They say the best things in life are free.
But working in online marketing, you’re finding new costs every week.
You’re paying subscription fees to high-end data services.
You have ad spend on PPC networks.
And on top of that, you might’ve even looked at paying for backlinks.
Paying for backlinks gets very expensive, very fast.
You can easily pay $100 to $500 per backlink if you work with SEO agencies.
That may be a good approach if you have a robust budget to leverage—but what if you have more time than money?
You’re in luck! Free backlinks are right around the corner.
You just need creativity, the right tools and the drive to apply yourself.
Bookmark this post, and you can come back here week after week to apply these strategies.
Why Free Backlinks Are Worth Your Time and Effort
In marketing, you have to decide whether to invest time or money. Investing your time is the way to earn free backlinks.
Even better, you receive long-term benefits for the effort you put into getting backlinks. Take note of these four benefits:
- Improved understanding of your market. Through the process of market research and earning backlinks, you’ll understand the needs and desires of your target market better. That knowledge will come in handy if you decide to run paid traffic or focus purely on SEO.
- Improved professional network. In some cases, earning free backlinks will grow your network. In business, the best opportunities come through your network (including high paying jobs and unadvertised joint venture opportunities). When you build relationships with respect, you can keep those connections and develop them for other opportunities.
- Improved SEO expertise. For online marketing professionals, you can never stand still in sharpening your skills. Doing the legwork to earn free backlinks will keep you up to date.
- High likelihood of lasting backlinks. Put $1,000 into Facebook Ads today, and that traffic will come and go. It’s an effective way to get a fast rush of traffic—a good way to test a new offer! Earning backlinks, in contrast, will stay in place for months and years afterward.
Now let’s get down to business and get some free backlinks for you!
1. Analyze Your Current Backlink Profile (The “Second Serving” Technique)
Is your website brand new? If so, you’ll need to move on to the next technique.
After a matter of months (or faster if you’re actively marketing it), your website will start to attract free backlinks. To build your confidence, let’s start with getting you more of the same.
In the screenshot below, I analyzed cospot.com’s backlinks using Monitor Backlinks.
(Grab a 30-day trial here to analyze your own backlink profile for free!)
Right away, I noticed that the website has already earned a number of backlinks from authoritative websites.
Look at the Date column to see when the backlink came out. If it was a couple of months ago or longer,you could quite reasonably ask for another backlink—another serving of SEO juice, if you will.
There are two ways to request this free backlink.
If you have a relationship with someone at the website, send an email to them thanking them for the past backlink and suggesting a new backlink.
Outreach consultant Kai Davis recommends keeping initial messages like this short—aim for a maximum of 150 words. The outreach message should primarily focus on the recipient rather than you.
If you don’t have a relationship with a specific person, you can still follow the outreach process, but it’ll take more effort and probably has a lower chance of success.
I recommend taking about 10 minutes to reach a specific individual who has published on the website (i.e. the website owner, the editor or a regular contributor).
2. Ask Your Friends for Backlinks (the Right Way)
Building on the same theme, let’s go back to your network to request more free backlinks. However, this method only works if you do it the right way.
- The Wrong Way:Asking for backlinks from irrelevant websites or from past acquaintances who barely remember you. I once had a past colleague—who hadn’t talked to me in three years—suddenly appear and ask me for advice on applying for a job. I helped him, but I did hesitate for a few minutes. Another wrong way? Asking for backlinks to your homepage instead of a specific resource or product. Specific requests tend to be more compelling.
- The Right Way:Add value when asking for a backlink. For example, if your friend loves “Game of Thrones” and your new infographic references House Lannister, then you have a winning combination. Alternatively, connect your request to a goal your friend has.
As with the first technique, you’ll send an outreach message (i.e. an email, Facebook message, LinkedIn message, etc) to request the backlink.
If you’re sending several of these requests, take your time to get each message right. There’s nothing worse than messing up details.
Tip: Use your organizational connections too! Did you graduate from college or university? If so, you can sometimes request free backlinks from the organization’s alumni page.
3. Reach Out to Industry Publications and Websites
Everybody wants the New York Times, CNN or Fox to write about them and give them a free backlink. But for 98% of us, we’re not ready for that opportunity.
