Six Explosive Organic & Paid Link Building Tips

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My name is Loren Baker and I’m a link builder. I admit it, I’m a link building SEO and I’ve been building links for clients for 10 years. I’m also the owner and editor of Search Engine Journal and I’ve decided to be a bit more transparent about my link building philosophy.

So every week I will try to share some link building tips with our readers. I hope that you find these tips entertaining, useful and that ideas are generated from my ideas, snowballing into a massive explosion of link building ideas.

I’d like to start by saying that 90% to 95% of my link building is purely organic, and from time to time I will discuss paid linking. Paid linking is part of the pie and should be considered in overall online marketing campaigns. I’m not saying to go out and buy every link you can, I’m just saying it is a consideration.

    1. Relevancy in Linking. Look for sites which are relevant to the vertical category that your site falls under. So if you’re securing links to a auto body repair site, verticals such as autos and finance would make relevant sense to attract links from and should naturally link to your site anyway. Links from unrelated fields such as video gaming and cooking would not make sense.

    Sure, this sounds simple and should be a given, but you would be surprised at the amount of links people are building from sites in extremely irrelevant verticals to their clients or own sites. As a rule of thumb I tend to look under the different pinpoint directory categories a client would be listed under, then click back up the breadcrumb trail to the seed categories to identify all of the different related verticals to a target site.

    2. Selective Anchor Text. A recent trend in link building consultation has been to diversify link anchor text to the point where non-relevant terms like “click here”, “for more info” and even the target site URL are used to make the links look like they were not solicited for anchor text. So, if you’re asking for links or motivating your readers to link to you, do what you can to mix up the anchor text used in those links… but don’t go overboard.

    I suggest limiting these trash anchors to 10% of your linking campaign and save your targeted keyword anchor text for the authority placements you secure. There is nothing wrong with building links to a site, so don’t be scared to use anchor text and go for the big link. Then save your trash anchors for the trash links. As an example, when linking in comments actually use a name and not the targeted SEO anchor text. In press releases, link the company name. On low authority blogs, up the percentage of trash anchors. On big sites, go for the big prize.

    There’s a reason why the text used in hyperlinking is called ‘anchor’, to anchor your site’s meaning and search query relevance by securing links in quality locations.

    3. Ignore NoFollow. As a general rule of thumb I tell my employees who are doing quality and relevant comment driven linking to comment on all relevant blogs which allow comments and a URL field. Then, I go back and analyze the percentage of blogs which use NoFollow to those which do not. Usually 65% to 70% of the blogs end up using NoFollow, but search engines follow links and identify sites via links using NoFollow anyway, so this is fine.

    This practice results in more natural blog linking and in my opinion, if you only comment in 100% DOFollow blogs or 70% DOFollow blogs, your blog comment participation is not following natural trends, and could be viewed as anchor text and linking manipulation.

    4. Paid Blogging’s Trickle Down Effect. Sponsored Reviews is a great way to build links from bloggers looking for payola, but it can also introduce your business to some rather influential bloggers, but you’ll have to pay more than the regular $20 per review… get ready to shell out $200 to $500.

    The big bloggers don’t just cost more, but they have larger readerships and you know that their competition is following their blog. Ask them to review your business, site or new product launch (reviews work so much better when you spin them as newsworthy) and pay the fee.

    Not only will you probably attract a valuable link, but you’ll also have the bloggers who read the big blog also covering your business, leading to extended coverage and a much cheaper overall cost per link than originally thought.

    For example take ShoeMoney. He charges $2,500 for a review via ReviewMe and turns down about 75% of them. One of the latest blog tool reviews he made attracted 34 links to Shoe’s post, 96 comments on the post, and probably not only customers to the product, but possibly 50+ links to the product from the bloggers who follow ShoeMoney and even scrap his blog.

    If that’s the case, the advertiser paid $50 per link in the long run, and got a lot of natural and unsolicited promotion. Marketers pay for press release distribution everyday and those releases are used by journalists and bloggers as info and motivation for articles and posts – which contain natural links.

    If you can influence journalists with press release wire services, why not pay for a major influential blog post? This is the secret sauce behind paid blog reviews and this is not paid linking.

    5. OK, Sometimes You Just Have to Pay. Take advantage of paid linking brokers, but limited advantage. Let’s face it, paying subscription prices on Text Link Ads can get you a high valued link on a site where you would probably not have a chance in hell to get to link to you.

    Save time and the headaches that come with contacting major publishers and dealing with advertisement salespeople who don’t get linking and want to sell you a bunch of worthless run of network banner ads (well, worthless for your linking)… just go to Text Link Ads and push a button : your link is up and the subscriber fees are worth it.

