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THE Backlinking Strategy That Works

THE Backlinking Strategy That Works

By Pat Flynn on

UPDATE: A more recent version of this post has been published, with techniques and strategies for link building that work in 2014 and beyond. 


Please note that this strategy was written in late 2010. Although it does still work, it doesn’t work quite as well as it used to, since quite a bit has changed in the world of search engine optimization since then.

Some sites that use this strategy are climbing Google with no issues, while others find it’s not really working at all, and there are no apparent patterns. The only pattern is that less and less sites are finding this strategy to be reliable. 

I’m keeping this post here because there is still a lot of useful information in it, but in regards to article spinning and using tools like Unique Article Wizard, mentioned below, if you choose to use them, you must be extremely careful about the quality of what you create using those tools. If done correctly, the tools can still be useful, but it’s easy to abuse their power, spam the web and get penalized for it. 

If you’re at all doubtful about these tools, do not use them. 

If you’re still interested in building a niche website and understanding how Google works today, I advise you follow my progress on Niche Site Duel 2.0. Thank you!

This backlinking strategy is modeled after Joseph Archibald’s strategy he generously shared free to the public in his 40 Day Challenge on the Warrior Forum. He was able to rank a fairly competitive niche in the top 5 in Google within 40 days.

(For everyone’s convenience, he has also since published The 40 Day Challenge eBook, which is a lot easier to read than the 1200+ posts on the Warrior Forum. Check out his sample chapter here.)

He’s taken it upon himself to be totally active here on SPI and respond to everyone’s questions and concerns about the backlinking strategy on my blog, which just shows what kind of guy he is. If you use this strategy, be sure to thank Joseph sometime.

***Note: This strategy still works even after Google’s latest Panda and Penguin updates, with a few minor things that we must pay attention to. Building links in a more natural manner is more important than ever, so there are a couple of things to consider:

1. Anchor text: The text of the links that point back to your site should only be your primary keyword about 20–25% of the time, at most. Vary your anchor text using secondary and tertiary keywords in the same market (i.e. fly fishing tips, helpful fly fishing guide, stream fishing)

2. I use this strategy still and it works. However, if you use ONLY this strategy, the success rate is much lower by itself than it was before Google’s updates. I use this as a base strategy to start out with and do several other techniques on top of it for maximum results. This can include guest posting, social media links (from your own account and others—write stuff that’s shareable!), and YouTube videos. I’m seeing great results from YouTube videos, even though they are no-follow links. They are still powerful! (links in description)

Please keep this in mind when reading the strategy below:

I’ve revealed my niche site backlinking strategy before, but never in this much detail.

Ever since the niche site I created for the Niche Site Duel started to rapidly climb the ranks of Google, eventually landing on the number one position, people have been asking me for more detail about my strategy and the software and tools that I’ve been using to help.

There are several strategies one can use to rank higher in the search engines and the one I’m going to explain is just one of them.

Please note that links to software and tools within this blog post are affiliate links which I do receive financial gain from if purchases are made from them.

Furthermore, the principles of this strategy can be done for absolutely free without having to buy any software or tools. I use the software to help and speed things up.

Don’t spend money on anything you see online unless you can afford it and you feel it will pay you back in the future.


I’d like to start by sharing an overview of the process with you so you can see how it all works as a whole. Later in this post, I’ll get into detail about the individual parts.

(Click to watch Backlinking Strategy & Process Overview on YouTube)

To summarize what I talk about in the video, the backlinking strategy I’m using involves two layers of backlinks – the anchor layer, which are links that you create which link directly to your niche site, and the indirect layer, which are links that you create which link directly to your anchor layer.

Backlinking Strategy Overview

The Anchor Layer

The anchor layer consists of a few parts, again, which link directly to your niche site.

These include:

  1. Top Article Directory Submissions
  2. New Blogs
  3. Web 2.0 Properties
  4. Links from Blog Blueprint (Blog Blueprint hasn’t been performing as well as it used to. It’s not vital if this part of the strategy is taken out)
  5. Updated 12/03/11 – Direct Links from BuildMyRank (BMR is a BB replacement that has been working much much better for my sites lately! You get 10 links for free, so try it out! Most of the other niche site creators I know use BMR now as well as a primary link resource.)
  6. Updated 3/20/12 – As of this date, BMR articles have apparently been starting to be de-indexed from Google, so creating backlinks using this tool would be a waste of time, at least for now. The best advice is to not use blog networks to drive links back to your site and continue with the other portions of this backlinking strategy, and to diversify the links coming to your site as much as possible.

