Why I Don’t (Often) Build Links Anymore

to link or not to link

I’ve seen first hand the huge impact that links can have on rankings,

Yet, despite that, I’ve barely built any for my own sites over the last couple of years.

Three or four years ago link building was one of my main focuses, back then I was writing all my own content and I’d spend almost as much time link building as I did writing content.

Now I barely do any link building at all.

Here’s why:

That isn’t really something that I decided to do..it just kind of happened naturally.

I’ve got 5 sites that I’m actively working on.

On my three newest sites I’ve built almost no links at all.

On my two oldest sites I have done quite a large amount of link building over the years however over the last year or two I’ve pretty much stopped altogether.

The oldest two sites are in semi-competitive niches, they’re not insurance or finance or anything like that but they are reasonably competitive niches with a decent amount of competition.

The other three sites are all in low competition niches which means that links just aren’t anywhere near as necessary.

You may have read my article about a site I built for $2,000 that makes $1,000 a month.

I bought a total of two cheap links for that site and that was it.

If you’ve ever done any link building yourself you’ll understand that it can quickly become very expensive, even if you do all the outreach and writing yourself sites will often charge upwards of $100 for link placements, if you buy links from link building companies then you will more than likely be paying at least double that.

My recent sites have taught me that it is possible to get very good returns on your investment without spending on links.

Links are expensive and quickly ramp up costs and often their impact isn’t obvious.

That’s not to say links don’t work.

Links Do Work Though..

I’ve seen the impact of links and I know they can and do have a big impact on rankings.

Case in point, on one of my other low competition niche sites I also did no link building at all on it..

..it was ticking along getting about 300 sessions a day, slowly growing when suddenly a news story broke that was related to my niche.

One of the sites that broke the story linked to my site to back up a related fact they had mentioned, this story then got syndicated across hundreds of news sites and I picked up over 200 links from this stroke of luck.

Fast forward 4 months and the site had grown from 300 sessions a day to over 1700.

While I continued to add tons of content to it during this time I don’t doubt that a lot of that growth can be directly attributed to those links.

Yet that doesn’t mean I’m going to start investing tons of time and money in building links on all my other sites now.

To build anything like that volume and quality of links (from DR50+ news sites) would take a ton of time and money.

Getting those links was a fluke, the reason it happened was that I had focused exclusively on keyword research and content on this site and my site just happened to be ranking for a relevant keyword when it mattered.

If I hadn’t got those links I’m confident that this site would still have grown, just not as quickly as it did.

Why I Used To Build Links To My Older Sites

On my two older sites I did spend a significant amount of time and money building links for them.

There were a few reasons for this:

  1. I hadn’t discovered the joy of low-competition niches.
  2. Every competitor I looked at back then seemed to have tons of links so I presumed that was what I needed to do to rank too.
  3. Links seemed to have more impact 4-5 years ago then, I wasn’t aware of any sites in either of these niches that were being built with no links and were seeing success from it.

Why I Don’t Build Links To My Older Sites Anymore

  1. They have solid link authority already.
  2. I’ve seen quite a few low authority sites growing very fast with minimal links in both of these niches in some cases overtaking my traffic levels, based purely on good keyword research and well-written content.
  3. I did a test last year on one of these sites where I spent $1,000 on links.

    All of those links pointed to one specific page and they had no real verifiable impact even 6 months later. 

    If I’d spent that $1,000 on content instead I could’ve had over 30,000 words written which I’m confident would’ve had a noticeable impact.

Ultimately that’s the main reason I rarely bother building links anymore.

The return on investment isn’t obvious and it’s really difficult to measure.

Whereas with content, when it ranks and drives traffic you can easily see in a few months whether or not it was worth doing.

If you’ve got a huge budget to put into your site build then maybe it makes sense to spend big on links to speed things up.

For me, I work for myself, I have a few freelancers that I work with who help me write content for my sites & I don’t have huge resources available to churn out massive affiliate sites overnight.

If I did, maybe I would invest money in link campaigns to speed things up a bit.

I know a some of you who subscribe to me on YouTube or read my blog people who subscribe to my channel are approaching their website from a similar angle.

You’ve started a blog and you want to make money out of it.

For people in our position links can be prohibitively expensive, and can quickly turn a website into a big money hole.

By focusing primarily on content your outgoings will be much lower, if you write the content yourself it can cost next to nothing after you’ve paid for the domain and hosting.

My $2,000 build site if I sold it now would fetch over $30,000 and if I factor in the money it’s earned for me already that gives it a crazy ROI of almost 2,000%.

That was achieved through a solid content strategy, not an expensive link building campaign.

I Do Build SOME Links..

I get the HARO emails every day, I have a quick scan through and check if there’s anything relating to any of my sites…if there is I send a response.

I don’t spend much time on this at all, less than 10 mins a day.

It’s not a big time commitment, doesn’t cost any money and I get the odd reasonable link from it.

But that’s literally all I’m doing for links at the moment. I’m not spending any money on them right now.

So there you have it.

That’s why I rarely build links anymore.

If you’re starting a niche site I’d strongly suggest you do the same:

  • Find a low competition niche.
  • Spend time on your keyword research finding those easy wins.
  • Then focus on making really good content that gives the user everything they’re looking for.

Link building is time consuming, and it can be very expensive.

Yes it can work, and it can work very well.

But you need to know what you’re doing to really get the most out of it, for most of us who aren’t in hyper-competitive niches I believe our time is better spent on content.

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