4 Golden Rules to Get Backlinks in 2012

4 Golden Rules for Getting BacklinksThe cornerstone of any income-producing website is a strong presence in the Google search engine.

But there is a valuable lesson that many online entrepreneurs learned in 2011…

One wrong move can result in complete disaster.

For instance, last year Google had their infamous Panda Update.

This was their attempt to get rid of low quality websites.

In a single day, many online entrepreneurs lost their primary source of traffic…And their primary source of income.

The lesson that the Panda update taught us is to build websites that comply with Google’s rules.

Otherwise you risk getting a site sandboxed or even de-listed.

Now…there is one topic that many people struggle with in this “Post Panda” period:

How do you get backlinks to a website without being penalized by Google?

To be honest, there is a lot of conflicting information when it comes to getting backlinks.  Every search engine expert has their own opinion.  Personally I believe in a simple backlinking philosophy called the 4 V’s.

  • Velocity
  • Variety
  • Verbiage
  • Volume

These are four golden rules that match what Google’s considers to be a normal linking pattern.  The 4 V’s reduce the risk of any search engine penalty because they follow a less-than-aggressive way to get backlinks.  So let’s talk about each V:

#1 – Velocity

The quickest way to get penalized by Google is to build lots of links in a short period of time.  This is especially true if you have a brand new website.  Google knows there is no possible way that a week-old site suddenly gets 1,000 links in a single day.  This is not a normal linking pattern.

On the other hand, you can get away with a more aggressive linking campaign if you have an older domain.  That’s because an aged website usually has backlinks and is generally ‘trusted’ by Google.

No matter what – Never send a flood of backlinks to your site all at once.  My advice is to err on the side of caution.  Start with a few backlinks each week.  And then slowly ramp up this number moving forward.

As an example, I started a brand new niche affiliate website last month.  And here’s what I’ve done (and will do) to get backlinks:

  • December 12th to 18th – 3 Build My Rank (BMR) articles to home page; 2 Squidoo Lenses
  • December 19th to 25th – 5 BMR articles to the home page; 1 Squidoo Lens, 1 article on HubPages.com, 2 YouTube videos.
  • December 26th to Jan 1st – Took the week off for the holidays
  • Jan 2nd to Jan 8th – 5 BMR articles to four different internal pages; 1 article on GoArticles.com, 1 article on Amazines.com, 1 article on Blogger.com, 1 article on WebWire.com
  • Jan 9th to 15th10+ BMR articles to the 2nd tier articles I’ve created in the last few weeks.

Notice how I started slowly and increased the number of backlinks? 

This is what a normal linking pattern should look like!

I’ll admit I’m a bit overcautious with this website.  But I’d rather sacrifice short-term success in Google for a more stable, permanent ranking.

#2 – Variety

You don’t want all your links from a single web property {or type of site.}  This is another red flag for Google.  My advice is to get links from a variety of places:

  • Social Media Sharing
  • Guest Posting
  • Blog networks {like Build My Rank}
  • Press Releases
  • Article Directories
  • Web 2.0 Properties
  • Document Sharing Sites
  • Blog Commenting
  • Forum Commenting
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Natural linking {ie: someone mentions your site in an article}

There is an infinite amount of places to get backlinks.  In fact, I just wrote a post that lists 103 high PageRank (PR) websites.  I suggest you get started there!  {Also, be sure to mix up the different sites that you use.}

Also, authority counts when it comes to the variety of backlinks.  Simply put, a link from CNN.com is more powerful than a link from BobsTastyChickenShack.com.

Be sure to build links from authority websites that directly relate to your particular niche.  This tells Google that your site is providing valuable, market-related content because it’s being linked to from similar web properties.  Again this is what a normal linking pattern looks like!

#3 – Verbiage

Another part of Google’s algorithm is to look at the words that people use to link to your site.  This is called the “anchor text.”

For instance, I’m trying to rank this blog for the phrase how to earn money online.  {Currently #12}

So whenever I build a link to Steve Scott Site; I’d use these words: how to earn money online.

Okay…I’m sure you already know about anchor texts.  What you might not know is you can get penalized by repeatedly using the same phrase over and over.  This is yet another red flag to search engines.