Even if you are ready for it, these large, general interest publications aren’t laser-focused on your niche.Instead of spending weeks pitching to the Times, you can get better results by researching 3-6 publications more specifically relevant to your industry.
You might not be able to get on Forbes or Fortune, but there’s a whole tier of niche industry publications where you can get backlinks. Here’s an example of how to implement this strategy in the project management industry.
When I was building up my project management website, I successfully earned free backlinks from over two dozen websites. I used a three-step method:
Step 1. Use Google search to find blogs and publications
Use searches like this:
“project management blogs”
“project manager blogs”
“project management guest post”
“project management magazines”
Some of the websites I found a few years ago includedProjectManagement.com,ProjectManage.com,PMTips.netandArras People.
Step 2. Visit the websites you find in Step 1
Take a look around the site and if they seem like a good fit, add them to your list of websites to contact. A simple spreadsheet is a good way to keep track of these potential free backlink opportunities.
Step 3. Start the outreach process to ask for free backlinks
You can either ask for a backlink to a relevant URL on your website or offer to contribute a guest post. I’ve had the best results from contributing high-quality guest blog posts.
4. Repurpose Your Content
Creating content is hard work!
What if you could create one piece of content and get three different backlinks from it? It’s easy when you use content repurposing.
Here’s an example of how to put this into action:
1. You write a popular blog post that attracts backlinks and plenty of traffic. Once you find such a winner, it’s time to pour gas on the flames!
2. Create a related piece of content on a different platform covering the same information as that original blog post.
For example, you could create a 2-3 minute YouTube video where you cover the main ideas—just highlight three of the most interesting points and have your speaking notes ready! Or maybe you’re a master of presentations? Create a presentation and post it to SlideShare.
3. Create social media updates pointing back to the YouTube video or SlideShare presentation, and to the original article.
Depending on your skills, you can keep using this strategy over and over again to spread your same message.
The first time you put content repurposing into action, it may feel tough. But keep at it!
5. Appear as a Guest on Podcasts
Speaking for myself, I love to write—however, I recognize that some people prefer to speak.
Here’s the good news: You can talk about your website and get high-quality backlinks, by appearing on relevant podcasts.
A large number of podcasts are based on interviewing new guests. If the podcast host runs out of people to interview, they’ll be in trouble. You can help by appearing as a guest.
To get the best free backlinks from appearing on podcasts, make some preparations up front. You need to find the overlap between these areas: the subject of the podcast and 2-3 topics you’re comfortable speaking about over 20-30 minutes.
In brief, here are the steps you need to follow to get free backlinks through podcasts:
1. Create a few highly valuable pieces of content
Make sure you have an opt-in page set up to give a gift and gather email leads.
2. Search Google for industry-related podcasts
For example, to promote a software program like Monitor Backlinks, I’d search for podcasts that relate to SEO and online marketing. Podcasts likeSearch Engine Nerds,Search Talk Live Search Engine Marketing & SEO Podcast,Internet Marketing: Insider Tips and Advice for Online MarketingandWebcologywouldbe a good fit.
3. Listen to one podcast episode with a guest
By listening to a podcast episode, you’ll get a feel for the host’s style and the types of questions that are typically asked. As you listen, take a few notes on what you found most valuable about the podcast.
4. Visit the podcast website and look for information on how to become a guest
Some podcasts have an “apply to be a podcast guest” page, where you can pitch yourself as a podcast guest. Here’s an example on The Nice Guys on Business Podcast’s website. If there’s no such page on the site, you’ll have to pitch yourself by email.
5. Appear as a guest on the podcast
During your appearance, you may have a few opportunities to share links to your site. If you’re saying a URL, it has to be short and simple, such as your domain name. Most podcast listeners won’t listen to (or remember) a 50-character URL!
6. Ask the podcast host to include backlinks to your website in the show notes
Most podcasts have a “show notes” blog post for each episode. These posts summarize the podcast episode, provide links to resources mentioned and encourage people to listen. This is a great place to get backlinks.
6. Write High-value Comments on Websites
While these backlinks don’t always pass along SEO juice, they help you to build relationships and send higher quality traffic to your website. This approach also helps to build your network and opens the door for guest posts later.
For the best results, I recommend using this backlink strategy in combination with other tips in this post.
