Update: Although PBNs still work, they now have a history of being targeted by Google and therefore may not be the safest option. This is why we now focus on creating online businesses that are independent of SEO traffic.
Anyone who’s sold text links seriously knows that 90% of your business comes from a 10% of your customers (Whales to borrow a term from the porn industry). So the next step is to figure out how to sell to these people DIRECTLY.
Who are these whales?
They are usually SEO agencies with clients with monthly budgets running from 4-5 figures. Occasionally they are seasoned IM professionals with several large sites with decent visitor values. Either way, they are already spending a lot of time and/or money link building and they want to be found.
It’s important to understand that SEOs put a lot of time and/or money into acquiring links. Those with smaller budgets put a lot of time into “Link Ninjaing” which is basically finding Mom & Pop blogs and old sites with good link profiles to buy/rent links on. The style in which they put links on has changed over time (it used to be run of site links on navigation, and now it’s “Guest Posts”), but in the end they are still buying links. I spent years doing this from 2003-2007 or so when I had a team of 30+ people working on it – so I know exactly how much time it takes. If an agency can get to work with you and trust your network of sites, all this time is saved and can be put into additional content for their clients.
Agencies with larger budgets tend to work with link brokers, and just throw money at them for a large volume of links, not caring which one’s work and which one’s are ineffective, only that the campaign has a whole as a positive ROI (much like other offline marketing). The link brokers take at least 35% of the total spend (their agreement with the publisher is a 50/50 split, but they often give bulk discounts and take that discount out of their cut). So if the agency can deal directly with you, they will have savings of at least 35%, as well as other benefits:
- A full service Rep to work with that can choose relevant sites, deliver reports and save you time
- Trust that your network of sites are all high quality, and all effective
- Custom solutions (private networks for exclusive use, etc.).
Ok so now we know who these people are, how can we find them?
- Cold Call – This is something a couple interns have been trying, and I will let you know how it goes (it’s still too early to say). They are promoting my private network and taking a commission. I created a simple PDF and website, and we are offering the classic drug dealer “try before you buy” and are doing standard follow ups. There is a trust issue, which will be alleviated once we can name drop a bit, or provide relevant anecdotal evidence (usually by ranking for something they want to rank for like SEO Toronto or Internet Marketing Toronto assuming they are in Toronto of course).
- Sell another service as a loss-leader – For example selling domains on Auctions, knowing that generally SEOs are picking them up. Then using that as your “in”, and offering them other services. This has worked for me on my Flippa auctions (which never sold, but I got people emailing me and purchasing domain lists, not bad for just the $29 domain fee).
- Make it easy for them to find you – Usually this is for the lower budget link-ninja style, but creating Guest post pages on your sites that will allow those pages to rank for “Niche Guest Post” as well as “Niche Submit Site” and other common link ninja queries will get people contacting you. Once they do find you, cross-sell your inventory like CRAZY.
- Create a valuable resource for the SEO agencies to get you known, and up-sell – The SEO niche is one of the few niches in which Link Baiting actually works. Go make something free and useful that requires an email address, and then put them into a sales funnel that promotes your resource. NoHatSEO is a good example of this as it teaches something unique. If you have a bit of programming experience (or a budget for programming), why not go the development route and make a free SAAS version of popular tools like RavenSEO? Or a free rank checker for multiple plugins? Or a very good toolbar/widget that rivals SEOQuake? Market it directly at SEO agencies, go make a post on YouMoz and the big SEO forums, promote it to the big SEO blogs and watch your traffic soar.
I am trying all of the above. I know #2 and 4 work, and am waiting on results from numbers 1 and 3. While waiting I would like to try and do more examples of #4 however as I have a couple tools that I could release for free.
A Quick updates on text link sales through brokers
I’m selling about 140 new ads a week right now on backlinks.com, and HPBacklinks is selling about 25/week. TLA is still unresponsive which is a shame. I still have about 30% of my inventory waiting to be added to backlinks.com and 50% of my inventory waiting to be added to HPBacklinks, both of which are still accelerating on an upward trend. I’ve also not added sub-pages yet, those numbers are only for homepage links. The reps from both networks have offered to promote my inventory on the sales side, which I will of course take advantage of in February.
The sites have gotten good page scores from AuthorityBacklinks.com , so I’m ready to add them there as well. I’ve sold a bunch on postlinks.com with my test batch, but their pricing is incredibly confusing. I am waiting until the end of the month to see what the links are actually worth before I add my inventory.
My Cost per Site, Projected Earnings and Plan on Scaling
My goal with this project is to get to the point where a new PR3 site will earn a minimum average of $10/mo within 3 months. My cost per site is approximately $10/yr for the domain name and hosting plus another $6.25 one-time for labor – which includes launching the domain, 3 articles (content is cheap thanks to content creature) and adding the domains to the backlink networks. I could likely get away with just 1 article as I believe most of the buyers don’t even look at the sites, but I feel it would be easy for Google to just drop the PR on 1 page sites. My preference would be to do 5 page sites and I will do that once I have proven the model, however for now I think 3 articles is a happy compromise. I am doing generic headers for newly purchased sites, and bringing in a new step of designing new headers and adding more articles only once the sites qualify as options for my PBN (requires indexation and verifying they’re not sandboxed).
I have 3 VAs developing the sites, and collectively I’m paying them about $50/day. They are paid this much because they have been working with me for over 3 years, but with new hires I would be paying more like $35/day. They can complete about 8 sites per day, which leaves my cost at $130/day or $2730/mo for 168 sites. PR3 sites are in abundance, and more are found every day, so that doesn’t get in the way of scaling. The hardest part of scaling this is waiting for PR updates, but really all that does is make workflow a little more confusing. The only responsibilities that are out of their hands are finding the domains and launching them.
Of course if you were willing to do all the work yourself you could likely get the sites done for just the cost of the domain name and the minimal cost of hosting, but you’d likely only be able to do a couple sites a day.
As usual if you have any questions, fire away in the comment below!