If you haven’t read my how to build a blog network guide yet, go read it. A lot of the stuff I’m about to talk about will reference it, so it’s important you understand it.
Link building sucks. Period. No one likes to do it; well no normal people do. I don’t like link building, I do everything I can to avoid it, from buying links to building a blog network.
Today I’m going to show you my favourite way to build “white hat” links. I put the quotation marks around white hat to emphasize something. Nothing is white hat, link building of any kind is not white hat. according to Google:
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
Okay, so we all know Google is crazy and no matter what they say people are going to build links. So let’s talk about how we’re going to get backlinks. I like to put backlinks into two categories.
- 3 Way Link Exchange
- Finding Websites For a Link Exchange
- Actually Getting Backlinks
- Getting Links is Hard
Black Hat Link Building
Easy to get backlinks that anyone can get. Often done using software. Here’s some examples:
- Directory submissions
- Comment spam
- Blog networks (Yes, even this goes here)
Blackhat links are generally low quality, unrelated to your website and are easy to get. Blackhat links generally don’t last a long time. Most of the comment spam will be removed. Directory submission websites will be deleted, or be filled with so much crap that they won’t have any value. Blog networks, especially Public Blog Networks will be de-indexed, the websites will die (owners won’t renew domains). There’s a reason most blog networks don’t survive their first year, especially public blog networks. The more people involved, the more crappy the network.
Before I continue hating on blackhat links let me say a few things. Blackhat links work great..In the short-term. If you build the links correctly you can rank for some very competitive terms much quicker then you would if you did white hat link building. The big problem I have with blackhat link building is with the longevity. Like I mentioned above, blackhat links don’t last.
If you rank something using blackhat links you’re going to have to spend your time replenishing your lost links constantly as blog networks, comment spam, article submissions and directory submissions links start getting removed. In a worst case scenario you might get a manual review or algorithmic punishment by Google; so all you’re hard work would have been for nothing.
White Hat Link Building
The best way to think about white hat link building is to imagine black hat link building and think of it as a complete opposite. White hat link building is time-consuming, can’t be done with software and are links that not everyone can get. Here’s a few examples:
- Links on related REAL websites (If you run an insurance website, getting a link from another insurance website)
- Guest posting on related website
- Real social sharing links, especially on Google+
Getting white hat links is a pain in the ass. It requires a lot of hands on work; and that’s why most people probably prefer black hat link building. Why go through all the trouble of trying to get white hat links when you can get black hat links faster and cheaper? There’s a few reasons:
- Last longer. Black hat links get removed all the time. White hat links on the other hand stick around for much longer. If a blackhat link lasts 1 year that would be great, white hat links last years on the other hand. Mostly because the links come from websites which are legitimate business and not some public blog network created from some guy in a basement somewhere.
- More link juice. In general white hat links are more relevant, and pass more link juice to your website. It’s common for a black hat websites to have hundreds of links to shitty websites. White hat websites only link out to quality work.
So as you can see white hat links blow black hat links out of the water. Whats the downside? Lot’s. Like I mentioned getting white hat links is a pain in the ass. If it was easy everyone would do it.
Fortunately for you I have a pretty good way of getting white hat links that I’m going to share with you! My method isn’t anything innovative, just something no one seems to be talking about anymore.
3 Way Link Exchange
See, I told you it wasn’t anything innovative. For a lot of reasons 3 way link exchanges fell out a favour. No one seems to talk about this anymore, but it still works. And it works well.
Don’t know what a 3 way link exchange is? Here’s an example:
Dogsrule.com links to -> Dogsarethebest.org links to -> dogsaredumb.net, which links to -> Dogsrule.com
Now all three websites are getting a nice link, but are not linking back to each other. This is a great way to get high quality links.
Before we continue, it’s important to know that 3 way link exchanges are “Black hat”, as is all link building. So there are some risks involved (I’ve never been punished for it yet). I honestly think it’s almost impossible to get punished for this unless you email Google yourself and tell them what you’ve been up to. I have yet to see anyone get punished for this… But it is possible.
How To Build White Hat Links
Still haven’t read my how to make a blog network guide yet? Go read it, you need it to continue.
In the 3 way link example above, there’s 3 websites. One which is your’s and the other two which belong to two other webmasters (Generally). What we’re going to need to do is have two websites.
Website #1 -> Your main website. Let’s pretend our main website is bestcarinsurancereviews.com
Website #2 -> Your “Feeder” website. This website is not important. It serves to create links for your main website.
