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Link Development Forum

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Link building on a budget
Is it possible to do anything useful with $100s a month?

 6:37 am on Jul 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I badly need help with link building. The problem is that the options seem to be:

1) SEOs I know by reputation. Problems: I cannot afford thousands of dollars a month, especially given results are uncertain.
2) Cheap people from freelancing websites. Problem: nofollowed links in the comments of completely irrelevant blogs are no good to me.
3) Do it myself. Problems: not enough time given other commitments, and I am not good at finding sites to approach.

Are there services somewhere between the thousands a month, and tens of dollars for low quality? What other options do I have? Is there a useful way to spend my limited budget?



 2:17 pm on Jul 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

You need to have the strategy and the direction, at the least. The $100's per month can be spent on paying someone to execute on that plan, at the very least, on the initial outreach or research.


 10:56 pm on Jul 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

You need to have the strategy and the direction...

Martinbuster is right. That is far and away the most important part.

Don't do what I did and build a lot of links to page / products that don't convert. (Doh!)


 6:00 am on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Best thing you can do is listen to martini and Planet.

Next best thing you can do is be sure to never hire a low quality link builder. I can't mention how difficult it is reversing poorly built link profiles.


 1:55 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

So I need to have enough strategy to know what I want, and the link builders know what I want?

That leaves the question of finding people in the right price range who will do what I want. My only attempt at hiring cheap lead to worthless links (irrelevant and no-followed).

@Cain, that is the problem. I do not want to pay a poor quality link builder, but cannot afford those I KNOW are good - they tend to have large minimum retainers.


 3:07 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

and the link builders know what I want?

No, no, no. Do not hire a link builder. I did not advise to hire a link builder. My adivice is to hire someone to execute on the plan. That's it. Hire someone local that you can manage who wants to make a few bucks part time.

If you are on a budget, the last person you want on the job executing on the plan is someone with a little SEO knowledge, especially someone who calls themselves a link builder. lol


 4:42 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Use your time and money on PR. This is the way brands do. Use someone locally (or not) to find another perspective on what you do and try to communicate it.


 8:08 pm on Jul 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Idols, that pr should be part of an overall marketing plan, which should include links, pr, social, etc


 8:43 am on Jul 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Bhartzer, of course. But if you look at big guys this is often their main strategy in terms of link building. Expensive, but works.


 5:48 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@martinibuster, that works for you because you are a very good link builder who can effectively train and supervise people like that - to say nothing of coming up with a really good strategy.

What is a good strategy in this context? If the person executing does not know much to start with, it is going to need to be pretty detailed and prescriptive, right?

I am actually discussing a possible partnership with someone (with a good track record) to split profits in return for marketing and SEO.


 2:59 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Some comments/suggestions...

To be effective at acquiring links, it pretty much comes down to the fact that you need to provide something on your site (some content, some tool, some resource, etc.) that cannot be easily found on thousands of other sites on the web.

If you have low quality or mediocre content/tools/resources on your site then you're likely going to be stuck with settling for low quality back links. No webmaster (especially an authoritative, reputable site) is going to "want" to create a "natural" or "editorial" link to some site with crappy content. Sites like these tend to only have the option of building links through "unnatural" methods where you "plant" a link to your site on someone else's site such as article submissions, directory submission, blog commenting, forum sigs, etc. Beware the Penguin.

So your "strategy" should begin with trying to answer questions like...

What does my site offer that would greatly benefit my visitors as well as visitors to other related sites in my niche or complementary to my niche? What great content do I have? What great tool(s)? What great resources?

I can't emphasize GREAT enough... in the above questions.

If you already have a great piece of content/tool/resource then try to think of what other types sites on the web have visitors that might benefit from that resource.

For example, if you have a nursing resource site then there are literally thousands of nursing associations that (while maybe not high in PR) are VERY relevant to your site that are often willing to place a link on their site to yours for their members to access as a resource. Nursing departments at community colleges might have a resources page where they would place a link to your site. These links will be as valuable if not more valuable as a source of referral traffic than the are a benefit to your site's SEO.

If you don't have anthing worthy of attracting quality back links then you need to turn your focus to what you "could" build that would be worthy of quality backlinks and where those desire target link placements might be. Start thinking of things like...

What great content, tool(s), or resource(s) can I develop that has not already been built 1000 times that will be VERY useful and/or informative to my target audience, that will save them time or money, etc?

And at the same time be thinking of...

What quality, relevant, authoritative sites exist that are frequented by my target audience and which would find my content/tool/resource useful for their visitors as well?

Then of course you need to build such content/tool/resource.

Once you have the content/tool/resource (either old or newly built), take time researching placements where you'd like to get links... Forget PageRank. Look for sites that are closely related to yours... sites where YOUR visitors (or the visitors you want to attract) likely hang out. Visit those sites, get familiar with them, determine EXACTLY where on those sites you'd like a link. Build a spreadsheet of the name of the site ("Joe's Plumbing"), the URL where you'd like placement, find contact email (phone number and/or email address), hopefully a real person's name at each site, etc. Find out if they are on Twitter, Facebook, and/or LinkedIn and connect with them.