    But for the rest of your linking, practice other methods (listed in this and other link building posts) so you don’t put all of your eggs in one TLA basket. In some cases, those relevant links from high authority sites which you can only attract links from via paid link brokers can make a massive difference in search rankings.

    6. Hit Them When They’re Young. Identify new and budding sites. As the wealth of web publishing grows, more and more sites and blogs are being launched. Fledgeling publishers will usually jump at the chance to respond to an email asking for coverage of a business or relevant site.

    Even if you have to pay for a link or editorial (which you shouldn’t have to if you can contribute content or a monthly guest post), by identifying a new publisher looking for revenue, a free post today can cost $100 or $500 in a year or two. Furthermore, today’s budding blogs can be tomorrow’s mega publishers.

    How do you recognize new sites? Monitor web directories and especially blog directories and their “What’s New” or “New Listings” sections. Almost all directory scripts have this feature.

    Also, be sure to hit a blog which you see accumulating buzz in social media channels. Chances are that blog will be a leader in its field after a year or so, so check out their backlinks and see if they are producing content that other bloggers and siteowners in their field are linking to.

What link building tips would you like to add to the discussion (linking explosion!)? Please feel free to share below.

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.
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    Great stuff, Loren! Will we be seeing more of these hands-on type posts from you?

  • Tomaz

    Hmm, a person (and a website) with so much authority advising against Google’s webmasters guidelines… (buying links)

    Of course, everyone reading your post has to make their own decision. You are not responsible for anyone. 😉

  • SEOTest

    Great tips, the organic links and commenting on non-follow blogs is important.

  • Ann Smarty

    @Tomaz: TLA mentioned here is generally recognized (and btw recognized by Google itself who indexes and ranks them high) and openly advertised resource – so I see nothing wrong in describing it…

    @Loren: #6 is my favorite! Great tip! The best way to find them is via social media by the way.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    @Tomaz : Using companies like Text Link Ads to secure your links for you is an option, and there is value in their services.

    What I am pointing out here is that one should not use only them for their linking and in fact use organic link building methods.

    From time to time however, strategically using a company like TLA to purchase a highly relevant link on a high traffic site has its value, whether the end goal is to influence a site’s authority or not.

  • Nathan

    Can you discuss the topic of how to build links for reference sites that do not sell a typical product?

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    @Nathan, do you mean sites like ComplexSearch?

  • Slick Willy

    people have been buying stories in newspapers and magazines for decades. advertisers get preferential treatment and thats just the way it is.

    TLA and TLB clearly disclose what they are doing so they shouldnt be frowned upon at all.

    Just because, Google aka “the secret police” and Matt Cutts, aka “George Bush” says something is wrong….

    The problem ultimately lies with their algorithm not with standard marketing practices which have been going on for centuries.

    If google starts ranking sites solely on traffic advertisers would find someone to pay to get it. just like lobbyists find the right politicians to promote legislation in their company’s favor

  • Brian White

    Slick Willy said:

    “The problem ultimately lies with their algorithm not with standard marketing practices which have been going on for centuries.”

    The problem with this attitude is that it completely disregards what you, as a search engine user, get out of your use of a search engine, not to mention your everyday user. Because we assume that SEOs who advocate the link scheming outlined in this article also are users of the same search platforms, and I never see that reconciled.

    If you’re OK with manipulation, chicanery, and link schemes, and are OK with it from the perspective of someone who also uses the same search platform, and you’re not annoyed when other sites do it, so be it. Most people are not in the SEO business, like me, so don’t get flustered when someone outside the industry furrows their brow at the practices outlined here.

    I could recast your statement as “The problem ultimately lies in the game of baseball and its umpires, not with steroid abuse which has gone one for decades.” This statement doesn’t care what the fans want. If steroid abuse is tolerated and skews games, do you think fans will stand for it and not take their money elsewhere over time?

    Of course, if your job is to hire or retain players for the Giants, and their fans are getting what they want (home runs), I suppose that’s OK to turn a blind eye to steroid abuse in your own clubhouse? Or even help the process along by arranging side trips to Tijuana when the team travels to San Diego?”

  • Slick Willy


    Sorry, my fragmented thoughts rarely make it out of my head in the way I plan.

    I actually agree that spam in the search index is out of control, in fact I get the impression that I am the only person complaining about it all the time.

