Travel Blogging Tips for SuccessGuest Post from Michael Hulleman

How to Get Backlinks Without Writing a Guest Post: Step by Step Guide

In early 2017 I logged into an old affiliate dashboard and discovered that one of my abandoned websites, Hobo with a Laptop, had accrued more than enough money for both my wife and I to take 6 weeks off work. We decided to put that time back into the website and reboot it with the goal of NEVER being obligated to work for others, ever again. And it worked, but that’s another story.

Backlinks Without Writing a Guest Post

Hobo with a Laptop had been a dormant blog experiment that started in 2013, and a single article discussing tiny houses with a pitch for tiny house building plans at the end wound up being our cash cow. I had no idea this tiny niche was going to be so lucrative.

We rebooted the website in April of 2017 and with our newly acquired free time, with a focus on digital nomadism, remote work, and travel –desperately wanting to keep the good times (read: money!) rolling in. 

We needed to build links, fast.

I went looking for links and my wife took to Pinterest.

build links fast

The Discovery

While getting ourselves refamiliarized with the blog, we learned that it’s bad SEO to index pages for categories, tags, and media on the site map. To index our sitemap, we use Yoast SEO Premium.

An index page is like a table of contents with a description for each page. When a site owner puts an index page for media, pages, or posts on its site map, it’s telling Google to index those pages on their search engine.

A current example of bad things being indexed into Google:

SML Sitemap

The reason it is bad to include index pages for categories, tags, and media is that those blips of content have keywords in them, and those keywords are being put into their page descriptions site-wide, wherever that article is included. 

If the same article is included on a number of different pages (index pages for tags, categories, etc.), its description will also appear on a number of different pages.

This cannibalizes and/or dilutes your keywords; now there’s multiple index pages and media attachment pages with duplicate keywords on them that you’re trying to rank another article for. 

If those other pages rank in any capacity, they’re stealing “Google juice” from the money-making article you’re actually trying to rank, and stealing a position away from the article itself.


The only place an article’s keywords should appear on Google are on the article itself. If there’s anything else from your website, on Google, that uses the exact same keywords they’re going to fight each other for rank on search engines. Not so good.

It’s a fight that just slows everything down; your success, your traffic, and your income. 

What We Did

After this discovery, we noticed that the default settings of our Yoast SEO plugin included the option to put index pages for categories and tags on Google. And it was set to ‘on’ by default.

settings Yoast SEO plugin

Settings of our Yoast SEO plugin


We changed the setting and then looked around. A number of our peers had the default setting enabled and their content was being cannibalized or diluted in search results, too.

At first, I thought I’d write an article about it. But at the time, we didn’t really have a way to monetize it or get the word out –we had zero traffic, nobody knew who we were, it was a new site. No one would see the tip, anyway. 

And why would they care? We just arrived on the scene, what do we know?

Sharing this information with our peers directly via email could get a better result; we help out our peers while letting them know we exist –and then at the end of the email, after we explain how to fix it, we say ‘this isn’t a shakedown, but if you found this email useful here’s 3 things on our site you could link to from your own related content, if you want. It is not expected, we love you no matter what, woo woo!’.

Impatient, we didn’t test the idea on one or two of our peers to see if it had legs; I sent an explainer email to the biggest peers in our niche we could find. The greats –the New York Times bestsellers, the “as seen on WSJ” influencers, and the like. 

We got some hilarious replies, and even the odd transcribed slow clap. “I normally never reply to these kinds of emails, but great information –easy to follow, thank you! I linked to the third article you suggested”. 

Michael Hulleman with Hobo with a Laptop


The trick is simple; find a mistake on a peer website, point it out, show them how to correct it step-by-step, with screenshots. And then ask for a backlink.

You don’t need to write an article, and if you’re efficient you can send out a dozen link ‘requests’ on a sunny Saturday afternoon like I did.

If you focus on a single, common and easy to find site issue that you can discover right from your phone, you could bring it up in real-world networking situations and get someone to agree to give you a link right there on the spot.

SEO trends and requirements change often, there’s bound to be a curveball down the line where you can help others update their own website, correct an SEO issue, or point out an error or glitch –and then get a link in return for it.

Of all the 18 emails I sent (2-3 hours of work), we ended up with over a dozen DA 35+ links and a bunch of great new contacts in our industry. We haven’t done any link building since.

For more tips about blogging, first-time travel, or how to become a digital nomad, check out Hobo with a Laptop.

Michael Hulleman with Hobo website





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How to use a hack with the Yoast SEO plugin to build a strategy for strong backlinks.


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