46 SEO Experts Reveal their $500 Link Building / Content Marketing Secret


In today’s competitive world, SEO and blogging is a tough game. What worked last year is not working today. And what works today, may not work tomorrow. You need to be constantly preparing for the worst, and adjust your methods accordingly.

Having access to expert information is priceless. No matter what niche or business you run, you need relevant insights. Plus, you also need to arm yourself with the best tools available on the market.

So, how can you solve the challenge? Well, you could pay for seminars and membership club access, or you could find the best niche bloggers and SEO experts and interview them. Thus, I’ve got the help of content marketing pro Codrut Turcanu – once again – to scour the web, look up people who are already running successful niche sites and affiliate blogs, and interview them.

HERE IS The BIG question we asked these guys:

“How would you spend $500 on link building/content marketing for your niche sites? What would you do differently and why?”

It made these pros think differently and share insights you’d probably never thought possible. Enjoy the ride and take these gold nuggets to the bank.

Onto this note, I’d like to send a BIG THANK YOU to all participants
and everyone else involved to help spread the word about this unique post!

Adam-RoselandAdam Roseland NicheSiteU.com –  Twitter

The first thing I will tell you is “The first rule of link building is: You do not talk about link building. The second rule of link building is: You do not talk about link building. Every time I have seen a “successful strategy” for link building come along and get promoted on a site, I have seen Google find a way to punish those that do it.

That said, if I was going to drop $500 towards link building, the first thing I would do is try to connect with people that are in the know, and find out what they are doing to get the links. The best way to do this is to join a successful mastermind group. A good group to join for digital marketers is led by Scott Fox: http://nichesiteu.com/masterminds (Most people know about masterminds, but don’t know how to get started… this will help)

With the rest of the money, I would invest in getting some high quality content and a nice infographic for my site. From there, I would roll up the sleeves and promote the heck out of the content to get the links coming back.

Andrew-Shotland-Google-Pigeon-ExplorerAndrew Shotland LocalSeoGuide.com –  Twitter

I would invest $200 doing proprietary research on my topic via Google Surveys. I’d then spend the remaining $299 on a designer via 99designs to create an interesting graphic based on the key findings of the survey. I’d then publish the survey on my site while withholding one or two key findings. I’d then bust my hump contacting all of the obvious journalists/bloggers (in priority order) who would be interested in my topic and offer them up the data I have not published so they could publish something proprietary.

Or I’d just go on Fiverr and get 100 exact-match anchor text links from Romania for my biggest competitor.

Annalisa M. HilliardAnnalisa Hilliard PolePositionMarketing.comTwitter

If I had a $500 link building budget, I’d create the best asset I could with that money while reserving a portion for paid promotion. Creating an asset allows me to leverage link opportunities by having a valuable resource to share with my audience. Hopefully, I’ve been building a network of people via online engagement. I’d put together an outreach list of these people. I should already have a good idea of who to add to this list, but to make sure I don’t exclude anyone, I’ll look back through my social streams to see who I’ve been interacting with over the last few months. I also keep a list of blogs I’ve commented on, so I’ll add those bloggers to my outreach.

I’ll comb through the conversations I’ve been having to begin generating ideas for content that will provide merit both to my network and larger audience. Then, I’ll research to find additional ideas to potentially net me quality links. For example, if I’m a retailer in the winter sports niche, I might determine that an infographic of top skiing/snowboarding destinations (and what makes those places unique) would be something my audience would find useful as well as something they’d feel worthy of sharing with their friends, audience and/or network. To take it a step further, maybe I’ll make the infographic an interactive “Bucket List” where the user can check off each destination as they conquer it.

After I’ve created my asset I’ll send a personalized message to everyone on my outreach list, letting them know about the content I’ve forged. Also, I’ll find which social platforms are “home” for my audience demographic and set up paid promotions, this will give me targeted eyes outside the network I’ve already established. In the winter sports example I’d guess that Facebook and Pinterest would be good networks for me. After running some promotions I’ll do an assessment. If I’m getting positive results – seeing an increase in targeted click-throughs and conversions from the links I’ve attained, I’d revisit the link building budget and consider increasing it.

If, on the other hand, I’m not getting the results I’m looking for, I’ll go back to the drawing board. Did I miss the mark on my content, outreach or promotion? Once I figure out where I can improve, I’ll make adjustments moving forward – remember not all link building campaigns will be successful – even if I execute my plan perfectly, there will be variables that are out of my control, but I’ll learn from the insights I’ve collected along the way and use them to make my next campaign better.

Bastian-GrimmBastian Grimm Bastian-Grimm.comTwitter

Generally speaking I’d say $500 is a fairly small budget to build links on. Even if that is a monthly budget it’s still not much. However there are possibilities / methods do actually get decent links, but this would mean that we’d not take into account the actual time spent for a person doing the work (in a sense of hourly rates).

If you’ve chosen to get into some of these very spammy niches, automation might still be something you wanna give a try. There are various providers out there which do deliver links on a (larger) scale. However, rest assured that these links will – rather sooner than later – get you into trouble. So if you consider following this path, be very aware of what you should and should not be doing with it (think multiple tier linking, etc.)

Keeping aside the dark side of things for a minute I’d – for sure – recommend doing something more sustainable. One of the strategies that I consider to be relatively cheap but still very successful is “broken link building”. There are multiple ways on how to do that but the general idea is that you find outbound links to URLs (like on competitor sites but also general sites) which are not available anymore. The finding process can be automated in different ways: For example you could crawl through any given domain by simply using ScreamingFrog (yes, there even is a limited, free version) or you get an access pass to LinkResearchTools.com and utilize their recovery tool.

In a nutshell, the rest goes like this: Once you’ve found a proper outbound link to an URL which is not there anymore (in ScreamingFrog that would be returning an HTTP 404 / 410 response) you start investigating what has been there. Sometimes you find it in Google Cache, sometimes in archive.org – or maybe you can tell from the old URL slug itself or even by the anchor text linking in. You then take your $500 (or parts of it) and start producing a great piece of content. Once you’re done with that you reach out to the owner of that domain linking out and actually tell him / her that you “stumbled” upon the dead link – however you seem to know another resource which you also found during your research. Call it coincidence that this is actually the one you host on your domain.

Charlotte-WallerCharlotte Waller Vis-E-Bility.comTwitter

Easy – content marketing. I’d invest it in gathering data – like, awesome data – and paying a designer to produce an infographic or something visual and eyecatching. Then I’d form a distribution list and distribute using predominantly Twitter.

Build relationships online – Twitter is perfect for that, and LinkedIn.

Christopher AntoniChristopher AntoniTheTrafficBlogger.comTwitter

$500 Art and Tools Budget

Most of my career online has been spent developing systems that require $0 to be successful and grow on their own. One even made over $100,000 per year several years in a row and cost me nothing to start (didn’t even own the domain until a year later as it was a .blogspot site).

However, from time to time I have used the income from previous projects to assist with the creation and marketing of new ones.

Anyone can curate information through a variety of means. However, there are certain aspects of internet marketing that you’ll find challenging to the point of being an insurmountable obstacle. For me in particular, it is the creation of art.

I can think of several projects which required artistic talent and funding to work. But before I rattle these off and how hiring artists of different calibre helped me, let me state that you should first prove to yourself that your business model works in other ways. I knew that starting a blog about video games and using Aweber to create autoresponders was a winning combination from sites I had created for $0 on my own. So when I spent $2,500 on graphics for a Diablo 3 website, I knew I’d make the money back. In fact, that site earned $10,000 the first month, primarily because of the awesome graphics.

Typically, when you spend money, you should spend a lot on a proven idea.

Don’t waste money figuring out what works. But if you only have $500 and want inspiration right now, here are some other examples where I stayed beneath the $500 threshold. Included below are tools I purchased as well as examples of money spent hiring artists.

Owning a blogger domain is super cheap ($10 a year !!!).

Host websites for $8 a month or around that amount plus $10-$20 a year for domain.

10 Crazy Stupid Things needed a $350 camera for me to create it.

Aweber Autoresponder Strategy (free to read) cost me initially $5 a month for the tool.

Twitter Feeder 2 required a handful of graphics depicting a content/fat blue bird. These were acquired for $5 each at fiver.com.

