So as I’m sure you now know backlinks are the life and soul of SEO, while yes technical SEO can rank you for smaller local terms if you want to go after big boy terms you’re going to require a lot of backlinks.
So when it comes to building backlinks often SEOs will want to be able to build a certain amount per month especially if it’s for a client, while the tactics covered in the previous post can have fantastic results it’s not always sustainable.
One infographic may get you 50+ links whereas, another may only get a few.
So what can you do to be able to consistently gain new backlinks to your website?
There are two main ways that SEOs can do this private blog networks (PBN) and guest posting.
So what is a PBN?
A PBN is essentially a network of websites with the sole purpose of providing backlinks (and ultimately increasing your rankings) of your money sites.
This post isn’t going to go into how to build out a PBN or where to get PBN domains from, it will cover the pros and cons of using PBN links for ranking your money sites.
If you would like to learn how to create PBNs comment below and we will try to get around to creating a step by step guide.
If you want to conceptualise how PBNs work and how link juice is passed from your PBN to your money site I highly recommend you check out this post.
Pros of PBNs
Control anchor text
The main pro of PBNs is it allows you to have full control of the anchor text. You can use exact match anchor texts if you want without any problem as you are writing the article which the backlink is going to be placed in. Whereas, most guest posting won’t allow you to do this and you may be limited to partial match or even branded only anchor texts.
Although this does depend what niche you are in, for example, if you are working for a local service client it will probably be a lot easier to get an exact match anchor text of ‘builder in Birmingham’ compared to ‘top 10 headphone reviews 2018’ in a guest post.
This one is dependant on a few variables such as the cost of acquiring a domain for your PBN. If you properly utilise your PBN is can be more cost efficient than guest posting, even when taking into account the ongoing costs such as content creation, hosting and general maintenance.
If you are using each website you build for your PBN to only link to one money site it may work out more expensive.
You have full control of what websites you link to from your PBN (so you can avoid linking to competitors), you decide when to build links, how many links to build at a time etc. This really allows you test things (e.g. outbound linking from your PBN) and over time you will come up with a ranking strategy that you like to use. Obviously I’m not saying to become complacent and not try anything new but it allows you to get a better understanding of ranking your websites.
In most cases as long as you have the money to invest you can scale PBNs as quick or as slow as you like. If your sticking point is finding dropped domains if you have enough money you can pay someone for those domains. If you struggle to build out enough sites you can hire a VA to do it for you or even use a paid service.
What I am saying is that it gets to a point where if you are earning good money from SEO (or other ventures) and reinvesting the money you can very quickly scale a PBN into hundreds of sites which can rank all but the most competitive terms.
Cons of PBNs
Getting powerful expired domains isn’t easy
As PBNs are becoming more and more popular it is harder to get good domains especially if you are new to it and trying to do it yourself. A lot of domains which are expiring will have a spammy past or just won’t be strong enough to make it worthwhile building out into a PBN. A lot of the top players already have custom tools which scrape for them quicker than public tools. I know of a few agency owners which have their own tools built which literally allow you spam check domains thousands of times quicker than you could do by hand and they are all competing against each other for these domains.
If you are new to the PBN game often it is easier to buy from a reseller (which is at a markup) or consider PBN posts or rentals from reputable sellers.
Set up time
After purchasing the domain the work isn’t finished there you need to create the website and (ideally) make it look like a real active blog and populate it with content. You don’t want to skimp here, it doesn’t have to be a work of art but should pass as a real blog.
Risk of being penalized
Using PBNs does come with risks of Google penalties, though these risks can be massively minimised. For example I wouldn’t use fiverr or blackhatworld PBNs on sites that I want to last long term. Instead use your own private network or a PBN network which vets sites before being added. Realistically I think it is fair to say that more public networks are going to be hit by Google before those that are restricted to less people. See here for example.
There can be quite a steep learning curve with PBNs. A good starting guide on how to make PBNs has been made by Daryl here. It covers most of the basics behind reducing your footprints. As a newbie to PBNs it can be overwhelming deciding what to do and there is a lot of information that contradicts other information found online especially in forums and facebook groups. Deciding who to listen to and follow is probably the hardest part of PBN creation.
