I'm starting to believe there is no such thing as a white hat method to get backlinks.
Whitehat methods to build backlinks? The more I read about what Google wants in order to rank a site, the more I see that it wants your site to grow without you doing anything to promote it. "If it was a good enough site, it'd promote itself," Google thinks.
Besides having content that is getting shared naturally, is there such a thing as a whitehat method to get backlinks? There seems to be lots of ways to obtain them, the most popular being blog/guest posts, and some of the more difficult ways would be getting articles published about your site on some of these bigger sites… but how does one obtain backlinks that are whitehat? I'm having a hard time believing there is a way to do it.
This is a sincere question, I'm convinced building links yourself is always going to be considered "greyhat" by Google. Do you agree or disagree, and why so?
Edit: Okay, I was slightly wrong in my post. Some people have offered some decent whitehat SEO backlink methods on this post so I'll add them and do a quick pro/con on them.
Asking for relevant websites to link your content/site. This is the best way to get link juice in a whitehat manner in my opinion. The issue is, it's extremely time consuming and has a low rate of working considering website owners are often hard to contact and it often appears as spam to them. Especially for newer websites.
Posting answers on Quora/Yahoo/etc: This is a decent way to get people to find your site through those channels, but posting answers on these will not give your site much link juice, ultimately not helping much with your SEO.
Guest posting: This is a great way to get linkjuice to your website. But, you have to tread carefully as it can appear spammy to Google even if you do it legitimately.
Get creative: This one has been posted but not touched on much. This will not bring you linkjuice but has a higher chance (imo) of being shared rather than just posting content. Videos. Creating great videos has a better chance of being shared, it is more timely and costly though. Infographics can be good too, if they're relevant enough to your site. Currently, I'm in the process of making a game for one of my sites. This is mainly because I've always wanted to make an online game, but either way, I do see people as being more likely to link towards a fun little game than anything else. This might not bring in as many relevant buyers to the site, but it is a good way to get brand name recognition and link juice from people sharing it (if they find it fun, etc). Plus, I plan on having coupons for the site as part of completing the game, so people may be more inclined to use those if they beat it.
Point is, there are some ways you can differentiate yourself from the herd and get some backlinks to your page. But these things are all rather costly unless you learn how to do it yourself, and greyhat still had a good chance at beating you at the end of the day regardless.
I think that the best way of doing it is going to competitors websites and looking at their backlinks. See what backlinks are valuable and where they come from etc.
Oftentimes there are easy backlinks that are like low hanging fruit that you can grab, simply by contacting whoever wrote the article/own of the website and suggesting that they link to you as well. Obviously this isnb't a catch all solution.
Lastly, if you have a blog you can post solutions or industry relevant information that people may backlink to.
I've noticed a lot of the top backlinks from competitors are because they have an exclusive relationship with each other, or they are essentially paying for the links.
I know people who, for a hefty price, can get my websites in articles from prestigious sites (eg NYTimes, Huffingtonpost), but even then those would be considered greyhat methods… I feel like Google has made so many rules that they're almost starting to collapse on themselves.
DO NOT PROMOTE YOUR SITE, DO NOT BUY LINKS, DO NOT COLLECT $200 WHEN PASSING GO, HEAD STRAIGHT TO JAIL.
You are correct that a lot of them have agreements/association but that's not the low hanging fruit that I am talking about.
Rule of thumb: if money exchanges hands for a link then it greyhat… except when it's Google adwords apparantly…
Google is a business, they just don't want you paying someone else when you could be paying them unfortunately.
No, I understand that paying for links is greyhat, that's why I mentioned it. Maybe you're talking about getting directories, but as far as I've seen, all the competitors I've looked at are abusing some form of greyhat making it nearly impossible to catch up to them without doing it myself.
Ah, you've got some random Private Blog Network (PBN) with a Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) of 40, that used to be about NY but now is all about (some niche), that has a single link to your site. That's believable, enjoy your link juice. There's nothing I can do to compete with these tactics except wait for Google to find them and fix them, and there's a solid chance they won't even find them.
Your right, sometimes you're fighting an uphill battle.
Tactics like that are bullshit and Google still hasn't gotten around to fixing them.
The only other real way is to do some serious social media engagement, but that only really works if they have an interesting product.
