If you depend on link building to help your website compete on the search engines, you could be worried about the constant stream of articles in the SEO press that write off one link building technique after the other. Each time Google rolls out an algorithm update, you are supposed to give up blog comments, forum posting and other practical link building methods. With at least 10 accessible link building methods reported as out of Google’s approved list of link building methods, there is practically nothing left. Is it really true, though, that these well-loved methods are no longer white hat?

Blog comments and posts on forums

If you have a blog, you probably have trouble with commenters coming in all the time with spammy comments and links attached. It’s much the same with forum postings. When cheap software like XRumer that automatically register on forums and send out forum postings by the thousand first became available, Google quickly marked this link building method as black hat and stopped paying such links any attention.

How is it, then, that SEO practitioners still use blog comments and forum posts to build links that successfully raise website profiles on Google?

There’s black hat comment/forum post marketing and then there’s the white hat stuff

Both automated comments and low quality handwritten comments add no value to the places they appear in. Links attached to such content have no value.

At high-quality forums and blogs, often, the readers and many of those writing comments are industry influencers. They have large followings on Facebook and Twitter. When a comment writer repeatedly appear in front of them and says something of value, he will soon become a known figure on the forum. This kind of activity can help form professional relationships. If you earn enough trust over time, you could easily earn yourself a link on the website of one of these trusted industry authorities. This kind of commenting can lead to great things.

In other words, while comment/forum posts may not be great places to leave links around in, they are one of the best ways you can start relationships in that will bring you links one day.

If using forum posts and comments sections to build relationships and links makes sense to you, here are the rules

  1. Use the same profile information everywhere: Many link builders use little standardization when they go around the Internet. They use different names, avatars and profile information on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Disqus, Foursquare and every blog and forum. If you leave comments under different names all over the Internet, the people you wish would notice you will never know that it’s all the same person. To build a reputation, you need to be recognized each time you leave comments. You need to use profile standardization to ensure recognition.
  2. If possible, use a photo: While using the same avatar across all your online accounts is a good thing, it isn’t as good as using your photo everywhere. A high-quality photograph can convey so much more than an avatar – personality, character, friendliness and integrity, for instance. Only a professionally shot photograph can make all these qualities come through in a tiny postage stamp-sized image, though.
  3. Be honest, serious and creative in your comments: If you go into your commenting thinking that you’re there to market your website, you’ll end up losing any interest in being original. You want to sit and contemplate the blog post that you’ve read, form an honest opinion and then write it out. Honest opinions have a kind of power that made-up comments lack. Sometimes, if your opinion strikes a chord, the blog post writer himself will respond. He’ll bring up your comment, add a link to your website to mention where the comment came from and say something about it.
  4. Write a relevant post, yourself: One of the best ways to get a blog to put in a link to your website would be to write a good post in your website on the subject that the other blog deals in. This way, you can go to one of their posts and talk about this relevant post that you’ve written. If you put in a live link to it, though, people will right away suspect that you are a spammy link builder. Instead, you could put in a non-live link (without the http). You can add a note to the moderator that it’s up to them to turn it live. Your excellent manners will earn you points.

Finally, you need to make sure that you target the right websites, forums and blogs and make sure that you don’t call yourself a marketer or SEO person anywhere. Those names are right away bound to identify you as someone who’s just in it for the money.