Beware. There’s a right way and a wrong way of conducting your SEO and building links, and black-hatted deviants always come unstuck thanks to the diligence of Google’s algorithmic police force.
The days of link crammers, comment spammers, and keyword jammers everywhere are numbered. In this advanced day and age, it’s too risky to cut corners –which is just as well, because the blogging community is vigilant against black hat techniques.
In fact, the term ‘black hat’ has become such a dirty word that many people write off perfectly acceptable methods of boosting traffic as immoral when they’re acknowledged by search engines as a legitimate practice.
Here are four key examples of white hat SEO that has long been dismissed as inappropriate black hat methodology
1. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging has been seen as a powerful SEO strategy for fledgeling websites and blogs for years, so why are bloggers interpreting it as a black hat strategy?
While it’s true that black hatters have targeted guest blogs for many years now – offering content in return for links to shady sites, the intentions of most who guest publish posts remain pure.
The difference between black and white hatters is, of course, similar to having your content uploaded to reputable websites in a bid to gain prominence.
But the key difference is in the quality. If you take pride in the work you produce for other domains, then you’re perfectly entitled to the exposure and backlinks that come with it. Make sure you don’t neglect your content once your pitch is accepted by a host site. Less virtuous search engine optimisers tend to avoid spending time on constructing quality pieces at all costs; often their submissions are automated or plagiarized – two tactics that can earn the submitter a one-way ticket to Google’s blacklist.
Black hatters tend to deploy shotgun tactics of targeting hundreds of guest blogs, usually of no relevance to their pitch, in a bid to get an article accepted as a means for link building.
Here’s an example of one we’ve received the other day:
You can counter this by taking the time to find your niche – look for a guest blog with the kind of audience that would fit the type of clientele that you would aim to bring to your website.
2. Commenting on blogs
Opportunistic comment spamming is the bane of many blogging sites. Black hatters tend to scout out any blog that doesn’t regulate their comments section before spamming it with numerous backlinks in a bid to garnish more traffic.
Because this method is so easy to identify and see in action, it’s dragged the notion of linking back to sites via comments through the dirt – but commenting on other blogs doesn’t have to be a shady activity.
If you have found a genuinely relevant and interesting article that you would like to add your thoughts on, then absolutely feel free to comment. You don’t even have to link back to your work immediately; the idea of sharing your thoughts on other people’s work has always been to build a sense of community, of networking, in blogging. Think of it as comment marketing, not comment spamming.
If you show that you can add honest thoughts and critiques to other blog posts, then readers will notice you and look for your content from another viewpoint. If you’re able to subtly add a link to some of your views in the process, then there’s absolutely nothing black hat about it!
3. Article Citing
Plagiarism is arguably the biggest faux pas in the blogosphere. We live in a content-driven industry, and writing or recording pieces take valuable time. So, for someone to steal an author’s hard work is an unforgivable act.
The act of an article spin is to take an existing article and rewrite it in a way that won’t be noticed by search engine algorithms. The themes and points remain identical, but the wording is slightly different. This approach is used as an immoral and time-effective way of producing large pieces of content in minutes.
But citations, however, are a different story altogether. If you’re writing a piece that benefits from different viewpoints, references to other people’s work are acceptable (though it’s absolutely imperative that you credit the original author if you include their voice in your article).
By crediting other blogger’s opinions inside your piece, you can reference relevant passages of their work while adding your own thoughts along the way. The chances are that the blogger would be happy to have their work included for your readership’s exposure, too.
If you want to take this up a notch, notify the blogger that you have mentioned their work in your piece. In certain cases, the blogger may feature your piece on their website or share with their social media following.
And, for those of you worrying about a duplicate content penalty – there’s no such a thing as a duplicate content penalty.
4. Link Baiting
Links and SEO form an intrinsic bond. As far as most bloggers are concerned, the more links you get, the better your site performs – and for some, the pursuit of links can lead to content producers severely neglecting their blog’s quality in a bid to focus on amassing backlinks from across the web.
We’ve talked about link spamming as a tool for many of our black-hatted counterparts, but link baiting is a far less intrusive way of inviting other sites to reference your work.
The logic behind the link bait is to produce an article that’s designed to be picked out for reference by other bloggers.
Articles that amass links can take the form of resource pages, a monster post like Backlino’s post on seo tools or a post written by my company on 200 blogging tools and resources, in-depth topical news stories, or less ethically, more subjective news coverage – among other methods.
A black hat approach to this is to create sensationalist ‘fake news’ stories that can appear well researched but have no logical basis or are steeped in conjecture. Given the current rise and subsequent backlash to fake news, we’d label this particular link bait idea as more of a gray area that wouldn’t be touched by competent bloggers.
If your blog has an emphasis on a niche topic, try creating a well-thought out resource page for your visitors – and other like-minded bloggers to return links for. A good links page could make for evergreen content that not only entices users to backlink to you but would also draw in traffic for years to come.
About the Author
Dmytro Spilka is a Head Wizard at Solvid, a creative inbound marketing & software development agency in London, UK. His work has been featured and mentioned in a wide range of publication, including The Next Web, GoDaddy, Business2Community, The Huffington Post, Sitepoint, SEMRush, CrazyEgg and more.
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