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Surprise! Time to Change Your Linkbuilding Strategy

Surprise! Time to Change Your Linkbuilding Strategy

Have you been relying on the same link building strategy for the past year or so?  If so, you really need to think about updating that strategy.  Google is constantly changing and so it really should not come as a surprise that  you should change as well.

I am not about to write another post telling you how to do link building.  Plenty of posts like that already exist.

In the past, I've tried to give actionable advice about how I build links to my own niche sites; and have shown you step by step for 2 different niche site projects how Perrin and I built links to our niche sites.

However, would it surprise you to know that even the advice I gave early last year during the first niche site project is no longer applicable?

We work in an industry that changes so rapidly that you need to constantly be changing your strategies.  If you get nothing else out of the this post, get this; anything you read about link building 6 or more months ago may no longer be a good strategy!

And in 6 months from now, the way you currently build links could be outdated.  You need to always be trying new strategies, tweaking how you build links, and staying top of the changes that Google is always making.

I feel like I have to write this, because I'm sure that some of you still feel like things talked about a year or 2 ago are still the way to go.  On the other hand, I know that many of you already know that change is constant, and information is quickly outdated.

Just like I wrote last week about Exact match domains no longer being as valuable as they once were; link building has changed dramatically.

How Link Building Has Changed

I wrote an article about 9 months ago for the Niche Site Project 1 called, How to Build links for niche sites.  And at the time, it was valuable advice, but many things have changed.

Much of the recommendations there are still good.  But I no longer use article directories or other low qualities sources.  During Niche Site Project 1, I also mentioned that I used LayeredLinks.com to build links to my site BestSurvivalKnifeGuide,.com; I no longer recommend doing that because too many of the links are low quality.

In addition, anchor text variation is even more important now.  I used to recommend using no more than 10% exact match keyword anchor text; now I recommend maybe never using it, or certainly far less than 10%.

Again, this point of this post is not to share what is working right now for link building, but to give you a wake up call (if you haven't heard it yet) that link building is constantly changing!  If you are following advice written over 6 months ago, you should think long and hard about following it.

Do your own research to make sure you are up to date, as well as the information you are reading.

What Works Now May Not Tomorrow

I could sit here and tell you that what is working today is Private Blog Networks (PBN).  And quite frankly, this is what I am using to a great degree for my new niche sites.

I am currently building out my own PBN with Perrin's help, and I am using the Rank Hero network extensively for my own sites.

But because I have been in the business of building niche sites for a number of years, I know that eventually these strategies will pass as well.  Perhaps the strategies will be great for years to come or maybe only 6 months, I don't know.

When you are trying to rank on Google's site, you are at Google's mercy to some degree.

At the end of the day, the best advice is to do your best to get the highest quality links you can in a natural fashion.  I did a podcast interview with Jon Cooper where we discussed some of the link building strategies that are working now.

But remember, these may not be as great in a couple years!

What About White Hat?

As I've done often in the past, I want to clarify that there is distinctively 2 types of sites and therefore, 2 different types of ways you can approach link building.

First is smaller niche sites, which is what I have been referring to in this blog post.  Essentially, these smaller sites are built to get to the top of Google as quickly as possible and make money.  I've shown step by step how to build these types of niche sites with Niche Site Projects 1 and 2.

For these smaller sites, I will link build in nearly any manner possible (within reason) to get Google to rank my site.  These link building strategies are often short lived as mentioned.

The second is larger authority sites.  Think NichePursuits.com or LongTailPro.com.  These sites I don't do any unnatural type of link building.  I just produce great content and let the links come.

As a result of focusing on great content and products, people often ask me to be interviewed for their podcast and do a whole show on me and of course link back to me.

Because people love the quality of Long Tail Pro, they use it, write about it, recommend it, and link to my site all the time.

I have never once sat down and thought about how to get links to either of these sites, but both have plenty.

This long term approach to building an authority site is one that will never change.  The link building strategy is simply to be “white hat” and let the links come as they may.  Be active in your community and let others know that you are around and the links will come.

This is the link building strategy that Frasier Cain shared with me in detail on a previous podcast interview.

So, in a sense that type of link building strategy will never change, because essentially there isn't one.

Because there are 2 distinct types of sites and link building strategies, I've recommended that people try their hand at both: see my post about getting your feet wet with niche sites and then moving to authority sites.

Are You Up to Date?

Overall, you have to decide first what type of site you are going to build, and then the type of link building strategy that you might employ.

If you are actively going to try and build links, as I still do for my niche sites, you need to make sure your strategies are up to date!  I confess, that many of my old posts here are no longer as valuable because of the ever changing industry we work in.

