How to Get REAL Backlinks for Free (Without Much Effort)

If you’ve read about and learned the basics of SEO, you know that backlinks are important for the ranking of your site. More important, however, is the fact that backlinks can range widely in quality.

Generally, the easier it is to obtain a backlink, the lower quality it is (there are exceptions, of course). I don’t ever claim to be an expert on SEO, but I wanted to share with you a very simple strategy that I tried recently, that helped me get a real backlink without having to spend any money.

When I say “real”, I mean that it isn’t a backlink I manually built for myself with content on an article directory or Web 2.0 site, and it isn’t something auto-generated by software.  Also, I didn’t have to write any content (i.e. it wasn’t a guest post).

This is an old, simple, and proven tactic, but I just wanted to show that it still works.

With all of the changes that Google is making lately to its algorithm, it’s becoming pretty clear that low quality backlinks (i.e. social bookmarking, Web 2.0 submissions, article directory submissions, etc.) aren’t going to cut it anymore if you’re facing any type of legitimate competition.  So, we need to get creative.

“Natural” backlinks are great, but because they are natural, you can’t really force them into existence.  Obviously, you want to keep creating high quality, helpful content that people feel inclined to share and link to, but for a newer site, this may not be easy.

How to Get a REAL Backlink: Ask For It.

As I mentioned in the introduction, this isn’t some kind of new, fancy backlinking method.  It’s simple and easy, when done correctly.  I recently tried this out with my authority site and it worked really well.

Here’s the Basic Strategy

The basic strategy isn’t complex, but you can’t expect to have a 100% success rate either.   Below you’ll find the basic steps, and then I’ll go into some more detail with a real life example that I had with my authority site.

1) Find a site in your niche.  It’s pretty important that the site you target is very relevant to your own site.

2) See if the site links to related sites (although if they don’t, you can still proceed if you think it’s worthwhile).

3) Contact the site owner, mention something specific and flattering about the site, and ask for a link.

A Real Life Example

Here’s an actual e-mail exchange I had with a site owner in an attempt to get a real, relevant backlink from the site.  I’ve hidden some of the information just to protect the privacy of the site owner.

In case you’re curious, the site I e-mailed was a PR4 site, and the page that contains a link to my site is a PR3 page.  While this one backlink isn’t going to propel my site to the top of Google’s search results, it’s still a much more valuable backlink than most of the ones you would typically build yourself.

Some key takeaways from this e-mail example:

  • Notice how I began with a personalized subject line, which hints at the fact that the e-mail is a flattering one.  Site owners love to hear from fans, so this pretty much guarantees your e-mail will be opened and read.
  • Keep the e-mail brief.  The length of my example above is probably the longest I’d want an e-mail to be.  If you get too wordy, the site owner might only skim the e-mail, or worse, ignore it.
  • Offer a specific compliment, showing the e-mail recipient that you’re an actual reader/fan of the site and not merely someone looking for a link.
  • Ask for a link directly, and briefly (one sentence), explain your site’s unique selling point.
  • Be friendly and thank them in advance (either “thanks in advance!” or “I’d greatly appreciate it”, or something similar).  This is pure psychology – when you thank someone in advance of them performing your request, they are more likely to agree to do whatever you’re requesting (within reason, of course).

Other Things to Consider

If you have a VA that you can trust to write well-written e-mails (you can always provide the template for them), you can easily outsource this task.  Of course, by bringing in a VA, this process starts to cost money.  I’d recommend doing it yourself first before outsourcing it.

Also, a very important note:  This strategy isn’t going to work for small (thin) niche sites, mainly because people won’t be interested in linking to them.  Before you attempt this, be sure your site is already well-developed, both from a content and design perspective.

Bonus: For those of you who read this post within a couple weeks of me posting it (before 10/31/12), I’ve got a way for you to get a guaranteed valuable, real backlink.  Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income periodically does “reader challenges” where he’ll link out to content that fits the rules of the challenge.

For the current challenge (due by the end of October), there’s a wide range of content that qualifies, so I suggest reading this post (toward the end) for the instructions.  If you have an authority site, there’s no reason why you can’t write content for this challenge, and get a valuable backlink.

What do you think about this strategy? I know it’s nothing new and fancy, but there’s a good chance you haven’t tried it yet.  

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments (and if you found this to be helpful, I’d appreciate a share on Facebook or Twitter!) :)

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35 Responses to “How to Get REAL Backlinks for Free (Without Much Effort)”

  1. Very thoughtful idea man,
    I’ve heard of that method before but i haven’t given it a shot because no one has given much detail like you just did.

    I’ve also read Pat’s readers challange post and has equally submitted my own article, hopefully he will approve it.

    Am currently trying his backlinking strategy and will also try this method of yours ASAP.

    Thanks for sharing.

    BTW: How is the Autority site challange going?
    Theodore Nwangene recently posted… A Job Offer: Should i accept it?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Theodore. The authority site challenge is going fine so far – I feel like everyone is still in the early stages. It’s going to go slower than a “niche site” challenge would, mainly because the recipe for a successful authority site is “slow and steady.”

    [Reply]

  2. Some interesting ideas you have here.
    True thing is white hat always work great it may take time but gives you what result you want and that is always genuine and if you are planning for long run then white hat seo is always recommend.

