This comprehensive guide contains the EXACT link building strategies I’ve used to successfully move hundreds of pages to the top of the SERP’s… Even AFTER the infamous Panda Update and all other subsequent updates.
Are there better ways to build links? Probably, but if I haven’t used a particular link building technique then I didn’t include it in this guide. The whole point of this guide, and this blog, is to share my personal experiences to help you reach your goals.
*Bookmark this page: SEO and link building are ever changing so I will be updating this page to include new tools and techniques that I find effective and removing those that become ineffective.
Before you begin building backlinks it’s important to make sure you have your on-page SEO configured properly and that you are targeting the proper keywords.
If you’re site is WordPress powered then I recommend using the popular Thesis theme along with the WordPress SEO plugin, both of which I use on this blog and the majority of my niche sites.
As far as finding the right keywords to optimize your site for, there are a few tools out there that make the job easier. I personally use Niche Finder to find the best keywords. I have used Market Samurai before, and it’s a GREAT tool, but I love the simplicity of Niche Finder.
Link Building Strategies
Once you have your site optimized for your chosen keywords, it’s time to start building links. Choose your link building budget below and scroll down:
- Free To Cheap
Link Building Strategies
- Medium Priced
Link Building Strategies
- Higher Priced
Link Building Strategies
Contrary to popular belief, link building doesn’t have to be expensive. However, when going the free route you can expect to invest a lot of your time usually in the form of content creation. Below are my top five methods for creating free quality backlinks.
Subscribe to HARO: HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out and is one of my favorite ways to get links from authority sites like The New York Times, ABC News, Huffington Post and more ! The best part about this is it doesn’t eat up a lot of time, you don’t need to be an expert writer and you can get quality backlinks from some of the top sites on the internet. Check out my post about HARO for a more detailed explanation.
Build Web2.0’s: I’ve used web 2.0 sites extensively in the past to get quality backlinks from domains that have a high PR. Of course, the article you post on the web 2.0 won’t have high PR, initially, but your backlink still comes from a trusted domain. Plus, these sites make great “anchor” sites, which are basically sites you point to your money site. One strategy is to blast your anchor sites with thousands of automated links so that the link juice passes through these sites to your money site. Here are 30 web 2.0 sites to get you started:
Write Guest Posts: Guest posts are always an ongoing part of my backlink strategy. Not only do they pass on some good link love to your site, they can also bring tons of targeted traffic, which is the ultimate goal. There is a great site called My Blog Guest that will help you connect with site owners looking for guest posts.
Article Directories: I use article directories in the same way I use web 2.0’s, as an anchor site from a trusted domain. Here are 10 popular article directories to start submitting to:
Create Great Content: I used to hate seeing this on those “how to build links” lists because if you don’t get any traffic to begin with then your great content will never be seen. But, overtime I realized just how important this really is and made it a priority!
Basically, your site should have great content BEFORE you start actively promoting and building links to your site. If your content is crap, you will never get any natural backlinks, but if you create one-of-a-kind, over-the-top kick ass content then your post is more likely to get tons of natural backlinks, go viral and will increase the chances of visitors becoming subscribers.
Now, after you have some killer content on your site, get to work and subscribe to HARO and start writing content to distribute to article directories, web 2.0’s abnd other bloggers as guest posts. Once you’ve created several backlinks with the above methods, you can continue below!
1. Make a list of all the guru or big name bloggers in your niche and write about them. You may just flatter them enough to get a link back.
2. Submit an article to news sites in your niche.
4. This may be a little old school, but you can submit your site to DMOZ and other free directories. I have never paid to list my site in a directory.
5. Create an affiliate program through Clickbank, etc. You won’t receive any link juice from these links, but you’ll potentially get tons of exposure.
6. Something I haven’t done in years, but you can answer a few relevant questions on Yahoo! Answers and perhaps get some targeted traffic.
8. Leave signature links or personal profile links on forums that you actively participate on.
9. Link out to other blogs! A great way to get noticed and market yourself for free.
10. Comment on blogs. While most blog comments are no-follow, they can still drive targeted traffic and get you noticed.
11. Interview a successful blogger in your niche! Most likely they will spread the word about the interview and you will gain some traffic and perhaps some links.
back to menu
iWriter: Unless you REALLY enjoy writing, creating article after article can be tedious and it’s easy to get burnt out fairly quickly. Trust me, I’ve been there. Which is why I’m glad I discovered a service called iWriter (I am not an affiliate of this service, I just have had great experiences with it and hope you do too)!