Google hasn't gotten around to fixing them because they don't know how. If you register an old domain without providing information about yourself (or fake information), and host it on a unique Internet Protocol (IP), and create a 'Private Blog Network (PBN)' that looks legit enough, there's no way they're going to figure out the legit vs fake ones. The issue is, tactics like that are bullshit, but are currently working and I don't see Google being able to fix issues like that anytime soon.
Serious social media engagement is the best whitehat off-site tactic that's legitimate, but you're right that not all products/companies can benefit from it.
I guess it just blows that there's no longer a 'correct' method of winning Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Unfortunately a great deal of niche's can't benefit enough by just social media and useful content to compete with these greyhat methods.
Edit: For example, you sell bathroom sinks. You're not going to come up with much content, if any, that is going to get shared much by people. Getting social media attention would be terribly hard in that field too, especially if you're competing against people who are selling the same products. Who's going to follow a twitter page that's promoting sinks? Maybe /some/ people would, as it never surprises me when people do ridiculous stuff such as that, but not enough to compete with greyhat.
Hey no You can build it by Quora, Yahoo or Blog Guest Posting. Slowly and steadily
Blog guest posting is getting railed pretty hard. If you do it just right, it might work in your favor. Yahoo and Quora aren't going to provide you with much domain authority, but could lead to some traffic through those sites.
Whitehat link building 101:
• Ask for them.
If you want more specifics:
• Don't pay for them
• Don't hassle the person you asked
• Don't bother with the ones you can place yourself (mostly)
Never heard of that before. I like it.
For others: Would would I do if the search engines didn't exist?
This is one of the main purposes of content marketing.
Your blog needs to be more than just fluff wrapped around keywords. The best thing you can do is write content that gets cited by other blogs, especially ones where your customer might see them or are already highly-ranked in a given space. Verified facts, figures, and original quotes by quotable people are great for this.
It'll take some research, but if you post some original data-backed analysis with a good "thought leadership" kind of quote, it might get picked up somewhere like Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and wind up in the next two dozen blogs written by blowhards like me.
The ideal link for both the user and the search engine is when the website owner links to your content because they think it would be useful for their visitors.
The first step is to create this content, obviously. If you don't already have it, look at websites who are relevant, and think out what kind of content they would want to link to, then create it.
The second step is to contact them. You're not doing anything shady by just letting them know your content exists, especially if it is genuinely useful to them.
The only Google Approved methods are basically:
• Set up social media, my business, and profiles on other industry relevant sites
• Give people the tools to link to you with share buttons
• Buy ads.
God, there is a lot of BS here. The people that say that building links is Grey hat, are just justifying their inability and lack of resolve. Building links is hard, but can be made easier by working smart.
• Do competitor research.
• Do prospecting for orgs, vendors, chambers, industry groups, lifestyle / ethnic groups, education, etc.
• Spend time creating something truly useful or interesting, prospect the audiences that should (or would) care about it and send them a nice not (from a human to a human).
• Offer a scholarship.
• Offer Free products (or coupons) for a particular audience segment.
• Be f*cking creative and try shit. Don't just whine because it is not the paypal spend it used to be.
Links are about traffic. They introduce your brand to new audiences. The also still help a lot with your ranking ability. If someone says asking for a link is greyhat, they have no f*cking clue what they are talking about. Drops mike…
If someone says asking for a link is greyhat, they have no f*cking clue what they are talking about. Drops mike…
Picks up mic…
Okay, but words have meanings, and if we are being technical here according to Google's TOS, asking for a link is against the TOS, therefore cannot be white hat. According to Google, all you can do is create content, that's it. Anything else is grey hat according to them.
And that's fine, live in the grey, embrace the grey. A good SEO will experiment with white, grey, and black hat techniques to find for themselves what actually works, what won't get you a penalty (despite being told the contrary), etc. Eventually you'll know where "the line" you don't want to cross is.
The competition is certainly getting harder the more the market place is getting flooded. For Companies that have the budget I reach out to Public Relations (PR) Portals. This provides Google and your customers with not only great content and depending on where the article is written could also be a good PageRank (PR) 5+ back link. SEO users should start think of themselves as Web Press Release (PR) specialists when it comes to back linking. Consider reaching out to bloggers and building your own Private Blog Network (PBN)s around a certain niche.
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