As well, I'm sure that Pat Flynn will be the first to say that his “THE Backlinking Strategy That Works” is no longer a strategy that works.  That type of link building has run its course; and that's fine!  As long as you are someone that recognizes that SEO is ever evolving, and never put much stock in old advice; you will be just fine.

I would love to hear your thoughts or additional questions that you might have below.

102 Comments for this Post

  1. Nick LeRoy

    Nick LeRoy

    You’ll hear a lot of people say guest posting is dead deto Matt cutts post yesterday. The smart people will ignore him. In addition, PBN networks are great and minimal directories and web2.0s are still good to diversify link profiles. Just my two cents

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Nick, thanks for mentioning the Matt Cutts post yesterday! I actually wrote this and was unaware of Matt’s blog post. I just read it because of your comment. Here it is for those wondering: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/guest-blogging/. This actually kind of validates my entire point of this post…what works today may not work tomorrow. Guest posting used to be considered “white hat”, now Matt Cutts is calling for the “decay and fall of guest blogging” – mostly because spammy tactics are being used. I will say that GUEST BLOGGING STILL WORKS if done in a non-spammy way, but Matt makes great points and really just underscores what I’m trying to say…don’t get married to ANY link building strategy.

    • Eric Gati

      Eric Gati

      Nick,

      I agree 100%. I think it’s borderline-foolish to NOT guest post because you’re told by Matt Cutts that guest blogging is on its way down.

      Guest blogging is like anything else – do it the right way, deliver quality/value, and it becomes a very strong tactic.

      More importantly, the value of guest blogging spans WAY beyond the power of the backlink you receive. You’re taking advantage of an opportunity to deliver value to someone else’s audience, and gain new readers. That’s why you should be guest blogging. The backlink you earn is just a bonus.

      If you guest blog with this in mind, you’ll never run into trouble from an SEO-perspective.

      • Matthew45000

        Matthew45000

        Hi Nick, Spencer, and Eric—

        I agree. Matt Cutts is a very capable communicator, and usually expresses his ideas very clearly. But I think he dropped the ball yesterday. I think what he meant to say was, “If you are using extremely spammy guest post practices, you will be penalized.” The way it came across was, “No more guest posting.”

        I’d be truly surprised if the end result of all of this is a penalty for high-quality guest posting.

  2. Artur

    Artur

    How about building NO links. That works too.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yep, I wrote a section about that in the post, re-read the section called, “What About White Hat?”. It covers the NO link building strategy in detail. I gave 2 examples and an in-depth podcast about it.

      • Artur

        Artur

        I did see that and wanted to emphasize it.

  3. Rahat @mytypesofcats.com

    Rahat @mytypesofcats.com

    So are the link building tactics on ‘apennyshaved’ still valid or would you not recommend we do that anymore?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      The strategies for apennyshaved still work like a charm. But the point is to always be aware that what works now may not work tomorrow.

  4. Paul christopher

    Paul christopher

    You are right my friend. PBN works like magic if done well and then using social bookmarks, web 2.0s and little directories to reduce anchors and to diversify does the work.

  5. Pratik Unadkat

    Pratik Unadkat

    Agreed. Definitely, if you don’t keep up to date, you can be pretty much doomed at any time.

  6. Phil

    Phil

    I’m still experimenting with links, no links, PBN and purchased link services. For my part I would love to know where I could buy links from a reputable service that works NOW. It’s much more scaleable to spend 200 bucks for a working service than building links on my own.

    Even with rank hero I have to submit my own articles (although this could be an advantage of course), but it isn’t 100% hands off.

  7. Cosmin

    Cosmin

    I like to think that We live in a volatile world and everything changes at a blink of an eye and yes SEO has changed gratly since I started, I’m not greate at it but at least I do my best to put my own twist into every method. I like reading about other peoples strategies but you need to make them you’re own and eveolve them. Google has surely made this game harder but not impossible I like you’re advice about making an website for the user and not the SE that changed my point of view 🙂 I hope tha I’ll see a few more tips about building links and alter them on my own.

  8. Phil

    Phil

    Oh, I forgot. Another thing I’d like to know is what you think of redirecting old domains with a 301 to your niche project. Will this work?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      This can work, but who knows long term.

  9. IMPromoCoder

    IMPromoCoder

    Start building “authority niche sites” and you’ll rank without links.

  10. Chris

    Chris

    Hey Spencer,

    I’ve noticed others mentioning the game has changed quite a bit over the last year as well in regards to link building. As a matter of fact, I’ll be joining a webinar later this evening to hear Andrew Hansen’s take on all that, as he is promoting a new program to assist with link building and rankings.

    I’ve found that blog commenting still works, however I’m sure there are much quicker and more powerful stragegies out there. Thanks for bringing this to light as well.