Google knows that a site will never get 100% backlinks that use the same words.  This is an obvious sign that the webmaster is trying to game its algorithm.

My advice is to mix up your anchor text.  You should use the keyword.  But also throw in phrases that have nothing to do with the phrase you’re trying to target.

Another idea is to use a secondary keyword that’s related to your niche.  For instance, a secondary phrase that I use is affiliate marketing blog.  So I’ll mix up both phrases, PLUS I’ll often use random text that has nothing to do with my website.  

#4 – Volume

Lastly, it’s important to get a large volume of links that your site.  So does that mean you should go to Fiverr.com and buy one of those 1000+ link packets?  Hell no!!!

Google loves sites that get a large number of links from quality sites.  But they’ll discount, even penalize, a website if it gets too many low quality links in a short period of time.  {Remember what I said about link velocity.}

You do want a lot of quality backlinks.  The trick is to get them over a period of weeks, months, even years!

A good backlinking campaign is an ongoing thing.  You can’t expect a website to jump in the rankings overnight.  Instead it’s wise to get backlinks in a slow, progressive, and natural manner.

How to Get Backlinks in 2012

There is one *bonus* golden rule I’d like to mention.  You’ve probably heard it before:

“He who has the gold, makes the rules.” 

Right now, Google controls the majority of search engine traffic.  That means they can do whatever they want to improve the quality of their search results.  Ultimately Google is as Google does.  They will always change the rules for what’s considered a quality website.  And it’s up to YOU to stay in their good graces.

I won’t say the “4 V’s” will always prevent a penalty by Google.  But they provide the best way to build backlinks, without raising a lot of red flags.

Finally, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to search engine optimization and backlinks.  I plan on writing a lot more on this subject in the weeks/months to come.  Till then, I recommend you check out these posts that directly relate to building backlinks in 2012 and beyond:

As always, feel free to ask any questions.  Or do you disagree with what I said?  I’d also love to hear your thoughts.

Please comment below…

Take Action. Get Results.

59 thoughts on “4 Golden Rules to Get Backlinks in 2012”

  1. I think the natural backlinks strategy is better than all others. All the other factors change from time to time based on quality parameters, But natural backlinks are permanent.

    • Raj,

      For sure! Truly natural backlinks are the way to go. But sometimes, if you write good material you need to help give it a little push. Ultimately writing things that will be shared naturally and organically is best, but knowing how to help it along and not get penalized is helpful too!

  2. Hi Steve,

    Luved the thorough breakdown here!

    I intend to bring my SEO game up in 2012. So far, so good for my blog. Keywords down, and I’m remaining consistent with this strategy.

    I need to improve the link up stuff. Explained well here. Only high quality sites in your niche. Yep that’s my mantra for this year.

    My biggest weakness is trying too hard to get backlinks. Trying to get clicks through my comments. Now I know there’s no need to run around like a chicken with my head cut off every day, visiting a gazillion blog…well I’ve known that for a while, but again, my weakness. Thanks for inspiring me to do it the right way, and thanks for sharing with us!


    • Thanks for dropping by and commenting Ryan,

      Only high quality sites is a great mantra! :). WHile of course a little mixing is great and random links help. I tend to go back to the well for quality links a lot myself too!

  3. The problem i see is getting your backlinks indexed. A backlink is worth nothing if it is nor recognized by the searchengines.
    Do you see a problem in getting links from commenting on blogs that use the top commentors plug-in? When you are listed there you suddenly get site-wide backlinks which can be 100s or 1,000s.

    • Tom,

      For sure, backlinks are pointless if you don’t get them indexed. Some sites have enough internal linkage to get the job done, but I do try to at least ping any site I backlink and usually try to send any of the cheaper links to THOSE sites to to give them more link jice and give a slightly higher chance of them getting indexed.

      The top commentator plug in should be no issue. First off it often takes a lot of time to rank in anyone’s top commentator plugin. So the links will seem (and be) more organic. Plus the velocity that you will have links added (as they publish new posts) will also be natural.

      It isn’t something I would worry about ALL the links you have come from just those 2-3 top commentator plugins

      • “ALL the links you have come from just those 2-3 top commentator plugins”

        Steve – thanks for the analysis – was not really worried about the site my name is linking to as it is a new venture. I started to link to that site from a PR4 site now as well. Will see when this shows in the SEs and affects spidering (currently very low activity).

