What is white hat link building?
White hat link building is a systematic process for companies to secure links naturally, ethically, and in a scalable manner by adhering to Google best practices. It’s about quality over the quantity of links.
What are white hat link building strategies?
Building quality links, also known as white hat link building, is very time intensive but it is the only type of link acquisition strategy that works to improve your organic rankings. The bottom line is that you have to earn the link. Your site has to provide so much value that other high-quality websites want to mention you because they feel that their users can benefit from your content.
Do I Even Need A Link Building Agency?
Link building is one of the key tools in your SEO arsenal. With the right strategy in place, link building can help your website or brand build the reputation and online presence to stand out among the crowd. Links are one of the many factors judged by search engines to determine the worth and relevance of a website, so they can't be neglected when devising a SEO strategy. Some valuable links will be built organically by producing content that attracts the right kind of attention, but actively pursuing good links is also a must for anyone that wants to quickly raise the profile of their site.
When considering link building for your site, you have the option to try and do it yourself as much as possible. Your other option is to work with a link building agency, which can take a lot of the work out of creating valuable links. A link building agency ensures you get the links you need to help improve the SEO for your site and increase your traffic. So, the question then becomes this: What can a link building agency do for you? And do you really need to work with one to successfully build high-quality links to your site?
What Is Link Building?
Link building is the process of securing links to your website from other sites. Acquiring links isn't easy, in fact, it is often seen as one of the most challenging things to do in the SEO world. It is especially difficult when you want those links to come from valuable websites that search engines such as Google view favorably. That's why even SEO experts often turn to link building agencies to help them get the job done.
Why Do You Need Link Building?
Link building is an important part of SEO because links are one of the many factors that search engines consider when determining the value and relevance of a website in relation to a search. They check the number of links pointing to a page, but also the websites that those links come from. Links are used by search engines to help determine where a page should rank in their search results, so good links are a key part of good SEO.
But what exactly makes a good link? The definition has changed over the years, as Google has tried to prevent SEO professionals from manipulating the system. Not too long ago, Google recommended submitting your site to web directories to build links. However, after overuse by SEO professionals, Google responded by assigning less value to these types of links. The number of links pointing to a page and where those links come from are both still important factors in how that page will rank in search results, but it's important to keep up with search engine algorithm updates and best practice guidelines to understand the best link building methods. No one knows the exact algorithm that Google uses to determine the value of a link, but link building experts spend time working out the best techniques to use.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Link Building Agency?
When you first start to learn about popular link building methods, you might think that your team can take care of link building internally. However, any SEO professional can tell you that proper link building is a very time-consuming process that takes time and skill to secure valuable links that will actually help your site's ranking. Poor quality links could end up hurting your website, rather than helping it, so it's essential to invest in getting high-quality links. This is where a link building agency comes in.
A link building agency has the tools, expertise, and resources required to get the job done for you. However, no two link building agencies are the same, and you need to know how to find the best agency for your needs.
What Type of Link Building Services Do I Need?
There are several types of link building techniques to consider when developing your brand’s link building strategy. Each of these link building strategies can help you to target different audiences and build links for your site in unique ways.Some of the techniques that can be used in link building include:
- Editorial links/linkable content marketing - the creation and distribution of linkable assets like blog posts to relevant publications, message boards, etc.
- Blogger outreach – conducting outreach to bloggers to get their blogs to link to content on your website
- Strategic link placement - securing links from high domain websites that are highly relevant to your website or brand
- White label links – taking advantage of web pages built by third parties to help build your own brand’s identity
- Curated link building - reaching out to webmasters and asking for a link from a piece of content that is relevant to your site
How Do I Determine What Link Building Strategies I Need for My Business?
Determining which of these services or link building strategies could be useful for your brand requires you to consider your goals. If you want to focus on gaining fewer links on websites with higher authority, strategic link placement or curated link building might be the best route for you to take. If your aim is to increase the overall number of links to your website, using blogger outreach can help you to get links from medium to high-authority sites more quickly.
It's also important to consider your link building budget. Which is the most cost-effective strategy for your business that will still help you to get the results you want? Speaking to link building agencies can help you to determine which is the best approach for the unique goals of your brand or business.
How Do I Set Link Building Goals Specific to My Business?
Setting link building goals for your business will help you to work out what services you should be considering. First, you should ask yourself: What are the overall goals of your business? Your SEO and link building goals should align with your overarching business and marketing goals to ensure every aspect of your organization is working toward the same result. This will make it easier to consider what your specific link building goals should be.
There are various goals that you may wish to consider when creating a link building campaign, including:
- Broadening your portfolio of relevant keywords
- Increasing referral traffic
- Improving search engine performance of your current keywords
- Growing market awareness
- Naturalizing your link profile
- Indexing new pages or a new site
While your first instinct might be to set a goal of a certain number of links, this isn't the best way to measure success. Tying your link building goals into organizational goals for your business is the most effective way to set realistic goals and increase your chances of seeing results.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay?
