About 75% of Google users never look beyond the first page of results.
With stats like this, if your website isn’t cracking those valuable top spots, your chances of being discovered on searches are pretty slim. Unfortunately, Unless you are willing to continually pump out advertising dollars for every lead, you’ll need to start building white hat links to boost your organic reach.
But you’ve attempted to boost your rank with links before, and no matter how much time and money you put in, your website wasn’t able to climb the ladder. That must mean this approach is ineffective, right? Wrong.
We’re sorry to break it to you, but if you haven’t had success with link building in the past, you were probably practicing unfavorable black-hat techniques.
So how can you turn this around and get your links wearing the right hats? Follow along to learn everything you need to know about links and how to use white hat links to boost your rank.
The Role of Links
Before you can understand the impact that SEO and link building have on your rank, you’ll need a little background on how search engines work.
For Google to present your webpage to a user, your content will need to undergo a three-step process.
First, Google sends out millions of little bots called crawlers or spiders. These bots ‘crawl’ through your content and gather information about your page. They’ll take note of the keywords you use, meta descriptions and tags, and even the time it takes to load your page.
These spiders navigate to and from your pages by following links. These little bridges for the bots to follow are both internal and external links. So, if there is no valid link to get to your page, the bots won’t have a way to crawl your content.
Once the content has been crawled, the bots will store the information they gained in the index. To be presented as a relevant result, your content will need to make it into the index in the right category.
Now that your site pages are categorized and stored, when a query takes place, the search engine will arrange the results in order of what it feels will provide the best answer to the question. This process is called ranking.
Since Google uses artificial intelligence, it doesn’t actually choose relevant content based on reading through your pages. Instead, it watches for key elements that trigger a positive or negative impression of your page. While there are multiple elements to the algorithm, one of the key determining factors is the quality of your backlinks.
As mentioned above, linking is key for bots to discover your pages, but not every link will have the same impact on your overall score. If your pages have black hat links Google will actually count these as a negative, and instead of boosting your rank, you’ll be penalized.
White hat links to your content give the impression that you are an authority on that topic and must be a high-quality source of information.
Having great backlinks will also encourage Google to prioritize your content for crawling. This means your latest articles will land on results pages faster.
What Are ‘Hat Links’
The difference between the ‘hats’ your links are wearing is based on their ethical quality.
As per the old movie representations, the good guy or the hero of a story wears a white hat and the villain wears a black hat. When it comes to links, the white hat ones are the rule followers and the black hat ones are the risky and sneaky techniques.
What Are Black Hat Links
It’s important to note that these linking techniques aren’t actually breaking any laws. What they are doing is contradicting the guidelines that Google uses to determine high-quality pages.
In an effort to gain many links without all the effort, many businesses will turn to black hat techniques such as paying for backlinks or dropping spammy links in every possible comment section. This may temporarily boost your visibility, but as soon as the bots catch on, you’ll be penalized for the action.
Unfortunately, before you can start to improve your ranks again, you’ll need to remove the black hat links from your content and start fresh.
What Are White Hat Links
These rule-follower links can be much harder to obtain and therefore tend to be forgotten about. The problem is, linking from your content is easy, but getting others to direct their viewers to your pages isn’t as simple.
To gain relevance and quality in the eyes of the Google algorithm, you’ll not only need plenty of links, but you’ll need them from organic sources. In essence, this means that your content is so good that others felt it would add quality to their content to link to you.
Using these techniques may be more time consuming, but the benefits are incredibly worthwhile. You’ll be able to see more organic growth due to the increase in your ranking and the results of this growth will be more long term than taking sneaky shortcuts.
Beyond improving your ranking, you’ll also experience an increase in relevant traffic from the quality links. Once other sites start referring to you as an authoritative source, their viewers will begin to click through the links. You could even become a go-to on their list of reliable sites due to the trust you’ve earned organically.
And of course, the ROI for these links is much higher than paying for black hat links that ultimately earn you penalties.
So how can you gain more white hat links for your website? Luckily for you, there are few methods you can use to boost these quality backlinks.
To master this technique, you’ll need to do up the quality of your content by performing some research. Develop a list of keywords that are relevant to your niche and see what competitors for each keyword are publishing.
