"PBN LINKS NOT WORKING!!!!" -- A Beginners Checklist

Leith

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For: Beginners
Private Blog Network Links


Without doubt, PBN links are one of the easiest ways to rank. I mean, who wouldn't want rankings like these after building a few links?

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Anyone who claims PBN links don't work anymore have no idea what they're talking about.

In the last 2 months, we've spent close to $xxx,xxx in domains and set up costs alone for some of our higher end clients. We wouldn't be spending this sort of money if we weren't able to generate a substantial ROI. The truth is; PBN links are the most effective way to rank in 2018, period.

Anyone spurting "outreach", "content", "web 2.0's" is talking nonsense. While those links can be effective when used together, nothing comes close to the power you're able to receive from PBN's.

So.. if PBN links are so effective, anyone can just buy a PBN package from the marketplace or build the links yourself and rank #1 quickly, right?

Err.. not really.

"Wait, but you said PBN links are the most effective way to rank in 2018?"

They are.. but you need to be using them correctly.

I've been running PBN / private link building services since 2011. We get thousands of clients on a yearly basis so we have a lot of data to work with. We track over 30,000 keywords with Serpbook so this information isn't just compiled from a small batch of data.

The Problem:

Most people (not all) order PBN links and expect the craziest of results. After all, they are the most effective way to rank so why wouldn't you expect great results? I've seen members who have spent thousands on PBN links yet they don't see the results they expect.. but then I've seen others who spend only $150 and they see super positive movement on their keywords. Surely spending more money on PBN links = better results?

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Err.. no again.

The problem is most people these days think just building PBN links will result in improved rankings. This is most certainly not the case... and there are several factors which come into play which you need to consider before you start spending money. I think most PBN link sellers will agree with me here. If you've purchased PBN links and never saw the results you anticipated, here's a few reasons why that may be:

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Note/Disclaimer: For those who buy PBN services, the point of this post isn't to put the blame on the buyers as in some cases the reason why you see no results could very well be due to the PBN seller/vendor selling substandard links. However, I seem to be seeing more and more members ordering PBN links and expecting the world. When the results aren't as expected, they direct the blame straight onto the seller/vendor without even willing to accept that the problem could be elsewhere. Most of the times, the problem is with the site and not the PBN links. By going through the below checklist, you'll be able to increase your chances of seeing great results with PBN's. I know personally I'd rather work with clients who understand how SEO works instead of working with clients who have no idea how things work, but expect the world.

I do sell PBN services myself but I'm not claiming to be an expert. I'm still learning every day and do make mistakes, but I'm a strong believer in sharing knowledge. This post isn't supposed to be ground-breaking or special. This is for beginners who are considering PBN links and want to maximize their chances of seeing positive results.
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1. On-Page Optimisation

Yeah yeah I know on-page is boring but surprisingly it's one of the most overlooked aspects when it comes to SEO. On-page is crucial before you even consider building links. If your titles aren't properly optimised or if the content on your page is poor then you're not going to be able to reap the rewards of any of the link building you carry out. I'm not going to ramble too much about this because you've probably heard this from every other link building guide out there already.

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Google is your best friend here. Plenty of guides and resources out there that go into detail on this. I often get asked from some clients why their rankings are not moving but when I check their on-page, titles are poorly optimized, content is irrelevant, URL's are spammy, keyword density is ridiculously high and so on...

How do you expect Google to push you up the rankings when your on-page, one of the most important aspects for a site, is non existent? Again, don't go into too much hassle worrying about getting a 100/100 score on your on-page audits - that's not necessary. The point here is to ensure your on-page is at a decent enough level for Google to even take your site seriously. The algorithm is continuing to get smarter and more technologically advanced each year, so sites that don't even have the basic requirements in terms of on-page SEO aren't going to rank as high as you want.

Another factor which falls into the 'on-page' category is content. We all know "content is king" and even though they may not provide direct ranking boosts, they'll certainly help alongside your link building. Focus on solid, quality content that targets the main keywords you're looking to rank for. We have a client just now who has a massive site that is packed with ridiculously strong content. The combination of strong content + quality link building is working wonders on the results.

