Over the past decade, spammy SEO “gurus” have given link building a bad reputation. They’ve used terribly shady techniques to cram backlinks into places where they shouldn’t be, which has left many business owners and marketers with the impression that all link building is frowned upon. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Try These White Hat Techniques

For businesses with their eyes set on improving SEO and rising the ranks within major search engines, there are numerous strategies – including content and on-page optimization. However, by no means are these the only techniques able to be used.

While the rules certainly changed in 2003 with Google’s decision to move toward contextual search and semantics, the notion that this marked the end of the link building era is one that’s overblown and, quite frankly, incorrect. These rule changes certainly altered the way SEO must be approached, but Google is the first to admit that links matter.

“Ranking without links is really, really hard. Not impossible, but very hard,” said Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, back in October 2016.

The problem is that Google has a love-hate relationship with link building. To avoid the spammy side of link building, they’ve spent the last 15 years cracking down on businesses that try to buy or sell links, exchange an excessive amount of links, or use large-scale article marketing and guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links. Instead, Google is looking for links that are natural, organic, and trustworthy. They want links that pass power, trust, and a natural chain of quality content.

But with so many black hat techniques out there, how can you zero in on the tips and strategies that are both effective and legal? Though it’s not the easiest question to answer in the ever-changing world of SEO, here are a few white hat link building tips that have worked in the past and will continue to flourish in 2019.

1. Clean Up Bad Backlinks

Just as good backlinks can send signals to Google that you’re a trustworthy and relevant source of information, bad backlinks can give you a spammy reputation.

“It’s best not to wait until you receive an unnatural link warning from Google before cleaning up your backlinks,” Bambrick Media explains. “Links are an important ranking signal and you just can’t take any chances”.

Examples of bad backlinks include: links plugged into another website’s comment section using a bot, links with over-optimized anchor text, links from countries that have nothing to do with your target audience (such as Russia or Ukraine), and links from websites with very low-quality (and even nonsensical) content.

There are several tools you can use to find links pointing to your website. Review the ones that you aren’t familiar with (or that fall below a certain domain authority ranking) and purge them. This can be an intensive process, so buckle up. Contact webmasters and politely ask for your links to be removed. If you can’t get them removed, try disavowing them.

2. Find Organic Guest Blogging Opportunities

A well-strategized and executed guest blogging campaign can do wonders for your SEO rankings. The key is to find organic opportunities with blogs that are relevant to your domain. Instead of cramming a bunch of backlinks into the article, include one or two relevant links to content-rich pages on your website. Over time, these natural backlinks will prove far more effective than promotional links that are haphazardly forced into unrelated content.

3. Create Newsworthy Moments

Want bloggers, news sites, and social media users to share links to your website? Create newsworthy moments that are worthy of being linked to. This will require some creativity and ingenuity on your part, but it’s a surefire way to attract organic SEO “juice.” (And you won’t ever have to worry about these backlinks appearing to be spam.)

Make SEO a Major Priority

It may be complicated and constantly changing, but you can’t ignore SEO. Your business needs a solid strategy in order to consistently rank well for certain search terms and product categories. And if one thing is for certain, it’s that links are invaluable. Make 2019 the year that white hat link building propels you to the top.