In this case study we are going to build a brand new custom PBN from start to finish and then learn how to monetize the network we have built. The model we are going to use is scalable from any budget for maximum profits. While I will make profits from the network as I build it out the main point of this case study is to be a teaching experience. If you have questions please ask them in the SEO Group and I will answer them. I will be adding a Q&A section as well to this post.
[*] 10-20 TF 15+ domains to start
[*] Establish Silos
[*] Build out sites
[*] Social Signals
[*] Monetization 1
 PBN Growth 1
 Monetization 2
 PBN Growth 2
 Monetization 3
10-20 TF 15+ Domains To Start
To start our Private Blog Network off (PBN), we are going to purchase 10-20 Trust Flow (TF) 15+ domains and then flesh out each domain into a silo. For those who do not know, Trust Flow is one of the more popular and, at the moment, most reliable metrics to judge the quality of a domain on. Trust flow will end up being a major selling point of our PBN when we begin to monetize later on.
One of the ways in which we will monetize will be selling links from our PBN. This can be monetized in a variety of fashions across multiple niches in the market using the same method so it will be highly desirable to drive up our TF as high as possible. TF one aspect that makes up the measure of link juice passed on from your site to what ever site you link to. This link juice in the form of a Do Follow link is ultimately what we are selling. The TF is what establishes “trust” with each search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) to tell the search engine where to rank your site and how much traffic to send your way.
The Trust Flow and Citation Flow of our first nine domains is listed below. More to come as they are scrapped or purchased. Remember having close to a 1:1 TF:CF is highly desirable. Try to avoid 1:2+ TF:CF.
While we are getting the last of the domains for the PBN we will begin registering the domains we do have to save time. One of the better priced and reliable services in the industry to register a domain is NameCheap.com An added benefit to using NameCheap is with each registration comes a free year of WhoIs protection to keep your identity anonymous and reduce your PBN’s foot print from the start.
The hosting and design of the pages are two of the most labor intensive parts of this entire process. I go to painstaking lengths to establish a zero foot print network. While this is not needed to get started with SEO, the more we do now the more paths we open up to ourselves down the road. If you are starting off and this is your first go, it is OK to have a footprint. When you are budget strapped and building a small network, say 20 domains or less, your network will not be big enough to really get noticed and dinged by Google.
When you are working on your first few sites and only have a couple of hosting accounts set up, there is no problem with spreading your domains out over say 3 to 5 hosting accounts. If you go this route I would advice setting your silo up as diverse as possible over your hosting account trying to minimize overlap. For example, if we have domains on Hosting A linking to domains on Hosting B then I would avoid having Hosting B domains linking back to domains on Hosting A if possible and certainly not back to the Hosting A domains already linking to the given Hosting B domain. In this case my Hosting B domains would link to Hosting C and/or Hosting D domains.
As this is not my first network and I have plans to make this a 200-500+ domain network I have established unique hosting and IP address (A/B/C/D block unique as well). While this gives me a higher up front cost it allows me to scale to the moon as there are no footprints I have to worry about. With zero footprint my network will be as safe as possible and have no limits on scaling.
For the beginning with our limited number of sites we are going to start with two main silos and eventually grow to five. To diversify the case study in a way that will allow for more visual learning, we are going to set up one silo where crawlers are not blocked at all levels.
Crawlers are the “robots” of the search engines that “crawl” the web for websites going from link to link “mapping out” if you will the internet. When a site is crawled the site becomes indexed in the given search engine as a searchable result. At face value this is an excellent thing, after all if our site is not indexed then none of the backlinks made on that site will have any value and will not pass any Trust Flow (TF) to the linked site.
Why would someone want to block crawlers? The simple answer is to protect your work from a potential competitor. When blocking crawlers what basically happens is important crawlers that you care about from a business stand point such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc will be allowed to crawl your site while businesses such as Majestic and Moz will be blocked from crawling your site. Majestic and Moz are sites that provide metrics for a site and detail the back links and authority a site has on the internet. Take that terminology loosely, what I mean by that is Majestic and Moz are some of the best ways to see how powerful a site is, but they are only guesses (some of the best out there, but still a guess). Most of the search engines such as Google never reveal anything about their search algorithms and are always updating them. Google has said over 200 factors play a part of a site’s authority.
So back to why block a crawler, you obviously want your work to come into play in search engines but on a site like Majestic where a competitor can look your site up and see the backlinks you would want to block Majestic from indexing your PBNs powering up your site. This prevents your competitor from doing research on how to best you as well as how to spam you into oblivion.
For the case study we are going to have one top level of a silo not blocked. This silo will have parts of some tiers blocked and hidden but for studying how links effect site metrics such as TF and Citation Flow (CF) we will allow Majestic to crawl the PBN. Allowing Majestic to do this will provide us with a visual we can track as part of the study. We will be able to take sites of different levels (new with no TF, sites with poor TF/CF, or medium stats) and see how backlinks from different types of site change the Majestic ratings of a given site. Our other silo will be more traditional in that except for major search engines, crawlers will be blocked. While we will not be able to use this to track Majestic stat changes we will still be able to track keyword (KW) rankings on micro sites and how they change in Google. The second type of silo is traditionally what you would use for business as Majestic stats don’t pay the bills.