Is it still worthwhile to write blog comments? If you approach it with the goal of building a relationship with the website owner, the answer is yes.
Make sure you leave high-value comments—no writing 2-to-3-word meaningless comments like “great post.”
Take the time to pick out one or two concepts from the content you found interesting and explain why. Another approach: Ask a question to clarify a point in the content.
Where exactly does your backlink come into the picture when you write comments? There are two opportunities.
First, many blog comment platforms have a website field you can use when you write a comment. That’s one place where you can earn a free backlink.
Here’s an example fromTim Ferriss’s website (author of “The 4-Hour Workweek” and other books):
In some cases, you can also mention a relevant URL in the body of your comment. Putting URLs in the body of your comment isn’t always allowed by website owners however. As you can see in the example above, Tim Ferriss’s comment rules forbid that practice.
How do you find websites to write comments on? Use the Google search method outlined in the above strategy to build a list. The one nuance is to focus your efforts on websites that allow comments.
Neil Patel put this strategy in action when he wrote 249 blog comments and earned $25,000. The case study is from 2014, and the principles are still valid today.
7. Use Your Social Media Profiles
This is an easy win! Review your company’s social media profiles and make sure your URL is there. There are three ways to get free backlinks from social media.
- Your social media profile: Most social networks let you enter your URL on your profile main page. To make the best use of this online real estate, enter a landing page URL to capture leads.
- Social media posts and updates: Most of your posts across different social media platforms can include free backlinks to your website.
- Social media posts and updates from other people: While it’s outside of your control, you can also ask or encourage people to share links to your content.
Not sure which social networks to use? At a minimum, I recommend usingFacebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’re skilled with video, sign up with YouTube as well.
Tip: Outside of the major social media networks, there are many niche websites to think about as well. If you’re promoting books, for example,Goodreads is a good choice. Read “60+ Niche Social Networks Marketers Should Know About” to discover some of the lesser-known social media services where you can gain free backlinks.
8. Be Inspired by Your Competitors
Researching your competitors for free backlink ideas is a tried and true strategy. To get started, enter your competitor’s domain into Monitor Backlinks.
Let’s say you had a website that competed against cospot.com. In the screenshot below, you can see the backlink status of their competitors by clicking on the “Competitor Links” tab:
When you click on your chosen competitor, you’ll see a new report like this:
Now, how do you figure out which of these backlinks you can get for free? The answer depends on your network and the website you’re promoting.
Use Domain Authority as a simple rule of thumb. If you see DA 50 and higher backlinks, avoid pursuing those unless you have at least one high authority (i.e. DA 50 or higher) backlink already. Otherwise, focus your efforts on lower DA backlink opportunities.
Looking for an easy backlink win? Focus your research on pages whereyour competitor is listed as one of many resources.
For example, look for resource pages, recommended tools pages and the like. If a website owner has created a page that profiles five, 10 or more websites in a category, they might be open to adding you to their website.
Here’s an example of a resource page from Sales Funnel Broker listing various marketing tools and resources.
9. Turn Brand Mentions into Backlinks
This technique is best suited for established websites seeking to earn free backlinks. Once your website has been online and promoted for 6-12 months, you’re more likely to get brand mentions.
Use the following steps to get these highly valuable branded backlinks:
1. Brainstorm a list of relevant brand mentions that people might use when talking about your website
That might include your actual brand name and names of your founders or directors.
2. Set up Google Alerts for the keywords you identified above
You’ll have the option to receive alerts at different frequencies. At first, I recommend using daily alerts, and if you’re overwhelmed with responses, change it to weekly.
3. Review the brand mentions that come up in Google Alerts
Each time you see your brand keywords mentioned, ask yourself, “is it a promising free backlink?” If somebody’s speaking positively about your website and products, great—you have the potential to get a backlink. If the brand mention is negative, you can still try to get a backlink, but you’ll have a lower chance of success.
4. Start the outreach process
In your outreach messages to the website owner, explain that you came across their website and noticed that they mentioned your brand. Thank them for the mention, and simply ask them to create a link to your site.
10. Interview an Industry Expert
Interviewing an industry expert has several advantages.
First, you get to learn and network with an industry leader. Second, that person is likely to share and link to the published interview on their blog and social media.
Oh, and did we mention that it helps you to build your network?