  11. Gibs

    Gibs

    sites can basically rank with no links, if proper kw research is done (LTP!) and you have a good social profile to back it up (google + helps with this)

    Link building is going to continue to change

    And I agree with Nick, if PBN’s are done right they can rock big time, even with a simple 5 blog PBN Ive ranked sites pretty good

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yep, agreed.

      • Salman

        Salman

        With reference to this screenshot from LTP ( http://i40.tinypic.com/j7ghz9.png )

        My niche site has a higher PA, juice passing links and page links but still it sits on #4 while the sites on #2,#3 have 0 juice passing links as well as low PA.

        @Spencer: Can you please put some light on this? How do I make it to the top 3?

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Just continue to create quality content, build quality links, and make sure your site is as useful or better as the ones outranking you.

    • Jack Robbins

      Jack Robbins

      How exactly can you build google + social signals? Probably a silly question. What part of google + do I post my link to?

  12. Chuck

    Chuck

    I would love to see some practical advice for those who have experienced the Google slapdown for artificial link building or over-optimization (I’m talking about being knocked from the Top 5 down to 300 or even 700…and this is many sites, not just a fluke exception). In my experience (twice now), they don’t even respond to attempts to use the Disavowal tool…and then I’m left with a decision of whether to count Google traffic as a completely lost cause, or to abandon the URL entirely (obviously can’t forward the domain, lest it inherit all the problems of the old) and never build another artificial link again.

    To me, this is a market niche that is not being addressed and I’d bet there is a ton of money to be made “healing” the rankings of penalized sites.

    More and more, I’m seeing articles like this one or interviews with folks like Neil Patel that I find extremely unhelpful in this regard, as the bottom line is either: there is no strategy, or the only strategy is investing heavy resources in developing authority sites. And I’m sorry, but there are many topics that don’t deserve an authority site. And there are many very legitimate sites that deserve better treatment than what Google is giving them.

    I would dearly love to get Matt Cutts in a room and force him to defend the logic of providing crappy search results to their users because they were too damn busy making a public example of folks who built links to compete during a time when Google’s results were so lame that they couldn’t rank on merit alone and were forced to build artificial links!

  13. Anisul@Seo-Genius

    Anisul@Seo-Genius

    You are right Spencer. Link building is all about adaptation:) You need to adapt with what’s working now or you’ll be behind the race !

    Contextual links are working great now. For niche sites, it’s more about finding a good keyword that makes the link building much easier. If you can find some really low competition keywords, then with the help of PBN and some other contextual links you’ll shoot to the 1st page for sure !

  14. premium website maintenance

    premium website maintenance

    Please don’t forget what Mr. Matt Cutts said about EMDs, if you read above he said “low quality EMDs” . All you need to do is build quality contents. I have noticed in last 3 months that niche sites with exact match domains having good quality contents are ranking high on google even without having a single backlink.

  15. Rhodge

    Rhodge

    Very timely info! I’ve been struggling, personally, with link building/ranking, particularly getting even a handful of solid dofollow links. Most of my strategy as of late has been geared towards social media. Any advice on getting solid dofollow links>

  16. Perrin

    Perrin

    Awesome post, Spencer.

    What do you think about the longevity of PBNs?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      PBNs are working great now. But probably won’t last forever. I wish I knew for sure: could be six months, could be six years. However, I do think long term that people will always be finding a way to buy valuable domains/sites and link to their own properties.

  17. Ash

    Ash

    Why do sites that use outdated links that were good when the site was built not tank then? I point to sites such as SecurityGuardTraining.

    Also do batches of your sites tank at a time when a new update hits or are you just rinsing backlinking techniques until they are old making a couple thousand from each site and then making a new batch of sites with new backlinking techniques and waiting till those tank and so on?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Pat’s site is an outlier. In addition to the low quality links he originally built, he then got TONS of high quality links from SEO blogs talking about him, or other sites. He even has a link from the NY times linking to his security guard site because they interviewed Pat (boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/how-pat-flynn-uses-podcasting-to-build-his-business/). He got lots of quality links because it was a public case study. That’s held his site up, not the original links.

  18. Charles

    Charles

    PBNs will never stop being effective or become outdated until backlinks are no longer an integral part of the algorithm. I’d say the same for high PR links buying from actual authority sites. That’s the way huge authority sites and blogs get their links. Heck, they’ve been caught more times than I can count. Surprisingly, anything that works for the big brands remains effective for years. High PR links buying has been around for years. In fact, I think it’s one of the oldest link building strategies aside from reciprocal links yet it works till this day.

    Why? Because it’s the core of the manipulative (but exceptionally effectual) techniques used by big brands to dominate. PBNs are our way of joining the party without the “big brand” requirement. I’m willing to bet $$$$ that this strategy will continue working even if the rest become obsolete.