20K Leveling (I sold this site years ago) required tons of graphics for an external pitch page and internal design. All together they cost me around $450.

Not all experiences hiring artists were great, however. Recently I started developing my own video games and hired an artist for $200 to redo all sprites in the game. They turned out horrible and I still had to pay the man for his time. Word of advice… vet vet vet! Be sure you are ok with their previous work before assigning them to your projects. If you’re an XBOX 360 player you can check out “One Night Two Crazies” as it’s the best game I’ve made so far.

Remember, it’s important to prove your idea works with free/almost free methods before you spend money like a crazy person. Start off with curation in the form of blogs, videos, tweets, etc. Then spruce things up with tools and by hiring artists.

Identify what you can do for free and pay money for the things you can’t.

It sounds simple, but a lot of people underestimate what they can achieve on their own and waste money on unnecessary upgrades. Hit me up on Twitter if you have questions @Folderg1.

Daniel CuttridgeDaniel Cuttridge – Auditalyze.comTwitter

If I was approaching a new niche site with a $500 budget I’d get things off to a running start by getting a lot of branded links to the homepage… There’s two ways I’d usually do this, either a PressRelease via PRWeb which can be costly when you’ve only got $500 to rank a site… In this case I’d find someone who could do Social Bookmarks on Fiverr who has great reviews. Cost? $5.00.

So with the remaining $495.00 I would make sure I had one internal page optimized for my money keyword and implement an effective internal link building structure. Something along the lines of a silo. Good internal linking can decrease your need for link building.

I’d then go with an outreach service, one like you can find on fatjoe.co which offers 5 blog placements for $295.00. It’s pretty expensive, but I’m assuming this site needs to last and be somewhat white hat.

This leaves you with $200.00 and I’d then put a bit of my own time into setting up a web 2.0 and creating at least 5 good pieces of content. I’d then build one piece of content, that’s specific to our money site’s internal page that we’re trying to rank for the main money keyword. I’d use exact match anchor text and link out from the first paragraph, using LSI (latent semantic indexing) terms around the anchor text to further build relevancy.

I would then use a Quality SAPE Service to build $200.00 worth of links to both the internal page and homepage of the web 2.0.

This is going to give you an extra kick of power, keep your site’s link profile completely white hat and give you an ‘unfair advantage’ compared to your white hat competitors.

Going down the route of building up branded anchor text to your homepage makes your site seem more natural, builds DomainAuthority and keeps your anchor text percentages in check.

How effective this will be depends on your niche, but in most medium competition niche’s given your advantage of using a silo is going to absolutely rock on such a low budget.

It’s by no means foolproof and I’d never stop here, as you start to make more money invest in more content for your silo and contemplate working on mixing more white / black hat techniques such as broken link building and for the latter you can use PBN’s to directly link to your money site or GSA SER Spam through a .301.

The most important thing it to test things, keep learning and trying new things.

Christoph CemperChristoph Cemper LinkResearchTools.com –  Twitter

Basically, $500 is not a lot for building high quality links, but if invested wisely, you can take the first important step in SEO. In fact, you may have to invest some time in the beginning, but finding the best links will help you to stay highly successful in the long-term. So my first advice is to analyze the links you want to build carefully and verify they actually are the best you can get. Now, this doesn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park, but luckily, there are tools that do the work for you. Link Detox Pro is a tool package that really pays for itself. A $500 budget allows you to take advantage of all the tools in Link Detox Pro for 2.5 months (monthly rate at $199), providing you with all the calculations you need. Take your chance and find the links that will help you: this is how it works

In a first step, start a Competitive Link Detox report (in short: CDTOX):


What do you need to do? Simply enter your own domain and your competition to start the whole report. Let’s say you are in the travel niche and one of your major keywords is “Travel USA”: you can easily take advantage of the suggestions from our system. Find the websites you compete with through our keyword search. If you do have a list of your competitors, you can also add your competition manually.


Link Detox Pro allows you to add up to 3 competitors in CDTOX. At the push of a button, you will get the backlinks of your competition and your own domain.


In your second step, click on the filter slice “Strong links of my competitors with low DTOXRISKTM” to receive a list of your competitors’ links that you should build for yourself.


You can now check the links in detail, export the data to your computer, or even take notes to contact particular website owners later. In the mail column, you will see the e-mail addresses that you can use as contact opportunities (higher LRT plans include a Pitchbox integration for an automated outreach, but the e-mail addresses are good for the beginning as well).


Now, with a 2.5 months subscription, you can repeat these checks a couple of more times for other domains. This way you can collect many high quality domains where you could, for instance, write articles and thus create high quality content. Content Marketing is an important point anyway, so make sure you build links on pages that Google definitely approves.

Every webmaster has to focus on content marketing to get nice, helpful links. Simply buying links regardless its quality will not help you in times of Penguin. If you just get a bunch of spammy links, this will not give you any benefit, but harm you instead. In today’s world, investing some time and efforts in actually finding good links is crucial as good content is the key to success. Link Detox Pro is thus a good investment and helps you take the first steps towards the right direction in SEO.

Daniele-BesanaDaniele BesanaDanieleBesana.comTwitter

I’m realizing more and more what I always heard: content is king.

For a niche website, I would not spend a dime on link building services. I know there are people out there that are wizards on backlinking, but I burnt my fingers with my first blog years ago paying a cheap provider and since then I decided to look for more long-lasting approaches.

I would spend the whole budget in GREAT content creation. I’d hire the BEST writer possible and have him/her producing few top quality articles. The type of material that Pat Flynn calls epic content or Yaro Starak refers as pillar articles.

From my experience, those are the articles that people love to read, and as a consequence Google loves (and will keep loving) serve to visitors.

I give you a real example. Few years ago I bought an house, and I wrote for fun an article on my personal blog about “how to buy an house in Netherlands” in my language. Back that I knew nothing about SEO on-page optimization or keyword research… it’s just a great piece of content that people find very useful. Few months after I was stunned to see it ranking #1.

I analyzed that article a few times: it’s written with my own personal voice, funny enough to entertain, packed with information and has a nice structure. I now monetized it generating leads for house agents.

I saw this across all the websites I own, the best content got the most exposure, traffic and generated the most revenue. The 600-words articles made for Google, instead, are a lottery: one out of 10 gets a decent rank and some traffic.

It’s that simple… but not simpler. Having high quality content is not trivial. Finding the best writers isn’t easy.

One skill I recommend everyone to develop is writing. It’s so useful in the online world! You need it for proper email communication, prepare your websites copy, work on sales pages, write your own content AND review your writers work.

If you need a writer, spend time searching for them. Websites like oDesk are good, but also go hunt writers in the forums/groups talking about the subject you need content for.

What I would do differently? I would not spend 10-20$ for thin 600 words articles anymore, but rather paid an higher price for top writers… and reap the results later.

Dave NicosiaDave Nicosia DaveNicosia.com –  Twitter

How would I spend $500 on link building? I personally don’t manually build too many links, but I still have two good uses for that money and obtaining backlinks with it.

Method #1 – Link Bait

I would use the money to create an awesome infographic for my niche that is likely to get shared and linked to. I would plan the info graphic myself, and hire an outsourcer off oDesk to gather all of the information and data that I need for the infographic, with references on where he found his information. Next I would hire a local graphic designer or design student to create the graphic for me. Lastly I would also put some of that money into promoting my new awesome piece of content to get the sharing and linking going. I would make sure to put the big obvious “share buttons” on the page and an embed code to make sharing it as easy as possible.

Method #2 – Running a Giveaway

My next method (and one I’ll be using soon for one of my niche sites) is to run a giveaway on my website. First I would purchase a popular product in my niche (it has to be valuable), then write up an actual REAL review of it with lots of text, images, and a video, along with links to related authority sites. Next I would run the giveaway on my site for 30 – 60 days, and require an email submit to enter, along with requiring it to be shared on social. That would help me to get some social profile backlinks.

Next I would hire an outsourcer on oDesk to build me a list of 500 blogs / Facebook pages / Twitter pages / Pinterest pages and their contact info. These web properties must be in related niches, or any niche that might be interested in sharing my giveaway with their audiences.

After the giveaway is all set up, and about two weeks before I start the giveaway, I would email/contact the list of related sites, inform them about my giveaway and let them know that I thought it might be great for their audience.

