10 Ways to Build Links Without Buying Them

SMS Text

Links are still one of the best ways to increase traffic and authority status to your website, which will in turn increase your site’s search ranking.

The higher the rating, the more prominent you will be listed on the search engines, the higher the click thru ratio of your optimized title and description, and the more people will stop by your website, creating a snowball effect.

Some businesses buy links as a way to fast track their website’s popularity, Google however, has started cracking down on sites that sell these links, or at least their toolbar PageRank. Sure, you can still buy plenty of authority links, but a well rounded linking campaign should be a bit more creative than sending some cash via PayPal once a month.

Let’s not forget that there are other great ways for you to build links without buying them (or complimentary to your diversified link building and buying campaign), and here are 10 of my favorites.

  1. People Love Lists & Linkbait : Having a 101 list, a top ten list, or a list of tips for a specific niche category can help generate readers, links and bookmarks.

    Having lists of resources, experts, and other research necessities can attract people looking for more information on your subject.

    When people like your list, they will submit the article to Digg and other social news sites, which results in your site building natural inbound links because the readers of these social bookmarking and news sites tend to blog.

    Kick starting those submissions yourself or asking friends to also helps.

    [Note : Yes, I know I’ve been writing a lot of lists lately, but I’m kinda on vacation, so please I hope this is not overkill.]

  2. Get Social Bookmarking! Do not forget the social side of the Internet. On Flickr, pictures of important events, particularly involving the top people in your industry, will generate interest. On YouTube, the same style videos will generate interest, and maybe even make it into the Google Universal Search results.

    Network in the real world with people in your field – network on Facebook or LinkedIn if you don’t have the chance to conduct face to face networking or attend industry conferences.

    Interesting, insightful interviews will also bring in readers. When you have interesting, relevant content, your site will be submitted to Digg and other social bookmarking sites like Delicious, Ma.gnolia.com or AOL’s Propeller, which will give you great links.

  3. Blog for Links. Blogs are rapidly gaining in popularity and can help your business website become popular too. The great thing about a blog is the content publishing is instant and so is the recognition. A blog can give your company the freedom to communicate openly, even attracting more links and bookmarks to your blog itself than the homepage, which are stiill good if you market your company and services well on the blog (and link to your homepage from the blog pages… I can’t count the amount of internal blogs I see which link to http://domain.com/blog as the “Home” link in the CMS).

    Search engines have specific fresh bots that seek out new content, especially Google. Start a blog with great content, and the search engine bots will come back to index your site, including your links to and from other blogs.

  4. News and Syndication Build Fresh Links : You can syndicate an article or blog post and submit it to good article sites, industry news sites, and other related media outlets : especially those indexed in Google News or Yahoo News (just do a search in these for your niche keywords and “submit”, you may find sites that accet guest articles or opinions. Doing so will generate authority links that boost your website’s standing.

    Take this to the next level by coming up with a press release highlighting new products, services, or upcoming events. Make it sound newsworthy and send it to journalists and bloggers.

    Your RSS feed or blog will also attract natural links, so get them kicking and submit to the top blog & feed directories.

    Keep track of the people who follow the press releases or your articles and offer them exclusives. Writing about companies in the news or doing surveys on hot topics can also help generate interest in your site.

  5. Directories Will Help Create Links. Submitting your site to free sites is one way of developing links; however, keep in mind that you should go for quality, not quantity.

    Even creating your own niche directory linked to your website will generate traffic and prestige, especially if you make it useful enough to users and also include other resources amongst original content.

    Look beyond PHP Links and other directory scripts and try building something with WordPress. Chances are, a directory in your nice with original content and internal pages will do better than a cookie cutter site.

    If you don’t have time to launch or market something of your own, contact a current directory owner about spinning off a niche joint venture (or just submit to the main web directories).

  6. Network With Your Local Community. Your own local community can be a source of links. Get a link from your Chamber of Commerce or join the Better Business Bureau. If you have relevant city or state governmental resources, link to them. Other business may be willing to link with you if you are non-competing and in the same field.

    Better yet, donate to local charities which have an online version of their newsletter. A $50 donation can result in a high quality and relevant link from a well linked to non-profit organization or association.

  7. Review Products or Businesses. Reviews attract people, especially if you can write about brands that have not been established online.

    Writing reviews on websites like Amazon.com can generate interest in your site if people like you what you have to say. Writing testimonials for products you use can also turn into links from others which find your organic review online.

    A product review may also land your site’s homepage a link from that product’s news room, so don’t always resort to paid reviews as natural ones can be more beneficial in gathering natural linkage.

  8. Link Trading Works. Link trading is still a legitimate way to get links. The key to this is to swap with relevant partners and get linked in the content of relevant pages.

    Being just one link on a page full of links will not help your cause, nor will publishing some on-site link farm which is only reachable via some hidden sitemap page.

  9. Experts : The Internet loves expertise and becoming an expert on your subject matter will generate interest, which leads to more links.

    Make sure that your content is easy to understand and grammatically correct, but not so “dumbed down” that it seems vague or uninformative.

    You will want to make sure that you keep your information up to date, and that you have information that is not readily available elsewhere. An About Us section and/or Privacy Policy will help lend authority to your site.

  10. People Love Contests and Freebies. Spending a little money on a cash prize can save you money on advertising. Free samples, exclusive giveaways, and other items will attract people, and then your content can get them to stay and link.

