5 Ways to Build Links Without Getting Penalized


How do you get more search traffic if you’re not supposed to build links?

It’s a catch-22…

You know you should create content that attracts links, but you need to have links to have an audience that can link to you.

Therefore, you must be proactive in order to get backlinks to your site.

And according to Matt Cutts, the importance of backlinks isn’t going away anytime soon:

…backlinks still have many, many years left in them … over time backlinks will become a little less important … we will continue to use links in order to assess the basic reputation of pages and websites.

According to just about every study out there, backlinks are still one of the most important factors in ranking highly in search engines—as the image above illustrates.

Bottom line: You need to build backlinks.

But…you need to do it in a safe way, so you don’t have to worry about having your site sent into oblivion by the next Penguin update.

Avoiding penalties while building links isn’t about luck. It’s about earning links. The types of links that Google penalizes sites for are low-quality or bought links. If you can buy it on Fiverr, it’s not a good link. Period.

High quality links will never be penalized. These links have natural anchor text and are placed on highly authoritative and trusted sites. These links cannot be bought in the vast majority of situations.

In this article, I’m going to show you five of the best ways to get high quality links that will improve your search rankings without putting you at risk of being penalized.

In addition, most of these links will send you traffic right away—high quality links tend to do that. 

1. Get freelance writers do it for you

Remember the goal: get natural links on highly authoritative sites.

Most of these sites are run by professional teams, and almost all of them produce content on a regular basis.

For a variety of reasons, many of these sites also rely heavily on freelance writers to produce the majority of that content.

Here’s a crazy thought: What if you could get a freelance writer who contributes to a major relevant site to love your writing or product? It would probably lead to multiple links over time.

What’s even better is that these top-tier freelance writers don’t just write at one authority site—they write at multiple highly-trusted sites.

Think about that for a second. Getting just one freelance writer to love your stuff could result in several extremely high-quality links.

Now imagine if you could find a few more freelancers like that.

Pretty cool, right? Let me show you how to do it…

Step 1: Find freelance writers in your general niche. It all starts with a list. You need to identify big sites in your niche that use freelance writers.

If you’ve been operating in your niche for a while, you might already know a few.

If not, you’ll have to dig around a bit. Search for “biggest [niche] sites,” and look through the results. If you see a bunch of different posts on a site’s homepage or blog, it’s likely a good target. Alternatively, ask your friends or people on forums to name their favorite sites.

To expand your options, you can look at sites in any related niche. For example, if I was looking for marketing writers, I would look for the biggest sites that focus on:

  • SEO
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Inbound marketing
  • Online business
  • Copywriting
  • Link building
  • Public relations
  • etc.

Quite a few options.

Write down as many sites with multiple regular contributors as possible on a spreadsheet.

Step 2: Evaluate writers. Now that you have a list of sites, you can begin your search for good writers with whom you’d want to connect.

Some sites make this really easy, like the Crazy Egg blog:


When you click on the Writing Team link, you get a list of writers that regularly contribute to the site.


Not all sites will have that. Take Moz, for example:


Either way, the process from here is largely the same.

Click on an author’s name, which will almost always have a link to a page of their previous posts:


Next, decide if that writer covers the topics you write about.

For example, I see that Sharon mainly writes about SEO and CRO. If your site/business was in either the SEO or CRO niche, she’d be a great person to get to know.

Here’s where the hard work begins. You need to repeat this for every writer from every site. In the case of a site such as Moz (shown above), you’ll have to click through the last few pages of blog posts to see if the writers are regular contributors (2+ posts per month) or just doing a one-off guest post (don’t target these).

This is a ton of work, but choosing the right writers is crucial to getting a good success rate in the next steps.

Step 3: Give them a chance to like you. The average freelancer isn’t extremely well-known, which makes interacting with them a lot easier than with influencers in your niche.

That being said, a lot of the same rules apply.

You don’t want to start by saying, “Come, look at my writing—it’s amazing!” That’s just going to turn your prospects off. Instead, start by giving them a little value without asking for anything in return.

Yes, this will take a bit of time, but a solid relationship with a handful of freelancers can provide amazing long-term benefits to your business.

I recommend finding them and connecting with them on social media to stay up-to-date with their work. Most author bios will have a link or two to the writer’s favorite social media platform:


Now, you can do basic things like re-sharing their posts to get on their radar.

Freelance writers are judged by editors based on the performance of their posts. Typically, that’s measured by these two metrics:

  • comments
  • social shares

Next, read any of your chosen writers’ newly published posts, and leave a thoughtful comment. Share a personal story or add something valuable to the article that might encourage discussion.

Any good freelance writer will reply to your comment, which you could then reply to further (if appropriate). If they reply once again, their comment count for that article will go from zero to four, which looks a lot better. In addition, this may encourage others to start commenting as well.

Commenting on one article isn’t going to be enough. Do it for at least two or three articles over the next month. If you have a following on social media, share these posts, and tag the writer to make them aware of it.

Step 4: Show them who you are. At this point, you’re on their radar. They know who you are, and it’s possible that they did a basic search for you (not too likely, though).

You’ve built up some good will, and the writer appreciates your support. Now, you want to take the relationship to email.

Go back to their author bio to see if you can find a link to their personal website. Not all writers will have an email list (like bloggers), but they’ll all have a contact form at the minimum:


If a chance to join an email list comes up, take it. That’s the easiest way to get the writer’s personal email address.

