The Zero Link Building Experiment – How To Rank A Site Without Building Links

The Zero Link Building Experiment – How To Rank A Site Without Building Links

I love experimenting with things when it comes to SEO and the best SEO advice I can give to anyone is that you should never believe anything you read until you have tested it for yourself.

You might not have realised it, but this blog is an experiment…

UPDATE: Track the performance of this experiment here. You’ll be shocked.

You can also read the follow up post – How I Built A Top 100 Blog.

The Experiment

I have never really payed much attention to the Google Webmaster Guidelines in my SEO efforts.

That Matt Cutt’s bloke keeps banging on about them so I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about and decided to setup an experiment.

Is it possible to rank a website in Google with nothing but high quality content and zero link building?

To test that theory I have created this SEO blog that does not use SEO to drive traffic.

Yes you read that correctly, my SEO blog about SEO will not use SEO to secure rankings and traffic. Irony ^^

Kind of like how John Chow makes money online by telling people how he make’s money online.

Instead I’m going to focus on sticking to the official Google Webmaster Guidelines as closely as possible. After reading through the guidelines and brushing up my skills via the Webmaster Academy I setup this blog and experiment.

The end game is to create a loyal base of fans and subscribers through E-mail, Social Media & RSS with a steady flow of traffic from Google without any link building or PPC.

Want updates delivered direct to your inbox? Just enter your email and click “Subscribe Now!”

The Methods

The methods I’m going to use can be broken down into 2 parts, content creation and promotion.

The Content

Matt Cutts always says that the best way to get links and rankings is by creating great content as that will naturally attract links.

That makes sense to me, but what is great content exactly?

I watched this video for some ideas-

  • Create a blog and establish yourself as an authority
  • Do something that is unique/different/original
  • Create content that is useful/helpful to the community
  • Answers common questions in your niche
  • Publish original research
  • Create videos
  • Publish how to guides and tutorials
  • Create lists of helpful resources

Can you name an SEO blog that does all of that? No one seems to offer anything original; it’s just the same generic around the block advice written in different ways over and over again.

What makes things worse is that a lot of the stuff that gets published as fact is actually just baseless thought and opinion.

Very rarely do I find an SEO blog that has something new, unique or different to offer.

My Content Strategy

With that in mind I’m going to create the ultimate resource for SEO’s that is jam packed with helpful content based on my own research, knowledge and experience.

I’m going to tackle a lot of the common problems SEO’s face through a series of tutorials in the form of videos and blog posts.

I’ve already published a few examples-

  1. The Ultimate Guide To Tiered Link Building
  2. How To Analyse Your Backlink Profile To Fix Current & Future Penalties

The Promotion

I have always relied on SEO to drive traffic to my sites. Although I have experience with other methods, SEO is my bread and butter.

If Matt Cutt’s is right, then publishing high quality content should do the trick when it comes to promotion. As more people discover my content, they will share it/link to it which will allow more people to discover it and so forth.

Ideally I will want to create content that is so good, it will promote itself.

When people read what I have created they should be falling over themselves to subscribe for updates via email, follow me on Twitter, sharing the page on social media and so on.

So how can I get the ball rolling?

My Promotion Strategy

My entire promotional strategy to drive traffic is as simple as-

  1. Posting on forums like TrafficPlanet, WarriorForum & DigitalPoint
  2. Getting involved on Twitter / Facebook (SEO types seem to prefer Twitter)
  3. Commenting on blog posts (with links to my tutorials if related)
  4. Setting up some ninja Google Alerts to find new places to get involved
  5. Asking people to share the page to get access to my exclusive personal resources
  6. Just straight up asking people to share

Seem’s pretty basic and straightforward right? I’m also going to make sure that it is easy for people to share my content, connect with me on social media and subscribe to e-mail updates.

I’m hoping that the combination of those mechanisms with great content will be enough to snowball the blog to success.

The Reporting

Every month I will write a detailed report about the sites progress and tell you exactly what I have done to get it there.

This will be a great resource for myself and readers of the blog. It will help me keep track of progress efficiently while teaching readers what to do and what not to do.

The reports will be classed as ‘great content’ in their own right.

These monthly reports will include key metrics such as-

  • Traffic statistics
  • The number of e-mail sign ups
  • Social media growth
  • Number of affiliate links clicked
  • Income reports
  • All the juicy details of what I have done and how I did it!
  • And a bunch of other stuff

Click Here To View All Of These Reports

Am I Crazy?