Most high-performing posts are a long-form article with plenty of visual lead-through and descriptive headings. Take note of what content is getting the most traffic for that keyword and create posts that offer more value than that leading result.
Once you have published content that tops any other source online, you can leverage your expert piece and ask other sites to reference you. To find sites that will value your content, take note of who linked to the competing posts with that keyword.
Compose personalized emails to these sites and let them know that you’ve published new content that’s relevant to their audience. Encourage them to link to you by providing the link to your latest post and suggest that it may add value for their readers.
Once you’ve established a relationship with these sites, sending them your updates will become more natural and they will start to look to you as a reliable resource to link to.
This approach is becoming massively popular for building ethical backlinks. To take advantage, all you’ll need to do is write quality content for other sites and include a link to your page somewhere in the article.
You’ll need to source blogs that are relevant to your niche and accept guest posts for their website. To find these sites, you can perform a quick search for [your niche]+ intitle: “write for us”.
For example, if you are a trades school offering a variety of course options you could search “trades courses +intitle: “write for us”. This will automatically show you which websites offer content for that niche and are accepting guest posts.
Craft your content to offer valuable advice and include only one link to your related post. This could be an article explaining the benefits of taking a trade with a link to your article about choosing the right trade for each student.
You’ll use targeted anchor text to embed the link back to your site and then submit the article to the chosen site. Don’t panic if your first choice doesn’t take the article. If they haven’t posted it, you can resubmit to another blog. Just be careful not to resubmit already published material as this will be flagged for duplicate content and harm your ranking as well as the publishing site.
Marketers know that visual aids such as infographics are highly effective in keeping viewers engaged. Take advantage of this by not only including visuals in your content but creating great infographics for others to use as well.
If your article contains these valuable pieces, other sites will be more inclined to use you as their link for reference. Of course, not every site will give credit to their resources, so to ensure you earn your credit, embed your link in the infographic itself.
This way, if other sites ‘borrow’ your infographic, they will be inserting your link right into their content and letting Google know you are the source.
Sites like Reddit and Quora serve as a hub for users to ask questions and receive real recommendations from the public. These sites are open for anyone to use, so you have free reign to recommend your own content.
Use your keywords to find questions that your pages can answer and link to your specific article in the answer section.
It’s important when using this technique to only leave links to content that is a quality answer to the question. If you appear to be spamming the comments section with your links and they are found to add little or no value, this will cross over into black hat linking.
Keep your answers personalized and helpful to gain higher respect from the question asker and hold more value for your site.
Replace Broken Links
Due to websites changing or taking down old content, any websites that linked to their expired content will no longer be active. These are called broken links and can actually reflect poorly on a company. For this reason, websites that contain them are often eager to replace them once they are discovered.
In order to be the one that replaces these links, you can actually seek out broken links by using broken link finders on pages that fit your niche.
From here, you can either bring up your already produced content that fits the existing links place or create an article specifically for that target. This can also serve as a bonus if you are struggling to come up with ideas for your posts.
Once you’ve got an article that suits the broken link, you can get in touch with the company and let them know that you noticed a broken link on their page and feel your blog could fill the gap.
Be as specific as possible so that saying yes to your request is more convenient for the company than finding the broken link and sourcing another suitable option.
With the rising popularity of podcasts, these online stations serve as a great place to gain publicity as well as quality links.
Seek out higher education podcasters and reach out to them to have an interview. Send them a link to your content and suggest a specific piece for talking points. This will give the interview direction and allow you to share your expert view on the subject matter.
Once the podcast goes live, you’ll be drawing in more student leads due to your podcast cameo, and the link the host included in the description will boost your rank. You can then share your podcast interview on your socials to promote the growth and authority of the podcast. This will add incentive for the host to have you on as well as increase the quality of the backlink for your site.
Build Your White Hat Links
Now that you know the value of white hat links and why they matter, you can use these tips and techniques to start building your backlink collection. From a higher ranking on Google to increased trust from your leads, you’ll be experiencing the amazing benefits of your white hat links in no time.
Ready to repair your online marketing and eliminate those black hat linking mistakes? Get in touch with us today to discover how we can take your site from penalized to optimized and break you into those valuable top results.