    [Reply]

  3. I have been using this method by having my VA contact site owners in the same niche as my niche sites. I will start doing this with the authority site as well as it matures a bit more. good approach Eric.
    Sunil l Expediting Wealth Creation recently posted… Creating a $1,000 Per Month Passive Income Stream in Your Spare Time

    [Reply]

  4. Nice! yes a very old method but you could get some real good quality links this way. Good info Eric ;)
    Matt John Canty recently posted… Income & Progress Report | September 2012

    [Reply]

  5. Hey Eric – great way to get quality REAL links to your website. I’ve thought of this idea in the past and have done it a few times. I would however be careful to not do it too often for the same website as it may look unnatural in Google’s eyes.

    I am still kind of scared of building links to my websites as technically this isn’t natural but still 100% better then creating your own links to your website.

    Good strategy overall though. Thanks for sharing Eric.
    James recently posted… Pros And Cons Of Niche Vs. Authority Sites

    [Reply]

  6. I find most of these people don’t reply to me. However it is mainly women that reply. They take compliments well ;)

    I find if you message people running blogspots they are more likely to say yes as well as its not really their web page… if you understand what i mean.

    [Reply]

  7. That’s what they say. Don’t ask, don’t get!

    It’s so simple but to be honest it hadn’t really crossed my mind because I assumed I would have to offer a link back then you’re potentially loosing the value or that link.

    Good job!
    Dan recently posted… This, makes it worth it!

    [Reply]

  8. i read a lot about backlinks but never heard of this method i am going to give it shot and will see that how it works, by the way you explain your thought in a simple and detailed way thanks for this great post and keep up the good work…
    jawad zaib recently posted… Panasonic Toughbook SX2

    [Reply]

  9. Thanks Eric for this fantastic post.These are really great ways to get backlinks. Also, I really excited about this challenge.
    Lorie recently posted… Deal with Cyber Security Attacks Effectively Now

    [Reply]

  10. I guess that is a pretty simple way to get a backlink. I probably should be working on using something like that to get links back to my site(s). I haven’t worked with that a lot recently, but I do notice that I am getting a few links without me having to do anything. To each their own.
    Mike recently posted… Interesting Video

    [Reply]

  11. That is an awesome post. You have really layed out your points in great detail. Very easy to follow with good content. We should take get hold of this post, read and impliment the points outlined.

    [Reply]

  12. So brilliant, yet so simple. Thanks for the tips! I’m bookmarking your site for future reference. Can’t wait to read more!
    Melissa recently posted… Celebrity’s Wife Delivers a Breech Baby at Home

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Melissa!

    [Reply]

  13. I think it’s a cool strategy, but I have a question: is it safe? I mean, is there any risk that Google will penalize the website for which I get the backlinks?
    Cristian Stan recently posted… Best Portable Generator Reviews 2012

    [Reply]

    Greg @ The Home Business Hub Reply:

    Hey Cristian. I can’t see getting a link from a quality site within your niche ever being penalised.

    Google likes authoritative and helpful sites and part of the ‘profile’ of an authority site is links to other quality sites in the niche. So long as the site you’re getting a link from has good content, then it’s a great way to build backlinks.
    Greg @ The Home Business Hub recently posted… Case Study: The impact of making page 1 of Google on web traffic

    [Reply]

    Cristian Stan Reply:

    Hey Greg. I really don’t know what to say in this matter. I’ll be back with a post after a little bit of research.
    Cristian Stan recently posted… Coffee Grinder Reviews

    [Reply]

  14. Quality back-links are ideal needed for increasing traffic to the web site. This article shares simple new ideas and techniques for making back-links to the website. I really appreciate the work for doing analysis during this helpful topic.

    [Reply]

  15. I really like this ways to get backlinks.You have posted such useful post.Thank you so much.

    [Reply]

  16. I just wanted to say thanks for the advice. I’ve used this strategy a few times since I first read your post & so far it’s worked great. People have been very receptive to the emails!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great to hear! Thanks for the comment.

    [Reply]

  17. Hi Eric, Thank you so much for all the information here. With the new Google updates it’s good to know which backlinks techniques are the more reliable so we don’t make any Black Hat Technique.

    Thanks a lot!

    Regards
    Sara Fargoons
    Survival Tools

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    No problem, Sara, thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

  18. Thank you for the information.
    These are really grat ways to get backlinks.

    I will update my way of doing this, for sure.
    Nova York recently posted… Musicais da Broadway: Chicago

    [Reply]

  19. Thank you, it seems working.
    Kazanture recently posted… The World’s Highest-Paid Musicians Of 2012

    [Reply]

  20. Do you know if links pages are allowed on wordpress.com?
    Emre recently posted… The World’s Highest-Paid Musicians Of 2012

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I use WordPress.org (not WordPress.com) so I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t see why not.

    [Reply]

  21. That is an awesome post.These are really great ways to get backlinks. Also, I really excited about this.

    [Reply]

  22. Thank you for the information
    This is a really great to get backlinks. May you always be successful
    hair news today recently posted… Know Deeply About Ways to Grow Facial Hair

    [Reply]

  23. Thanks a lot for having share this great method. That’s very helpful for me.

    [Reply]

  24. Wow, it’s not the quantity but the quality of backlinks. I hope I could get also some backlinks from high PR sites using the strategy you suggest.

    Thanks man

    [Reply]

  25. Thanks Eric for this fantastic post.These are really great ways to get backlinks. Also, I really excited about this challenge.
    dunia remaja recently posted… 5 Kelebihan Pacaran dengan Sahabat

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Dunia! (Side note: The challenge has ended. :) )

    [Reply]

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