Understanding the concept of link building First of all its good to understand the idea behind link building so then you know how to give G what they want. Links are the main indicator as to the popularity and relevance of a page in relation to a particular subject. The simple idea is that the more websites pointing to a page, the more popular that page is and if all of those sites are talking about a particular topic when they link to that page, then its sensible to assume that page is popular, and relevant, for that topic. Every site has its own "weight" when it comes to link power in general (How many other sites link to it) and also "topical power" (Its perceived authority within a particular niche or topic area). Of course those two factors, and many others, play a role in the power that each link pointing to your site will hold. Lets say that your site is already plastered all over social media and its exceptionally well known in your niche. You then post a ground-breaking piece of content about some revolutionary idea that adds value to the niche like never before. Everyone will be talking about it on social media, in niche related forums, news sites will pick it up, authorities within the niche will link to and give their opinion on it and that is exactly what you want to replicate when building links. White-hat and Black-hat link-building In SEO as a whole I would say that white-hat is really the process outlined above - creating great content and distributing it via social media, offline marketing and other legit channels and then waiting for the links to roll in (Hopefully). Black-hat is pretty much EVERYTHING that this forum is about. In link-building specifically, and in the context of this forum, its a bit different. I would say that white-hat is just trying to stay ultra high quality and replicating the techniques outlined above as closely as possible and with a view to keeping your site and your entire backlink profile alive as long as possible (Indefinitely in fact). Whereas black-hat is more about using automation to replicate something close to the above but as fast as possible and on a massive scale with a view to ranking in the short-term and not necessarily for a long term venture. A good example of a white-hat link-building technique would be the creation of your own HQ private block network and a good example of a black-hat link-building technique would be the use of a tool like GSA to build thousands of multi-tier links to your site. The most important factors when building links There are a few things that are really important when building links to your site and you really need to understand these points in detail before you start building links, otherwise you are likely to tank your site and/or waste your time and money. A lot of people talk about these points on the forum but I think sometimes they get overlooked by newcomers and their importance is really missed. They are all crucial to your link-building efforts and getting them right should be treated like a science. Metrics Metrics are really very important when link building. The most common metrics to look out for now are DA (Domain authority), PA (Page authority), TF (Trust Flow) and CF (Citation flow). Generally speaking the higher the number the better and you want to be looking at these metrics, wherever possible, when you are considering placing a link on a site. You can use a paid service like Moz.com for checking PA/DA or you can use a free service like this one - http://www.seoreviewtools.com/bulk-seomoz-authority-checker/ For TF and CF they are metrics from http://majestic.com - you can do basic checks on this site without paying, or if you need regular access and more detail you can subscribe as well. With these metrics you dont want the CF to be to much higher than TF because this means that your link profile is starting to look spammy. The reason: CF is about authority and TF is about link power. So a low CF and high TF means that you have a lot of power coming from your backlinks but none of them are from any type of known or authoritative sites - in other words it looks quite possible that you are manufacturing your own links to boost your link-juice. Context Context has always been important and is now becoming even more important as Google is starting to look for advanced methods of determining relevance using automation. The link text, the surrounding text and also the overall topic of the article or page from which your link is built, is very important and this is why contextual links are very powerful (Ones placed within text) and also why you really want links from pages with a lot of high quality content and images that relate to your niche. Not only are these links less likely to be removed / blacklisted but they will hold more power. Neighborhood The neghbourhoods that you get links from are also very important. You want links from sites that are relevent to your niche, you want links from sites that are genuine and not part of link farms and you want links that are distributed around the internet. Majestic is a great tool that you can use, if you have a subscription, to determine the topics that a site is authoritative for and you really want links from sites that are authoritive for relevent topics within your niche, rather than all news/business sites for example. You also want to vary your link-building techniques so that all of your links are not coming from one place or not all linking amongst each other - otherwise this is a big flag to G that you are trying to manipulate their algorithms. Diversity Diversity is very important. And when I say diversity I mean in every aspect of your link-building - different types of links, different anchor text some do follow, some dont follow, image links, text links etc. The more diverse your link building efforts are the more