How to Make the Most of a $100 Link Building Budget?

How to Make the Most of a $100 Link Building Budget?

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how to build links on a budget

Tight budget? Let's make it work...

Last week, we talked about how to promote your blog on a tight budget or even no budget at all.

Today, I decided to take it one step further and discuss the most effective ways to start your link building campaign on a $100 budget, if you have it.

As always, most of the techniques I’ll be talking about are entirely free to implement.

We’ll also talk a bit about leveraging your money to make the most of link building.

My “Link Building on a Budget” Strategies

1.   Blog Commenting – FREE

The easiest, the most accessible and basic way to build links is through commenting on other blogs.

The trick here is time.

So to maximize your time and the return on the investment of your time, I would check out the following resources to help you along the way:

2.   Guest Posting – FREE

Yes, this is a great content marketing strategy, as well as one of very few ways to get your links appear within the content of another blog.

These types of links are presumably the most valued by Google and carry the most weight when it comes down to achieving high search engine ranking optimization on your blog.

3.   Article Marketing – FREE

Time-consuming, but still one of the best free strategies to build links.

Article marketing is not what it used to be and it won’t bring much, if any, traffic to your site, but it still works well for link building.

Even with all the latest Google updates.

There’s a wealth of article directories to choose from and, to make your life easier, I thought I’d give you a list of the ones I use.

This list was originally given to me by Gerald Weber, my SEO link building partner in crime:





Remember: don’t just focus on DoFollow links; you need both for a “healthy” and natural looking link profile – exactly what Google wants to see.

4.   Social Bookmarking – FREE

This is something that I do for each and every post I publish.

Correction: I don’t actually personally do it; I outsource these manual tasks to save my valuable time for the things that no one else can do for my blog.

I’ve written a post a while ago outlining all the steps I take to promote my posts step by step; here’s the link:

5.   Social Media – FREE

I always share all my posts via Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

If you are still not using Google Plus by the way, you should – it’s a great traffic generator. Take a look at my Google Plus tutorial to learn the ropes.

It produces links, displays social media proof on my blog, as well as brings in some traffic.

Plus, now that social media mentions were included as a search engine ranking factor, it definitely pays to develop a smart social media strategy to cover that angle.

6.   Write Pillar Content – FREE

Yes, writing incredible content for your own blog can produce the best kind of links you can get – natural in-content links resulting from being mentioned by other bloggers on their own blogs.

Isn’t that what blogging is all about after all?

Write with the WOW factor and people will talk about it!

One of the very first posts I’ve ever written for Traffic Generation Cafe was a post on how to increase blog traffic.

It’s been since mentioned on MANY other blogs, resulting in high-quality one way links and high search engine rankings as a result.

Sure it took me quite a while to write it.

However, it definitely paid off in the form of the SEO traffic I am still getting from that post.

7.   Write Linkbait Content – FREE

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous strategy, but takes it one step further.

Here’s an example of how I took my pillar post I just mentioned on how to increase blog traffic and turned it into a link bait to build even more links to it.

And here are the results of that post:

Does this give you any ideas for your own link baits? I surely hope so!

And the best part is that you can use the content you’ve already created for this – doesn’t get any better than that in my book.

8.   Start a meme – FREE

Not too long ago, memes were all the rage, but they’ve since come down in popularity.

Doesn’t mean that they don’t work though, right?

What’s a meme? (pronunciation tip: it rhymes with “theme”)

Here’s an example of how I used this strategy to generate a bunch of free links and buzz about my blog:

By the way, this post was published only one or two weeks after I started Traffic Generation Cafe, when virtually NO ONE has ever heard of me.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if you have a brand new blog or a struggling blog, let this encourage you. Yes, you CAN!

This is only a fraction of the links I got back to my blog as a result of starting the meme:

9.   Giveaway/Contest Posts – VARIES

This technique is something that I haven’t given a try until very recently.

Then I decided to give it a shot with my Thesis theme giveaway and it was an instant hit; so much so that I closely followed it with my CommentLuv Premium giveaway.

I am now officially hooked.

Those two giveaways resulted in a lot of interest from the readers, a wealth of comments, great links, and a chance for me to give back to my readers.


It depends on whether you pay for the prize out of your own pocket or talk the product creator into giving you a free copy to give away.

I did pay to give away the Thesis theme, but it was worth it – the link building and interaction far outweighed the cost.

I also gave away some free one-on-one consultations.

This is a great option if you don’t have the money, but don’t mind putting some time into it.

10.   Get Market Samurai – $97

If there was only one tool I could buy to give my blog a push in the search engine rankings, I’d definitely buy Market Samurai.

Not only it’s the best keyword research tool currently on the market, but it also gives you an incredible edge in figuring out what kind of link building your competition is doing.

Once you know that, beating them at their own game becomes a breeze.

