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Link building for Micro Niche Sites vs. Authority Sites

Link building for Micro Niche Sites vs. Authority Sites

Establishing links to your sites is almost always essential to rank anywhere in Google.  In a few rare exceptions, you can find extremely low competition keywords that require no link building whatsoever.

For most sites; whether you are creating micro niche sites or a large authority site; some sort of link building will be required.  However, with the aggression that Google has shown towards poor link profiles (via the Penguin update), what type of link building should be done for niche sites now?  In addition, Matt Cutts has mentioned that the next Penguin update could be even worse.

Today is the first post of several that I will be doing over the next few weeks that explores that question.  Specifically in today's post I want to compare and contrast some of the types of links that are typically used for micro niche sites vs. Authority sites.  While the business model for both of these sites is very similar (rank in Google, get free traffic, monetize that free traffic) – the mindset is quite different.

The Difference Between Micro Niche Sites and Authority Sites

Here is the major difference in strategy for building micro niche sites vs. authority sites; and hence, the difference in link building tactics.

  • Micro niche sites are built en masse (typically).  The idea is to have hundreds or perhaps even thousands of sites that all make a very small amount each.  These small sites are created with only a very small number of articles (1 to 5 usually).  Out of the hundreds built, perhaps only 50% of them are worth keeping, and probably 20% overall are the real money makers.  Its kinda like throwing wet spaghetti noodles at a wall and seeing which ones stick.  Because of this “en masse” strategy, most of the process has to be automated – including link building.
  • Authority sites focus on quality from the very beginning.  Rather than trying to “throw spaghetti at a wall” to see what sticks, authority site builders pick 1 topic and focus on one site for months – and perhaps its the only site they ever build.  These sites require dozens of articles and may get fresh new content continually (how much and how often really depends on the site).  Because of this more hands on approach, the link building should also be more “manual” and less automated.

Link Building for Micro Niche Sites

This section is not meant to be an all-inclusive guide to link building for small niche sites.  I've written a blog post in the past for a link building strategy I have used here (but its dated).

Getting links to your micro niche sites almost certainly has to be automated in some way.  The feasibility of getting natural links, copying your competitors links, using guest posts, or getting other high quality links is just not realistic with dozens of sites each and every month.  The micro niche strategy is more about finding keywords that don't require as many quality links.

So, when it comes down to it, if you choose keywords that are too difficult with a micro niche site (especially when you are working on dozens of others at the same time) – this becomes a site that just might get dropped rather than one that gets quality link building.

So, by necessity, the micro niche site builder needs to automate as much of the link building process as possible.  Some automated link building tactics include:

  • Using Unique Article Wizard to submit spun articles to hundreds of article directories and blogs.  I still use Unique Article Wizard.
  • Using services like Article Builder or Simply PLR to get pre-spun content that can be used in many different places to get links.  I use both these services.
  • Web 2.0 properties like WordPress.com, Tumblr.com, Squidoo.com.  (hint – use Article Builder or Simply PLR to automate the content creation for these).
  • Social bookmarking (lots of automated tools to do this).
  • Article directories (lots of automated tools to do this).
  • Web directories (automated tools or Fiverr). I haven't personally done this for my micro niche sites, but others do.
  • Profile links or blog comments – I don't recommend as these are extremely low quality links.
  • Public blog networks (lots of different services out there – but always at risk of getting discovered and shut down).
  • Use your own private network of sites (expired domains).  I haven't used, but can be a source of higher quality links.  You can read more about this controversial method here.

In a nutshell, this covers most of the automated ways that I and others have used to build links to micro niche sites.  Remember, these are NOT high quality links for the most part!  And I'm not saying all of these should be used when building small sites.  These are just links that can be automated, and therefore work well when building a high number of sites.  Once you find the sites that perform well, you can then move on to creating more content and acquiring higher quality links (discussed below).

Overall, if you are building lots of small sites, you will likely need to employ some of the above tactics in order to automate the process.  Yes, they are lower quality links, but they are also easy to acquire which makes them feasible when you have a large portfolio of sites.

Link Building for Authority Sites

Overall, these lists are not meant to be a discussion of ALL the tactics that can be used for back linking, but the below list will show some of the strategies that can be used for authority sites.  In general, an authority site will target a slightly bigger keyword than micro niche sites; therefore, the link building will need to be more involved.

