Update: Make no mistake, PBNs still work. However they they now have a history of being targeted by Google and likely are not the safest option moving forward. This is why we now focus on creating businesses that don’t solely rely on SEO traffic with better long term potential.
With Hayden being the man online for PBNs and PBN link building, we get a ton of questions about how to link build with a PBN and if you’re wondering about how the man does it, read on.
How many links to build per month
Outside of PBNs, we don’t utilize too many other link building tactics. We get some Wikipedia links and teach this to people in our Private Training Courses as a bonus training module, but PBN links are our bread and butter. We have a decent size network specifically for our money sites of around 150 sites now, ave DA probably just over 30.
Though the average DA of the sites we use for our initial link building over months 1 – 3 would be more like DA40 as we usually go with the higher DA stuff early and then work our way down.
We link build pretty much as soon as a site is at 7500 words of content and we build at a rate of approximately 10 links per month.
We have link build our new money sites at 15-20 PBN links per month and we have tried link building sites at 6 PBN links per month.
With the 15-20 per month sites, it still didn’t help us dodge the usual month 1-4 pattern of up and down in the serps any quicker and what we hypothesize actually happened is that we just wasted efforts building a way too many links than we needed. e.g. those sites would probably have ranked with 30-40 links as opposed to 50.
With the 6 links per month sites, we feel that we dialed it back a little bit too much. So at this point, we’re going with approx 2-3 links per week consistently over the first 3 months if a site’s life.
Now, that is a lot of links and not feasible if you don’t have a big PBN. Option 1 to help with that is do one of our internships, learn how we do things and then get access to the Intern Graduate PBN :-)… Option 2 is to do some other lower-level link building such as blog commenting, guest posting etc. Nothing wrong with that and I believe the only impact would be a slightly longer time to rank a site.
It should be noted, that these links are being spread throughout our sites which are usually start money sites with 2-4 main target pages. If your site only had 1-2 main target pages, you could probably get away with 6-8 PBN links per month just fine over the first 3 months.
Where to build links
We rarely target our main KWs on home pages any more and we have a specific use for home pages now that helps to spread juice around the sites. We build links to the home page and to internal pages.
Giving percentages is a dangerous pass time because there is a risk that people will read this and action it exactly, but as a ballpark guide to how many links go to home page vs to internal pages, we usually do something like the following:
During month 1-3:
- 40% of links to the home page
- 30% of links to the main internal page that has the most income potential
- 30% to 1-2 other key internal pages
Once a main target KW is showing signs of climbing
- 25% to home page
- 50% to the page with the KW that is climbing rankings
- 25% to other internal pages
Once we hit position 1-2 for the page that has attracted 50% of links up to this point, we dial back a touch on link building that page and start to spread a little bit more to other internal pages, which by this time also have KWs starting to pop.
So really, there is no set % or set timeline to build the links. But it makes sense to push a KW higher if it gets out of the gates quickly. Rank that KW, make some $s and then you have options to re-invest profits into building out the site further like what Hayden recently discussed with Spencer in his recent podcast.
When do you stop link building?
You don’t. Part of the reason why I personally like going a little more conservative with the link building in the initial months is to avoid a sudden drop off in link velocity once your site ranks. I like to dial it down slowly from 10 links per month, down to 6 per month in the month after all your main pages are ranking where you want, then down to around 4 per month ongoing, including natural links that you gain.
Doing so not only prevents any penalty based around link velocity drop (if there is even such a thing), but also keeps your competitors at bay. If your site is high quality, you should be able to drop the link building you do down to a minimal effort due to links naturally gained.
What if you do neglect a site?
Pretty simple, rankings drop. We have a site that formed part of Hayden and my initial set of solid earners that we had link built at 15 links per month up to Christmas 2013. In January 2014 we started to focus on a second batch of sites and in February, partnered to run the Internships which took the majority of my time.
Time being short, some of our sites got neglected and we failed to add any decent fresh content or build links consistently. The result was a drop off in link building to a poultry 2 links per month in January through to the end of May for one decent money earner. It took some time, but the rankings for some of our main KWs eventually dropped in April.
Seemingly not terrible, but a drop from position 1 to 4 has a significant impact on serp CTR and earnings as a result.
It’ll have dropped to $2000 in earnings this month at best. It SHOULD be a $4k per month site, so the actual impact of neglecting is far worse than 3 positions in Google. If it takes 3 months to correct, along with the 3 months it’d been down for, that’s +$10k of lost revenue.
We’ve picked up the link building again and we’d hope to have that site back up to it’s former glory soon.
The take-away message is to keep showing love to your sites.
What about anchor text?
We’re not using any exact match anchors. Too risky and when you actually think about it, anchor text as a ranking signal is actually a fairly goofy way to gauge what a site is about. Too easy to game and how on earth that could have had such a profound impact on rankings only up to a few years ago is pretty funny.
We hold on-page factors such as KW in URL and Title and used sparingly on a page as the core of our optimization for KWs now, along with relevancy of linking article to target page from PBN links, as the main SEO tactics.
We’re also focusing on KW in proximity to link. The theory of Google using the nearby text to a link as a signal of the relevancy between the article containing the link (your PBN site) and the site it is linking to (your money site) makes a lot of sense. With this in mind, we usually place our links within a paragraph of related text, with the main KW of the target money site as close to the link as possible.
Another thing to consider is why real links happen… Usually to link to a resource. A great description Nate (who you’ll be hearing more about, and hopefully from, in the coming months as he’s heading up the management of our money sites) gave to me is the following:
“think about why people link in the first place, to reference stuff. So in real life if I’m talking about nursing salaries, I might mention that in the average salary was <a href=””>$80,000 a year</a>, or that they <a href=””>earn more in urban areas than rural areas</a>”. Making it natural is the key with anchors.
PBN Link Building Summary:
Which pages to link build? > Split the links between pages and focus on the first one that pops in serps.
How many links to build and how often? > Somewhere around 8-12 per month seems about the mark, tailing off once you’re happy with your rankings.
For how long? > Forever. Hopefully you can rely on natural links at a point, but don’t leave it to chance.
Anchor text? > Wipe exact match anchor text from your memory. It’s not required and it can potentially hurt a site. Focus on URL, domain, partial match, the occasional generic “click here” and “visit website” type anchors and getting your main target KW in close proximity to the link.
Happy link building and please feel free to ask a question of let us know what you’re up to with your link building.