However, unlike some bloggers/influencers, freelancers diligently check emails received through the contact form, so you can use that as well.

In your first message, don’t pitch or link to anything.

At this point, the writer should know you by name, and they are probably thinking:

[Your Name] seems to be popping up everywhere recently. He either really likes my work, wants me to write for him/her, or wants something from me (to review his/her product or something similar).

If you link to something right away, all that time getting to know the writer and his/her work is flushed down the toilet.

Instead, send something like this to them (either to their email or using the contact form):

Subject: Your [niche] writing

Hi [Writer’s Name],

I just wanted to send you a quick message to let you know that I loved your recent articles on [site #1] and [site #2].

In particular, your article about [recent topic] was extremely helpful. I took your advice [something from the articles] and ended up [some sort of achievement].

Keep up the great work :),

[Your Name]

Step 5: Introduce your work. Now that you’ve done an awesome job beginning the relationship, you can start thinking about how your content or product works best with your target writer’s work.

Although you could send an email a week or two later asking them to take a look at one of your best posts, your best move is to give even more value to your writer.

How? Freelance writers have to continually come up with great ideas to pitch, which is hard.

So, give them three or four great article ideas highly related to your product or content.

Then, send them another email, something like this:

Subject: A few content ideas?

Hi [name],

I have a few article ideas that I think would be perfect for you if you’re interested.

I didn’t mention it before, but I’m actually a [niche] blogger (just on my personal site). I previously wrote a really in-depth article on [topic] {put the link in here!}. I was looking for a few great resources to link to in that article, but I couldn’t really find any, so I just noted down the topics.

I was planning on writing about them myself because I think they’ll turn out great, but it’s not exactly the kind of topic I usually write about on my site.

It just occured to me that you might be the perfect writer to use these ideas, so they’re yours if you’d like to pitch them to any of your editors:

  • [idea #1]
  • [idea #2]
  • [idea #3]

Let me know if you end up writing any—I’d love to read them.


[Your Name]

Notice the mention of your content and the link (make this clear). The writer will almost always look at it and, assuming it’s as good as you say, link to it when they get a chance since it fits perfectly with the content ideas you gave them.

This approach hinges on you providing great content ideas. They can’t be just your everyday list post ideas that no editor will care about. Luckily, I can help you out here:

2. Give your best knowledge away (yes, guest posting is still useful)

I’ve written about guest posting many times before, but I need to correct some poor practices here. Some people write guest posts but don’t get the right backlinks from them, so I want to show you how to maximize your posts here.

If you need a guest posting crash course, refer to these:

Some guest posting links are better than others: The typical guest post bio link at the bottom of the post, although okay, is not very effective.


It’s typically a single link at the very end of the post (not very many readers will see it), and sometimes it’s in a special “bio box,” which Google could devalue.

Don’t get me wrong: it will still drive some traffic and give you some SEO value—but not as much as you should be getting.

A good guest post is done on a really authoritative site, which automatically makes it a pretty trusted page.

It’s always seemed weird to me that any pages you link to in your guest post get more powerful contextual links (that drive more traffic) than a piddly link at the bottom.

Although a few blog owners are paranoid about you linking back to your site in any way, most are okay with it as long as it adds value. Your goal should always be to write the best guest post possible, and if that includes backing up a point by linking to your site, you should do it.

When I write a blog post, I link to supporting sources all the time. Most of these links aren’t to my own posts:


But when it truly makes sense to link to one of my own posts, I do it:


In this case, the post I linked to is relevant to the point I just made, and many readers would find it helpful.

One thing that more bloggers should do is link to their previous guest posts:


Either way, just make sure all links in the article are valuable. Typically, the best content to link to is:

  • lists of resources
  • ultimate guides
  • infographics/gifographics
  • data or studies

Why not add to your guest post’s authority? One of the reasons why you would guest post on a particular site is because it’s authoritative. Some of that authority will pass back onto your site.

What many guest posters don’t realize is that this means that the stronger your guest post is (in terms of authority), the more you benefit.

So, instead of just posting your guest post and calling it a day—like most bloggers do—you will promote it.

First, email anyone that you linked to or mentioned in the article:

Subject: Mentioned you 🙂

Hi [name],

I mentioned you in a guest post that I did on [site name]. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link: [URL].

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Many will understand that you’d like them to share your post with their audiences, but you could also add a line asking them to do so in your email.

Next, share it on social media platforms you use regularly as part of your social media strategy.

But don’t just share it once. Share it multiple times over the next few weeks with different titles.


Finally, share it on aggregator sites such as Reddit or niche-specific ones such as Inbound.org and Hackernews. If it’s a really well-written post, you can get at least a few hundred targeted visitors to it. If you’re new to Reddit, do yourself a favor, and read this guide first.

3. Inform the world of your infographics

I still love infographics even if they don’t work as well as they used to.

An average infographic today still gets me 371 backlinks from 34 unique domains.

There is no other common content type that spreads as easily as infographics do as revealed by a study of over 1 million articles:


Since it’s other people who link to infographics, these links are almost always safe.

