WARNING… If you’re allergic, uncomfortable or downright annoyed by triple full stops (or periods)… this post definitely isn’t for you.
In this post you’re going to learn a few things:
- What authority links are
- Why you need them to rank
- The safest and cheapest way to acquire them
If you already know what a dofollow, contextual, relevant authority link is… click here to skip to the explanation.
If you don’t, you should definitely not click that link as you probably won’t have a jar of glue what I’m talking about.
Here’s the thing…
Good on page SEO is important for rankings… but Google doesn’t care how well optimized your website is.
Having keyword optimized pages on your site is also ultra important for rankings… but Google doesn’t care how many keyword optimized pages you have.
Good site structure and layout is important too, BUT… Google doesn’t give a damn how cool your site looks.
Basically… Google doesn’t give a she-height about your website unless people are linking to your content.
End of. < full stop. (period)
Ranking is all about BACKLINKS.
Again, emphasized, end of. < full stop. (period). end of conversation.
(and the start of a new one)
Backlinks have been the biggest ranking factor since the day Google was invented… and the same rules still apply today… kinda.
There’s a slight difference though, and this is it…
10 years ago the ranking rules were “whoever has the most backlinks ranks at the top”.
Thanks to automated link building tools like SENuke, Ultimate Demon, XRummer, etc… backlink quantity was mega easy to acquire.
All you needed to do to rank a site was plug in a few badly spun articles into one of these tools, spin the anchor text to 20% exact match and leave it running in the background spamming the backside out of the internet while you got on with your day.
5,000 crappy backlinks later and your site was at the top of Google and the coins came rolling in.
Now I’m not here to give these tools a bad rep.
Because I used to use them to spam the arse out of the internet too.
And I made a pretty penny doing so.
I used to rank affiliate sites in the health and fitness niche by posting terribly spun dog training articles onto gardening blogs and sticking a link at the end saying “Get Six Pack Abs”.
But Google ain’t stoopid.
I mean come on… it’s a 500 BILLION dollar company.
And relevant search results are their bread and butter.
They have hundreds of mathematical scientists and Einsteinian engineers working on perfecting their ranking algorithm.
And most “SEO’s” are unemployed computer nerds bashing keyboards in their bedroom trying to hack the search results.
(No offence computer nerds, I’m a nerd too)
((that’s not me in the picture. I don’t wear undies.))
Ranking has always been a game of David and Googleiath.
So Google got fed up of indexing all of our spammy, badly spun web 2.0 pages, forum profile links and blog comments.
And they changed the rules of ranking.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s no longer about quantity… it’s all about the quality.
Simply put, the laws of ranking today are “whoever has the BEST backlinks ranks at the top”
OK so it’s a simple word change, right?
This is a big change.
You can’t spam the internet and get away with it any more.
Large amounts of low quality backlinks just don’t cut the mustard.
And enough of them will get your website Google slapped back to the stone age.
So… what defines a good backlink?
I’m boring myself now so let’s just get straight to the point…
a DoFollow, Contextual link from a Relevant Authority PAGE is the most powerful link you can build
These backlinks are the holy grail of rankings.
They’re the Achilles heel of Google’s ranking algorithm.
But what the hell is a dofollow, contextual, relevant authority link?
Let’s take it one at a time…
Essentially there are two types of backlinks – dofollow and nofollow.
Here’s what a backlink looks like in the source code of a page:
Dofollow = <a href=”http://www.YourWebsite.com/” >Solar installers</a>
Nofollow= <a href=”http://www.YourWebsite.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Solar installers</a>
Both of those links would look exactly the same when looking at the page in your browser:
But here’s the big difference between the two:
dofollow backlinks have a lot more ranking power than nofollow links.
If you’re going to invest money into backlinks, unless the site is a huge authority site (like Wikipedia), make sure they’re dofollow links, if they’re nofollow sure… they may provide traffic from people clicking on the link, but they won’t do much for your rankings.
There are different types of do-follow links you can build, here’s a few examples:
- Contextual – a clickable link within the content of a page
- Image – a clickable image on a page
- Sidebar/Footer – links that appear in the sidebar/footer of every page of a site
To cut a long story short – contextual links are the most powerful type of link you can build.