Then come up with a plan to contact them (either by phone or email... please no FORM emails. Each should be catered to that specific site).

Once you've done all of this then you can spend your $100/month having someone make the calls or customize emails for each site and send them out. If you actually have a great piece of content/tool/resouce then lots of times you need only make the other site aware it exists.

It's not easy, but it works... Getting quality links starts with having something of quality (great content/tools/resources) for other webmaster to "want" to link to.

Read through MartiniBuster's old posts here. Lots of great ideas. Also Eric Ward is a great resource.


 4:50 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Link building just seems so 2 years ago...


 6:03 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

ThatsBoBo, then how do I improve a site's position in the SERPS? It is a useful (rather than fun/exciting) information site, and the natural way to find that sort of info is to search.

ZydoSEO, content very good (according to other people, not just me). The problem with the approach you recommend is that it is time consuming, I do not like doing it, and I run out of ideas fairly fast. I want to get rid of some of the work - and my budget is a few hundred dollars a month, not $100/month.

Maybe I should be using social media more to build relationships that will lead to links.

One possibility for this site is a partnership with someone to do SEO and marketing, while I focus on writing content.


 8:51 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

You are asking for too much and giving too little (i.e. you want someone good to handle it for you, but not pay them as if they are good)

Keep with the untrained freelancers, but train them yourself. They don't HAVE to post to irrelevant stuff... especially if you give them a list of sites to work on.

You have to be smart and find a way to scale your operation before you can bring in someone that is high end that can take over a 'department' with budget.


 11:55 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

@graeme_p: As martini said, you do actually need a strategy of your own, you cannot trust a link builder. Well, to get you started, what i can suggest is you can hire a cheap link builder or some fresh college graduate who wants to make some quick cash, but give him a clear guide line, make him a "To Do" and "Not to Do" list. E.g if you have a gadgets site, ask him to look up for niche local and web directories which show up number one or two for keyphrase like Blue Widgets Web Directory, then tell him to do further analysis of the directory and if it doesn't have site wide spammy sponsored links and other spam signals, then its probably good to get listed there.

Secondly, ask him to engage into social media and try to reach out people who might be interested in your content.

One more thing you can do is, ask your link builder to search for guest blogs via google, fb, twitter and try to connect to site owners, be friend them on social media, build great quality content for them they cannot refuse and get your posts published on their blogs. Build your strategy around those lines and instruct your writer/linkbuilder to strictly adhere to the strategy.


 3:18 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

A few words about workers
If you control the link strategy then whoever you hire does not need a link development background. There is no need for it. I believe it is best that my workers have zero SEO knowledge.

I always hire local or at least located within the same country I am in. The reasons I do so is that this helps the campaign run smoothly. Hiring local means the workers are more or less on the same time zone as I am. You can monitor the progress and make adjustments as the work is being done, instead of trying to put out a fire eight hours after the damage was done. Hiring local eliminates cultural and linguistic differences that can negatively impact the success of a campaign.

I have had mixed results with college aged adults. Older workers, 30+ have worked out better for me.

[edited by: martinibuster at 3:23 am (utc) on Jul 25, 2012]


 3:22 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Link prospecting is the toughest part of the job. The more you can cost effectively delegate that part of the workflow - while staying accurate and relevant in targeting, the better you will do when you sift watery sand down to gold.

We use tools, others hire workers to do it. I think workers do a better job but in the end ultimately *might* cost more.

The days of 'cost effective' link building are over in my opinion unless you are working in a very small niche.

I would suggest you simply be the best in your niche, and show everyone how you are the best, and then tell others about it. That will always attract links, done right.


 3:43 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

graeme_p - if I understood correctly, all you want is "improve your useful information site's position in the SERPS". You don't look specifically for a seo monkey to do link requests or build a social profile. You are targeting "better ranking in the serps". Correct?

How many "content pages" does your site currently have?

Small sites often hunt for outside links before they've built - to it's capacity - their own sitewide link profile.

If your site has i.e. 2,000 useful content pages, you can gain tremendously by posting on your own blog short posts with useful related news and information (not automatic feeds), and including links to your existing content pages.


 4:29 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Link prospecting is the toughest part of the job.

Link baiting is probably the most effective way to generate leads. Really it's a full on sales and marketing job, where your team is prospecting responses to leads. If you build up the system yourself, and your requirements are just a few links a month, then possibly that budget can do it.

No good for anything substantial. For that you need a robust plan to support the above.


 5:24 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

...simply be the best in your niche, and show everyone how you are the best, and then tell others about it.

When you boil link building down the most essential bits of it, that's what you have left, what cain posted above. "The best" can be subjective, but citing reasons/features/awards/etc. that validate the designation of "the best" can help form the core of your approach.

Being useful is important. When forming the strategy it helps to put aside the idea that you are approaching people with the goal of getting a link out of them. Put that aside and think of it in terms of telling people what makes your site useful. To do that you have to think about who your site visitors are and what they want. Site visitors are after something. Who are they, what do they want? Where else are they on the Internet? Where else do they hang out? Build the strategy out from there.