    My issue lies with Google’s last minute, poorly thought-out audibles, which make the problem worse. ….confounded no-follow tag

    Also, they set rules for a game in which they are the best player. Its like Michael Jordan being the referee in a game, while he is playing. RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And my perspective on the media and news outlets is worse. I hate the fact that they spin the news for profit, but thats how it is.

    I complain about the media more than google cause they have been tricking us for centuries while google has been fooling us only for a decade.

    And dont get me started about steroids in baseball

  • Tomaz

    @Ann: Google rankings of TLA have nothing to do with Google being against buying and selling links. Are you saying that because Google indexes and ranks TLA then they are ok with selling links?

    @Loren: There was no mention from my side that buying links has no value. Of course it does, that’s why people do it.

    But when Google finds them, downgrades website’s pagerank and eventually do some more penalizing, then 99,99% of them will be damn worried about it.

    The simple fact is this: Google is against selling links and you recommend it as one of your strategies.

    Now everyone has to make up their mind: do I rely on Google or not, what happens if they find my bought links, how will that affect my business, should I have listened to Loren or not, … 😉

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    I recommend buying links as a strategy, yes. Google is not against buying links, they only want link sellers to label those links as such, and/or prevent those links from passing Pagerank.

    That’s a call for the linker and link seller to make.

    This whether or not to buy paid links argument has been beaten around entirely too much.

    I see no difference in floating someone $500 for a link and picking up the bill at a business dinner then having them link to you. It’s a crazy world and let’s not send the conversation on a detour.

    There are 5 perfectly good tips on linking that have nothing to do with paying for links 🙂

    BTW Tomaz, nice site.

  • Matt Cutts

    “This whether or not to buy paid links argument has been beaten around entirely too much.”

    I agree, but you’re the one that decided to beat the dead horse again. 🙂

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    You know Matt, when I was writing this post last night (at about 1 am) I’m thinking to myself … should I include a tip on using text link buying programs to spice it up a little, even if I say its a conciderable tactic AND for readers to use it on a limited and reserved basis?

    Well, I did dig up the dead horse, or atleast one of its hooves, and yeah, I guess I deserve your comment.

    Funny thing is though, three months ago there wouldn’t be any responses like “How dare you suggest to buy links?!?!”

    Instead the comments would have been something along the lines of “TLA rocks”, “I love buying links on Wikipedia clone sites” and “Where can I buy more links”…

    Wow. How things have changed!

    BTW, where’s the elliptical video? 🙂

  • Nathan

    @Nathan, do you mean sites like ComplexSearch?

    I think that these types of sites (reference sites/content) can only prevail if they provide some time of value. So other than writing great content, that naturally gets back links and social media attention, what else can one do?

    In other words: what is the best way to jump start link building?

  • ny seo

    the horse is far from dead

    big g is playing in a game in which they make the rules

    disclosure, conflict of interest, where is the sheriff of wall street elliot spitzer when u need him.. oh yeah…. lol

    its text links today, maybe social bookmarking links tomorrow…. if we needed moon rocks to rank well i would be on the phone with george takei and vlad putin right now.

  • Dave

    Hi Loren,

    This is one of the most informative link building posts I’ve read in a long time. Thank you. I look forward to more posts like this in the future.

    – Dave

  • Paul Burani

    Thanks Loren, there’s a lot of good stuff in here. I wish I was as confident as you, that Google will separate link brokers from other types of paid links. Maybe you could tell us in a future post, how we can come to adopt the same viewpoint?

  • Matt Cutts

    “BTW, where’s the elliptical video? :)”

    Just so you know, I’m reading this while on the elliptical exercise machine. 🙂

  • Loren Baker, Editor


  • Tomaz

    @Loren: You’re right. One can buy “Google friendly” links too (with nofollow of course).

  • Goran Giertz – Marketing

    Thanks for the great post.

  • Javanese-script

    mmm…I agree wit you
    good advice

  • Chris von Nieda

    That was excellent information thanks Loren. In particular I like #6 as well. Looking in to a crystal ball and getting a free link today that will cost hundreds later.

  • Arnie

    I was actually stunned reading this. I even double checked the date to make sure this wasn’t an older post. (As you noted in your comments – the reactions a few months earlier would have been very differnt.)

    I fully support every word. Well done. Sphunn!

  • femi

    I am glad that I stumbled on informative site as this and I have learned some valuable infos regarding SEO efforts. Thumbs up.

  • Javi

    Reading articles like this really highlights the mistakes I’ve been doing in trying to build links for my fledgling blog. I have always thumbed my nose on shelling out some cash to increase links, but I’m now seriously considering it. Thanks for the tip!

