In the world of SEO and link building there are two separate camps. Those in the white-hat link building camp and those in the black-hat link building camp. Those in the white-hat camp choose to employ strategies and techniques that are generally accepted within the SEO community and believed to adhere to the qualifications of proper link building practices as determined by Google’s search algorithm. Those who perpetrate black-hat link building tactics attempt to game and manipulate this algorithm for faster easier results. In 2013, the division between white-hat and black-hat link building practices has become more clear and easier to discern. Link building in 2013 is certainly different from what old school pros may have gotten used to.
Link Building in 2013: Panda Packs a Punch
The recent Panda update was yet another step taken by Google to clean up its search algorithm and further eliminate spam. This update set out to punish those utilizing black-hat tactics and specifically those with poor content. The main focus of the Panda update seemed to be on quality content, as the effects of it were most devastating for those using content farms and spun articles to acquire links.
It also seems as though Panda put a heavy emphasis on relevancy, penalizing those which possessed links to sites way outside of their niche. One of the more famous sites to get hit by the Panda update for these very reasons was J.C. Penny, which can be seen in this article from the NY Times. Although many sites such as J.C. Penny were caught by Panda, there are those who evaded the update and continue to exercise black-hat schemes.
Black-hat Link Building
Black-hat practices, in regard to link building, aim to gain as many links as possible through minimal effort.
One of the primary strategies utilized by black-hat link builders is the use of spammy comments. They will place comments in posts located on other sites that have nothing to do with the actual post; instead the comment just promotes their site and contains a link. This has led to many webmasters implementing moderation into their comments section. Also, it appears that Google has caught onto this as well and these types of links are not as powerful as they once were.
Another tactic black-hat link builders have turned to is creating link farms. A link farm is a site that is created purely to produce links for another site. Some of these sites are well constructed and look legitimate. However, when examining the external links on such a site you will see that they all point to the same place.
Along with these clever schemes, black-hat link builders exploit guest posting. They produce low-quality content and target sites that publish such content with no regard for relevancy. Sites like this tend to raise a red-flag for Google and usually get penalized along with the sites linking to them.
While these strategies will produce quick links, the links obtained are not organic and Google will not reward these types of links. Some of these tactics may produce results in the short-term and some may even go unnoticed for a prolonged period of time, but in the end Google will continue to update its algorithm and eventually expose and punish such shady practices.
White-hat Link Building
On the other hand, there are those who attempt to follow widely accepted white-hat link building strategies.
White-hat link building, for the most part, involves two major aspects. Those two aspects are quality and relevant content. White-hat practitioners aim to produce useful, high quality content on relevant niche sites where it will provide value to the audience.
This type of link building takes much more time and effort, and follows the classic philosophy of quality over quantity. The reason it takes longer to obtain links through white-hat link building methods is because it is much harder to produce interesting and stimulating content; and then, find the best and most applicable location for that content.
There is a reason that although these white-hat techniques are harder to execute and take longer to implement, many link builders still elect to pursue these strategies. This is because this type of organic link building is beneficial for the online community as a whole, which is something Google tends to embrace. The goal for Google is to make navigating the web easier for the user, and they are not going to punish something that does exactly that. This is why these types of link building processes are the future of SEO.
While black-hat link building tactics offer short-term results, Google eventually is able to pin down these types schemes and disciplines them accordingly. White-hat link building practices provide a mutually beneficial situation for the link builder and the internet community as a whole and Google approves of these techniques. If you are implementing any sort of link building projects for your website or blog, I strongly suggest you take some time to thoroughly consider which camp your own strategies fall under before you’re the next victim of a Google algorithm update.
About the Author
Andrew Dennis is a writer at the relevancy-first link building company Page One Power. When he’s not writing about link building best practices, he prefers playing indoor soccer and pick-up games of basketball at the local gym.
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