A guide to 'white hat' link building for SEO


SEO Backlinks

A backlink to your site is created when another site links to you. A backlink is treated by Google as an endorsement of one website by another. If a trusted website like BBC News or Wikipedia endorses your website then Google will take note and trust that your website is worth knowing about.


The number of links to your website will build gradually, as a function of how often you publish content and how effectively you promote it.


Put more effort into promoting big and interesting pieces of content. If you promote everything the same then your best notes will be hidden in the typical noises you make.


SEO Copywriting

It can be worth talking to the webmaster or editor of a site which covers similar topics to you. Collaborate on a community resource, write a piece of niche content for them or let them write on your behalf.


If you credit each other with a link then Google can see that the two sites are endorsing each other appropriately which can lead to an increase in your online reputation.


You want to keep in mind that SEO copywriting for others should be done with the aim to increase web traffic rather than solely reputation. Knowing this, don’t purchase links from unrelated websites or send out spammy ‘please link to my website’ requests.


SEO Strategy

There is a moral obligation to provide content that is valuable, honest, accurate and helpful, don’t try to cheat the system, or mislead people into using your site.



SEO Tactics

Source: http://pointblankseo.com/link-building-strategies


Alumni Directories

Most universities dedicate a part of their site to their alumni, and some link back out to their alumni’s websites.


Likewise - Alumni Spotlight

Ask your clients for a list of the universities/schools they attended and pitch their stories to those universities.


Ask friends and family with websites for a link back to you



Asking clients to write you a review

Then promote that review to get some traffic going back to their website as well as yours.


Associations and Organisations

If you are a part of any, find out if they link to their members, if they do - ask for one.


Embeddable Badges

Giving out “top local restaurant” badges which can be embedded on the website of the winning site, which also include a link back to the awards page on your site.


Blog Commenting

Comment on someone’s blog post with an interesting point and a link back to your site (if they allow do follow links). Do this occasionally.


Blog Directories

You can submit your blog to various blog categories.


Blog Networking

Create a web of 4-8 similar but non-competing blogs. Make sure everyone links out to each different blog in the network once a month.


Brand Mentions*

If you brand gets mentioned, ask for a link. You can use something like “Mention” to find these as they happen. You could also use Link Prospector for finding previous mentions at scale.


Replacing broken links with links to you*

Asking a webmaster to replace a broken link with a link to you.


Answer Questions

On Twitter, Quora, Forums and anywhere else people hang out. The questions you answer can be stored and rehashed as an FAQ Page in the future


Get links from the British Chambers of Commerce


They represent businesses, see if you can write something they’ll publish. Take the time to find the right person to get in touch with and ask for a link.


Publish a theme

For a site you built from scratch for example, you could publish the theme and start seeing others using it as the basis of their site.



Community Newspapers

Online newspapers run by everyone give you the opportunity to link back to your site in a bio.


Local Newspapers

Send press releases to them - on a slow news day they might just run a story by a local business!


Company Directory Submissions

Submit you site to relevant general directories.


Evergreen Guides and Resources

Create a timeless and complete guides on a subject. If it’s not timeless then set up a regular update schedule.


Contact people using your images

Using Google image search you can find other websites using your websites or infographics. Ask them to link back or tell them it’s copyright infringement.



If you come across a contest taking place - reach out to the person running it and ask if you could offer some services or products to the winner. They’ll give you a link on the contest page.



If most in your industry have a particular view on a topic, write up the opposing view. Do it quickly and well and you could get a hot debate going.

When you do this you should consider turning comments off, and encourage people to write a response on their blog in order to continue the conversation.


Crowdsourced Posts*

Identify people in the industry who do a lot of theses posts and build a relationship with them.


Wikipedia Contributions*

Cite your own content on relevant wikipedia pages. You can get a link under the references tab which is highly trustworthy, nofollow or not.


Cover News First

Subscribe to the reputable blog RSS feeds in your industry. When hot news breaks - write it up.


Create and share content regularly


Create “Links of the week” pages

Add a link from your site to the best articles you read in your niche last week. Explain why so that bloggers know you actually read it.