This service, created by Brad Callen, is an article writing service that offers articles for as little as $2 a piece! I’ve tried at least three other article writing services and have NOT been pleased with the quality, so when I first tried this service I went in with very little expectations. I, however, was pleasantly surprised when my article was written and sent back to me for review in less than an hour and the quality was actually really good! If the quality doesn’t meet your expectations then just reject it and have somebody else write a better one. Plus, you even get a free version of your article with spin tags!!
Now, here’s a tip to ensure you get the best quality – when requesting an article, choose the option to have the best writers create your article. It costs a little bit more, but will help a ton with the quality of the article.
Contests: Have a contest on your site and give away a $50 prize to the winner. These types of contests make for great link bait and can result in hundreds of quality backlinks.
Create a useful online tool or app: Depending on your level of programming ability and the type of tool you want designed, this can be either really cheap or very expensive. But, if you have the ability to create a simple, useful tool then you are likely to attract many quality backlinks for a fairly affordable price. For example, a weight loss site might create a BMI calculator or a financial site might create a mortgage calculator.
Free Samples: This works extremely well, and can even be free, if you give away free samples of content you’ve created, like an eBook or eCourse. Whether you give away content, a tangible good or a service, simply give away these samples to bloggers in the same niche in exchange for an honest review and link back to your site.
Real-Life Relationships: You can meet industry “gurus” and other popular people in your niche at expos and conferences for just the admission price to attend. Once you meet these people in person, it’s a lot easier to form a relationship with them online.
I got my start using the free/cheap list building strategies detailed in this guide, which is how I started earning money online. I then reinvested that money into automating part of my link building strategy which allowed me to focus on new projects and growing my business instead of on building links. And these are the tools and strategies I used to do that…
The Anchor Site Strategy With Unique Article Wizard
One such tool I often use is called Unique Article Wizard, which at the time of writing this costs $67/month. This tool basically takes an article that you submit and sends it out to hundreds of blogs and article directories. You can upload as many articles you like into this program and the rest is all handled for you. As you can see this is a very powerful tool that allows you to easily build thousands of links in just a short amount of time.
Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility. You can’t just go and blast your site with thousands of backlinks everyday. Luckily, there is a method that was made popular by Joseph Archibald and his 40 Day Challenge that allows you to use UAW to its fullest potential and can have your site climbing in the ranks extremely fast. I still use this method to this very day with success.
In a nut shell, build several web 2.0 properties and submit articles to the top article directories with a link pointing back to your site. Once you have these “anchor” sites built, blast them with the articles you submit to UAW. The link juice is then passed through the anchor sites to your site. Extremely simple in concept and VERY effective. In fact, in Joseph’s 40 Day Challenge he ranked a site on the first page of Google in just a matter of weeks!
Quick mention: At one time I used a software that was a one-time fee called Article Marketing Robot. This tool does pretty much the same thing as UAW and I used it in the manner mentioned above, but in my opinion this tool has been used and abused to the point where I’m just not getting the results I once was. Therefore, I do not personally recommend using it. If you use it and are still having great success with it, let me know.
Bonus tip: Harvest the trackbacks from all the links you build to your sites using Pingback Power (free plugin) or Pingback Optimizer (paid plugin) and submit those backlinks to Linklicious.me to ensure Googlebot crawls them.
There will be a point in your internet marketing adventure where you begin to understand just how valuable your time is. And instead of doing all the tedious work of link building you will want ways to automate the process. And not just automate it, but automate it efficiently enough that you are getting a big enough return on your investment. These are some of the strategies I use that help me find a good balance of the two.
I outsource all of my content creation through iWriter. As I mentioned over in the Medium Priced Link Building strategies, iWriter provides great quality articles that are copyscape tested for as little as $2. It’s hard to beat that. Plus, they give you a free spinnable version of the article, which you will use in the upcoming steps. I use these articles as content for my niche sites and as content for all the web 2.0’s and article directory submissions.
I use a service called Backlinks Genie, aka BLG, to create all my web 2.0’s, article directory submissions and they even distribute articles out to their own private blog network. It’s as simple as taking the article with spin tags from iWriter and placing into the BLG system and they do all the rest, in just one day they have created around 60 or so web 2.0s and blog post backlinks to my site!