    By the way, I want to use this opportunity to ask a few questions about new sites.

    1. On average, how long does it take you to rank new sites for 5,000 – 10,000 exact searches per month keywords on a new domain?

    2. Does the time frame change when you 301 an aged PR 2+ domain to the new site?

    3. How fast do you rank new sites built on aged PR 2+ domains vs new sites built on a new domain with an aged domain redirected to it?

    I’d really appreciate it if you’d answer my questions as I’m seriously considering leveraging expired domains to boost my rankings.

    Thanks.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Charles, great points about PBNs – we all hope you are right :).
      1. 3 to 6 months.
      2. I haven’t done this, but in theory it should help.
      3. Yes, I’ve only done this once, but it did speed up the process.

      Test and see what happens!

      • Charles

        Charles

        Thanks a lot, Spencer 😉

  19. Adrian

    Adrian

    We need to exclude Google from this traffic equation and we will see we’ll find solutions to survive over time. What about the days when was no Google? Do you know what people did to be found? They exchanged infos about their websites with those which was related to their niche. A part of Perin’s link building strategy was this: to contact related websites and told them they are on his website.

  20. Grind

    Grind

    Hi Spencer, I’m the architect behind the Layered Links packages that ranked your previous sites so well. You’re 100% spot on in saying that don’t use it now, Google finally caught on to those techniques/tactics (after 3 years, kudos lads!) and devalued a lot of what we were doing with the Penguin 2.1 update.

    Recognizing this, we shut down the order form and went back to the drawing board. We’ve been closed for close to two months now as we continue to test and tweak different combinations.

    When we feel like we have a product that can consistently provide page 1 results for quality sites, we’ll release it publicly, Until then, Layered Links is not an option for your linkbuilding campaigns.

    Thanks,

    Grind

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for stopping by Grind! Feel free to hit me up when you have something ready.

      • Don Shelton

        Don Shelton

        I stopped all other types of link building and went to PBN building a while back. Early results of the PBN’s are that Yahoo and Bing respond quickly and well, Google not so much but is improving. I’m anxious to see what (if anything) works to undo the lower quality Layered Links links. The sites I had tried LL on were decimated by 2.1 (even high quality ones where I wrote the articles), whereas others – even with directory links and the like, were unaffected. If simple disavow then fine (haven’t had time to experiment yet), but if you or Grind figure out a good method, I’m all ears. While Google has gotten better at detecting spammy links, I blame them for not equally improving an ability to detect highest quality content. If they could do that, then a no link strategy would wonderful. Because sadly the algo can’t tell the difference between generic writing on a topic and expert writing though, we’re forced, even on most authority sites, to seek some kind of links to catch Google’s attention.

        • Hendrik

          Hendrik

          Same experience here – with PBN links, the needle moves quickly on Yahoo and Bing while Google takes its sweet time.

          I have a feeling that the big G is simply less forgiving about over-optimization and those Layered Links. On-page, I started to lower my keyword density and Y and B reacted almost instantly while Google, with a delay of a few days, even started to show more query data in webmaster tools.

          As for those Layered Links, my suspicion is that there is not enough anchor diversity. Ahrefs shows quite an imbalance in my Layered Links. I started to go into the spreadsheet that was part of their service and used the logins to those 2.0 properties they had created to start changing the anchors out.

          If that’s not yielding anything, I might start to delete the links all together. Also, if Jacob King’s post http://www.jacobking.com/broken-tiered-link-building is any indication, the tiered structure of Layered Links is flawed to begin with and that’s the reason we are getting no more Google love.

    • Hendrik

      Hendrik

      Hi Grind,
      I left a message regarding some logins in the LL customer backend – is somebody still servicing that thing while you are working on a new product?

  21. isaac

    isaac

    Hi , ns post , i have a question .you think if i do a long term approach with no link building ,i can start by doin some advertising geting some suscribers for my topic and build my blog that way ?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sure. Just get involved in your community (read/comment on other blogs, forums, email people) and get your name out there. You can build an audience.

  22. Roberto

    Roberto

    I’ve a doubt: aren’t Private Blog Networks just like guest blogging?

    I mean, with private blog networks (either your network or somebody else’s network like rankhero) you publish articles and you link back to your money site.

    Thanks to guest blogging, you submit your article and link back to your site.

    I can’t see the difference, would penalizing low quality guest blogging mean penalizing blog networks too?
    thanks

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Nope. Matt Cutts was referring to spammy guest blog attempts. With the right quality control, PBNs look very high quality – unlike some spammy guest blogging tactics.

