Thanks to all of Google's black and white animals (Panda & Penguin), link building has become a very difficult and tedious process. The types and sources of legitimate backlinks are few and far between. Taking any type of shortcut here could very well lead to a penalty from Google.

So what can we do as SEO marketers? Well, we need to get creative on how we acquire backlinks. Below are some completely white-hat and legitimate link building techniques you can start using today with little fear of a Google reprisal.

1. Brand Mentions: this is probably the most overlooked aspect of modern link building. Basically, you want to look for sites that have mentioned your brand or company, but have not linked you to you in any way. A simple way to do this is to use an advanced Google operator. Here's an easy one:

intext:brand name

Replace brand name with your company name and place your website (without www) in the place of "" What this is telling Google is to find websites that mention your brand name, but do not appear on your website. Now that you have this result, it's only matter of searching through the results to find websites that mention your brand name, but may not have necessarily linked to you for some reason. Compile a list of these sites and send their webmaster an e-mail asking for a link back. But whatever you do, please do not request what type of anchor text to use. This will only aggravate the webmaster. Simply ask for a link back to the site and that's all.

2. Local Directories: local directories are still very powerful for SEO. Especially if your business is local (to a geographic location), local directories like the Yellow Pages and Yelp will definitely give your site a boost. Plus, it's a completely white hat link building tactic. In addition, potential visitors may find your website via these directories as they often times show up higher in search results.

3. Infographic Distribution and Outreach: this is another tactic that has become very popular as it attracts a large number of legitimate, white-hat backlinks. First, you want to to do some research around your industry and what type of infographs are popular among readers. A simple Google search will give you a lot of great ideas. Once you have honed in on something catchy and appealing, hire a graphic designer off ODesk or Freelancer to create an eye catching infographic. Next, host this on your site as a small blog post (with 200-300 words of content). Now you are ready to do outreach. Find all the websites that have hosted similar infographics (again, a simple Google search will provide some great results). Reach out to these websites and request they host your infographic as well. This should get you some legitimate, white hat links. If your infograph is really good, it may be picked up and syndicated on many sites causing a viral effect. This can only mean good things for your site and whole stream of white hat backlinks.

4. Broken Link Building: another great tactic in your internet marketing arsenal is broken link building. I have written a whole different article on broken link building which can be found here. In short, this strategy relies on finding industry relevant sites which have a resources section and looking for any broken links on that page. Once found, you want to report those to the webmaster, while asking for your website's inclusion. This is a win-win situation for both parties as you have notified the webmaster of broken links (thus reducing user experience on their website), while getting your site included on an industry relevant site. The only pitfall of this tactic is that it requires a considerable amount of outreach. But as we all know by now, hard to acquire links are the only ones worth going after these days.

And there you have it folks. Four great tactics oto use for completely white hat link building. If you know of any more, please share these in the comments box below.