If you’ve read my how to make a blog network post you’ll know how to find high quality domains for sale and how to set up a blog network. What we’re going to do is create 1 website, not an entire network. The 1 website will be our “Feeder” site. Here’s how it’s going to work.
We’re going to look for a high quality domain (lot’s of high quality backlinks, High PageRank), something else which is important is a good name. In my how to make a blog network guide, domain names weren’t a big deal. This time they are. We need a name that’s in a similar niche as “Insurance” or something that can be made generic. For example, here’s some names:
Okay, from the list above I would pick two names. Guess which ones.
DanielPeters.com, Bigcarreviews.com are the names I would choose. Two reasons. Danielpeters.com is generic.You can easily spin the website to be about anything. Bigcarreviews.com has nothing to do with insurance, but you can easily add insurance reviews or insurance related articles to the website. It wouldn’t be abnormal for a website about cars to talk about insurance.
The other domains in the list above won’t work. They’re not generic enough, they’re focused on something else. If you made tvshowstreaming.net about insurance it would look spammy and untrustworthy. What we need is a website that looks trust worthy, so a name is important.
You Just Bought DanielPeters.com
I like this domain. It’s a name. That’s as generic as it gets. We can make this website about whatever we want. Let’s pretend danielPeters.com is a pagerank 5 website with hundreds of nice white hat links, which we spent quite a bit of money to acquire!
Setting Up Our New Domain
Here’s some quick thing’s we need to do.
- Create a Facebook fan page + Buy 1,000 fans from Fiverr.com
- Create a twitter account + Buy 1000 twitter followers from Fiverr.com
- Write a quick Bio for our domain owner “Daniel Peters”
- Setup a domain email like email@example.com
We also need to create some generic content about insurance. It doesn’t have to be strictly about car insurance; it’s actually better if that content is a little generic. Here’s what the first 3 pieces of content should be.
- Introduction to the blogger -> “Hello my name is daniel I work as an insurance agent by day, and blogger at night!
- Generic blog post unrelated to insurance -> “How I hurt my leg today, but regret nothing!”
- Post about car insurance -> “What my favorite car insurance company? Try and guess”
We need to have a mix of personal blog items and some insurance related content. I like the ratio of 30/70. 30 percent random blog stuff; 70 percent related to the topic at hand, which in this case is insurance.
Like I talked about in the how to make a blog network post, we need to make the blog owner seem like a real person. The more real daniel appears the better. That’s also why we bought the social proof above (Facebook + twitter).
Finding Websites For a Link Exchange
This is the hard and hands on part.
Just kidding, this isn’t a big problem.
Here’s how we do it. Let’s pretend we want to rank our website bestcarinsurancereviews.com for the term “car insurance quotes”. What we need to do is go to Google, and pull the top 5 ranking websites for the term. Add the website to an excel sheet, or a google drive sheet. Next do some searches related to car insurance, stuff like auto insurance quotes, car insurance comparison. Keep doing this and adding the top 5 websites until you have about 20 or more websites (really isn’t a limit).
Expanding The List
Now you have 20+ websites that are related to car insurance. We’re not going to contact these websites for a link exchange. That would be pointless. What we’re going to do is go to ahrefs.com and pull a backlink report on each of the websites. Like so:
Select URL, Select Live.
Don’t have ahrefs? No problem. I didn’t either for this post.
You can easily get someone on fiver to pull the lists for you. You can get someone to pull you 10 reports for about $5-10.
When You get the reports you’ll have something that looks like this:
Got the list of domain’s now what?
Combine Your Domain List’s
You need to combine all of the lists into one giant list. Pretty much all you have to do is copy and paste everything into one file. Pretty straight forward.
Now you should have one giant file with all the backlinks, what you need to do is order the referring page url by URL Rating. URL rating is the metric that matters for us, not domain rating.
You can do this all of this in excel, which is what I would recommend. I’m on my Mac as I write this so the screenshots above are from Google drive.
Remove Duplicate URLs
Depending on the websites you pulled the backlink data from you may end up with hundreds of thousands of backlinks. You need to remove the duplicate URLs. You can easily do this in excel.
- Download the backlink profile of at least 20 websites
- Combine all the data into one file
- Sort by URL rating
- Remove duplicate URLs
Okay now you should have a list of at least a few thousand unique backlinks. It’s time to start the actual work now. Oh boy, this is going to be fun! Just kidding, this is going to suck.
Now that we have our list of where the top sites get their backlinks to rank for the term car insurance quotes, we need to get these links as well. Here’s what we do.