      • Roberto

        Roberto

        Just to be sure I got it,
        what if I write unique guest posts on blogs relevant to my niche, linking back to my site just 1 time with a random “click here” anchor text in the author’s bio or in the content.
        That would look natural and would be effective, right?

        thanks

        • Bruno

          Bruno

          It’s a good strategy but you should check that the blog isn’t a spammy one with poor quality posts.

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Yep.

  23. Greg

    Greg

    Hi Spencer,

    I just ran across this quote in an article by Kathy Alice Brown:

    “Update: August 1, 2013: It’s been a year since I wrote this post and I’ve now done a number of Penguin recoveries. Yes, people scrape articles without giving you credit, but worse yet; we now know for sure that Google penalizes article directory backlinks. For a successful recovery from a manual penalty or from one of the Penguin algorithm releases, you need to remove or disavow all links from article directories. In this searchenginewatch article, Eric Enge (towards the end of the post) gives an example of a site that recovered 100% after removing article directory links.”

    Spencer you’ve sometimes talked about niche sites you’ve made a couple of years ago and noted they still get visitors and earn income. I assume some of these sites were made during a time when you relied on article directories for links.

    From your experience, do you see penalties from these types of links. Do you think the income from sites that rely on these types of links would increase if you disavow or remove them?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yes, as mentioned in this post – I don’t use article directories any more. So removing those links/disavowing will help.

  24. Donald W

    Donald W

    Hey Spencer,

    Great post. What do you recommend as far as links to go along with an expired domain link? Do you ever recommend just an expired domain link by itself or would you build comments and other links just to diversify the link profile of the site?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I would use more than just expired domains.

      • Donald W

        Donald W

        I thought so too. I appreciate your response. I guess why I asked was because I always hear people say one good link is better than a thousand crap links.

  25. Jerry Hand

    Jerry Hand

    Hey Spencer,

    I know you’re a busy guy, so I’ll keep this brief. I am the co-host of a broadcast radio show in Philadelphia. Recently, we have been delving into the amazing world of SEO. We have interviewed a successful local SEO company and are scheduled to interview other, such as SEMRush. We tried out Long Tail Pro and love the program, as you might expect. We also like the effective way that you explain its functionality and application —— We’d like to do a barter deal with you — Long Tail Platinum in exchange for two 30-second ads for Long Tail per month. If you have already have an ad produced or ad copy for us to read we’d be glad to do it. Otherwise, we would describe the virtues of Long Tail in our own words. — Please let us know if this arrangement is acceptable. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  26. John

    John

    i guess the best way to get natural links is to target this type of community

    1. talkative likes to write for whatever comes to think mind
    2. they have the money
    3. they have the power to buy amazon products, actually they hold the money
    4. most of them just dont know how useful they are to seos
    5. lasty the are friendly if you can learn how to speak and communicate like them and share their interest
    6. egobait surely works fine
    7. they easily accept your blog comments if they see you as you, you as a person not a niche
    8. all they care is something that fades in time but sure they will resist it

  27. Jenda

    Jenda

    Hi, Spencer! Thanks for post!

    This is really funny because about 3 hours ago I have bumped to a new linkbuilding method, which could be easily the best method on the internet right now (and possibly ever).

    http://www.demondemon.com/ – The article is sticked to homepage. It’s Scritty’s blog, BHW.com elite member and respected SEO marketer. Yeah, the graphics suck, but the content is worth it.

    And I think this is it. I like it a lot and I have to agree with Scritty, I don’t see how can Google penalize this. I didn’t test it tho, but I really trust this guy and as I’m building nichesite myself at this moment, I will surely try it.

    What’s your opinion?

  28. Nate

    Nate

    Up to date or out of date? I’m definitely in the latter category.

    I’ve been building sites based on the 10% anchor text rule. You recommend up to 0%. Over the last few months these sites have been stuck in the mud. That’s probably why.

    I’ve been building an authority site for the past 12 months. It’s forever page 2 for competitive searches.

    As a general rule, would you recommend removing all exact match, article and 2.0 directory links?

    I suppose the only evergreen SEO strategy is backlinks from niche-relevant authority sites?

    … Well, that and great content.

    Anyway, great article. Thanks Spencer.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Remove/change most or all exact match anchor, get rid of article directories and low quality web directories.

  29. Nate

    Nate

    Thanks Spencer!

  30. Steve

    Steve

    Indeed, thats what I am seeing a lot of people doing instead nowadays – not actively building links but trying to provide content that is excellent enough that it warrants people to link and share it naturally.

    In that respect Google is indeed shaping the web to be a more useful place, however I still read about short term aggressive linking strategies that are effective on churn and burn type sites, so I still think there is a lot of work to be done as well as many people still successfully gaming the serps to their advantage.