Take a look at this post to see how I use Market Samurai to check up on my competitors:

Click on the link below to take a copy for a free 7-day test drive:

try market samurai

How to but MarketSamurai at 35% off: just click on my affiliate banner above and sign up for the free trial. Within a day or two, MarketSamurai team will email you 35% discount offer – that’s the time to buy it.

Marketing Takeaway

Link building remains the cornerstone of any successful SEO campaign, no question about it.

If this is something that’s been sitting on your to-do list for a while, the time to actually do it is now.

Start by picking up a copy of my free SEO report, where I’ll take you step by step through SEO in a language both you and I can understand.

Love it or hate it? Comment to show me that you’re alive!

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63 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Is article marketing still an effective link building strategy Ana? I am finding mixed reports about this tactic and am wondering if it’s worth the effort.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I’ve been against it for a while, Thomas, but I’ve learned that quantity of link building still counts and article marketing easily provides that.

  2. First, great post Ana…

    I’m huge on SEO and like to take a very automated approach. I just think doing everything manually is such a waste of time. Sure, some people only have a spare $100, but I strongly believe people should get another job to earn money to outsource before they do everything manually – but that’s just me.

    I would say guest blogging and high value comments on authority blogs are the only two worth doing manually. The other stuff can be automated with tools like Article Marketing Robot, bookmarking demon, Senuke and all sorts.

    As for pillar content…

    In the very beginning I think it’s a total waste of time. Unless you’re superman and can pump out amazing articles in the span of an hour, not worth it to begin with.

    As all great link bait (pillar articles) they need a strong push to take off and attract a ton of natural links. So you can create pillar articles, but if you do you really need to submit a ton of press releases, bookmarks, tons of social media promotional stuff, lots of promotion in general.

    Of course, not if you’re Ana Hoffman and have a blog with this much authority and sway in the market. Then the push isn’t needed and it’s totally worth it. But in the beginning lots of GREAT 1 hour posts and lots of promotion on a daily basis is better than 1 pillar article per week hoping for all the links.

    Just my thoughts. :)

    – Jamie

    • Ana Hoffman

      Of course. If you have the money to get good automated services or to outsource, why not. That way you can focus on the important aspects of your business.

  3. Sid


    Another great blog. I am glad I found your blog and I learn so much. I assume your link building techniques work for website as well.

  4. Ana Hoffman

    You’re welcome Jim.

    Social Bookmarking is done to places such as Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc.

    Social Media is marketing to your existing reader-base on Google+, FB and Twitter.

    Hope this makes sense?

  5. Time. If only it were truly free. I’ve been using a small SEO company that outsources their work to a bunch of independents who work for next to nothing. I know exploiting low cost labor. But it saves me from having to find the individuals myself and dealing with a bazillion micro paypal payments. I trust what they do and they send me a nice little report when they are done a couple of days later.

    You pick what you want… the book marks, article distribution (which I write and they submit), social bookmarks whatever. Basically they just use the techniques that you mention above. The advantage is it frees me up from doing this kind of grunt work which quickly bores me to the point of wanting to drink myself into a stupor. It also frees me up to focus on what I SHOULD be doing.

    Anyone with a $100 budget can pull this off pretty easily. Focus on your core competency and hire other people to do what you hate doing.

    • Ana Hoffman

      That’s an option too. However if you want to tweak your requirements, you have to deal with third parties and this could cause confusion. Not?

      But yes, outsourcing is a good strategy if you don’t have the time, motivation or energy to do it yourself and if it takes you away from what you should be doing.

  6. Nice post Ana with useful strategies that people can apply. I particularly like the list of DoFollow directories and the blog commenting footprints you provided. This gives people a list of places where they can instantly go and drop a link with little work needed.

  7. Thanks for this info and article directory list. I have used only free traffic tools so far and it is actually not very time consuming – if you have a lot of content, then content itself creates traffic by SEs.

    Wondering what do you think about submitting website url to directories? Those mostly require reciprocal link in order to get fast approval.

    Will submitting to directories be worth the time used for it?


  8. Great list of tips
    1+2: I do agree with blog commenting and quest posts. Great ways of getting backlinks as long as you add valuable contributions.
    3: I´m not so sure on art directories after Google´s Farmer update. Big directores like e-zine articles lost lot of PR. So art dir are not so much in my focus anymore
    4+5: Social bookmarking and social media: definately. Very important. Besides the social bookmarking does wonders to ndexing your backlinks.
    6: Definately: quality content is VERY important
    7: Linkbyting: yes, but very difficult due to the scheer volume of good posts writen
    8+9: agree
    10: market samurai is good to do market research. I love this tool, though I do use it combined with the free Google external keyword tool.

    Thx for this great list.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Actually, what article directories lost was their rankings, not pagerank, which basically means that it’s nearly impossible to drive any traffic through article marketing these days.

      However, links are still links.