Hopefully, as long as my prize in the giveaway is valuable enough, I would get a bunch of natural backlinks, and also start the process of building relationships with these website owners, that could also later result in more sharing and backlinks.

Overall, I like to try to get as much as I can out of my contest, without seeming like I’m asking for too much from the contestants and website owners that I inform about the contest.

With all of the recent turmoil in the niche website business, and all of the Google penalties and updates, I’m trying to almost completely move away form manually building links for SEO purposes.

Dave SchneiderDave SchneiderSelfmadeBusinessman.comTwitter

I would probably buy The Hoth, that is the only PBN that I have used and it costs about $250 for a platinum package. I would probably buy two of those, once a month.

The other possibility is to buy one of those and then to pay my VA to go out and do some blog commenting and the usual stuff, though that would cost much less than $250.

In general though I don’t build niche sites or pay for link building.

David_LeonhardtDavid Leonhardt Seo-Writer.comTwitter

On first instinct, I would spend it on research. I would not spend it on outreach. I would not spend it on buying links. I would not pay for content writing.

Why? Very simple, it’s a matter of trust, value and preference.

I am very picky on my relationships, and if I reach out to a blogger or a journalist, I want to know it’s done right. There are many people who could do it right for me. There are probably a hundred times as many who could blow my reputation. I know I would do it right, so I won’t hire somebody to blow it for me.

I am very picky on where a link would be “placed”, and I am not a fan of buying links; a purchased link is almost never as good as an “earned” link, and the money would run out pretty quickly.

As for content writing, I happen to think I’m one of the best (no false modesty here). Once again, there are many people who could do a good job for me, but there are at least a thousand times as many who would do a really sucky job – really, there are a lot of atrocious content writers out there. To hire a quality content creator would quickly burn through that $500. I know I would do it right, so I won’t hire somebody else, especially since I love content creation.

As for research, I really do not like doing it, so I am motivated by that. But also, I can get a fair amount for my money and even if the research is not superb, I can set it up so I don’t get burned. For instance, for blogger outreach, I can make sure that everything is verifiable before I act on it by including a column in the spreadsheet for the URL where the information comes from.

Aside from research, there might be one other place I could spend the $500, and that would be on graphics. Although I create some pretty good blog images using simple tools, I am handicapped when it comes to creating anything complex. If I do the research, writing and wireframing, that $500 could buy me two or three Infographics, which could be great viral material. The value is there, and this is something I just can’t do for myself.

So research or graphics, or some combination of the two.

Dennis-SeymourDennis Seymour LeapFroggr.comTwitter

The normal answers would be to spend it on infographics or evergreen content.

I’m pretty sure a lot of the other experts here will already use them as part of their answers.

As they will have those covered, I’ll use the $500 on something else.

#1 Logo ($5)

A lot of niche sites do not have logos and it’s wise that you invest in one. Niche sites nowadays usually end up going big so why not start with a logo early! You’ll have brand retention and it’ll be great for your overall design.

Step 1. Go get a logo on Fiverr.

Step 2. Pay for it! This will set you back $5 at the least. IF you want, then do it yourself to save money.

Step 3. Submit it to good logo directories. Search “logo directory” on Google.

Here’s an example: http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/logo/leapfroggr

#2 Video Tutorial ($200)

Get a video created.

This is the same with the infographic concept but this time, just use video.

Aside from being able to submit

Option 1: Animation ($200 or less)

Step 1. Fiverr (again)

Step 2. Pay for it! Some will cost you less than $100!

Step 3. Be sure to be the one to do the story bord and script. Review it, get the fixes done.

Step 4. Link bait time – Outreach to influencers

Option 2: Buy Screen Recording Software + Good Mic + Transcription (less than $200)

Step 1. Find a topic or great content to make into a tutorial. You can also repurpose your existing content.

Step 2. Link bait – Outreach to influencers (or use it as part of a guest post on an influencers blog)

Step 3. Submit to video sites linking to the post with the video.

#3 Approach 5 Bloggers ($250)

I’ll assume you can spend $50 worth of products and send it to bloggers for reviews. Yes, it’s a bribe and it’s not “ethical” for many people but it works. Companies do it daily. As long as your whole link building campaign isn’t about it then you won’t get into any trouble.

Another Option: Send them Swag instead about your company to introduce yourself, like a gift basket, keychains, usb, other useful stuff. They’ll gladly blog about you.

#4 Spend it on Facebook ads to promote the blog posts that talk about you ($45)

If the blogger is popular, odds are, some readers will also link to them using their blogs. You can also use this to promote your tutorial videos.

If the bigger sites pick it up as part of their roundup like this one (http://marketingland.com/marketing-day-8-93799) you get an instant good link!

AND as bonus links, these sites WILL ALWAYS have scraper sites copying their content which means more links for your site. I can’t fully support this, but there’s no other way around it. You will get bonus, free links either way. If you don’t like them, disavow them.

Doug-CunningtonDoug CunningtonNicheSiteProject.comTwitter

I would spend the money on building a small, niche specific Private Blog Network. I know the there has been quite of a lot of news about PBNs in recently. The fact is that truly private networks still work really well.

Most people that experienced issues had some connection with a public network. If you follow the best practices for building a PBN then it’s highly unlikely to have any issues. You can reduce your risk to a very small amount that is manageable. You can learn the best practices in this course.

One key would be to find niche relevant domains for the network. Backlinks from websites that are related to your niche will be more powerful than from non related domains. You can work with a domain broker to find domains for you but the cost could be high. Instead, you can try to find the domain on your own with a few free tools and some time.

I would also look at a service to build Web 2.0 properties, specifically The HOTH. They do a fantastic job and I use them all the time. here is a video tutorial of how I actually set up my link building campaigns with the Hoth.

Overall, I wouldn’t do anything different than I used to. Backlinks still matter and are the best way to rank a site.

Fili WieseFili WieseSearchBrothers.comTwitter

With only $500 at hand the budget is best used to thoroughly investigate the backlink profile using commercial backlink analysis tools, such as Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, Link Research Tools or SEMRush and include freely available Google Webmaster Tools backlink samples, too. Based on the aggregated sample data, it’s possible to audit the backlink profile, identify poor quality links potentially holding a site back in Google Search results and disavow them on domain level. Then you can go ahead and acquire new links organically by providing the best user experience.

Garrett FrenchGarrett FrenchBrokenLinkBuilding.comTwitter

We are a link building agency and $500 is 1/6th the amount of our minimum monthly. That said, here’s how I’d spend that $500 on a project for one of our company-owned sites.

1) I’d invest personal time on strategy and content design.

My work here includes making sure our project is “on a mission” (http://citationlabs.com/mission-based-marketing-for-brand-visibility-oh-yes-and-those-link-things/), and that there are enough linking prospects to support our content concept.

We think of content as a product that solves a market problem. Typically this results in some sort of custom database that we scrape by hand (a student discount directory, an events calendar of pet parades, etc…).

All this thinking, research and design could take me anywhere from 3-10 hours.

2) Here’s my estimate on spending $500.

$300 on the data team: contact finding, data gathering

$100 on the dev/content: publishing high-utility data in directory or calendar format

$100 for outreach – template writing, high touch to top 10% of prospects, bulk template to the rest.

Harris-SchachterHarris Schachter Optimizepri.meTwitter

Easy. I’d spend the first $500 on tools. You can’t build links without data and time-saving automation. Things like Ahrefs, Buzz Sumo, Buzz Stream and even influencer research like Little Bird if there is any money left over.

James NorquayJames Norquay ProsperityMedia.com.auTwitter

With $500 it is not a huge budget for link building so you want to be creative with how you use it to ensure results.

One campaign we rolled out in the past used direct mail to gain links and brand mentions here:


You could use the exact same strategy to buy $500 worth of product to send to bloggers or cup cakes even anything creative.

Other then that use $500 on a competition to drive links to your site or simply just spend the time doing link prospecting on your direct competition or making some really crazy content. Yet it’s hard to know how far $500 will go.

James ParsonsJames ParsonsJamesParsons.comTwitter

If I had a $500 total budget to split between multiple sites, I’d invest in a quality keyboard, mouse, and office chair, because you’re going to be working for a while.

