White Hat Link Building Methods That Still Work In 2016

Link building is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO but also one of the most important. The easiest way to understand how search engines interpret links, is to think of them as votes; the more you have, the more likely you are to rank well for certain key phrases. However, it’s not as simple as

that, they also take into account the quality and relevance of the links. For example, if you are trying to promote a sports equipment website you may want to earn links from other sport related sources, like an online football magazine. Links that fall into this category are much more relevant than say, an undertaker or gardener’s website. The quality of a website can be determined by using a tool like Moz which provides you with Domain Authority and Page Authority score. Another tool which gives a similar understanding of a website’s authority is Majestic. This gives you scores known as Trust Flow and Citation Flow score. Citation flow is a measurement of a domain’s link equity/strength whilst trust flow then determines if the domains links are from trustworthy and authoritative sources.


This report from Majestic shows that the domain in question has a good amount of link strength, but not all the links are from trustworthy and authoritative sources, so the Trust Flow score it has been given is quite low.

FThis all means that the more high quality links you have, and the more relevant they are to your domain, the more authority and trust your website gains. This increased authority should lead to increased rankings. This all means that whilst you could have a well thought out on-page SEO implementation,but without many external links to back it up, you could struggle in gaining a good position on the search engines.

What does this mean today?

A few years ago link building was entirely different, it was all about how many links you had and people would get links from wherever they could. This would often involve buying them or creating loads of ‘spammy’ links via forums and comment websites. They would then point these towards their site and then sit back and watch their website fly up the SERPs (search engine results page).

These methods are now classed as ‘black hat methods’ and search engines have become really good at filtering and finding these types of links. Getting caught can end in a penalty which could be a drop in ranking or total removal from the search engine.

The advancement in search engine algorithms means it’s very wise to build or earn white hat links from reputable sources and high authority websites.

With all this in mind, I’ve decided to share 3 strategies to help you tackle white hat link building in 2016:

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging involves contacting relevant website owners and offering them exclusive content for their site, if successful they would then place this content on their blog with a link back to your website or site you are attempting to rank.

Guest blogging is a good white hat method to use, if implemented and done correctly. Matt Cutts made a strong statement in 2014 calling an end to guest blogging, which caused quite a bit of controversy. Most of the SEO industry strongly believe that the following paragraph is the most important;

I ... want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging.”

With this in mind, you should approach guest blogging to supply great content to other related websites in your niche. Lots of people will outreach to absolutely everyone, targeting any website they can in order to gain a quick backlink and even offering them payment which is against Google's webmaster guidelines.

Key points to remember when guest blogging are;

  1. Make sure the content is original
  2. That the source is relevant and the article provides use for users on the website.
  3. Do not fill (spam) the article with links pointing to your website.


Researching into competitors is a good way to find some link opportunities, using tools like Open Site Explorer and SEMrush you can quickly see where your competitors are gaining links and where you are missing out. Simply place your competitors domain into the tool and it will give you a list of URLS that are linking to them, with a bit of manual reviewing you can pick out potential sites to outreach to and request a link. After all if they are linking to your competitor's site why would they not link to yours as well.

Open site explorer also provides you with a Domain Authority and Page Authority score as well as a spam score from the linking source so you can target the most valuable links for yourself.white_hat_link_building.png


You can also use Moz’s Link Intersect Tool (or Ahrefs’ equivalent) which is specifically designed for this purpose. This essentially takes the manual process out of the above tactic by inserting your URL, and a few of your competitors, to show you which sites are linking to your competitors, and not yours!

Broken link building

This method involves contacting webmasters with broken links on their site and offering a replacement (a link to your site). What is a broken link? Well it’s typically a 404 error - an old article or webpage which is no longer of use. This tactic requires you to recreate the content and request that the webmaster links to your site instead. There's generally 3 key steps to broken link building

  1. Prospecting – locating sites with potential broken links.
  2. Content - creating content that matches the intent of the original link.
  3. Outreach – reaching out to webmasters to replace the broken links with your own.

Broken link building is a good option because you are effectively fixing issues on behalf of other websites. When sending outreach emails you often find you get more replies because you are helping the other party out, you can find a more in-depth guide on broken link building here.

As Google continues to develop its algorithms to detect and remove spammy sites and rule breakers, it is vital you think in the long run when building links. Grey and black hat methods might get you there quickly but if one year down the line you lose it all, what was the point? White hat methods are the only surefire methodology to implement into your strategy for the long-term.

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