Part of me feels like this is experiment is doomed to fail and it really does push me out of my comfort zone completely. I have never created video tutorials before or used my knowledge and experience to teach/help others.

I have always relied on creating links to get rankings and traffic, but now I’m only relying on creating great content to get links to get rankings and traffic. Scary!

On the other hand I believe this could be one of the most rewarding SEO experiments I have ever done. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share and I’m hoping that will help out real people like you.

Will You Help Me?

If you want to help me out with this experiment and say thanks for my tutorials then please take 60 seconds to share them.

You can do that by-

  • Posting on SEO & webmaster forums
  • Sharing them with friends on social media
  • Writing about them on your blog
  • Sharing them with your e-mail list
  • Leaving comments & ratings

Be sure to drop me a mail if you share them and I’ll shout you out in the monthly reports!

Subscribe For Updates

If you are interested in seeing how my experiment progresses then please subscribe below to get the latest updates direct to your inbox.

Over To You

What do you think? Is this experiment setup for success or failure?

Do you have any tips or advice on what I should be doing to make this a success?

 Share On Google+ Now!

Get My Latest Posts

Subscribe to the blog to get the latest updates delivered direct to your inbox.


Connect With Me...

Circle me on Google+ so we can chat and I can put a face to a name!

56 Responses

8.15.2012

Great post will follow it closely, I already came across some of your shameless promotion on TP, ha and also seen your videos on YT that’s where I first found your site. I’m sure if you keep adding great content like you have been people will do your link building for you. Good luck..

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Haha unlike most shameless promotion I like to think I actually add some value =D

Am I reading that right, you found my videos/site via YouTube? Interested how if so. Actually considering self hosting the videos and removing them from YouTube, this could be a bad decision though ^^

Reply

Rob Reply:

Just thought I’d let you know I found you through YT as well. I was looking for something on tiered link building and you came up. Great learning tutorials and waiting for some more now that you’ve wetted my appetite.
Rob

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Rob,

Thanks man :) Guessing you were searching for tiered link building type terms?

Should take a closer look at how my vids rank on YT itself!

Reply

Adrian Boro Reply:

Awesome advice and theory. I am soon going to shadow successful bloggers just like you, and a no backlinking strategy sounds like one of the on going strategies I will apply.

Have a good one,
Adrian Boro.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Cheers Adrian!

Reply

Michael Cox Reply:

I think i was just searching for "link building" in quotes posts in last week or 24hrs or something on google and your The Ultimate Guide To Tiered Link Building Part 1, oftern do these serches just to find new methods etc. I would defo leave them on youtube, i watched the full video there and then came to your site looking for more content because the video was good even ended up subscribing..

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Ahh thats interesting thank you very much ^^

Why don't you just setup Google Alerts for those searches?

Reply

Michael Cox Reply:

Yeah i use google alerts also but when im sitting doing nothing and feel like a read i put alsorts of search strings in "backlinking guide" "backlink blueprint" "new backlink source" etc etc then search in new posts, often find gold..

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Have a look at http://www.searchenginejournal.com/the-ninjas-guide-to-google-alerts/48068/ for some more ideas :P

Reply

8.15.2012

I'd keep videos on youtube. looking forward to learning from you how to rank sites #1 in google ;).

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

What benefit do you think leaving them on YouTube has?

If I self host the video-

1. I dont compete with my self in the SERPS (Google will choose YouTube over my site)
2. My blog would be the only place to find the content
3. I have control over everything
4. It would be easier to convert people into subscribers
5. Self hosted videos will add to the overall authority/strength of my site

/headscratch

Reply

8.15.2012

It does give you more control to host it yourself. But Google owns YouTube. Countless people search YouTube specifically for tutorials to become a follower. Even Snoop Dogg has his own YouTube channel, and there are many people that I wouldn't have ever found if it wasn't for youtube in a range of interest areas like Health, Fitness.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Your right about people using YouTube for tutorials etc, perhaps I should have some of my shorter tutorials over at YouTube and keep the longer/more detailed ones on site, best of both :)

Reply

8.27.2012

I think it's a noble and potentially worthwhile endeavor! At least it will be good baseline data of what Google "says" you should do, and what actually results.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Well even if Google hates it, user feedback has been great so far!