In all seriousness, I’d probably invest the money into the following:

1. Serialmailer – $50 for OS/X (or comparable Windows program)

Description: A program that helps send multiple emails with ease. Fantastic for emailing multiple authors of websites to see if they’re accepting guest posts.

2. Boomerang and Yesware for Gmail: $5/mo and $10/mo for pro accounts

Description: A must-have for following up on your emails. See if your emails have been read or not, and automatically pop a message back into your inbox if they haven’t responded in a set amount of days.

3. Scrapebox – $57 from scrapebox.com/bhw

Description: Great for finding websites within a certain niche, checking for links you’ve built, and all around a swiss army knife of an application.

4. Textbroker – $15/article (25 articles)

Description: Writing is a pain. Crowd-source your articles with a 4-star rating for great quality content with a reasonable turnaround time.

Total: $497

With a $500 investment, some thorough research and outreach to editors of websites with the right tools, and some great quality articles with images inserted and links (one to your website), you have 25 high quality guest blog posts between your niche sites. Not a bad way to spend $500.

Jason-ChestersJason Chesters DoSeoYourself.comTwitter

Funnily enough, I am currently running an experiment with this exact scenario. I have set myself a budget of $500 to spend on link building to one of my niche sites. In fact, I have already spent the $500 and started to see some good results. This was based on a new affiliate site and you can see how it is progressing in this graph:


As you can see, it jumped from 150 to 20 with little effort, I have concerns that the site was in the Google Sandbox waiting period, but we will see if it rises to page 1 for its main keyword.

So what did I spend the $500 on?

I focused on ‘niche targeted’ guest posts and high PR contextual links. There were a few gigs on BHW that I used. If you search carefully you will find some decent ones!!

I would not waste my money on all round SEO services, mass link building or any other type of link building other than high authority, relevant links.

To avoid any penalties you should make sure that your links come from niche related blogs. So if you site is about ‘diets’, then a link from a health blog would be good.

This should be your main priority.

Next you should take care in deciding on you Anchor text. I would recommend including your main keyword within a sentence, rather than just your main keyword alone!!

Example: ‘This sentence is an example of your KEYWORD ANCHOR text’

You could even spend the $500 on building your own PBN network to build your own links. so that you guarantee the relevancy factor!

Whatever method you take, always remember to link from NICHE relevant sources only!!!

My niche site still has a little way to go, maybe the links weren’t quite strong enough, or maybe $500 wasn’t quite enough. Follow my blog too see how this one pans out….

Jock PurtleJock Purtle DigitalExits.com –  Twitter

For a niche website I would look at providing guest content on niche specific websites related to my niche websites. We have found that a few links from highly related content is beating a lot of links from a lot of varied sources. For example if you look at the term in the USA “business credit cards” you can see that nerdwallet.com (DA 78 ) outranks chase.com (DA 85) for that term even though their DA is much lower. That is because they have more contextual and relevant links to their page.

We have also been using infographics as a great link source. As long the content is better than everyone elses and also the design is great you can get a lot of value out of an infographic if a) you are using it to attracts links to your page to increase domain authority or b) you are using it purely to post to other people’s sites and are soliciting links.

Joseph HoJoseph HoJoseph-Ho.comTwitter

To start the link building I will first purchase press release links from Marketer media and point to the niche site. The press release backlinks is used for link acceleration and link velocity for foundation purpose.

Then I will use around $100 to purchase 5 domains, 3 old age domain (at least 5 years above) and 2 new domain to use it as for switchbox seo.

I will then purchase 18 to 20 private blog network links from Amaterasu Network and point to old age domain 1. I will then spent the rest of the money to purchase GSA, Senuke, blog comments or wiki links and then point to domain 2, 3, 4, 5. Wait for 1 month and then 301 redirect all the switchbox domain to the niche site.

Here is a simple diagram.


In any case if you are affected by any Google update, you can easily turn off the 301 redirect switchbox domain and the links will stop flowing to your niche site.

Julie JoyceJulie Joyce Linkfishmedia.comTwitter

I’d write the content myself but I’d interview at least 5 people to get some good quotes for it, give a $50 gift card to a trusted industry colleague to critique the heck out of it in order to make it as good as possible, then buy 3 paid links on highly trafficked sites and promote those posts in addition to promoting the content. I’d submit my content to Viral Content Buzz to help get it shared and I’d probably beg my friends to share it also.

Kevin-BlandKevin Bland Theshitseo.co.ukTwitter

In this day and age you have to be pretty smart to be able to spend all that cash wisely on link building! $500 is a lot of money and clients want to see at least a 6987% return on their investment.

Link building used to be really easy. I’d email Ade Ekyboil from Mali and purchase 20K African directory links from him, and the next day I’ll be ranking for highly competitive keywords like “eggs” and “Farm Eggs” and “Carpet Buttons”.

Nowadays, you have to think outside of the box. The box has to be barely visible. When you look back to where that box is, you can’t actually see it. That’s how far outside of the box you have to think, and being an SEO that is almost impossible to do as most of us are just creatively retarded.

As you know, if you read my last post on this amazing website, I work within some very very tough niches! If you can build links in amputee and midget porn, then you can build links anywhere.

So being a very knowledgeable and clever link builder you’d think that I would know how to spend $500 on my niche sites? HELL YES I CAN!!! *Rips off t-shirt and flexes biceps*

In the eyes of the big search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo, they don’t want you to link build. Quality content is what they want. What I say to that is “HELL NO!!! I’M HERE TO MAKE MONEY NOT FRIENDS WITH MY AUDIENCE I BUILT”

So THIS is what I’d do to my niche Gilf amputee pirate porn sites…….

1. Spend $200 on building some quality relationships with influencers. I normally send each of them a crate of their favourite beer along with a list of all my niche websites and a note saying “Please link here, here, here and here” with big red arrows pointing to each of the URLs. You may think this is a waste of money, but think about it, wouldn’t link to a list of sites if they received a 12 pack assortment ale box from Lidl ?

2. Ego Bait infographics X3 $300. You can get these created and promoted for $100 each on Fiverr.com. I would choose someone topical and who is likely to link to your list of niche sites. Remember, when you outreach to the people who you created the infographic for, don’t forget to send them the list of niche sites that you want them and their family and friends to link to.

Here’s a list of people you can make ego bait infographics for…

Charles Floate (he has a great PBN so if you create a nice infographic about him, he will probably want to link to your list and he might even throw in a few lies about how his Mum is a supermodel, he earned $256,973 in one month and his girlfriend has two compartments in her pussy)

Kim Kardashian

(She has a very powerful PBN as well as a large family, who all have websites and who wouldn’t think twice about linking to your content and niche sites)

Oscar Pistorius

(Although in prison, he will instruct his group of webmasters to link to your shit, as the infographic you created cheered him up so much that he wants to repay you by linking to your dog dildo site)

Barry Adams

(Barry is an award winning SEO and would relish the opportunity to promote some more content about himself. He is a massive linker.)

Rand Fishkin

(This guy pioneered infographics, so will appreciate an infographic about his life and how he failed to grow Moz into a profitable business)


You need to speculate to accumulate, but always test and do things with passion and authority and a level head. If you don’t have a level head, you can kiss your $500 goodbye and get yourself a job at the Games Workshop in Canterbury.



Don’t forget to read my blog. Full to the brim of quality guides on stuff.

Kristi HinesKristi Hines KristiHines.comTwitter

In the last few months, I have found that using a virtual assistant has been the best investment for expanding my niche site content. With the types of niche sites I create, there is a lot of research involved. It makes more sense for me to focus on my main business, and let my VA handle all of the basic work of finding the information I need and plugging it all in into WordPress.

Krystian SzastokKrystian Szastok KrystianSzastok.co.ukTwitter

First of all I’ll say that I don’t endorse buying links as of course it’s against Google’s guidelines.

But, theoretically, if I had $500 (or £500 in our case as I’m in UK) to spend, and Google didn’t exist, I would take one of the following approaches depending on the niche.

1. I would find local government directories if they contained a relevant niche to include my or my clients site and then get in touch. Sometimes they ask for ‘admin fees’.

