’ve written which from a marketing perspective it makes sense for those I link to do share because it validates them to their own followers and helps to provide social proof.
An important thing to remember is this tactic won’t result in a link most of the time (at least not until you really get on the map and get right in front of the bloggers you’re linking to) however you will find it easier to get social shares with this tactic.
That’s a really good thing because social shares are a ranking factor and will most likely become a more important ranking factor in the future.
There are some great examples that come to mind where bloggers have done this VERY well. One recent example is Mauro D’Andrea’s post “101 Experts Share Their Tips for Online Success”.
Broken Link building
This is an incredibly powerful link building strategy. The way it works is that you find pages that are relevant to your site with outgoing links that are broken.
You then contact the site owner and let them know that they have some broken links and ask them to link to your website instead.
This sometimes involves creating specialist content and you can go a step further by running a back link checker (e.g. Majestic SEO) on the link that’s broken to find other pages that link to it and then start emailing other site owners and carry out the same process.
There’s a lot more to this, I could write multiple posts on this subject but for now I’ve compiled some of the best existing resources for you to grit your teeth on.
I must point out that this is a time consuming link building tactic but can provide amazing results if it’s done correctly and essentially you’re cleaning up the web of dead links so it’s helping improve the usability of the websites you contact.
Get links with images
If you have got a visually orientated blog or any images at all then chances are that someone somewhere on the internet is using your images on their own site.
You may have a problem with the copyright issues but this gives you a brilliant opportunity to capitalise on an effective white hat link building strategy. Simply email them and ask them for a link back to your blog as image credit. (if you have sensitive content that you would prefer wasn’t used then I understand if this tactic isn’t for you, instead send them a DMCA takedown request, but remember that in most situations you would benefit more from getting the link than not getting the link – it’s again another validation of your authority or talents).
It’s difficult for people to say no when they’re using your content (although some will say no).
The ROI on this tactic can be VERY high but the difficulty is finding the sites using your images.
Thankfully the team at Idée Inc have developed a “reverse image search engine” called TinEye.
If your site is relatively new then this tactic might not work for you straight away but as your site grows and you build your traffic this will become a much more accessible tactic – if you can be the first to post breaking news, reviews and other articles then this will give you a big head start when people come to use your images.
Another variation on this tactic is to write a clause into your image copyright that stipulates that anyone using the image must provide a link to your site in order to use the image whether they find your image on Instagram or Flickr.
Take this a step further
You’ve got a few options with what you do next, but I’d recommend you get your links exported to a CSV or Excel file so you can start organising some data.
You may want to look through these in detail to see exactly what types of sites are linking to your competitors and think about how you can try and get a link from these too.
The other option is to create a Google custom search engine with the domains so that you can start searching for different types of linking tactics.
You may have a specific linking tactic in mind to search for but to start you off you could search for “reviews”, “guest posts” or narrow the results down further with a particular topic (that’s if your competitor in mind covers a larger number of topics to you).
Launch a blogging contest
This is nothing new but can be done VERY well and have a huge impact on your site.
The idea here is that you pick out some prizes, possibly contact product/service providers within your niche to see if they want to donate anything for some extra visibility. If not then pick out a few things yourself that bloggers in your niche would love to win.
Write up your contest rules post giving instructions which will be something along the lines of writing a blog post about your site or a particular post of yours, maybe even the post that mentions the contest (the latter usually works best).
The stipulation will be that they reference your site/post in their blog post along with any other limitations of the prizes, closing date and who the contest is open to. (note – I’d advise discussing the legalities of the contest terms and conditions with a legal professional beforehand).
Post up your contest information then put together a list of bloggers within your niche that might want to take part and start emailing them – remember to really sell the benefits which will of course be some awesome prizes.
There are plenty of times when a blog or its author is mentioned on a website or within an article on another blog – most of these times you won’t get a link or even know about the mention at all.
This gives you a great opportunity to seek out these mentions and straight up ask for a link.
I would suggest that you don’t just bowl in straight away just all like “gimme a link please!!” type thing – by all means ask at some point but to ensure maximum success you need to build a relationship with the site owner that mentioned you before you ask them for a link.
You can do this in a few ways such as commenting on their blog or messaging them on Twitter or another social network.
Once you’ve built up a rapport it’s time to ask for the link.
This still leaves a problem which is finding out about these mentions. The solution is simple; use Google alerts to get timely updates for any mentions and Google search to find out any past mentions.
Building links with Tynt
If you have ever looked at a lyrics or quotes website (a site that visitors are more likely to copy and paste from) then chances are you’ve tried to copy and paste something into Twitter or Facebook or even an article and you have been greeted with one of those lovely “read more here …” links.
I have included this because it can be very powerful and it’s a great way of being rewarded for your content but from a usability perspective it can get annoying.
Although it is used by the likes of Answers.com, Sports Illustrated, Financial Times, Fox News and other publishers.
So you might want to just test this to start off with and be selective over which websites you use this type of functionality with.
You can get started for free at Tynt.com, it does involve adding some code but there are a bunch of other features available including in depth analytics that you should experiment with (even if you don’t want to use this as a link building strategy).
Note: if you’re operating in an industry/niche that’s getting hammered with content scrapers then you may feel more comfortable giving this one a miss, but there are some other impressive features that are still worth while checking out.
So you’ve now got 10 white hat link building strategies you can work with this year and beyond, focus on one at a time unless you’re well resourced because each of these link building strategies will require patience and take time to do.
Now I have two questions for you so I’d love your input in the comments section.
Which white hat link building strategies will you be focusing on personally moving forward? and what are you finding that works or doesn’t work for you right now?
About Adam Connell
Adam is the founder of Blogging Wizard. Previously Operations Manager for a UK based marketing agency, Adam now helps others to become more successful online. Get more from Adam on Google+.