Using the same image from above because I can’t be arsed making another one, here’s what a contextual link looks like:
When Google finds these unique links pointing to your website it appears as though people are referencing your website as a resource of information.
This is good for rankings.
The other types of links (image & sidebar/footer) look like paid link placements/ads. This isn’t very beneficial for rankings.
If you’re going to invest money into backlinks, make sure they’re contextual links otherwise they’ll have little effect on your rankings.
This one’s easy to understand.
There’s three types of dofollow, contextual backlinks you can build:
Relevancy is important for rankings, Google’s not stupid, it can detect if a link looks natural or not.
Here’s a diagram to explain:
Let’s say you’re a local plumber, you get a link from home improvement blog within a post about installing a new bathroom, this looks natural, it’s a relevant page on a relevant website, this type of link will improve your rankings the most.
You could also put out a press release about an award you just won or a special offer you’ve just launched. Or you could just make shit up, it really doesn’t matter.
Press release sites are generic, but it’s standard procedure for a business to do PR, it’s a generic link, not as powerful as the home improvement blog but it’ll still improve your rankings.
Then there’s the beauty & fashion blog, if this site links to you Google will find this suspicious. It’s totally irrelevant and enough of these links will give you a penalty.
Now this is where the magic happens.
So far we’ve covered dofollow, contextual and relevancy.
Now we need to know how to measure the power of a link.
To understand link authority you need to know that a link is only as powerful as the page that it’s on.
And a page is only as powerful as the links that point to it.
You can build as many dofollow, contextual relevant links as you want.
But if those links aren’t on powerful (authority) pages – you’re just not going to beat the competition.
So how do we measure how powerful a page is?
… Backlink Checkers.
Backlink checkers (like AHREFS, Open Site Explorer & Majestic) show us how powerful certain pages on a website are.
They do this by measuring the strength of the backlinks that point to the page you’re analyzing.
The more high quality backlinks a page has – the stronger the link from that page will be – and the stronger the link the bigger the boost in rankings you’ll receive.
Here’s a diagram to illustrate the point:
Basically, when you get a backlink from a page which has authority – you’re “piggybacking” off the power of the links that already point to that page.
Sure, you could build links on low authority relevant pages, then build your own 2nd tier links to beef it up a little, but that takes time, and who’s got a load of that to spare?
The key to fast rankings is to acquire links on pre-existing relevant pages which already have a shit ton of high quality backlinks pointing to them.
One link from a powerful page can move your website from page 4 of Google to page 1 in 24 hours, I do this every month for my clients, content isn’t king – backlinks are.
If you’re constantly getting outranked by your competition and you’re scratching your head wondering why… here’s the answer…
They’ve got more high quality relevant backlinks than you.
Simple as that.
How To Get White Hat Authority Links
The fastest, easiest and most cost effective way to get dofollow contextual, relevant authority links is to build your own Private Blog Network (PBN).
PBN’s are the crack cocaine of the SEO world.
They’re a quick-fix ranking solution.
They just plain work.
BUT… they’re still grey hat and you’ll still get a penalty if you’re caught using them.
A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of websites/blogs which you own and you use to give yourself backlinks. You build this network of sites using expired domains with good metrics. An expired domain with good metrics is basically a domain name which used to have a live website on it and already has a lot of good backlinks pointing to it. For whatever reason the original owner of the domain hasn’t renewed it and it’s now expired and back on the market. When you buy these domains what you’re really buying is the backlinks that point to it. When you build a site back on the domain (or resurrect the old one) you then own your own authority website. Simply add some relevant content to your PBN’s, add contextual links pointing to the site you’re trying to rank and BAM… Rankings. But if your network gets discovered by Google, BAM… Penalty.
A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of websites/blogs which you own and you use to give yourself backlinks.
You build this network of sites using expired domains with good metrics.
An expired domain with good metrics is basically a domain name which used to have a live website on it and already has a lot of good backlinks pointing to it.
For whatever reason the original owner of the domain hasn’t renewed it and it’s now expired and back on the market.