2. I am a firm believer in offline approach to online. Recently I got in touch with an editor of a popular blog and just started chatting. Before asking if I can submit content for her consideration I’ve sent her flowers and chocolates to the office of the company she worked for. I was lucky as it worked and I had my content featured and now have a good relationship which will work for future. Sadly for Google that falls under incentives, so I can’t say which blog it was… (thanks Natalie!)

3. Lastly, sometimes buying great copy from a known blogger and getting them on board opens doors. Often I prefer to cooperate with a well known blogger,

– I get their approval to use their name

– I outreach to a few publications that feature similar calibre of writers and say I’m working with x writer

– I get approval on a title

– I commission the writer and pay them

– I then send the content to the publication and get my link as one of the editorial links and no one is paid for publishing itself, as they get a recognised name in bio.

Marie HaynesMarie HaynesHisWebMarketing.comTwitter

For the past couple of years, the vast majority of what I have been doing is reviewing the backlink profiles of sites that have gotten into either a manual penalty situation or trouble with the Penguin algorithm. One thing that I have found is that there are very few sites out there that really know how to get links in ways that fully comply with the Google guidelines. Gone are the days where you could take $500 and purchase some blog network links and be ranking well in a short period of time. Google will tell you that you need to create fantastic content and you’ll get links that way, but we all know that that’s not completely true. I could create the best website in the world, and if no one sees it, how will anyone know how to link to it?

With this in mind, one of the ways where I will commonly spend a link building budget is not in the creation of a link, but rather, in promotion of great content. And…we don’t usually put a lot of budget into the creation of content other than our time. One thing that we will often do is use some creative thinking and tools such as Google trends (google.com/trends) or perhaps reddit news (reddit.com/r/news) to see what people are talking about. For example, right now a hot topic is Ebola and the fact that some healthcare workers have tested positive for the disease. That makes me wonder how you would test for Ebola. When I Google, “how does the Ebola test work?” I get results that are either general information about Ebola, news stories on Ebola or rather complicated discussions on the technical aspects of testing. If I had a client that could make a layman’s guide to testing for Ebola that would be some awesome content that people would want to see and probably would want to link to as well.

So, let’s say I have a client in the medical field and they write this guide. It has to be extremely thorough…the best of its kind on the web and something that people would want to bookmark. The creation of this content wouldn’t cost me money assuming that my client is willing to do the writing. (This can sometimes be difficult to get clients to do, which is why we generally only take clients who are willing to take an active role in content creation.) Once we’ve got the article completed, then I would spend the $500 on ads to promote this content. I have found decent success with Facebook ads and twitter ads depending on the type of content you are trying to promote.

Or, another route to take would be to spend time doing blogger and journalist outreach. This would not cost any money other than the time spent. If my client could be considered an expert on how Ebola testing could be done then I will reach out to journalists and let them know that he or she is available for an interview on the subject. Interviews are a great way to get good links.

Marko SaricMarko Saric HowtoMakeMyBlog.comTwitter

A budget of $500 for my niche blog? I would spend it on creating great content that I am not able to create myself. I am quiet comfortable in writing text but I am not so good at creating graphics or videos. If there was a budget available I would hire someone to create a nice looking infographic for me that can become a part of a long, interesting blog post. The infographic would help me get that blog post out to more people and would help me get social media shares. More eyeballs to the post will result in more people linking to it. In general all my efforts go into creation of content that people love and getting that content in front of many targeted people and this is how the links and social mentions come too.

Martijn ScheijbelerMartijn Scheijbeler TheNextWeb.comTwitter

Good link building ain’t easy these days, to some extend it’s still possible to do some guest posting but on the other end the quality of those links will probably decrease over time with the changes Google has made on this already. That leaves the ‘old link building’ folks with a limited amount of opportunities. But spending $500 on link building ideas and execution should still be no problem at all.

Spending the $500 is a hard choice, you can spend it on a lot of things: setting up a contest, doing more research on your customers or spending it to buy links (which I definitely wouldn’t recommend on doing). I would do it in a different way and try to find a platform/ audience that allows for sponsored content, but with this opportunity it should be required to nofollow all your links so you’re not doing this solely for the affect of links. Why I think it’s the best opportunity to spend $500 on is the following:

Leverage: for you continuing link building efforts it’s clear that you already scored a high value link from a authority in your industry. Who doesn’t want to say that he already got a link from the New York Times before he starts reaching out to smaller blogs.

Return on Investment: chances are that this link building effort will already drive you traffic which could potentially lead to business. Making it so that you could spend another $500 in the next phase of your link building strategy.

Matthew BarbyMatthew Barby MatthewBarby.comTwitter

Whilst $500 isn’t a huge amount of money, it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done with it. I spend less than this one promoting my personal blog each month, so I’ve had a lot of experience in working with small scale budgets.

My approach would typically stem around content to begin with. I’d identify a few different writers/bloggers within the niche that were active on social media. I’d then approach 2-3 of them about creating some content for my website – I’d pay them, of course. I actually did this on a small travel blog that I run and pay the writers (all of which have their own travel blogs) to create 400-500 word articles for $50 a piece.

Within the agreement, I’d ask that they share the content via their social channels, giving the content much more exposure (I’d get all of the writers to share any new content published on the site in order to increase reach further). This would dramatically increase the chances of my content being linked to organically. Alongside this, I’d ask each of the writers to place a link to the content they write on my website within their own – this could be within their portfolio or via a badge (again, I did this with my travel blog and cashed in on some quick wins).

Finally, at the end of the month, I’d offer an incentive of $50 for the writer who gains the most links back to their content. This gives them a huge incentive to go and try to promote the content and also enables me to utilise their channels to promote my own content without having to lift a finger.

Matthew-WoodwardMatthew Woodward MatthewWoodward.co.ukTwitter

If I had $500 to spend on link building a new niche site I would first go through the process of replicating my competitors profile.

While that work is in progress I would be looking to get some links placed on authoritative sites with a mix of paid placements and tricks like this Wikipedia hack.

The remaining budget would be invested in the building of a blog network, even if it’s just 2-3 sites.

This would provide the perfect link foundation to leverage further as you grow the niche site.

Max ProkellMax Prokell VentaMarketingTwitter

A good aspect to determine when marketing and building links to a niche site is to find out what online resources are lacking or underserved for your niche. Typically we find that education is a resource that can always be provided to a niche industry in one way or another. Whether it is becoming a source for recent news, a how-to or DYI resource, a training resource, or visually interpreting recurring data that is used by the industry on a regular basis, establishing what your site is going to contribute to the industry is important. 

After developing and publishing a few pieces of content, I would look into Social advertising. I would determine where you audience or niche hangs out online, and then use these ads to target the specific market or thought leaders in you niche. One thing you want to be sure of is that your site has great UI/UX and allows people to easily sign up and stay connected with your website. If your content is good and serves the industry well, you will build an audience and develop links organically, but an added bonus is that these email sign ups can later be leveraged for additional link building and outreach opportunities.

Mike RamseyMike RamseyNiftyMarketing.comTwitter

I would spend $84 on Moz Local. Why? Everyone has a business address and listing with the aggregators that Moz works with will (over months) create many listings with your name address and phone number with a nice fat category relevant link on the listings. These listings are deep but they add up and also can rank on brand terms. 

I would take $400 and go to 4 different sites with audiences in my niche and offer the readers of those sites $100 to the most creative/fun/nice thing that they could with the money. You could have them leave comments on the post, or on social media. Announce the contest in one post, and announce the winner in another. You give $400 away for a good cause and help the sites write both posts which will surely give you an opportunity to link back to your site. You aren’t paying the site for the link (read buying links) but doing a giveaway from your brand to it’s readers. Everyone wins.

This leaves $16 which I would probably use to buy more images for Photo Pie Backdrops because that is where most of my spare change goes 😉

Moosa HemaniMoosa Hemani SeTalks.comTwitter

If I will have $500 and I have to invest on my own brand so I will start with asking myself a question, what I need the most and how can I achieve that using this money. At the moment I believe what I really want for SEtalks.com is to get more subscribers to the blog so that I can do some real testing with my email list that I can’t do with my client’s website as there is a risk involve in it.

I am not saying I don’t really care about my subscribers but I usually build kind of relationship with my subscribers that they allow me to test that didn’t harm them (lucky me!).

So, I need more subscribers for my blog.

How do I get them using this money?