  9. David

    I love how you spin all these tactics as “free”. In fact, they all take a lot of time, and that costs a lot of money to hire someone (especially since they are things that require careful thought and cannot be hired out to just anyone). If you choose to do them yourself, then they cost even more, because they cost your own time, which is arguably more valuable than that of anyone you might hire (since you are CEO of your blog/website).

  10. Ana,

    This is interesting. I was waiting for the $100 cost, and you kept adding more and more free stuff, and I was thinking, what would she use the $100 and then it hit me when I saw Market Samurai :)

    I completely agree, even though I haven’t bought it just yet. I have tested the free trial, and it worked great. If I did any form of niche marketing, I would certainly buy it.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Most link building can be done for free, Jens – that’s what professional link builders use as well.

      However, with the help of optional tools like Market Samurai, the time and effort spent on link building goes a lot longer way.

  11. Wow Ana, that article is as rich with powerful, useful and practicable information as…as…as an article very, very rich with powerful, useful and practicable information could be. If you put all that together (with the info to be found by following the links) into an eBook you could probably sell it for $$$ – not that I’m suggesting you do! I’ve got my work cut out for me now studying and putting into practice all this stuff. Thank you so much, you’re a star!

      • I’m sorry Ana, I’m Swedish and I live in Spain so my third language is English and Germany, so it can sometimes be a bit wrong in my English. What I mean in other words is that we have MarketSamurai at the company and my colleague like it and it is a very good program, but I want to search for the best keywords in a different way.

        • Ana Hoffman

          No problem, Lennart.

          You don’t need to explain – I understand completely. If you have a great way to share, you’re welcome to share with us!

  12. I haven’t started doing some of these. There’s a few here I hadn’t heard of or thought of doing. I’ve been doing the social sharing and the commenting for a while and just started guest posting. Since I started doing them consistently, I’ve really started seeing things start to happen with my own blog.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips!

    • Ana Hoffman

      You are very welcome, Grady.

      I am glad you mentioned consistency. It never helps much to throw a few links into your blog and hope to rank for something good.

      Results come overtime and with steady effort, whatever link building technique you choose.

  13. Ian Belanger

    Hey Ana,

    Excellent post as usual. I wanted to add one thing that many people don’t know about article marketing.

    Once you have published an article to your blog and it has been indexed by the search engines. There is no need to spin that article. You are the author and as long as your original post has been indexed, you will not get rejected by article directories for using duplicate content.

    This has sure saved me time and headaches along the way. So people, re-purpose your old blog content into articles and get those precious links.

    Thanks for sharing Ana and have a great day!

    • Ana Hoffman

      That’s right. It saves a lot of time and effort and lives up to the word “re-purpose”. Spinning an article you have written already is hardly re-purposing it.

  14. I agree with blog commenting at number one. It is probably the most popular technique among the masses, although like you said, it takes time and patience to make it work and be successful with it. Guest Posting is also very for effective way for a new blogger to break in faster and get themselves known by writing good articles. Thank you for the dofollow directories!


    • Ana Hoffman

      Thanks for stopping by, Jean.

      Time & patience are the keys to blogging success in every area.

  15. Great tips Ana, and certainly true about how most of the powerful link building techniques are actually free. Of course it is finding the time to do it all where most of us come unstuck LOL.

    Definitely would start my spending by purchasing MS – have to agree with you there :)

    • Ana Hoffman

      Time vs money – always one core issues we all have to figure out.

      I’ve been leaning more towards money lately; time is too precious to waste… I guess this kind of conclusion comes with experience. Or simply working too much. LOL

      I know you can relate, Alex.

  16. Out of the list above, only guest posting, contest/giveaways, Meme, and market samurai were not on my list. I guess I might be considering those now except for market samurai, :/ kinda costy :)

  17. Another great article post, Ana.

    I have to agree with what you said(Through some of your comment responses) that submitting through Social Bookmarking(Article submission sites) whilst bringing in a fair amount of back-links, may not be the best option for building up a website or Blog. The sites that submit your articles uniquely(one time only) to a small number of sites, I would say are not too bad. Though, the mass submission route(Often spun articles) would probably damage a sites overall rep(Interestingly, I went to a few site who were promoting some of these tools and I noticed that they often had very few links and a not to great Alexa Ranking.

    I would say the best ways to add great quality and plenty of traffic to your site(Okay it looks like my personal list of must do’s)

    (1)Writing quality content and promoting it through the best(Quality) channels.

    (2) Blog commenting.

    (3)Guest Posting(Though I was doubtful at first) it ensures due to the Guest posting guidelines, that quality content ensues, and provides a promotional platform for the author.

    (4) A good Blog or website Platform and appropriate theme.

    Enable Comment luv.

    Use Market Samurai.