As cliched as it sounds, content is really king if you want to build a long term site. Focus on quality content because this will play a massive role down the line once you're ranking for lots of keywords across the board. Not just great content, but focus on creating awesome, killer content that people would want to share.

2. Anchor Profile

You've got perfect on-page so you think that's enough to reap all the benefits from PBN links? You spend a few hundred dollars on 20 links targeting your main keywords and several months later you're still not ranking. Sound relatable? From experience, the majority of the times your site isn't ranking as well as it could be from PBN links is due to your anchor and backlink profile. Let's talk about anchor profile first.

Your anchor profile essentially consists of all the anchors that you've been using in the links you build. You can track and monitor your anchor profile using a variety of tools, such as Ahrefs.

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Unless you've got an authority site, your anchor profile is extremely important when it comes to link building and ranking. We can categorise anchor text's into the following:
  • BRAND (blackhatworld, BHW, blackhatworld forum)
  • NAKED URL (www.blackhatworld.com, blackhatworld.com, https://blackhatworld.com)
  • GENERIC (read here, click here, find out more, read this post, this website)
  • LSI (variations of your main keyword - usually generated using tools)
  • PARTIAL MATCH (similar to LSI - for example: visit this seo forum)
  • EXACT (seo forum, marketing forum, black hat seo)
To be honest, you don't have to focus on every single anchor text category.. as long as you focus on brand, naked URL's, generic and exact you'll see results. However, as your site continues to grow and receive more incoming links, it might be a smart idea to start diversifying and building links for each and every anchor text category there is. It's only natural.

Again, whilst there isn't a correct set % for each anchor text category - ideally you want your anchor profile to consist mainly of brand, naked URL's and generic anchors. These are usually considered the "safest" and therefore the best type of anchors to target. Remember, there is no correct % to follow. There are rough guidelines and percentages you can try follow but at the end of the day the key takeaway from this is to ensure your anchor profile looks natural.

If you spent all your time and effort into ensuring your anchor profile had exactly 20% brand, exactly 15% naked URL's, etc.. that just makes things unnatural. Again, the key here is to ensure everything remains natural and not to raise any red flags or suspicions.

Ensure you have a healthy anchor profile before you buy or build PBN links. This is the mistake most people make and this is why you won't see results no matter how much you spend on links. If your anchor profile has too high of a % for it's exact anchors then PBN links will just make things worse. You could end up spending $300 for 20 PBN links only for it to harm your site. Used correctly, PBN's can work wonders but they do have negative side effects if used inappropriately. The majority of your anchor profile should consist of brand, naked URL's and generic anchors. PBN links will work even better when your anchor profile is healthy.

Next time you consider purchasing or building PBN links - you need to take a look at your anchor profile and figure out if buying these links is the smartest option. If you've got a very high exact anchor % in your profile, you'll need to neutralise it. This can be done by building other, less expensive links (quality web 2.0's, blog comments, profiles, etc) and targeting your brand, naked URL and generic anchors. We've carried out tests where we build PBN links to sites containing high exact anchor %'s and also to sites containing a healthier anchor profile and the latter always received better improvements with their rankings.

Before you even worry about PBN links, make sure your anchor profile is balanced and natural. Don't buy PBN links until you've made sure of this. The results you'll see will be much stronger and you'll thank me for it!

3. Backlink Profile

Just like your anchor profile, your backlink profile is just as important. This is essentially all the links you've built to your site. Not just that, but the platforms they're coming from.

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To make things simple to understand, let's imagine blackhatworld.com only had a total of 1000 links. From the 1000, let's say 700 were social bookmarks and 250 were directory links. First of all, not only are these links pretty weak, they're also very unnatural since there's not much diversity.

A legitimate and natural site should have links from all sorts of platforms. If you're going to be spending money on links, don't just spend money buying PBN links. How natural does it look when a site's backlink profile only consists of PBN links? Yeah, "very natural".