In addition, you control most of the anchor text. When you publish an infographic, you should always include an HTML embed code that people can copy and paste on their websites:


Within the embed code, there is a link to the image and also a link back to the original page with the anchor text you specify:


If you picked anchor text like “best diet pills,” then yes, you might get penalized. But for branded anchor text (e.g., “Quick Sprout”), no chance.

Remember that only a fraction of people will use the embed code, so you will still get overall diversified anchor text. For instance, that above example was only used by 32% of linkers:


Get bloggers to link to your infographic: If you don’t have any readership, it’s extra important to promote your infographic aggressively. This is still safe because although you’re asking for a link, you’re not paying for it or trying to trick someone into giving it to you.

Compile a list of bloggers in your niche, and send them an email like this:

Subject: [insert the name of your infographic] infographic

Hey [insert their first name],

I hope your [insert the day] is going well. I noticed your blog and thought you might want to check out this infographic we just rolled out about [insert the topic of your infographic].

Check it out when you have a minute, and let me know what you think.

[insert URL]

The embed code is located under the infographic for an easy copy and paste (just in case you want to share it with your readers).

Thanks for taking a look! Hope it was of interest to you,

[Your Name]

Again, this doesn’t work as well as it used to, but you should be able to get about 5% (sometimes more) of the bloggers to embed your infographic at some point, assuming it is actually good.

4. Social media links add up…and have one added bonus

Much confusion exists when SEO and social media come up together, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ll make this as simple as possible.

Matt Cutts released a video last year clearly saying that social signals are not a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm:

However, Bing does take into account social authority. In an interview, Bing representatives confirmed that the search engine looks at how many followers you have, who follows you, etc. It might not be a huge ranking factor, but it’s there.

That’s really all there is from a simple SEO perspective.

Now, let’s shift gears a bit. Be honest, when you read the title of this post, what did you immediately think of?


Yes, Google is a behemoth, but Google does not represent all search engines. Even just from a text standpoint, Bing/Yahoo are continually growing their market share.

Last year, I wrote that social is the new SEO, and not a ton has changed since then.

The fact remains that Google is just one site you can rank on. YouTube, for example, gets 1,140 searches per second. That’s far more valuable than Google for video-based content.

What about Twitter? Twitter’s search engine gets over 2.1 billion searches per day. Then there’s Facebook, Instagram, Google+…

There are a ton of search engines out there.

Being active on them and getting a lot of social shares will help you show up in their searches more often, which will lead to more traffic to your website.

In addition, many of those shares still result in a link back to your site. They may not get any special “social” consideration, but they’re still links on an authoritative domain.

In case you didn’t watch that video above, Cutts said this:

Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results.

Not surprisingly, social media profiles, and even posts, sometimes rank really well.


Even though thousands of sites mention Quick Sprout, social media profiles are seen as highly relevant to a brand query. Links from these pages must provide at least some SEO value.

Finally, who knows how Google’s algorithm is going to change in the future. It may include social signals one day. Until then, social media links can help you rank on multiple search engines and can send direct traffic to your site.

Aggregator sites are social too: I’ve mentioned before that large aggregator sites, such as Reddit and Inbound.org, can be great for link-building.

Those sites are highly authoritative, usually allow dofollow links, and have massive audiences.

If your content gets popular on any of these platforms, you can get massive exposure, which can lead to many more links in the future.

For example, a startup called Product Hunt was essentially launched on the startup and entrepreneur subreddit communities. The people in those communities liked it so much that it became popular and spread insanely quickly.

Now, people link to it all the time on those subreddits, which leads to more exposure, users, and links:


In addition, when enough people see something, a percentage of them will link to it. Product Hunt was able to get over 1 million links in just over a year, all starting from a few posts:


5. Be altruistic – do something beneficial for your community

As a marketer, you might find it really easy to become selfish and always ask, “What’s in it for me?”

But sometimes, you can find ways in which both you and your community can win.

Below are a couple of such ways I’d like to share with you.

Tactic #1: Set up a scholarship. You used to be able to donate to charities to get great links, but that’s not extremely effective anymore since SEOs got wind of it. But a scholarship is similar to a donation—just bigger.

It will cost more, but you’ll get more, and often higher quality, links out of it.

Creating a scholarship isn’t very difficult in the States although it may vary in other parts of the world. Here’s a simple guide.

If you’re creating one in the US, you need to meet certain legal and IRS requirements. I recommend consulting a lawyer if possible. On the plus side, creating a scholarship also comes with some tax breaks.

To start with, you’ll need to decide how much you want to give away and to whom. Scholarships can be as little as $500-1,000, so you don’t need to break the bank to set up one.

I would recommend making the scholarship as relevant to your niche as possible. For example, if you were in marketing, you could create a scholarship for aspiring marketers or entrepreneurs. This will help your links to be more relevant and powerful for your search rankings.

Once you create your scholarship (put the details on your website), you can start contacting schools to link to it. These are very high quality links.

You can use these search strings to find potential scholarship pages (do the same with .gov):

  • site:.edu “scholarships”
  • site:.edu “college scholarships”
  • site:.edu “scholarships links”
  • site:.edu “scholarship list”
  • site:.edu “list of scholarships”
  • site:.edu “Outside Agency Scholarships”
  • site:.edu “private Scholarships”
  • site:.edu “keyword + scholarships”

Be warned, you might have to dig around a little bit to find the page you need. Look for a link to a page with external scholarships, like this:


Some pages will have contact information on them, but sometimes you’ll have to scroll down to the footer to find a link to the school’s directory. Find contact information for the scholarship department:


I always prefer calling over email when possible. If you send an email, it can be weeks or months before you hear back.