As such, you cannot automate high quality links (which are usually required to rank for bigger keyword topics).  Here are a few ways to get links to your authority sites:

  • Copy the links of your competitors using OpenSiteExplorer.org. See what sites are ranking in Google for your keyword, and then try to get the same links that they have.  I am often surprised at how many links I am able to copy!  Get a 30-day free trial to Open Site Explorer right here.  Keep in mind that the links listed at the TOP of Open Site Explorer are the most powerful links (so try to copy those first if possible).
  • Guest Posts.
  • Establish quality Web 2.0 Properties.  The difference here vs. web 2.0s for micro niche sites, is that you maintain and continually blog on these properties.  Also, you would use unique, high quality content.
  • High-end web directories (can't be automated).
  • Network in your niche (get to know the other bloggers/sites in your industry and start interacting with them).  Leads to natural links.
  • Link bait campaigns (could be lots of things, but anything that attracts links naturally – not quick and simple to do).
  • Use your own private network of sites (expired domains).  Again this could be more risky or even “shady” – but its a common link building tactic and works when you have other quality web properties.

Obviously there are more methods than those listed here, but in general, these are higher quality and less easy to obtain types of links.  The upside is that they also tend to have a much bigger impact on your search engine ranking for the long term.  These are links that “stick”.

So, if you are building an authority site, you should not be trying to use the lower quality link building tactics used for micro-niche sites.  On the other hand, if you are building micro-niche sites, you likely will not have the time or money to use the link building tactics discussed for authority sites.  You link building strategy will be determined by the site building business you choose to pursue.

I've Only Scratched the Surface

When it comes to link building, there is so much more that needs to be discussed. For that reason, I will be writing several more posts on the subject in the next few weeks – so stay tuned!

Overall, your link building strategy will be dictated by the type of site and overall approach you take.  If you are building LOTS of micro niche sites, you will through necessity need to automate much of the process; however, for authority sites a more manual approach is a much smarter option.

What do you think?  Do you see a difference for link building for micro niche sites vs authority sites?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

50 Comments for this Post

  1. Sarah


    Hi Spencer,

    Long time reader, first time commneting.

    Thanks for the tips, I am currently trying to build links to my new website all about Gel Nails. I have chosen a subject I am passionate about and would love it if you or any readers of your site could check out my site and give me some tips on how to improve my visitor numbers. (I’m a newbie at this sort of thing)

  2. Jon


    Hi Spencer, lots of good options included here. I think the important point is that you dont rely on any one strategy too heavily since what Google wants to see is a non-manipulated link profile.

    Either too many crappy links(social bookmarking/forum signature links) with no high quality links(only high PR relevant sites) or vice versa can hurt.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Dailer


    Hello Spencer.
    Very good article.
    Spencer, that theme do you use to create your adsense sites.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I use this theme alot (I created it): http://www.nichewebsitetheme.com

    • Frank



      I’ve used the Niche Website Theme to build about 12 small Adsense sites myself. It’s easy and makes placing the Ad Code pretty easily.


  4. James


    Some great tips here on getting links to our micro niche site vs. your authority site. I am at the moment really focusing on my authority site but notice that with not a ton of links to my site right now I am not ranking very highly for a lot of keywords so far.

    However I think its best to focus on quality content to start and then move my way very slowly into building a couple quality links at a time to my authority site so that it slowly moves up the ranks and starts getting more keywords ranked in Google.

    Hopefully it pays off in the long run.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I think focusing on quality content is always a good move.

  5. Dave


    Im going the route of only building links to my site that I can control. If google devalues a particular type of backlinking I want to be sure I can ditch those links if necessary.

    For me that means using sites that I have access to and not random spammy links generated by other

    • James


      That’s a great idea Dave.

      Only driving links you can control and therefore limit the amount of damage you could get if Google no longer likes a certain type of link.

      Great thought and something I’ll have to keep in mind when slowly generating “natural” looking links.

  6. steve wyman

    steve wyman


    People have probably seen my comments onthe “backlink stratgey that works” at smart passive income.

    I still think its one of the best way. Partly as dave says above you have control of the links to your site and can cut them off if need be.

    For microniche sites im goign withthe NO links approach. thats is no links at all. built by me. they may gets some but they wont be created.

    anNumber of site i have were built with UAW approach earlier this year before penquin and are doing great.

    the advantage of no links is cost and time are reduced.

