In my opinion, this is the most difficult step in the whole process. Why? Well, if you’re going white hat then you really have no control over how much people like your content, how many links, how much traffic, and how many sales you get on your site. This is the step that really spells d-o-o-m for most websites and also crushes the hopes and dreams of people who want to start making money online in this manner.
It’s a mo-fo, so let’s jump right in.
First, let’s address the very large, very appealing, very confusing, very time consuming, and very costly elephant in the room….
…To PBN or NOT to PBN
Do I have PBN links?
I like PBN links. They work. I use them. However, they’re mine. I don’t like to talk much about them, and neither should you. If you make a decision to purchase PBN domains, build a PBN, outsource the building of a PBN, or buy PBN links, you should most definitely keep that shit to yourself. People blog about their PBN’s (I mean they get really fucking specific) and then wonder why they receive extra attention from Google’s manual review team.
Here’s what I don’t understand: People who sell links from their own PBNs. WTF!? I mean you have to send a report with proof of links afterward, right? You’re giving away your network that other people have paid you to link on and you’re just giving up the goodies and risking your network, other clients sites, and a whole business model. Again, WTF! That’s like coating yourself in fresh t-bone steaks, walking into the lion’s den, and expecting not to be the center of attention. It’s moronic, actually. The good news is that there ARE PLENTY of sites that you can go to right now that will tell you exactly how to set up your PBN.
What’s important is that you build back links in the most consistent and natural way that you can. And that comes with hard work, outreach, and determination.
I want to make this very clear:
I have no problems with people who offer PBN services or who use them. Quite the contrary, actually. Shit, I use a few here and there and will be offering a PBN domain deal in the future. My issue is plainly aimed at the people who have them, blog about them, construct them sloppily, and then complain when Google hammers them. That’s why a service and a site like PBN HQ is so important…they don’t just sell domains, they have articles to help you set up your domains and get them indexed smartly and quickly.
If Not to PBN… Then What Is the Answer?
Here’s an idea: put some elbow grease into your business and get fucking dirty. Or, at least mix it up between a 5 to 8 manageable PBN sites, then go legit.
Get out of the mindset that because you’re working online then you really don’t ever have to talk, interact, or network with another human being ever again. Rubbish.
There are slower, less effective, but totally legit ways of linking. Then there are some not so legit ways. 😉
Not So Legit
(Note: This isn’t a Hoth Review but I like the service and has worked great for my sites. The links in this section of this post are affiliate links. If you order, I make some money.)
The Hoth is something that’s great for initial linking and getting some juice flowing to your site from blogs and web 2.0s. They construct your links in a tier so that the initial tier links to your money site are from “safe” sites with high authority like Tumblr, Blogspot, WordPress, RebelMouse, etc. They then hit those properties with another tier of links from web 2.0, then hit that tier with a third tier of sites of more questionable authority, and finally they drip feed links from their private network of sites. It’s pretty cool. It’s thorough. And it’s affordable. Packages start at $60 for the mini (and this is what I usually do for my Amazon Review money sites that I’m going to keep or eventually sell.
I love the fact that The Hoth gives a full report of every link they built after it’s all said and done as well as the emails and usernames used to build those properties. That way I can go in and change anchor text or actually build out those first tiered properties and make a quality site that links to my money site!
Be advised, though, that if you’re using The Hoth then it is still against Google’s ToS as you are BUILDING LINKS for the PURPOSE OF EFFECTING RANKINGS and SERPS. Just saying… Is it safe? I’ve never had a problem with these, and they’ve been MORE THAN GREAT. It’s still a small risk, though.
(This is only “pretty legit” because you’re still asking or requesting a link in exchange for something in the hopes of getting better rankings. It’s harder to prove and track because people who have good sites see that you add value, allowing you to publish on their platform.)
Guest Blogging is STILL the Best Approach: Don’t join guest blogging network sites and start exchanging guest posts for money or link juice. That’s exactly what Google doesn’t want.
Instead, actually follow a few blogs and sites in your niche and read them. Find a few (NON-COMPETING) sites that you like and send the webmaster or owner an email explaining that you have a site as well. You enjoy their content. You think you have something to contribute. Ask if they could look something over and consider publishing it. If they say no, then end it professionally with something like “Aww schucks… Well maybe in the future then. Good luck”.
If the say yes, though, then do your best to send over a great post that will actually add value. This will get you trusted and possibly invited back. Good content will actually get some clickthroughs to your site as well. Remember to vary your anchor text. Most people should allow you AT LEAST an anchor text link in a bio at the bottom or top of the post but I know that many also allow a contextual link in the body of the guest post, and that’s what we want.
Blog Commenting, Forum Commenting, and Forum Signatures
These are all still pretty effective. Blog comments should add value to what you’ve just read and about what the post is actually about. Forum commenting should be done with the intent of asking, answering, or teaching, and it’s okay to link back to a page in you site if it does one of those things.
A Thing About Anchor Text and Contextual Linking
Forum signatures are a nice little link because they’re contextual. Something like
“Ken Muise – Want an Amazon Review Site Earns? Visit Me!”
To me, that is optimal for forum signatures. I guess I could have anchored the “amazon review sites” but why? It’s going to be read by Google bot in a contextual manner. The link is a right next to the words “amazon review sites that earn” and links to a website that is all about that very thing. That’s what we want. Not every link has to be anchored to text that is a direct SEO keyword. In fact, if you do this, Google will kill you and your site. Errr… At least your site.
I mean, sure, exact match anchor text still helps and works, but it has to be done so sparingly. We’re way beyond that these days. I love anchoring my naked domains and site name. It works great.
For the keywords I like to rank for, I can really get decent initial rankings and start climbing the SERPS with 5 guests, some blog comments, ezine links, and THE HOTH right off the bat. If you were to couple that with 5 to 10 PBN links for low competition keywords and 15 to 20 PBN links for medium competition keywords, I think you’d be on a great path to getting some organic traffic and earning some money. We start small and we grow. We don’t just create a site, throw 5 pages on it, slam on some affiliate links and then throw 25 PBN links at some pages. That’s not how we do here! And remember, niche sites are not necessarily small or tiny sites. They are focused sites.
Email List Building:
There are some people who do great when it comes to building an email list from niche sites and getting return traffic and product sales from their emails. Doug over at NSP and his Amazon Affiliate Site guide talks about this. To me, it all depends on the niche and whether it’s worth putting energy into building an email list. If it’s a niche that calls for accessories and return customers, then so be it, but how many times does a person need to buy an espresso machine? Again, it matters on the niche. Some of my sites have a list that I’m building while some don’t.
A Final Word:
Do not trust your back linking to $5 gigs and the like. It may work out, but more than likely it’ll kill you and your site. Like I said, legit links are the best and no matter what kind of links you’re building (PBNs, guest posts, blogs, Hoth, etc) at least you know that you or someone you’re paying is putting more than $5 worth of effort into it. This is still the same ol’ world we live in… You gotta pay or sweat to make it. It’s no different working behind a screen and a keyboard than it is selling cars on a lot or coffees behind a counter.