  31. henji

    henji

    Thank you, We have to run google real tired, but so is quality content determinants.

  32. Matt Smith

    Matt Smith

    Great post, Spencer.

    Link building (and website building) seems to come back to the age old law “you reap what you sow”, doesn’t it.

    Writing high quality content, creating high value for your readership, and reaching out to other high quality writers in your niche or corresponding niches for guest posting opportunities are all revolving around providing the theme of if you sow by providing high value content, then you reap high value results.

    I feel like guest posting, as has been said, is a very good technique for building high quality links at first, unless it is abused with writing poor quality content.

    Plus, if you provide high quality content in the form of several guest posts, this will naturally boost your traffic and rankings because others will see the value in your content and want to naturally link back to it!

    Great post, Spencer.

  33. Ngan Son

    Ngan Son

    Hi Spencer,
    Your tips so great. After check out this post I will modify the SEO strategies for my miro niche site. Thank you so much. I hope to receive more tips about link building in the future.

  34. Stuart Walker

    Stuart Walker

    Good idea to keep those who may not be aware of fast SEO changes up to date Spencer.

    RE: Matt Cutts post. It’s nonsense. Google tells you it wants to see high quality links from relevant sources and not low quality spam links.

    What’s more relevant than links from other authority blogs in the niche?

    How is Google going to determine which are standard links and which are links inside guest posts. A post is a post.

    Fair enough punish blogs who just spam guest posts to content farm sites designed to publish endless guest posts for link purposes but not people who are networking with other authorities in the niche, writing high quality content and making the internet a better place.

    I’m not going to pay much attention to what he says.

    All the best.

  35. Tung Tran

    Tung Tran

    I agree with your points on this post Spencer

    Personally I no longer expect my small niche websites (even with 30 40 pages) to rank on top for more than 6-12 months.

    Every link we point to our sites which is artificially created carries a risk to get our sites penalized. More links, more risks.

    @people: But don’t be a fool to ignore any kind of black/grey hat link building at the moment. If you find a tactic that’s working now, be more aggressive to make the most of it.

    It’s all about the ROI in my opnion. If you can invest $x on a link building technique and get $xx or $xxx back, you win.

    However, it’d be the best if you still have some long-term projects like NichePursuits or LTP to diversify your income.

    PS: I’m going to launch a massive tiered link building tutorial in Feb. It’s what’s working now. I’ll send you an email when it done and hopefully you can give me your feedback Spencer 😀

  36. paul

    paul

    well after listening to two authority seo gurus in the world in Austin last week i would say that buying links is still prominent

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Buying links will always be prominent. (Until/If google discounts links altogether).

  37. Phuong Le

    Phuong Le

    The strategy for mass incoming links are so risky at this time, turning to white hat requires much more time, effort and money,too.

  38. Andras Gabrics

    Andras Gabrics

    Thank you for your honest post.
    What are your favorite sources for online marketing updates and changes? 🙂

    I’m really picky about choosing the sources of information and to stay up to date. So if you can offer me some great sources I would be very grateful… 🙂

  39. Ravi @ Mantra Vastu

    Ravi @ Mantra Vastu

    We have to change link building strategy when it seem that our ranking not get improve. It is absolutely right that what works today may not work tomorrow.

  40. sean rithya

    sean rithya

    Thanks Spencer for your email that allow me to read this post. i just wonder which is important between kw research and link building? Some seo guru just advise to do only kw research which is easy to rank in google and avoid doing any backlinks as it can penalized easily. so what is your recommendation.
    Thanks.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      KW research is critical to success for sure.

  41. Andy

    Andy

    Spencer (and the community)

    Are links from video sharing sites (such as Youtube and Vimeo) good ideas…or will these be seen in the same light as article directories (i.e. low quality and thus should be avoided)

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      They are okay, just don’t overdo it.

  42. Matt

    Matt

    It’s probably been covered before, but what’s the latest thought on signature links posted on relevant forums? If you have 500 posts on a forum, are you killing yourself by including a link in your signature?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Maybe. Depends on quality of comments, forum, etc. But if they are genuine comments, you are probably okay.

      • Matt

        Matt

        Thanks Spencer, appreciate the insight.

  43. Kelvon Roy

    Kelvon Roy

    Hi Spencer,

    Thanks for stressing out the fact that PBN is what’s working right now and has always been one of the best strategies for rankings.

    In the past Google was quite receptive to low quality links, and that should be the reason why many SEOs didn’t invest heavily on PBNs.

    But now that’s hard to rank, people start to resort to PBNs and it’s been working very well on my end as well.

    But there is another factor which also plays an integral role on minimizing your link building efforts for high ranking – that’s keyword research.

