Backlinks have been the foundation of Google’s ranking algorithm since the beginning, but when Google’s John Mueller was captured saying live in a Google+ hangout that webmasters should avoid trying to focus on link building, link building was once again banished to the 'No' column.
John Mueller's comments spread across the internet stripped of its context. Link Building was dangerous and would result in more harm for your website than anything good.
The truth is that black hat link building is bad. Black hat link building is a manipulative type of link building.
With legacy SEO, there was a great deal of manual link building going on. SEO strategists would insert links on third party sites wherever possible. Black hat link building meant that site owners were not aware or did not approve of links being added to the content.
Typical examples of old school black hat link building are automated guestbook and forum entries, and spammy blog comments. If you own a Wordpress site, you've probably gotten a few.
What does black hat link building mean today?
Today, black hat is about tricking webmasters into linking to you by non-transparent ways. For example, links get hidden in unrelated third-party sites through widgets. Most site owners add these widgets not knowing about the hidden links.
White hat link building and how does it help your SEO
White hat link building, on the other hand, is a ton of work. There are no shortcuts, but it works really, really, really well.
As of March 2016, Google has confirmed for the first time the top three most important ranking factors; Backlinks, Content & Rankbrain.
Today's white hat link building consists of reaching out to industry influencers and adding a high-quality guest post. Crafting stunning Press Releases to get real press. Not the PR submission kind, but coverage from high authority media sites. It consists of networking with other companies whose primary focus is also creating high-quality content.