The Semantic Incompatibility of “Link-Building” and White Hat SEO
Lately there have been reports in the SEO community of sites being heavily penalized or even de-indexed by Google for having “bad” link profiles. According to such reports, Google has identified site’s which have link profiles that are composed of a large quantities of bad links, and have taken action by heavily penalizing or even de-indexing these sites. Respected SEO Cyrus Shepard summed it up as follows:
So, the pattern is that sites with link profiles which are composed heavily of comment links, interlinking between sites (blog networks, etc.), and paid links, are being heavily penalized. This made me think about the semantics of the term “link building”. Comment links, inter-links between blog networks, and paid links, are all links that have been “built”; that is to say, they have been constructed, or formed.
For example, in order to get a comment link, one must find a blog, or online article on which to comment, fill in their name (a.k.a anchor text) and URL in the fields, leave their comment, probably complete a CAPTCHA, and then submit. Similarly, for one to get links by inter-linking between blog or link networks, one must set-up these networks, building websites and content for those websites.
Even for a paid link, which perhaps requires the least amount of building, one must still at the very least fill out not only the fields required to properly display the link, but also their credit card information; again building these links.
Many in the SEO community will hold that all of these methods of link building are black hat, or grey hat at best. But they cannot debate that each is a method of link-building none-the-less. And thus, the explanation for my claim that white hat SEO’s cannot link-build. It does seem, however, that what a white hat SEO can do is link-earn.
Link-Earn: How White Hat’s Acquire Links
Link-earning is a far better name to be associated with any white hat method for acquiring back links, because it accuartely describes the techniques that a white hat can use while still maintaining his “white hat” title. Let’s have a look at some of the white hat ways to link-earn.
Broken link-earning (which up until the publication of this post was called, broken link-building), is the method of getting back links by bringing to the attention of a webmaster a broken link on her site, and then proposing that she replace that dirty broken link with a link that you recommend. By doing the good deed of reporting said dastardly broken link, you have earned a back link from the webmaster. You have not built the link, as the webmaster is the one who will actually construct or form your back link.
Creating a original and useful inforgraphic is another great way that white hats can earn links. The process involves creating an infographic, sharing it with an online community who will find that graphic informative, and then providing users in that community with the proper html code to embed that infographic in their own sites as they please, while at the same time linking back to the site that you choose. A great way to earn links, without really building links.
Sending out emails to your valued customers or blog subscribers is a way to earn some really good links. Many have used methods such as offering up small gift cards or giving a discount on a future order in exchange for a link on the customer’s or blog subscriber’s web site. Just another example of some pure, white hat, link-earning.