Use this checklist to organize and carry out your first interview:
1. Choose your interview format
There are three popular formats: written, audio and video. Choose the format that you have the most experience in so that you feel confident.
2. Model your interview style and questions on successful interview podcasts
If you’re a novice interviewer, you’re probably wondering how to come up with good questions. My suggestion is to look at successful online interviewers and model your approach after them.
A few examples to get you started areEntrepreneurs on Fire,MixergyandThe Top Podcast.
3. Create a short list of industry experts
Creating a short list of industry experts is easy. I recommend starting with people you already follow online. If you need to add additional names to your list, use the following approach:
Google Search. Use search strings such as “top [niche] experts” or “best [niche] experts” where niche is a short keyword phrase to describe your industry.
Amazon. Search for your website’s topic (e.g. SEO) and see who has the best-selling books.
Podcast Directories. Visit directories like the Stitcher Listto find the top 100 podcasts.
4. Reach out to experts to request an interview
Use your cold email skills to reach out and request an interview. If your website has impressive statistics (e.g. 100,000 unique visitors per month), include those details in your pitch as it’ll increase the odds of getting a yes.
5. Conduct the interview
I recommend conducting the interview using Skype, and you can record the call for free by using the MP3 Skype Recorder. Or,Zoom is a great paid option that lets you record video calls as well.
To dive deeper into the art of conducting quality interviews, check out Pat Flynn’s article “Top 10 Tips for Conducting an Exceptional Interview.”
6. Publish and promote the interview and ask for backlinks
Once you complete the interview, it’s time to publish it on your website. If you have a video interview, you can also publish the interview to YouTube and get another backlink.
Finally, email the interviewer and ask them to link to your interview.
Tip: Did you record the interview as an audio file and want to publish it as a written article? You can transcribe the recording yourself or use a transcription service like Rev. Note that a raw transcript will still need some editing for clarity before you publish it.
11. Leverage Broken Backlinks
Broken backlinks make the web a poorer place. You can make everyone’s life better by fixing them. So how exactly do you find those broken backlinks?
Use these steps:
1. Create a list of 3-5 websites you’d like to get a backlink from.
2. Use the Broken Link Checker to find broken backlinks on their pages. Here’s what I found using the Broken Link Checker on CBC.ca, a news website in Canada:
3. Review each of the broken backlinks for relevance to your website.You need to use your judgement to determine if you have a URL that would be a good substitute for a broken backlink.
In the CBC.ca example above, nothing related to marketing or SEO came up. As a result, there’s not much opportunity to use this strategy on this particular website.
That’s fine—you’ll simply have to run through the process a few times. You won’t strike gold every time you seek out broken backlinks.
4. Reach out to the website owner to request they use one of your URLs instead of the broken URL on their website.
Remember that asking a website owner to fix a broken backlink requires some tact and diplomacy. You don’t want to come off as accusing them of being negligent.
Make your request short and polite—you noticed a broken link, and you have a resource that fits the bill. Don’t make this request through public messages like a Tweet because you’re likely to embarrass or anger the website owner.
12. Create Content About Your Favorite Software, Consultants and Vendors
Did your accountant help you save money at tax time? Alternatively, did a developer speed up your website dramatically? Create content like a blog post or video about them.
For the best results, I recommend reaching out to the vendor and asking them what they’d like you to cover in your review. If they’re unsure, here are some suggestions to get the conversation going:
- New service offering. Does the vendor have a new service they want to promote? If you’ve used it, you can promote it in your review.
- SEO keywords. Is your vendor trying to rank for a specific set of keywords? If so, you can use those keywords when you link out to their website.
- Unique selling proposition. What’s your vendor uniquely good at? For instance, a marketing consultant may guarantee 10 leads in 30 days or your money back. If you’ve benefited from that service, you could mention the guarantee in your article.
Now that you know the vendor’s goals, create the content and publish it on your website. Once it’s published, ask your vendor for a free backlink.
Now Go and Get Your Free Backlinks
You now have a dozen techniques that’ll reliably earn you new free backlinks.
These are evergreen methods that will continue to work year after year. Your mission is to choose one method from this article and put it into action this week.
