How to Get Search Engine Visitors without Building Links

One reason I enjoy reading Michael Martinez’s articles about search engine optimization is that he’s an SEO who hasn’t drunk the “it’s all about link building” Kool-Aid. He’s pointed out in multiple blog posts (How to Get Traffic to Your Website for Free is one of my favorites of these) that link building isn’t even necessary to build traffic. All that’s really necessary is the willingness and the ability to publish interesting content on a regular basis.

Earlier this year, I tested this approach by building a website and doing absolutely no link building for it. I didn’t even submit the site to the Yahoo Directory. I didn’t link to it from any of my other sites, either.

The only thing I did was publish a single blog post every day, five days a week, for 4 months. I included links to other sites from these blog posts, but I didn’t do so in order to attract links. The links I included just complemented the content I was publishing, but those links did result in some readers and links back from some related sites.

Each post took between 30 minutes and an hour write and to publish. That’s a small investment of time, but if you’re consistent, you wind up with a large amount of content that brings in a remarkable amount of traffic for long tail phrases you would have never thought of.

I launched this test site in January of this year, and I published content there 5 days a week until April, when I ran out of time to devote to the project. The site received the following number of search visitors per month:

  • January – 16 visitors
  • February – 31 visitors
  • March – 56 visitors
  • April – 27 visitors
  • May – 79 visitors
  • June – 72 visitors
  • July – 116 visitors
  • August – 100 visitors

That’s 497 search engine visitors to a site where I did no link building.

The site also received a similar number of visitors from some of the links it attracted. Almost all of those link were nofollowed.

I didn’t share any posts via Twitter or Facebook. This plan literally only has a handful of steps:

  1. Get a domain. Don’t worry about including any keywords in it.
  2. Install WordPress.
  3. Brainstorm some ideas of questions your target audience might want answered.
  4. Write a blog post providing a detailed answer to each question every day, Monday through Friday.

If I’d continued to post every day to the site, I’d be getting 400 or 500 visitors per month by now.

Some type of content promotion would have also complemented the content generation part of the strategy. For example, had I launched a Twitter and/or Facebook account, I could have attracted readers and links by promoting my content there.

Had I invested a little bit of money by submitting to 3 or 4 of the better Internet directories, I might have seen more traffic, too.

But that’s beside the point. What’s interesting about this case study is that it demonstrates that you can build traffic streams via search without a link building campaign.

And the best thing about not conducting a link acquisition campaign? You dramatically reduce the possibility of getting a link-based penalty.

I have one really smart friend who’s made a lot of money on the Internet. She has a network of sites, each of which has a minimal amount of mediocre and dull content on them. Every time we discuss her network, she floats multiple ideas for how to build links to these sites.

She’d see a better, less risky ROI if she focused on upgrading and expanding her content. I explain this to her at least once a week. Heck, sometimes I explain this to her several times a week.

It doesn’t matter. She’s drunk the “it’s all about links” Kool-Aid, and changing her focus is beyond my powers of persuasion.¬†That’s cool, though. I’ll just keep puttering along, writing interesting blog posts that provide useful answers to real questions, while she’s link scheming and risking search penalties.

See also: Another post from Michael Martinez I recommend is this blog post about long tail content strategy.

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About the Author

Randy Ray

Randy RayRandy Ray is co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Reflective Dynamics. Randy has managed Websites, affiliate programs, and SEO campaigns for himself and for successful businesses including Hotels.com and PokerStars. A well-known figure in the Poker affiliate industry, Randy's expertise has been sought out or recommended by many leading entrepreneurs in the affiliate marketing field. Before turning to the Internet Randy worked in sales and promotion. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature from the University of North Texas.

Comments

  1. Well, you could argue that you did have a link building strategy: to reach out to people through pingback. Its an automated strategy, but not a lack of link building.

  2. I understand what you’re saying, but I tend to think of it as an “unintended consequence” rather than a strategy. (I didn’t even think about pingbacks when we posted that content.)

  3. If the pingback settings are turned off, the unintended consequence would be diminished but not eliminated. It might still show up through Google Alerts or a similar service.

    We should check that blog’s settings to see what it is doing (when we get time for such things). :)

  4. No keywords in your domain name? Interesting. I find that, in South Africa, you can rank a single page HTML document with some (relevant) text, based on the domain name. I ALWAYS tell people a good (co.za) domain name is worth gold, and I stick to that. No reason to believe different.
    It’s not hard to believe that it’s different in the American market though. Two completely different things.

    1. Jonathan, you can do it in any market. That is simply the nature of Web search. The chief difference between the US market and most others, however, is that a LOT of good EMD names have been ruined by churn-and-burn SEO so it’s becoming less of an option and more of a requirement (by circumstance) here that people need to look at other points of on-site optimization.

  5. Ah, OK, I get it. So, in other words, it’s burnt SO bad that even a great name isn’t good enough anymore. Got it.
    So all these kooks sharing everything (like in your rant against the Tumblr guy), are causing this type of thing to happen. Things get tighter and tighter for the average person on the street, cos every little trick is squeezed dry by everybody.
    We’re not quite there in SA. People are still waking up to the importance of the web. Well, that’s my personal view of things.

    1. Jonathan, I think your opinion on the state of the Web in SA is sound. But there are things that affect Web marketing around the world. Remember that Panda started out in the United States and then was gradually extended outward.

      And, to be honest, when US easy-linking resources began clamping down on Web spam the spammers moved to Web services in other countries. Everything that happens here eventually will affect the rest of the Web, in terms of major search algorithms and filters. The effects may be indirect, though.

Comments are closed