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Think about it. A real money site should have links coming in from all sorts of places. The more diverse the backlink profile, the better your site will react to stronger links such as from PBN's. SEO isn't cheap anymore - it's becoming more and more of an investment than it ever was. If you have the budget to acquire PBN links, you also need to set aside a budget to cover the rest of the link building for your site. There are no shortcuts here... as the years go by the algorithm will continue to develop and as a result the strategies that may have worked previously will quickly be made ineffective. The only real way to achieve success with your site is to think long term. I know it's a scary thought since most people don't want to spend thousands on their SEO, but unfortunately that's where the industry is heading. Quality links cost money and taking shortcuts aren't helping your rankings in the long run.

Your anchor profile could be great, but if your backlink profile is unnatural then you're not going to see the results you expect. I always tell my clients to only order PBN links once the site has enough diverse links from various platforms. PBN links should be the icing on the cake, not the other way round.

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With that being said, this doesn't mean you hop on Fiverr and order a bunch of social bookmarks, directory submissions, blog comments, forum profiles, EDU links and whatnot for $20 just to "diversify" your backlink profile. I mean, sure, they would fulfil the purpose of diversifying, but they're essentially low quality links and therefore don't add much weight to your overall profile. Remember the saying, quality over quantity?

Try build quality links from different platforms. It will make all the difference in the long run, trust me. If you have a churn/burn site then I guess you could get away with the lower quality links but make sure you don't target your exact anchors.. just focus on brand, naked URL and generic anchors instead.

If your backlink profile isn't diverse enough, I'd suggest avoiding PBN links for the time being. I know it's tempting to chase after those quick rankings but in the end you'll just be wasting money, waiting forever for results that will never come and in the end you'll have to go back to Step 1 anyway. Save yourself the hassle, don't worry too much about PBN links until your backlink profile is somewhat balanced, healthy and natural.

4. Site Age

If your site is brand spankin' new, avoid PBN links. Again, just not natural. What we need to remember is the algorithm continues to advance and nothing screams "I'm trying to game rankings" more than a brand new site with 20+ incoming PBN links targeting exact anchors. SEO isn't something that can be rushed.. you need to take it easy. Allow your site to age for a bit before you start sending stronger links to it. There's a reason why professional athletes warm up/stretch before performing their activities.. so that they can avoid injury. In the same way, "warm up" your site and allow it to "get ready" for the incoming stronger links. This is why you see many buying aged domains so that they don't have to wait months for the aging process.

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Just to reiterate, you may very well see great results by sending PBN links to a brand new site... but my point is you'll most likely see much better results if you allow your site to age. A matured site can handle stronger links better than a brand new site. Again, as tempting as it is to chase after quick rankings, sometimes you need to hold back and be patient. Wait for the right moment to send in those PBN links and trust me, the wait is usually worth it. We've done plenty of private tests and case studies for this and the results we saw correlates with what I'm saying.

Even if it's a month, just allow the site to settle. Focus on building up your anchor profile/backlink profile in the meantime and by the time you're done with those, you can send in your PBN links and enjoy even better ranking gains.

5. Penalties

We had a client last week who was complaining about lack of results. Upon doing some digging, we noticed a few suspicious patterns with the site so we asked him to check WMT for any penalty messages. Turns out he had a partial penalty on the site prior to us building links for him.

If you have a penalty on your site then you probably need to reconsider your decision to use PBN links. Penalties are imposed on your site for a reason - if you could just ignore them and continue to build links and see great results... well, what's the point of the penalty in the first place?

If you have any existing penalties on your site, you NEED to sort them out first before building more links, especially expensive links. You're basically wasting money for nothing. Check to see if you have any existing penalties on your site before you even consider buying high cost links.

6. BE REALISTIC!

Sometimes the problem is you simply haven't got enough PBN links. This is actually a very common issue that I see. Now let's imagine your anchor profile, backlink profile and everything else was spot on. Your site is ready for some strong PBN links. You order a package of 20 links split across 5 fairly competitive keywords.

Just to break that down - that's 4 links per keyword.

Just 4 links.

Ask yourself; is that really enough considering the competition of your keywords?

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I've had clients buying PBN links and targeting 5 keywords each with a search volume between 50k/m-100k/m. 4 links to each of those keywords isn't going to get your site ranking from NA to Page 1. If it were that easy, I'm sure everyone would be doing it.

