5 Ways to Build Links to Your Site

Another question I saw recently: how do I build incoming links to my site?

So why are incoming links important?

Because they are the search engines’ way of assessing how good your site is. And if they think your site is good they’ll send you lots of visitors.

The logic goes that if lots of sites (particularly good quality, high traffic sites) are linking to your site it must be good.

Plus the number and quality of incoming links forms the major part of the off-site bit of search engine optimisation.

So how do you build lots of incoming links to your site?

With a lot of work!

Seriously – off-site optimisation is a never ending process of generating and retaining as many high quality links to your site as possible.

Ways to Build High Quality Links

1. Blog Directories.

Blog directories like Blogarama, Blog Traffic Resource and others, are a good place to start. But they’re not going to bring you floods of traffic, despite their promotional blurb.

When I first set up this blog I registered it on a lot of Blog directories and I can tell you that the traffic coming from them was minimal.

And since blog directories have sprung up all over the place even the links from them are of questionable quality these days.

None the less – every little helps, especially when you’re just starting out, so this is a good place to start.

If you look under the ‘Useful Links’ heading in the sidebar to the right you’ll see the blog directories where this site is registered.

You’ll need to reciprocate with a link to each Directory but, once you’ve developed a healthy flow of traffic, you can begin to remove some of the links and cut down on the number of directories.

2. Social Sites.

The first big jump in the number of visitors to this blog came when I started seriously working the social sites.

Beware, though. Many articles you read on Social Marketing (or Social Network Marketing) tell you to register on as many sites as you can. I did that in the early days of this site and nearly killed myself.

You cannot get any benefit from the social sites unless you’re active in them.

So unless you’ve employed an army of people to be active in the social sites on your behalf, your best bet is to think carefully about which sites will bring you the most benefit and just focus on them.

I focus on 4 sites at the moment and that’s quite enough. But, because I’m active in those 4, they all bring me quite a bit of traffic.

More than all the sites combined when I was trying to manage 11 of them, and I’m a lot less frazzled now.

Important things to remember with social sites: make sure your profile is filled out as fully as possible, including your real name and, of course, a link to your blog.

People like to know you’re real, and a fully completed profile is one of the factors that helps them know that.

Also – don’t spam..! Just participate in the community, answer questions, make friends and become known.

And make sure you participate every day.

As the number of visitors to your site grows so will the number of links, provided you’ve got good quality information on your site.

3. Commenting on Other Blogs

To some this seems counter-intuitive, but if you make thoughtful and valuable comments on other people’s blogs not only will the blog writer notice you but his readers will as well.

That will increase your traffic and, as long as you’ve got good information on your blog, it will bring links too.

A lot of blogs tell the search engines not to follow links from their site (the infamous no-follow tag) but ignore that.

If you’re worried about whether a blog has ‘nofollow’ set in its META tags you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

Concentrate on adding valuable input to the article (through your comments) and the visitors and links will follow.

Remember – there’s nothing to stop you turning a high quality comment you’ve written on someone else’s blog into a post on your own blog in the future, so you can kill two birds with one stone.

4. Link to your blog from your own sites

These are the other sites you own – your Squidoo lens, HubPage, and other blogs you have. Make sure the subjects of the sites are relevant to your blog and link to it.

In all cases you can put several links to your blog: One in the Recommended Sites or Blogroll section of your lens or HubPage, and as many as you like throughout the ‘page’ in each.

5. Participate in Forums

This is very similar to social sites and a lot of the same rules apply.

A big advantage with forums, though, is that you can create what’s effectively a mini ad in the footer of your posts.

Known as your signature, most social sites will enable you to create and add a link with some descriptive text and display it below each of your posts.

Most links from forums are ‘no follow’ so the links themselves don’t have much value in Google’s world, but they’ll bring you visitors and (as long as your content is good) visitors will often result in links.

As with social sites – don’t spam. You’re likely to be black-balled if you do and many will throw you out of the forum.

