Building links for niche sites isn’t easy.
In many cases the types of links that we build for other types of sites simply aren’t applicable to niche sites.
The reason is quite simple; many niche sites are deliberately designed around highly commercial subjects such as helping consumers decide on which product to buy and frequently consist of dozens of product reviews.
These are hardly the types of content that naturally attract links.
There’s a further problem too; many of us build niche sites on scale too; speaking from my own personal perspective I often build niche sites two or three at a time, then take the most successful of the trio and focus my efforts on growing that specific site into something successful.
As a result, in many cases when it comes to niche site link building we need a different suite of tools; we need link building techniques that can be easily applied to these types of commercialized content yet require minimal time investment from us, allowing us to grow a number of sites concurrently.
In this article then we’re going to look at a number of link building tools and techniques to help you grow your niche site and turn it into a profit-making entity that will serve you for many years to come.
But what techniques are really working for niche sites right now?
Private Blog Networks
PBNs have taken a number of hits over the years so I consider them one of the riskier link-building strategies available for niche websites. Bearing in mind the number of networks that Google has publicly nuked, it surely seems only a matter of time until more are hit.
That said, there are literally hundreds of blog networks out there, and each one is a potential source of backlinks for your niche site if you’ve got the courage.
Typically you’ll simply submit the URLs that you’d like links built to, and the keywords you want to rank for.
The blog network owner will then hire writers to produce a number of blog posts, all containing links back to your site. These posts will then be published across a network of high-authority blogs set up specifically for the purpose of link building.
The results from the right PBN can be considerable; I have seen huge jumps in rankings in a matter of weeks, so it is little wonder that many niche site builders are still willing to take their chances.
Indeed, while I think PBNs represent the riskiest of all the various niche site link building techniques, I also think they represent the most effective method of all. A few dozen PBN links can often be enough to kick-start your niche site and get it ranking for a number of keyword phrases.
Web 2.0 Links
Working on a similar theme to PBNs are Web 2.0 links. Here articles will be written which contain links back to your niche site. These articles are then published on a number of Web 2.0 sites like WordPress.org, Blogger and Tumblr.
Once again, when Google discovers these links you can see a significant increase in rankings as a result of such links.
So how do Web 2.0 links differ from PBN links?
Firstly, of course, they aim to use the natural authority of the various Web 2.0 sites to make the links pointing to you more powerful. The inherent authority that many of these sites have means that one can often “supercharge” these posts by building lower-quality links to your articles.
Some of the authority of these links then “leaches through”, making the links pointing to your site even more powerful.
On the other hand, Web 2.0 companies can and do shut down accounts at any time. That means that the links you’re building could disappear at any time. Take this into account when building them.
If articles with contextual links in them that point to your site can be so effective then the next obvious link building opportunity for niche websites is guest posting.
This is another technique that in the past has come under fire, and has inherent risks, but done well I would argue that it is rather less risky than building either PBN links or Web 2.0 links.
The main difference here between guest posting and PBN links is that in many cases the blogs you submit content to are “real” sites, rather than having been set up simply for link building. The chances of receiving a penalty from this form of link building – when done in moderation – are therefore minimal.
Furthermore, as these sites that you guest post on grow in authority and traffic over time, you can find the links you have built from them being even more powerful.
Of course there is a flipside; the posts themselves are going to need to be of far higher quality if they are to be published on “real” sites.
This means that your output is likely to drop; you’d struggle to write a dozen good-quality guest posts in a week, while it would be easy enough to publish a similar number of PBN links.
There are ways around this of course.
On the one hand one can outsource content creation so allowing others to write the content for you. In terms of finding places to guest post there are a surprisingly wide range of options discussed here, though for niche site link builders possibly the easiest solution is to go straight to Fiverr.
Here you will find a range of bloggers willing to publish your carefully-written article on their blog in exchange for the princely sum of $5. Note, however, that in my experience these sites are typically much lower quality than you might find using the other methods.
We have tested out social bookmarking as a way of building links to niche websites in the past, and generally with very positive results.
While social bookmarks are less effective than PBN links or guest posting, it is relatively easy to build these links en masse, and they can form part of an overall link building strategy.
These days I believe the effectiveness of social bookmarking has less to do with the actual links being built, and more about the way in which Google sees seemingly “natural” activity surrounding the site.
When Google sees an article or website being shared time and again on social media it seems likely that they may believe just such a site deserves an increase in rankings simply because so many people are “voting” and suggesting it is a good site by sharing it with others.
The easiest and most natural way to build social activity around your site is with SocialAdr which I reviewed here though there are also Fiverr gigs which will carry out a similar purpose like this one.
In addition however I have recently started to use a WordPress plugin called Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) which will automatically submit new posts that you publish to social networks such as Twitter, StumbleUpon and Tumblr.
In such a way you can be certain that at least a few links will exist to every new post you publish.
Paid links are risky; Google outlawed them years ago and actively aims to stamp out websites that buy or sell links.
Of all the methods outlined here, this is the only link building technique for which I personally have had sites penalized so be aware of this. As they say “caveat emptor”.
