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.
68 thoughts on “PBN Link Building Answers: Anchor Text, To Which Pages, How Many, How Often and For How Long?”
More great insight. Can’t wait to get the internship started.
Thanks Greg. This answers most of the questions we had raised during internships for link building.
Perfect, thanks Rohit!
When building links to inner pages are our main pages also moving up in serps?
I am so excited about the internship!
You’ll get a better understanding when we go through week 2 of the Internship, which is all on on-page/on-site SEO. But our inner pages are often our “main pages”.
Great post again, this was almost the missing piece for me.
I have a question:
How about using low search volume long tails as anchors?
Does it help us rank for the long tails faster?
or we should use the long tails within the content, and follow the backlinking strategy above?
Not sure if it’s worth risking a penalty for due to exact match anchors for long tail KWs > you can rank for them without exact anchors. To rank for long tail KWs, write 250 words of content relevant to it and aim to get the KW in a table of contents anchor text link. Like what we taught in our on-page seo training during your internship mate.
Thanks for the heads up Greg. Just refreshing my mind and trying to make sure. I guess this question was never asked before.
What about using the brand name as anchor? I mean real brand name or the company name as the anchor, with the mentioned approximity of the keyword to the link?
Don’t think brand name anchor text would be an issue in most instances.
Alistair Cochrane says:
Do you try to rank category pages or only posts?
The majority of our sites have been created with pages, as opposed to posts/categories. We’re starting to switch that over to posts now for our bigger sites as it’s far easier to manage. So we’ll be doing some link building to category pages moving forward.
I don’t see why as part of link anchors we shouldn’t use exact keyword. If we use each time different anchor for linking, one of them sure can be exact match. It seems to me very natural. When somebody wants to link to other article he/she may use part of the article title as an anchor and this can be exact keyword. The main thing is to diversify anchors and use as many different as possible.
Diversity is key, but Penguin is essentially all about targeting low quality links and exact match anchors. It’s just not worth the risk to use exact match anchors IMO. Not required and too risky.
In tough niches you can not rank a site without using exact anchors. the percentage of your exact anchor depends on your serp competition. in case they have 15% then you should implement is as well. i talk about gaming niche or investing niche.
Not something we endorse because its a recipe for a penalty but sure, others may feel the need to use exact match anchors.
Great article, I wanted to ask that when you start the site, do you only use PBNs to build links? Isn’t that making our site a little unnatural in Google’s eyes by only getting Contextual Do Follow Links? Should we be looking for some No Follow links or maybe some non contextual links?
Also is it advisable to use 301 Old Domains and get the link juice from them once our site settles.
And Thanks for accepting my application. Look forward to the internship :)
We don’t 301 old domains. Plenty of people do, but we just use them in our PBN so they can link build multiple sites.
And yes, only PBN links to get sites ranking. We’ll continue to do that until something changes and it becomes ineffective. But we are now looking to expand sites into far bigger sites and attract natural links.
Valuable article for those starting out, so thanks for the effort. At the moment I still have to rely on some other natural methods of link building to compensate my PBN network links (only at around 23 at this stage) but hopefully as I grow these networks over some time, I can switch to PBN links exclusively, until something changes of course ;)
My account with Host9 is currently at 23 sites/accounts and getting unique C Block IP’s are getting tougher by the day, although all current ones I did manage to get uniques.
I am not keen on IX Web Hosting at all as I only managed to get around 4 unique C Blocks with my trial run. I am not too keen on having tons of smaller hosting accounts with various hosting providers either as managing those effectively I’ll probably need to employ someone/outsource to keep things streamlined, something I am not in a position to do just yet.
Do you guys have any suggestions? Is it possible to create another reseller account with Host9 and perhaps start ‘another’ network of PBN sites that you use for a different set of money sites, as I would expect they would get assigned the same C Blocks as some of the sites in the other account, so might be too risky using them for the same set of money sites?
23 sites is a great start and should be enough to rank for most low-comp KWs, provided that you are setting your sites up correctly to make them flexible for link building money sites in any niche.
IX have certainly tightened up. 5 is about what we’re getting now. But that could change, you just have to keep adding new domains every week or so to the hosting account and hopefully jag a unique IP.
Hostnine, 23 unique IPs is about the mark, You’ll be able to squeeze out a few more though by waiting a few days/weeks between launching new sites.
Just be careful about hosting all your sites on the one host. We like to have not more than 20% of sites hosted in one account. Makes life a bit more difficult/costly to manage multiple accounts, but also prevents a scenario where all your sites go down if a host has issues.
Thanks a ton for the advice, Greg. Yeah, one thing that bugged me a bit is I noticed that even though using private registration on domains, doing a whois still reveals the nameservers. Surely that’s leaving a trail for some animals out there just waiting to take good things down… So I hear you :)
“…provided that you are setting your sites up correctly to make them flexible for link building money sites in any niche.”
I assume with the above you’re referring to “link injection”, which brings me to my next question. I know Hayden’s talked about this a few places but I’m not quite grasping the concept yet. Please refer me to your best resource on this?