The best idea in my opinion to turn visitors to subscribers for a place where content is always the major focused is by providing them some extra amazing content. If a reader will be happy with the blog posts that he/she found on my blog, chances are they will also subscribe to that extra content.

This extra piece of content could be anything between white paper to ebook, infographic to data and more. In my case, I would have tried e-book as I have tried one and I think writing another will be lot of fun.

Obviously I will be writing a blog myself so there will be no cost of it but still editing and designing a book is a cost as I personally don’t have these skills or resources. Plus writing a book is not enough, you need a proper promotional plan so that I can attract more and more eye balls.

If I will have $500, this is how I would have spent to increase my reach and get more subscribers to my blog.

Writing of an eBook that answers the core problem of users in detail. A book that everyone in the niche was ideally looking for. This will cost me nothing but my time

Editing of the book will cost $75 to $100. I am lucky that I am living in a country where labor is relatively cheap as compare to other countries

Design of the book will again cost me around $100. This is important because presentation matters a lot.

Once the book is done, I still have $300 in hand and this is how I am going to use my $300 to promote my book and get as many visitors to the blog as possible and hope to convert them in to links.

If you are digital marketing niche, you will have a clear idea that tweet out of all social media channels contain most targeted traffic for this niche. I will spend $100 on promoted tweets to increase my reach and get more and more eye balls to the landing page that ask you for subscription.

Another place where I can find the most relevant traffic is Warrior Forum. I will prefer to get the banner ad of my ebook there so that I can attract maximum traffic from the forum. Usually forums have the kind of traffic that is looking for solutions so chances that I can get maximum subscription from there.

The last $100 are important so I will wait and see what is working for me and what kind of traffic is converting the most in to subscribers and then invest on that channel again.

I do have free and organic promotion options like getting a feedback on book from influencers, writing a guest post that feature my ebook and more but as we are focusing more on spending budget so I am not really getting in to the details of it.

Nauf-SidNauf Sid AffPayDay.comTwitter

$500 for ranking niche sites is a decent budget for beginners. You can easily double or even triple these $500 if you play your cards right. So are you ready to make some dough? Let’s roll. 

Skills needed for Ranking niche sites

1) Niche Research (Very important)

2) Keyword Research (Very important)

3) Creating web 2.0s

4) Creating parasite properties

5) Perseverance (Most important)

6) Patience  (Most important)

7) Basic knowledge of WordPress CMS

Costs Breakdown

Remember, first of all, we will be focusing all our efforts and money into building a PBN. Here are the costs associated with building a 15 site PBN.

$107.40 – Hosting

$150 – Domains (Assuming you will use coupons, domains will cost you less than $150. Also, I have included the private registration costs)

$50 – Articles (You can also save these $50 by writing the content yourself if you have the time for that)

$0 – Themes/Plugins (We will only utilize free themes/plugins)

Total Cost – $307.40

The remaining money will be used to reinvest and scaling up our projects.   

My Strategy for Ranking Niche Sites in 2014 with $500

My three pronged SEO strategy will be based around –

1) Private Blog Network (PBN)

private blog network links - 1 - nauf

2) Manual SEO

3) Social Engagement

Creating a Private Blog Network

pbn setup - 2 - nauf

1) Finding free expired domains. Follow this 4000+ word guide here.

2) Obviously, I can’t list all the steps for building a PBN, so please follow this 4000+ word Private Blog Network guide for in-depth installation and hosting details.

Make sure your PBN contains at least 10-15 domains. It will pack enough link juice to rank niche sites in most medium-low competition niches/markets.

Here are some more tips to stay under the radar and make your PBN truly private.

pbn tips - 3 - nauf

Manual SEO

1) Create social profiles on these social networks- Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin.

2) Submit your site to high PR social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Delicious, etc.

3) Manually create a blog network containing 50 web 2.0s.

4) Create parasite properties. Follow this guide for creating parasite properties.

5) Do guest posts on relevant blogs if and only if time permits. I always prefer Google operator searches for guest posting. 

guest posting infographic - 4 -nauf

That’s pretty much it. This is my bulletproof SEO strategy for affiliate niche sites.

Tips for beginners

·         Always stay under Google’s radar. Don’t go overboard with linking in the first month.

·         For the first month – don’t add high PR PBN links, instead get the social juice flowing.

·         Don’t monetize with Adsense instantly.

·         Use Amazon Associates and diversify your income with niche sites.  

·         Stay patient. Without patience, you can’t succeed in Internet Marketing.

Hope this helps. Since this roundup is about SEO/link building, monetization and other advanced stuff is out of the current scope. I will definitely shed some light on that in the future. Stay tuned.

Neil PatelNeil PatelNeilPatel.comTwitter

I would spend that money only on one site. That money doesn’t go too far, so I would focus it on one niche site instead of multiple.

As for what I would use it for, I would buy Facebook fans through their advertising platform. Once I have a solid fan base, I would then write my own content and push it out on the Facebook fan page.

Assuming people enjoy the content a few people would link to it.

The reason I would do this is that you can continually use the Facebook fan page to share your content and indirectly build links.

Nicholas-ScaliceNicholas Scalice EarnWorthy.comTwitter

This is an excellent question, because it you can run with it in so many different directions.

What I would do is use the $500 to create as much quality content as possible. Since content is king, it is important to get your content out there as much as possible, to a large and targeted audience. Of course, it is best to write the content yourself, as this is the most authentic approach, however there is only so much time in the day. So engaging with a copywriter and spending some money on quality articles, blog posts, guides, white papers, etc. is a great use of budget dollars.

Once the articles are written, they need to be distributed, and this is where the magic really happens. You need to identify the best backlink opportunities for your site, and then contact those folks and request a guest blogging opportunity. More often than not, they’ll be happy to take free content, as long as the quality is superb and it will benefit their readers. It’s a win-win situation, because you’ll get a backlink and some recognition and they will get quality content to share.

With $500 to spend, you can invest quite a bit in content creation and blogger outreach. You might even have enough left over to get an infographic created by a graphic designer. Infographics are excellent, because people love to share visual content. Bloggers are looking for this type of content everyday. If you can get a handful of bloggers to publish your infographic and link back to your site as the source, this could significantly boost your backlinking efforts. Give it a shot and see what happens!

Rand FishkinRand FishkinMoz.com/RandTwitter

My content strategy has always been about producing things I believe people will find uniquely valuable and worthy of amplification, then sharing them with the audience most likely to pay attention. When spending money on that process, I like to use it primarily to increase my opportunities for exposure to right kinds of audiences. Thus, if travel and a conference is the place I need to be, that’s where the money would go. If being in front of a social media audience is critical, that’s where I’d spend it. If listings in search are critical, then PPC ads are the place. And if I’m trying to amplify very broad content, content advertising platforms like Taboola, Outbrain, and/or Zemanta would be on my radar. Additionally, I don’t think I could function in my content marketing efforts these days without a few critical tools – namely Buzzsumo, Followerwonk, and Fresh Web Explorer, so those would probably be near the top of my list, too (though the free functionality of Buzzsumo and Wonk might be enough to see me through).

Ryan BiddulphRyan Biddulph BloggingFromParadise.comTwitter

If I had $500 to spend on link building I’d choose to spend my time and energy building relationships with top entrepreneurs from my niche, or with the top entrepreneurs in the world, and I’d pocket the $500 for a rainy day. The only issue I have with paying money for any one link building strategy is the return I’d receive for the $500. In more blunt terms, you get what you give, and I’d never dream of being able to live the full-time, professional blogging, island-hopping, digital nomad style, I’m living, by making a $500 investment in attempting to build links.

Save the money. Spend it on food, and movies, or other fun offline stuff. Choose to spend your time and energy on building relationships. Once you have built relationships – instead of building links – you’ll get a $50,000 or $100,000 or greater return from your efforts, over time.

Example: instead of trying to build links many years ago, I built relationships with influential bloggers. One such blogger is New York Times Best Selling Author Chris Brogan. He’s a business advisor for: Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Paulo Coelho, Microsoft, Google, GM, and Disney, among other world famous icons and brands. I patiently invested my time and energy to form a bond with him. In the past few months he’s tweet endorsed not 1, but 2 of my Blogging from Paradise eBooks. A New York Times Best Selling Author endorsed my eBooks.

