Selling Text Links Part 2 – Whale Hunting
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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?


  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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, 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 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 , so I’m ready to add them there as well.  I’ve sold a bunch on 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!



Selling Text Links Part 2 – Whale Hunting
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    • I have certainly done this before, but I’d say it’s better to give your ED/Adsense sites a little more TLC before throwing Adsense code on them. Personally, I treat them as if they will immediately get a manual review from someone at Google.

  1. Does anybody have basic guidelines for how sites are being approved from authority backlinks and backlinksdotcom?

    I’ve had no problem getting into text link ads and the guy over there seems to know how stuff. On the flip side, I sent the same test site before going with TLA over to the aforementioned companies and was turned down. The guy was a bit arrogant, but apparently a PR 4 with top ten rankings for insurance related keywords wasn’t good enough. He basically said my site sucks, but in a nice British way. Anyways, my guess is they didn’t like that I had adsense on the site, but he wouldn’t give me specifics. I’m just wondering what other people are experiencing.

    • Go through the back door, always. Dangle that you have a bunch of sites to add and is there a quicker way to add them. Then just add a few through the rep as a test.

    • J.R…. did they imply that your site was thin, had poor content, or perhaps just a bit ugly? Sometimes “sprucing” up a site can give visitors a great first impression. I use Elegant Themes (just Google it). They aren’t free, but you get over 80 awesome themes for around $40. They all look very professional, giving visitors the feeling that you spent a lot of time and money on the site.

  2. Hayden:
    Your cost of $16.25/site is similar to mine, but I’m wondering what you cost to acquire the expired domains is looking like? I have a P/T VA who spends 20 hrs/week finding domains. He finds about 200 domains a month for a cost of about $2/domain. What has been your experience?

    • Hi Nick,

      That sounds about right. It depends what your cut-off point is though. I can generally get PPR3s unspammed with $40+ moz metrics for about $2 a pop as well. I have Ben on it maybe 1/2 time. I will be ramping this up through automation shortly however.

  3. So, you pay about 10$ a year for each site, including hosting? You are obviously putting tons of domains on single hosting accounts. Why do that? I buy links from HPbacklinks, and If i’m buying for a single domain, what if I end up with 10 of your websites. I’m not going to get any link value. This is exactly why I only buy PR 5+ links because I just can’t trust anything under that. You’re basically loading up these link buying websites with tons of sites that won’t add any link value, and you’re doing it at the expense of other people’s money. How do you feel knowing that you are basically ripping people off?

    Each site should cost, at the least, 4.50$ for unique c class Ips. You can’t tell me you’re magically getting thousands of unique c class ips for every website you load into these link buying sites. Hopefully you find a way to give more value to the people who you’re selling links to, or you might have trouble sleeping at night. That’s a lot of ripped off money on your hands.

    • That’s a lot of assumptions you’re making there. Thanks for trolling.

      I have nearly 400 IPs on nearly 300 C-blocks, thank you very much. This is spread across reseller accounts, VPS’, dedicated servers and shared hosting. I’ve never seen a single buyer take even close to 100 of my sites, so the odds they are getting a lot of unique IPs are very high.

      And in private sales I never ever re-use IPs in links to client’s sites, as I know it carries diminishing returns.

      Next time, please get more information before trolling here.

    • Hey chill, Hayden is kind enough to actually share FREE info in making passive income. His blog is worth a goldmine, matter of fact, thanks to his blog I now make a full time income.

      This is the disease of us human beings, we are ungrateful!

      Thanks for the post btw Hayden.

  4. Hey Hayden,

    This is my first post on your site so just to say thanks for all the stuff you share here,i must say i have learned a lot..One quastion on hosting for these sites..Any suggestions for someone starting this private networks on which hosting to go for at start and not a big budget ??
    Do you use seo hosting for your sites?
    Thanks in advence.

