Grey Hat Link Building Guide

No guide to link building would be complete without at least touching on a few grey hat strategies. And while some these stretch the limits of Google’s TOS (or outright violate them) you may have the risk tolerance for this kind of approach. In fact, some of the techniques I’m going to show you in this chapter — like paid directory link building — are Google approved. But that’s not to say they won’t incur the search engine’s wrath in the near future. Like any grey or black hat link building strategy, use at your own risk.

Build a Blog Network

Your ideal link comes from a site closely related to yours with a ton of authority. And while guest posting and other white hat strategies can land you these killer backlinks, it’s sometimes easier to simply make them by building a blog network.

  1. Find Old Link and Resource Pages

    Buying aged, expired domains with hundreds of links pointing at them is the fastest way to build an authoritative blog network.

    While you can compete with everyone and their mom for expired domains at GoDaddy Auctions, there’s a little-known technique for finding powerful expired domains that you can grab for the price of domain registration.

    First, download and install the Xenu Link Sleuth broken link checker program at:

    Then, use Google to find pages with long lists of links. The more links a page has the more likely it will have a broken link that points to an expired domain.

    There are hundreds of search strings that you can use. Here are some examples to get your creative juices flowing:

    • “keyword” + “links”
    • “my favorite sites”
    • “our corporate partners”
    • “best jazz websites 2003”
    • “helpful sites”

    After you get your search results, hit “Search Tools.”

    Limit your results to old pages that haven’t been updated in a while.

    Now your results will be limited to pages updated between those dates:

    Go to one of the sites in the results.

    Check out the page’s PR.

    Looks good!

    And check to see if it has a lot of OBLs (in this case you actually want a lot of OBLs).

  2. Find Broken Links

    Now head back to Xenu. Choose “Options” ? “Preferences.”

    Set the maximum depth to 1 (this makes sure you’re only checking links on that page).

    Click “File” and “Check URL”.

    Enter the URL of the page you found.

    And hit “OK.”

    Xenu will bring up a list of the broken links. You’re looking for a particular type of error: “No Such Host.” This means that the site isn’t even pointing to a working host, meaning it’s possible that the domain isn’t registered by anyone.

    Click “Status” to sort by errors.

    And export the results to Excel.

  3. Register Available Domains

    Open the file in Excel and find all of the pages with the “No Such Host” error. Take domains and head to

    Enter the domains that you found.

    Rats! These were all taken. You may have to try 25 or so pages to find 1 solid broken link. But with a day’s work you can usually scoop up 5-10 expired domains with a solid link profile.

  4. Set Up Your Blog Network

    The key to creating an under-the-radar blog network is to minimize any footprint. This means hosting each site on a separate IP address, using private whois information and using a different theme on each site.

    You can easily keep track of your network using Excel. Just set up a spreadsheet that includes fields for the domain name, the host, IP address and theme:

    Now it’s just a matter of filling in the site up with unique content (and linking to your site of course!).

Tiered Link Building

One of the best ways to increase the power of your existing links is through tiered link building. While link pyramids, link wheels and other convoluted approaches are popular, they’re usually more trouble than they’re worth. Even worse, they tend to simply point junk links to links that are essentially worthless to begin with (like forum profile links or blog comments). A much more effective approach is to juice up your submission links, guest posts, and other high-quality tier-1 links with a single extra tier.

  1. Create and Spin a Seed Article

    To make sure our second tier gets indexed, we’re going to focus on contextual second tier links. And the easiest way to do that is to spin an original seed article using The Best Spinner. This program has the largest database of synonyms of any spinner software.

    First, copy and paste your original article into the software.

    You can click “Auto-Select Synonyms” and trust the software to spin the article for you. However, I prefer to hand spin the article so each version is actually readable. To do that, right click any word or phrase in the article.

    And you’ll see a list of synonyms. Add as many as you can (as long as they make sense). Everything in the blue brackets are synonyms that will be used for your spun content.

    Repeat until you find logical synonyms for the entire article.

    When you’re done, click “Publish.”

    And “Generate Articles.”

    Export about 20-40 spun versions of your article.

  2. Create Legit Web 2.0 Properties

    Web 2.0’s may not be the backlinking panacea they used to be, but they can still send some serious juice to your links. Google still values web 2.0 properties that are full, active and legit looking. And you can quickly build dozens of web 2.0 properties using your readable spun articles.

    First, create a blog at one of these authoritative web 2.0 sites:

    The set-up process at most web 2.0 sites is pretty straightforward, but I’ll walk you through it to make sure your blog gets indexed by Google and that the link back to your site has value. Let’s use Tumblr as an example.

    First, head to, sign up and confirm your email.

    Set your username as your site’s name or your target keyword (if available):

    The first thing you want to do with any web 2.0 property is fill in as many details as you can, including an avatar and bio.

    Now it’s time to add your first post. Click the Text button.

    Add a keyword-rich title (you can spin your article titles in The Best Spinner). Paste one of your spun articles.

    To bulk up the property add an image and embed a YouTube video:

    Enter a link back to your site, hit publish and you’re good to go!

  3. Social Bookmarks to Tier 1

    You can also send some social bookmarks to your tier 1 links. And while it doesn’t make sense to spam with thousands of social bookmarks, a handful can help add some juice to the pages that host your links.

    A service that actually builds free social bookmarks for you is

    Head to and make a free account. When you login to your dashboard click “Social Accounts” and “Setup Wizard.”


    This will let you create accounts at social bookmarking sites quickly. When you bookmark other people’s content, you earn credit. That credit can be cashed in for social bookmarks to your page. Or you can just buy credits.

    The wizard will walk you through the steps you need to set up each account:

    When you’re ready to get some bookmarks, click “Bookmarks” and “Add Bookmark.”

    Add the bookmark title and description in spintax.

    Enter a few relevant tags.

    And a category.

    Scroll to the bottom, hit “Save” and your bookmark will queue.

    And they’ll drip over the course of the next day or so.

Web Directories

Let’s face it: most web directories are completely worthless. However, there are still a few that pass trust and authority onto your site. Because there are so few that actually make a difference, it’s much better to submit to a handful of authoritative directories than to buy one of those services that promise to “Submit to 40,000 Directories!”

Here are a few of the directories worth submitting to:

Get More Juice From Your Submissions

Most people submit their site to the first relevant category that they set their eyes on, which is a huge mistake. You can double the value of your directory link by choosing a category with the most PR.

For example, let’s say you were going to submit a business website to the Canny Link Directory.

At first blush, the category Business Software may make sense.

But if you look at that page’s PR, it’s PR n/a.

To get more juice from your submission, find a page that makes sense for your site and has PR.

At Canny, the Business Opportunities category is rocking a PR4.

As long as your site makes sense for the category (even if it’s a bit of a stretch), you should always try to submit it to the category with the most authority.

Donation and Sponsorship Backlinks

Getting a dofollow link in exchange for a donation is a no-no from Google’s perspective. However, it’s something you may want to sprinkle into your white hat campaigns as it’s one of the most cost effective ways to get powerful, aged backlinks.

Here are some search strings to help you find these link building golden nuggets:

  • “donate” + “add your link”
  • “keyword” + “sponsors”
  • “donate” + “links below”
  • “corporate sponsors”
  • “sponsors” + “link to your”
  • “contributors list”

Look for a page that lists followed links to their sponsors.

Then donate (usually via PayPal) and get your link!