Also remember that since most of these pages will belong to schools, they won’t be usually very active during summers, when it may take longer to get a reply.

Contact as many as you can, and you should be able to get at least a few dozen solid links.

Tactic #2: Run a contest. Do you know what else people in your community love? Free stuff.

You can give away subscriptions or products to people that give you their email addresses and share the contest on social media. The bigger the prizes you give away, the more viral it will go, and the better results you will get.

I’ll be upfront: this tactic is primarily good for building your email list, but it will provide you with a few links as well.

Gael Breton ran a contest to grow Authority Hacker and was able to get over 1,600 new subscribers and thousands of social followers and shares. The contest also attracted 10 natural links of decent quality on forums and blogs.

To get those results, they had to give away prizes that had a total value of over $5,000.


But Gael was clever. Instead of just putting up that money himself, he got the companies to donate the prizes.

If you can convince a few well-known companies that you know what you’re doing and have them donate prizes, you might be able to lower your contest costs by a significant amount.


I hope you get a few big takeaways from this post.

First, if you’re going to “build” safe links in 2015, you need either great content or a great product. Most of your investment should be going into either content or product development.

Once you have that, you can use these five effective ways to build safe links that can be used over and over again to grow your website’s traffic and search rankings at the same time.

You don’t necessarily need to use all five, but having a diverse link profile only makes you more immune to Google penalties.

This is far from a complete list of link building strategies, but it’s what I think most site owners should start with.

If I missed any of your favorites, share them in a comment below so that everyone else can benefit too.


  1. Hi Neil,

    Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this useful tips.

    I wish I could share, but I haven’t done much with regard to link building. I’m grateful to have read your post, because I will know the right way of doing it.

    You truly inspire me to share my knowledge and give back.

    I love the email templates you shared.

    Awesome, awesome post, Neil.



    • Magz, thanks for all the support and feedback. You always write such insightful and valuable information.

      • Hello Neil,
        That’s great and obviously helpful. I had sent two or three emails to different websites inquiring them to allow me to write guest posts for them. They have not responded me yet. What should I do to get this chance for high authority websites?

    • In the meantime use also a proper Theme that improves UI/UX of your Content Marketing experience.

      Check it out here:

  2. I see an art on crafting the outreach templates and funnel. I think that part is key and it’s definitely harder in the “business industry” where people will likely know what you are really doing.

    That would make for a cool “Lead Magnet” (6 email outreach templates…)

    Very good, in-depth article.

  3. Fabulous content.

    Quality Links are so important to get traffic from Search Engines.

    Great content sure bring more links as people love to share great stuff .

  4. One way to annoy your readers, cover the screen with an ad, half-way through reading the post, asking you to sign up to something. Perfect for increasing bounce rate

  5. Thanks for posting this. Very Helpful

  6. Farcas Gelu Danut :

    Another good post, Neil! Tnx!

  7. Hey Neil,
    Sites like Flikr have the embed option to where you can embed their images onto your site. When you click that image, it goes back to the original image. Does this help backlink wise for their site? Good free images are hard to come by, and this seemed to be another creative way to get backlinks for a website. If so, what should someone include in that embed code to increase SEO power?


    • Luke, that is extremely low hanging fruit and often times it doesn’t provide any tremendous value — Linking to image sites provides value in attribution though!

  8. Toni @ Debt Free Divas :

    Genius. Getting on the radar of freelance writers. I like it from the perspective of relationship building and networking also. Just curious, how many freelance writers do you use – if any? You’re content is always so thorough and constant. How much time – if you don’t mind – does it take to produce one post (including research)?

  9. Great job Neil on writing this article.
    I find it very useful as my site is at starting point.

  10. Another great stuff from you, Neil. Thanks for the post and the ideas, though these are not new but still very much effective and safe. Especially guest posting, if done correctly. Infographic is the thing, I have just started working on. You have couple of super articles on infographic marketing under QuickSprout and NeilPatel site. I am just about to implement them for my digital marketing and SEO training services and website.

    Best Regards
    Soumya Roy

  11. Neil —

    Great article (and I do plan to summarize it and link back to it on my blog), but I wanted to add a couple of notes.

    I’m a freelance writer — I write for CSO, Network World, CIO magazine, Independent Banker, and other tech and finance publications.

    I get dozens of story pitches a day. If it’s not relevant to my beat, I just delete it. If it’s not actionable — someone is just writing to introduce themselves or say something nice — I’ll give a quick response, like “Thanks for your kind words!” and delete it.

    If someone sends me a story pitch that is up my alley and that is newsworthy, I’ll pass it along to the relevant editors right away, and, if I get the assignment, reply back with a request for an interview. I prefer pitches that are clear, concise, and with obvious news value. I research, do interviews for, and write, on average, 10 stories a week. I don’t have time to read long, complicated emails, especially since I get more story pitches can I can possibly report on.

    If someone sends me a trend or feature story idea, I stick it in a “to pitch” folder. I pitch feature stories way ahead of time — months, typically — and schedule several all at once.