    For authority im testing no links but its not working pure white hat is a field of dreams im sorry to say. So the strategy above and some highvalue links. Keep the volume down diversify anchor text.

    Look forward to more details on whatyour doing with micro niche site backlinks?



    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Steve – yes you can still rank for certain types of keywords with no links – but not a ton. Without any link building, it really limits the number of niches that you can target. However, this is a more feasible plan for larger sites – the more content and higher the quality, the more likely others will link to it. But most likely you will have to help the process along.

      • steve wyman

        steve wyman

        Hi Spencer

        Using LTPRO and then taking into excel (you know the enhancements i need that are coming along i understand)

        I can simply find more domains that i can finance buying. Every one of them ranks in 3 weeks with no links.

        I do feed LTPRO 20 2word keywords and get a few great domains each run…

        How long this will stand as a process is down to the next big algo chnage i guess

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          That’s GREAT! What sort of search volume do these keywords have?

  7. James


    Great post Spencer. Always interested in info about backlinks. Kinda surprised to hear you mention UAW. Thought that might have taken a hit with Panda/penguin.

    What link building services would you say are the best bang for your buck? And best free ones?


    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      James, I’ll take a look at a few of those in future posts when I can do a better review.

  8. Mark



    To divert off the subject but perhaps it is really strongly related, regarding the huge google algo change annouced by Matt Cutts to happen in the next few days, essentially backlinks will no longer matter, sites will appear strongly if they have stars and likes more often and the focus on contextual search aimed at the area you are surfing from.

    Have you heard of this. SEO shot down in flames yet again perhaps. Imagine, sites ranked only if they have google plus or Facebook likes!!

    Looks like we should concentrate on something else or at least not put our eggs all in the site building basket anymore. Good to see you are doing this with your app/theme etc.

    Probably the way to go



    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      The focus will be on more quality links – this was the primary purpose of Penguin. This will continue to evolve with Penguin or other updates. Facebook likes and Google plus would almost be easier to manipulate than links – so I don’t expect this will ever be the main focus of Google rankings. Social signals will grow in importance, but links will always be the core. I’m happy to have less competition building niche sites! If you want to give up on it, that’s fine…but I’m far from it…

    • Simon Harris

      Simon Harris

      Bull Bull and just theory

      You and no body has a clue what Matts team are doing.

      Even matt has tuned DOWN his end of world statements.

      Get real and DUDE that site is ugly youve created a link to..

      If you believe what you say a) prove it b) dont build backlinks to low quality sites

  9. Bo


    People seem to be stuck at this phase quite a bit. Just pick one off the list and do it!

    • Andre Garde

      Andre Garde

      This. Although, pick what the other guy uses and rank above him instead.

  10. JL


    I used to use article samurai, who use UAW, but got penalized by penguin so i stopped. Don’t u get penalty with UAW?
    And blog commenting isn’t that bad i find.
    Why do u say it’s low quality backlink?

  11. Andrew


    At this point I’m rather skeptical of anything automated for backlinks. I just don’t think it’s a good long-term strategy even if it might still be working at this moment.

    I think that reaching out to others in your niche for links (both formally, through guest posting and even indirectly by just saying that you’re there and building a connection) is the best strategy. Of course, this requires quality content with some sort of unique spin, which a lot of niche sites won’t have. Nice post!

  12. Taylor


    Nice post Spencer. I’ve definitely moved more in the direction of what you’re outlining as authority link building. I think for one the long term ROI is better, and more importantly it has more implications. Knowing how to use UAW probably won’t be a useful skill in 5 years. Knowing how to scrape a competitors back links and form a comprehensive strategy to copy them probably will be.

  13. Kris @ Detailed Success

    Kris @ Detailed Success

    Hi Spencer!

    You obviously put a lot of more effort to get links for authority sites since in the end it pays more. It’s not wise to spend a lot of time and money on micro niche site SEO.

    For authority sites I believe the most useful links are from guest posts from highly targeted sites.

    Also don’t forget social networks. Google pays more and more attention to the number of likes, tweets and +1’s.

  14. Vi


    “High-end web directories” – can you name some?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      DMOZ, Yahoo Directory, BOTW, and others.

  15. Frank


    Great Article Spencer,

    I want to start linking to my Authority Site and I wasn’t sure what the best strategy was. I’ve been blog commenting but from the way it sounds those are low quality links.

