What’s the first thing you do when you’re browsing online? We’re willing to bet that you use a search engine like Google to find what you’re looking for.
It’s a safe assumption, considering that 68% of all Internet experiences start with a search. So if you want to have any chance of driving traffic to your website, you need to prioritize SEO.
But in order to outrank other websites, you need to build domain authority.
One of the best ways to establish authority is by earning links from other websites. The more links you have coming to your website from other sites, the greater chance you have of increasing your domain authority.
We’ve covered lots of different ways to consistently build backlinks. However, donation link building is arguably the simplest approach.
The best part about donation links is that they are so straightforward. All you need to do is find websites that actively accept donations for links, donate, and then wait for your link to be shared.
Sometimes your link will be up within just a few hours, while other times you might have to wait for a day or two before it’s live. That’s all; it’s really that simple.
The only hard part about donation link building is finding the right websites to donate to. So we’ll spend the bulk of this guide giving you tips, tricks, and advice for finding those donation sites that will help you build domain authority. Here’s what you need to know.
How to evaluate a donation site
Once you find a website that accepts donations in exchange for links, you shouldn’t automatically donate without doing some additional research.
Let’s look at a donation site that we found online (DragonFly BSD), and we’ll it as an example for our evaluation process.
There are six main factors that need to be taken into consideration:
- Page authority
- Domain authority
- Outbound links
We’ll go through each one of these in greater detail so you’ll know exactly how to evaluate any donation site you come across.
Page authority and domain authority
You should review the page authority and domain authority.
We grouped these together because they’re both ranked on a 0-100 scale, and can usually be found simultaneously from the same resource.
Here are the results for the donation page in question.
Honestly, the scores aren’t ideal.
This page has a page authority of 44 and a domain authority of 51. The tool we used also includes the Moz rank, which is scored on a 0-10 point scale. DragonFly BSD only ranked 4.4.
Again, for comparison purposes, Apple has a page authority of 89, domain authority of 99, and Moz rank of 8.9. Obviously, we wouldn’t expect a site like this donation page to rival a giant like Apple, but it would be nice if the page authority would at least crack 50.
Next, you’ll want to review all of the outbound links that are currently listed on the donation page. You don’t necessarily need to sit there and count them, but an eyeball test should be sufficient.
Donation pages that give out too many outbound links on one page run the risk of the page authority getting diluted.
If you look at the list of donors over the last two years, you’ll see that there are actually no links given out at all. It seems like the vast majority of these donors are just people who enjoy the website, as opposed to brands using this as an opportunity to build backlinks.
In this case, you need to make sure that the site will even accept a donation from your brand’s name, or if you need to use your own name. If they won’t let your company donate and get the credit, then it’s obviously not worth it.
But if you look back further on the list, you can see that DragonFly BSD actually did give out a couple of links.
So if they agree to link to your website for a donation, then this is probably suitable.
It all depends on the page authority. If you’re looking at a website with low authority and they give out hundreds of outbound links, we’d probably steer clear and try to find another option. But if a page with hundreds of outbound links has very high authority, then there should be plenty of link juice for everyone to share.
You’ll also have to consider the price of the donation. This all depends on your marketing budget and how much you’re willing to spend.
But just because you have some spare funds, it doesn’t mean you should donate without thinking twice about it. You need to make sure that you’re getting the best value for your dollar.
Sometimes sites will have a minimum donation amount, such as $50. Keep in mind that the price could change if you’re a business that wants a link to your website, as opposed to just a website visitor that wants to contribute.
In this case for DragonFly BSD, it doesn’t appear that there is a minimum amount required. You can refer to the other listed donations as a reference for an appropriate amount.
$50 or $75 seems reasonable for this site considering its page authority, domain authority, and the number of outbound links.
Now, if the minimum was $500, we’d advise you to look elsewhere.
There is no general rule of thumb or guide to follow, but you can get an idea of the donation value based on the evaluation factors that we’ve covered.
Ideally, you’ll want to find a donation page that’s somewhat related to your niche, although that’s not always guaranteed.
If you can find a donation page that’s in your industry, we’d recommend using it, even if some of the evaluation factors aren’t as strong. They may even be worth paying a little extra for.
But since donation pages that link out to other websites are often hard to come by, it’s OK if you don’t find one that’s related to your brand or website.
Finding the best donation pages
Now that you know what to look for in a donation site, it’s time to get out there and start your search.
There’s not a ton of broad search strings that you can use for finding websites that link out to sites that have donated. That’s because the websites that tend to do this all seem to word their pages differently.
But we’ll show you a couple of search strings that we’ve used, as well as some other tips for finding the best donation pages.
The first one we’ve had success with gets straight to the point.
“Donation list” + “contributors”
We like this search string because it’s very specific.
By putting those search terms in quotes, it tells Google that you’re looking for exact match keywords. So it will only display the results that contain a donation list, plus the word “contributors.” This means that there is a good chance that you’ll find a list of contributors.
Then it’s just a matter of going through each search result one at a time while applying the evaluation factors that we covered before.
“Contributors page” + “donate”
This search string is similar to the last one, but with different wording.
As we said earlier, lots of these pages tend to word things differently. That’s why it’s important to mix up your search strings.
This new search yielded new results.
Once you can find one good donation page, you can use that to find other ones with reverse engineering.
The easiest way to do this is by looking for other websites on the list of contributors who are definitely using the donation links as an SEO strategy to build backlinks. Then take that website and put it into a tool like the backlink checker from Monitor Backlinks.
There are other tools and software available online, but Monitor Backlinks has a basic free version. If you want a more advanced report, you’ll need to create an account.
After you enter a site into one of these options, then you’ll just have to go through the backlinks of that website. If they’re using donation links as a link building strategy, chances are you’ll be able to find other donation sites here as well.
Just look for keywords in the URL like:
This is easier than manually clicking on each backlink listed in the report. Once you find another donation page, you’ll have to navigate to the website to see if it fits the criteria you’re looking for before making a donation.
Since you found them through reverse engineering, at the very least, you already know that the site gives out outbound links. So that box can be checked off.
Brands use these platforms to fund their products or projects. You just need to find ones that link to websites for contributions.
Rather than searching through the sites blindly and manually, you can use Google.
With crowdfunding sites, deadlines are usually set for the funding period. So it’s not helpful if you find an old Kickstarter page that is no longer accepting contributions.
Click on the “tools” button in Google, and change the filter to “past month” to narrow your results.
Make sure you include “link to your website” or some variation of those words in your search to find the crowdfunding campaigns that can help you out.
Here’s an example of what we found as a result of that search string. For an $80 donation, this brand will share a link to your website.
This may or may not be relevant to your niche. You’ll still want to check out their site and go through the full evaluation process.
We’d recommend spending time conducting these searches for both Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Narrow down your options and only donate to the ones that will be an asset for your link building strategy.
In order to establish domain authority, you need to build quality backlinks. Donation pages are a great resource for this.
While the concept behind donation link building is easy, it’s important to follow the process that we’ve outlined above for evaluating donation sites. Otherwise, you could be wasting your money on sites that aren’t helping you build authority.
Once you go through the process and find authority pages, it’s just a matter of donating. This is the best and fastest way to build authority with donation links.