    I have a sources database. I keep track of company names, interview transcripts, what stories I previously quoted people in. I have nearly 5,000 names in this database. I don’t keep track of whether I like people, so don’t worry about whether you have a relationship with me or not — I wouldn’t be able to keep track of it, anyway. If I’ve rejected 10 of your story pitches in a row, feel free to keep pitching – I don’t hate you. I don’t even remember you.

    When I need to find sources for a new story, I do one of the following:

    * If it’s a brand new topic for me, I’ll post it on ProfNet and HelpAReportOut.com
    * If it’s a familiar topic, I’ll go through my database for people I’ve talked to about this before, and Google around to see if anything new has happened since then that I might have missed
    * If it’s an urgent assignment, I have a list of agency PR contacts who represent multiple companies in my area of coverage. I send a mass email to all of them asking them what I need. If you want to be added to the list, just ask me.

    Oh, and I also edit HypergridBusiness.com, and am always looking for story pitches, press releases, and contributed columns about virtual reality.

    • Maria, thanks for sharing that insider look into your strategy.

      You should expand on these thoughts and create a blog post out of it — I find this very valuable and am sure others do too.

      • Hi Maria,

        many thanks for sharing look into your strategy, judging from your approach it looks more like its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a blogger to get through to you and eventual succeed with building a back link.

        As Neil said, it would really be nice to read a blog post from you on how to earn a backlink from someone with your kind of strategy. i will love to read that story

  12. Eduardo Cornejo :

    Hey Neil,

    Running a contest sounds like a great idea for me. I’ll do workout bands and pull up bars!

    Also, FB says that my demographic is 90% teens-24 years old (and I’m 21). Do I market towards them or their parents (the ones who pay for them)? If it’s the second, I was thinking for holidays I could say how my workout programs are a great gift and whatnot.

    What do you think of all of this?

  13. Dear your help is so costly!

    How to afford it…..to earn money.

  14. Neil,

    Your posts are always informative and well thought out with tons of stuff you wont find elsewhere.

    However, I have noticed that you dont really provide information for those just starting out or not as big as other sites. The tactics you mention in most posts will work and will build high quality links. But, and this is a big But; the majority of people looking to get links to their site dont have the resources, man power or authority to go about getting links in this manner.

    Much of what you suggest requires building relationships and already having somewhat of a reputation online, or in your niche. For many of us, we are trying to get to that level and will have a very tough time, almost impossible for most, to achieve what you are suggesting.

    I always read your posts and agree with 99.9% of what you say. But, I feel you are missing out on your target audience who comes here looking for ways that the majority of us can actually build links and build our reputation.

    Now Im not saying show us how to go out and buy links, swap links or other Black Hat techniques, but you and I know there are other ways to build quality links that are easier and less time consuming.

    You keep preaching about producing quality content and getting people to write about you and so on. But like I said before, this is damn near impossible for many of us to do. Not because our content is crap, but because we dont have the resources or foundation that us needed for what you propose.

    Something like this would work great for an already established site with a following and should be used for sure. But how do we get to the point where we can actually use utilize these techniques?

    Thats what we really want; Nay, need to know.

    • Chris, you just said my mind. Thumbs up on this.

      I think Neil should come to the realisation that most of his readers are not the high profiled bloggers he presumes in his posts.

      How does someone just coming up as a blogger learn link building with this magnanimous ideas he gives?

      To me, I think it’s more of a lifetime task for upcoming bloggers…

      And does it mean our posts will die in obscurity without having backlinks pointing to them?

      I really need to know this and want a quick answer.

      It’s hurting to always agree that one can’t move up the SERPs without backlinks.

      Boss Neil, we deserve an answer on this.

      • Hi Chris,

        I can understand your frustration as a newbie in digital marketing but honestly one thing that i know Neil has repeatedly said is create quality content, pour in your heart and be patient. you will agree with me that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

        @Olalekan, may i recommend that both you and Chris put in some time reading Neil’s guides here https://www.quicksprout.com/2014/09/22/get-your-mba-in-internet-marketing-with-these-12-guides-and-2-courses/.

        I started my digital marketing career with those guides a couple of months ago, and i put in quite a lot of time using and practicing the tips on my website. Today, i am happy to tell you that if you run a competitive analysis of digital marketing agencies in Nigeria (were i operate) against my website (www.nativedge.com) using quicksprout website analyzer, my website is No.1.

        Also, I am beginning to ranking on the first page on google search for some of my keywords and on the third page for others but i see improvements if i maintain my consistency.

        So you see that it isn’t about whether you are an up and coming blogger, its just your ability to pour in your heart and put in the time.

  15. I am seriously thinking of hiring a freelance writer to do the link building because if you are planning to do everything on your own it’s not possible. Thinking about content for your own website is time consuming and takes a lot of research and then investing time in finding perfect sites for guest blogging, contacting webmaster and stuff is just too much.

    Anyways, thanks a lot for this informative article covering everything.

  16. dicasdietaetreino :

    Simply incredible.
    Even in Brazil always look for information on your site.
    I had thought of using freelance, to acquire links.
    Most stay with doubts about how to proceed.
    After reading this article two times, I begin to search right now.

  17. Great post as usual, Boss.

    But something keeps me wondering about how link building scares of upcoming bloggers.

    The link building stuff always sound as the yardstick for getting on the highest rungs on SERPs ladder.

    And a question is, if I write quality post – and so lengthy – does it mean I can’t outrank sites that don’t have that lengthy content, with almost the same content quality?

