Intro Times are fast a'changin' in SEO, but in many ways everything remains the same. I think that this is especially true with links. Lots of people on these forums (I was once one of them) have become reliant on paid links to get out keywords ranking. This makes us lazy, unfit, and ripe for the picking by our competition AND by our biggest adversary, the Google Web spam team. It's not that buying links is a bad thing; it has its place in the repertory of techniques in any link builders toolbox. But I think that for many users on this site especially, it is the ONLY technique available, and it has cost many dearly as a result (myself included.) So I think it is time that we all get back to the basics of link building: building links the natural way, and doing it for free. Using Operators To most people, this actually sounds too good to be true, but it is actually used more often that people realize by some very good SEOs. The key to finding good links is to use footprints. A footprint is basically a signal that you can look for on a page by using Google operators. If you don't know what operators are, I suggest that you learn this because it is essential to link building in a natural way. If you use footprints properly, it will be easy to find a virtually UNLIMITED supply of links in all manners of niches. Scrapebox I'm sure that many of you are familiar with Scrapebox. Scrapebox does essentially the same thing that anyone is internet access and a keyboard can do: use search operators to uncover and narrow down link prospects. My method is different in a couple of ways. First, I do not use Scrapebox to collect link prospects. In this day and age, it actually MATTERS WHAT PAGE THAT YOU GET LINKS FROM. Quality pages, pages that people read, high PR blogs...these are what we are targeting. Probably up until a couple of days ago, many SEOs would just spam the shit out every link prospect that they possibly could. What this has done is actually inflate the value of links to such a degree that they are almost worthless UNLESS they are from really good, relevant sites. So the more people that spam, the less valuable spamming is. The Method Everyone needs to stop doing this. You are spinning your wheels if you are mindlessly blasting stuff with Scrapebox, even if it's not on your money site. We have to be smart from here on out about how we use these tools, as they still do have their place. What I suggest is this: Using the search operators, find some number of links per day that you can create BY HAND. It obviously doesn't need to be anywhere near 1,000. Just spend a couple of hours (or minutes) every day building some nice links using the search operators. Look at your back links and find out what sticks. If you leave an intelligent, non-spun comment on someone's blog that is at least tangentially related to your subject, there is a good chance that the link will stick. If they do stick, that's awesome, you have a new link. If they don't, move on. Don't waste too much time trying to get all of your links cached. Just keep building more. If your links stick, ask yourself this question: is this link worth improving? Most often the answer will be no, and that's OK. When the answer is yes, then you're in the money. I find that links on authority sites are pure gold. Even if it is on some sub domain with 0 page authority that's fine because we are going to use SB to blast the living daylights out of it with our anchor text. My first instinct post-Penguin is that authority sites are going to be huge money makers for smart SEOs because they don't appear to take any kind of damage from link spamming. We know from experiments conducted recently that URL anchor text still plays a huge factor in deciding what gets ranked and what doesn't. So feel free do spam the hell out of whatever links you can find on authority sites. Creating a Natural Link Profile You also want to think about what your link profile should look like. Of course we know it ought to be natural, but finding a natural link profile is something that can be very difficult to do depending on what niche you're in. I personally try finding sites that have 0 incentive to buy links (e.g. wiki pages related to my niche, sites that aren't actively maintained but still rank, and so on) and get a feel for their links. Generally, your linking is going to be some mix of short tail, long tail, raw URL, brand name, and your OWN name (or rather, a human name ^_^.) If I'm not sure exactly what the mix should be, I like to use AdWords to get an idea of what the related searches are for my short tail keywords and use a good variety of those in my anchor text. Blog Networks? Once you have a good rhythm going on your natural link building, you can start getting creative. Make blog networks from free sites like Blogspot and point those bitches directly to your money site. I personally don't like spun content, I think it's on the way out, so I recommend not using it. If you want to pay someone to write your content, that's fine. It will make the process go faster but you don't have to do that. After those sites get cached (let them do that naturally by following the same instructions I outlined earlier for link building,) you may THEN spam those with Scrapebox. Before you know it you will have a blog network that will actually be powerful because it's on an AUTHORITY SITE AND WE'VE EVIDENCE THAT THESE SITES DON'T GET TOO HURT BY LINK SPAM. Closing Thoughts If you create quality content for your site, your blogs, your comments, or whatever else you are creating for the purpose of link building, then you WILL RANK. And the best part about this is that it will cost you virtually nothing besides your time. Tips Always create quality stuff. You cannot spin content anymore and expect it to rank you. Create quality even when doing blog commenting. Be creative. Being creative gives you a huge edge over most other SEOs. You don't need to innovate or reinvent the wheel, just be thoughtful of what you're trying to accomplish and try to find ways to do it better than the other guy. And if you do have an insight and are INNOVATIVE, you can probably earn millions. Diversify. Don't rely too heavily on one source or another for links. You always want to hedge your bets when possible so that you don't go belly up. This is true in both life and SEO. Thanks for reading this. Let's go make some money!