Up until now I’ve always advocated that small businesses use a purely white hat approach to link building for their SEO. However, I’ve recently changed my stance as I think for most small businesses, the cost of outsourcing this type of SEO campaign is now just too high and hence not really worth it. You’ll notice I said ‘outsourcing’ and that’s because results are certainly still attainable with little to no out of pocket expenses, if you do the majority of the work yourself as the business owner. This means doing things like writing content, networking and building relationships with the other websites in your industry and conducting outreach campaigns. There are many free resources and some great paid courses out there to help you learn how to do this but most small business owners are not interested in spending the time and effort to learn these things themselves and would rather just outsource their SEO to a reputable provider (such as us).
The link building we are now doing is via in-content links in guest posts. This means that we offer to write articles for free for third party websites and these articles will include links pointing back to the client’s website. When these third party websites publish the articles, with the links still embedded, they will become discoverable by search engines and therefore will help the client’s website to rank better.
It’s worth noting that many in the SEO industry believe this type of link building to be entirely white hat anyway. There’s no official definition of ‘white hat’ and the search engines are often pretty vague with their guidelines so it makes it difficult to define what’s ok and what isn’t. One approach is to ask; “are the links being given after being scrutinised by a relatively unbiased editorial process?” If they are, then you can say the links are white hat. Using this approach, you can say that this type of guest post link building does produce white hat links as the third party websites must manually approve them when they review the article before publication and do have the option to remove the links or make them ‘no followed’ (which tells search engines not to trust them). I agree that this logic is generally sound although there is a risk that the editorial decision isn’t totally unbiased due to the way that guest posts come about and the benefit of them to the third party website (I go into more detail about that here).
Another approach to determining if a tactic is purely white hat is to ask; “would you be happy to explain exactly what you’re doing to a member of Google webspam team?” I think most SEOs, including us, would not be entirely comfortable with this, which suggests that perhaps its not an entirely white hat tactic after all. However, we can definitely say that links resulting from this tactic are at the higher end of the quality spectrum and paired with the fact that they will be difficult to differentiate from natural links, this makes them low risk even if not totally white hat.
In conclusion, in-content guest post links are not entirely white hat but they are relatively high quality, affordable, effective and low risk which makes them an excellent choice for small businesses wanting to embark on an outsourced SEO campaign.
Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our link building services and SEO campaigns.