You need to be realistic with your expectations. Instead of wasting your money targeting competitive keywords you'll never have a chance with, you should be focusing on terms that you genuinely have a chance at. 4 PBN links will produce better results on a keyword that receives 4k/m searches compared to one that receives 50k/m. Unless you have the budget to continuously build strong links to your competitive keywords, don't bother. In the end you'll be wasting money trying to rank keywords you have no chance with. This is why keyword research at the beginning is so important. It could literally make or break your SEO efforts.

So if you've purchased PBN links recently, ask yourself this - are the # of links you purchased enough considering the competition of your targeted keywords? If the answer is NO, then you know you need more links. If you're not sure, you probably also need more links. It's a matter of trial and error really - you should be slowly increasing the # of PBN links over a set period of time as this allows your rankings to gradually progress. SEO is a waiting game nowadays. If you try to rush the process, you'll realise you'll end up waiting even longer than you expected.

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CONCLUSION

This may seem like a very basic checklist but it's usually the small things that we tend to neglect which can end up making the most impact.
PBN links are literally one of the easiest ways to rank in 2018 but if your site isn't made "compatible" for these links, you'll never see the true potential results.

All you SEO experts reading this thinking "well I learnt nothing new", this post wasn't written for you. I have stuff for you guys coming soon ;)
 
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BeastMoney

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Awesome read. Will definitely help out a lot of beginners grasp the proper SEO checklist.
 

Oceans13

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Just read the whole thing, the part on anchor text diversification was great. It may seem obvious, but it gets overlooked way too often. Good stuff.
 

Leith

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Just read the whole thing, the part on anchor text diversification was great. It may seem obvious, but it gets overlooked way too often. Good stuff.

Definitely overlooked. When we analysed all the sites we were tracking that weren't receiving the best of ranking improvements, we noticed the majority of them had poor on-page, horrible anchor/backlink profiles, etc. It's always the small things that end up making the biggest difference.
 

jackalope

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Thanks for this. I've been doing a lot of research on PBNs because I really need to start using them, but it feels complicated to get started.
 

Leith

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Thanks for this. I've been doing a lot of research on PBNs because I really need to start using them, but it feels complicated to get started.

There's several guides already on BHW for building PBN's. As for buying them, you should probably avoid using them until your site is actually ready to handle PBN links (as explained in my post).
 

WebTG

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If you say Web 2.0, Bookmarking, Profile links or Blog comments are not good for the link diversification then what do you suggest?
 

Leith

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If you say Web 2.0, Bookmarking, Profile links or Blog comments are not good for the link diversification then what do you suggest?

Never said that.. I said don't order them from places like Fiverr since most of them use automation and spun content. If you're going to build those links, get it done manually and put more focus on quality.
 

thisusernameisausern

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Awesome guide, thank you!
How long on average does it take for a pbn link to take effect? What are the ranges you've seen? :)
 

gentzalli

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Great post. I have a question though - when someone says "aged domain" do they mean how old is the website or do they mean when was the domain registered? For example, if I register a domain that expired but it was first created in 2005 does that count as an "aged domain"? How does this work? This would be a brand new website with an old domain, so I don't see why google will favour it.
 

terrycody

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What a comfortable reading today! Quality stuff from quality man. A right title for this should be

"A bible before you even think PBN links"

Thanks for this awesome share and welcome back to forum, long time no see, cant wait for the next master piece!


Edit: one more thing, what tool u use to generate gif pics? It seems very handy.
 

alexio

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Thanks for sharing and taking time to write it !
 

Nargil

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A fuckin Men. Will be using this as a reference. Thanks for the write up.
 

abdel007

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"keyword density is ridiculously high" i start learning SEO 3 month ago learned a lot about on page seo but i was doing this fault
thanks man for this great post
 

Akhil Arya

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My website is 3 months old. Can i use PBN links on it ??
Currently my Anchor Profile consists of Brand, Naked & LSI. Very few Exact Match Anchor
I have only used Diversification Package (Manually Build) on my website.
I am starting to rank for Long Tail Keywords now.

Can i use PBN links now or should i wait more ??
 
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