Later in this post when I talk about how this all happens, I’ll get into what exactly is involved with each of these 4 parts in the anchor layer – what directories I submit to, what “new blogs” is, etc.

The Indirect Layer

The indirect layer is a way to create massive amounts of backlinks which link directly to the anchor properties we setup in the anchor layer. These links do not point directly to your niche site.

The indirect layer consists of:

  1. Mass Article Submissions using Unique Article Wizard
  2. Mass Bookmarking Submissions

The reason that you don’t want to link directly to your niche site is because you’re creating hundreds of backlinks at a time and if you point all of them to your niche site, it will look totally unnatural and your young site won’t be able to handle all of it without raising a red flag. When you point these links to your anchors, because your anchor sites are on high ranking, totally populated websites, they’ll be able to handle the wave/influx of links but at the same time pass or feed that SEO power generated from all of those links into your niche site. Your anchor properties act as a shield while at the same time allow you to get the SEO benefit from the indirect layer.

Yes, I know – it sounds kind of wacky. When I first heard this strategy it really didn’t make sense to me, but after implementing the strategies myself the results are very clear.

The Streamlined Process

Now that you have a general understanding of the what, I’m going to show you the how.

I think the best way to do this is to actually just walk you through the process from start to finish and show you how I can create all of these backlinks from a single unique article.

Step 1: Write an Original Article Related to Your Niche

Everything in this process begins with writing an original article. Personally, I like to have full control of what’s written and what’s published, so I like to write the articles myself, but there are many people who are comfortable with having a virtual assistant or ghostwriter write the article for them instead.

Either way, it should definitely unique content and should typically be around 350-600 words in length. Although the length isn’t extremely important, it’s smart to stay within this range because it will make your life easier in the later steps of this process.

Lastly, you can choose to post this original article onto your niche site before you move on to the next steps. You could kill two birds with one stone by adding content to your site and following the next steps to help build backlinks as well.

Step 2: Prepare The Article for Spinning

Like I mentioned in the overview video above, spinning an article gives you the ability to quickly create multiple variations of an original article so that you can submit them to various places without worrying about duplicate content penalties and so that you can save tons of time by not having to create brand new content from scratch over and over again to get the same message across.

I talked about article spinning in my previous backlinking post and naturally a lot of people commented about it (currently 174 comments) because it is a widely debatable topic.

Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of spinning an article – using multiple variations of an original article and then submitting those variations to several different locations on the web. Some people view it as spammy and others view it as dangerous too. I totally respect that side of the argument, but let me tell you why I think it’s okay.

(I don’t want this post to turn into some huge debate, but I feel I should tell you why I am okay with this method since this is what I’m showing you how to do.)

First, I don’t view it as spammy because I’m making sure that the content that I submit (even after spinning) is good. Since they are quality articles and I don’t submit different versions of an article to the same location, I feel comfortable knowing that I’m doing what I can to make sure my message gets read in the most places as possible, without using the same exact text over and over again.

Also, think about press releases for a second. Press releases are one single version of an article that gets syndicated to tens of thousands of places on the web. Companies like PRWeb make money doing this for other companies, brands and people. As described on PRWeb’s site:

“We send your news to 35,000 journalists and bloggers, 30,000 websites and hundreds of newspapers including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune as well as local news outlets across the USA. PRWeb gets your story where it needs to go.”

Several brand name companies and individuals use press releases (the exact same article, not variations) to help spread the word about something. This is exactly what I’m doing when I submit my spun content to various places on the web, although I’m taking it a step further and am not using the same exact content over and over again. I’m using different variations because that’s the only way I can make it happen, at least without penalty.

In my previous post, I think Mark Mason’s comment says it best:

“I hate this spinning discussion. Let’s say Pat has the cure for cancer and he posts it on his blog. Curing cancer is good. So Pat spins articles about curing cancer and posts them everywhere so he can help the most people while playing by the rules that GOOGLE has set.

So what about security guards? Pat’s site rocks. It will help people that are thinking about becoming a security guard. Security guards are a help to society. It’s all good.

