A Year Without Backlinking: A No Backlinking Strategy Case Study

Zero Backlinking

Now let me say up front that I am not suggesting for a moment that quality backlnks have no impact. Quite the contrary. I believe that reputable backlinks, earned legitimately, will have a huge impact on the success of your blog.

But what I am saying in this article is that it is possible to make progress, significant progress, without chasing them. Such progress might not be as fast as you want but progress is progress.

Horses for Courses

A successful portfolio of backlinks can depend in huge part on the type of blog or website that you are developing. 

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If the site is information-based you probably have a far greater chance of getting people interested in linking to your site.

If it is a product site, predominantly promoting items for sale, then why would others want to link to it unless they are hoping for a favour in return.  

I never did like chasing backlnks for niche product sites, just for the sake of chasing backlinks.

However, if other bloggers wanted to link to a site of mine because it contained valuable information or because it could be a useful resource for their readers, then that would be a different story! This is the type of backlinking that I like and would encourage.

But I have never enjoyed the strategy of chasing backlinks for product sites. particularly if I can’t see a good reason why someone would want to link to these sites anyway.  I would much rather see them happen naturally or to have an SEO strategy that mitigates the need to artificially bolster backlnks. 

A blog such as WebsiteTips4U? Well that is a different matter. I am happy to communicate with other bloggers about WST4U, leave comments on other blogs and encourage others to link to my site. 

But, I was more than happy to try other methods for niche product sites. 

Why Did I Embark on a No-Backlinking Case Study in the First Place?


I own a couple of little niche sites.

One of these niche sites was bringing in a pittance of income. It was something each week but still pitifully small.  I had explored some ways of encouraging backlinks. But, a backlinking strategy is time-consuming. 

At the beginning of 2015, various lifestyle changes meant that, for a few months at least,  I would have a number of alligators competing for my time. I knew this would mean far less time available to devote to my internet business.

I always had a preference for spending more time on my own sites rather than on hunting down other sites that might like to link to me. And I now felt this even more keenly given the reduction in my time available to spend on my internet business.

At about the same time, I happened to listen to a podcast interview with Claire Smith on Spencer Haw’s blog. I was, like others, very interested in the success she had achieved without backlinking.

So, confronted by these competing time demands, coupled with my dislike of chasing backlinks, I decided to explore a non-backlinking strategy of my own and see what would happen. I thus stopped chasing backlinks for my niche product site. This was January 2015. 

I had read of many a case study where bloggers had enjoyed good results even without backlinks. So when I heard Claire’s podcast, I thought why not give it a shot.

At that point, I stopped looking for ways to get backlnks to my product site. What did I have to lose? I didn’t have the time anyway to be off hunting that elusive backlink. I wanted to spend the little time that I had available on my small product site, improving it and making it a better resource.

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My No-Backlinking Strategy

So let’s look at what I did and what eventuated with this site.

But, first let’s fill in a few gaps:

  • The site in question is a small animal niche site, providing how-to type content and targeting products to sell. 
  • The site has been live since October 2011.
  • During January 2015, this site averaged 57 visitors per day, according to Google Analytics.

Now let’s look at the strategy I implemented.
These are the tactics I employed:

The Results of A Year of Not Chasing Backlinks

Did I lose out by not chasing backlinks?


Did my site disappear into oblivion never to be seen again?


Would I follow this strategy again?


In fact, as you can see from below, I continued the same non-backlinking strategy beyond the 12 months and still do it today for niche product sites. And, realising a new milestone, this little site enjoyed its highest traffic numbers just a few days ago.

Could significantly better results have been obtained with an aggressive backlinking strategy?

Quite possibly

But I don’t have enough spare time right now, nor the inclination, to implement such a strategy. And the results without it are encouraging enough to satisfy me.

The Metrics for Comparison

The 2 main metrics I am highlighting here are:

  • Traffic growth &
  • Income growth
Avg Visits
  Traffic Growth
(% Since Jan 2015)
Income Growth
(% Since Jan 2015)
Jan 2015 57    
Jan 2016 115  102% 126%
Apr 2016 148  160% 267%


NB: A Google Analytics session is defined as:

… a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example a single session can contain multiple screen or page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions.

So, in summary, the traffic increased by 102% after one year and 160% after 15 months.  And this month again saw an increase in traffic with it peaking at 216 a few days ago. 

Now for many, this growth might be considered too slow. However, it is steady and so far ongoing; plus I don’t have to worry about whether or not a given backlinking strategy is ‘safe’. The monthly income has increased nicely as well.

Google Analytics

May 2016 Traffic (blue) compared with Jan 2015 Traffic (orange)

Increasing Blog Traffic

Traffic Growth (per week)

Remember this is a small niche site that has had a mere drip feeding of articles over the past year and a half. Most of the attention has been on revisiting posts to improve the competitiveness of keywords.  So it is nowhere in the league of many non-backlinking examples that you might find on the web.

Am I happy with the progress?


Am I in Good Company?

Not especially. There are case study examples to be found on the web for sure but they are few and far between. There are many more articles on how to run a successful backlinking campaign, how to generate backlinks, how to reach out and gain backlinks etc. etc.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for me is simple:

If I am running a niche product site that seeks to generate sales, then the method I have described above is the one that I prefer. 

If I am running an educational or informational blog such as this (WST4U), then I think it is a good idea to reach out to other bloggers and build a network of connections (and consequent natural links), along the lines of strategies described in my Think Outside the Box article or in my Comment Marketing post. 

Featured Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net





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