Right Hat SEO time-tested, client approved and colleague hailed white hat link building techniques (with some gray just for good measure).
Link Building List
White hat link building will provide long-term results while gray hat is short-sighted and has the potential to awake the heavy handed Google for a  penalizing slap to send your site into search engine oblivion. The premise of white hat link building is that the content provides value for the end-user. The premise of gray hat is that it does not not blatantly spam search engines, like black hat, but it may not provide original or useful content to the end-user.

With both those premises in mind, you can think of creative ways to get those ever so needed backlinks for boosting your rankings. This list will grow as I test other back link building techniques. And I will be back to explain more techniques…coming soon.

31 White Hat Link Building Techniques

  1. Directory Submissions – including Niche Directories and DMoz. Make sure to control to which directories your site is submitted. Links coming from unrelated directories will not help. Using a Fiverr gig for 500+ directories may sound good up front until you realize that some of those directories are adult or gambling related. Fewer, but quality, relevant, topical directories will do the trick. the major players are DMOZ, Business.com, BOTW and Yahoo.
  2. Local Directories – If you’re a local business, these listings are a must. Paid local listings hold the highest backlink value. Listings that require a phone validation hold the second highest. Listings that require an email verification hold the lowest value. Here is a good list of 20 from Hubspot, but you should also include other, more relevant local business listing directories —> Use the query operator: “local business directory” + keyword or niche + city, state. This query will result in showing possible local directories to which you can add your business.
  3. Search Engine Submissions – It’s not necessary to add your site to all the search engines, but they do provide some basic, fundamental backlinks as a starting point. There are some major search engines to which you will definitely need to submit. Submitting to Free For All (FFA) sites can actually get your site penalized so make sure to only add to sites that manually review your submission or for which you have to pay for inclusion.
  4. Press Releases – These backlinks have a major benefit because of their triple-natures: a) They provide traffic, b) They usually get distributed to trusted and authoritative sites and c) They pass more link juice than article submissions.
  5. Article Marketing/Syndication – This is an older technique that doesn’t hold as much weight but still plays a major part in link diversity. As with all other link building strategies, focus on quality over quantity. Pre-Panda, duplicate articles passed more link juice. Post-Panda, duplicate articles get slapped. Focus on relevant categories in authoritative article directories and you will use a technique that most others are passing up because they don’t know how to do it the Right way.
  6. Guest Blogging – I personally believe that guest blogging is one of the most powerful and efficient white hat techniques. The reason I agree with this technique is that, when guest blogging, all parties benefit from the transaction. By guest blogging, a writer provides high quality content for a site of his or her choosing. This gives the site owner free, quality content. This provides a diverse backlink for the guest blogger and exposes him to new readers. This is definitely top 3 for my link building strategies. Guest blogging provides a high-quality, trusted, long-term backlink. The effort is worth it.
  7. Social Bookmarking – This is a simple technique. Just don’t spam the SB sites with multiple accounts. Focus on one power account.
  8. Blog Commenting – Find sites/pages that are relevant to your sites or pages topics and participate in their blog commenting with comments that add value to the discussion. Don’t just add a random comment just to get your incoming link. Most Webmasters are quick to moderate and slow to accept. If you throw up a worthless comment, expect it to be removed. Be careful of adding your link to pages that link out to bad neighborhoods.
  9. RSS Feed Syndication – this allows people to find you through RSS Feeds. You can generate a nice amount of traffic from a simple submission. Well worth the time.
  10. Link Bait – Create compelling content that people will love and share. Creating fresh, amazing and easily share-able content is one of the best and quickest ways to generate quality, powerful, long-term links. It’s so good, even Matt Cutts himself has endorsed it. I haven’t fully mastered this technique (as of 2.8.12) but it is one that I am delving into with full force because I can see how powerful it can be when implemented correctly. This technique answers Googles call for good old content. People share good content, provide links and Google rewards you with rankings for a job well done.
  11. Video Submissions – In the description of your videos, you can add your URL. When done correctly, two things can happen: a) People enjoy, share and link to your video, increasing the power of your backlink and b) hundreds of other video sites pick up their videos from Youtube and tend to scrape the description, which includes your URL which means a more diversified backlink profile
  12. Social Media Profiles – You can use this two ways. One way is completely white hat and the other is a little gray. The white hat way is using these to fortify your brand (branded social profiles) with your company logo, description, link, completed profile<–these profiles should be updated with company information, status updates, press releases, etc. The gray hat way is to create multiple accounts (non-branded social profiles) and let them sit without any or many updates. Or you can feed them through Ping.fm, Hellotxt etc.
  13. Web 2.0 Properties – these sites can provide a platform for your company to share more information about products, services, beliefs, etc. As with the social media profiles, these can be either white or gray depending on how you use them. Think of white hat as quality over quantity. Gray (it’s more very dark gray) is quantity over quality. Focus on providing quality and value to end-users. Google will reward you. These can also be branded.
  14. Twitter – This is part of the social networking package. Connect with Tweeters who are in your same vertical. Tweets are “nofollow” but recent statistics have shown that Google respects them and they do help you rank. It’s also part of your social footprint. Brand your Twitter profile.
  15. Blog Directories – This is a simple way to get a backlink and fairly easy.
  16. Facebook – Although Facebook can block SEs from reading personal profiles, Fan Pages are indexed. The more fans you have, the bigger your social footprint. Get a link to your site from your fan page and on other personal profiles and Google will respect those links. F.Y.I I’ve seen them in my Webmaster Tools “Links to your Site”.
  17. Tumblr – By sharing content through this medium, your content can more easily go viral.
  18. Authority Bookmarking – Use Delicious as a platform to become the bookmark king for your topic and add your own pages as you do so.
  19. Local Government Sites i.e. BBB, Chamber of commerce, etc. – These are quality links which build a ton of trust and authority. Add your site/business to their listings.
  20. Deep Link Accounts – Choose 5 social sharing and web 2.0 sites, setup your profiles and use these as an outlet for backlinking your new pages.
  21. Create a WordPress Widget/Plugin – you can add code that inserts a backlink to your site whenever the widget or plugin is used. Create a great widget or plugin and it can get picked up by hundreds of thousands of sites.
  22. Donate to an organization/Sponsorships – You donate, they give you a backlink as a contributor. As simple as that.
  23. Blogging – Google personally encourages it…I say “Do it!” (source: rel=”nofollow” USA Today & Stone Temple). Keeping an updated blog offers links in a variety of ways.
  24. Backlinking for Links — Premises: If someone links to a competitor, there is a decent chance that they might be willing to link to you. Email them or find a way to get a link on their site.
  25. Tynt – anytime someone copies and pastes from our site, this script automatically adds a hyperlink. (*Update*-Don’t add this script to your site. Two days after adding it to my site, it added characters to the end of all my urls. i.e. http://www.righthatseo.com/link-building-list/#Ardh4U56_uL, etc.)
  26. Reciprocal Links – only from related sites or they’ll look like paid links even if they aren’t. Don’t go crazy with this one. I don’t really endorse this much. Choose your reciprocals wisely.
  27. Forum Posting/Commenting – Build a profile and start participating in the community. Don’t spam the forums or you’ll get the boot. Be real and participate.
  28. Podcast syndication – create a podcast and submit it to podcast directories (haven’t done this but it’s been in many of my readings)
  29. Multimedia presentations in Slideshare, iTunes podcasts, etc. – these get shared quite often
  30. Infographics – this is the newest form of linkbait
  31. Images – a good image will be used on many other websites, make sure it has your URL attached to it so attribution is more likely to occur