So what if Pat “advertises” his site by placing similar content all over the web? It’s not like the web is “full” and Pat is harming someone by taking up too much space.

It seems acceptable for Toyota to place the same add on every TV network and run it over and over. It’s OK for AP to syndicate their content everywhere. Why not Pat.

Not to mention the fact that Pat is only doing this because Google’s algorithms are too poor to tell good content from bad content. I would argue that if Pat Does not do something to rank his site, he is being unfair to all those readers out therebat NEED him but cannot find him.

Failing to properly promote your site when there are people to help profitably is A lot bigger sin than syndicating 47 very similar but different copies of a good article.

If you want to take a stand against someone, get mad at Google. They have an inferior product that relies on backlinks — yet they make Billions of dollars each year from it. That’s the problem, not Pat.

Anyways, I think we’ve beat this to a pulp already – it’s time to show you how it’s done.

In the video below, you’ll see me using a piece of software called The Best Spinner (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase), which is by far the best spinning software available with the biggest bank of user generated synonyms that make the spinning process much faster.

Although there is a “one-button” approach that you can use to spin your articles, I would advise against using that feature because although The Best Spinner is awesome, it’s automated functions aren’t entirely perfect. You’ll see that I take the time to go through each word one-by-one to plug in good synonyms that make sense. Even though this takes some extra time (and like I said preparing an article for spinning is what takes up most of my time in this backlinking strategy), it’s totally worth it when you can just copy and paste spun versions of your articles in all of the later steps.

(Click to watch The Best Spinner – Article Spinning on YouTube)

Is article spinning absolutely necessary in order to make this strategy work. No!  But as you will see, it does help to speed things up a bit.

Step 3: Submit to Article Directories

In this step, you’ll be submitting spun versions of your original article to various article marketing directories.

The directories I usually submit to are listed below:

You probably know that many of these top article directories check to make sure that the article is unique before approving and posting it onto their site. EzineArticles, especially, is notorious for this, however I’ve never once had an article denied approval or removed. If you are worried, you can still continue through this process by submitting a version to just one of the article directories.

EzineArticles is the top-choice directory, however it usually takes a while to get your articles approved (several days if you have not yet written 10 articles for their site). If you want an immediate approval, you can submit to GoArticles, which helps because then you don’t have to wait days to utilize the article in this backlinking process.

Here is one version of my article that I spun from the spinning video in step #2, live on Don’t forget to add a link directly to your niche site in the author bio / resource section, making sure you have at least one link that is an anchor text that matches your target keyword or keyphrase.

And yes, Pete Chamberlain is my pen name for my niche site and all related articles.

Step 4: Create Your New Blogs and Web 2.0 Properties

At this point you can use spun versions of your original article to create new blogs and web 2.0 properties that all have backlinks pointing to your site. They will be a part of the anchor layer that we talked about in the overview, which means they will contain links that point directly back to your niche site.

New Blogs and Web 2.0 Properties

These are new blogs and web 2.0 sites that you create for free, and the real benefit here is that they are a part of a larger, more powerful and higher ranking domain.

So for example, when you create a free blog at, even though the blog you create will start out as a Page Rank 0 (PR0) website, it’s still a part of the PR9 domain. This same ideology goes for all of the articles you’ve written for article directories too.

Each of the new sites will only require one post, which you can grab from a spun version of your original article (although you could and probably should add a little more (spun) content later – just to give the site more meat.

In addition to the content, you should embed a related video from YouTube (and even a picture too) just to make your page a little more relevant to the topic, and so it looks like it’s lived in a little.

Here is where you can create your free blogs and Web 2.0 Sites (thanks to Joseph for the updated list! – updated 2012):

Again, these only require 1 post (2 or 3 is better) with a link back to your niche site, and after that the only thing you have to do with them is remember the URL so you can link to them in the next step (step #5). I don’t do any cross linking between these sites.

Anchor Text Update for 2012: Also, make sure you vary your anchor text a bit. Meaning, the link from these sites that point back to your main site shouldn’t ALWAYS be using your main keyword. Why? Because it’s unnatural and a good variety of related anchor texts is better. So for example, if your target keyword is “Fly Fishing”, then it’s probably smart to use “Fly Fishing” about half the time (roughly) and then a mix of other keywords like “Fly Fishing Rods”, “Fly Fishing Reels”, “Fly Fishing Techniques”, “Fly Fishing Tips”, etc. for the other half.

