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SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not an easy task. It contains numerous strands that must be intertwined to get optimal outcomes. That gives SEO experts with several choices. They must prioritize and select their paths. Read this post to learn more about how much SEO costs.
In link building, there is a choice between black hat and white hat methods. This article is for you if you’ve heard of black hat and white hat link building but don’t know what they imply.
First, let’s review what white hat link building is and how it differs from black hat link building. Then we’ll talk about Google penalties and what they imply for your organic traffic. That’s all before we get into white hat penalties and the nine apparently safe methods that may get you caught.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know what link building is. SEO is all about acquiring appropriate and trustworthy websites to link to your own sites or pages. It is one of the greatest methods to increase your Google authority and therefore your SERP ranks.
What does it have to do with hats? Hollywood, and particularly classic Westerns, has the solution. Sheriffs, marshals, and other ‘goodies’ in Old West films usually wore white Stetsons. Outlaws, cattle rustlers, and other villains would wear black.
That movie theme became a tech comparison. First computer hackers, then SEO experts were labeled as ‘white hats’ or ‘black hats’. White hats were like the good guys in classic Westerns. Black hats were a law unto themselves, breaking all the laws.
White hat SEO is SEO that avoids Google’s ire. It will function within the context of Google’s webmaster quality standards. Black hat SEO techniques break those regulations. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex field.
Link building was originally a black hat field. Pros would purchase links or use secret blog networks. All to trick Google’s algorithms. It became smarter, and Google’s human review process got stricter.
Then came the risky black hat link building. Black hat link building sites are now regularly penalized by Google. Those are difficult to recover from and should be avoided at all costs.
Google’s algorithms and human reviewers are constantly on the hunt for problematic website behavior. The search engine aims to assist users and exclude any harmful sites from its results. That’s why they want webmasters to follow SEO and link building guidelines.
Google will detect if a site does black hat SEO. It may not happen immediately, but it will. If an algorithm detects the fraud, the guilty site’s organic traffic will plummet. If it’s a person, the site owner will get a ‘Manual Action’. These are Google penalties.
The Manual Action will be sent through Google Search Console. That notice from Google indicates they want the site to alter its methods quickly. Manual Actions are essential for all genuine internet users, according to Google:
‘Ever since there have been search engines, there have been people dedicated to tricking their way to the top of the results page. This is bad for searchers because more relevant pages get buried under irrelevant results, and it’s bad for legitimate websites because these sites become harder to find. For these reasons, we’ve been working since the earliest days of Google to fight spammers, helping people find the answers they’re looking for, and helping legitimate websites get traffic from search.’
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If you get a Google penalty, you are less likely to be pleased. It will have a significant impact on your organic traffic and will need a significant amount of time and work to recover from. This is particularly true for link-building penalties. These often fail to identify the specific connections that caused the penalty. Before filing a reconsideration request, site owners must figure this out for themselves.
The fear of Google penalties has kept the majority of SEO experts away from black hat SEO and link building. That is wonderful news. The bad news is that you may still be subjected to white-hat sanctions. These are penalties that are applied even if you have truly attempted to do white hat link building.
White hat backlinks obtained via what should be legal methods may nevertheless result in a penalty. These are often seen when a white hat approach is tried but poorly implemented. To assist you avoid slipping into a similar trap, we’ve compiled a list of nine ways you might unintentionally attract white hat penalties.
Any guide to effective white hat link development will most likely contain tips on guest blogging. Writing guest articles on other websites and blogs is a well-known method of gaining backlinks.
It is an excellent example of white hat link building in of itself. You are not violating any of Google’s guidelines if you contribute valuable and trustworthy material to a relevant blog or forum. In fact, by contributing value to the internet, you are following one of their main recommendations.
Guest posting may result in white hat fines if you are not cautious about where you publish. It’s better to stick to high authority sites that are in the same niche as the page or site you want to link back to. Otherwise, Google may consider the connection irrelevant and unnatural.
What you must do is avoid any sites that offer paid guest blogging possibilities. There are many websites that encourage individuals to ‘guest post’ or ‘advertise with them’ via a guest post. Paying for such an opportunity provides a link – or many links if you want to put them in your article – but it is not worth the risk. Google is vehemently opposed to the practice. They will almost likely slap a white hat penalty on you.
Another piece of well-worn link-building advice is to return to material that is doing well and add additional links to it. It makes sense to link out from a fantastic piece of content that Google obviously loves and is ranking highly. Internal links aren’t as effective as external links, but they’re still extremely helpful.
A link from your excellent content to another website will almost certainly increase the organic traffic to that page. What you must avoid is artificially inserting links into content. Google dislikes links that exist only for the purpose of providing a link. If a link goes to a page that is irrelevant to the content’s subject, the link is a good candidate for a penalty.
Perhaps the easiest way to demonstrate this is with an example. As a SaaS SEO firm, we may create material regarding Google Search Console. Then claim that we also sell gaming consoles (which we do not). We may be tempted to include a link to our sidebar into the text using the double meaning of the term “console.” This will not go over well with Google.
SEO professionals would often exchange links in the early days of SEO link development. Two high authority sites in the same niche would agree to exchange one or more links. The procedure was referred to as ‘link exchange’ or’reciprocal linkages.’
Some less scrupulous operators pushed things too far, as has been the case with many SEO tactics. They established agreements amongst sites that resulted in the sharing of a large number of links. Google was quick to pick up on this.