Create an email, something like this:
Subject line: Hey [website owner name], really like your site! One quick question
Hello [website owner name]
My name is Daniel Peters, I blog about car insurance at DanielPeters.com. I really like enjoy your [website/ article]. I would like to write a blog post reviewing your website, is that okay? [ You could also say you would like to add their website to your blog roll]
Let me know as soon as you can, thank you!
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If they respond to your email, send them something like this:
Thank you [website owner name]
I’ll get started right away! I’ll let you know when it’s done.
P.S would it be possible for you to add a link to your blogroll or in one of your posts?
If they don’t give you a backlink then just add their link to your blogroll and let them know you’ve added it. Who knows they might change their mind. Let the blogroll link stick on your website for a few weeks and if they don’t change their mind you can remove it.
People rarely change their mind, but it does happen sometimes.
If they say they can add your link to their website; ask them for a link to: bestcarinsurancereviews.com. You can tell them you own the website, or that it’s a friends site.
Find a page on their website that has a high URL rating from Ahrefs and is relevent to your website; then give them the anchor text you would like to use. The majority of people have no problem linking from a specific page, or using the anchor text you requested.
When they add your link, write a 300-400 word review of their website and add their link to the post. Send them an email and let them know you’ve posted it.
I’ve had a few people I contacted share the review, post on Twitter/ Facebook or even link to the review/ post from their own website.
There’s so many possible variations of the emails above; what you send will depend on the website. If it’s a one man show the email you compose will be completely different then the one you should use if the website is owned by a corporation.
You’ll end up with a list similar to something like this:
I copied all the websites that I sorted by URL rating into a new excel file. In this file I added a few more columns, such as
- Contacted for link -> If I’ve emailed them [ NP stands for not possible. Which means I could not find a contact link]
- Contact email -> Contact email of website owner
- Did I add link -> If I linked to their website
- My link added -> If they added my link to their website
I you send an email and don’t receive a reply, email them again a few days later. Keep following up, and try to find any other emails they may have. Don’t give up if they don’t respond the first time. Sometimes people will miss the email, especially if they get a lot of them.
Getting Links is Hard
You shouldn’t. Like I said above, every website and situation is unique. I pre wrote about 5 emails that I use depending on who I’m emailing it. I still make changes to each email I send out. I do whatever I can to get a response. If you automate this process your success rate is going to plummet.
Getting links with the method above is not fun, its hard, boring and time-consuming.
But it also works, and 99% of people are unwilling to do this.
If you use this strategy you will get awesome backlinks, guaranteed.
How To Do This
If you try to go through the list as fast as possible you’re going to do a bad job. I go through 10 – 20 websites a day.
Make this a habit.
You want to do the best job possible for the first few hundred websites since they have the highest Page URL ratings.
At a certain point the website’s URL rating will start slipping dramatically and investing a lot of time trying to get a link will be pointless.
When you reach this point you can get a virtual assistant to collect the website owner emails and message the owner with the email templates you provide.
Speaking of a virtual assistants, if you have one it would be a good idea to get them to go through the top websites and find the owners email. This will save you a lot of time.
This Is Not Guest Posting
You might be thinking that this is similar to guest posting, and in a way it is, but there are a few big differences.
- Not all websites accept guest posts.
- You’re giving them a juicy backlink for a backlink. With guest posting they only get content, which is nice but not as good a great backlink
- Content cost. When you guest post your content needs to be awesome. With my method your content doesn’t have to be great.
- You end up with a better link. I find a really high authority page on their website and ask to have the link put there. With a guest post, the page you put the link on is brand new and has no authority.
What’s a Good Respond Rate
- Niche you’re in
- Type of sites you request a link from
- How well you write your emails
- How persistent you are
If you do a really good job, you can expect about 1-5% of people you contact to add your link to their website. When you get a Virtual assistant to start mass emailing a generic email you can expect a success rate of <1%.
When You Should Build Links Like This
I generally keep my “dirty” blackhat linked websites separate from my “clean” white hat websites. I don’t like to mix the two. Here’s why:
White hat sites take a shit ton of work, and can be easily tainted by some horrible links. Writing really good content, and getting white hat backlinks takes a lot of time.
Using the backlinking method above + creating nice long tail keyword content is a recipe for success.
Something Funny I Noticed When Doing This
A lot of the top websites I ran into were actually part of blog networks, which I found hilarious. I don’t make blog networks anymore, since I try to stay white hat now; but I always seem to run into them. I sometimes wonder if punishing myself with white hat link building is worth it.
If you’ve done something similar to this I would like to hear about it! Any tips on increasing the response rate especially. Have any questions? I’ll try to answer.
Hope you enjoyed, and if you did please share this guide!