    Please help me on this.

    • Hi Olalekan,

      The seo benefit that lengthy post have for you is that it helps you rank for long tail keywords which is more likely to be used in search queries.

    • Olalekan, typically if you provide value and create engagement your rankings will go up.

  18. Hi Neil,

    First of all – love the new look!

    I agree with Maria. I write regularly for a few websites and also a national magazine and I get quite a few requests each day. A lot of the time these emails will be using the same template which really puts me off helping people out – if they can’t be arsed then me neither.

    I totally agree that you cannot beat relationship forming for acquiring great links. I’ve found that a relationship often extends way beyond a simple link; new ideas and collaborations form. For me this is the best part of digital marketing, it’s fun, interesting and a lot more satisfying.


  19. Neil,
    Great post! Will try hiring some freelancers to build quality links!
    Keep posting!


  20. Neil,
    its hard enough as it is to try and follow all the info you pump out and it certainly doesnt help when you post Quote,”The fact remains that Google is just one site you can rank on. YouTube, for example, gets 1,140 searches per second. That’s far more valuable than Google for video-based content.
    On following this link, it lead to an article by Aaron Elliot, Founder of Social Barrel, August 07, 2013. What?? The Stats are 2 years old??
    I wrote in and defended you against someone criticising you a couple of weeks back because he was knocking your Altruism!! But 2 yrs?? My time and mental acumen is scarcer by the year at this later stage of my life.

    Toni, it takes me about 2-4 hours.
    On this page yesterday you say to Diva Toni “I don’t use any freelance writers just a great designer.” Neil, perhaps you should take him aside and ask him to put in current facts about Google vs You tube near the end of 2015 rather than stats relating to 2013.
    I am like Chris, a new start up and only small and sitting up very early in the morning here in Oz doing research and trying to cram info.
    The link you supplied for Mathew Paulsons site led me to buy his book, “40 Rules for internet business success” and I finished chapt 4, BECOME A VORACIOUS CONSUMER OF CONTENT just then and opened your latest email to do just that.
    Disappointed that I am reading such old stats from a Professional like you, and to quote Chris above.
    “You keep preaching about producing quality content and getting people to write about you and so on. But like I said before, this is damn near impossible for many of us to do. Not because our content is crap, but because we dont have the resources or foundation that us needed for what you propose.”

    Just another piece of constructive criticism Neil, thanks for the rest..

  21. Very enlightening post. Google info, outside the box but also common sense.

  22. bhattacharyasuprity :

    I SUPRITY am a ordinary article writer , and story writer ,I have also interested about quiz contest . I have no interesting about any marketing job or business . If You i any article writing job please give me .

  23. Neil, ?

    You just made my day. I knew from the very start, l will expect a post this great but I never knew it’ll be today. Hehe… (“Well written”) and yes :), You completely nailed it – I like every bit of it. ????

    My SEO King!!!

  24. Thanks for the many suggestions. I definitely have some ideas to ponder.

    Is it possible to get good backlinks by adding pictures to Wikipedia?

  25. Thanks Neil for sharing helpful advice.

  26. Thanks Neil !
    That was an amazing post.

    I write for The Huffington Post and Business Insider and other big websites. I have 6 years of experience in editorial and writing. I am an achiever with radical passion for Business, Technology, Creativity and Commerce. I have written Op-Ed, Viral Blog Posts, Articles, Commentaries, PRs and Essays.

    If you need to have a brand mention on top magazine contact me at: authoritylink@gmail.com


  27. Neil, this article was published at a perfect timing!

    This is what I needed right now for my new brand. And sadly I have been using some free backlink generators just a few days ago before I read this article that I could possibly get penalized, what should I do?


  28. Thanks for this complete and well detailed tutorial on how to build back links this 2015. It’s the best tutorial that I ever found for complete beginners like me.

  29. This is really explosive! I did not know there is a lot to link building like this. Thanks for sharing this guide, Neil.

  30. Reading through your guest-blogging posts, I think I still have a long way to go. I appreciate the exposure bro.

  31. Great post. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen freelance writers in my industry, but I think it’s worth checking out. Thanks for the idea.

  32. Thanks for sharing neil ..
    Is there any strategy to build link without content .. ?

  33. Hi Neil,

    I am using all the techniques you are mentioning in your post for building links and I can see good amount of traffic in my analytic but I have one question for you : can we use those technique which is spam in terms of google eye like directory, guest post etc.??

  34. Another very good post, Neil sir


  35. Hi Neil,

    Thanks once again for great post ways to build links.I like it.


  36. Thank you for the valuable information, We are already doing back-link building using good content like your suggesting methods.

  37. Hi Neil,

    I think these are great idea to build links without being penalized. You always bring new ideas in your articles. Thanks for sharing this useful article.


  38. Hey Neil,

    I just love your posts!! I always get something new to learn.

    I have a question for you here, if i go with the first method (getting the freelancer do it for me), i can go through step-1 to step-4 with some research and efforts. That is fine but when it comes to step-5, showing up them my work, i get stuck here.

    I am handling the marketing stuff only,i don’t write articles on my own. I have a big content team for that.So when the freelancer digs about my work he/she will not get any articles/posts written by me!!

    so do you think showing them the content written by my writers will work here? or shall i use my writer’s email and social profiles to contact and follow the writer? or anything else?

