While Google is constantly revising the way it ranks sites, one fact remains, and that is that link building still plays a central role when it comes to SEO, and probably always will. However, some people still think they can game search engines by cutting corners and using questionable methods that have been proven to not only be ineffective, but actually could have disastrous effects on your rankings.
In some cases, people do so simply out of ignorance. They blindly follow the instructions of their SEO and might think that using these techniques won’t have many repercussions. Others know willingly that they’re using black hat tactics, but still believe they’ll be able to get away with it, at least until the next big update. In this article, we’re going to give you a rundown of both black hat and white hat link building tactics, not only so you can tell the difference between the two, but to understand why they don’t work in the first place.
Black Hat Link Building – Paid Links
This is probably one of the biggest offenders when it comes to black hat SEO. Paid links have pretty much always been frowned upon, and Google have done everything in their power to crack down on paid link networks over the years; and they aren’t going to stop anytime soon.
Paying for links might look like a good solution short term. First, the set-it-and-forget-it approach to paid links is what attracts many people in the first place. You don’t even have to think about your content’s quality; all you have to do is pay and get your link with your own chosen anchor text published. However, Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of search quality, recently stated that the vast majority of paid links are easily identifiable, which means that you won’t only waste your time and money buying tons of paid links, but you will be opening yourself up to the risk of penalties as well.
White Hat Link Building – Guest Posts
Guest posting is one of the most efficient ways to get your voice out there and gain visibility with an audience that might actually be interested in your message. You can find tons of blogs that cater to an audience similar to yours without directly competing. However, like any legitimate link building method, you have to make sure that you do not overdo it.
It is advised that your guest post links shouldn’t exceed 5% to 10% of your link profile, so you not only have to make sure that you don’t go overboard with guest posts, but that you make them count as well. Make sure that you use keywords and themes that are congruent with the site you intend to publish your post on. If they allow links in the body, make sure that they are as contextual and natural as possible. Also make sure that the destination is congruent with the link as well. Any unnatural link might get flagged by Google and open you up to manual action.
Black Hat Link Building – Spam Comments
It’s surprising to see how many people still think spamming comment sections on blogs gives them any link juice whatsoever. But this is easily one of the most useless link building techniques anyone can use. Not only is it extremely time consuming and provides little results, but most of the links on these comment sections are no-follow, which means that they will have no effect on your SEO results and page rank. As a matter of fact, it can only hurt them.
And I would like to take the time to give advice to blog owners as well. Unless you have a strict filter and moderate comments, sooner or later, your blog will get bombarded by spam comments. Make sure that you do everything in your power to control the quality of the comments on your page. Spam comments will lower the site’s user experience and make it look neglected. So, make sure that you moderate your comments and use blocking plugins if you can to block spammy comments.
White Hat Link Building – Creating Linkable Content
At the end of the day, the best way to make sure that you’ll get a steady flow of high quality, natural, and diverse links is to publish content people will actually want to link to and share. But how do you know which pieces of content are more linkable?
Well, there are certain types of content that generate more links than others. One of the biggest examples are studies supported by infographics. People usually love a good study that relates to their area of interest and will always want to share interesting facts with likeminded people in their circle. Furthermore, if you manage to use your own data, then you’ll generate even more links from people wanting to cite your study. So, if you can, try to create highly informative and easily digestible content that will be easy to share if you want to get the most links possible.
Black Hat Link Building – Forum Profiles, Wikis and Web 2.0 Links
It was once common practice for people to use public forums, web 2.0 and Wiki pages to create tons of spammy links back to their sites. Forum links in particular used to have some sort of value at one point, but were severely devalued after multiple updates.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t post links on these sites. This only means that they shouldn’t take too much of your link profile and should be tightly related to your particular field. You should also make sure that the site itself is reputable, since links from sites known to use or allow bad practices will also negatively affect your rankings.
Black hat SEO is not only a huge waste of time and resources, but will eventually come back to bite you in the end. If you have ever thought about using black hat link building tactics or were recommended to do so by your SEO, we suggest you do the extra legwork to get natural links that will not only please search engines and your audience, but will actually help you gradually improve your search engine results over time without the fear of repercussions.