    And much of what you have mentioned in your article, including prizes and giveaways(Within your budget, of course)

  18. All good stuff, Ana. I follow that submitting the same articles to different directories only gets indexed once, so that’s not a good SEO strategy for building back links. However, you can use the same article on multiple sites, such as micro-sites, without penalty, for the purpose of branding, as long as the article is relevant to the site.

    • Ana Hoffman

      That’s a good point, Steve; if it’s not for link building, you can at least establish some branding.

  19. Hi Ana,
    I love it! And, last time I checked, I did have a pulse….but I haven’t checked in a couple days, so….I don’t know if I’m alive or not. 😉 Oh, I just checked, and I found it, so I guess I’m alive! :)
    Anyway, I understand about social bookmarking now! I had asked you a question on your last post, but you don’t have to answer it, because I read the article you linked to, and I understand now. :)
    This was a very informational post, I definitely could use some work on a few of these. I do pretty well with the first 6 (except #4), and I’m actually in the beginning process of creating #9, but I could definitely use some work in the other areas.
    Thank you for this brain-stimulating post.
    Have a wonderful week!

  20. Hi Ana,

    Love the post, especially all the links you weaved in so well. And to know that most of the things you can achieve at no cost is truly amazing. I have been hearing a lot about Market Samurai and would surely give it a try, after hearing it from you!

    However, I do wonder and remain confused about whether a blog should be DoFollow or NoFollow as there remain many pros and cons about it. Would love to hear your view about it- as CommentLuv only enables the comments to be DoFollow I think.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • Ana Hoffman

      CommentLuv does give you an option to choose Do or NoFollow links, Harleena.

      As of right now, my blog is dofollow and it’s always been that way.

      I chose to set my CL links as nofollow simply because I get so many comments, but I used to have it dofollow as well.

      In the end, I think any blog would benefit from being dofollow simply because it encourages readership and we all need more of that!

  21. I think Social Bookmarking and Blog commenting are best ways for getting quick one way links for your site, we should not ignore it and take it lightly.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Although they might not be the most valuable ones, Riya, they are most the simplest ones to get.

  22. Hi Ana,

    Great article once again, These are basic but crucial techniques for link building. I have one query here about “Article Marketing” Can we use submit same article in different article directories? If not then why not?

    • Ana Hoffman

      Good question, Aarti.

      2 reasons:

      1. After the Panda update, most article directories check every submitted article for originality and won’t accept it if it’s already published somewhere else.

      2. Google is very good at identifying and not indexing duplicate content submitted to different sites, which means that even if they find your article submitted to several directories, they might index only the first one they found. That means that you just did a whole lot of work and won’t get any credit because the links won’t get indexed.

      To learn more about duplicate content, check out this post:

  23. Daniel

    Insane compilation of dofollow sites Ana. I haven’t done any article marketing yet. I do have a highly visited (11k+ views for one article written in a blitz) pillar type of content.

    Live example:

    However most are through stumbles, which while there’s good hits, aren’t exactly the best converting users (view and stumble onto the next site).

    Reading the Google +1 tutorial next. :)

    • Ana Hoffman

      Not all traffic is created equal, Daniel; that’s true.

      That’s precisely why I don’t personally focus on SU and some other sources of traffic.

      And you are welcome!

  24. Hey Ana,

    Great post as always, I can add a couple more resources here. Here are 3 sites that I use for every post also


    Most of them are free plans, with optional upgrades. Cheers!

    • Ana Hoffman

      I use the first two, Chad, but only looked at in the past.

      Thanks for the addition!

  25. Ana,

    I agree with you on so many points here. ( Though I added a few to my “article marketing” websites. You had about 6-7 I havent seen) From Pillar content to commenting to social bookmarking. All are essential.

    Perhaps most telling of all, If I had one thing I would say is a would also be Market Samurai. It is just too handy, and a little research there can save a metric ton of wasted effort.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I can’t write a blog post without using Market Samurai, Steve, and it has definitely helped my blog posts to rank for some great keywords I wouldn’t have otherwise targeted.

  26. Ana some great points, I would say Guest posting is probably the one I would recommend more, as besides having a link back, you are also building your brand awareness, you probably pick up some twitter followers at the same time, so there’s a lot to gain from publishing one GOOD guest article.
    All the rest of the points are brilliant too. Thanks for sharing

  27. Great post Ana. I’ve really been making use of your CommentLuv Enabled Blog List to get some nice links.

    One of my other favorite free tools for linkbuilding is It’s great for finding all sorts of places to leave your links on, especially when you use it with SEOQuake to check PR. It just added a query to find CommentLuv Premium enabled blogs too which makes it even better.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Thanks for mentioning, Josh.

      I’ve looked around a bit and found that you’d have to dig quite a bit for blogs that are still active, but the CL Premium feature is great – you know that the info is fresh since it just came out.

      I just might have to add this tool to the post; with the link to you, of course!