Finding the line between White Hat SEO and Grey/Black Hat can be tricky. Or, more accurately some SEO agencies are tricky with their techniques, landing them squarely on the dark side of that line. Perhaps a good way to explain White Hat is by what it isn’t as it relates to link building.
Paying for Links
One Grey Hat technique is to pay for a link, hoping to increase the number of inbound links also known as backlinks. Search Engines use this information (number and quality of links) as well as other factors to determine if a website is an expert in it’s field. They can tell by the content topics (keywords) as well as how often others refer to the site as an authoritative source. Yet Google isn’t easily fooled. Quantity of links is only one piece of the puzzle. Search engines have figured out how to ferret out the quality of links too. Getting a link from an .edu or .gov site can be White Hat SEO gold… unless it doesn’t relate to what your business is about.
Rather than try to game the system, we suggest:
- Creating great content about which you are subject matter expert
- Letting others know about it through networking and social media in order to gain visibility
- Developing a link building strategy to find natural sources that will drive quality prospects to your site
So, is it ever ok to pay for a link?
First of all, a legitimate link won’t ever try to lure a searcher onto a site that has nothing to do with their keyword (or the type of content they seek). That’s why many of those “100 links for $100” offers are worthless. Actually they are worse than worthless. You’re actually training Google that your White Hat is turning grey and that you’re adding low quality inbound links to your site.
Now, there are a couple of instances where paying for a link won’t sully your white hat. Hold your horses… let me give you a couple of legit examples.
Example #1: Let’s say you donate to your Alma Mater or are a patron of a well-known charity. Many times these organizations will list donors to their fundraising efforts.
Example #2: You belong to a professional organization (e.g., California Bar Association) where you pay a membership fee. As part of that membership, your name and business information is listed along with a link to your website.
In both these illustrations, you’re leveraging a bona fide relationship. These links actually build credibility because they are relevant to you and your character.
Can you think of another White Hat SEO link example?