    I hope you are getting the issue. please show some way out here.


    • Dyna, I think I get what you are saying. Writing samples are always helpful — so test it out and see how it works.

      Always provide as much information as possible so you can get the best person for the job.

  39. Thanks for the tips.

    Finding freelancers who can write quality articles is a tough job.

  40. Great post Neil. Loved it as always.

  41. Great post as usual Neil. Just a question on your outreach emails. Im working on a “round up” post for my client in the home improvement industry. Would you recommend we send outreach emails out from their company email or a gmail account?

  42. Neil, Some Inspiringly Awesome Information!

    I am building links for years by doing off page SEO. Most of the links are not related to my niche sites. If Google updates the algorithm, it gives the less importance to the links ad sometimes it may block. These tips can help us build the links and as well as relationships with the right people in our niche. I never approached the Freelance content writers and building relationship with them the way you described in this article. I like the sample email templates you shared to find & connect with the right people.

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful tips for writing.

  43. My big takeaway from this post was the inherent value of a link from a guest post. I liked how you dissected the value of the links in the post vs an about the author box.

    Do you think if you began with an author introduction in the beginning of a post that would be comparatively of higher value than the former? Then of course I begin wondering if that would look “spammy” and if the trouble’s worth it.

    In any note, good food for thought.

  44. Neil, I’ve recently come across your website and used the hellobar on a business that I run. I am inspired by the kind of work you’re doing and the scale you’re doing it at. Do write a post on time management please. I still have to go through your website in detail, but this post did contain some very useful insights. In fact hearing it from the horse’s mouth tells us that these tactics must work if done correctly. The percentages you’ve mentioned are relatively higher compared to the responses I get (more like 0.5% people responding and 0.25% actually linking), but if done intelligently, these tactics do keep bringing perennial traffic and don’t take up much time (if you get an intelligent virtual assistant).

    I have subscribed to you and I look forward to learning much more from you in the coming months. Best regards Arjun

  45. Hey Neil,
    As always you research well, write well and over-deliver on the value front. I know the www is a BIG place, but if everyone actually DID what you recommended you would have to come up with even more ideas! I’m planning to actually implement this stuff… Thanks so much.

  46. Hi Neil,

    Thank you so much for nice writeups. I will definitely work on the all link building strategies

    Also I love the email templates you shared overall a great source of knowledge.

    Awesome, awesome post, A++++

  47. As always, this post is really awesome even though I cannot apply all the things you mentioned. I learnt a lot from your posts (all the posts in all your sites).

  48. balu@ get recharge plans :

    Nice Useful information to build backlinks. Building Backlinks is always an important part of SEO.

  49. Good post neil , it’s a great way to link building……….

  50. Hi Neil, Really i am very big Fan. your maximum article i always read your blogs or article..
    i have my own e-commerce website. apply your techtrick on my website. this article is also good. but i want to read more to copywriting…. SEO content copywriting ….

  51. Catering Melbourne :

    Hi Neil,

    Awesome post as always. Though there may be many debate about backlinks, whether it works or not, but at the end it is the most important thing for your site. Without backlinks your site is nothing and also one important thing is when we create backling then we use high pr and DA sites and change the content frequently.

    Thus all the above mentioned points and sites are useful. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    Thanks for sharing such great information with us.

  52. Neil,

    I have to admit, I was a bit wary when I ran across that first subhead. As a freelance blogger, I see far too many people asking writers to include their links in their content and wanting to pay for it. That’s unethical, so that subhead scared me a bit! But the way you described it is ethical.

    The key is to take your time and really build relationships. I’ve received a lot of emails that go something like, “I loved your article on X blog and was wondering if you would include my product in your next piece.” I throw those emails out right away. But if more people would make a true effort to build a relationship, that’s a bit different. It helps me learn about and recognize their product better without stepping over ethical boundaries.

    • Alicia — it definitely is wise to pick and choose what type of content you are promoting. Once you get into the grove it’s easy to spot spam — as you mentioned.

  53. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for such a nice post on link building, since 2 years i am regular reader of quicksprout. I never got good success in link building, this job is always tough for me. But with you post i got inspired again to do it neatly this time.

    Thanks again for such a Awesome post.

  54. Theodore Nwangene :

    Hello Neil,
    Its obvious that link building is still a very valuable aspect of SEO if you’re doing it the right way. However, most people usually do it following the black heart approach which always ends up in them getting penalized by Google.

    However, i love all the methods you shared here especially the number one method (Getting Freelancers to do it for you), that is really a no brainer and I have no doubt in my mind that it will work amazingly well if done properly following the tips you outlined here.

    Finally, I’m going to try that one tip to see how it will end.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Theodore, glad I could help. Your feedback and insights are always invaluable. Let me know if you need any help along the way!

  55. #2 is the big one for me. All too often, companies try to mature with the mentality that anything of value should be held internally as a confidential asset. However, it’s not really the way the digital world works today. Might as well crank it out as link bait and acquire the natural links your team deserves.

  56. Hey, Thanks for the article, good tips! I know how it is hard to get to the top without penalties..but sometimes is impossible or you dont realize that you did something wrong… well sometimes it happened… thats why we need more articles like that!

  57. The 1st method, Get Freelance Writers to Write for You in my opinion is extremely manipulative.

    I get pitched like this all the time.