Only one way to find out if it works though :P

Reply

8.28.2012

Hey, Matthew, I think your experiment will be a smashing success if you continue to provide great and fresh content. Regarding your self hosting vs. youtube dilemma, why not do both? You can upload a nice video on youtube about SEO, explaining something cool, but you just explain a part of your plan and at the end tell the viewer to proceed to your website to see the rest. This is the cliffhanger method, in which you leverage the huge youtube traffic and nonetheless get part of the linkbait when you siphon the viewers to your website. Another thing I would do is transcribe the video content and make a podcast that visitors can hear directly or download, so you profit 3 times from the same content!

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Tom,

They are some great strategies for repurposing the content. I like the idea of having the start of a tutorial on YouTube and then the full tutorial self hosted on the blog. This would definetly help suck people from Youtube into the site.

I already transcribe the videos but a lot of what I do is visual so turning it into a podcast would be tricky although there are some pieces of content that would be suitable. Podcasting would certainly be putting me well beyond my comfort zone :)

Thanks for the tips! Will more than likely use the cliffhanger method in future tutorials

Reply

Tom Urbanek Reply:

I'm glad you liked it and wish you all the best!

Reply

10.9.2012

I have started making pillar content (good content) to my blog, then posting just a part of that video on YouTube, and saying: "see the rest of the video at " in the Description as well as added to the end of the part-video as a callout (using Camtasia). The benefit of having it on YouTube is that I get a backlink that spiders will follow, and that YT gives the part-vid some authority (and natural traffic). Then when people come to my blog to hear the full article I can add clickable links etc using Easy Video Player that I can't do at YT. That counteracts all your negatives: and adds some positives. And it doesn't take much extra time to do. Also, I put it up on YT first and wait for it to be indexed (helping it along a bit) before adding a link to my blog post with the full video. I think that this might make sure that both get ranked better. (I haven't tested that, though =D).

Also, when rendering, I will spit out the MP3 too and submit it as a podcast… somewhere… not sure where yet… as mentioned by another commenter. Good call!

Malc

Reply

you said "google alerts" – how are you using them to promote this site?, I have a few running around one of my niche sites and just some generally (on topics I wanted to learn more about).

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Pretty much laid it out here http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/the-ninjas-guide-to-google-alerts/

Reply

2.1.2013

A big thumbs up from a fellow SEO Matthew.. I recently came across one of your posts and have since added you on Facebook, watched and read various tutorials from you and just now read the ‘thinking behind it all’.. Absolutely fantastic idea and an approach I have not come across before.. Bravo and keep up the good work.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Where abouts are you from Aaron?

Thanks for the kind words!

Reply

2.4.2013

UK Based in Hertfordshire, yourself? Was actually talking about your approach and experiment only this morning with a colleague. I work for an agency and we are doing more and more SEO work. A unique approach like yours is a breath of fresh air.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Ahh I’m in Cheshire! Yeah I tend to find a lot of people have forgotten about ‘internet marketing’ and purely focus on ‘google marketing’

Reply

3.12.2013

Hi Matthew, yesterday I have run into your blog. Today I am learning a lot from your youtube video and later today I will start over my linkbulding strategy.
I am new in affiliate, not new in SEO but untill now I have done bussines only in local market (.ro), and I did not earned enough, starting this week I have open an first niche project.

Thank you!

P.S: I jut hit all your sharing buttons :)

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Paul,

Glad your enjoying it all :) Thanks for the shares that is very kind of you!

Reply

SAJID
3.13.2013

Hi, Matt
I found your blog via Google of the comparison of Backlink checking companies comparison and it was excellent, but i am really more than happy to see your blog and enjoyed this post very much. I am also trying to focus on mere content and to stop link building for the better blogging experience of people and to avoid any penalties.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Glad you enjoyed it :) The fact you found me from Google proves my experiment is working ^^

Reply

Mark cullen
4.15.2013

Hi Matt,
This bog is just so good. Zero back links. Excellent !
I’ve found inspiration from you. Been thinking of setting my own blog up for some time, now I’ve done it. Thinking-Social.co.uk I’ve dedicated this blog to discovering the influence’s that social signals have on SEO. The launch will be at the end of this month.Could you please take a look and let me know what you think.
I would love to hear what you have to say on the subject.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Mark,

THanks very much. Your site takes to long to load though so closed it before it did, assume thats because its not launched yet?

Reply

Mark cullen Reply:

Think I might of been working on the site security when you tried to look. (You get up to early)

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hahaha work hard, play hard :)

Reply

5.5.2013

Matt,

Just found your site through Terry Kyle’s Traffic Planet.

Only one word I can use “Brilliant”

Really enjoying the content and looking forward to going through the videos this bank holiday weekend.