Keep your comments polite and helpful and, as people get to know and trust you, the number of visitors (and, as a result, links) will start to climb.

Good Quality Content

If there’s one thing that runs through each of the methods I’ve touched on, it’s the need for good quality information on your blog.

Without that you’ll be dead in the water.

So here’s a good approach to follow:

  1. Make sure your site is set up properly for the search engines. See this article for more details if your blog is on WordPress
  2. Write good quality, well researched articles that answer questions, solve problems or provide entertainment. And keep doing it.
  3. Carry out the 5 link building steps I’ve set out in this article – and keep doing it. It’s a continuous process.

It will take time to build links to your site, particularly if you’re writing in a highly competitive niche, so keep at it.

Persistence cannot be over-rated as a requirement for success ­čÖé

About the author: Martin has been working online since 2006 and focuses on two areas: 1) affiliate marketing and 2) designing and building websites based on WordPress. He has his own WordPress agency, and serves clients in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK.

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Brad Harmon Nov 5, 2009 @ 20:09


    I am currently doing everything you suggest except the forums. I really need to find some good forums and add them to my daily routine. I think you hit the nail on the head when you point out that link building is a continuous process.

    The first few weeks I employed this strategy I did not see very many incoming links to my site when I looked at Google’s webmaster tools. I had even set a goal of making 50 comments per week and working hard to meet it so it was a little frustrating.

    About the third week into the process I noticed 20 links show up, but they were a few weeks old according to the found date. Week four brought my total to 36 and week five it was up to 62. Week 6 rolled around and the number shot up to over 500 and it was still a few weeks behind in the discovered date.

    My links had been picked up by other sources and multiplied. As you point out, not all of these have Google juice attached to them – but some do. Imagine the number of links I will have incoming to my site at the end of the year if I keep up my 50 comment per week quota.

    .-= Brad Harmon┬┤s last blog ..Was Christ Forced into the Family Business? =-.

    • Martin Nov 5, 2009 @ 21:07

      Hey Brad,

      Good job on those links..! And great job on the persistence – nothing could have illustrated my last point better, so thanks for that..!



  • CorrieHowe Nov 6, 2009 @ 4:50

    Martin, I’ve done a lot of these things. I’m going to go through the article again and refine the things I haven’t done. In the meantime, I have to agree it is work. I don’t think I’ve “worked” this hard in a long time.

    Maybe I’m not working very smart right now, but I’m commenting on and following about 100 blogs (and growing daily). Everything that I’m currently measuring (because I haven’t figured out if these are correct measures or not), is steadily growing…number of followers, number of visits, number of comments left on my post.

    However, I’m spending about half my working day doing this. I’m having fun and building relationships. I’m even seeing my followers are following me to other blogs as well (is that a compliment)? But will this help me make money in the long run?

    I’m kind of in a holding pattern until I move my blog over (as you and I have discussed). So it seems to be a good use of my time to build loyal followers while I’m waiting. The other half my day I’m submitting posts to other sites looking for material. I hope this also gives me some exposure in areas not otherwise likely to stumble upon my site.

    Martin, if this comment is too long and/or inappropriate, please feel free to delete.

    Thanks for all you do. I love dropping by.
    .-= CorrieHowe┬┤s last blog ..Purple Man =-.

    • Martin Nov 6, 2009 @ 6:46

      Corrie, hi,

      This comment is totally appropriate, and whether it’s short or long absolutely doesn’t matter ­čÖé

      I’ve received (and also written) comments on some articles on this site that are longer than the original post! The only thing that matters is whether it’s thoughtful and adds to the conversation.

      100 blogs is a lot to be following. One thing you may want to do is to see if you can optimise the list of blogs you’re commenting on so you can focus your efforts in the most effective areas.

      See if you can identify the 20 or so blogs that are most relevant to your subject. Your list may already be optimised, but you may be able to optimise it more and, as a result, make more effective use of your time.

