The Netsetter: Legitimate Ways to Get Backlinks

SEO can be made as complicated as quantum physics, but the reality is much simpler. While there may indeed be the oft-cited “200 ranking factors,” anyone with experience knows deep down that backlinks are the lynchpin to scaling the heights of Google. However clever your keyword selection and copywriting are, there’s no getting around the fact that you need more links, stronger links, or more relevant links pointed back at your content than the next guy’s.

Like everything else in SEO, the best way to get backlinks is to write outstanding content that compels other bloggers to refer readers to your site. But, let’s face it, that’s a little pollyanish. Even if you think your own content is outstanding, there’s no guarantee that the rest of the world will. If you don’t want to leave anything to chance, you need to take a more deterministic approach to getting your content recognized by Google.

Simply put, this means that instead of writing stuff that you hope will attract backlinks, you write content to create the backlinks yourself. You write posts on other sites that contain links back to the on-site post you want to promote, and repeat the process until you push your main post to the first page of Google. In other words, you’re essentially writing guest posts in exchange for links whose anchor text contains the keywords your want your main “money” article to rank for.

If you intend your money article to rank for “compact treadmills”, your backlink article would include a sentence like, “Compact treadmills are suitable for use in apartments,” where “Compact treadmills” is hyperlinked with the URL to your money article using the HTML: <a href=””>Compact treadmills</a>. Most off-site posting systems allow one to two links.

There are three main off-site places to post your link building content: on the top blogs in your niche, in article directories, and in guest posting systems. This article will focus primarly on the latter two, since there’s not much detail I can offer on the first method.

Guest Posting on Mainstream Blogs

Submitting guest posts to A-list blogs is simple, but not necessarily easy if you’re shy about contacting them. You email bloggers or webmasters an offer to write a post for their site, making sure that it’s tailored to their specific audience. They might turn you down, or they might not even reply, but you’ll probably get more bloggers taking you up on the guest post than you would if you were just asking for a link without offering anything of substantive value in exchange. Most bloggers are either jaded or skeptical about two-way link exchanges, but a guest post saves them the work of writing a post, while you get a one-way link back to your site, which carries more weight with Google than a reciprocal (two-way) link.

Submitting to Article Directories

Article directories work by syndicating your content across multiple sites. Directories like Ezine Articles, GoArticles, Buzzle, ArticlesBase and Article Alley typically allow you to submit articles with a minimum of 250-350 words and one to two links—usually one in the body of the article, and one in a “resource box,” which is an author bio or note at the end of the article (find the terms for each directories submission policy and follow them to the letter). Most people use the link in the resource box to provide their home page URL, but if you’re a clever wordsmith, you can usually figure out a way to work in a second keyword without looking spammy.

These directories allow other sites to download your articles and post them on their own sites, turning your initial one or two backlinks into dozens or hundreds of backlinks. The quality of the links tend to be poor, since the articles are duplicate content, but the quantity of links makes the process a net positive. Some bloggers have questioned the value of article directories, claiming that they’re not as powerful for SEO purposes as they used to be. While this is somewhat true in terms of delivering link juice, the links are still good for sending traffic. If you write a good post on a high traffic directory like Ezine Articles (the ones listed above are the top ones), you can sometimes get hundreds of visitors.

Submitting to Guest Posting Systems

A guest posting system is a network of individually hosted blogs connected by a single admin panel. When you submit a post to a guest posting system link PostRunner or Build My Rank, it’s technically the same as submitting a guest post to an A-list blog—or your own blog, for that matter. The main difference is that once you’re finished editing your post in the admin panel, you select where it gets posted from a menu of participating sites.

Instead of having to email a blogger and ask permission to submit a post, you simply pick from hundreds of blogs that have already consented to publish user submissions. They still have the discretion to reject posts on the grounds of inaccuracy, poor English, or other criteria, but the bar for most of these sites is fairly low, on par with article directories. Unlike article directories, guest posting systems cost money—current $33 a month for PostRunner and $59 a month for Build My Rank. BMR is all the rage right now, but I’ve been quite satisfied with PostRunner, so I’ll use the latter for describing the details.

PostRunner allows you to submit a post with a minimum of 300 words and up to two links, though some of the pickier blogs in the network have a higher word minimum (usually 400) or only allow one link. You have over 1200 sites to choose from, most of which accept posts on all topics, while some are niche sites that only accept certain types of content.

