The Skinny On Black Hat Link Building
(and Google Penalties)
No guide to building links would be complete without a chapter on black hat SEO.
Black hat link building is pretty easy to spot: If the links go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, they’re probably black hat.
Does that mean you should avoid black hat link building altogether?
That’s a choice only you can make. I personally don’t recommend black hat link building (the risk doesn’t come close to justifying the reward). But it’s up to you.
That said, whether you’re a white hat or black hat SEO, you do need to know the penalties that Google dishes out.
So let’s briefly cover them:
What It Is:
An algorithmic penalty that specifically targets sites that use spammy link building techniques (like shady guest posting and blog comment spam).
How to Avoid It:
Only build white hat links. There’s data to show that you can dodge Penguin by minimizing exact match anchor text (I say anchor text is part of the story…but it’s more about trust). That said, the easiest way to avoid Penguin is to avoid shady links (regardless of anchor text).
Manual Penalty/Unnatural Links
What It Is:
A manual penalty from someone at Google. Unlike Penguin, Google will send you a message via the Google Search Console:
How To Avoid It:
No one outside of Google knows how sites get targeted for manual penalties. My take is that an algorithm spots a website that’s potentially gaming the system. And they bubble that site up to someone at Google for a manual review. So the best way to avoid a manual penalty is to have a squeaky-clean link profile.
CHAPTER 6:My Three Favorite Link Building Strategies (Step-By-Step Tutorials)
No intro needed for this chapter.
Here are 3 of my battle-tested strategies for building lots of world-class backlinks:
Resource Page Link Building
First off: what are resource pages?
Resource pages are pages that link out to awesome content on a given topic.
Here’s an example:
Because these pages exist for the sole purpose of linking out, they make PERFECT link building targets.
With that, here’s the step-by-step process:
Find Resource Pages
Use these search strings in Google. They’re designed specifically to unearth resource pages:
“Keyword” + inurl:links
“Keyword” + “helpful resources”
“Keyword” + “useful resources”
“Keyword” + “useful links”
Size Up The Page
Here’s where you (quickly) answer the question:
“Is a link from this page worth the effort?”.
(Hint: Use the tips from Chapter 2 to make this step a breeze)
For example, this resource page has a decent URLRating of 12. Not bad.
It’s also on an authoritative domain.
And my link will end up somewhere on the body of the page. Looks like a winner!
Find “Best Fit” Content
Your content can be the best in the world…
…but if it’s not a good fit for that resource page?
You’re not gonna get a link.
So for this step, find content on your site that’ll fit that resource page like a glove.
Once you’ve ID’d that content, move onto step #4.
Send This Tested Script
Here’s the script I recommend:
Subject: Question about [Their Website]
I was Googling around for content about [Topic] this morning, when I came across your excellent resource page: [URL].
I just wanted to say that your page helped me a ton. I would have never found the [Resource They Link To] without it.
It’s funny: I recently published a guide on [Topic] last month. It’s [Brief Description].
Here it is in case you’d like to check it out: [URL].
Also, my guide might make a nice addition to your page.
Either way, thanks for putting together your list of resources. And have a great day!
Pro Tip: Like all outreach scripts, make sure to personalize this script as much as possible. You can use a script as long as it doesn’t LOOK like a script.
Broken Link Building
Broken Link Building is one of my all-time favorite link building strategies.
Instead of straight-up begging for links, with Broken Link Building, you add value to someone’s website.
Here’s how to do it:
Install Check My Links or LinkMiner
Both of these tools quickly find broken links on any page (from within your Chrome Browser).
I’ll show you how to use them in a minute.
Find Pages With Lots of Outbound Links
The more links a page has, the more likely one of them will be broken.
Resource pages work great here. So feel free to use the search strings above to bring up resource pages.
Check For Broken Links
Here’s where you run the extension you installed in the first step.
They’ll reveal broken links on that page:
Email The Site Owner About Their Broken Link
Finally, let the person that runs that page about their broken link (or links),… and pitch content from your site as a replacement.
Here’s the script I recommend:
Subject: Problem with [Their Site’s Name]
Are you still updating your site?
I was searching for content on [Topic] when I came across your excellent page: [Page Title or URL].
However, I noticed a few links didn’t seem to be working:
[URLs of broken links]
Also, I recently published [Brief Content Pitch]. It may make a good replacement for the [Point Out a Specific Broken Link].
Either way, I hope this helped you out