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2017 Link Building Information from Website Magazine

We all aspire to high rankings. I found some interesting data from this month's Website Magazine that actually surprised me quite a bit. But it was a pleasant surprise as I am on hiatus from my black-hat-slinging-ways while I build out my social channels and beef-up my MS content.

Here is the gist of the article, and note that most seo's build very few white-hat backlinks.

"+ IMPORTANCE OF BACKLINKS: 72 percent of SEOs believe backlinks are a "significant' ranking factor, with 24 percent indicating they think backlinks are only somewhat important and that many other factors play a part in the ranking algorithm. Just 4 percent of SEOs assume backlinks have "little" influence on rankings.

+ LINK BUILDING CHALLENGES: The same barriers to building backlinks are encountered by SEO professionals and small businesses engaging in the practice in-house. Dealing with "boring" industries, a lack of opportunities, low response rate, a personal lack of experience, and the requests for fees are the primary challenges.

+ MANUAL & PENGUIN PENALTIES: Most SEOs have had no backlink penalties (80.1 percent) while 14 percent did not know and 5.9 percent indicated they had been penalized. Of those that did receive a penalty, manual actions were less frequently than Penguin, but SEO's indicated that manual penalties were easier to recover from.

+ BACKLINK QUANTITY: The survey also revealed how many backlinks were being acquired each month. Link-Assistant did not go into much detail but it appears (based on the chart below) that well over 80 percent of SEOs acquire less than 20 links per month and approximately 15 percent acquire between 20 and 100. Only a handful of respondents build over 100 links per month.

+ LINK BUILDING TECHNIQUES: 23 different techniques to grow links (organized into 7 groups) were addressed in the study including creating content assets (infographics, whitepapers, webinars, etc.), PR-based methods (press releases, interviews, etc.), outreach (link reclamation, broken link building), social media (content-sharing, viral campaigns, etc.), local-focused efforts, community-driven tactics (commenting, forums, Q&A sites) and miscellaneous tactics. Creating content and social media were the two tactics that received the most use among SEOs.



  • redraysredrays Las Vegas
    Good share, I think it's always interesting to hear how the less aggressive webmasters out there approach seo.

    One thing to note on the highlighted text about link quantity - it's difficult and expensive to acquire 20+ 'white hat' links per month in most niches. Once you've picked the low hanging fruit for your niche, each link probably costs anywhere from $100-$300 if you're properly accounting for everything. These costs, plus the far less certain nature of the results, cause a lot of webmasters to go slower, see the incremental improvements from their link building campaigns, and then continue investing if appropriate.
  • @redrays yeah, cracking things with seo is pretty tricky right now. I posted the content in support of my strategy posted elsewhere on threads, and that is building out my own PBN network. I was jazzed to see that low number of links being effective as it verifies the strategy on some level. Building dozens of PBN sites gives you exactly the same type of profile as the white-hat sites, well it is actually almost a white-hat strategy in any event. I think with SER we all assume we have to blast away to be able to rank, but as we are seeing now it is the opposite. More strategic. SER still has good use, but it is not in the number of links, but the type/quality of link that actually matters now. And, of course it depends on what your business model is. If it is affiliate, then churn+burn is the way to go and toss the url when it burns out and launch a new one. BUt if the model is needing a more stable presence, then I think PBN is becoming the clear way forward imo.
  • shaunshaun
    Are you talking about the fresh domain PBN thing @Viking? Currently building out my own for some tests and looking forward to it. Hows your pages doing you tested it on?
  • redraysredrays Las Vegas
    @viking - it absolutely works in every niche that is still viable. The ones that required 100s of links per month, like auto insurance, have been closed off to indy types like us since penguin.
  • @shaun i live and operate in the FMCG world. Brutally competitive. So far it is working well. Not great, but not disappointing either. From what I am doing fresh domain PBN is working just as well as aged domains I have purchased. I am 'guessing' that my fresh domain content is more lasered in on my target than the historical content of an expired/re-purposed domain and balances out any advantage the latter may have had. I have pulled back the reigns on all my BH activity and so far my rankings haven't been affected. This has allowed me to spend that freed-up time on onsite activity and improvement which has increased engagement according to my site metrics. So I guess that is a good thing. I can't say anything has made a big difference in terms of revenue enhancement though. I think that is more a function of better rankings and even better onsite conversion tactics. 