Thanks Matt have a good day.

Steve

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Steve,

Cheers man! Feel free to drop any questions on the posts and I’ll get to them!

Reply

6.4.2013

I went through the videos and this is just brilliant. Thanks for writing such a great article!

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

No worrys :)

Reply

6.22.2013

What theme is this blog on? The layout is one of the best…very crisp, unclutteerd & easy to follow.

Thanks.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

This one http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/get/convergence/ – with a few changes ofc :P

Reply

Manthiramurthy
6.27.2013

Hi there,
your blog looks very information to newbies like me . Can you also post some content about creating a review website (product or service) or something?. waiting to hear from you.

Thanks,
Murthy

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

Take a look at how I structure the reviews here to get an idea of how to do it

Reply

Sterling
7.15.2013

Your experiment must be working. I found you 3 times while searching. One for article spinning tutorials, on for senuke tutorials, and again for Link Emperor tutorials. Forgot the exact keyphrases, but your blog articles and YT vids are ranking well. Cheers!

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks very much =D

Reply

minhbim
8.11.2013

Hi Matt

Such a good experiment. However, it may not be applied in all cases. Your blog have a good result in SER because you have created supper content (yes supper). But I’m sure not every one can or be able to do that. Let say a nich with very little thing to say, chance to create a high value and attractive content seem zero. What should we do in that case?

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi,

I would say in niches where its difficult to create content, then benchmark for creating awesome content is actually much lower.

Regardless of the niche you can always be creative with the content. If I can do it for rug pads and shemale phone sex lines anyone can!

Reply

Fervil Reply:

I agree with you Matt. I have seen some articles which tackles about how to put up a very good content out of a very boring industry/niche. Perhaps those can help. Anyway, its just a matter of practice, hard work and creativity to form a very good page that attracts people and search engine. Thumbs up for you case study. I’m joining your crusade on spreading the word. Good luck!

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thanks for the support =D

Reply

10.3.2013

Dude you are so bad ass!

I aspire to learn thy Jedi secrets. I have just subscribed.

I create blogs specifically for income opportunities with factual proof of results, as well as facts about the opportunity.

Not that same old smoke and mirrors horse doodoo from other marketers claiming the opportunity to be the same as planting a money tree in your backyard. I pimp slap them with my content.

Anyways, I am very successful in my efforts because the opportunities pay ridiculous commissions, and the products are well worth it.

But, I get bummed out bc I have a passion for writing and blogging, and I’m only limited to posts about that opportunity, or how to market that opportunity. A site such as yours I want to tackle next. Where you can help the masses and not just those within the income opportunity.

One thing I do hope that people take notice, other than your all killer no filler content, is how much value you give for free. It’s honestly the key to success.

Forget about saying crappy affirmations in the bathroom mirror, or attending 10 personal development seminars a year. Just give value, as you do, and thee will be rewarded.

I know this comment was long, but dude your ish really rocks.

Peace.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Hi Jordan,

Well I’m sure you can take all of your skills and apply them to other niches – if your doing well perhaps just doing something based around whatever your passion is.

It is as simple as finding out what people want and giving it to them :)

Reply

2.6.2014

Wow! I absolutely love this post. And it’s quite challenging too! This is one thing I need to try too. Imagine, rising your PR without doing any backlinking? Wow! I am quite impressed for your guts and the results you had so far.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Can’t really complain so far :)

Reply

3.2.2014

I read many article on your website. You gave your tired link building videos free of cost :) I appreciate your hard work man you are awesome…..

I have a little confusion. You are saying zero link building strategy but i found there are 20k backlink of your website in which 14k are do follow. I used ahrefs.

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

Thats the results of people choosing to link to me

Reply

3.5.2014

Hey Matthew,

Your experiment became TOP 100 :)

BTW why are you not using Adsense or similar PPC ads on your blog?

Reply

Matthew Woodward Reply:

I would rather have direct relationships with advertisers instead of involving a middle man http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/how-to-add-banner-advertising-to-your-site-for-extra-income/

Reply

What are your thoughts?

* Name, Email, Comment are Required

Welcome To My Blog!

Let me introduce myself, my name is...

No not Matt Cutts, but I am better at SEO than him :P I make a great living online with SEO and I will teach you how you can as well...

You Can Find Me On...

Get My Latest Posts

Sign up for my newsletter to get the latest blog updates direct to your inbox.



WARNING! I do not send ANY 'Guru' spam or affiliate promotions.

Sponsors

My Friends


Advertise Here.