You can click this link to see proof of tweet endorsements:


I’ll also be speaking at NYU in December to a marketing class. The class is using my monetization chapter as part of the course syllabus. I built a friendship with NYU professor Matthew Capella, and as you can see, my diligence has blessed me with a tremendous opportunity to help today’s brightest and best students, and hey, it sure doesn’t look bad on my resume, right? Not too many folks on this earth can say that they’ve been endorsed by a New York Times Best Selling Author and that they’ve spoken at NYU.

How did I get that type of return? I mean, building links is nice and all, but receiving backing from Richard Branson’s business coach is about as good as it gets for any entrepreneur, outside out getting a testimonial from the other RB, himself, right? I posted in depth, insightful comments, on authority blog’s like Chris Brogan’s blog, then I promote the heck out of other authority entrepreneurs, generously sharing their content, to build strong friendships with these individuals. This approach is very different than most folk’s approaches but I figured that if I can adopt a Big Picture approach to my Blogging from Paradise blog, and brand, and if I moved away from investing a few bucks in building links, and spent my time and energy, building bonds with some of the world’s most powerful entrepreneurs, I’d be able to touch more lives and inspire more folks to retire to a life of island hopping, through smart blogging.

Links can’t read your blog, or buy your products, or hire you out for services. People do. If you build bonds, through investing your attention and energy, to forming friendships, your niche websites will grow at an exponential rate.

Sean SiSean Si Seo-Hacker.comTwitter

Interesting question. And timely too since I started up a new SaaS business. It’s a free microsurvey tool called Qeryz and so far things have been going pretty smooth.

If I had $500 I would spend it on building a data-driven content strategy. I’m going to invest it in user data gathering tools that tell me what my users are exactly doing, which pages they visited at a time, where they came from, etc.

Take a look at this screenshot for example:

Sample User Activity Screenshot - sean si

Just with this data, I could already tell that this user really did try out Qeryz because he completed the 4-step onboarding process. Likewise, on other occasions, I could tell if the user had problems somewhere along the onboarding process – allowing me to contact that person, troubleshoot the problem and gather data on the solution.

The thing is, people are always looking for solutions. And if you are able to tell people how you are able to solve real problems you encountered in your business, you’ll find that they are more than willing to listen. It’s a hundred times more powerful if your story is backed-up by data.

Just take a look at how Alex Turnbull of Groove does it in his company’s blog. Did he get a lot of links? Oh yes. Did other people share his content? Definitely.

So if I had $500 what I’d do is invest it in a user data gathering tool, come up with an awesome blog post about what problems were happening in my SaaS tool, how I solved it – and show the real data to back it all up.

If there’s anything left of that $500, I would probably use it for Stumbleupon ads – making sure that I link to some influencers in the field of web Copywriting and Conversion Rate Optimization such as Oli Gardner, Neil Patel, Brian Clark, and so on and so forth.

Steve BrodskySteve Brodksy TheWorldIsMyOffice.comTwitter

I am not a fan of “link-building”.  I have always preferred a much more natural way of doing SEO where I don’t even worry about SEO.  In fact I currently have 3 different niche sites, all ranking in the top 3 of google for competitive keywords and I have never done anything resembling active “link-building” campaigns for them.

Instead I prefer to do content marketing.  By getting my knowledge and my message out there in-front of other peoples audiences I have had a lot more success than with any white or black hat link building method.  (at-least in my experience)

So how do you do it the natural way?

These are my 3 best methods of content marketing which gets you in front of your target audience, but also as a happy side effect, highly relevant (and if your doing it the right way) highly valuable back links without even trying.

1) Broken/Old Content Link Building

I search influencers sites that are in my niche for curation posts.  These are posts that link back to other sites to show either examples or explain certain topics.  I then find topics that I have better content on my blog than they are currently linking too (or the link is just plain broken) and send the influencer an email letting them know about it.  

This has gotten me an absolute ton of links from high profile influencer sites, but also gets my content in front of my target audience.

2)  Content Outreach

This generally comes in the form of guest posting.  Now I already hear most of you saying Matt Cutts said guest posting was done!  Here’s the deal I don’t do guest posting for the link building, that is just a great side effect of it.  By posting guest posts on influencers blog I am able to get my message in front of an extremely targeted audience and inside of the guest post I can link back to other posts of mine.

3)  Infographic Promotion

My last top method is Infographic Promotion.  I create great looking, informative info graphics and then promote the crap out of them.  I post them on all of the social media networks, send them personally to all of the influencers in the niche and by doing this I get an absolute ton of back links to my blog.  But more importantly I get a ton of highly targeted traffic coming to my site for the first time!

Those are my top 3 content marketing (if you must say it “link-building”) methods.  Now the question was how would I spend $500?  I would spread it out evenly over these 3 methods hiring an outsourcer to do all of the grunt work in searching out curation posts in blogs, reaching out to influencers for guest posts and to create the infographics.

Stuart WalkerStuart Walker NicheHacks.comTwitter

Well I wouldn’t actually spend the $500 on links. I wouldn’t spend anything on links.

I’d create high quality content (or outsource it)

The sort of content that picks up links and shares. 

And then pay someone the $500 (or whatever they asked for) to do manual outreach.

Ultimate Guides such as the ones featured here – http://nichehacks.com/category/ultimate-guides-resources/

Expert round ups (like this one)

Link-bait posts (especially good if there’s a major event or something trending you can build it round, such as the World Cup for example: http://nichehacks.com/linkbait-brazil-world-cup-2014/)

Or by simply creating content on already popular topics.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to use BuzzSumo

Enter your niche or keyword into the search box and it will bring up the highest shared content in your niche.

People love this topic.

Now go create something bigger, better and more beautiful on the same topic.

Or use OpenSiteExplorer to find the most linked to content from the best sites in your niche.

The ‘top pages’ feature tells you exactly what they are.

Find content with lots of links and again create something bigger, better, and  more beautiful. 

Once you have your epic piece of content then pay someone to do manual outreach via email / twitter 

Contact the original content creator and people who have shared / linked to the original content to tell them you’ve created something even bigger and better.

If they liked the original content then it stands that they’ll love your even better version of it and share / link to it as well.

You can find who’s linked and shared to it via using tools like OSE, Ahrefs and Topsy.com

And even contact people who have linked to / shared similar content. 

Topsy.com is a good place to enter your keywords to see who’s sharing what. Simply find people with big audiences and reach out to them.

You’ll pick up a ton of really good natural links from sites across the net and a lot of social shared, comments, and traffic. 

Beats any bought link packages in my opinion.

And your rankings will last where as when trying to game the system you usually get caught out eventually. 

Most people creating the small, niche review sites, wouldn’t want to go to this much effort however. 

But if you’re looking for long term gains I think it’s the way forward. 

Takeshi YoungTakeshi Young KeshKesh.comTwitter

$500 is not a ton of money, but there are a lot of different ways you can use that money to build links:

Blogger giveaways – If you are an ecommerce site or sell some kind of product, identify the top bloggers in your niche and related niches, and do outreach asking the bloggers if they would be interested in a review copy of the product or if they would like to do a giveaway of your product on their site. Then send out $500 worth of products to the bloggers. An easy way to get backlinks from relevant, authority sites in your niche.

Contest – This depends on your niche and how comfortable you are with outreach, but you can take the $500 and invest it in a giveaway of products on your blog, then promote the contest to bloggers in your niche. There are also contest directories out there that you can submit your site to. If you don’t sell a product, you can also do a giveaway of $500 cash, because who doesn’t like money?

Scholarship – Create a scholarship program where students write 500-1000 word essays, and offer $500 as the prize. Then submit your scholarship program to colleges and universities that have links to external scholarships. You can easily find target sites by doing reverse backlink lookups on other scholarships and find who is linking to them. This strategy also has the added benefit in that you can use the essays as free content on your sites and also promote it on social media.

Infographic – Infographics have been done to death in some niches, but still work remarkably well in others. If you are in a niche where infographics haven’t been done to death and you have strong creativity and outreach skills, they can still be a great way to get links. Make sure to come up with a great idea for the infographic and create a list of prospects based on bloggers who have shared infographics before in the past. Then hire a designer to create the infographic for $500. Elance is a great site for finding talented graphic artists at that price point.