When you buy these domains what you’re really buying is the backlinks that point to it.
When you build a site back on the domain (or resurrect the old one) you then own your own authority website.
Simply add some relevant content to your PBN’s, add contextual links pointing to the site you’re trying to rank and BAM… Rankings.
But if your network gets discovered by Google, BAM… Penalty.
It’s OK if you’re using PBN’s to rank your own website, but if you’re doing link building for clients it’s just not the best solution.
I’ve been using PBN’s myself for years, I’m upfront and honest about the links I build for clients and so far none of the sites I’ve ranked have ever got a penalty… but I have lost plenty of sleep worried about the future of their rankings.
Let’s be real… it’s a massive pain in the arse managing a large PBN, constantly sourcing expired domains, registering them with fake details, managing 100 different websites on shitty SEO hosts with terrible up-time or keeping track of multiple hosting accounts with different login details, renewing domains every week, keeping them updated with fresh content, keeping track of domain metrics and indexing, not to mention the expired domains devalue over time due to losing their backlinks, etc.
It’s a headache.
Last year I lost 100+ PBN’s in one day.
Thankfully this was due to hosting issues and not deindexing (thank god) but it did give me a taste of what it’d feel like to be in that situation.
Rebuilding my whole network set me back a good few months and several thousand £’s worth of time and money.
And on top of that we’ve also got to deal with the domain registrars clamping down on fake registrations, I had a few domains seized by Nominet a few weeks back.
I got them back but it’s just another ballache we’ve got to deal with.
Unless you’ve got an experienced team behind you creating and maintaining your network it’s a nightmare to manage 100’s of websites.
Especially if you’ve got a million other responsibilities for your main business like leag gen, closing sales, renewing clients, managing projects, getting shit done, training your team etc.
If you’re building an SEO business based on PBN’s you cannot afford to slack in this department.
If you’re a PBN slacker you’re going to be like all of the headless chickens who run around screaming when their network gets deindexed because of all the footprints they’ve embedded across their websites.
F#ck that noise.
To keep your PBN’s safe in 2016 you need to build REAL websites on your expired domains that’ll pass a manual review, use premium themes, use different platforms, rebuild sites from the archive, build them with great content and update them every month, integrate them with social profiles, etc.
And while we’re building these real websites I can’t help but think… why are we just using them for links? Why aren’t we monetizing them in other ways?
The Reverse PBN Method
Over the last 4 months I’ve been testing out a new method of link building and it’s working a treat.
It’s a mix of expired domains, outreach and leverage.
This method is similar to building PBN’s… with a slight twist.
If you do this right you can turn one PBN into an endless supply of white hat authority links.
Following the same strategy as a PBN, you buy an expired domain with good metrics and build a website on it.
But rather than building 10 mediocre PBN’s, instead invest just half of that money into making one really good looking website with great content and graphics.
Basically, use the expired domain to make a real website.
You’re going to use this one website to leverage white hat links from other real websites in your niche.
It’s basically a simple link exchange using an expired domain as leverage… and it works a treat.
Here’s what you do:
1. Buy an expired domain in your niche with good metrics
- Make sure the domain is in your broad niche, here’s a few examples:
- If you’re a plumber – get a home improvement domain.
- If you’re a solicitor – get a law domain.
- If you’re a car rental company – get a travel domain.
- If you’re a chiropractor – get a health domain.
- If you’re a wedding photographer – get a photography domain.
- Register the domain in a different name that your main domain (use a friends details to be safe)
- Host it on a different server, a shared hosting account is good enough, you’re not building lot’s of PBN’s so forget about SEO hosting headaches.
- Do not in any way associate this domain with your main website.
2. Build a good looking website on it
- Use a premium WordPress theme.
- Invest in at least 10 pages of good content and backdate the posts.
- Use good graphics – logo’s, banners, ads, etc.
- Create social accounts and integrate with your blog.
3. Create an email account on your new domain
- Create en email account on your new domain.
- Use a personal name for better response rates (like firstname.lastname@example.org).
- You don’t need to pay for email hosting, Zoho Mail is free.