        Have a good week!

  4. LOVED THIS!!! I glad I didn’t purchase that book last night about back links, I knew I could find it, so thanks to Ryan for being a resource and posting this post on your wall. Scott keep up the great work, now I am running over to check out your affiliate site.

    Daphne D. Williams aka DwriteWELL

  5. As my two cents I would say, never outsource 100% your backlinking efforts. Even if you hire someone else to do it, always know what they’re doing.
    Because at the end of the day, if something goes wrong you are the one who’s going to suffer the penalty.

  6. This post came just in time.

    I’m not one for Seo, I usually use paid traffic – but I’m adding new web property’s to my portfolio, and the entire aim of these sites is to rank in the search engines.

    Most of these sites are product focused and the way I’ve built them allow me to test with some paid traffic until it ranks – gives me an idea what other keywords people are more attracted to when purchasing something from my site.

    Anyway great post I’m going to implement a few of your methods and see what happens.

    • Atlas,

      Glad it was helpful.

      In many ways I am opposite from you. I use paid traffic sometimes as a measure of free traffic potential. LOL.

      Regardless, in the long run some work on free traffic can’t hurt even if you are making most of your traffic through paid traffic. Good luck to you!

  7. Good, solid advice this Steve.

    I only have one thing to add – you imply (perhaps unintentionally) that the majority of the link building methods you list above comply with Google’s rules.

    However, pure link building (e.g. private blog networks and web 2.0 properties) is not something Google likes to see at all, and certainly goes against their rules.



    • Tom,

      Good point. I guess I should have been clearer. I agree. Googles real desire is to have everything be organic and natural. ANYTHING that isn’t 100% natural could incur some penalties.

      I like to think of it as breaking the letter of the law but not the intent. The “letter” says no unnatural linking in any way, shape or form. The “intent” is too keep decent quality and a high level of user experience. Avoiding spam, dup. content, spun content and trying to have high quality content linking in -sort of- complies with the intent of a good user experience.

      Only death and taxes are sure things, but keeping these in mind makes you bend the rules and not shatter them into a million pieces.

  8. Thanks for the article. It’s true we need to be careful when building backlinks these days, although it can be difficult knowing where to draw the line.

    Steady building, aiming at long term results over perceived short-term gains seems to be key now.

    • Robin,

      For sure. The idea is for the long haul. Quality of links and a natural velocity is what it is all about! Short term gains will often be short term for a reason… they will get you in trouble before the long term comes around.

  9. Scott, do you really believe that anyone can protect themselves from being collateral damage in any future Google updates? That is like thinking if you drive very carefully you will never be stopped in a roadblock or if you’re a good little boy or girl no one will ever say anything bad about you.

    The truth is Google announced their intention to favor big brands and they are systematically doing so – and that means if you are not one you ARE going to be getting less traffic from them.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on what you can control and build a real business that actually benefits others and is something necessary to life instead of playing the “get rich quick” game selling hopes and dreams that never come true to the next desperate group that comes along?

    Wanting to get rich means making money your god and while that IS what the majority of people do – even those who claim to be Christians – that does not mean it is the goal that will work.

    • Gail,

      I hear what you are saying. Without a doubt Google is biased toward the big boys. There is no way around that. No matter what you do , you -could- run afoul of them.

      I take a little exception to the “get rich quick” comment. If you stop by here enough you would see I am very much NOT into that. Get rich quick doesn’t exist. The ONLY way to make anything work is by creating a core of good content.

      But Google, while biased, is the major player in free traffic these days, so if you run off of a business model that needs traffic, you need Google, to some extent. (Social media, networking etc. play a big part too, of course).

      As for the selling hopes and dreams. Again..I take some exception. I have always said that this is not an easy business. You need to bust you ass to rank for organic search traffic and you had better have real quality information/content and get organic links also, to make it a success.

      Furthermore, I try to relate my personal experiences and tests. OF course some work and some don’t. Things could and will change with time. I am not talking about “getting rich” and I CERTAINLY never claim any of this is easy. But I take this seriously. This is how I earn a living. If I don’t do my business the right way I don’t eat, I don’t have a roof over my head and the bank repossesses my car (etc.)

