Outreach Expert Derek Iwasiuk takes a look at five powerful but safe link building tactics that’ll get your website climbing the search engine results in no time.

Links remain one of the most important ranking signals to Google and there are no signs that this is likely to change in the near or distant future. As such, it pays to build links to your website and content in order to help it rank in Google. Of course, link building has always been a tactic prone to abuse through so-called ‘black hat’ methods, such as private blog networks (PBNs). Whilst these strategies can occasionally deliver short-term gain, they are dangerous and counterproductive in the long term.

In this guide I want to look at the pros and cons of five popular ‘white hat’ link building strategies. We’ll explore best practice, how to implement them, the challenges you’ll face and potential abuses if overused or spammed.

Guest Blogging

Despite Google’s former Head of Webspam and ‘Enforcer-in-Chief’, Matt Cutts’, now infamous blog post in 2014, guest blogging certainly isn’t dead. Cutts later qualified what a lot of people at the time considered rather rash and knee jerk comments by saying that it’s fine to do it as long as you’re not spamming it or doing it just to build links.

Of course, that’s not to say that it isn’t a valid link building tactic; it’s just that if you want to be effective at it at all, then building shouldn’t be your main objective. Focus on building high quality value adding content that people will actually want to read and share. The opportunity to link back to your own content should be seen as a bonus.

Broken Link Building

Broken link building is a popular tactic for SEOs but it can be hard to get right when trying to scale it in any meaningful way. There are many versions of broken link building but the idea behind it is to reach out to sites with broken links to other resources, inform them their link is broken and encourage them to link to your content as an alternative. It’s a win-win situation but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

There is a slight chicken and egg dilemma when it comes to content here. One option is to go out and find a popular resource that no longer exists and recreate it. The other is to audit your existing content and find good quality stuff in order to build links to that. The next stage is finding those broken links and that’s the time consuming part. Nick Churick has written a really insightful piece for ahrefs on broken link building.

Directory Listings

Directories have gotten a bad rap when it comes to link building and it’s perhaps no wonder given that they were spammed for links for so long. Eventually the powers that be at Google caught up with the tactic and through the introduction of the Penguin algorithm update, ended up bringing down a huge number of them. Nowadays it’s easy to dismiss directories as a viable link building tactic but it does still have relevancy if approached properly.

When it comes to prospecting viable directories, a discerning and strict set of criteria should be applied. This should no longer be seen as a numbers game but one where quality and relevancy trump all else. Make sure each directory has a human admin who approves all listings. Good directories tend to have been around for a while as well (having survived the purges in the wake of Penguin) and the directory itself should be good quality with a healthy backlink portfolio.

Syndicate Content

Increasingly SEO is becoming more about high quality content and that’s not cheap to make. Whilst there are various methods of building links back to your high quality onsite content, sometimes content syndication can be one of the best methods of just increasing that content’s audience. Google doesn’t like duplicate content so you need to be careful by overdoing this tactic. Generally most reputable sites that syndicate content will link back to the original article somewhere on the page and through the use of canonical tags in the HTML, which tells Google that the article isn’t the original.

Links from syndicated content will carry SEO weight but the real benefit is in dramatically increasing the audience for your content.

Differentiated content

Also known as ‘link magnets’, differentiated content is the mantra of content marketers but it can be applied to link building for one simple reason: “unique content attracts links”. Techncially then, creating content that is value adding and sets itself apart from similar content in some way, is all about earning links as much as it is a direct tactic for building them. And earning links is the most white hat method of all.

About the Author: Derek Iwasiuk is a search engine optimisation and digital marketing expert based in Minnesota. You can connect with him on Facebook, LinkedIn or tweet him @diwasiuk.