    @redrays viable is what we chase and profitable is what we hope for :)  The longer I do this, the more I am convinced that I have no idea what I am doing...the one thing I know for sure is that my PBN's are pretty bullet-proof and I have no worry about footprints or exposure to algo updates. Now, does that put money in my pocket? Only time will tell. I don't see a big need for automated stuff for what I am doing right now. But when I do I won't hesitate to light it up again.

    I am about to launch a subdomain translation service on my MS that does real-time translation based on geo-location. I will report back my findings on this as I am entering a number of foreign markets and will track the traffic stats very closely with each launch. This will be a pretty easy way to see if traffic and engagement matters for rankings as we are starting at zero for a baseline.
  • shaunshaun
    "I am 'guessing' that my fresh domain content is more lasered in on my target than the historical content of an expired/re-purposed domain"

    Pretty sure Fred has something in it that checks if a domain has been repurposed and had its niche changed then strips its link power. The Google Webmasters YouTube channel has a video from around Jan/Feb where he says that if they wanted to counter PBNs thats exactly what they would do then in March Fred rolls out.
  • yep. no big deal to start from scratch as long as best practice is followed. G has herded most pro-active seo-ers into either one of two camps; those who are desperate enough to blast away with old school tiering and thus becoming easy targets in subsequent algo updates, or PBN-ers who make an attempt to stay below the radar, and imo turns us into quassy-white hat operators. I fancy the opportunity to be the fox in the hen house. If I can build a decent white hat-ish PBN network, AND use it for competitive advantage then I am ahead of the game. But again, this is all under the presumptive qualifier of being nothing more than guess-work. Thanks for the G WM info. Very helpful. 
  • redraysredrays Las Vegas
    I'm also fairly confident expired / re-purposed domains have lost a lot of effectiveness and have stopped buying.

    As for building on fresh domains, this blog post made a big impact on me when I read it and I've never figured out how to avoid the footprint pointed out in the last graph:
  • shaunshaun
    My current plan is to put a bunch of filler content on the domain that links out to other authority sites to try mask it while making the websites look as realistic as possible. Starting to set the network up now and so far I think it looks pretty decent and should work.

    I have four pages I want to run an initial test on and if it works I plan to make this my main direction to do in and scale the network up as best as possible. 
  • @redrays i guess if one were to buy the PBN service from a vendor that would clearly be an issue. But my PBN is owned by me, hosted on separate hosts or if hosted at same host has different c-block, never interlink, every post has fresh unique content that I write, and I only drop in a link when the PBN is indexed. Zero footprints. Lot of work and cost of course but worth it imo. I am not interested in volume with that project, just bullet-proof PBN sites. Having done this for years, I have actually accumulated quite a nice collection. I always assumed more was better, hence my use of SER blasting away. But after Fred and regrouping, I saw that most of my SER wasn't really there anyway, so what was the point. As I stated earlier, SER is awesome and definitely still has good use. It is just more specific use now. 

    @shaun is your plan to roll out the PBN network intact, i.e. interlinked, or to build the PBN site, index it, and then drop it into the network? I do the latter and seems to work for me.
  • shaunshaun
    I am in the process of building out 10 initial test domains, 6 completed, 4 to go but I am crazy busy with stuff right now. Each of them will be laid out like a real website either blog or magazine style with a bunch of posts linking to random relivant sites. I will then add my post linking to my target sites and see how it does.

    I have four initial money pages to test it on. I made a similar network last yeat, had about 70 domains but I fucked it off rather than keeping it going. It was all .xyz based stuff though, this time im going with .com, .org or .nets only. I have been going over some analytics from the money sites I used the old network on and their trafficd seems to spike within days of it being pushed live but I was trying too much stuff and had too many pages to track to realise it at the time.

    As i'm on the affiliate/display ad side of things I can target the keyword from the begining to make sure it is low comp so i'm hoping that helps too.
  • redraysredrays Las Vegas
    @viking - I'm thinking more in terms of links going into the pbn sites. The nice thing about expired domains has always been that they come with a diverse set of links already built in. My fear with building on fresh domains is that I'll end up with the same set of t2 links going into all of them. Although just not building a t2 at all is also an option.
  • echanneyechanney usa
    edited August 2017
    would you guys recommend building niche sites should one build, health/exercise , diet, dating, insurance, jobs and should they be all general.  I'm only going to build 10 sites
  • shaunshaun

    Do yous post manually to them or automate it? I was going to use SER to post to the network but I'm a mac user so need a VPS to run it and I have dropped my VPS subscriptions so have been looking at using FCS Networker instead as its meant to be able to post to self-hosted WordPress and its SaaS.