    On my amazon niche sites, I simply search for untapped keywords and throw 10-20 PR links from my PBN – that’s all.

    Thanks for the read buddy,

    Keep it up

  44. Syed Irfan Ajmal

    Syed Irfan Ajmal

    Great article Spencer. I am to start reading NSP2 posts asap and its good to hear you endorsing PBNs as that too is on my to-do list. I am also going to skip older podcasts of yours and listen to the Jon Cooper one first (while working out).
    Two questions:

    1. In the light of the changes that have been made, do you consider Jon Cooper’s Point Blank SEO Link Building course to be updated and relevant?

    2. With all the huge changes happening on the SEO landscape, what do you feel is the future of niche sites’ reliance on SEO? Do you feel its possible to rely on methods other than SEO for niche sites and to even convert the niche site into a mini-authority site of sorts by sharing great content?

  45. Arwin Adriano

    Arwin Adriano

    Constant change is inevitable and that what makes the process more exciting.

  46. Ruan

    Ruan

    Hey Spencer!

    I’m so honored that I am part of your list and considering myself to be a student of your excellent work you do regarding niche site training and all strategies involved. This post brought me back to earth again and made me realize that thinking I can rely on the same link building strategies for years to come will get me nowhere in the long run..

    Before you started Niche Site Project 2 I also signed up for Jon Cooper’s link building course as I knew link building was going to be my biggest challenge building niche sites going forward. I figured that if I follow and almost duplicate what you do during the public case studies building niche sites, and follow Jon’s advice on link building (I know he is an expert in the field) I should reach some level of success, surely.

    As I am writing this I took it one step further… I started two niche sites (well, the one about a month before the other) together so at the moment I am at the point where I write an article for each of the sites each day. That is two articles a day until I have reached my 15+ where I will start my link building strategies.

    I remember when I initially joined Jon’s course, and you also mentioned the course’s resource page, there were a TON of strategies one could use. I also remember that if I have to mention only one that came to mind right now, article directories were also included on that page.

    This is my concern… As a newbie only skilled to write good quality content and build decent-looking sites, but NO link building experience, I sure hope he does update his MASSIVE list of link building strategies that when done, might not be so massive after all…

    Either way, I am starting soon and can’t wait to see my sites climb the rankings to the first page at least!

    Something interesting…

    On one of the sites I am currently busy with, I wrote an article just last week, might even be over the weekend. The latest one at least.. After publishing it, I shared it on my social networks like I usually do after posting a new article.

    The following day, the link to the article on my Googl+ profile was ranked on #2 on the first page of Google! It was literally a day after I published the article! I do have to mention that the competition for this keyword is beatable but heck, it ain’t easy at all when PA’s and all other factors are considered..

    What’s even better, it’s STILL ranking at #2 even days after the article was published. Oh and here’s the best part… This is for a SEED KEYWORD which I never thought I’d rank for at all because of the strong competition!

    I have no idea how to explain that but I certainly don’t mind at all… 😉

    All the best with your new projects, can’t wait to get the next update on NSP2.0…

  47. blendman

    blendman

    thanks a lot for those updates spencer ! just founded your website a month ago , and i’m loving it !

  48. Min Ad

    Min Ad

    I agree with your opinion! Long term project won’t help us earn money instantly but when it can do that, your income will increase day by day without worried about google algorithm!

  49. Jeffrey D

    Jeffrey D

    Hi Spencer,

    Great point you made about keyword density. I second what you said about non focus at all about keyword that you want to target. It is a fact that Goggle is paying serious attention to ANY SITES that trying to rank the keywords intentionally.

    It is better to be safe rather than sorry when you trying to rank your targeted keywords.

    I believe what google wants from niche sites or authority sites is to build backlinks naturally. PBN, PR and Blog Comments work best at the moment.

    Just my two cents.

  50. Amir Najmi

    Amir Najmi

    I’ve stepped away from the whole niche site business and I work with local businesses for their marketing strategy. But the days of link-building are dead. It really is more social/content focused.

    What you DON’T want to do is be a mouse chasing the newest trick to rank higher.

    Having said that, guest posts aren’t dead, low quality sites that essentially turned into link farms are. You need to think of guest posting as PR and a way to get exposure.

    -Amir

  51. Aaron

    Aaron

    OOP – over optimisation penalty hit me hard on the Jan 8th, so I’ve gone back to my PBN and change all the Exact match to 0%, like this post has suggested. The sites bounced back to page 2. I would say you can still still exact match anchor just maybe less than what it has been before, maybe only 1 – 2% is your best bet. 0% doesn’t quite hit it with boosting the sites to page 1 yet.