Create a contest

i.e. “Worst experiences of X” then you sell the remedy for X.



Some sites will give links to contributors. Search the text “link to your website” then narrow the results down based on relevancy.


Crowdsourcing Experts

Get answers from experts in an industry, if the article is high quality then the experts themselves will promote it.


CSS/HTML5 Directories

If you did a great design, submit the site to a directory to get a link from it.


Curated Scores and Rankings

Create scores or ranks of people



release the data and release a visual of the data too.


Debunking Myths

Similar to ContraContent

Let people know about common misconceptions. Make the content big and bold.


Offer Embeddable or Linkable Discount Coupons


Donate to charities

They often have a donor page and you can get a link back if you donate a certain amount.



Draw the emotions people feel doing certain things in your niche.


Ebook Directories

Write an ebook, put it in there.


Educational Content

Contact sixth form colleges, secondary schools and universities and ask their webmaster if there is anything you could write an entire tutorial on.



Featuring top bloggers in certain niches - if you feature them then they’re likely to spread the word.


Email Signatures

Add a link back to your website in your email signature. It could be really small, but it will drive a little more traffic to your site.


Filling Content Gaps or Fixing Grammer

If you find an article which could be elaborated on or updated - reach out to the webmaster and ask if you could fill that gap. Of course - ask for a link somewhere relevant too.


Being part of a Forum

Find niche forums related to your site, promote yourself but also give away your knowledge generously. You’ll soon get links back which generates a sizeable reputation depending on the quality of the forum.


Embeddable Games

You get links to your site of course, but if other webmaster can embed it you’ll get juice through that.


Do Interviews

Interview people and jump at any opportunities to be interviewed by someone else. Your time will usually be worth it.


Write a regular column for a blog or paper


Your own or your company Wikipedia page

If you aren’t important enough to write about then this won’t pass their spam checks. Someone else should write it too in order to keep it unbiased. If you can pull it off - do it!


Content Copyright infringement

If someone uses your copy and doesn’t credit you as their source then you can ask them to link to you or take it down.


If you have a server - host their site in return for a link

The sites you can do this for depends on the quality of your servers!


Create an Industry Niche Glossary

Rookies don’t know jargon - create a list of acronyms and keywords that they may not understand. Keep it updated and offer updates to others you find as well.


Map Industry Events

Then share the Google map of “45 meet ups in battersea” for example.


Host Your Own or Other’s Events

If you have a space unused for certain times of the week, allow an event you support to be hosted there.


Create DIY Guidance, Tutorials and How-to’s

Apart from just being incredible helpful, writing such guides help you to understand the subject on an even higher level. In order to explain something simply you need to understand it fully.


Funny stuff

Create a mashup of industry experts saying stupid things or generally try to make people in your niche laugh!


Create Icons

If you create and share a niche group of icons you can get design blogs linking back to you.


Be generous with your links

Link others as you’d like to be linked yourself! Mention people and their websites often and when they notice they’ll might link back and thank you!


Lists lists lists

Good niche lists get good links


Create a mobile App

Create a simple app that acts as an RSS reader of your or others blogs.


Build a community site

If you aren’t happy with the niche community sites available to you, create one.


Get Other Newsletters to Link to you

Build relationships with those writing and publishing semi-popular newsletters.


Non-Digital Promotion

Links on business cards, vehicles or anywhere else to generally raise awareness in public spaces.


“Our Retailers” lists

If you recommend or supply products from certain manufacturers then you can ask to be listed on that manufacturer’s website as a retailer of their products.



If your niche is passionate about a certain issue, petition.


Submit Your Podcast to Podcast Directories


Make it Printable

Create cheat sheets, infographics, charts and checklists which can be printed off by people. They may just tell others how useful it was to them.


Compare the incomparable

If two things are so similar that they’re hard to compare - write that comparison as other people are likely having the same issue as you!


Give Your Service or Products to Bloggers

Then ask them for a review!


Link Back From Your Online Profiles

If you sign up to a site which allows you to have a profile then you can likely link back to your site. Contribute more and your profile becomes linked to more often and that link back becomes more valuable.