Use BLG to build backlinks to the Web 2.0’s. BLG makes it easy to beef up you anchor sites you just built by pointing blog comments, social bookmarks, high PR profiles and xrumer type profiles at them. This helps them get indexed and passes the link juice through the anchor sites to your site.
Basically, the Anchor Site Strategy I outline in the Medium Priced Link Building Strategy’s (but replacing UAW with blog comments and profiles) is completely automated with BLG! You can even schedule all your projects ahead of time so you can have a constant stream of backlinks being built on autopilot for months to come.
A few strategies to get the most of BLG:
- Take advantage of their multi day projects! For example, their Magic Carpet project is a 3 day project which submits your article to about 60 web 2.0’s and blogs on the first day, then the second day they point a batch of high PR profiles and social bookmarks at day one, and the third they point thousands of xrumer and blog comments at days 1 and 2.
- BLG provides a report of every link they build! This can come in very handy if you want to get those links easily indexed. What makes it even easier, is that BLG and LinkLicious.me have joined forces so all of the links created by BLG will automatically be submitted to LL.me and crawled by good ol’ Googlebot (A pro Linklicious.me account is required).
- When you create your web 2.0’s with BLG, you have the option to repost to those sites that they created for you. I would highly recommend that you repost several times to these properties in order to build up these web 2.0’s so they don’t look like one page sites created solely for a backlink.
Complete Hands-off, Total Link Building Solution
I’ve tested nearly every service under the moon and none let you completely set and forget your link building…except Link Emperor. This service offers so much that it needs a post of its own, which you can check out in my detailed Link Emperor Review! In that post I detail exactly how I used Link Emperor to double my sites traffic in just 5 weeks!
- *Update: This advice is even more important after the Penguin update! Be sure to vary your anchor text! This means if you’re trying to rank a page for “blue widgets”, do not use “blue widgets” as the anchor text for all of the backlinks you build. You might see all kinds of different percentages of what “gurus” feel your anchors should be, but forget all that. Just be sure to use a healthy mixture of your keywords, your domain name and add in some “click here”, etc as your anchors.
- Link wheels… No, you do not need to form a link wheel with your web 2.0’s and article directory submissions. I personally have never seen great results when doing it. And I’ve even had a highly reputable link wheel company build a few different link wheels for me (over $900 I spent) and after the dust settled my page actually dropped 6 places in Google, from position 34 down to 40 for a medium competition keyword. I was not pleased to say the least, but in all fairness to the company, whom I won’t mention, they did partially refund my money which is unheard of in the link building space.
- Build links from various sources! I never rely on one service, technique or tool – it’s always a mixture – which is why I believe I’ve never been affected by any of Google’s updates. Hopefully I’ve given you enough ideas with this guide to keep you busy for a while.
- I recommend reading all the sections of this tutorial. Even if you’re a more experienced link builder with a large budget, there may be some hidden gems in the Free Link Building Strategies section.
- Don’t try to rank crap sites. Some people have success with it, but it’s usually short term. Spend a little time/money making a helpful and informative site around your chosen keywords. Trust me, it will pay dividends in the end and you will be making the world a better place. 🙂 This may also be some of the reason I have never been hit by an update.
- Some may not like the techniques in the Higher Priced Link Building Strategies that involve mass forum and blog commenting. And that’s totally fine! I somewhat agree, but I’m not trying to start a white/black hat discussion. I simply laid it out there for everybody because my tests and experiences have shown that it works. If you don’t agree with it, don’t use that particular strategy or tweak it to your liking – simple as that.
- Please take a second and share this link building guide on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon or whatever you use! 🙂
Quick Reference Guide
Here’s a list of all the websites, tools and services listed in this guide for quick reference.
- Thesis theme
- WordPress SEO plugin
- Niche Finder
Free Link Sources
Link Building Tools
- Unique Article Wizard
- Backlinks Genie
- Link Emperor
- Pingback Power
- Pingback Optimizer
Affiliate Disclosure: I want to be as transparent with you as possible so I feel it’s important to disclose that certain links to products or services on this page contain an affiliate link thus earning myself a commission if you click through that link and purchase said product/service. Keep in mind that I only review and link to products which I have used and think you will benefit from. I do not accept advertising on this site and will never be paid to write a blog post or be influenced by money to promote a certain product.