Last week's Link Whore firestorm really made me re-think things....


At what point does a link-building tactic make the leap from acceptable to not? When does white hat become black hat? Or gray hat? Or pink?
And who is to say what is acceptable and what isn't? What works is what's acceptable, and vice-versa, right? It's not your fault blog comment spam got out of control. It's the other guy. If he'd stop link farming so would I. Ok. Sure. I give.
I think the whole white hat / black hat link-building and SEM argument clouds the larger point. Appropriate link building tactics will be different depending on the site you are seeking links for. This site needs a different approach than this one. Your link pursuits should always be driven by your content, and yes, I agree sometimes your content can even be driven by link opportunities, though that's a slippery slope.
In its most simplest terms: to me a white-hat non-link-whore link-building tactic is link you seek for reasons other than search engine rank. But this isn't all. Even non-SEO links can be spam and make the web an uglier place. "Intent" is at the core of the white-hat / black-hat debate. Why do you want that link? Answer that queston honestly and you'll see why I wrote last week's post.
The sad downside of the new algorithmic link analysis is that when combined with increased user generated content and links, the intent of the linker can no longer be trusted. So links today are becoming like meta tags 10 years ago. Anything goes as long as it get's me traffic, right?
Wow, four one-way inbound links to me in one sentence...That was some impressive link building.
Or was it?
Eric

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Eric Ward

Eric founded the Web's very first online publicity and linking services, NetPOST and URLwire, in 1994. Eric's expertise is in helping companies generate links, publicity and buzz for their Web content. A hands-on practitioner, Eric also offers training and seminars that teach companies how to do it in-house. His client list is a who's who of online brands, from Amazon.com to PBS.org.

Eric has written for for ClickZ and Ad Age, and he won the 1995 Tenagra Award For Internet Marketing Excellence. In 1997, he was named one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight magazine. A well-known speaker at the major industry trade shows, Eric will soon publish The Ward Report, a monthly "how-to" newsletter on the art of link building and publicity for Web content, with commentary on the newest trends and practices.

A native of northern New Jersey, Eric has lived in Knoxville, Tennessee since graduating from the University of TN. Eric's wife Melissa and toddler Noah say "bye daddy geek" every day when he leaves for work.

Eric can be reached at eric@ericward.com