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Building Links with No Budget

Not everyone has massive budgets or time to invest in link building so this post is for all the people out there that need to find creative ways to get the highest ROI from any time they do invest in link building. I want to show you a process I use to get links without spending all day sending outreach emails or building expensive infographics; I call this passive link building. This won’t suit everyone but it’s designed to help those that have just launched their website or one-man-bands. Not only do you get easy links but you also get tons of great content for your site.

The process is built around two key points:

1. It’s better to give than to receive.

2. If you help someone out, they find it much harder to say no when you ask something from them.

Passive link building is about positioning you and your blog in a way that gets as many people as possible applying to guest post on your site. You can then be picky and pick the cream of the crop. The image below shows the process.

Even if you have a big budget you can still use this process to passively build relationships and get more links. The process is outlined below and at the end I’ve got an extra tip that anyone who’s doing outreach should be doing right now.

Filling the funnel

In order for this to work, you need to be willing to accept guest posts. Don’t be afraid to accept guest posts. Apart from being an excellent way of keeping your blog updated with fresh content, this is the foundation of the passive link building process.

Be prepared to get a lot of email but just because someone asks or even sends you content doesn’t mean you are obliged to post it. Keep the quality and standards of the guest posts you publish very high. Not only does this mean you get better content on your site, it also sets the standard for other people wanting to guest post. Below are the four methods I use to fill the funnel.

Have a Guest blogger page

People search the web all the time using advanced search queries such as:

keyword phrase intitle:guest post

keyword phrase inurl:guest post

You want to be found for searches like this so create a page that satisfies both these queries for your industry and you’ll get a bunch of people contacting you. When they get in touch ask to see other examples of articles they have written and have a look through their site to see if this is a site you would be happy to link to. If all looks good, give them a brief with some guidelines on what you expect in order to publish the post. This would include things like minimum word count, if you expect images, possible titles and any other requirements you may have. If you want to see an example of this, John Doherty has a page on his personal blog for SEOs looking to guest post.

Sign up for Blogger Link Up

If you’ve not heard of Blogger link up it’s a free email service from Cathy Stucker (@CathyStucker) that’s usually delivered three times a week. There are 5 main sections to the email:

1. Request Guest Posts

2. Offer Guest Posts

3. Request Sources for Interviews

4. Offer Products for Review/Giveaway

5. Announce Contests and Giveaways

They are pretty self-explanatory but most people who sign up for this are pretty selfish and only use it to find sites to guest post on; DON’T! Sign up for both sides of the service. Do some basic keyword research, find a bunch of long tail searches you want to rank for, make them into titles and ask people to write them for you. Not only do you get free content that you would need to write anyway, you also build relationships for life. Remember you don’t need to post a guest post exactly how they send it, if you don’t think the style suits your site, work with the writer to edit it and come to an agreement that you are both happy with. Sign up for Blogger Link Up Here.

Sign up for My Blog Guest

If you haven’t heard of MBG, it’s a service that’s run by Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) that allows people to request or provide guest posts, sign up for both as per my recommendation for Blogger Link up. You can sign up for the service here http://myblogguest.com/

Turn the Spammers into Prospects

Everyone hates spam and if you have a website or a blog I’m sure you get this type of email all the time

Dear Webmaster,

We are running a campaign to increase the Link Popularity of our website. We are looking for some good potential sites like yours.

I have reviewed your website and found that it holds value in my case. I request you to consider listing my URL under your resources section…….

Don’t just hit the trash button, remember not everyone is an SEO, some people just don’t know any better and have heard from a friend of a friend that exchanging links helps your website rank well in the search engines; give them a chance, I keep a spreadsheet with the domains of the people that contact me to exchange links then import them to a tool like Buzzstream. It will go off and gather key metrics like DA and PageRank which you can then use to filter the junk and email the good sites back with something like this:

Dear “Name”,

Thanks for getting in touch regarding exchanging links but it’s not our policy to exchange links with other sites. We do however accept quality guest posts from other webmasters, if you would like to write a piece of content on our blog you can link back to your site in the author’s bio area. Here are some suggested topics…………..