4. Choose a niche that you want links from
- This niche needs to be relevant to both your main website and your secondary niche blog (but not direct competition to your main website).
- Here’s a few examples:
- If you’re a plumber and you’ve built a home improvement blog – choose a niche like local builders, electricians or other home improvement blogs.
- If you’re a solicitor and you’ve built a law blog – choose a niche like accountants, solicitors in other niches or other law blogs.
- If you’re a car rental company and you’ve built a travel blog – choose a niche like local taxi firms, hotels or other travel blogs.
- If you’re a chiropractor and you’ve built a health blog – choose a niche like personal trainers, dentists or other health blogs.
- If you’re a wedding photographer and you’ve built photography blog – choose a niche like family portrait photographers, wedding blogs or other photography blogs.
- You get the point…
5. Scrape Google for websites in that niche
- Create an Excel sheet that looks like this:
- That’s an example of a data scrape we’re doing in the “CCTV Installer” niche to rank a locksmith client.
- Here’s a list of the columns:
- Email / Contact Page URL
- If you want to download the Excel template click here.
- Start searching Google for websites in your chosen niche.
- Visit all of the relevant websites on pages 1 & 2 of Google and make some notes.
- What we’re looking for here are one of two things:
- Websites which have a blog which we can ask for a link on, or…
- If they’ve not got a blog, an active social profile (Twitter, Facebook, G+) with over 1,000 followers. We’ll be using these social accounts for social signals and traffic.
- If they don’t have either then just skip the site as they’re useless.
- For all sites which have either a blog or active social profile:
- Put the domain name in column 1.
- Scan the website for an email address or contact form URL and stick that in column 2.
- If they’ve got a blog make a note of that in column 3.
- If they’ve not got a blog, make note of their best social account in column 4.
6. Create the sacrificial lamb blog post
- On your good looking niche blog, create a list style post which you can offer these websites a link on.
- Here’s some examples:
- “Top CCTV Companies of 2016”
- “Best Travel Blogs of 2016”
- “The Best Rated Business Accountancy Firms in the UK”
- Add 3 or 4 websites to your list to get you started (you can remove these later) and wrap that list in some compelling content.
- These types of posts are easy to create, and who says no to being featured on a best rated/top 10 list? Here’s a few examples you can follow:
7. Mail the sites offering links
- Using your new blog’s email address, start mailing the websites which you’ve scraped from Google.
- You can use a template, but put a custom one liner in to increase your response rate.
- Keep it short and sweet, here’s an example:
- Don’t forget to include a few screenshots of your domain metrics.
- Once you’ve contacted a website, put a “Yes” in the “Contacted?” column in your Excel sheet to keep track of your progress.
8. Request Your Money Site Link
- People will respond saying yes in all manner of ways, now that they’re interested it’s time to ask for your link (or a social share) to your money site.
- Before you do this however, if you’re going to ask for a backlink, first pop their website into a backlink checker (AHREFS, Moz, Majestic) and look at their most powerful pages.
- Find an aged, relevant, powerful page on their site which you can request a link on, CTRL+F through some pages searching for relevant words which you can use as anchor text.
- Once you’ve found one (should only take you 2/3 minutes), add their website to your list post on your expired domain (give before you receive) then reply with the request for a link to your money site:
- If they don’t have a blog just ask them to share your money site on their best social account.
9. Log the Backlinks and Watch Your Rankings
- This method just flat out works.
- Once you get your links, make sure you log the URL’s in your Excel sheet.
- To get your backlinks indexed faster, share all the pages you’ve landed links on to your Twitter account and ping your Twitter profile URL.
- Here’s a few screenshots of links I landed in the last few days using this technique:
Reverse PBN Benefits
Here’s a diagram explaining the linking structure:
And here’s the benfits of reversing your PBN’s:
- High quality, permanent, dofollow contextual links from aged pages on REAL relevant websites.
- No 1st tier footprints.
- High response rate. The websites you’re contacting are already on page 1 or 2 of Google so they already know the value of a backlink.
- No more managing 100’s of domains, websites, hosting accounts, etc.
- Easily outsourced with little training involved.