      Worth a try, anyway…



    • Brad Harmon Nov 6, 2009 @ 7:06


      I think Martin is talking about me with the comments longer than the original post. ­čśë

      As I mentioned above, my target is to leave 50 comments per week on other blogs. This takes between 7 and 10 hours per week to read the posts and related comments, and then to craft my own comment. I like to make 2 to 3 posts per week for each targeted blog I follow. So Martin’s number of 20 fits perfectly with the strategy I have.

      I think once you go past 20 blogs then it is very hard for you to develop a presence on these blogs. Limiting the number you follow helps you to become more active on fewer sites, but will actually end up leading to more links and web traffic to your site.

      Hope this helps.

      .-= Brad Harmon┬┤s last blog ..Blog Walking: The Shameless Self-Promoter Keller Hawthorne (2/3) =-.

      • Martin Nov 6, 2009 @ 7:16

        LOL..!! No Brad, sorry – you have some way to go yet before you can claim the longest comment on this site..! ­čÖé


  • CorrieHowe Nov 6, 2009 @ 7:58

    What makes a blog relevant to my niche? The main focus of my blog is “joy in the challenges of Asperger’s Syndrome.” I started it because I read so many hopeless and depressing things within the special needs community. I’m blessed in the fact that my son’s autism is mild and he’s creative, funny, fun-loving and intelligent. I don’t want to down play all the very sad and difficult things within this community. I’m finding even the bloggers with lower functioning autistic children can and do write inspirational and humorous posts.

    So I started off picking up bloggers in the autism community, but have been picking up parent and adult, alike, in all areas of special needs. I’m picking up parents with “neuro typical” children (the community would call them). I’m picking up people from the faith community and people from the humor blogs.

    My strategy has been following and commenting on blogs with few followers and few comments. I know they don’t have a lot of clout, but when I show up on their site, I’m noticed. They in turn have become loyal followers.

    I have started following and commenting on some sites with larger followers. Some I’ve gotten noticed, and some I have not.

    Suggestions, comments. Anything will help.
    .-= CorrieHowe┬┤s last blog ..Purple Man =-.

  • CorrieHowe Nov 6, 2009 @ 7:59

    By “picking up” I mean, these types of people are following me.
    .-= CorrieHowe┬┤s last blog ..Purple Man =-.

    • Martin Nov 6, 2009 @ 11:09

      Phew – I’m glad you clarified that one..!! ­čÖé

      Corrie, I don’t know your niche at all, so I’m not that clear on the distinctions you’ve drawn above.

      However, I’d see two ways of narrowing down the number of blogs you’re following:

      Either focus on and follow blogs on autism (since that’s what your son has) or…

      Focus on and follow the blogs from which you get the best reaction, since they will be attracting other readers in their own right and the more times you appear on them the more likely their new readers will be to visit your site.

      We could talk more about this when we’re on Skype, if you like, but those would be my thoughts.

      Brad probably has some good input too. His blog is well worth a visit, by the way, it’s very nicely laid out and he’s done some good community building stuff.


  • Brad Harmon Nov 6, 2009 @ 15:10


    Wow, thank you for the kind words.


    It sounds like you have a knack for finding the kind of sites that speak to people, but may be hidden gems garnering little traffic. Since you have a loyal following already, perhaps your blog could serve two purposes.

    First, continue to share your joys and tribulations as you journey with your son and his Asperger’s. These stories seem to bring hope and joy to others who have family members with special needs.

    Second, become a guide to these people by helping them find other sites that are more specific to their particular concerns. Write blog posts on these sites and send traffic to them. Organize your blog roll by category to help them find these blogs better.

    Pick 10 to 15 blogs that have decent traffic and community and be active on these blogs every week. Pick 20 others that you would like to help grow then rotate visiting them 5 each week (5 week 1, 5 week 2, etc.) so that you get through all 20 in one month. This will give you a total maximum of 35 blogs which may help you pare down your list.

    I think this strategy will allow you to help many people and at the same time bring you more traffic to your site. It would help fill a need that I see in your comments above. I hope this helps.