 7:48 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Martinibuster, you're essentially describing relationship building. Links are an evil creation that Google depends on for their quarterly billions but the real relationships you form are worth much more in the long run, even if Google can't quantify them!

Getting out of the mindset of *pleasing Google* and into the mindset of *pleasing my visitors* will often put into focus how unimportant doing anything for Google really is. Id even wager that the relationships with other site owners that you forge today may even outlast Google, or at least what Google is right now since they are trying to change into... everything else.


 7:59 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

All he wants is a strategy!

Step 1: Step 2:


 8:40 am on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

@graeme_p How good are you with writing? If you don't particulary enjoy it, hire a good writer and go down the guest posting route. Just make sure you target bloggers that cater for the same audience that you want to target... and obviously, don't buy links, if possible :)

There are still many big sites around that accept guest posts and it comes down to what martinibuster and Sgt_Kickaxe are talking about - building relationships. Are you on Twitter? I've found that I've generated my best guest-blogging gigs via social media.

It doesn't take a huge budget to become a good guest writer, however, as with any other link building method, you don't want to solely concentrate on just one approach. I've just mentioned this as an example of low-budget link building.

Funny this, you'll eventually find that the most effective link building methods involve very little money (but a lot of time and effort)... on the other end of the scale there are expensive (and dodgy) link building methods.

If your site has i.e. 2,000 useful content pages, you can gain tremendously by posting on your own blog short posts with useful related news and information (not automatic feeds), and including links to your existing content pages.

@JohnRoy, can you elaborate on this? What do you mean?


 12:20 pm on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

i think you are to plan everything and do it by your own but if not, so you are to pay someone who will do it instead of you. byt in this world nothing can be achieve just as you wish it.


 3:20 pm on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

byt in this world nothing can be achieve just as you wish it

Really? Oh, I forgot to mention - a positive and affirmative frame of mind is also very important - be it SEO or any other aspect life...


 3:27 pm on Jul 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

>> can you elaborate on this? What do you mean?

The point is that your own site, where you're the boss, can be the best place where to start link building to your own site.

I will (try to) outline the above as "All he wants is a strategy!".

1. Compile a list of keywords for your blog content.

2. Subscribe to a service such as google reader to get your feeds of news tidbits and/or related blogs. In the beginning it will be time consuming until the subscription list is usefully compiled. Over time you'll just need to add/remove some subscriptions.

3. Compile a list of keywords for your existing information pages which will be used as anchors from the new pages in your blog.

4. Roll out posts with unique content based on the feeds you get. These posts would talk about matters "related" to your site, will be fresh content (useful to anyone who reads it), and will include links to your existing info pages. Include links to the source of the story where applicable. [That can also be useful as link exchange bait].

I know some guy with a 1,000 page website who followed his goal of 10-15 posts per day; became an 'authority' in no time. I'm talking about organic serps alone.

So, the more often and unique - the better.


 8:17 am on Jul 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

@JohnRoy, ok, very interesting. Do you mean a blog sitting on the same domain as your 1,000-page money site? I used to have a similar situation: money site and a news/blog section on a subdirectory. I often linked the news articles to the main pages and although it seemed to work ok for a while, the whole story ended with me being dropped from Google News :) I genuinely thought I was adding value by contributing fresh news...

I'm not saying this couldn't work, though. If done in a very subtle way and having a goal of becoming an 'authority' (read: link bait) instead of improving rankings, this could be a winner.


 8:22 am on Jul 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

I seemed to get much better rankings for similar material my personal blog rather than a blog on the site. I am not sure which is better for authority.

@adder, writing is what I do best. Link building is my most problematic weakness.

@JohnRoy, it has over a thousand information pages. A lot of them are more detailed than any competitor except Wikipedia - and they are better written than the Wikipedia pages. I have quite a few pages in first of second place in the SERPS but, after a drop in rankings a few months ago, these are all for low volume searches.

The two possible approaches I am now thinking of are:

1) Build relationships with other site owners in my niche: blog, tweet can comment more. Probably do not ask for links, but just make sure they know my site exists. As there are not direct competitors they should be willing to link back.
2) Pay someone good to do a one off fee to design a strategy. If I save my few hundred dollars a month for a few months I can afford someone reasonable good. After than pay someone local I can easily supervise, not an SEO, to link build.


 9:44 am on Aug 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

If your site has i.e. 2,000 useful content pages, you can gain tremendously by posting on your own blog short posts with useful related news and information (not automatic feeds), and including links to your existing content pages.

I am interested in this comment. Why would you benefit from doing this?

Is it that links - even though from your own site - still get credited as a "vote" in Googles eyes?


 4:22 am on Sep 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm new to link development (outside of the regular link exchange of course). I saw someone build a site and within a month they had close to 300 backlinks and a high Alexa rank. Surely they used some program or "unnatural" method. What are the downsides of doing this? Also, what do you think of a program like Pligg or PHPdug? Thanks in advance!

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