      I hear what you are saying about building a real business. I am NOT advocating people making more sites on “how to make money”. But ALL sites can benefit from increasing Google search result position and doing it in a way that at least minimizes the chances for negative Google penalties.

      To finish with your car getting stopped analogy; I would say that my point is that there are some small ways to get links that are in a gray area, akin to doing 5-10mph over the speed limit. You could still get stopped for these infractions. But crappy content (Particularly duplicate and spun), paid linking, nefarious techniques and yes… any “get rich quick” method is akin to the drunk driving and 40 mph over the limit speeding. With these techniques it is not IF you get a penalty but when.

      Hopefully I have clarified my point a bit. Anyhow, thank you for stopping by and leaving a thoughtful comment. I hope you had a wonderful New Year.


  10. Another great post, Steve. I have to say for all the SEO stuff out there, yours comes with the most detail and written in a way that’s easy to understand. I really love to see your backlink strategy for your niche site over a period of a few weeks, absolutely fascinating!

  11. Perfect timing Steve!

    I don’t know if you read the email I sent you yet but thank you very much for the information you’re sharing here. Just to let you know my first niche site is now on hold (permanently) and I will move forward to a new one.

    This time I will target a very small niche with the mini site form and try to rank it. In the end, it’s better to work 3 months to have a small site that generates income rather than 3 months wasted to build a big site with nothing but disappointments 😀

    After pausing my project, I’ve read a huge amount of articles on niche sites and link building to be specific. But the ONLY question remains unanswered is how to build links that can Google-proof my site (especially the first few weeks)! And I couldn’t find the answer anywhere within the articles I’ve read. Yours is the first one.

    But I also know that the best way to figure it out is to practice it on a real site. Like Tom Ewer said in his posts: “Only time will tell” I hope I will do better this time with both my experience and what I’ve learned from you and other people.

    Again, thanks a lot Steve. You’re the best 🙂


    • I defintety hear what you are saying Duy. Some niche markets are just too tough to break into. That is why the whole niche research thing is so important in the beginning. IT is important to know what you have to do to rank and what it you will get in terms of traffic when you get there. Like you said, months and months of effort can certainly be frustrating.

      Glad you liked the 4 v’s. 🙂 As you and tom pointed out, unltimately only time will tell, but if you can do you backlinking (for niche sites) in a slow building, natural and organic manner it is far more likely not to incur penalties and get where you want it to be.

      Good luck with your new endeavors!


  12. Hi Steve,

    This is an awesome strategy. I have mostly been getting backlinks by commenting on other blogs, but according to your 4 V’s, are blog commenting even included?

    I’m going to start a Norwegian business fairly soon (in a few months), and I’m going to start a link building campaign for the business. There are no Norwegian article directories and services like BMR, I can’t add Norwegian articles to English services, so should I instead focus on writing guest post on many different Norwegian blogs?

    Thanks a lot for sharing your awesome strategy Steve.

    • Jens,

      Is blog commenting included….well sort of. First of all, in my head, I sort of think of sites in two different categories. Niche sites and authority sites. This site is an authority site. Commenting is and has been my MAIN source of backlinking for a long time. I have recently been experimenting with some other targeted backlinking, but I am not going overboard with it for the main site. So for authority site I would say No, I don’t really include commenting, because I have always done a fair bit of it. (except for the last month where i have done almost none, because I have been on a semi-break)

      Now for a pure niche site… I would say yes, you do want to include commenting links into it. Because even having 50-100 comment links in a day could seem overboard. I wouldn’t seat it too much.. but I would include it to be safe.

      As for The norwegian question. Yes. Comment/guest posting should do more than enough. I understand that the competition (and traffic) are lower on many of the none English blogs so the little things should rank you faster

  13. Love your tips, Steve – glad to see that even you as a professional do not outsource this task – I tend to procrastinate this – usually I end up working on link building to one post on one day (when it’s new) and then I forget about the whole post. I think we need to see posts more as small products we need to market.

  14. The rule of the 4 V’s is very important. A big advantage of yours is that, not a lot of people know about this rule; so you have this rule, a valuable information that your competitors might not know, so the odds are on your side. That’s more important than you’d imagine. Thanks for sharing this! Keep up the good work, you’re doing it extremely well!

