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DMSS 2018: Joshua Hardwick – 3 Ways to Build White Hat Links for your Business

By Lydia Barley

Continuing on with our DMSS series where we discuss some of the fantastic presentations that we attended at the Digital Marketing Skill Share (DMSS) 2018 conference in Bali this post will discuss the SEO workshop ‘3 ways to build white hat links for your business’ as presented by Joshua Hardwick.

Who is Joshua Hardwick?

Before jumping into his presentation, we thought we should first introduce Joshua Hardwick. Joshua is an SEO specialist who has over 8 years’ experience in SEO. In addition to this he is the head of content for Ahrefs, which is one of the industry’s leading SEO toolsets for backlink and SEO analysis. This was actually Joshua’s first time as a speaker at a conference (though you couldn’t tell!).

Now For The Workshop Details

The workshop itself was titled ‘How to Build White-Hat Links For Your Business’. With the DMSS conference describing the workshop as an introduction to some white hat link building strategies where Joshua would also explain how to execute them using a variety of tools (including Ahrefs). The tactics that would be shared, as listed by the DMSS conference, were as follows:

  1. Converting unlinked mentions to links
  2. Broken link building
  3. Stealing competitors backlinks
  4. Link reclamation
  5. And, guest posting.

Starting the Presentation – And Introducing Link Building

Joshua started the presentation by explaining the importance of links, highlighting that they are one of the primary ranking factors for Google. He then highlighted the difference between white hat and black hat links. Joshua explained the difference between them by putting them on a white hat/ black hat scale where on the one end of the scale you have black hat techniques such as link injection and buying links, while on the other end of the scale are white hat techniques where 100% of the links are natural, meaning they were gained without any effort.

White Hat Black Hat Scale

Jumping into the Tactics: Link Building Tactic #1 – Guest Blogging

Joshua’s first tactic was one that many are quite familiar with, writing a guest article for another website. Joshua jumped into the process for this tactic which includes: finding a list of sites that you want to guest post for, coming up with topics to write about, reaching out to website owners and pitching your ideas, writing the post and getting the post published.

Finding the sites

Joshua explained that the process that people typically use for finding sites (hunting through the Google search results to build a list and individually investigating the SEO metrics of those in the list to then make the list smaller) is unnecessarily time consuming. Joshua walked us through the quick process of finding sites through Ahrefs which included entering your desired topic into the content explorer tool, to which Ahrefs would search through over 1 billion webpages for mentions of that word/phrase and provide you with a list, which you can then easily filter down through Ahrefs by elements such as: language or domain rating.

Ahrefs Finding Sites Link Building

Coming up with the blog ideas

Joshua then walked us through the next step, which is coming up with the blog post ideas. He took us through 3 techniques, each of which we discuss below:

1. The Robin Hood idea – steal from the rich and give to the poor, which includes finding a popular article on a big website and stealing ideas from it.

2. The splintering technique – which includes splintering a big article into subtopics.

3. The perspective technique – which includes creating multiple versions of the same post with different perspectives.

Link Building Perspective Technique Graphic

Reaching out to sites

Now for reaching out to sites, Joshua gave us a couple of tips. These tips included: reaching out to more blogs (5x-10x more) than you can handle as not everyone will respond to you– and as Joshua explained it’s better to have too many opportunities than too few. Joshua also recommended pitching the same topic to multiple sites – so that you can spend less time on generating ideas rather than spending hours coming up with tons of different ideas only for some people to not respond. And in the off chance that more than one person approves of the same topic you can then give the topic to whoever responded first and can then offer another topic to the second person.

Link Building Tactic #2 – Broken Link Building

The next tactic Joshua discussed was broken link building which involves finding broken links, recreating that dead content and then telling anyone who is linking to that dead content to instead link to yours. While this tactic is less common amongst the SEO world it is highly effective.

Joshua walked us through finding dead content by putting a competitors URL into the Ahrefs site explorer and then clicking ‘best by links’ to filter the list to only show 404 pages. From there Joshua explained that you can see if others are linking to that dead content by entering the URL of the dead content into the Ahrefs site explorer and reviewing it’s backlink profile.

Once that broken link list has been generated you can then work through the list, contacting the website owners and directing them towards your content.

Link Building Tactic #3 – Converting Unlinked Mentions into Links

The third and final link building tactic discussed was converting unlinked mentions into links in which you would find unlinked mentions of your business and would reach out to the website owners, kindly asking them to link to your site.

To find these unlinked mentions Joshua walked us through a process where you enter your brand name into the content explorer on Ahrefs and click on the highlight unlinked domains feature, only to be presented with a list of unlinked mentions.

Joshua also noted that you should look for unlinked mentions that have domain misspellings also, explaining that misspellings are actually quite common. If you aren’t aware of the common misspellings for your website Joshua also recommended the following site http://domaincheckplugin.com/typo which generates a full list of misspellings for your domain, all you have to do is enter your domain name into the site and click generate.

Joshua suggested that when reaching out to website owners you need to make the request sound as simple as possible to increase the likelihood that they make the change. Remove any SEO jargon from your email and make the request simple by saying something along the lines of ‘please can you make the brand name clickable’.

What Can We Take from This Presentation?

In contrast to our last blog post from the DMSS series – DMSS 2018: Kyle Roof – SEO Tests and How Can You Set Them Up, which provided us with a few overarching takeaways that made SEO professionals around the room (and the world!) re-evaluate their SEO efforts, this presentation provided us with 3 excellent tactics for link building. In addition to just telling us about these 3 tactics, Joshua showed us the exact process for them while also showing Ahrefs capabilities throughout these processes that can save SEO professionals additional time (and effort!).

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