    .-= Brad Harmon┬┤s last blog ..Blog Walking: The Shameless Self-Promoter Keller Hawthorne (2/3) =-.

  • CorrieHowe Nov 7, 2009 @ 0:06

    Thanks for the advice. I will spend some time whittling down my regular blogs. I’m killing myself and I’m not productive. I need to get out into some forums, which I’ve keep putting off. I need to do some tutorials. And I need to write to start generating some income until my site starts generating income. I’m sure I’ll be back her and over at Brad’s site often.
    .-= CorrieHowe┬┤s last blog ..Proposed Change in Asperger’s Syndrome Diagnosis =-.

    • Brad Harmon Nov 7, 2009 @ 7:18


      If you are trying to monetize your site, then I would suggest checking out my three part series on Keller Hawthorne (sorry for the shameless plug Martin). She has a lot of great tips on how to drive traffic to your website and turn that traffic into dollars. Part three will be published next Thursday and covers off-site marketing which might be particularly helpful to you.

      I’m still pretty new to Martin’s site, but based on the category headings there are probably some real gems here that would help too. If they are anything like the posts I have been able to read so far, then they are definitely gems. Perhaps Martin could suggest some posts of his for us to read?

      .-= Brad Harmon┬┤s last blog ..Largest Social Media Study to Date Released ÔÇô What Does it Mean for Small Business? =-.

      • Martin Nov 7, 2009 @ 8:53

        Guys, hi,

        Actually I’ve not written any articles at all on how to monetise a blog. But I do seriously recommend reading Darren Rowse’s blog at Problogger.

        I did a quick search there for articles on monetising a blog – you can find them here.

        Darren has an enormous amount of invaluable information on ProBlogger – well worth subscribing to his feed.



  • CorrieHowe Nov 8, 2009 @ 0:25

    Thanks, I already do subscribe to Darren’s feed, bought both his books and belong to one of his forums. I need to stop reading and comment on 100 plus blogs so I have time to read through his achieves. I’ve already started doing some of the things he and his co-author suggested when I asked for a critique of my website…yikes. It was tough, but hopefully beneficial.

    In fact, if you go to http://www.mypickletalksautism.com you’ll see my new site and Thesis design in progress. I hired a designer to do the work. I’m keeping up my current blog while she is working. This weekend I think I’ll spend just looking through Martin’s, Brad’s and Darren’s sites for information about monetizing.

    I finally met my goals to write some guest posts, write for a writer’s studio which will pay (if they accept) and wrote something for my local newspaper…hoping they will send some paid free-lance work my way. Hard to believe, but I used to support myself on free-lance assignments (muffled, muffled) years ago, before marriage and kids.

    See you both on some other posts/comments!

    .-= CorrieHowe┬┤s last blog ..100th Post Celebration =-.

  • Keith Davis Dec 24, 2009 @ 17:50

    Can’t hope to compete with length of previous comments LOL, but a title like “5 Ways to Build Links to Your Site” will always get my attention.
    I know something of SEO and look regularly at Rand Fishkin’s site SEOMOZ but there has always been three problems for me… Links, Links and Links! Hence my interest in articles like this.

    Obviously number 3 – commenting on other blogs is fairly easy and your use of CommentLuv on this site makes it even more attractive. Still thinking about adding CommentLuv to my site.
    If you were to leave a comment on my site Martin… I wouldn’t feel offended LOL.

    I’m going to finish there, because if I don’t, I’ll just go on and on and my comment will be longer than the ones above.

    Merry Christmas Martin and don’t forget… no blogging on Christmas day!
    .-= Keith Davis┬┤s last blog ..The eyes have it! =-.

    • Martin Dec 25, 2009 @ 11:01

      Keith, hi,

      Yes – I’ve been very remiss in not commenting on your site, but these last few days have been so hectic I’ve been doing everything on the run. I will get there ­čÖé

      Happy Christmas to you too, and all the best for 2010,