For instance, I don’t see how one can have a “tree clipping equipment” article on a domain that has “dog training” in the URL and the next article you want to have a go at “card boxes”. Even though EMD’s don’t have that much impact anymore, one still wants to set these up as naturally as possible, right?
Thanks again, man!
Link Inject is all about making your PBN flexible. So that PBN has a range of categories, and then PBN articles match the PBN site and the Money Site.
A dog training PBN site, could have a tree clipping equipment article along the lines of “top tips for a pet-friendly, safe backyard” and that article would have a paragraph about pruning back branches from bushes with tree clipping equipment, so that dogs don’t get injured by sharp, low-hanging branches!
Just got to be a little creative!
But here is a webinar that covers link building from a PBN. Hope that helps!
Greg how many times from one article/domain do you link to your money site ? In which format ?
For example, i have been always putting max. 2 links into one article sitting on one PBN domain. First link was money anchor, second link was some form of URL. This seems not to work so well.
How are you doing this ?
2 links per article to a site is fine. But don’t over-do it. We often link build two different money sites from a PBN article (cuts down cost and time), but gold standard is to have the majority of your articles only linking to 1 money site page.
Great article. Makes sense to keep link building. If you take a look at it. In Google’s eyes the “perfect and ideal” website will “naturally” get links. So if it theoretically got up there naturally why would it all of a sudden stop. Money sites should mirror that trends and not fall by the wayside.
I’m pumped about the internship coming up. Thanks for being so transparent.
We’re pumped too! Thanks Aaron.
Replying here since we exhausted the nestled comments on the previous conversation haha. You nailed it man!
I’m going to give it my best go and also check out the webinar.
Looks like the recording file has been removed :'(
Not sure what’s up with that, the video works sometimes but not others. Try the MP3 recording or you can view it over at NichePursuits.com.
Josh Shogren says:
Just got around to reading this but there is some good information here. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Greg. Seems like a Chrome issue for me. Works perfectly in Firefox and IE :)
Please, could you elaborate in this:
“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.”
I’m curious to know what specific use you give to the home page to spread the juice around.
Hi Osiris, planning a post on it in within the next couple weeks.
I look forward to it.
This may have to do with “siloing” the site and using the main page as a “power house” that passes juice to the silo pages. But I can be totally wrong…
You’re on the right track!
Jatin Chhabra says:
Nice post Greg. The title just cached my eyes as from the last 2 months I am suffering from a disease called as
“How many PBN is good, bad or simple useless”
I just started buying PBN’s since March and raised a few dozens but still in testing mode to find a perfect link injection strategy.
You thoughts looks really practical and I will definitely apply it. But can you advise that if for ex my target ky is “Property in Seattle” and I have like 6 PBN sites that what should be my anchor tags sheet?
Not sure exactly what you mean by anchor tags sheet, but if you’re referring to link anchor text, avoid exact anchors, aim for partial and phrase match, a bit of domain/URL and try to get your main target KW somewhere nearby to the link in your article. Google does appear to consider surrounding text in the same way it used to treat the anchor text of a link.
Jatin Chhabra says:
Huh… you know I read a post by Niel Patel almost a year back and I never took it seriously. But the sandbox and G targeting sites via anchor tag has really made us to think a lot on Anchor text.
Thanks for the suggestion Gregg and keep up the awesome work…
Great post man. I love reading any that can help me improve my SEO. PBN’s are very important in this market were in.
They sure are!
Thanks Greg for this article. I’ve been using Rank Hero every month to rank my sites and client sites. Your article showed me that I could even do more pbn links a month than I usually am for faster results. Will definitely give this a try this month. BTW, your comments here are just as insightful as the article!
Thanks Reggie, go ahead and increase the pace!
Hows the vac site going by the way?
Thank you for sharing this great info!
Quick question if you dont mind, how many times can I send a back link from 1 specific PBN to the same money site? Will the result diminish if I send lets say 5 links from the same 1 PBN over the course of lets say 3 months to the same money site? Is there a maximum of back links which we should not exceed?
Also, is there a maximum back links I can send from one 1 PBN to money sites? Some people say 20 is the maximum and some say does not matter as long as the article is on the home page. If there is no limit obviously there could be lots of costs saved in buying new PBN’s.
We don’t set a total max number of links from a PBN, but do post to them only a maximum of 10 times per month… so a 12 month old site will have up to 120 articles on it.
Re number of times you can link from a single PBN to a single money site, we only do one or two links to a money site from one article on any given PBN site. We don’t post multiple articles, though I know others that do. In saying that, we have sufficient resources to do it that way. It’s plausible to think that 2-3 articles on a PBN linking to the same money site would still be beneficial, though articles 2 and 3 probably hold less weight.
Let’s say my target keyword is “best electric shaver” then without targeting this keyword as anchor how would you rank for it?I think Google understand the language of anchor text.
Moreover, penguin was all about using optimized anchor text like site having 200 backlink with same type of anchor text but I personally believe that as far as we are diversifying our tarket kw anchor text and not repeating it more than once then we will be fine… taking above example again our next anchor text could be ” affordable best electric shaver under $100″.
What’s your thoughts on this?