    • Typically not a good idea to use hosts that brand as seo hosting as their IPs can have all their sites deindexed from google if everything on them is spammy. Instead use cheap hosts. There’s some that are about $6 a year that work perfectly fine for a wordpress site. Use the self-hosted infinitewp to keep all your wordpress installs up to date (free) to avoid hacks (also good idea to install these plugins: login lockdown, bulletproof security, wordfence – all free). A domain at $8.89 plus hosting at $6 brings yearly cost per site in your network to $14.89. Of course if you’re not using the network for your own sites but rather selling links you can place a couple of sites per hosting account (different niches so it’s unlikely you’ll sell links to the same advertiser from the same hosting account).

      • Prices seem to have gone up a little, but RamHost is $9 a year and HalfDollarHosting is $10.20. I’m sure $6 hosts still exist, just look on hosting forums

  5. hey there, glad to see your blog network is still going strong.

    to this day ive bought 3 expired domains and havent had any success with them (not reindexed, no PR). if any1 can tell me what im doing wrong that would be very much appreciated

    the first two sites I made a big mistake buying them because I was new to this game and now its pretty obvious that they could have been spammed/deindexed (could it be worth it to ask google for reindexing? they have PR5 and PR6 live links) or leave them alone and learn my lesson?

    The last site i got was through namejet, was kind of a hidden gem that didnt look good in info but when i checked majesticseo it had a lot of live links from many differents domains, a lot of PR3-PR5 links. very high DA/PA in opensiteexplorer too.. had it for 2-3 weeks and not indexed yet (we’re talking 500 ref domains, 35k backlinks and 30+ trust and citation flow).. the domain hasnt been spammed and isnt related to any dirty-spammy topics.. no drops in 5 years, etc.. not a EMD either so idk wtf to think.
    FYI i use dreamweaver and i redirect all 404 pages to homepage using .htaccess file, and im on ixwebhosting. If that helps

    rly confused here

    • The only thing I can think of is, you didn’t do your research properly. Probably Google deindexed the website in the past. The previous owner may well be selling text links since it has a potential of being a PR 3-4. I had a website like this, I checked on and saw that he/she was selling text links.

      Another reason could be, you don’t have enough content, maybe? But for that many back links it should be indexed ASAP. Or your seohost is banned from Google? There are a lot of possibilities. Just make sure you go through extra effort when buying a domain.

  6. Hi Hayden,

    Thanks for yet another great post.

    Few questions:

    You say the minimum you aim for with a PR3 is $10 per month for link sales. Is this the average/most you can expect from a PR3, or is it possible to get more but $10 is just your minimum threshold?

    Re content: is your content legible? Does it have to be readable to human eyes? I have been recommended one technique by an seo who uses a plugin called buzz burner on his PBN. It auto curates content from RSS feeds, you can also link back to the source if you wish. Obviously it’s duplicate content but it makes it free/cheap to populate the blog with a lot of content and the seo who recommended this to me claims to have never been affected by any dupe content penalties. What are your thoughts on this?



  7. thanks Syed,

    btw the day after i posted, the site got indexed as PR4 :P not bad for 59$. I guess it just took more time than i thought it should :p

  8. Hey bro, nice post as it’s pretty hard to find paid link services. I actually emailed you about some stuff. Anyway, I know some Russian paid link services (not sape) that are cheap+good so email me back if you’re curious (but you probably already know). Sorry a bit off topic

  9. Once again great post. Personally, I don’t see any viable option to advance in my young life in the workforce. Everything’s stupid “experience” here, “experience” there and yet the general newb workforce has none to begin with. People like you guys are great dreamers and examples I look upon and I’m thankful. If one is capable of such technical talent, why not use it? Thanks.

  10. Hey Hayden, was wondering with what software do you recommend to work with when it comes to managing your network? (plugin updates, content upload etc…)?

  11. Hayden,

    1. For content, I do not need to do any kind of key word research or on-site optimization to drive traffic to my expired domain PR sites? I asked TLA what for details/requirements and one of the things he said was our clients are looking for “high levels of traffic observed continuously over a reasonable time period”. This would obviously require more time/work than what you’ve outlined here.

    2. Is there a max number of links you can sell per site?



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