Can I Create a Site by Publishing Content & Never Building Links?

Short answer: Yes, you can publish content for your affiliate site and completely ignore link building.

But you should build links and otherwise promote your site.

Let me explain why and give you some ideas to promote your site to get links, without directly building backlinks.

Quick Analogy

Imagine a restaurant opens that’s out of the way, not on “main street.”

Some people will probably find it, like people that naturally pass the location.

But the location is a limiting factor because only a small number of people see the restaurant.

If the restaurant advertises and promotes itself, then more people will know about the restaurant. The restaurant should get more customers over time if the food and dining experience is enjoyable.

So if you build an affiliate site and use only long tail, Keyword Golden Ratio terms, you should be able to get some traffic to your site. It’s like the local traffic that sees the out-of-the-way restaurant.

It’s even better if you promote your site because even more people will know about it, just like a restaurant that advertises.

People Don’t Like Building Backlinks

It’s the yard work of internet marketing. One of my most popular posts is about a content plan that doesn’t require backlinks. It’s popular because people would rather focus on the content part.

There are 2 main reasons:

1: Fear of the Unknown

Link building is an unknown process until you do it. If you’ve launched your site, then you have worked on the content directly or outsourced it. Either way, you’ve solved the content part of the equation.

You can do it again and again, and publish more content. It feels productive, and you have a finished product that you can see.

When you think about link building, one thing becomes obvious.

2: Rejection!

You will be denied over and over again (like a younger Doug getting rejected by the ladies).

When you think about asking for a guest post or linking to your site, you realize that someone might tell you “no.” (Or the equivalent of giving me a wrong phone number but I digress.)

You can accept a passive rejection if you publish your content and no one shows up. But when you ask someone to please link to your site, and they say “no thanks,” it’s harder to accept.

A person with a sales background knows that’s part of the process, but for nonsales people, it’s harder to deal with rejection.

So you’ll have to get over it. The rejection gets easier to deal with — humans are exceptional at adapting to new obstacles.

What’s Good about NOT Building Any Links

There are at least three excellent things about never even attempting to build links.

1: No Action Required

You don’t have to do a thing. I love not having to do something.

It frees up your brain space and reduces stress.

2: Pure White Hat

Google doesn’t want you doing anything that looks or seems like manipulating the search results, especially anything like link building.

Guest posting can be interpreted as an activity with a purpose to improve the search results for a site, especially on a large scale.

3: Links Will Occur Naturally

I used to think that no one would link to an affiliate site naturally, but it does happen.

I see this a lot with obscure terms, like keyword golden ratio phrases, because more authoritative sites link to sites they referenced while writing an article.

So natural links will happen over time. The key thing is ranking number 1 for a keyword phrase. It’s easier to rank number 1 for an obscure KGR term than anything else.

My guest posting service is open for a couple of days. If you’re interested in outsourcing your next campaign, learn more here.

Links DO Help

Backlinks are known as one of the three main ranking factors for Google.

So all else being equal, if you look at two sites that have the same content, and one has backlinks and the other one doesn’t, you can assume that the site with links will rank better the majority of the time.

I haven’t scientifically tested links versus no links, but logic leads us to that conclusion.

A few caveats that I can point out are:

  • Some backlinks are more powerful than others, so the sheer number of links isn’t the deciding factor.
  • The content quality matters, so if the content sucks the user experience will be bad.
  • There are at least 200 ranking factors in the Google Algorithm, and Google tweaks it constantly.

Alternatives to Link Building

There are a few things you can do that will indirectly create links for your site. These may not sound easy if you’re starting, but they aren’t so bad once you gain momentum.

Participate in Roundup Posts

These have seen their ups and downs over time and within certain niches. Internet marketers overuse tactics and roundup posts were very overused for a while to the point I stopped participating.

It seemed like no one reads them. However, in other niches roundups haven’t been used much at all. If that’s the case, you can organize a roundup which is a cool way to gain social shares too. Once you have that in place, you could propose a roundup idea to someone who previously participated in your roundup.

Be a Guest on Podcasts

Podcasting is a rapidly growing industry. There are shows on just about ANYTHING, so you need to find your audience out there.