  15. There is no doubt that your 4v’s philosophy better helps to get quality backlinks and long term brand visibility on search engine.

  16. Thanks for this timely post Scott. I’ve been running a link building experiment for 2 weeks now, and your post is a good guide for me. Is BMR an absolute part of your linkbuilding strategy?

    I signed up with Blog Blueprint about 4 months ago but I decided to cancel last month because of some cash flow problems I had. I’m still a newbie, and I decided that unless I attain a certain level of monthly income, I can’t afford to invest more or less $60 per month (now, before anybody berates me for that amount, I’m from the Philippines, and that amount is a bit expensive.)

    Say, for example, if I don’t want to invest in BMR for now, what would you recommend?

    • Miggy,

      BMR is something I have only started to use relatively recently. I have been very impressed with the results. Specifically for niche sites that I have been playing with.

      My impression is that it is simialr to Blog Blueprint. I have seen some people say it is better in some ways… but I cannot actually say that with authority, since I have never tried BBP.

      I understand the $$ issue. It is a sound idea to want to be able to make enough to cover the expense.

      Anyhow, I would say that everything else under “variety” would be the way to go for free. Blog commenting, Web 2.0. Forums. All the typical stuff.

      Perhaps take the extra time and invest it in guest posting, which may be the best form of “article marketing” in terms of bang for the buck right now.

      (and something I need to start doing more of)

      • Thanks for the reply Steve. Makes sense. I’ve subscribed to your site and will definitely keep my eyes open for additional traffic tips you’ll be sharing here. 🙂

  17. No4 – volume is exactly what I’m talking about. Of course you can’t have a large amount of backlinks for a short period, but the quantity (and quality, too) of backlinks ou have a day will decide the ranking of your site.

  18. Hi Steve

    Another on topic post for me. Esspecially with my new site just launched. With my blog, it seems to have not been too hard getting links while building relationships and bloggers generously linking in posts to my lavender blog.

    However, with my new site not being a blog; it will be interesting to try some of the methods you have suggested and see how it goes.

    As always, appreciate your generosity in sharing what works for you Steve. Here’s to a great year of growth and learning even more.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Patricia,

      Nice to see you here again. Your new site should fit pretty well with this method, since I would say it falls pretty well within the “niche site” arena. I do think the things you have learned at your lavender site will be very useful in your new psoriasis site. Good luck.


      • I sure hope so Steve. The main thing for me now is to become a marketer and get those products known. Just done a post about choosing products to introduce the ones I recently sourced.

        Will be interesting to hear people’s thoughts on the topic.

        Patricia Perth Australia

  19. I agree Steve, great tips.

    I did pretty much all of this when I was first building up my site(s). I did bail on all the Web 2.0 properties as well as article marketing back when Google did their thing but I must admit, my sites keep moving up in the search engines so I believe the quality of links I’m consistently getting apparently are still working. I could ramp it up though I know.

    Thanks for giving us this play by play because you’re the man when it comes to helping people understand how the money making thing really works.

    Great job Steve, thanks again.


    • Adrienne,

      Some of the article marketing value is questionable since the little Google dances. Though, I do think it has some value…if just for a bit of that variety. No doubt it isn’t as effective as it once was. Rather than posting 20-25 links on ezinearticles linking back, these days I try to do one.

      If you are using something like BMR, or anything that could possibly be even remotely possible to bring a google penalty, I like to link it to the web 2.0 though…they gain rank/authority and pass some on, but keep the new site buffered a bit.

  20. Good job Steve. Results of white hat SEO will indeed take time (months, years) to show but when they do, they will be worth the wait and the effort. Some site owners, especially new ones, can become trigger-happy once they discover a new link building technique. This is one of the common mistakes bloggers and site owners make, a mistake that can be avoided, thanks to your post.

    • Tom,

      Absolutely. Backlinking is particularly delicate for new sites. Real success takes time and consistent effort and you are dead on when you say that many people do not

      a) give it enough time
      b) get antsy and “ramp things up” too early/agressively

  21. Steve,

    Absolutely agree on your 4v on link building. These are good practice on link building and is likely to mitigate the risk of having Google penalty (who knows, it is Google, lol). I must admit that your linking pattern is really conservative. I think this is also good for brand new site.