    Go an extra step to make your contests seasonal… a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving, a product (thinking free iPod) when it launches or a trip to Cancun during its low priced off season.

All in all, the key is to not just buy links, but to create natural link building campaigns to compliment your link advertising. If you spend $1,000 a month buying links, chances are hiring a professional link builder for that same amount will result in a vast and diverse array of incoming links, which stick around permanently.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!
  • Nicola Riva

    Nice list dude. I got ya!

  • SEWeb


    The major concern is the increasing number of Webmasters who are adding the NOFOLLOW tag to any social site backlinks they give.

    Another concern is the fact that many of those links that are gotten will just be the linked URL with no keywords in the anchor text – or in some cases just the name of the site owner as the anchor text. This limits the SEO power of the link.

    A final concern is the rumor that Google has started to devalue directory links in their algos as a method of taking any link juice from them.

  • Clement

    A Google friendly article!!! Google will want to see more of these.But is this post in good faith or are you just trying to be in good books with the search giants?

  • Dave

    Many of the bookmarking sites use nofollow now.

  • Sven

    Yeah agree nice tips and tricks!!
    Thats what i say, give surfers what they want and dont hide it. They will pay it back!

  • Frederrick Abrugart

    Good list, thanks.

  • Dellpass

    Excellent read… buying links does not help in the long run anyway.

  • lory

    Excellent post, thanks very much.

  • Karl

    Does anyone know if social bookmarking websites like Digg use nofollow?

  • Diyana Alcheva

    Thanks for the great list.

    8. Link Trading Works.

    I still have noone that I am linking with.

    My Blog is about introducing Network Marketers to building on the Internet, which would be including a lot of SEO stuff. Maybe you would like to link to me?

    Your blog would be also a great resource for my readers.

  • Utah SEO

    A great example of a top ten list. Great info.

  • Rebecca

    It can be a bit frustrating and challenging to come up with new ways to generate good inbound links so thanks for the tips!


    A good summary of Seo strategy and tips

  • Google Man

    You should find some non nofollow social bookmarking sites running on scuttle.

  • Utah Search Engine Optimization

    A top 10 list advocating a top 10 list as #1. How ironic ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sabin Andrews

    While in search of top positions and exposure to the web audience, one is constantly working against what Google advocates – to be customer concious and not search engine concious. But at the end of the day, its getting harder to avoid optimizing the site, so as to satisfy the greedy bots & serps. I mean how not to avoid this – I can only keep customers happy only when I have them and to have them I must first satisfy the robots! Catch 22!

  • BoomHammer

    Do you or does anybody else have recommendations to reputable directories as mentioned in item #5. We are trying to anchor some directory links. Thanks

  • MSN hacken

    Nice tips! Thanks for sharing them with us, because there were alot which I personally didnot know how to do.

  • Samsung CLP-300 Color Toner

    Great tips on link-building. I need to put this in my folder of to-dos.

  • Samsung CLP300 Toners

    Thanks for the tips. I can certainly apply most of these.

  • Andy T

    When I first surf internet in 1994, web directories are all free links. People helping each other to find stuff online.
    I cannot think of the links are so commercial, today.
    Thanks for your tips on making free links.
    But I still believe that good content is the best attraction for traffic.

  • Utah SEO

    I think this is a great list with some creative ideas. I actually had not thought of a couple of them.

  • Pat

    Good list of where to start when getting links..though it does appear that the search engines discount the links from article directories IMHO. I find that Yahoo doesn’t even register any of the tens of thousands of backlinks I’ve gotten in last 4 years…abit bothersome I would say.Has anyone else seen this happen to them…?

  • SEO Experts

    Great List. With regards to bookmarking using “no follow”. some of them do have no follow now, and the feeling is that more and more will follow suit.

  • Web Positioning

    This tips work for the sites that want to link building WITHOUT altering the site.

    Web positioning

  • hector

    excellent advice thank you for your advice.

  • Roxana

    Thanks for sharing this great information.

  • Vacation Rentals By Owner

    I like the idea of a contest. What are the best sites you have found to get the word out about your contest.

  • MBM Construction

    This was exactly what I was looking for!

  • Vertical Leap Search Marketing

    Thanks for your information. I think it will help our seo services. Any more information please send us.

  • London Photographer

    Thanks for the tips. I already follow this and I can say it has paid very good dividends.

  • Nigerian Weddings

    This will definately help my new site a great deal. Thanks.

  • WebPromotions

    Thanks for the cool tips… I’m using most right now…

  • video ads

    great advice

  • Origins

    Very interesting… there were a couple there that I never would have even thought of. Thanks for the ideas ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • SEO Services UK

    Really good advice there,
    I’ve bookmarked this list and will read it out at our next meeting.
    Good tips

  • Flint Einstein

    i have also visited your website called blogging secrets. you are really genius. i also want to be genius like you.

  • Ilan

    Good list. My personal favorite: become an expert. You hit the sweet spot there. When you write about something you know well and help people in the process you are bound to receive links back.



  • ElephantCarHire

    I like the idea of a contest. What are the best sites you have found to get the word out about your contest.

  • LebSeo Design – Lebanon

    Thank you for the greeat post guys!

  • Tim

    Commenting on blogs with high Alexa rankings works best for me, but there is still got to be an easier way of getting links from varied sources : )

  • ipad cases

    Thanks.i am studying seo now. i will test these ways to build links

  • ipad cases

    Thanks.i am studying seo now. i will test these ways to build links