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SEO Field Guide: Ethical Link Building Strategies

August 30, 2021 | Northwoods Team, Your Trusted Digital Trail Guides

4 Minute Read

From the dawn of the internet, backlinks have been valuable for domain authority and position on search engine results pages. So, of course, during those early, Wild West days, bandits found ways to game them. Link-building strategists, as often as not, wore black hats. They were manipulative and given to schemes that misled users and dodged search engine rules.

But since Google and other search engines have brought relative law and order to the scene, Whitehat Search Engine Optimization strategists have cleaned up link building. It’s not just for outlaws, anymore. SEO professionals have found efficient and ethical ways to raise the authority of their websites through legit link-building.

Types of Backlinks

Analyze your current link-building profile. First, look at your backlinks. Both internal and external links positively influence SEO and page rank – provided that those links are natural, logical, and beneficial to search engine users.

Internal links connect your content within your website. They give website crawlers an idea of overall site structure and raise the relevance and trustworthiness of your website. External links, both outbound and inbound, connect your site to outside websites. Google essentially looks at backlinks as popularity votes and testaments to the quality of your content. Backlinks are important and considered a Google ranking factor.

When quality, relevant websites link to yours, then relevant, productive traffic tends to flow to your site. Such inbound links also raise your SEO ranking. If your website provides useful content, it will become a valuable resource and the gains in visitor traffic and SERP position will be sustainable.

Google has made it clear that successful, Whitehat linking strategy is about high-quality backlinks, not high quantity. (Check out Moz’s article on link building and establishing authority. )

Part of growing your online presence is keeping up with the ever-changing trends. So, including ethical link building in your digital marketing strategy will enhance your online presence.

Keys to Ethical Link Building

Link building is hard, but worth the time and effort. By conducting an ethical link building strategy, you are:

  1. Avoiding penalties
    • Manipulating search engine algorithms waves a red flag in front of Google. Such malpractice could prompt partial or full removal of your website from the Google index.
  2. Acquiring sustainability
    • A repeatable ethical strategy eventually yields long-term assets, relationships, and systems.
  3. Adding value to your website
    • When site visitors arrive via backlinks and find valuable content, they will trust you. They will see your website as authoritative, which will raise your rankings.

Consider these five Whitehat link-building strategies to improve referral traffic, content value, and domain authority.

Create Valuable Content

Well-researched, well-written content is the bedrock of effective link building. (Do not stuff that content with keywords; Sheriff Google wised up to that years ago.) Other authors and content developers seek posts that offer valuable and trustworthy information. Give it to them. Take the time to create the best possible blog posts.

Be a Journalistic Source of Information

Provide sound advice. Share clever quotes. Become an informational hub. Content marketing is not journalism, but done right, it’s close. Good articles get passed around, and that means your brand is gaining respect. Note that real journalists try to triangulate truth by seeking out diverse viewpoints. You can do that with your content. Gather a range of thoughts and opinions on certain topics to create a good user experience and tap into new ideas.

Social Media Engagement

Make and maintain a business profile on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for an easy way to quickly build links. Post content consistently on social media platforms to build a solid fan base. Target your audience; a ball-bearing manufacturer doesn’t need millions of followers, maybe just a few hundred of exactly the right fans.  

Guest Blogging

Many website owners -- especially those without the resources to frequently add or update content -- are looking for guest posts from authoritative and trustworthy individuals. Content from an invited guest can fill the gap, flatter a new expert friend, and win a quality inbound backlink. And if you create guest content for an outside site, you can link to your own site in your bio or through a hyperlinked keyword.

Internal Linking

Create internal links, for the very good reasons mentioned above. But use some discretion.

  1. Avoid linking to your main page.
    • Links to your main page will not increase site authority as much as linking to pages with solid content. Links to a specific page will improve rankings on those pages, create a better user experience and clarify overall website structure to web crawlers.
  2. Select the right anchor text.
  3. Create useful content
    • Useful content opens opportunity for more internal linking. Adding a blog to your website is a great start to internal linking. Think of a pillar blog topic and strategically choose other topics that can all link together.

SEO in general and link-building in particular change constantly. Keeping up is hard but keep up we must. Your online strategies must evolve to raise rank, win friends, and avoid search engine penalties.

The Wild West era might be behind us, but legends persist. To sort it out, check out our blog on SEO Myths and Facts of 2020.

If you’re ready to introduce link building into your marketing strategy, we can help! Don’t hesitate to contact us.