Stigma with PBNs
Some clients will have a negative connotation with PBNs, this may be due to previous experiences or stories they have heard or even information they have read from other SEO blogs. Once someone has an idea in their head it can be hard for them to change their mind, in some cases it’s not worth the hassle trying to.
So what is a Guest Post?
Guest posting is where you reach out to owners of websites and ask to post an article either in exchange for money (more greyhat) or in exchange for the content you have written (more whitehat). I’ll be honest whitehat outreach isn’t really an area I have spent much time as the agencies I have worked for would rather pay a bit of money for a relevant backlink.
You can search google for terms like “write for us” and your keyword or niche and look for blogs which accept guest posts. Here you’ll have to pitch your content to the website and follow their guidelines which can be pretty time consuming and not always successful.
Sometimes it can would out cheaper just to do bulk outreach offering money for backlinks once you take into account the time spent writing the content for the other method.
Pros of guest posting
So why would you guest post instead of using PBNs?
You have next to no risk of getting hit by a Google penalty, this is how the majority of so called ‘whitehat’ agencies get their backlinks. It would be very hard for Google to crack down on guest posting without damaging real businesses.
Can be scalable
Guest posting can be scalable especially if you use guest post services which may have 1,000s of websites at their disposal. As long as you can afford the prices you can build as many as you like at whatever speed. The prices of guest posting really can vary from $50 per post all the way up to thousands depending on the strength and authority of the website.
Power of backlinks
When guest posting you can often get backlinks from sites which are much more powerful than your usually PBN and this can be a big trust signal to Google that your site is also an authority site. For example a backlink from ESPN for a sports will be a lot more powerful than an expired PBN from your local gym.
Cons of guest posting
Low control of anchor text
While this isn’t always true, when guest posting you may have your article edited or anchor text edited to make it read more naturally. Using exact match anchor texts as previously mentioned for some industries may not sound natural in articles therefore the websites webmaster will change the anchor text.
This is probably part of the reason that it may take 2-3 guest posting backlinks to replace each PBN backlink.
Can be expensive
Depending on what methods you utilise and whether you use tools it can become expensive to gain backlinks using guest posting. This is especially true when compared to PBN links if you can scrape your own domains and have VAs build out your websites.
Can be time consuming
If you have to create your own content for the guest posts this can be time consuming as the website owners will want well researched, well written content and therefore it may take a few revisions before they post it on their website. When paying for backlink placements from website owners, if they are willing to edit old posts then it can be a very quick process after payment.
So as you can see there are some pros and cons of using PBNs and guest posts, hopefully this will allow you to evaluate and decide which is best for you. I am briefly going to discuss what I do with the majority of my sites.
I personally use an approach much like Charles has previously explained where I transition from blackhat to whitehat. The way I do this is once a site begins to make a good amount of money per month (maybe around $1,000 per month profit) I will begin to remove PBN backlinks slowly and add in more guest posts and gaining backlinks in more whitehat ways. As mentioned previously typically you’re going to require more whitehat links than PBN links, a few SEOs I have spoken with say that typically this is 2-3 per PBN post but it varies depending on the quality of backlinks and anchor texts from the whitehat links.
Typically I will look to re-invest the vast majority of profit from my site back into the site so if you aren’t proficient at outreach you can always hire someone to do it for you or use services such as Love To Link to scale your site. The benefit of having someone else do it for you is that is generally much more scalable. For example with Love To Link I could probably have 200 guest posts within my niche by the end of the month if I really wanted (not that I would recommend that). Where as doing manual outreach as a beginner you may only gain a few website options per week.
Using this method means that as your site grows you are decreasing the risk that your ever growing asset could become penalised. As well as increasing the flip value of the website if you wanted to sell it on.
This method also means you don’t have huge outlay in the beginning as typically guest posts are more expensive than PBN posts, so once you know there is money to be made you can re-invest that money you’ve made using the more cost effective PBNs into the less cost effective guest posts.
This chapter has covered the basics of link building and off-page SEO. The next chapter is going to cover additional ranking factors, beginning with SSL Certificates.
The SEO Institute Newsletter
Get Email List Exclusives Such As Our Latest Updates From Our Expert Powered Blog, Q&As And SEO Tips Direct To Your Inbox.
The User does not have any posts