Bruce Harpham provides inbound marketing for enterprise technology companies. He also contributes to publications such as CIO.com, InfoWorld, and IT World Canada. When he’s not working, he enjoys science fiction, travel, wine and strength training. His website features interviews with B2B SaaS companies like ClickFunnels and Close.io.
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How can I get backlinks naturally? ›
- What Are Natural Backlinks? ...
- Offer Value Instead of Asking for Links. ...
- Make Your Content Targeted and Purposeful. ...
- Build Something Better. ...
- Collaborate With Influencers. ...
- Entice Influencers With Ego Bait. ...
- Search Q&A Websites for Potential Topics. ...
- Diversify Your Content Types.
Google Business Profile is an important free local SEO tool. With it, you can create and manage your Google listing that pops up when someone searches for your business. This is also what shows up in Google Maps.Does Google allow backlinks? ›
Using links in a search engine algorithm is nothing new. In fact, backlinks formed the foundation of Google's original algorithm (known as “PageRank”). Even though Google has made thousands of changes to its algorithm since then, backlinks remain a key ranking signal.What are the best backlink methods? ›
- Editorial Backlinks. ...
- Backlinks From Guest Blogging. ...
- Backlinks in Business Profiles. ...
- Backlinks from Webinars. ...
- Free-Tool Backlinks. ...
- Acknowledgment Backlinks. ...
- Guest Post Bio Links. ...
- Badge Backlinks.
The fact is, yes, paying for backlinks can increase your search engine ranking – provided you don't get caught. If it weren't worth the risk, no one would do it. But it's getting harder and harder to hide paid links. Backlinks are valuable in helping establish a site's reputation and relevance in Google's eyes.Do people pay for backlinks? ›
Do people buy backlinks? Absolutely! Backlinks are a valuable commodity because the weight of backlinks pointing to a website is a primary search engine ranking factor, especially for Google.Which tool gives backlinks data? ›
As one of the leading backlink analysis tools, the Moz Link explorer tool allows you to see which websites link to your site and it ranks them based on their domain authority. This is a easy way to understand the sources of your best inbound links, so you can target those partners to refine your link building strategy.What are backlinks examples? ›
A backlink is when one website links to another with an anchor text. An example of a backlink is any article you find that links to another source or website. You can find examples of website backlinks all over the internet, especially on popular blog sites that link back to relevant content.Can you get backlinks from social media? ›
Social media backlinks refer to any link from a social media website or page to your site. A Social Media Backlink can be placed inside a post, in the comments, or on user profiles. It can also be shared directly on the feeds of sites like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Pinterest.What is a backlink generator? ›
A TOOL backlink generator for ORGANIC TRAFFIC is the most crucial part of the world of SEO (search engine optimization). Backlinks also are known as incoming links or inbound links are created by linking a website to another site. The links of external sites are known as backlinks.
How do I generate backlinks for Local SEO? ›
- Local Business Directories. ...
- Industry-Specific Directories. ...
- Social Media. ...
- Local News Sites. ...
- Work with Influencers or Bloggers. ...
- Pursue Sponsorships. ...
- Utilize Tools to Identify Competitor Backlink Opportunities.
You should never spend less than $500 on a single backlink. The average top-quality backlink from an exclusive, high DR, high traffic, high authority domain will cost you $1000. Anything less and you are paying for bad quality domains, poor quality content, and poor services.How do I find SEO keywords for free? ›
- Rank Tracker. To find the most ample list of keyword variations and analyze their SEO profitability. ...
- Google Search Console. ...
- Google Ads Keyword Planner. ...
- AnswerThePublic. ...
- Keyword Tool Dominator. ...
- Google Trends. ...
- Google Correlate. ...
- Keywords Everywhere.
- MozBar SEO toolbar.
- Bing Webmaster Tools.
- SEO Review Tools.
- WordStream by Local IQ Free Keyword Research Tool.
- Keyword Tool.
- Panguin Tool. ...
- Wordtracker Scout. ...
- Lipperhey. ...
- Bing Webmaster Tools. ...
- Dareboost. ...
- Siteliner. Get a full SEO report for free. ...
- KWFinder. No-nonsense keyword research tool. ...
- People Also Ask. This free tool pulls questions that appear in the “People Also Ask” section of Google's search results.
- Links From Spammy Sites. ...
- Links From Link-Mill Websites. ...
- PR Release Links. ...