As a consequence of this procedure, white hat fines are now often issued. These penalties have nothing to do with the authority or relevancy of the website supplying the connection. They are enforced only because Google has determined that the links were provided in exchange for others.
It’s worth noting that Google has no issue with sites that genuinely connect to one another. News organizations, for example, are obliged to credit their sources for articles. Their source may be another comparable news site that has previously mentioned them. Such connections will not be flagged by Google as unnatural or deserving of a penalty.
We already know what you’re going to say. ‘Wait a minute, isn’t commenting on blogs and adding a link to your site a black hat strategy?’ you’ll ask. The answer is no, and you don’t have to take our word for it.
Matt Cutts uploaded a webmasters Q&A on YouTube in 2013, while he was still the leader of Google’s Webspam Team. During that Q&A, he not only stated that blog commenting was perfectly acceptable, but he also admitted to doing it himself.
The issue, like with many of our other white hat techniques, is how you do it. It is OK to leave a relevant and honest comment on a high authority blog. If it then connects to a relevant and interesting website, it will most likely be helpful to both the blog’s author and the viewers. Google loves anything that benefits people and adds value.
If you cut shortcuts with your remarks, you’ll find yourself in hot water and perhaps facing white hat fines. Spun or duplicated content in comments is not permitted. It’s also a bad idea to cram links or keywords into the area where your name should be. These items will only draw unfavorable notice from Google.
Reaching out to the press and media sources is a fantastic white hat link building strategy. Offering yourself as a source for news sites, journals, and blogs is an excellent method to get links from high-authority websites. It will also assist you and your business position themselves as experts in your industry.
The most effective method is to use a free service such as Help A Reporter Out (HARO). If you join up for that service and specify your area of expertise, you’ll get emails with a list of reporters who need your assistance. You may then offer quotations or statistics to be used in their work, as well as a juicy link if you’re fortunate. There is minimal risk of white hat penalties here.
There is a kind of media outreach that is far more ambiguous. That is the realm of online press release submission services. These websites are intended to serve as a resource for journalists seeking news from businesses and organizations.
Too many businesses utilize them incorrectly. In the hopes of tricking Google, they stuff their news releases with spam material and links. Google isn’t that easily duped. Even if you utilize the sites properly, Google may see a connection from them as suspicious.
We’ve previously discussed the importance of obtaining connections from high authority sites. Webmasters and SEO experts see such links as gold dust. The domain of a website may provide important information about its authority. Sites with.edu,.org, or.gov domains are ideal for attempting to acquire a link from.
There are a few various approaches you may use to get such connections. You may be able to obtain one from your former institution by submitting an alumni update, for example. If you collaborate with them and offer your time or resources, a local non-profit with a.org domain may provide you with a connection.
Those are white hat link building strategies that should not cause you any issues. You may get into problems if you get too caught up in the notion of a site’s authority. A link from a high authority site may nevertheless attract white hat Google penalties.
That is most likely to happen if the site in question has nothing to do with the specialty of your own site. When it comes to links, Google considers relevancy as well as authority. A connection from a reputable but unrelated site may be seen as unnatural and invalid.
Whatever your specialty, there are probably news or blog sites about it. Obtaining connections from such sites is often a good idea. If the site has a lot of traffic and a high domain authority, including a link in one of their articles may be very beneficial.
In reality, things aren’t usually that easy. Many careful watchers of Google manual operations have noticed that some blog sites have increasingly found themselves in the search engine’s sights.
Many manual actions in 2018 targeted sites with a high number of articles labeled ‘the finest,’ ‘the top,’ or something similar. Links from sites that often utilize such list articles are now frequently recognized as poor backlinks.
It seems that Google no longer like being told what is the best of anything. This is most likely owing to a perception that such postings exist only to serve as a channel for links. After all, a top three or top five listicle may easily link out to three or five different sites.
Companies and businesses want their names to appear in internet directories. It is a method for potential consumers to discover them. A directory listing will always contain at least one backlink. Signing up for the listings is also a good move from an SEO standpoint.
Being included in a business directory cannot be considered unnatural by Google for any website. The connections obtained as a result of inclusion are often among the whitest of white hat links. However, white hat fines for these kinds of links are fairly uncommon.
Check the domain authority and page authority of a listing or directory before listing with it to prevent getting into trouble. If such numbers are low, it may be better to skip the directory entirely.
The value of a link from the listing is diminished if it lacks strong domain authority and/or page authority. Worse, it may be an indication that the site is dubious or unscrupulous. A link from such a site will not impress Google in the least.
The ‘Skyscraper Technique’ is extremely popular right now. It’s a content generation method used by SEO professionals to generate links and improve page rankings. The basic concept is that you find material that is doing well on Google and then create your own, improved version.
Most credible SEO advice blogs and websites would have discussed the approach extensively. Backlinko’s Brian Dean invented it, and he probably explains it best. The method is widely accepted to be successful and to fit within the parameters of white hat link building.
The technique’s shaky execution is what may expose you to white hat penalties. It is never morally acceptable to just take off someone else’s material. It may also be harmful to SEO.
Google rejects duplicate material. Their algorithms or reviewers will detect if you create an article or page that uses language and phrases from another piece of content. This will result in a human action or an algorithm penalty, as well as a significant reduction in organic traffic.
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