Quiz Questions and Tests

Allow people to share and compete their test results with one another!


Get Links to Your Social Pages Replaced With Links to Your Site

Then make sure that the page they can link to pulls in your twitter or facebook etc.


Download Competitor Backlink Profiles

Download them as a CSV and work through them. You can’t steal a link from a news article but you can approach blogs and directories and others for a link to you too. At the very least this should be done in order to give yourself some ideas!


Publish Research Papers for your Niche

This establishes yourself as a well researched authority on the subjects you write about.


Offer a Scholarship Competition

Have them write 1000 words about something they’re passionate about and have some of the voting done socially.


Set up Others With a Website

If it’s easy to you and tricky for others, just do it and ask for a link back.


Speak at University Events


Sponsor Things

Contests, Wordpress Plugins, Drupal Themes, Charities, Events, Clubs and Animal Shelters to name a few. 


Write good stories

The more personal the better.


Web Apps or Web Tools

Create calculators or clever widgets or tools which others will find useful.


Writing Testimonials of Products You’ve Bought


Scrape URLS of Your Twitter Followers and Link to Them!

If they follow you then they are more likely to link back to you!


Black hat SEO

One strategy is to find abandoned domains that have link equity, then use archive.org to repopulate the content on some of the pages that got the most links. Obviously, include a few links in the content back to you.

I recommend using Domain Hunter Plus and Godaddy auctions for finding them in the first place.

Things I wish I new when starting SEO

URLs should be 80 characters or less as you can then see the whole ur in search results.


Preparation, Content and Understanding. Honestly and accurately communicate with the world. Speaking the language of whoever is searching for you.


Search algorithm is secret so that websites are built to be the best that they can be, otherwise website builders would attempt to game the system so they appear at the top.

Use of keywords, links to the pages, speed of the site, content within html tags in a page and lots more.


Types of Content, Personalisation and Location also play a huge factor. To optimise it for search engines, you must optimise it for people. 


Black Hat SEO (Dishonest, illegally)

Heavily regulated. There is a moral obligation to provide content that is valuable, honest, accurate and helpful, don’t try to cheat the system, or mislead people into using your site.


Hidden text (so your users think your pages contain things that they don’t).

Don’t give in to the dark side. It can give you a terrible reputation. You’re building a relationship with people, not trying to trick them. Black Hat tactics are unreliable and SE are constantly chasing tricks. Could also be banned by SEs, or potential legal issues further down. If anyone guarantees a ranking on search pages, you should be cautious. Getting ranked can take weeks or months. 


Whitehat SEO. Techniques you can use to the benefit of your users. How you deliver and link to content. 

  1. Easy to find (logical architecture that people are used to)
  2. Link to all the content on your site (within a reasonable number of clicks) If you don’t link to it then it’s invisible to SEs
  3. Use logical link names (contact, portfolio etc) Don’t overthink this.
  4. Don’t use too many links on a page
  5. Within content, use links naturally
  6. Include relevant keywords, somebody is looking for this content, so how would they look for it? If you want to be found for those keywords, use them throughout your site.
  7. Keyword density. The measure of the number of times you use a keyword on a page - don’t worry too much about this, don’t calculate how many times you should mention something or the quality of your content could suffer
  8. Use various content types. The more diverse your content types are, the more likely you are to be found by different people looking for different things. Videos, pdfs etc.


What is content?

Creation, optimisation, strategy. It’s the text that users and SE sees. It must make sense to human beings, write them for people and SEs will understand it too. By linking to something, you’re basically endorsing it, you believe that it gives value.


What can be found about your site.

Keyword research. Use terms used by your potential users. What products or services do you offer? What is the subject matter? Who’s it for? Is it for a certain time or location? The most effective keywords are the ones which show the unique qualities of your business. Broad terms won’t be effective. Add qualifiers and locations. Using Hypernyms, the specificity of these smaller pages could hold real value. I.e. 

SEMrush (free and paid version) shows what your competitors are doing well for. 