  22. Hello,
    thank you so much for providing this quality article. its quite obvious that newbies try to get so many backlinks in just one day and ended up them self penalized by the good. so its better to follow the above mentioned steps and get to know what it requires.
    Thank you.

  23. You’re indeed right when you said that it is very easy to get penalized by google.

    So just a reminder, let’s not force google to penalize us by sandboxing us or removing us from the list.

    Let’s not spam!

  24. Thank you so much Steve for these rules, really helpful 😀

    I have a question, now my blog is 4 months old and I built a lot of back links already.

    so now can I submit all the articles that I want to submit on articles directories and web 2.0 websites in one day. For example, you have organized your article submissions through 30 days as your website is new, is this rule applicable for old websites that have backlinks already like my blog?

    Hope you got my question, Thanks.

  25. Very insightful post, I think I’ve made a few of those mistakes myself where in the past I have used the same keyword over and over when linking, so I’ve learnt something new here. Using web 2.0 property sites have proved very useful when I started to promote my blog, I still use hubpages and squidoo on occasion. It seems that building backlinks has now become a lot more intricate than it ever used to be.

  26. How if I only focus on one or two methods to build backlinks such as blog commenting and submitting to article directories, which I am sure I can do it persistently.

  27. Hey Scott the thing that you said in your post about about anchor text, for eg. my niche is SEO and I use the anchor text SEO solutions while making comments will Google penalize me for using the same anchor text every time? Please reply.

    • Dev,

      Yes and no. First of all, in comments specifically it is my belief that the seo anchor text is not weighted as heavily either for or against. Many people have a “default” anchor text for comments and do not draw penalities. BUT I would ensure that “in general” you have a wider variety of anchor text links coming back. At the very least a few riffs on your main one (solutions for SEO, Best SEO soutions etc.)

      It is hard to say any of this with “authority” but I am a fan of playing it safe.

  28. Thanks for this information. I am really bad with creating backlinks. I have links just from social media or maybe commenting, but it surely isn’t enough. I know that backlinking is very important, so I think I will have to work on this much more.

    • Hey, it all counts! For a long time that is all I did on this site. It can certasinly “wait” but in the long term you do need to take at least a look at backlinking for those posts that could rreach those “golden spots”

  29. Great post Scott (as always)!

    I wish I had found it sooner because I recently started focusing on Amazon niche sites a little more and had some initial success with it once a few of my sites made it to the top 3. However, once that initial ranking hit, I ramped up my backlinking efforts in an attempt to push them to number 1. It wasn’t long after that all of them disappeared from the first page and they have been sitting around page 5 or 6 now for over 2 months. I’m assuming I got penalized for too many backlinks using the same anchor text. I used BMR for most all my link building and mostly always linked to the home page using the same keyword. I’ve learned now that it was a bad strategy and now I won’t let that happen again so at least I’ve gotten something good out of it.

    Question: If backlinking efforts like this can penalize a site, what’s to keep someone from ruining a competitor by blasting them with tons of backlinks? Especially a new site that is on the rise in their niche? Doesn’t seem fair but I guess that’s how it works.

    Thanks again for the post!

    • Yeah, it can be a definite problem when you rank to fast, you certainly want to change up those anchor texts and send some of your links to articles linking too your main articles. The ranking too fast thing, with too many links pointed a fresh site can certainly be an issue. I know I have run into the same thing once or twice myself…it can be discouraging!

      As to your question of black hat guys intentionally killing the competition by blasting links… I don’t have an answer- to be honest…I have wondered the same thing. I think it really sucks that Google will not really give you a reason when they apply these penalties… But yeah, generally new sites are fairly screwed, you really need to watch that link velocity an vary anchor text and play by the rules as much as you can. Good luck Dan!

  30. Thank you for sharing with us the 4Vs of back linking. I have a question. If you are going to outsource getting back links from other web sites, would it be better to get a full time outsourcing person or on a contract basis. Just wondering.


  31. I am so glad I read this article. Was thinking about buying backlinks but was nervous that it would cause Google to de-rank my website. I will go back to focusing on getting natural backlinks and being consistent with it. THANKS!!!

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