  52. tori

    tori

    I listened to a Webinar that said that the new way is to do very little backlinking, but to use LSI writing to try to rank many keywords per article. That would mean, I think, instead of writing 15 articles about razors each targeting one keyword, there would instead be one long article with 15 different keywords. It seems to me that an article like that would read as gibberish. Because I’m not purchasing the $1,000 course the Webinar was selling, I’m unsure of what exactly the strategy is, but could you comment on this trend, Spencer? How many articles would a niche site need, using multiple LSI keywords per article? Would you still write articles for certain categories? Or is this actually the same strategy that you and Perrin have been using? It is very hard to envision.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      LSI really just means writting naturally. If you write naturally and are knowledgeable on the subject, you will automatically be using related/LSI keywords. That’s all it is, nothing special. Perrin and I already do this.

      • tori

        tori

        Thanks. OK so then it is still advisable to write a bunch of separate articles each based on one keyword, rather than write one long article targeting all 15 of those keywords.

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          Depends on the keywords. If they are extremely similar, one article. If they are somewhat different (look at apennyshaved.com for an example), do different posts.

  53. Joe Mccartney

    Joe Mccartney

    Hey Spencer,

    I was just wondering where do you get all this information from? I mean what news sources should we be looking out for?

    Thanks

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Well, you can follow the normal SEO news/resources. But much of what I learn is primary research – I learn from keeping an eye on my own sites. So, honestly, you learn best by doing – then of course you can stop by my blog here for what I learn.

  54. Shah

    Shah

    Hi Spencer,

    Tons of information to be loaded into my brain. I’m recently making a niche site, content strategy is fine so far. But when I thought about SEO, link building in fact, I was just couldn’t avoid the strategies you have given through many blog posts. Crazy information out there, I think need to do more homework 😛

    I should press the pause button for some days to polish up my link building strategy 🙂

    Thanks for keep posting valuable stuff.

    Cheers:)

  55. Jack

    Jack

    Hey Spencer, after a few failed niche sites I have spent the last 2 weeks creating a quality site with 23 pages.

    Published it 3 days ago and all landing pages are ranking between page 4-6 on Google. Homepage bouncing between page 7-8. 0 backlinks so far.

    I am really struggling with link building, in particular what course of action to take.

    I really dont want to waste my time for measly links and also really don’t want to fuck this up and get penalized somehow.

    I have been reading like crazy (perrins site project, etc) the past few days and am wondering what you recommend for building links for someone like me?

    1) Private Blog Network (once I research every contingency)
    2) Tiered Link Building Using Automated Tools (GSA, etc)
    3) Buying a Quality Link Package from BHW
    4) Manual Tiered Link Building
    5) Something Else?

    Thanks.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      1 – PBN. That’s what I’m focusing on now.

  56. Bronson

    Bronson

    Great advice Spencer.

    I also think that CTR has a pretty high impact on rankings as well (once you’ve made it on to the first page of course)

    It is important to have a well written Title and Meta description on your webpages that entice searchers to click on your website in the SERP.

    A good CTR indicates to google that your website is in fact what the searcher is looking for and will help with increasing your positioning above the fold and eventually in to the top spot.

  57. frank joseph

    frank joseph

    A lot of bloggers are recommending PBN, and the best thing is to build it yourself, i just finish reading a blog and the guy is offering 5 post for $149 per month! Ridiculous!

  58. Greg

    Greg

    I am interested in trying the Rank Hero service but do not consider myself much a writer and wanted to know if you can suggest a writing service to use for creation of the posts.

    Thanks,

    Greg

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      With the right explanation, any decent writer on elance should be able to handle the job.

  59. Harry

    Harry

    Of course Rankhero should work unless it google figure out there is unnatural linking going on…

    There are many sites offering this type of service postrunner, mybloguest. postjoint and other….

    But I think there service you get to post on real blogs I am a bit puzzled why you charge such premium for RankHero ?

    And with the other sites mention above, they are real blogs with Twitter and Facebook accounts who would most likely share your post with their community…

    Please do not think I am knocking your service I am just unsure why such a premium and the uncertainty behind it.

    I just think it is such a big shame that people spend so much time on link building to watch it all collapse in a few months or years…

    I think you are better off focusing on building up your reader and making connections in your niche, but the links don’t need to be do follow as it is all about targeted traffic ?

    Spencer, great network, but maybe you should take the focus off link building and instead promote the traffic and exposure your customers might get using your service.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      People use PBNs for niche sites that are typically expected to be shorter term with higher returns in the short term. For other projects, I would never use a PBN, such as a long term blog or product site. Rank Hero can charge a premium because it has better/higher quality metrics than the other services you mentioned (by far) and all the sites are spam free. (The difference between the services you mentioned and Rank Hero are quite large).

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