Look at the related searches part of a google search to see the most popular qualifiers. Keep your focus, and understand that each page needs that keyword focus as well.


Content Variety:

Written word. Naturally containing the search terms. SEs need contextual information about images. 


Google measures the freshness of a page. Age, how often it’s updated, how much it’s updated (and the important parts), the links, and how long users spend there. Content is still king, if you can regularly create more pages, and continue linking to old pages, it will make your site continue to be fresh. 


Link Building: If your site has an online presence and influence, then many sites will link to you. And the higher chance you’ll be mentioned on social networks, blogs, and websites. They’re called inbound links because they require no effort on your part. 


Link Building requires knowledge on who gets visited and who has influence. A link to your site from theirs would be mean a lot!

Focused approach: Reach out to writers saying why your products and services are worth reviewing. Submitting articles or doing chats. This might take marketing or PR connections but could be worthwhile.


Link building strategies

Write guest blog posts on industry websites

Participate in industry forums and chat boards

Submit your blog to RSS feed directories


Without quality content, you actually have nothing to offer. What is “this link” promising? If you deliver on that promise, you’ll get repeat visitors. It’s about putting real effort into what you’re putting online. Play to your strengths. Create content that you want to create, and that you want to consume. Organise some thoughts and create a plan to share quality content.


How code impacts SEO:

Tags, Meta tags, title tags, Header tags, alt tags, anchor tags


Negative circumstances:

Incorrect or incomplete tags, 

duplicate code or tags

too much code

text hidden by code

deprecated or unnecessary code


Title Tag

Unique, always displayed at the top, and is always seen by SE in the tag, and titles are the most prominent part of a search result, or a social media link-post summary. The title tag is vital for search engine success. 

Google displays a maximum of 70 characters on search result pages. Longer is fine, but the 70 are critical. Especially if it’s for your home page or an important page on your site. Your result should be easily recognisable. The title tag should always match the title of the post.

Location names are used within search terms, if it’s relevant, consider what location would appeal to your visitors. Also consider how the title tag will be read by human beings. Including the price could be helpful. You need to be compelling and appear trustworthy. Don’t pin all your hopes on this though.


Meta tags, also in the head section. meta description isn’t used as a ranking factor, but can be seen when shared on social media and as the description on google. Should be limited to 160 characters. Keyword research is also important here, make sure to include some important ones, but don’t make false promises by using ones that aren’t relevant to your page. Ensure that each page on your site has a unique title, and a unique description.


meta keywords have long since been removed from their search algorithms. Should I still use it? In some countries, neither google nor bing is the lead SERP, so it might be worth doing. Generally they are not recommended, but can help. 


Site Architecture:

By creating and enforcing a proper structure, you can reinforce the strongest pages within the structure, creating the best basis for your SEO. If you can’t get to important content from the homepage, there’s something wrong. Most homepage link to categories etc. Hub pages. Breadcrumbs are increasingly useful for sites with 1000’s of links. 


Search engine’s do apply a bit of ranking to the actual URLs of the pages. Numbers in the URLs confuse search engines. Too much division of content can have negative effects on SEO. SERPS deem pages with too many levels below the homepage as less important. So pages deep within a directory structure suffer. 

Longer URL’s don’t get clicked by as many users, 90 characters seems to be the number suggested by many. 


Canonicalisation (duplicate pages etc)

What is better? What should be ranked higher by SERPs?

CMS can publish the same content on multiple pages.

When duplicate content is available for indexing, SEO value can get split between them, meaning you’ll rank lower. You need to tell SERPs where the original source is. 

the URL in that tag shows SEs which the original source is, and where the value should lie.


Page Structure

If the content of the title tag doesn’t match the h1 tag, there’s probably a disconnect somewhere. h1 content is given SEO value. 

Anchor tags give interlinking benefits to a page, without having the depth of a multi-page site. 


Noindex and Nofollow

Default action for an SE is to index what it sees on the page, and to follow any links looking for more.