    Mine are multi-niche sites rather than sticking to a single niche. All my stuff based around this is based around theory though as I havent really tried it much.

  • @redrays agree 100%. I wish I could share one of my older PBN sites. I will when I get to LV :-) but the site beats American Express for a really good key word...and it has zero T2 from me. Zero. Just a lot of unique content. No outbounds either. Just sitting there in my bucket waiting to be monetized and I haven't gotten around to it because my main MS is a time-suck right now. I mention this not to brag, but for a different perspective. It's not always about tiers. G is well beyond that now. I also have other PBN's that I did tier up in the past and they are ok as well. Just something to think about...

    @echanney I operate in a big market but a clear vertical so all of my efforts are specific to my industry/products. I am not a big believer in diluting content. I write about what I am after. So my PBN's are all industry specific, but never ever inter-link.

    @shaun I post manually. I write manually. Nothing automated. Pure WH in that way. I don't have that many sites where it is a big deal. I knock out a few articles per day in the morning and post. Easy peasy. So 3 articles a day lets me handle 90 PBN's a month with no problem. If I had a bigger network then I would have to leverage some automation to get it done. 
  • redraysredrays Las Vegas
    @shaun - I usually post manually too. How comfortable are you coding? I do a lot of Wordpress automation from a Mac, mostly using relatively simple python scripts leveraging ssh and WP-CLI. Be careful using FCS Network - you know all about the issues since you're the one who informed me about the ownership change, but on top of that I recently found out that I was stripped of my lifetime access.

    @viking - in my experience the quality of links going into pbn sites is the most important factor in how effective they'll be in moving the needle. That said, I'm rolling out a batch of fresh domain pbn sites with no inbound links, so we'll see. Pretty cool stuff on the financial site, can't wait to see it :)
  • shaunshaun

    I am slowly learning Python but I have zero interest in coding :(. I have a few ways I can manage it with SER but its UI aint the best for that type of thing so i'm trying to get RX to work with it.
  • redraysredrays Las Vegas
    @shaun - fair enough. Might also be worth looking into hiring someone off Upwork to manage your pbn. I had good success year or two ago with a girl who managed my hand built web 2.0 network using Autofill Magic.
  • shaunshaun
    I was thinking that too, spoke to one of my writers about them just writing directly to the PBN at no extra cost so will see what she says. 
  • edited August 2017
    "From what I am doing fresh domain PBN is working just as well as aged domains I have purchased"

    How can this work? Fresh new pbns may have close related content but with no link profile will bring almost no value in terms of ranking moneysite. Am I right?
  • shaunshaun
    @leon theres some theories that the Fred rollout removes anylink juice to an aged domain if it detects the niche of the website has changed after being repurposed. Not 100% on it but the site I had hit by Fred relates to this almost exactly.
  • @shaun
    Understood. That is why people often restore the old content + urls. But still regarding fresh new domains - how are they supposed to work? I mean they definitely can work but I assume it must take at least a year or so to build some links and get them aged. Unless the strategy is to make some automated tiers with web20/gsa but in this case I think I would rather use new web20 platforms on T1 as the risk tolerance is higher
  • redraysredrays Las Vegas
    @leon - based on what I've seen yes, you're right in both posts on basically every point. The automated tiers is the footprint I was getting at in my earlier post.
  • shaunshaun
    @leon trying to go long term with the one i'm building. 100% there's footprints in the way I have built it but its the best I can do at this time with the tools available to get what I want.

    Planning 100% unique human wrote content on it to link to my MS' and not expect anything for a year or so.

    Viking put it well in another thread a few month back about building a network of domains that will age into something good.
  • @redrays - I know guys using automated tiers and ranking top for over a year. I think if you are doing it right you are able to avoid footprints. Moreover I believe it depends on the niche - in some it is easy to get busted, in others you are free to go 100% automated and be fine for a long time.

