If you were to ask the top search engine optimization experts today what the most challenging aspect of SEO is right now, it is almost certain that link building would come out with the most votes. There are many important factors to optimizing your website for search engine rankings, however link building still holds a considerable amount of weight. The ability to generate links to your website efficiently can give you an important edge on your competition, which is exactly what I aim to help you to achieve in this article! In general, you can categorize link building as either “white hat” or “gray hat”. White Hat vs Gray Hat Link Building White Hat link building is usually deemed as “safer” in that it is unlikely to see you fall foul of Google’s intricate spam detection algorithms. It’s often considered a slow and steady approach to SEO, one designed to give effective long term results. When doing white hat SEO, you’re most likely using a range of tactics that are designed to give you a boost in search engine rankings, as opposed to overloading on a single SEO technique. A very simple way of defining White Hat link building is a tactic that you know will probably deliver some inbound links to your website, but you are earning the links as opposed to generating or building the links. For example, you may produce an epic 5000 word guide about a particular topic that is easily the best article on the particular topic available. Having produced a really cool piece of content, you then promote the article to other bloggers in your niche and via social media in hopes that people will link to it because of how stellar the content is. You’re earning the links. Gray Hat link building tactics are those that are known to be effective, but come with an element of risk attached. They are often links that you build yourself, meaning that you’ve not earned them in the same way that you have when doing White Hat link building. Gray Hat link building is all about efficiency and the concept is to define a method to generate links as quickly and affordably as possible. PBNs A prominent example of a gray hat link building tactic is using private blog networks, or PBNs as they are known. A Private Blog Network is a group of websites that you control. You place links on those websites pointing to the websites that you want to give a boost in search results. The concept is that you’re sending links to a website that mimics “natural” links. PBNs have historically been a very effective form of link building because, even though the links are manually placed by you or the blog network owner, they are very similar to naturally occurring links. Because of their effectiveness, PBNs have also popped up on Google radar. Google has systematically been wiping out blog networks with a major update taking place in September 2014 that saw thousands of website owners get penalties for using this particular tactic. So Gray Hat link building is really a risk versus reward play in that you’re acutely aware that what you are doing may end with you getting a penalty from Google, but you are prepared to take that risk on the presumption that the tactic, or tactics, are going to give you quicker results. Hot and Heavy vs Slow and Steady The thing with link building is that it can either be super-efficient but risky like PBN link building or super-safe, but not nearly as time efficient. Finding the middle ground is tough and there is a general school of thought within the SEO community that White Hat link building delivers slower results and requires a significantly higher time investment to do well. If your aim is to steer clear of Gray Hat tactics because of the potential for negative consequences in the future, the biggest issue with SEO right now is how to effectively and efficiently generate links. Here are four of my favorite ways to do it, I hope you enjoy! 3 Effective Link Building Tactics That Actually Feel Good To Do! #1. Top Lists This tactic is a content-driven link building tactic where you create a list of the top bloggers for a particular subject or topic and post it as an article on your website. Here are three examples: Blogtrepreneur.com: Top 50 Fitness Blogs to Follow in 2015 LoneMind.com: Top 25 Futurist Blogs Cnanursing.net: Top 15 Health and Career Bloggers As you can see, the tactic can work for a range of different websites, across any niche. These types of articles are actually fun to create and make for a great change-up from regular types of articles which is good for you and for your readers. They tend to drive plenty of social media sharing, particularly when shared by those that you feature. How do they generate links? You will usually earn some links from bloggers features in the the article posting about it on your blog. Here’s one from Cnanursing.net referenced above: The key benefit of Top Lists though is that the help you to build relationships and the bloggers you feature in your top list can be a fantastic source of guest posts. All you need to do is email the bloggers you featured and pop a brief request in that email for a guest post swap and in my testing, you should expect upwards 20% to positively respond. #2. Expert Round-Up Articles These are where you reach out to a group of experts, have them answer a specific question or provide some expert advice on a specific topic and then compile the answers into an article. Here are three examples: EveryHomeRemedy.com: Wellness Experts Reveal 39+ Natural Cold Remedies FEInternational.com: How To Make Money Online With a Niche Website MuffinParadise.com: Experts Reveal Best Homemade Blueberry Muffins Expert Round-Up Articles are very popular right now, because they’re so effective. They generate a ton of social sharing, perhaps more-so than any other form of content that you can produce and it is because the vast majority of the experts will share the article with their audience. How do they generate links? You will earn links in exactly the same way as you do for Top Lists. However, because of the additional sharing that these generate and the value that is packed into the article, you’ll often get additional links from websites not featured in the article based on the quality of the content. #3. Content Round-Up Articles In this strategy, you are creating an article on your website that features to content of other websites. There’s a few different ways to do it. You can feature extracts of other people’s work, like this example from ListNutrition.com: 10 Deliciously Healthy Lunches For Work You can do an analysis of other people’s work, like this one from AuthorityHacker.com: How To Make Money Blogging: What We Can Learn From 23 Successful Bloggers You can provide a round-up of top articles on a given topic of for a particular month, like this one from MatthewWoodward.co.uk: The Very Best of Internet Marketing May 2015 How do they generate links? If you paid attention to those article above, you’ll notice that Matthew Woodward was featured in the AuthorityHacker article and linked to it in his May round-up, most likely not only because he was featured but because it is a terrific article. Clear evidence that content round-ups works fantastic for link building! Wrapping Up There you have it, 3 brilliant ways to earn links in a way that actually feels great! With each of the examples above, you are highlighting the work from other experts, you are producing fantastic content on your site that is highly shareable and interesting for your readers, connecting with influencers in your nice and you are earning links along the way! Now it’s your turn! Images: “Link Building – lightbulb on white background with text under it. 3d render illustration/Shutterstock.com“ ________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.