While many article directories accept duplicate content, guest posting systems do not; so a duplicate content checker is run prior to any post submission. The lack of syndication and duplicate content gives each PostRunner link more valence than a link from an article copy-pasted from a directory. It’s possible to do all of your link building exclusively through a guest posting system. Unlike a typical link farm, each blog has a different owner, theme, IP address, index count (i.e. the number of pages indexed by search engines), and PageRank, so you’re not in danger of creating a suspicious link profile unless you link too aggressively. 20 links a day will look suspicious under any circumstances.

The drawback of many of these networks is that they can be labor intensive, since they don’t accept “spun” content. Article spinning uses automated tools that “rewrite” a post to qualify as “unique” content by substituting synonyms and rearranging phrases, sentences or paragraphs. The vast majority of spun articles read poorly—worse than articles written by writers with poor English skills. Networks like Article Marketing Automation and Unique Article Wizard specialize in spinning and posting submitted articles to low-quality blogs. The effectiveness of article spinning is questionable, so sites like PostRunner will ban users who submit anything judged to be spun.

This means that you have to write each post individually. With practice, and depending on your subject matter, you can train yourself to write a 300-word article in under 15 minutes as you become more familiar with the topic. The standard practice is to take some aspect of your money article, write a 300-word version of it, and repeat the process for each pair of backlinks you need to create.


If you’re not inclined to write the articles yourself, you can outsource the process to writers (usually in developing countries like India or the Philippines) for $3 to $10 per article. Some Internet marketers find individual writers on Elance, vWorker or Craigslist Manilla, while others use firms that use a team of writers. Companies like The Content Authority, TextBroker and Need-An-Article typically charge $0.01 to $0.02 per word, depending on the quality level. Build My Rank actually offers in-house article outsourcing. BMR article submissions are 125 words and one link, and the company charges $2 to have each article written for you.

Good Enough Article Writing

Whether you write backlink articles yourself or outsource them, it’s important to understand that the main purpose of these articles is to have their links followed by search engines back to your money site. They’re primarily written for search engines, not readers. They do need to be readable, and they do need to answer the search query adequately, but you don’t need to be high quality like your money post.

This is a controversial point for some people, who insist that these kinds of link building posts are “littering” the Internet. For better or worse, Google’s algorithm works by following backlinks with the appropriate anchor text, so even if you decide to avoid link building and rely on high-quality posts, you still have no control over the keywords used for the anchor text chosen by other sites. Systematic link building requires a mindset that accounts for the logic of search engines. Writing good content for your main site is necessary, but not sufficient.

Popular search terms for this article:

Ways to get backlinks, best way to get backlinks, new ways to get backlinks

Andre Kibbe currently works as a content analyst for Internet Brands. He can be found on Twitter: @andrekibbe


  1. Radu Tyrsina on the 21st January

    wow, this is indeed a really good researched article!

    🙂 Thank you for the article directories idea. I always thought that I should submit my entire article, but now I realize where my big fault was 😀

  2. corey on the 21st January

    I’ve been thinking of outsourcing some of my article writing. Has anyone had success with outsourcing article writing through elance or other services. If so, how was the quality of the article writing, and cost per article. Thanks.

  3. Bryce Christiansen on the 21st January

    Great research and work. I think it’s great to emphasize guest blogging by searching for blogs with high page ranks that relate to your keyword topic. I usually start commenting on the blogs and then work on writing articles that fit their readers.

  4. Timo on the 22nd January

    Nice article! thanks!

    inspired me of some new ideas!

  5. Leonidych on the 23rd January

    Outsourcing the articles to freelancers in developing countries is a way to save money. From other side this is also a way to get lower quality articles and delayed services.

  6. Elliot Ross on the 24th January

    would be interested in hearing people’s experiences of outsourcing content generation to developing countries – I’ve heard mixed reviews from colleagues. One mentioned that they’re useful for generating SEO attention, but if the result is real people reading articles and thinking they’re junk, isn’t it counter productive?

  7. Tri Nguyen on the 25th January

    This is a well written article about backlinks. I knew about article submission and guess posting, but guess posting systems and outsourcing writers is brand new to me. How do you verify that the outsourced writer did not write duplicate content? It seems like Seo and backlinks is just plain hardwork.