Sure you’ll never hear from the majority of those sites again, but it takes two seconds to do, and if they do accept your offer you can use them in the next stage of the plan; getting links to your site.

Action – Get Some Links!

At this stage in the process you still don’t have any links to your site. All you’ve been doing up until now is building out a list of webmasters that now owe you a favour. Now you need to convince those people to let you post on their site. Social media makes this easy. When they post on your site, make sure you promote the post on social media, follow them on Twitter and Google plus. From now on you’re being their biggest fan, reply to a couple of their tweets comment on their blog and generally just be nice to them, you want to become a familiar name to them and build a real relationship.

Finally hit them up on email and ask to guest post, something like this usually works really well.

Hey “name”,

Since your post on my site I’ve been reading a lot of your content and it’s really good. Any chance I could repay the favour and write a guest post for your site?

That’s it, don’t make it too long, keep it casual and finish with a question. I swear the success rate on this process is insane. Of course you’ll get the odd person that will say no or just ignore you but you haven’t lost anything and you got a good piece of content for your site out of it.

People don’t like to say no (hence ending the email with a question), especially when you’ve done them a favour by letting them post on your site.

Ok to round off I want to leave you with a #protip, here it goes….

Use Real Names and get Rel=Author on Guest Posts

How many people (rightly or wrongly) have at some point done low quality article marketing, spun content, or written an article promoting things like forex one week fat loss the next …?

Did you put your real name next to it?

Of course you didn’t!

Why? Because it was bad content and you would be judged by your peers.

Google knows this and that’s why Rel=author is going to be one of the biggest trust signals in the coming years. If you are consistently writing quality content within the same industry (not poker one week, weight loss the next) that gets social shares, attracts links and is on well-respected blogs (owned by another well respected author) Google knows you’re not some shady internet marketer that’s promoting the latest e-book on Clickbank. This is awesome and everyone that’s trying to build a legitimate business should be using it.

Anyway here’s the important part, how do you use this?

Lots of people know about Rel=author, even more know about guest posting but very few combine both. Use Rel=author in your author bio at the end of guest posts. Even if the site owner doesn’t use it and you don’t have an author page on the site you can still do it.

Just add a link to your G+ profile with Rel=author attached in the bio then link back to the site from your “contributor to” section of your G+ profile. That’s it! Google will even show you how to do it here: You write an article for a website, and you have no author page on that domain. I’ve been doing this recently for a client and it’s working like a charm. SEOmoz is also set up similar, the image below shows my rel=author showing up in the SERPS for my previous post.

Follow the above process and you get free content, links and exposure for a tiny investment of time or money.

Extra tip – Don’t just put rel=author on your news or blog posts, if you only have one author on your site, add it site-wide to get even more exposure in the SERPS. This is completely white hat and is exactly what Matt Cutts does on his site. Check out this site search SERP. Doing this means not only do your content pages get rel=author but category pages for products, about pages and any other page on your site also gets it too.

Leave comments and get me on Twitter or Google plus

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This guest post comes from Posted by Craig Bradford via SEOMoz.com. If you’re not yet following the feed at SEOMoz, I strongly suggest you do.

– Paul Barrs

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4 Responses to “Building Links with No Budget”

  1. Krishna Everson April 24, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Wonderful strategy Paul. I like the practical steps you have provided here. I’m thinking I’d like to interview you on the topic guest posting, or even the non-technical aspects of SEO that anyone can do. Would you be interested in that?? Let me know your thoughts….Krishna

    • Paul Barrs April 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      Sure, they’re always fun to do. Are you talking on camera or just audio? Let’s connect on the phone and work something out.

  2. Annie Infinite April 25, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Hey Paul just shared this on my little aggregator magazine Business Australia great post with loads of relevant info – thank you :) I also added that plugin after your advice so thank you again :)

    • Paul Barrs April 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks Annie. Always looking for good content to share.

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