    Is it a complete waste of time? Or should I find a couple of dozen blogs continue to comment and try and build a relationship with them?



    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Commenting and building a relationship is a good strategy. Commenting purely for the link value is a bad strategy. I would focus on the top blogs in your niche and comment and interact with the owners.

  16. Mike


    Thanks for nice post, Spencer!
    After some Pandas and April’s Penguin most of my micro-niche sites fell out far from 1st page of Google. That’s why now I’m focusing on building the authority websites only.
    In your post you mentionet one tool I didn’t pay much attention before: High-end web directories (can’t be automated).
    Can you be so kind to share with us your list of high-end web directories? And please show us the ways to automate this process.
    Thank you very much!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      DMOZ, Yahoo directory, botw, and more. Can’t be automated.

  17. Mark


    It’s “en masse” not “in mass.”

  18. Edgar


    Thanks Spenser I agree with you. Since Pat Flynn talked about you I have follow your blog and have created numerous niche sites and your right with so many sites we’re building it all must be automated.

  19. barry


    Hey Spencer, how fast should you build links with MNS? Especially if they are low hanging fruit keywords which might not need many backlinks. First I always start off with social bookmarks then I do a UAW campaign 1 week apart…you think that is fine?

    Thank you

  20. Yasu Tano

    Yasu Tano

    A good overview of all the main link building strategies. Though I cannot help but notice that the costs of link building has steadily increased over the years.

    Copying the collective link profiles of competitors is great, though you have to sometimes proceed with caution as I have seen and monitored quite a few sites with link profiles containing either spammy links or blatantly purchased links that were only one algorithmic refresh away from being wiped out.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Very True Yasu. If you see a spammy or paid link – don’t copy that.

  21. Football is A Beauty

    Football is A Beauty

    “Establish quality Web 2.0 Properties. The difference here vs. web 2.0s for micro niche sites, is that you maintain and continually blog on these properties. Also, you would use unique, high quality content.”

    Do you mean Hubpages, Squidoo, Tumblr?

  22. Marquis


    Spencer, how difficult would be to rank against quora, bestbuy, amazon, about, ehow and these kind of sites?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Those are all very different kinds of sites. It all depends on the strength of the individual page and keyword targeted. Generally I don’t like to go against big retailers like Bestbuy Amazon, etc. But ehow and About.com are informational sites – which is totally different.

  23. How to Get the Backlinks That Your Competitors Have | Niche Pursuits

    How to Get the Backlinks That Your Competitors Have | Niche Pursuits

    […] week, I kicked off my series of posts about link building with: Link Building for Micro Niche Sites vs. Authority Sites. Then Tyler Herman submitted a guest post last week called: Building a Quality Link Profile.  Both […]

  24. The Ultimate Guide to Anchor Text for Link Building | Niche Pursuits

    The Ultimate Guide to Anchor Text for Link Building | Niche Pursuits

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  25. Ben Hebert

    Ben Hebert

    Depending on your authority site once you have established a good amount of links from high PR sources, you can start doing a little bit of the niche stuff to certain pages. I’ve found these high PR backlinks create a sort of “shield” around your site.

    But I will quote my grandfather here in saying,

    “Everything in moderation, that’s why I drink a fifth a day”

    So don’t overdo it!

  26. Social Media Marketing Evangelist

    Social Media Marketing Evangelist

    This was exactly what I was looking for – thank you very much. I have come across so many different services to create niche sites or buy authority sites, and I’m just never sure what I should actually do here. Do I buy a program (such as SE Nuke) and learn it thoroughly, or do I try to build my own network (which seems awesome but daunting). I’ve been trying to build an Authority site on UFO Sightings for over six months, and it’s still a big old “GOOSE EGG” in Rank from Google. SEOmoz is at least slightly kinder.

    Anyway, my name is Robert Hughey, and I’m in Atlanta, GA. Thank you for your wonderful content, as it’s highly helpful to those of us with just enough information to be dangerous to ourselves (but who are actively working on improving everyday).

  27. Dhruv Bhagat

    Dhruv Bhagat

    Well, should I start building links from the first day or after few days?

    Mostly people have written that they started building links after a month…. What should I do?


    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I usually wait a couple of weeks to a month.

Comments are closed.