    @shaun as far as I am concerned the only advantage of PBNs built from scratch is that they will most likely pass the manual review, if you even have any. But the question is - is it worth investing time and money? The main idea of using expired domains as PBNs is that they give you "almost immediate" boost. There are different strategies ofc however I believe in ROI and scale it up.

    btw I have been testing fresh new domains powered up with with GSA + sereengines. They worked however I needed around 10 such domains to have a similar effect to 1 expired domain with around 25 RD. I think I don't need to mention how much more time I spent setting up 10 sites + building tiers
  • shaunshaun
    Pretty sure the main reason what I used to do is not working anymore is some kind of real time uptime checker in the live penguin algo. Having a network of Fresh domains gets around this as they won't go offline, that's my theory on the main advantage of it and reason I am building it.

    I have manually checked aged expired domains in the past and I have found it took much longer to find something worth the time of building out than it does to set up a few fresh domains but thats just my experiences with it. I moved over to just buying pre-screened aged domains but they are expensive and I feel their efficiency has gone down since Fred.

    I saw you put almost immediate in quotes so just wondering how soon of an immediate boost you see with your sites when doing it? I have noticed SERP jumps after the 4-5 week mark from the links being added and then more jumps every few weeks after that with the stuff I have online.
  • What has stopped working for you? Ranking with automated tools or ranking with expired domains? I am sure both ways work pretty fine nowadays (at least for me) however things evolved and you need to adopt. I must agree tho that there must be some kinda algo that detects the new PBNs niche is different than the old one and therefore removes links juice.

    I agree getting good expired domains is getting harder and harder. I spent a lot of time to develop my own system of getting expired domains that works fine and fast but I am targeting non-English markets. If I were to get .com expired domains I would probably be screwed as well.

    By immediate effects I meant 1-2 weeks. This is a result of 1 PBN.

    The cool thing is that when I point several PBNs to my MS site and the domain becomes strong (6 months at least), new KWs tend to rank high without pointing any new PBNs to them.

    I have been trying to rank with new domains used as PBNs (3 months old sites) however with not big effects (compared to expired domains) + unstable. I sent around 10 of them

  • shaunshaun
    Automation, I used to use just SER links but now I have had to start outting manual web 2.0s and automated web 2.0s into my pyramids to see any movement. My PBN stuff looks similar to the top screenshot but I use fresh domains as the money site so that maybe why it takes a month or so to get its initial jump.
  • Very good points on automation and PBN's! My point is this, that by creating a Private Blog Network of owned sites, separate hosting, and unique hand-written content, one is removing all future worry from the equation. Someone commented on the time and cost to do this. I counter that argument as asking what is the cost and time involved with having to constantly backfill lost tier links, monthly subscriptions to all of the support services, and of course the daily time to run the tools, and then having to do it all over again after each algo update. I am guessing PBN comes out way less expensive over a ten year period, and has superior results. Fred opened my eyes to needing a better return on my investment that I was getting using the old tier method with automated tools. G is on to that. At least they are in my vertical. My focus a few years ago was to build some PBN's. Now because i actually did that, the PBN's are aged quite nicely. Anyone can do the same. Start today with a new domain. In a year or two you have a golden seo asset. Not very complicated. Yes, it takes time, but the value of that is that your competitors are looking for shortcuts and won't spend that time, so having the PBN's give you an immediate advantage. Risk is relative in seo. Higher automation = higher risk. The closer you put automation to your MS, the higher the risk to the MS. Look at PBN as a buffer for your MS. You can still use automation, it is just further from your MS in the scheme of things. And, therefore more stable from a long-term perspective. Better ROI.
  • shaunshaun

    How many domains do you have now? I bought 20 initially, 13 are live, 4 are waiting for content and 3 are yet to be built but I am leaning towards scaling it upto 100 domains ASAP as a proof of concept.

    I'm using SER to post my filler content that links out to random sites to the domains rather than doing it manually as I am using human made spun articles to try keep the cost down for the filler content. I plan to post the content that links to my MS' manually though and they are manually created articles.

    I have four MS pages ready for testing with this, three are just going to be given the pages from the network with one having a T2 of Manual web 2 built to it and then a T3 of SERE and Contextual SER to that to see if that page acts much different to the ones without the T2/3.

    If it works I will probably go all in on this plan but do 100% unique content on the next network having writers with publishing accounts to the network login and manually writer the content direct to the blog and post it for me.
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