The key is to have an interesting story to tell. Unsure if you have such a story? Well, case studies, tests, or examples are ways to have a story.

I like to listen to homebrewing and beer related podcasts. So a good case study would be brewing beers with different yeasts, then talking about the results.

You can apply that to any niche, topic, or product.

Be a Guest on YouTube Channels

YouTube is also a huge ecosystem with a separate audience base than blogs or podcasts.

While links from YouTube may not be “follow” links, you may still get a decent amount of traffic if the video has a solid call-to-action.

Additionally, some channels publish all there videos on a website where they include a description with links. In that case, you would have a “do-follow” link.

Over To You!

Please leave a comment and let me know:

  1. Do you love or hate link building?
  2. Do you think it’s possible to create a site that reaches its potential without building any links at all?

Or if you have any questions, ask away!

 

About the Author: Doug Cunnington is the founder of Niche Site Project. He shows people how to create Affiliate Sites using project management and a proven, repeatable framework. Doug loves creating systems, using templates, and brewing beer (but usually not at the same time).

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10 comments… add one
  • Muhammad Basit Ali Dec 10, 2018 @ 9:24

    I hate it! short and sweet answer!

  • Marcus Dec 10, 2018 @ 19:13

    I don’t think it is that bad. Using your blog commenting method it is really a simple process, but of course, very time-consuming.

    The thing that has me wondering though, is how to best know when focusing on building links vs publishing new content will bring you closer to your revenue goals. Probably very hard to know.

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP Dec 18, 2018 @ 10:42

      Marcus, It is hard to know. I think a blend is generally the best approach. There was a stretch in 2017 where I think I spent too much time and money on content and it cost me in 2018. A blend would have been better, and I realized it in Q1 of 2018.

  • Russ Lobo Dec 11, 2018 @ 22:05

    I used to hate link building. As you rightly said above, the fear of rejection was the biggest reason that I wouldn’t do link building. In 2016 I started a website which finally wrote 18,000 posts but didn’t build a single link (Though as you said i got a lot of organic links over the past three years without link building). I finally sold it for mid 6 figures so I am proof that you can rank without links. Having said that, from March 2018 I started link building and it has been a good journey. The rejection is not really bad and I quite enjoy it.

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP Dec 18, 2018 @ 10:43

      Russ, Awesome story. It’s like once you can get past that hurdle, it’s not really so bad.
      Congrats on selling the site!

  • Lisa Parmley Feb 8, 2019 @ 9:27

    Asking people you don’t know for links is not fun at all. Even when I’ve gotten links that way it still feels ‘wrong’ so I haven’t done it in a while and feel less stressed about the whole process. Networking with people, even connecting just by posting blog comments on articles I’m interested in reading (like this one), asking about guest posting, or doing interviews is something I feel much better about. I think we’re all wired to avoid what we don’t like doing so it makes a lot of sense to not include it as part of the plan when there’s an alternative. I think your article makes a lot of sense, thanks!

  • Roman Mar 19, 2019 @ 22:14

    Actually, I did not like link building process before participating in FFNS course. Now it is like a game.

  • Roman Mar 19, 2019 @ 22:17

    Russ, I owed (I bought them) some sites in 2014-2016 with $100 to $500 income from Adsense. Those were awful sites with no link building.

  • Dann Marceau Apr 29, 2019 @ 9:51

    Hey Doug,
    It’s the end of April 2019, I still haven’t launched as I have been studying, and “long-tailing” it for several months, looking for the KGR terms that apply to my niche. I don’t look forward to either of those things you mentioned, hoping that my content will speak for itself. I see the “Boys from Boise” released a video this morning in which they make an indirect reference to the way the “Brewer from Boulder” and others use a ratio that can “perfectly predict” if Google will rank your post; they stopped just short of slander in my opinion calling it and other programs “myths”. My thought is that KGR relies on a mathematical equation, not shooting in the dark and hoping to hit something.

    • Doug Cunnington, PMP Apr 29, 2019 @ 10:06

      Dann, thanks for the comment. I think you’re ready to launch! 🙂
      I’m just happy to get a shout out — that actually validates that I’m saying something interesting otherwise they could ignore it.

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