You might have pages on a site that you don’t want on a search engine. Exclusive sections of your site for employees or clients, nor should a promotions page specifically for customers. Form completion pages also shouldn’t be indexed. To ensure a page doesn’t get found unexpectedly, include within the head tag of the page. A page with this may still get crawled, and a copy may get cached, but it won’t appear on Search Engine Results. Be careful. Do not add this to templates etc. 

A special file called Robots.txt needs to be prepared very carefully, you don’t want to include your root directory for example or nothing will be crawled. 

Each link to another site is a vote for them. To prevent Search engines counting links as endorsements, use nofollow. Simply add rel=“nofollow” to the code that generates the link. Nofollows are often used in blog post comments. Nofollow stops search engines from following them.


Title tags work best when they feature:

Location names, especially for businesses looking for local customers

The name of the company, website, or person

Less than 70 characters


Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics

Google want people to use their site to search for stuff and to trust the results they get.


Submit a sitemap to them, they’re helpful for new sites which haven’t been crawled yet. Make sure to follow google’s instructions on creating a sitemap.


Google Analytics

Some of the best insight comes from viewing data over time, spotting trends. The bounce rate is the % of users who leave your page right after they arrive “This isn’t what I was looking for” and it’s about not meeting their expectations. Maybe the wrong keywords are being used, or the page content should better match them. 

You can set regular email reports to be sent to you, regarding your analytics.


Authorship and Places

Verify your ID through a process called authorship. Create a Google+ account, then use that to verify your authorship on blogs or other places where you publish content. For Authors and other content creators, authorship is something you should definitely consider.

Google Places, they physically verify your address with a postcard, then you can start building your profile. With more mobile users than ever before, you want to make sure that you appear on these results.


There are specific tags for social sharing. FB OpenGraph tags.














Whether you add these fields manually or dynamically bear the standard SEO pointers in mind. Titles should be less than 55 characters and descriptions less than 155.


Website Speed

Especially important on mobile. Pages get loaded by making a request to the web server that is hosting it. Browser load time is completely dependent on the external dependencies. To know for sure how fast your site is, use sites like pingdom. 




Both of these are great for little SEO tips.

UpCity gives a free report card.

validator.w3.org (finds code problems that could affect the usability of the site)

builtwith.com shows you what tools certain sites use. 

Try out each one and see what insight you can get.

Google Trends (is interest in a keyword rising or falling?)


SEO is a business and an industry in and of itself. Best practices have come and gone. Things change.

Monitor your results. Stick to the basics if you’re managing it yourself.

Understand the needs of your clients and visitors, how can you match up your website’s performance to meet those needs.

Follow web standards and web rules.

Websites won’t be found without AWESOME CONTENT.

You should have a strategy in place. Give your users what they need and want.

Stay updated.

Everything you do is to help people, not robots. Remember that.


Setting up a business on Google Places offers helpful benefits, such as:

A Enhanced listings on SERPs, such as within a carousel

B Direct links to directions using Google Maps

C Results that feature pictures, ratings, and other relevant data

Google's SEO Starter Guide - TL;DR

Incremental changes could have a noticeable impact on UX and organic search results. 


Many of these topics are likely familiar - but they are essential, you may not be making the most out of them.



Unique, Accurate Page Titles

Description Meta Tag


Site Structure

Improve the structure of your URLs

Make your site easier to navigate


Optimising Content

Offer quality content and services

Write better anchor text

Optimise your use of images

Use heading tags appropriately


Dealing with Crawlers

Make effective use of Robots.txt

Be aware of rel=“nofollow” for links


SEO for Mobile Phones

Notify google of mobile suites

Guide mobile users accurately


Promotions & Analysis

Promote your website in the right ways

Make use of free webmaster tools






Unique, Accurate Page Titles

Title should be in the tag

Unique title for each page on your site.

Can list website name, business or other bits of information

Titles should accurately communicate the topic of the pages content.

Do not - use vague titles or words unrelated to the content

Avoid keyword stuffing, or using lengthy titles which are unhelpful.


Description Meta Tag

Description should be in the tag.

Words in the description snippet on search results pages are bolded when they appear in the user’s query.

Description tags should both inform and interest users if they saw it on an SERP.