The cost of link building will vary depending on the services that you choose, your campaign goals, and more. Some link building services are more productized than others, so you'll know right away how much you're going to be paying per link. Others are more of an ongoing service, which will require you to ask for a quote for your campaign.
What Type of Contractual Commitment Should I Expect?
Knowing what you're committing to (and what you're going to get out of it) is essential when working with a link building agency. Some link building services don't require any long-term contractual commitment; you can simply buy the product that you're interested in and wait for your order to be fulfilled. For example, blogger outreach services generally allow you to buy a set number of links.
Other services will involve making more of a commitment, especially if you want to focus on a wider campaign that helps you to secure results over time. Some services offer monthly payment plans, which promise you a certain number of links per month. Others might expect you to sign on for a contract of several months or even a year in order to guarantee better results. When outlining a contract, make sure it clearly defines both the agency's obligations and yours before you sign.
What Should I Look for in a Link Building Agency?
When you're looking for a link building agency, there are some key things that you want to keep in mind. First, you will want to find an agency that offers appropriate services for your needs and that can help you to create and act on a strategy to reach your goals.
Some link building agencies may simply provide you with strategy advice, which can be useful if you are a marketer or have some link building knowledge. However, if you need more help with link building or want to work more closely with your chosen link building agency on executing their strategy, you might consider looking for a full-service marketing agency that offers link building services. While this isn't essential, it can be useful if they are able to look at your website and your digital marketing holistically to create a link building strategy that can help you to work toward your business goals
Communication is an important factor when choosing a link building agency. If you will be working closely with them, you need to know how well they communicate. Will you have a dedicated point of contact who oversees your project? How frequently will they get in touch with you and are they easy to reach if you need them? Can you email, call or talk to them using chat or instant messaging? These are all useful things to know if you want a link building agency that communicates well and regularly updates you on what's happening with your campaign.
Of course, you also want a link building agency that produces results. To determine this, you should look at case studies and testimonials, check reviews, and even ask for references from previous and current clients. With this information, you should be able to get a clear idea of how they have helped their clients and how they might help you too.
What Questions Should I Ask Link Building Companies?
While it's useful to have a shortlist of link building companies to consider, you also need to get in touch with them to find out more about what they can do for you. This gives them an opportunity to show how they can tailor their advice and services to the needs of your business.
There are various questions that you might want to ask in order to separate the link building agencies that are suited to your business from those that aren't. You might want to start with some basic questions, before asking questions that are more specific to your business.
- What techniques do you use to secure links?
- What strategies will work best for my business and link building goals?
- How do you approach creating a link building strategy?
- What SEO tools do you use?
- How will you track and report on results?
- When can I expect to see results from my campaign?
- How often will I be able to see reports? Will I have a dedicated client dashboard?
- How do your methods align with the Google webmaster guidelines?
- How do you evaluate potential websites used for links?
- What case studies or examples can you show me of your work?
- Who will be managing my project? Who will be my dedicated point of contact?
- How is your team structured?
- Do you outsource any stage of the link building process?
All these questions can help you to evaluate the link building agencies that you are considering. They should help you to determine which agencies will take an approach that's suited to your business and its goals.
How Do I Check References and What Should I Ask?
Asking for references is a good way to check the quality of an agency's work. While looking at case studies on their website is a good start, bear in mind that they are the ones who put the studies together — naturally, the agency will want to choose their most successful cases and put a positive spin on their results. When you are assessing a link building agency, ask for references that you can get in touch with to check the quality of the agency's work and the satisfaction of past and current clients.
You might be able to get in touch with these references via email or phone to ask them some questions about their experiences with your potential new agency. Before doing this, it can be useful to research the company and find out more about them. Consider using tools such as the free backlink checker by ahrefs to take a closer look at the quality of their links.
When you get in touch with the references that you have been given, you might want to ask questions such as:
- How was your overall experience with the link building agency?
- Did you/have you seen the results that you wanted?
- Have you found the process of working with the agency easy?
- What were your goals when working with the agency? Have you achieved them?
- What is communication with the agency like?
- What were the challenges you faced when working with them? How were they resolved?
- Do you feel that you received appropriate value for the money spent working with the agency?
- If they are not currently working with the agency: would you hire them again?
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Whenever you invest your business's money in a marketing campaign, you want to know when you can expect to see results. Link building is generally not something that you can expect to get immediate results from, but that doesn't mean that there is no way to keep track of how your link building campaign is going. Obtaining new links for your website can have a positive impact on its rankings and other metrics, but it can take time for this positive impact to become apparent. This can make it a little more challenging for link building agencies to show you the results of your campaign.