Google does understand the language used in the anchor text, but Google also understands that it’s manipulated by SEOs and that’s partly what Penguin is all about. It’s just not worth the risk IMO. Exact anchors are not required, why add in a variable that you don’t need to?
Thanks a lot for your reply!
I forgot to ask an other question if you dont mind which I am not sure how to go about, when I create a brand new website, can I immediately send back links from a PBN or do I need to wait a couple of weeks? If yes is it the same procedure, not more than 10 PBN links per month? It has been recommended not to put any affiliate link in the first month. Or do you recommend putting other links (Social Bookmarks, Web 2.0 or press release) to this new site first before starting with the back links with PBNs?
We start link-building from a PBN site as soon as it is setup and indexed. We don’t do any social/web 2.0 etc. And always stick to 10 or less articles on a PBN per month to ensure you are getting good value from your links (time on home page minimum of 30 days).
Are You building any links to PBN posts ?
No, that’s why you pickup expired domains for > no links required.
Thank you for the reply! Did I get this right?:) The maximum links I send in the first month to a brand new money site should never be more than 10 PBN links and these links should always go to the home page? What about inner pages? If understand your article correctly, after the month 1 (month 2 +) I should also just send 10 back links from my PBN since it will not give me any better results lets say if I send 30 back links from my PBN? What do you mean with “time on home page minimum of 30 days?”
Greg, one thing which is confusing, how can you rank your KW if you never build a back link with your KW as anchor text? Or is your theory that if my KW is in the title and meta tag the sites will rank anyway? Lets say if I have 15 KW in one article on the home page and I send back links from my PBN site with the anchor text “click here” will all these 15 KW rank? I thought that if I have my KW as anchor text it will rank much faster! Thank you!!!
Anchor text is not important now. You can rank for keywords based on a number of factors, but a well-written, resourceful page that covers the whole topic is the best starting point.
Re PBN link building, just read through that above again. You do not build links only to the home page.
I have a question about a site that is used for linking as part of a PNB site. On DodmainJawa there is a domain that has a PA=24, DA=20, MT=2.79 and LRD=1. I’m sure it is safe and spam free, but why would a person buy a domain with only 1 linking root domain? Are the number of linking root domains not that important for the quality of a PBN linking site?
Not too sure about anything related to DJ as I’m not personally involved. At a guess, I’d say that 1 link is either a very high quality link (authority site) or just an error in the listing.’Usually look for double figure LRDs. Submit a request for more info direct on the DJ website.
You are really superb throughout the post and comments answering each and every comments which is a beauty from you.
I have question: I have seen lot of expired domains which has high DA-40, PA-50, mR-4+, but these domains are very expensive or other people have bidded with high amount than the listed price. So how i can buy quality domains which has low prices and from where.
What is your criteria for purchasing domains like you look PA or DA or mR as highest priority?
Let me know…thanks
Hi Arshu, yes domains are certainly much harder to come by and the price is putting them out of reach for most people. This is why we’re putting together a private network for our Intern and Private Training Course graduates. But we like DA +30 where possible.
Hey very informative guide. I have a couple of questions though:
1.) You said it probably takes longer to rank if you’re doing it without a PBN; doing guest posting etc. Would you still recommend the same link velocity to someone using this method? I assume guest posts would be about the same if they are on good domains, but blog comments would need more?
2.) This is a more general PBN question: Some people say to only link a PBN site to ONE money site, while others say to link to multiple, to get more bang for you buck and time. I figure people who say the former are just being overly conservative, but need confirmation. How do you guys do it?
Dominic Wells says:
Oh yeah one more question, when you said you don’t bother with static homepages anymore. I was thinking of something like a homepage that has some latest posts, and featured posts slider (for link juice to the money pages), and a few other sections. So not quite static, but not quite blogroll either.
Is that the sort of thing that would work for you guys?
We usually create the home pages almost like an expanded about page which outlines the main content covers on the site and then links to the main internal pages.
Luis Mena says:
Excellent post! Filled with lots of good advice. :)
I am interested to join your internship, because I really want to learn how to create sites and position them to make money. The only obstacle that I have to join the internship is that I only speak Spanish. I understand English but maybe only 25-35%
So in September I’ll start studying English to continue learning and to join her internship at the end of this year or the beginning of another year. I really want to make money online, because working in an office for 8-10 hours, I do not like.
Hold that thought Luis, we’re planning to roll out Spanish and French internships soon!
Wow! This is a great news! I will waiting the internships in Spanish. Your blog is awesome and I want work with your team. :)
Brilliant post Greg.
Regarding neglect: Do you think adding extensive content (500-1000 word posts) continually is required – or, do you think that by simply adding any “niche relevant content” (I.e. a video post), so long as it can be detected by Google, would be enough to keep the site alive in the rankings?
Obviously extensive posts would be much better, but time == money and most of these sites are supposed to be generating “passive income”, hence the reason for my question.
I’m actually not too concerned about adding new content to sites consistently. Gold standard would be weekly in-depth article, but a video is better than nothing.
Robert M. says:
Awesome! Thanks for sharing!
Priyanka Kamble says:
Hi Greg, This is an Excellent Article on How one should conduct a link building project for a client