11 Gray Hat Link Building Techniques

I do not endorse these techniques. But if you are going to use them, do so in moderation and build them as natural as possible. Gray hat links should not be done en masse or be highly automated. They have the potential of breaking you, so be careful with implementing these techniques. I rarely use them and will take them off the list if used and have a negative impact. Gray hat links have a shelf-life, so why waste time on these when you can spend time acquiring high quality links.

  1. Add links to Job Postings – only if the job postings are legit. If they aren’t, then that would be considered black hat
  2. Wiki sites – once again, everything in moderation
  3. Pay Per Post – Google doesn’t like paid links. I was talking with a friend last night and his company offers 1 lb. of candy for a post reviewing one of their candies. Genius idea – instead of ‘paying’, you give incentives for posts.
  4. Build a Personal Network of High PR blogs – Buy old high PR sites, recreate them and add your links within the content. Don’t have them on the same IP or near each other. Don’t use the same theme. Get private registration.
  5. Blog Networks – Instead of buying some pricey high PR domains (one-time high cost), join a blog network for a monthly fee. This is equivalent to guest blogging but the only problem is that the sites to which your articles are published are 99% of the time non-topical/irrelevant to the theme of the article you submit. Public blog networks are completely dead and useless
  6. Dripfeed Links – many services will create and post a certain amount of links per day according to the settings you
  7. Paid Reviews – simple as that. Get a webmaster to write a review of your site. They will post a link to your site.
  8. Automated Link Building – Use sparingly. White hat link building turns gray when automated. Used in abundance, gray turns dark black.
  9. Article Spinning and Submission – This can cut down writing time. You can use the spinner to rewrite your content, turning one article into a quite a few articles. The trick is to make sure that you manually review all spinning options in order to make sure that each article makes sense and is grammatically sound. If not, most of your spun articles will be rejected. Update 7/10/2012 http://www.stonetemple.com/matt-cutts-and-eric-talk-about-what-makes-a-quality-site. It’s best if you drop this technique now.
  10. Automated Twitter Accounts – Same as automated link building. Be careful.
  11. Automated Facebook accounts – Same as automated link building. Be careful.

Start using the white hat techniques first and work those into your link building campaign. Only use the gray hat techniques if you’re ready for a bumpy ride. Never use black hat techniques. For more information on what Google hates, in terms of link building tactics, read here.

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