  • computer jobs

    Thanks. very useful information, all the time i was look for it 😉

  • Jim J

    Its worse than you all think. You see, what Matt isn’t telling everyone is just how slanted and skewed this all is. . . Larger websites, those that have been around a while, are venture funded or publicly owned, have large public relations budgets, in-house PR staff and outsourced firms under contract; accummulate tons of links, both paid and unpaid. Many of the “unpaid” links are actually paid for, of course, just not necessarily directly to the website publisher. The point is, the more well funded the company, the more their link structure appears “natural” by benefiting from a variety of placements that provide links, such as; press releases, media buys, paid bloggers and posts, large in-house workforces that are required to blog, paid directory listings, etc. that smaller, less funded websites can’t necessarily afford or compete at this level. These larger companies can then get away with much more paid link building to further their lead on the Mom and Pop websites because their paid links are somewhat less noticeable among their sea of “semi-organic” and quasi-paid links, thereby allowing them to conceal their paid links much more than the small shops.

    Furthermore, Matt Cutts is now offering a sort of “bounty” or incentive for companies to report their competitors for “paid link building” via the Google Web Master tools Spam Report interface. So at this point, if you don’t report your competition, your at a disadvantage. And just about every website with any level of SEO and is serious is buying links. What stops me from purchasing spammy run of site links on behalf of my competitor and then filing the report? This is policy is similar to tactics employed by the Nazis during WWII for controlling occupied countries and making sure that non-conformists and “undesriables” were exterminated. He who sells out his neighbor first, wins, right? If I nark on a competitor, can I have his rankings? All Heil Matt Cutts!

  • Marc

    @Jim J

    That was well put and highly accurate in my opinion. I do not even see how it can be disputed.


    I would love to hear how you can possible disagree with what Jim J said.

  • Brian White
  • Jim J

    @Brian – speaking of hyperbole; don’t you think comparing purchasing relevant links for advertisement and link value to taking steroids in baseball, is over the top? I understand you aren’t in the SEO business, but you do agree that steroids are illegal and purchasing website links is not, right? You do agree that using steroids in a game is an unfair advantage and therefore unethical while purchasing useful, relevant links for your website, where all business have access to the same links, is not?

    I may have been out of line with my analogy and retract the comments regarding similarities to the Nazi regime as the rest are accurate but I call upon you to do the same with your steroids analogy which is purely hyperbole and nothing more.

    You use the words “manipulation, chicanery, and link schemes” to describe the tactics of a all SEOs. This is not a fair statement and grossly overgeneralizes further obfuscating the point. In the course of one doing their job as website promoter/marketer, purchasing relevant media placements for their employer/business/website; if the publisher you are contracting with doesn’t employ “nofollow” tags properly, gives you run of site links and chooses the most obvious anchor text for your links, you may be penalized. Or even better, as this has personally happened to me; if a spammy looking website (that may employ humans or bots) happens to come across your website and decide to link back to it from every one of its 100,000 web pages, possibly even hijacking and republishing much of your content, with no consent or authorization by the website owner, the damage is still done and the your website will be penalized, resulting in a loss of revenue, which results in people loosing their jobs and sometimes business go under. Call this the “penal” approach to keeping the SERPs relevant. Is this where we are, where technology has failed and humans resorts to a largely manual, penal approach to modeling behavior. Psychological studies have proven that rewards work better than punishments at this. . . Why not focus on getting the great websites to the top of the heap, thereby forcing the poor websites out of the results? Remember, when Google was built? Back when it was just becoming eveyone’s favorite, when Matt Cutts was in school or busy handing out porn cookies and penalties were only assigned to those who were really compromising the results? Where were we before Matt Cutts, protector of the Internet?

  • Scott

    Thank you so much for this article, I’m going to incorporate your suggestions into my link building efforts.

  • Design

    How can Google tell how relevant an inbound link really is? I really don’t think they do this manually…

  • mobimb

    All SEO e-book told to be don’t waste time commenting on nofollow blog, but you’re different

  • Wonderabby

    Wonderful post, I learned a lot — I am a link builder and viral marketer and have a great use for your advice. It really is a new thing to discover that no follow blogs aren’t neccesarily no value.

  • Internet Marketing | Steve Renner

    Thanks for the article. I’m always reading up on new tactics to break through the noise on the web and get noticed. very nice!

  • ATT UK

    Great article, specially with no follow blogs. Just have to go for all the relevant blogs.

  • Musab

    I m glad that i stumbled across this article. Great tips, i must say!