Avoid unrelated, generic, keyword-stuffed descriptions. 

Use unique descriptions. You can automatically generate them for large sites.


Site Structure

Improve the structure of your URLs

Descriptive categories and filenames for documents on your site leads to you being more organised and sites crawling your documents better. It also creates easier friendlier URL’s for people who want to link to your content.

Use words in URLs.

Avoid lengthy URLs with parameters and session IDs, generic names like Page1, excessive keywords.

Name directories so they do not go to deep and remain understandable.

Avoid capitalising in URLs

Avoid multiple URLs showing the same content - set up a 301 redirect or canonical if you cannot redirect.


Make your site easier to navigate

Use breadcrumbs lists to allow users to quickly navigate back to a previous section or the root page. 

Allow for the possibility that a user removes part of a url e.g /news/2010/baseball to try and see either all news, or all news from 2010. Will they get a 404?


Prepare two sitemaps

One for users who are having trouble finding pages on your site - group these links by subject and avoid broken links!

one for search engines (XML Sitemap).


Try to avoid a navigation based entirely on dropdown menus, images or animations. A user should be able o reach all pages on a site via normal text links.


404 page

Have a custom 404 page that kindly gives users a way back to a working page on your site. 


Optimising Content

Offer quality content and services

Users know good content when they see it. Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build a site reputation with both users and google and it rarely comes without quality content.


Anticipate differences in users’ understanding of your topic and offer unique, exclusive content. 


Best Practice

Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow. Do not make spelling and grammatical mistakes, do not embed text in images. Users may want to copy and paste the text and search engines can’t read it.


Stay organised around the topic. Breaking content up into logical chunks or devisions helps users find the content they want faster. I.E. Use paragraphs, sub headings and layout separation.


New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.

Don’t rehash or copy existing content as this brings little value to users.

Avoid having duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your site.


Do not keyword-stuff, have blocks of text like ‘frequent misspellings used to reach this page’, or hide some text from users so that only search engines can find it. 


Write better anchor text

Links on your page, internal or external, should consistently link the same text to the same pages, so that users and google know what the page you are linking to is about.


Avoid ‘click here’, anything generic, using the page’s URL (unless you are promoting a new website address).


Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them. Avoid using CSS or text styling that makes links look like regular text.


Only user internal anchor links when they help with user site navigation, and do not fill the anchor text with keywords.


Optimise your use of images

All images should make optimal use of a filename and alt attribute for those using a screen reader. Another reason is that if using an image as a link, the text for that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link. Don’t use too many images for links when text could serve the same purpose.


Put all images in one folder to simplify the path to your images. Have the extension of your filename match the filetype and use JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP image formats whenever possible. 


Use brief descriptive filenames and alt text.


An Image Sitemap file can provide googlebot with more information about the images found on your site. It’s structure is similar to an XML sitemap file for your web pages.


Use heading tags appropriately

Use heading tags to emphasise important text. There are six sizes from h1 to h6, 1 being the most important and 6 just more important than normal text. Heading tags are usually visual cues to a user that this text is important and could help them understand something about they type of content underneath the heading text. Multiple heading sizes are used to create a hierarchical structure for your content - making it easier for users to navigate through your document.

imagine you’re writing an outline

Put some thought into what the main points and sub points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use heading tags appropriately. Avoid placing text in heading tags that wouldn’t be helpful in defining the structure of the page. 

avoid use headline tags where other tags like and may be more appropriate. 

avoid Erratically moving from one heading tag size to another.


Use headings sparingly across the page

Too many heading tags on a page can make it hard for users to scan the content and determine where on topic ends and another begins. Don’t use them excessively, throughout the page or put lots of text in heading tags. Do not use heading tags for styling and not presenting structure.


Dealing with Crawlers

Make effective use of Robots.txt


Be aware of rel=“nofollow” for links

Use nofollow for comment spam links, comment columns and message boards. Also use it to warn people


SEO for Mobile Phones

Notify google of mobile suites

Guide mobile users accurately


Promotions & Analysis

Promote your website in the right ways

Make use of free webmaster tools


Carry on learning here: