I want to talk about the time I accidentally acquired a lot of great backlinks for one of my websites and how it happened. It’s actually quite sneaky and completely not on purpose, but anyone reading this could theoretically do it themselves.
One of the websites I own is content-based which means that it makes the majority of its revenue through in-content ads and affiliate links. I get plenty of offers for guest posts on this website for which I charge a standard fee, slightly high to discourage non-serious posters.
And then one day a ‘link-building’ company got in touch with me…
You might be familiar with these types of companies. They acquire clients by offering them links on a variety of websites, and for the websites they provide a piece of content with the agreement that it will contain an external link.
Typically these companies don’t pay websites very much and so I usually avoid them. In this case they offered some regular income when the site was still in its infancy, and so I accepted the offer.
And also, I’ll be honest, I initially built this website for an SEO experiment so I wasn’t particularly bothered about quality or the potential for a Google penalty. There are of course risks with selling links on your website so be careful.
I began accepting a lot of content from the company and they would send through the payments promptly. The writing wasn’t bad but the content usually wasn’t exactly the type of article that would rank well, so I tried as best I could to hide them from prominent locations on the site. However, they would often include internal links to other pages on the site.
And that’s the key to how I accidentally unlocked an a backlinking machine…
You see, with every post they send you, you can either publish it or let them know that you are not interested. If you tell them you’re not interested then they will typically recycle the post by sending it to another publisher.
Long story short, the site started doing well by achieving strong rankings for competitive keywords. It also started making good money outside of guest posts so I decided it was time to unpublish the poor quality posts and turn down any new requests. The next post I received, I declined but didn’t unsubscribe. They sent that same post to another publisher and guess what?…
They forgot to remove the internal links from the post!
Of course, when they’re on my site they’re internal links but on another blog they are external links. Backlinks… to my site!
Now it’s worth mentioning that publishers aren’t told which links in the article are the ones that are being paid for. So there is no way that the site could have known. And so I decided I would hold of unsubscribing and try turning down more posts to see what would happen.
And guess what?
It happened again, and again, and again. I was receiving a daily range of brand new backlinks from highly relevant sites in the same niche, all with quite decent authority. I continued this process, occasionally accepting a post to not raise suspicions, until I thought enough was enough and I stopped taking them for a ride.
By the time I put an end to it I had received a whopping 38 new backlinks without putting in any effort or spending any money. All by accident.
Now, I can’t exactly recommend this method to publishers, it’s a bit shady. And it’s not something I’m particularly proud of but it made for an interesting case study and it’s undoubtedly helped to boost the site to where it’s at today.