natural they will look. Anchor text Anchor text is very important. Anchor text is the text that you actually use to link to your site with. In very basic terms the search engines use this anchor text to determine what the target of the link is about. For example if site A links to site B and uses the anchor text car cleaning guide then it would be reasonable to assume that site B was about car cleaning and specifically how to do it. If 10,000 sites linked to site B and 50% of them had that same anchor text then you might say that site B was most definitely about that topic AND very authoritative on it as well. Of course its not as simple as that and if you built links like that your site would get tanked in no time at all. Really its about keeping things looking legitimate. If you look up some backlink profiles of big sites in your niche you will find that there is huge variation in the anchor text used for backlinks to that site. And when you are building links you want to keep that same level of variation. Velocity and timing In the interests of keeping everything looking natural, this is very important. Firstly dont go plowing in with your brand new site and start building hundreds of links and equally dont trail off to nothing after 3 months of link-building. You need to keep the links coming in steadily and consistently to avoid any obvious flags. All anchor text will help your site to rank This is something I didnt understand so much in the past. I used to think that those direct anchor backlinks were really the important ones, so I would build a load of crappy backlinks with generic anchors for "diversity" and then I would build a few high quality links from PBN providers and so on using direct anchors to give my site the real ranking power for those keywords. In my experience this really didnt work well at all. And I learned a valuable lesson from this practice - focus on good links and not on anchor text. Now I am building powerful backlinks all the time and not worrying too much about anchor text. In fact I can happily rank many keywords without using any direct anchors but just using brand, naked URL and longtails. This is because all of those backlinks are powerful and the diversity of the anchor profile keeps them valuable. Now rather than building with anchor ratios in mind I am building all links as above and then just dropping in some direct anchor links if required, based on how my site is moving up the serps. Internal linking and power distribution Link distribution is also very important in keeping things natural. You dont want to build all of your links to one page on your site but rather to build them to pages throughout your site, so as to keep everything looking natural. Also remember that your site is part of the internet and a link from your homepage to a sub-page is not that much different to a link from an external site to your subpage. In addition to this, if you build a lot of high quality links to your homepage for example, those links will still have a big effect in ranking your sub-pages - so dont be obvious and build every powerful link directly to your target page, distribute links and then feed them to the relevent pages with internal linking. Link building sources Now you know what type of links you need as well as what you need to look for when you are building links, but where can you get those links from? Spy on your competition This is one of the best strategies for finding and building great links. You can use a backlink checking tool such as ahrefs.com which will allow you to export all of your competitors backlinks to a spreadsheet. You can then go through this list and find out what type of links they are building, where they are getting their links from and so on. In this example we can see mostly some links from authorities like wikipedia and also some links from niche related blogs. So the steps here would be to contact some of those blogs and ask if you could write an article for them with a link back to your site. Link directories Link directories can be good for small niches - you will often find them used by other sites when you search backlink profiles using ahrefs. Link directories are good in small amounts but you want to avoid ones that have thousands of links on each page. If you can find a directory with good metrics and a relevant category that is not saturated with other backlinks then its a good option. Paid directories tend to be good as well because the price means that not EVERYONE is sticking their link in them. Guest post outreach Guest posting is a great tactic for building really good links. Once again you can find this niche relevant sites using the ahrefs method above, or you can also search on google using niche relevant keywords to find these sites. Write an email to the site and just ask if you can write and publish an article on their blog - of course you want the link to your site in return but keep the emphasis on the article and its value to their readers. Sometimes you will get taken up on your offer without any costs involved, sometimes you will need to pay for the privilege. Again check out all of the sites metrics before you make a decision on whether or not its worth it. Forum posting Forum posting is a very good way to build relevant links that can give you juice and also give you traffic. You will often find good niche related forums when looking at your competitors back-links in ahrefs but also its easy to find these forums for your niche using Google. Some forums will allow you a link in your signature and others you can just get away with posting relevant links in the body of your posts. With forum posting you need to establish some trust, actually post some relevant and useful stuff on the forums before you start linking out to your site, otherwise you will stand out a mile off. Blog comments Blog