Internship – The laws on this will depend on where you live, but in many states you can get a intern to work for you for a couples months in exchange for college credit. Assuming you know about SEO, you can teach the intern about internet marketing, and have them help you with tasks such as writing content, doing keyword research, and sending outreach e-mails. Use the $500 for posting the ad to Craigslist and treating the intern to pizza and coffee during in-person meetings.

Outsourcing – You can hire a person working fulltime for you in the Philippines for $500/month. This requires a bit of time and effort in terms of finding a contractor, testing them out, and putting together a detailed, step-by-step action plan they can follow to help you with your tasks, but once you have a process in place you can get a lot of work done for very little money. For $500 a month you can have someone working 40 hours a week on content writing, link building, and other SEO tasks.

Those are just a handful of ideas, if you use your creativity you should be able to come up with many more!

Tom DemersTom Demers CornerstoneContent.comTwitter

Most importantly I think would be to acknowledge that $500 isn’t very much money to spend on links anymore. I think at a high level you sort of have three options:

1) Go for very low cost, higher risk links

2) Pay for linkable content

3) Spend money on something you can use as “infrastructure” to help amplify the content creation and promotion you’re going to do with your site

If you have expertise building more “grey hat” automated links you might get the best return there, but if you don’t know what you’re doing and/or you aren’t willing to fade some risk that’s not a realistic option. 

If you went for number two you could potentially hire someone to create a great resource, ego-bait type list, or data visualization (you’ll have to get somewhat lucky to get someone to do any of these for this price, but it is possible) and do the outreach yourself. It’s definitely possible to get a great, in-depth how-to guide written for $500 that you can then execute a lot of broken link building around. 

The third option would be to spend your money here on things that aren’t strictly link building, but would allow you to get more links from the things that you do over time – things like a custom graphic template (something you can customize for new content) to use as a primary graphic for all of your content, other design elements, tools to help you research link opportunities and/or help you identify pain points with your prospects and popular content in your niche that you can create and promote content around (things like ahrefs, BuzzSumo, or the Broken Link Finder).

Zac JohnsonZac Johnson ZacJohnson.comTwitter

If I had $500 to spend on link building, one thing I definitely wouldn’t do is try to get the most out of my money by using low cost and outsourced solutions. If anything, this will just killed your site and get you penalized. With Google slapping sites left and right, you really need to be careful about how you build links these days.

Here’s a breakdown of how I would spend $500 on link building.

$100 – Study my industry and pull a bunch of great stats and authority sites/figures together to create a killer infographic. At the $100 rate this infographic wouldn’t look amazing, but it would still get the job done. You can create the infographic on your own (using free/paid site) or outsource to any designer. (Here’s an infographic example we had done for top web hosting services)

$100 – I would also write an amazing 1000+ word article based around the facts and key points of the infographic I had created. I would then hire a well educated writer to create five more original versions of the article. Once receiving the articles back I would proof-read them again to make sure they read well and got the points across, while also adding in my own words/lingo as they would be posted through my profile/account. These articles could then be used for publication on my sites or through guest blogging on other sites in addition to my infographic.

$300 – Lastly I would spend a few hundred bucks to attend a conference or event in my area with other well known bloggers and entrepreneurs. The networking connections here would be priceless and would develop into many new opportunities for me to build solid relationships and start guest blogging (best practices) on other high end authority sites.

You can spend more/less money in different areas, but this is a good draft to go off of. It’s also good to note that you also won’t only be getting links from this process, but also will start receiving traffic to your sites right away.

Zeph SnappZeph Snapp AlturaInteractive.comTwitter

I don’t do any affiliate marketing at all. However, I do work with a number of brands that make their money from advertising, which requires a very similar approach.

At Altura Interactive, we specifically work with international companies that are targeting Spanish speaking customers, so this also colors my opinion a bit. It is my belief that even affiliate marketers can profit from attracting Spanish language readers, and I have a couple of very quick tactics that I can share that are cheaply accomplished.

If you are not counting elbow grease (and my assumption is that we are not), then $500 is actually quite a lot of money to spend, so we can make this go a long way.

Use Buzzsumo to find the best resources regarding my particular topic. If this is a blog post, great, but what will really make it interesting for me is if there is an infographic or a video.

Check the backlinks to the resource using OSE or Ahrefs. If it has less than 1,000, I am not interested, as it won’t have enough interest for me. Download those to excel.

Use the language detection software included in Nudo.io to see how many of the websites are in languages other than English. Usually the next most popular language will be Spanish.

If this is the case, I’d reach out to the original author (or website) and request permission to translate their resource to Spanish. Generally speaking, they are flattered that someone would be interested, and say yes.

We do all of our translations in-house, but you can find a decent translator on any of the freelancer websites. Ask them to translate the resource, along with your standard outreach letter, asking that since they linked to the English language resource, would they be interested in the translation! Just make sure that you vet the work.

Have a second translator check and edit the work. Don’t skip this step.

Once you have the completed resource, drop the Spanish language links into the Nudo.io Spanish language contact finder.

Publish the translation (obviously, it helps if you have a complete Spanish language website.).

Send the outreach, and let the original author know that you have published the translated resource

Watch the links roll in!


When you let the original author know about the published piece, give them pre-translated snippets to share on social media, in case they want them.

When doing outreach in Spanish, we’ve found that contact forms can be up to five times as effective as outreach via email. Use the contact forms that Nudo.io provides, before moving on to the email addresses.

Now that you grasp how to create hot content for your web site which generates traffic, social media shares, mentions and relevant back-links. What counts is to invest your $500 wisely and skip making silly mistakes, while at the same time, ensure you avoid risky link building methods/shady practices which work short term.

If you’ve enjoyed the ride and found this expert round up useful, then please help spread the love about it: share it, vote for it, and tell your friends and contacts to check it out.

Thank you very much!

John Gibb – http://nichesiteformula.com



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21 thoughts on “46 SEO Experts Reveal their $500 Link Building / Content Marketing Secret

  1. WoW!!! A lot of good ideas I hadn’t thought of. This is a great and eye opening article. I guess we have to think outside the box sometimes when it comes to spending our budget wisely. Thanks for all the input guys!
    Mike K recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  2. Thank you for this very insightful article John and crew! One of my biggest takeaways from this discussion is that many of the respondents mentioned social media marketing along with various other linking strategies.

    Building your social presence I believe is the key to SEO going forward. I still see many marketers who are stuck in the SERPS and getting nowhere. They keep tossing more and more links at their pages but they don’t budge, but most of these folks have little to no social presence.

    So my biggest revelation here is social media is only becoming more and more important to rankings in the search engines as time goes by and those who don’t get that, will be left behind by their competitors.

  3. What a greaaaaat reading! Thank you John for compelling such a great resource for all of us!

    My shocking moment was when I read the last part, the contribution from Zeph Snapp (AlturaInteractive.com)

    You know Spanish is my main language and just confirming there’s a lot of money to be made on Spanish keywords, just made me smile =D

    Couldn’t have found that anywhere else… but in the HWA blog of course =D

    Thank you again John for opening our eyes to new and exciting ideas! You’re THE MAN my friend!
    Jorge recently posted…Poder Retirar Dinero de Paypal desde Peru… YA ES OFICIAL!!My Profile

  4. Thanks for the nice blog. It was useful for me. I’m happy I found this blog. Thank you for sharing with us,I too always learn something new from your post.

  5. Hats off!!! In my opinion one of the best articles on linkbuilding or content marketing with a focus on small budgets and niche sites.
    Even if some of these tips seem to be very old-fashioned they still work in some cases – especially in small niche sites.

    So I enjoyed to read about some “real” linkbuilding tactics instead of reading “content is king” all of the time.

    But in my opinion the best and most sustainable tip came from Ryan Biddulph. If someone hasn’t got the time to read the full article, you should at least read Ryan Biddulph’s advice.

  6. Hi
    A huge round of applause on compiling such a valuable treasure; first time I got to know while reading this post that when matter of choice arises with the same level of options it becomes heck of the task to miss which ones and pick which ones.
    A few of them have quite divergent views and that shows link building strategies have broad options to go according to one’s own blogging goals and niche market.
    Many thanks for the share
    Mi Muba recently posted…How to create a boredom-proof expert roundup?My Profile

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