That said, if you’re looking for a quick and simple way to build some powerful links to your niche site then buying a few can be enough to start you on your journey. There are typically two types of links available; links for rent and links for sale. The difference is important.
In some cases you can “rent” links on a monthly basis. You pay the monthly fee and your links stay live; if you ever stop paying the subscription fee then your links are removed and, quite likely, your rankings will drop.
On the other hand one can often buy “permanent” links though these are understandably rather more expensive.
The benefit of permanent links that have been bought is of course that there are no maintenance fees.
If you ever plan to sell your niche sites in the future it will arguably be easier to do so – and your site will be worth more to a buyer – if they aren’t forced to pay a monthly link—building fee to keep the links you have built live.
Directory submissions are one of the oldest link-building techniques in the book, having been around for over a decade.
Here, one simply submits ones website to a “directory” that aims to build a categorized list of websites that may be of interest to visitors.
Sadly, while directories did genuinely serve a purpose once upon a time, thanks to the invention of search engines they now serve very little real purpose and instead have become a link-builders paradise.
Thanks to the vast number of directories in existence it is relatively easy to submit your site to dozens – even hundreds – of directory sites in a very short space of time.
As a result Google generally frowns on directory links though done in moderation I have found that they can be beneficial. Feel free to check out our case study here.
Possibly the easiest way to build directory links to your niche site is to use a service like Directory Maximizer which will automatically submit your site on your behalf, saving you considerable time and effort.
An alternative strategy is to ignore all the free and low-quality directories you can submit your site to and instead focus on trying to get your niche site listed in just a handful of the higher-quality directories.
In most cases these directories charge a fee, so be aware of this before submission. In addition, the reason why they charge a fee and why they should be considered higher quality links that are available from other directories is the degree of editorial control applied.
They don’t accept just any old site; each applicant is carefully vetted before approval, helping to signify to Google that the sites featured here are indeed high quality and so giving them an additional rankings boost.
Equally, that means that before you pay the submission fee you should be certain that your site really offers value to visitors; if your niche site looks terrible and has been hastily thrown together the chances of gaining approval is highly unlikely.
Website addresses need to be renewed on an annual basis.
What this means is that over time domain names fall out of use as their original owner stops paying to renew them. In some cases these expired domains of course have links pointing to them; as a result some expired domains have a degree of authority.
This is one reason why PBNs work so well; the network owners aim to buy up such expired domain names that already have links pointing to them and then build their sites on these domains.
As a result their blogs have automatic links pointing to them the moment they launch.
However there is one other link building strategy that can be derived from these expired domains; they can quite simply be redirected to your niche site, so passing on much of their inherent authority to your site, leading to a sudden and significant boost in your search engine rankings.
There are a vast range of websites which allow users to register and set up a profile. In many cases these are forums and social networking sites, and many of them have considerable domain authority.
While I wouldn’t suggest building your own profile links, there are an assortment of services which promise to sign up for dozens of accounts on your behalf, create a profile page that links to your site and then sends you over a list of the completed profiles.
I’ve personally seen some good results recently from this link building method – so long as you target only high quality sites that maintain a high trust factor in Google.
Once created your infographic can be used for link building, such as by submitting it to the various infographic directories, each one of which will link back to you when they publish your infographic.
If you’re lucky, you may even find that your infographic gets picked up by other sites. While it hasn’t happened to every infographic I publish, a number of them have ended up being published on authority blogs who, as a result, have ended up linking back to my niche sites.
Over time these infographic backlinks from such high quality sites can be tremendously beneficial.
Conclusion: And a Warning
All of the methods mentioned here work.
I’ve personally tested them and seen the effect they can have on a niche site. However before you go firing Web 2.0 links at your site like there’s no tomorrow it’s important to understand one more key to the whole niche site link building process; namely that variety is essential.
These days, though, Google has a nasty habit of changing the goalposts with regards to what it considers to be acceptable and unacceptable link building strategies.
Furthermore, a number of the techniques mentioned above are gray-hat at best, meaning there are inherent risks.
If you’re lucky, you’ll rocket to the top of the search engine results and enjoy long-term profits.
If you’re unlucky you’ll find the links you’ve built being discounted, as your rankings drop back down.
If you’re very unlucky your site will get penalized and may never recover.
These are the risks we take with such link building techniques.
However factoring diversity into your niche site link building campaign can help to offer a degree of insurance against such situations.
For example, if all you hit was smashed your site with dozens of PBN links from a single network, all it’ll take is Google wiping out that single network and your blog could be toast.
However if you’ve used 5 different PBNs then there is far less chance of any single network having too much of an effect on your overall rankings. And if you’ve watered these links down with all sorts of other techniques too, each individual link building technique will have a smaller and smaller effect on your overall results.
We can think of this as “diversification” – much like one would with a stock portfolio.
So no matter what results you get from a certain technique, and no matter how much you long to do more of it, aim to build as many different kinds of links, from as many different sites as possible.
Over time this will build into a far safer and more natural-looking backlink profile; and one that is far more likely to stand the test of time.
What are your “go to” link building techniques for niche sites? Have your methods changed over time or “are the old ones still the best”? Please leave your experiences in the comments section below…