- Links From Sites Unrelated to Your Industry. ...
- Discussion Forum and Blog Comment Links.
The short answer is yes, but they shouldn't be your only strategy. Although links are not the only ranking factor, they are still very important. The main difference is how you should link websites to your content.Can you do SEO without backlinks? ›
Put simply: yes you can rank a site better for specific terms without links though if the site is in a moderately competitive to competitive niche it won't stay there long without them.How many backlinks do I need per month? ›
There is no certain amount of links per month you should (or shouldn't) build for your site, or how many backlinks per day are safe. Instead of worrying about a specific number, focus on building rapport with other industry experts and earning high-quality backlinks.How many backlinks should I create per day? ›
A website should have 40 to 50 backlinks to the homepage and 0 to 100 backlinks to each individual web page to be competitive for SEO. However, the PageRank scores of those backlinks are important because the higher their value, the fewer links are needed to boost overall rankings.
How long does it take to get a backlink? ›
The first thing you should know is that it is not uncommon for links to take up to 5-10 weeks to rank and start impacting your site. That said, that is a more extreme example, and there's a lot you can do to speed it up. Before I get there though, there's a few things you need to consider.How Much Do paid links cost? ›
Link building pricing can vary from $100 to over $1,500 per link, depending on the industry you are in. A common campaign budget is $5,000-$20,000/mo, often tied to content marketing activity that also has secondary KPis.What is free tool backlinks? ›
Using free backlink checker tools, you can find the best backlink for your website. One of the most significant search ranking variables is the number and quality of backlinks to a website or page. Backlinks are the best attributes to obtain an edge over your competition in search engine optimization.Does Pinterest help with backlinks? ›
If you use the Pin It button, your pin will automatically include a link back to your website when you post a picture. Furthermore, once you create that link, other Pinterest users will create other backlinks when they share or re-pin your content.Is Pinterest good for backlinks? ›
Remember, when used correctly, Pinterest has a lot of potential as a resource. Whether you purchase SEO services or do the work yourself, it's an ideal platform for generating backlink. It's also a highly trafficked, user-friendly place to position your brand as an authority with your audience.How do I find backlinks keywords? ›
- Google Ranking Factors.
- CTR Stats.
- Content and Voice Search studies.
- Become a source for reporters and bloggers. ...
- Publish skyscraper content. ...
- Build links from outdated resources. ...
- Publish ultimate guides. ...
- Resource page link building. ...
- Guest blogging. ...
- Build backlinks with infographics. ...
- Provide testimonials.
A backlink is a link (e.g., starts with something like this https://) from one page on a website to another page on a different website.What are toxic backlinks? ›
What Are Toxic Backlinks? As you might expect, toxic backlinks are ones that hurt your website's reputation in Google's eyes. Many of these types of links have their origin in black hat SEO tactics, unethical attempts to game the search engine algorithm to get higher rankings.What is the difference between links and backlinks? ›
What is the difference between backlinks and internal links? Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your site. Internal links are links that point from one page on your site to another. Both have SEO value, but backlinks are usually harder to get and, therefore, considered more valuable.
What is a good backlink score? ›
The higher the domain authority, the more valuable the backlink for your rankings. Generally, a ranking of 60 to 100 is phenomenal, 40 to 50 is okay, and below 40 isn't great.Do backlinks increase traffic? ›
Backlinks help websites increase their search traffic and rankings on search engines. However, only high-quality backlinks will generate the best SEO results and actually increase your website traffic.Are Back links important? ›
Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a "vote of confidence" from one site to another. In essence, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content.Can you make money selling backlinks? ›
You can sell backlinks and make a killing online in 2023. In fact: We used to sell backlinks and earned $470,998, and acquired 507 customers. In this guide, I'm going to show you how to sell backlinks (just like we did).Is link building worth it? ›
Link building isn't simple, so is it even worth getting into for a small business that needs to manage its resources more wisely than ever? The short answer: yes, but not too much.How much does it cost to buy a backlink? ›
You should never spend less than $500 on a single backlink. The average top-quality backlink from an exclusive, high DR, high traffic, high authority domain will cost you $1000. Anything less and you are paying for bad quality domains, poor quality content, and poor services.How much do backlinks cost? ›
The price of a backlink can vary between $100 and $20,000.