commenting is another great source of backlinks. Again you can check the metrics of sites before you comment on them but also the important thing with commenting is that the sites are relevant and high quality. Also don't post on sites that already have thousands of comments or have been spammed with lots of unrelated links in the comments. Private blog networks I tend to find when looking at the competition that the most common types of links come from other niche sites, blogs and places that are quite hard to replicate. High quality sites tend to get mentioned a lot because they are authoritative on the subject of their niche and the sites that have those links in them tend not to be responsive to adding links or posting content on request from you as a link uilder. When you cant get posts on those type of sites through outreach, building your own private blog network can be a great way to replicate those types of links. There are already quite a few good guides here on building private blog networks so I wont go into too much detail. Here are a few such guides: http://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/how-to-build-your-own-pbn-for-under-275-15-domains.678925/ http://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/how-to-build-your-own-pbn-a-quick-guide-for-newbies.813358/ http://www.blackhatworld.com/seo/st...-own-pbn-private-blog-network-bazinga.837484/ Here is my take on PBNs The principal is the same as everything else I have mentioned so far - you want links from sites with great metrics that are in good neighborhoods relating to your niche and that are surrounded by relevant content. You can replicate this by building your own sites that fit all of those criteria. You can build these sites from scratch and then create the metrics by building links to the PBN sites themselves, and/or you can give yourself a head start by purchasing an expired domain that already has great metrics. You can use free sites like http://expireddomains.net or premium services such as https://www.domcop.com/ to find great domains to register - again the principle is the same look for sites with good metrics, relevent content (When they were live) and no spammy links. PBNs are very powerful Dont feel like you have to build 5000 PBN sites to give your site a boost just because your competitors have 5000 links in ahrefs. PBN sites are very powerful links because you are engineering every part of the link - metrics, relevence, context and extremely low outbound links. Because of this fact its much more cost effective to build low numbers but with extreme quality in mind. Keep your sites looking real As I said, you can literally control every aspect of your PBN, so you can give yourself the optimum backlinks. The worst thing that can happen hear is that your PBN gets discovered so you need to keep your sites looking like real sites. I cant remember who posted it, but someone posted recently about building PBNs and said that you shouldnt make them look like real sites, they should be real sites. I agree with this whole-heartedly. And PBNs are powerful enough that you can spend that much effort building them. You should put as much effort into your PBN sites as you do into your money sites - make them real, research lucrative topics for them and build them with a view to ranking them in their own right. This will make them more powerful for linking to your site and also make them far less likely to be detected for what they are. Outsourcing your Link-building All of these things I have mentioned can be outsourced from providers on blackhatworld from forum links, to guest post outreach right through to the creation of your own private blog networks. There are three main things to keep in mind when outsourcing: 1.Look for reviews before purchasing. The first reviews from the mods that approved the service are normally very insightful as to their quality - the mods tend to be pretty honest and whilst they are not going to slate a service that they have approved they will give varying opinions of those services depending on their genuine opinions. Look for reviews as well from buyers of those services - when it comes to link-building also look for services where people regularly post SERP graphs showing actual improvements in ranking. 2.Understand that you get what you pay for. Everyone uses some marketing tactics when selling their services - if you see a service advertising to rank your site for like $5 you have to understand that its not going to be effective as a service that costs $300 (In theory). 3.Take responsibility for everything but the links Just because you are paying someone to build links for you, it doesnt mean that you dont have to put in any effort and it doesnt mean that your site is going to show improvements like some of their other clients sites have done. When you are building links you still need to think about everything I mentioned in this article - you need to manage your entire link building efforts, you need diversity in your links, you need a steady velocity of links and you need to pay great attention to anchor text diversity. All of those things are your responsibility and not the sellers. Regularly monitor and assess everything As you are undertaking your link building efforts keep an eye on your own site. Just like you can check metrics for the backlinks that you are building you can do the same for your own site - Keep an eye on your DA/PA/TF/CF, topics listed in majestic, backlinks listed in ahrefs, your serp movements. Keep an eye on everything and make sure that it is all going in the right direction as you are building your links. Record everything you do and try to correlate it with the movements that you see in the serps. This can give you insights as to what is working, what isnt working and whether your site is moving in the right direction.