Backlinking Strategies in 2012 – Niche Site Challenge

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Let's talk about creating backlinks for our niche websites. The Niche Site Challenge is going strong and most of those involved have moved on to creating content and are ready to look at taking the next step. So am I.

Here is where the real work begins. Building links in an ethical manner is the subject of much debate these days. It's even being said that too many low relevance links can hurt you! 

We want to stay away from things that will cause problems. I've been digging in to how to build backlinks in an ethical and Google-positive way for a couple weeks now and I think there are some good ways to create solid backlinks that are ethical and deliver value to the reader. And quality is very thing the recent Google updates have been focusing on.

The objective we want to accomplish with our Niche Site Challenge is to build niche websites that are resources full of valuable content. That's really what is going to attract visitors to your site. All the link strategy in the world won't make a difference if you're not creating a valuable resource to provide for your visitors once they get to the site.

Some of the things here may be slightly different than what Pat Flynn talks about in his niche site duel. A lot of what he did was done prior to some significant changes were made by Google algorithm updates, but thankfully, he has also updated that post with relevant advice on how to do these things in 2012.

So how do you create a good backlink strategy? Great question. It's a bit tricky, and it's a lot of work but can be done, and done effectively.

From my research here is what we need to be working on.

Tier 1 – Closest to Your Site – Direct Backlinks – Web 2.0 Properties and Blogs

Creating original content is always going to be the focus of our efforts. However, I think now, instead of just putting everything that you create on your site, you need to build content for "web 2.0" sites as well as other blog sites.

Here is how it works.

Build an original lens on Squidoo or another Web 2.0 site with unique content with links that point back to your main niche site. The point is to build a quality content separate from your site. It doesn't necessarily have to be super-long or in-depth, but it needs to be good and original. You want users who find this content to find it valuable so make it good. 

Do the same thing on external blogs, like TypePad, Blogger, Drupal Gardens,, and LiveJournal. I've seen from doing research in to my niche that one main competitor has a TypePad site that has tons of links pointing back to his main website. No doubt that this is giving him a lot of strength on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

The same thing that goes for the web 2.0 pages, also goes for these other blogs. You will want to create unique content that points back via link to your main niche site. Again, it doesn't have to be too in-depth or too long, but it needs to be quality material. A good idea here may be to use an abbreviated version of a longer more in-depth post on your niche site – a "Cliff's Notes" version, if you will.

I have found a solid resource that lists a ton of web 2.0 properties and blog sites that you can use for this step. If you would like me to send you a copy, you can sign up here and I'll send it right out to you.

Guest posting for high PR backlinks

Write a tight, succinct, unique, and quality article that can be used as a guest post on someone else's blog. There are a couple things to keep in mind here and following Derek Halpern's advice is the way to go.

You want to be strategic and intentional in how you do this and the best advice I've seen to date is something that Derek shares on his site at Find complementary bloggers to whom you can reach out – blogs where you will be able to deliver valuable insight.

Find a market where you can deliver value to their audience and your chances of being able to get your article posted increase dramatically. Watch Derek's interview with Marie Forleo and pay special attention to where he talks about massage therapists for a fantastic explanation on how to make this happen.

How can you apply Derek's massage therapist example to your own website project?

And yes – this applies very much to your niche site.

Tier 2 – spun content submitted to article directories

Submitting articles to article directories

The goal of this tier is to build backlinks to your web 2.0 properties and blog sites from the previous tier. At this level, you want to once again use original content, but this time, you spin it so that you have a few different versions of the original post, and then submit it to article directories with your varied anchor text in each post.

This will add a layer of insulation to your main site, but will also help increase the authority of your web 2.0 properties and blog sites that are pointing directly to your main niche site thereby increasing your overall authority quicker due to the value of their primary domain pageranks.

Because of the nature of the Google algorithm updates you want to use high-quality, original content that you don't have posted to your web 2.0 sites or to your niche website.

There are a couple tools that can be used to speed this process up. I personally have used Article Samurai to do this part as it really covers all the bases in one application. Pat also mentions a couple different ones too in his post. 

If you're interested in Article Samurai let me know. I've been working on a service that incorporates this tool and if enough people are interested I can roll it out sooner rather than later.

Quality always

Quality is key, here but you don't want to be building your flagship content in this second tier. Yes – quality always. But keep these posts succinct, unique, and relevant to your overall topic.

This means that you're going to spend more time creating content, no doubt. It's the most labor-intensive part of this process, but you're building a resource for a valuable topic that, if you did your keyword research right, is in demand, so you need to deliver quality content, always, even when it's short and sweet.


Make sure to vary your anchor text in this tier as well as in the first tier. It should read naturally, and look natural on the page. Avoid keyword stuffing and over-optimization. According to my research you want your main keyword in about 20-25% of your anchor text links. The best idea here is to use variants of your primary topic keyword and other longtail keywords in your other links.

Keep an eye out for an upcoming post I'm working on for on page optimization.

Tier 3 – Social Bookmarking, Relevant Blog Commenting, and Forum Profiles

Social bookmarking is another important piece of the backlinking puzzle. There are a lot of great sites like Digg, StumbleUpon,, that can be used to build backlinks to your website. You will need to register and set up your profiles on these different social media properties, but once you do, you can start sharing your links.

There are a couple tools that you can use here to help you in the process. Pat Flynn mentions two:

Again, the key is not to be spammy, but to build naturally. Make sure that you use your keywords in your description of the link you're sharing, and approach it from the point of view that you're sharing content that you believe others will find valuable.

Blog commenting and forum posting isn't something that really feels right to me, but I want to include it here to make sure all the bases are getting covered. In my opinion, it can come off as very spammy and, in my experience, it doesn't contribute to the community or conversation very much. And bloggers will delete spammy comments in hurry.

That being said, one of the features of Market Samurai (my affiliate link) that Tony Elam pointed out is that it will find relevant places where you can comment and post. Under the "promotion" tab in Market Samurai you have the ability to find relevant sites that will find places for you to post and tells you whether or not it allows "follow" links, the site's pagerank, and a couple other variables. If you already have Market Samurai, you will want to check that out.

Tier 4 – Internal Reciprocal Linking Between Posts, Within Categories

The last place I'm going to cover on creating backlinks for your website is on your own site. On page SEO is important too, and you can't neglect it.

Think of your content in terms of silos that you would see on a farm – vertical containers. These would be your blog categories that cover the various aspects of your topic.

Make sure that as you are creating content that you are linking up other content that's relevant within that particular category so that there are reciprocal links to the rest of your content throughout your category. This demonstrates nice, clean, organized content silos that are easy for users to navigate, and it groups similar content together to help the search engines understand the depth and quality of your content.

Your internal anchor text within the silo should be related to the other pieces of content in the silo with deepening degrees of detail. So if you're writing about "tea" then your top level "silo" would be "tea", then maybe, "Green tea", and "Black tea" could be the next level in your silo, then additional levels of content could be "health benefits of black tea" and "5 unique ways to prepare green tea" and so on.

You get the idea. Higher levels are broad and lower levels are much more detailed, but all within the same category, and you do that for each category on your website.

In terms of how you build your navigation on your site the same concept applies. You want to have the most important, broad level stuff at the top level of your navigation and then going down in to greater detail under the secondary menu links.

So that should be enough to get started on link building. There are a lot of pieces here, but after doing a lot of research in to this, these practices seem to be pretty solid in the post-Panda/Penguin world.

Have questions? What are you working on for your backlinking strategy? What are you struggling with? Let me know in the comments below.

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