  8. Peter Rastello on the 27th January

    Andre, thanks for providing such a well thought out and detailed guide for generating inbound links. It’s important to really offer substantive content to your readership and you certainly have gone above and beyond that which is typical in many blogs. We strive for a similar level of quality on our industry blog as well, I hope we are doing as good a job as you are.

    Cheers, Peter.

  9. Lifespan Fitness on the 27th January

    Great article, doing SEO could be boring and tedious job ever, but brilliant new ideas always inspire me to go further. Thanks for sharing.

  10. ScribeStream on the 29th January

    Thanks, some good ideas here. I’ve been thinking about using has anyone had any experience with it?

  11. Will Quick on the 9th February

    Hi Andre,

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while, but this is my first comment… I just want to say it’s great, you’re really helpful!

    I’ve got a bit of a question for you, if that’s ok?

    Have you got any tips for getting backlinks for a big brand, with anchor text?

    Usually I’d say article marketing, blog comments, press releases etc. but if a company’s large then they’ll have leverage to get links from better sites (higher trustrank, pagerank etc.), surely? Plus a big company isn’t going to want article’s submitted are they?

    Basically I’m wondering on the differences between link building for small websites / blogs and larger, corporate companies because the two backlink strategies don’t seem to overlap!

    Any advice would be gratefully received. I’m trying to make the leap from smallsite SEO to bigger things, but this is a roadblock I’ve hit 🙁

    I’ve subscribed to this thread and to your RSS… great blog!

    – Will

  12. Natalie on the 10th March

    I agree with Will’s comment. I am working for a very established brand but am trying to take the next step in identifying backlink opportunities. We already do article syndication and are starting to get into social bookmarking, but surely there has to be a service or software that identifies backlink opportunities without a link exchange?

  13. MJDSGN on the 3rd June

    I have outsourced writers from craiglist and elance…. my experience is bad with both… they tend to do a quick research about the topic and send you and article with tons of words but the content itself is horrible, most of the time it makes no sense and their grammar is bad as well… which it will make you look bad and unprofessional…

    I recently hired a freelancer writer from the UK and its a little more expensive but the articles are top notch.

  14. articlesub on the 29th June

    i agree with this idea…..

    i try submit my article to many article directory to increase backlink….

  15. Emeka on the 5th September

    Really Helpful…..thanks!

  16. Tabby on the 8th October

    Wow, sweet article. How I get free backlinks for PennySeeds? I’m using a blog exchange plugin. Totally free and shares my content across other blogs getting me backlinks. Pretty nice plugin!

  17. Dentistry's Business Secrets on the 13th October

    Thanks for all of the great information. I have done a few press releases and article directory submissions, but this will guide me in doing more. Thanks for the list of sites to use.

  18. colourcandles on the 7th November

    Great article. I’ve fallen into some free back link scams and it’s caused more harm than good, I’ll try your advice.

  19. Penny on the 27th November

    My experience with outsourcing articles has been mixed. They were cheap and fairly good, but a little bland and boring. I guess it gets the job done. Especially if you’re posting them on other people’s sites and not your own.

    I have turned down free guest posts on my blog for being terribly short and junk looking though. Three sentences with five of your links plastered in it is not getting posted on my site. Before submitting a post to a webmaster think to yourself “Would *I* want this post on my site?” If not.. try again.

  20. Ryan H. on the 4th January

    Good ideas. I know for me, I just don’t have time to do it all by myself. I have to outsource.

  21. Rebekah Michel on the 16th July

    Very informative article. I’m working on promoting my memoir that has been published online in blog form. I would just like to make one comment, people should be very careful about hiring other people to do the work for them for SEO on places like elance. I read through google’s instructions on basic SEO and it said if someone doesn’t know what they are doing they could easily get your site flagged as spam! Personally I would rather do the work myself because then I know the websites I’m submitting my links to are high ranking and relevant to my site.

  22. Middy on the 7th August

    There are a LOT of web directories you can submit your sites to… and more popping up every day. Try something like and submit for free.

  23. ofs on the 27th August

    I agree with your given idea for getting back-links..
    But i am looking some more greater idea.Anyway its helpful

  24. Kelsey Jenney on the 30th September

    Thanks for your useful information. I hope, I can improve my website ranks significantly.

  25. David on the 25th November

    I’ve had a great deal of success with writing articles for article directories but it is very labor intensive to write good original material. That translates to time and/or money.

  26. on the 6th December

    My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .

    net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites
    for about a year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
    I have heard good things about Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

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