Hunter Branch is an SEO and Content Marketing expert and the founder of Rank Tree—a company that helps New York Times bestselling authors, small businesses, and startups generate massive amounts of free, passive traffic and leads through SEO.
White hat link building doesn’t have to be complicated - all you need go through with these 5 simple but impressive tactics that get your job done.
If you’ve spent any time with white hat link building, you know how overwhelming it is. You have to sift through hundreds of tactics to find the few that work.
And sifting through them comes at a price...
- Waste time on tactics that don’t move the needle
- Leave traffic on the table—which is money that should’ve been in your bank account
- Let your competitors snag first-page positions—taking your potential business
With SEO the clock is always ticking, and you have to find the best link-building tactics before it’s too late.
Unfortunately, I know this all too well…
Earlier in my SEO career, I was tasked with increasing traffic to a client’s websites at an agency I worked at. I spent months trying every tactic I could find, and most of them did ABSOLUTELY nothing. I could feel the pressure building with each passing day.
I was so frustrated that I almost quit SEO altogether.
But then, I struck a vein of gold. I found 5 tactics that got high-quality links time and time again.
The client’s organic traffic shot up by 94% over the course of the next six months.
Suddenly, link-building was much easier for me. I’ve since used these five tactics across multiple industries with multiple clients, and they simply work.
White hat link building doesn’t have to be complicated—all you need are a few tactics that get the job done.
Before we dive in, there’s something you need to know:
Not all links are the same.
During this process, it’s vital to have a checklist to determine which sites you should add to your prospect list and which you should avoid.
If you don’t, you could accidentally do irreparable damage to your site.
Here are a few requirements I have for links I go after:
- Relevancy—the site or blog post you get a link from must be related to your niche.
- Good Domain Authority—” good” DA will vary depending on the size of your site, but I generally only consider sites with scores of 15 and above (I use Moz’s toolbar for this).
- The site looks real—if it looks spammy, STAY FAR AWAY.
- Decent traffic numbers—if the site gets little to no traffic, Google might not see your link even if you get one. I usually look for sites with 1,000+ sessions per month according to Similar Web.
For more on what makes a good link, check out this awesome Ahrefs article.
A Simple But Effective 5-Part White Hat Link Building Process
For every site or blog post, I want to rank, I start with these five tactics (in no particular order).
1. Resource Pages:
Finding and reaching out to niche-relevant resource pages is my favorite strategy.
When done right, it’s shockingly easy.
Think about it…
Sites with resource pages want to give their audience a list of the best resources in their niche.
If you have a great resource they don’t know about, they’ll be interested in adding it to their resource page. Since August, 52% of my gained links have come from resource pages—they’re some of the easiest links you can get.
You must find these pages and write a compelling email to the site’s owner.
How to Find Resource Pages in Your Niche?
You can use a few handy search operators in Google to bring up niche-specific resource pages.
Here are my favorites:
- “Your keyword” + inurl:links
- “Your keyword” + inurl:resources
- “Your keyword” + intitle:resources
- “Your keyword” + “resources”
Pop one of these searches into Google, and you’re off to race.
Keep looking through search results pages until you haven’t found a good link opportunity in the last 2-3 pages, then move to the next search operator.
The more search operators you use, the more opportunities you’ll find.
This should give you a list of 25-100+ sites to reach out to.
2. Similar Blog Posts:
I don’t see many people talking about this tactic, but I’ve secured several high-quality links in the past few months.
The idea here is to do a Google search for your exact keyword, then related keywords, to find as many blog posts related to your topic as possible.
Go through the first ten pages for your primary and secondary keywords and make a list of quality blog posts on similar topics.
Specifically, look for posts that only touch on the topic your post covers in-depth so the site will likely see your post as a valuable additional resource.
I’m going, to be honest: when I started doing this, I thought I was wasting my time...
But I soon discovered that people would link to your post if it’s excellent.
If your outreach email focuses on the value, they get by adding your link. You can earn several high-quality contextual links from this strategy.
3. Guest Posting:
Mention link building to a blogger; the first tactic they’ll talk about is guest posting.
The problem is that many people get the wrong idea about it.
They think their Domain Authority will shoot through the roof if they write 200 guest posts and stuff them with 10+ links each. That was the case...until Google put a stop to it. Big G cracked down on sites guest posting on a large scale for links.
Many people think guest posting is dead because it has gotten such a spammy reputation.
But based on what I’ve seen working with clients, it’s still alive and kickin’—as long as you do it right.
You don’t want this to be your main link-building tactic (like anything else with SEO), but it can be a fantastic supplementary tactic.
How to Find Guest Post Opportunities in Your Niche?
Search operators for the win!
Here are a few of my favorites to use to find guest post opportunities:
- Your keyword in the title:” write for us”
- Your keyword title:” write for me”
- Your keyword title:” contribute to”
- Your keyword inurl:/guest-post/
- Your keyword “guest post”
- Your keyword “guest post guidelines”
- Your keyword “become a contributor”
Just replace “your keyword” with a broad keyword describing your niche, and these should help you find plenty of opportunities.
4. Content Syndication:
This is super similar to guest posting, but it’s even easier.
Here, you’re essentially guest posting on someone’s site with content you’ve already written. You take your best blog post, pitch it to another blogger, and let them post the whole thing (or an excerpt) on their site under your name.
This gives you some great links and can act as a guest post that drives traffic to your site long-term.
It’s not all peaches and cream, though…
You must be careful because Google can flag it as duplicate content.
If you do this in moderation and include a statement near the beginning of this post saying, “This post originally appeared on yoursite.com,” this can give you a much-needed ranking boost.
Here are a few ideas for places to syndicate:
- Medium (not ideal for links, but can help build an audience)
- LinkedIn Pulse (not ideal for links, but it can help build an audience)
- People in your niche you have a relationship with
- Blogs you’ve guest posted on before
5. Backlink Spying and Stealing:
It’s easy to see why this tactic is so popular…
If you do it right, you get links that point to your competitors. Brian Dean calls this the Skyscraper Technique.
(You can also use Open Site Explorer for free, but it doesn’t give you much to go on.)
Once you have your tool, type your keyword into Google.
Take the URLs of each result on the first 2-3 pages and pop them individually into the Site Explorer (this tutorial is with Ahrefs, but pretty much any tool will have a similar interface).
Click on “Backlinks”.
Look at the article’s backlinks, sorted by DR (Domain Rating).
Add good-looking link opportunities to a spreadsheet (or use the export option to download the article's entire backlink profile).
Pretty straightforward, right?
Let’s discuss the hard part—getting those sites to replace your competitor’s link with yours. I’m going to be honest; you’ll usually need to write a ridiculously good email to get someone to say yes.
If you use templates from other gurus for this, you’ll see an exceptionally low conversion rate like I did (0-1%).
I’ve found that asking for the person to add my clients’ articles as an additional resource to their articles landed me a lot more links.
This way, your ask doesn’t feel as big to the other person.
It’s one thing to ask for a link, but it’s another to ask them to replace a link already on their site with yours. Your competitors won’t lose a link this way, but you’ll have a better chance of getting a link.
So, keep this in mind and try both strategies for getting links in the same places that mention your competitors.
Link Building Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated:
Don't give up if you’re at the point where I was and haven’t gotten any results from white-hat link-building yet. It’s vital to always be in a testing mindset—keep trying new link-building tactics and outreach emails.
Eventually, you’ll find a few tactics that work insanely well and see your organic traffic shoot through the roof.
Have any follow-up questions? Feel free to ask me in the comments!
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