One thing that they can show you quickly is secured links from valuable websites. However, it can take weeks or even months for the real value of those links to become apparent. That's why it is almost always more useful to work with an agency for at least a few months if you want to see results. According to Moz, it takes 10 weeks on average to see one rank jump. Moz also points out that the lower the starting position in search engine rankings, the greater the effect a new link will have. Links from higher DA (domain authority) websites will also help you to get results faster, and securing a higher volume of links can help create a more immediate effect.
When choosing a link building agency, talk to them about what results you can expect to see and when you can expect to see them. A good agency will be realistic about the effect that link building has and the time it takes to help you reach your goals.
How Do You Track and Measure Results from Link Building?
Now that you have an idea of how long it takes to see results from link building, you also need to know how these results can be tracked and measured. How can you determine the process of your link building campaign and your link building ROI? There are several metrics that you can use to measure the results of your link building search engine rankings, analytics, and social media relevance.
Search engine rankings are easy to understand, so they are one of the ways that you might choose to measure your site's performance. For starters, you need to know where in the search engine results your site or page ranks for your target keyword. This might be information that you get using tools such as Google Search Console that tell you the average position of your site. Aiming for the first page or two of results is what most want to do, but any improvement in your rankings could help your site. However, it's important to remember that ranking well doesn't always correspond with more traffic for your site, so it is worth looking at these metrics separately.
Tools such as Google Analytics can help you keep track of your website rankings for certain keywords. You can create filters for specific keywords so that you can quickly see relevant data at a glance; you can even connect to your Google Search Console data to see all the information you need in one place. Data can be filtered, allowing you to look at different time periods, and you can export data, too, to keep track of your progress.
Social media offers another way of tracking the performance of your link building campaign. You can look at social conversions to see how your links are performing, which can be made easier by tagging the URLs that you share in your social campaigns and tracking them in Google Analytics or a similar tool.
The advantage of using a link building agency is that they will help you to track the progress of your link building campaign. They’ll tell you how they will be monitoring performance and how they will be reporting to you, including which tools they will be using. They might also provide you with a client dashboard or portal where you can check the progress of your campaign at your convenience.
What Is the Difference Between White-hat and Black-hat Links?
In marketing and SEO, the terms white-hat and black-hat refer to ethical and unethical (or less ethical) methods of marketing. In terms of link building, white-hat link building methods are generally low-risk and align with the webmaster guidelines from Google, as well as other search engines, such as Bing. White-hat link building techniques can include methods such as creating valuable content, promoting your website to interested parties, and finding relevant websites to link to your site.
Black-hat links are created using less ethical methods that are likely to violate Google's guidelines. These include tactics such as cloaking (showing users and search engines different content), using hidden text on a page only shown to search engines, and injecting links onto a website that you don't own. Violating the webmaster guidelines can result in a penalty from the search engine. This will affect your website's ranking and it could take several months for it to recover.
Where does paying for link building services fit into this? One thing to note is that there is a difference between buying links outright and using various methods to build links. Search engines frown upon buying links, especially in large numbers, but investing in strategies that help to build links for your site without violating search engine guidelines can help you to gain links in an ethical way.
Are the Links Paid or Earned?
To expand on the above, links can be either paid for or earned. Paid backlinks involve paying third-party domains to link to your site. This practice isn't allowed by Google and other search engines. Earning links involves the use of various methods that link building agencies can help you with. It requires time to invest in the process to earn and secure the necessary links to improve a website's performance.
When you are looking for the right link building agency, you need to check whether you are going to get paid links or earned links. If search engines see your new links as paid links, it could lead to penalties and a drop in performance, rather than the rise in ranking or other benefits that you might be looking for. Be thorough in your research of a link building agency and make sure that you understand how they're going to help you before you decide if they are the right agency for you.
Are the Links Permanent?
Another important thing to check is whether the links that you secure using a link building agency are going to be permanent. Will they remain on the web page forever, or at least in the long-term? If the link is removed too soon, it might not have any effect on your site. On the other hand, expecting a link to remain forever may not be realistic, as websites and their content change all the time. However, reputable link building agencies will try to secure you permanent links as much as they are able to. While they might not have control over what others do with their websites, they can find sites that will link back to your site long-term. You need to be continually building links to affect the ranking of your website.
Ask link building agencies about whether the links that they earn for you are permanent or if they are only of a temporary nature. They should be using the right strategies to help you secure permanent links. If the links are temporary, they need to be live for a minimum of six months for them to be useful.
Working with a link building agency is a smart decision if you want to improve your website's link profile. Link building is a crucial part of SEO, and the right agency can ensure you're taking the steps you need to succeed without violating search engine guidelines. When you're looking for a link building agency, be sure to take a thorough approach to find the right one before deciding which agency is right for you.