Notable Web 2.0 Properties

There are two unique Web 2.0 sites I’d like to mention real quick:

They are free to setup and treated in the exact same manner as the New Blogs, they are just setup a little differently. You can use a (HIGHLY UNIQUE) spun version of your original article for some content, you can add an rss feed from your niche site, some videos, some pictures – there are a lot of cool things you can do with Squidoo and Hubpages. Again, just make sure there’s a least one backlink (with your keyword as the anchor text), pointing back to your niche site for each.

Note about Squidoo and Hubpages (and the reason why they’re separated out): More recently, they’ve been getting more and more strict with the content that is posted on their sites. I would actually write the content on these sites manually if possible, but if you don’t have the time you can test a spun version of your original article, knowing that it may not be approved. This is a warning for you just in case, just remember to think about the end user and what’s actually useful for them. The more “modules” and content you can add on those sites – the better, and the link that can come from those sites can be extremely powerful, if you can land ’em.

After you have all of the above mentioned sites setup, you don’t need to keep creating more. When you get to this point, you can skip step #4 entirely because they will already be in place and doing their job.

Step 5: Indirect Linking to Your Anchor Sites

In this step, you’ll be creating a load of backlinks that link back to your anchor sites that you’ve created from your article submissions, your new blogs and web 2.0 properties.

Unique Article Wizard (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase through the following link)

Unique Article Wizard is a tool that I got familiar with a month after starting my niche site and it’s proving to work quite well. Previously, I’ve used Automatic Article Submitter to do mass article submissions, but UAW definitely outperforms AAS in my opinion, simply because I can get a lot more backlinks from it.

That being said, UAW isn’t entirely automatic either, but you can get up to 800-1000 backlinks from a single article, with links to prove it, which is awesome. This is why we use these articles to link to our anchor sites, because 1000s of backlinks to your niche site would definitely be a little much.

Here’s a video explaining how UAW works:

(Click to watch Unique Article Wizard – Massive Backlinks on YouTube)

Social Bookmarking

This is another method you can use to link directly to your anchor sites which will ultimately help boost the authority of your niche site.

There are several different backlinking tools available to help you with this process. One of them, Bookmarking Demon, automates the entire process but I’ve found the software to be really hard to handle, and it’s extremely expensive at $147 a pop. After purchasing it myself (again, I purchased and played around with all of these tools to see what works and what doesn’t so I could report back to you), personally I found that it wasn’t worth that much money to me.

I’d rather use a free tool from Social Poster, which really isn’t automated at all (and the initial time you run through it it takes a while because you have to manually sign up for all of the different social bookmarking sites), but it does save a little bit of time.

During my journey with my security guard training niche, social bookmarking was the thing I did the least. If I didn’t have unique article wizard on hand, I probably would have done more of it.

Step 6: Rinse and Repeat

Go back to Step 1.

An Important Final Note

So that’s the bulk of the backlinking strategy, and as you can see there are a lot of parts to it.

The thing is, most of the software and tools I’ve been talking about come with a cost, but I don’t want you to think that you need to purchase any of these things in order to succeed.

You can complete this entire backlinking strategy from the article submissions to the creation of new blogs and web 2.0 properties and social bookmarking without spending a dime. So please, don’t feel like you need to empty your wallet after reading this, I just wanted to show you exactly what I was doing and the tools I’ve been using to help save some time and speed things up a bit.

The tools work, but they aren’t necessary.

I know how much influence I have now that the Smart Passive Income Blog has grown so popular, and with that I accept the responsibility to make sure to never cheat you or tell you that you NEED to spend money on this or that in order to find success. When I created my first online business, the only thing I spent money on was a domain name and hosting package.

In the beginning, I didn’t spend money on a fancy website design, search engine optimization, article spinning software, submitter tools or anything like that. Heck, I didn’t even know those things existing and the only thing I did was publish great content, and I eventually gained a following and things just took off from there.

I am anticipating a number of questions or comments from this post, so please be patient for my response while I catch up on some sleep. It’s has been a long night putting all of this together for you, but I love it. If someone asks a question and you know the answer or have something to say, please don’t be shy.


Update: My buddy Eric over at created a really handy excel file to help you keep track of all of the link building and sites that you create for this specific backlinking strategy. Check it out here!

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