    I’m not naive enough that I think when they are giving me compliments, that they don’t want anything in return.

    Of course they do. That’s why they are writing.

    Anybody that is using Step 1 that Neil wrote about in this article, please don’t be fake, and just get to the point, pick up the phone and call somebody and build a relationship and get straight to it. Don’t string me out in a series of retweets, mentions, initial emails, follow up emails, etc. Just get to the point of what you want me to do for you. Your chances are much higher that way.

  58. Great post, Neil!

    Big question about practicality: for an agency, for one client, how many hours can you recommend spending on forming relationships with the aim of earning links?

  59. Hey Neil,

    When building backlinks with Infographics is it ok to offer it up to other sites as well as posting it on your own blog….or is there a wait time as a courtesy to other higher ranking blogs?

  60. Thank you for this nice post. Great one …..

  61. Very effective tips neil, I use guest posting to build links on highly authority sites…

  62. as always great article thank you Neil

  63. Nice Article Neil…. it is really a good post

  64. Neil,

    It is very known fact that you share with us thanks .

    Link building matter till now may be some more years, but content will never loose its image in future as well.

  65. Awesome tips to build links. Great article for many of us.n

    Thanks Neil Patel

  66. Nice Post Neil.All the ways are authentic and will surely help every newbie and professional blogger to increase backlinks easily.

  67. Hey Neil, Thanks for the article. GREAT STUFF! I had never given the scholarship idea a thought. Loved it!

  68. Very useful and helpful article. How I miss the days of easy ranking.

  69. Harshit Bhootra :


    I read your blog after 3 long weeks due to a trip, and all i can say is the evergreen content you always write is just an inspiration to me and many more.
    I will follow these tactics and will let you know the results. Because the upcoming updates of google scare me sometimes and I fear to use any kind of self made link building.

    Thankyou !

    • Harshit Bhootra :

      In addition Neil, i want to add up that we can change the anchor text in embed codes so that it will give out a good variation good for SEO too.
      Suppose i get 70 shares on an info-graphic, then if i’d change the anchor text 4 times within that embed code, i’ll get 4 variations of different but related anchor texts, all from different sources.

    • Harshit, looking forward to seeing how they work for you.

  70. No words to say. Always awesome content.
    ~Tejas gavhane

  71. I didn’t realize how easy it was to get penalized. I’m really glad I came across this article. It is probably the most helpful guide I’ve read about creating good backlinks.

    I haven’t fared successfully with creating backlinks in the past but i do feel inspired by this post.

    Thanks for sharing

  72. Thank you Neil. With your post I have learned what i have to do for increasing my online business.
    I will try your suggestions. 🙂

  73. Jaivinder Singh :

    Hi Neil,

    I generally thinks that link building is the best way to get more traffic on our website or ranking fectors but where we should have build our link it a big challenge for me. I always believe that content is king but never understand “how do i write attractive content for users” I hope one day i will learn more from you.


    • Javinder, if you do things contextually everything will fall into place as it should and you wont have to worry about reaching out as much. Just keep writing and you’ll soon find your rhythm.

      • Jaivinder Singh :

        Thanks for reply me,

        I think it’s first time when you reply me on my comment. I will do the same as you suggest me.

  74. Hi, I was wondering, if I link to my site with ONLY naked URL such as www.example.com, would that be considered as unnatural and will I be penalized for that?


    • As long as it’s in context and provides overall value to the rest of the content you should be good. I tend to focus on more specific URLs though.

  75. . Nice articles. thanks for sharing with us.

  76. Thanks, Neil,

    Great article. I have learnt a lot. Please guide me in these matters also;

    How much ratio of exact anchor text should be?
    Does Web 2.0 work today? Thanks.

    • Out of 10 links, I would suggest 1 to a couple be rich in anchor text. Web 2.0 is how things work to a degree, you just want to vary everything up.

  77. Hi Neil,

    Good resourceful article.

    Just wanted to check if the content submissions are working or not? I’d like to exclude article directories & guest post. Just talking about the general blogs wherein we can register and submit content and it gets published right away.

  78. George Cernega :

    Hey Neil,

    I was looking for bloggers around the world (especially from EU) and I was kinda finding nothing. So I thought that finding in blog comments on quicksprout or neilpatel for bloggers was a good way to contact them for write about one of my clients… anyway, the point is that I see a lot of people that are trying to “build” links through blog comment which I don’t see as a natural way of building links.

    If I was you (god I wish I can be you one day lol) I’ll reply as “That’s not such a good way of blog commenting” or “Do you think that posting a short with thanks for the article comment here will help you/your business?”.

    Have a great day!

    • Comments are a great way to connect with the blogger, or even a way for the other blog visitors to click through to your website, but most people screw up thinking it’s going to be good for SEO.

      Do you see what I’m saying?

      • George Cernega :

        Yes, indeed. And I suppose that if you really want to find out something, in this case ‘blog commenting’ if you read at least two articles about if it’s bad or not for SEO you can figure it out.

        Cherrs, you are awesome!

  79. You are fabulous Neil. Your posts are amazing and I have great interest in reading them. Very Informative.Do you write only regarding SEO or any other topics?

    • Thanks! I’m so glad that you enjoy my work. I write about digital marketing in general as well as specifics, such as SEO 🙂

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