Ways to Build Links with Cash (not, ways to get “paid links”)

Cash is a HUGE asset for link builders. It’s also a huge asset for any other kind of human being, but here we are talking about building links.

Despite Google’s claims that the exchanging of monies for links is against their quality guidelines, there are plenty of creative, value adding ways to use your cassets (see what I did there?) to obtain high quality links with a solid return and with little to no risk. All the methods I propose below, I would argue are very low risk. Here’s why:

Google’s algorithm detects patterns in order to determine unnatural link behavior, patterns like dozens of links with the same anchors, links from websites on the same IP address, links from a multitude of low quality, inter-linked directories, etc. None of the tactics below are scalable to a degree where they could trigger any type of unnatural link penalty. If your links are manually reviewed by a human quality rater at Google, they may see fit to deem some of these unnatural. However, in my experience, all of these methods add value to users, produce a substantial ROI, and are perfectly safe.

Donate to Developers

There are so many little Excel ad-ons, and WordPress plugins, and email extensions that we use on a daily basis, yet how often do we ever think about the developer behind the tool. These developers almost always have their own websites, and those websites tend to be old, and carry substantial authority. Usually small stuff like niche WordPress plugins, Excel add-ons, and Chrome extensions are side projects of some developer, and usually those developers rely on donations to keep their tools updated and free. And when they get these donations, they are grateful and give recognition!

I imagine that if one could prospect the web effectively for these kinds of people, they could find a gold mine of cheap, high value link opportunities. I’m going to refrain from giving away my exact prospecting process here, but I’m sure you can figure out creative ways to one-up me :).

Buy Blogs

Guest blogging is cool, because you get a link. Buying the blog is really cool, because you get every link.

There are plenty of website selling and purchasing sites out there, and if you browse these often enough, you will find some good deals every once in a while. However, because the websites listed on these sites are actually up for sale, they typically go for market value, or above. But what if you could find valuable blogs and websites to buy that aren’t technically for sale? You can. Here’s one way.

What you’ll need:
  • Scrape Similar Chrome Extension
  • Buzzstream Buzzmarker (they offer a free trial)
  • Google
How to do it:

1. Go to Google Blog Search

2. At the top of the screen, you’ll see “Search Tools”.

Click Search Tools > Any Time > Custom Range >

Set your search range to 2 or 3 years in the past. This will ensure that you are only getting sites that have been around long enough to accumulate at least some PageRank

3. Determine search queries that will return blogs that are relevant to the vertical that you are working in. For example, if you’re building links for a law firm, perhaps you’d search: “law” or “legal”.

Bonus tip: You can also tell Google to only return Home Page results, rather than specific posts. This can help you achieve more relevant prospects. However, the custom time range will be wiped out, so you do lose that ability if you choose to only receive home page results.

4. Configure your settings so that Google shows 100 search results, and use the Scrape Similar Chrome extension to aggregate your prospects. Export to a Google doc

5. Paste your URL’s into a URL opener tool.

6. While on each site, use your Buzzmarker to add the prospect, and get contact information

7. Set-up a personal outreach template in Buzzstream and send those emails.

8. Once the responses roll in, evaluate the most worth while blogs, and make offers

Sponsor Groups

For all intents and purposes, sponsoring a group (chess club, solar car team, local charity, etc.) in return for a link is a paid link. However, it’s also a link that 1) doesn’t leave a footprint 2) gives you a competitive advantage, and 3) provides a high ROI.

  • It doesn’t leave a footprint because there is really no way to scale it. Also, typically your link will be in an image, instead of being a standard text link. Don’t be dumb and use keywords it your alt tags though. Just brand it or leave it blank.
  • It provides a competitive advantage because your competitors cannot simply submit a payment and get the same link (as with a traditional paid link directory).
  • And it yields a high ROI because you may pay half the price (I’ve paid as little as $25, one-time) as you would for a similar quality link elsewhere, yet these link are normally .EDUs, and .ORGs with high PageRanks, and which do not typically have paid link directories where anyone can just go get a link.

This is a win-win; people are empowered to pursue their intellectual and charitable interests, and you get a high value link for your generosity.

Offer Discounts/Scholarships

I assume everyone reading this post knows about these tactics, so I won’t go into much detail. (If you’re not familiar, I highly suggest giving this post a read.)

What I will go into is a way of thinking about the outreach that has helped my team and I drastically increase our success rate. When you’re prospecting site’s to link to your discount or scholarship, think about the individual person you will be relying on to put up your link. Ask yourself these questions:

What’s the person’s job?

If his job is a work/study position at his college where he can barely think of enough tasks to fill his 20 hours per week, you’ve got a good shot at the link. If it’s PR manager at a understaffed start-up, you may not want to even try.

The answer to this question should dictate whether you use email outreach, phone outreach, social media outreach, or maybe even video outreach.

What’s your relationship with the person?

If he’s a complete stranger in the IT department of some college somewhere, your odds go down. If he’s the president of a Fraternity of which you are a member, you have a really freaking good shot at the link. If he’s your brother, the link is guaranteed (or at least I would hope…). Always think about your relationship with the person you are relying on to place your link.

How can you help him?

You’re a SEO; you have so many skills, and connections, and pearls of wisdom! You’re talking to a college kid. Tell him about a job or internship opportunity he should look into; help him create an amazing digital resume or blog; shit, buy him a case of beer! Add value to his life with your unique skills and he’ll be happy to reciprocate.

I’d love to hear your tips below!

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