  • Sunil Pathak

    One thing that i always tried to convince my self with is commenting NOfollow blog is not a waste of time if you intent to get link juice from your commetn

    and here you are with an explainasion

    thanx for this great article

  • Chris Pine

    Great posts. I keep hearing that nofollow is just a Google issue but other search engines don’t care. Yes, google IS the search engine you should really concentrate on but I also hear it’s good to make link building appear natural so to ignore nofollow might make it look unnatural? Also I hear while nofollow has no value in Page Rank (PR), the nofollow anchor text is still helpful for keywords. Maybe you can touch on these issues in a blog post. It’s all theory I suppose unless we see the algorithm itself.

  • Link building Services

    This is really good site and rich with content.

  • Namrata

    gr8 article and tips for optimisng hope to see more from you.

  • Diana Wright Liability Insurance

    Thanks for this, you have some really great tips on linking building

  • Anthony

    What about directories? Do you recommend submitting sites to a directory or is this just a waste of time?

  • froggertv

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • Call center Outsourcing

    Informative post, But i have gone through few articles wherein it has been stated that commenting on NO FOLLOW posts is of no use, as it is neglected by the search engine which is contradicting. great if you could guide on this.

  • iddaa

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • iddaa

    Thank you so much for this article, I’m going to incorporate your suggestions into my link building efforts.

  • Jamelle

    Wow!! great info. Link building scares, I have read that if you do it wrong, it can damage your raking for as long as six months. I have worked to hard to have that happen so I have just stayed away. But I think that I cam ready to try now. Thanks again

  • Fed Program Search

    I m glad that I came across this article. Great tips.

  • Dennis Gaskill

    Great article, Loren. Tip six is one of the better strategies I’ve read in a while.

    Here’s another tip for owners of new websites. While you’re trying to get ranked for competitive keywords, go for a some of the “low hanging fruit” as well. Low hanging fruit is the less competitive keywords.

    You’ll get some traffic from those, and the people who find your site through them will find your more important content.

    More importantly though, your low hanging fruit pages act as supporting content for your pages that are aiming for riper fruit higher up in the keyword tree.

  • i need a job

    Thanks Loren. I have found all this link building business quite the chore. I appreciate that you took the time to list these tips. It helps the little guys like me.

  • SEOMoMo

    Thanks Loren. I came across this post after doing a search for link building and this post provided a thorough insight on some of the link building methods that are out there.

  • Bloggers Payback

    Selective anchor text is so so important.. it’s still shocking to me how many articles I find on sites like ezinearticles that simply links back to sites with text similar to “click here”… which effectively means you’re trying to rank for the words click here… which in turn means you’re competing with Adobe Acrobat!

  • Erwin

    Man! great stuff. Im new to the blogging world and the contents you share here are awesome! I just happen to land in your blog searching for link building techniques and I actually end up getting more than i expected! Good stuff!

  • tony wood

    Couldn’t have put it better mysled than Erwin does above – incredibly useful and still so relevant nearly a year on from the original posting

  • Neil

    I found this really useful. I have built a site and a friend of mine has built a similar one. I am determined to get mine above him in the rankings and I think I will with these link building strategies.

    I’ll pop back and let you know how it goes

  • David Coburn

    Thanks for the great information. Most useful especially since I’ve been avoiding no follow links !
    These are the things that you don’t learn from an MBA 🙂

  • SEO Raja

    In support of Loren’s post, I have paid my way into above the fold positions for several keywords and have been doing it for the last few years in various industries. It’s not about whether you should be buying links or not, but more of finding the right links to spend your money on.

  • Constantin Vancouver SEO

    I believe that “buying” links is accepted if you don’t exaggerate.
    Officially, Google is against but in reality they can’t do to much about. How can Google be sure that you paid for the links? So… Everyone will be fine if you keep the balance between natural links and paid links.

  • Whois Sushie

    Very nice tips, it is great to have linkbuilding tips from an expert, i have started a website without knowing the importance of that and i end up with a thousand of backlinks from irrelevant websites with as anchor text my username…
    But i have learned from my errors and now i did batter work than before, and i also work for some people to build their backlinks.

  • mirckur

    That is very good comment you shared.Thank you so much that for you shared those things with us.Im wishing you to carry on with ur achivments .All the best.

  • Ceiling fans

    This is some great advice. As being new to the entire link building end of things it nice to find some good advice on do follow and no follow.

  • Sean | Cebu Real Estate

    Thanks for sharing. I agree that you should put up relevancy link to your site for page ranking…

  • Sean | Cebu Real Estate

    Thanks for sharing. I agree that you should put up relevancy link to your site for page ranking…