Visual chart coming for the silo stack
After you have your domains purchased and hosting set up, the next step is site indexing. When purchasing expired domains you can do a ton of research on a domain but can still end up buying a domain that had an unseen Google penalty and the site may not index. For this reason, one of the first steps I do after establishing hosting is do a basic WordPress install on a domain and then send some links and social signals to the site. You do not have to send links and signals if you do not have the resources readily available, sites will index naturally if the expired domain has been indexed before. Depending on how long the site has been dead it could be awhile for it to be naturally crawled and indexed again so I try to speed this up with links and signals to “refresh” the site in the eyes of the search engine. There are free sites you can submit a domain to for indexing but I typically do not recommend these sites nor are they guaranteed.
Some of the sites purchased for this review were indexed and live within a couple days of me registering the domain again without any social signals. If any of the sites do not index I will be removing them from the network and replacing with new sites. If this happens there will be updates added addressing this. Sometimes a site has a bad history and just will not be indexed. Also, if a site does not index in Google that does not mean it automatically won’t index in Yahoo or Bing. I normally don’t pay much mind to Yahoo or Bing, so for me its Google or GTFO.
To check if a site is indexed in Google, start by opening up a PRIVATE BROWSER. You want to use private browsing regardless of your browser because you do not want Google to curate results based on your search history and cookies. Going “private browsing” gives you the best natural results possible as if a new person was searching for the first time. In order to do this you will want to go to Google and search “site: sitename.TLD” if your domain shows up in the search results, then your site is indexed. TLD stands for Top Level Domain, which is your .com, .org, .net, etc.
Example of checking the indexing from one of our PBNs in this case study:
As you can see, this site was indexed Oct 4, 2017. Now that this site is indexed I will go through the trouble of building out the site to be used in our PBN case study.
Build Out Sites
When building out sites, you have a million different paths you can go. I personally like to build my sites in stages. When starting off and while all of the sites are getting indexed and site maps are getting indexed I like to keep the site simple but functional. Read do not spam your site with banners, ads, etc monetization of a niche site or a PBN site too early on could have negative effects on your site if done incorrectly. The tier level of your silo will also decide how much work and focus you should be devoting to a site.
At lower levels with medium strength sites a simple but CLEAN layout will work perfectly. To keep our low level sites fresh and active we will be doing a mix of automation on each site. Some sites will regularly repost niche related videos from Youtube as a new post. Other sites will pull feeds from authority sites and spin posts onto the site. The automation keeps the site looking live and real with new content for search engines to see. Links from these sites typically are just powering up higher tier sites and posts, generally I would NOT recommend these types of sites linking directly to your money site or top tier sites.
Medium tier sites will start out simple but as the PBN is fleshed out these sites will be upgraded to look even more professional. There is no right or wrong answer to how a site should look but I like to take this approach, if this site was worst case scenario flagged and had a manual review, would this site pass a human inspection for not being spam? If the answer is no, I continue to clean up and work on the site. These are the links that will be going to your money site and top level tier so you want them to look good. Another way to thing about this, these are the sites that a real site would be getting a shout out from. For instance your “medium tier site” is Engadget (or another site giving a guest post) and your “top tier site” is a tech company. Engadget doing a review of a product from a tech company would link to that tech company’s site in the review. That guest post from Engadget is the equivalent of your medium tier back link. In later steps, medium tier sites will still get a syndication network to post social signals to each post just like our top tier sites will. I like to add social signals to my top two tiers in order to really power up each post and internal pages.
At the top tier of a silo, the site will start out simple and clean like the other two tiers but will get way more attention and work put into them from the start then the other sites. After the network is well established I will devote days into these sites really beefing them up to be as authentic as possible. These sites are all set up differently depending on their niche but one of my favorite go to methods is to build out from a blogger stand point. For instance one of the top tier sites in this study is a business/real estate domain. Building on this I made a person up who has a back story about being a small time real estate investor turned entrepreneur. This allows me to make fake posts that don’t link talking about real estate, frees me up to talk about businesses outside of real estate, and allows me to have a reason for reviewing businesses that relate to my investments or businesses related to home repair and the like. I will even go so far as to build social profiles for this person, and automate them to grow a following. Then if someone was looking at the top tier site and clicked over to the social profile they would see thousands of real followers boosting the authority of the site and the trust flow established with the random person that stumbled onto the site. (growing social media accounts is a cake walk for me so it is really easy for me, if you do not have the required skill set this is by far NOT NEEDED).
We are almost ready to monetize our sites. One of the last features for us to set up is automatic posting across social media and sites like Evernote. I like to set up social signals since today’s world is so driven by social media and search engines have started being able to crawl these platforms. We will start out small but eventually grow out social signal network so that each time a site posts, that post and backlink automatically get syndicated across thousands of social signals boosting the post even more in the eyes of the search engines. Think of this as making your own posts go “viral” so that search engines know to pay attention to your new and trending post.
Since the last post update was done, I have finished the social signals and backlinks to automatically feed to each post we make now.
With PBNs there are a couple of obvious ways to monetize early on, so we will start with the basic two. Remember this case study is for teaching purposes so feel free to ask questions I will gladly add questions and answers to the case study for everyone to see.
If you are new and starting small with only a few sites the first way to monetize is by selling a back link from your site(s). There are market places for this all over the internet and depending on the quality of that single site you can easily sell links for $5-$20 a link. (You can sell higher then this when you have experience but we are staying basic for the starting points.) When you have your first handful of sites you can start making packaged deals to give more appeal to your pitches. For example, “Get 3 premium TF 15+ back links for only $15!!”
The second way to monetize the network is to sell clients a monthly link building package. This is one of my more preferred methods but requires a more advanced understanding of what you are doing. The upfront costs are much higher but worth it in the end. Essentially when you have a multi tiered network with a good number of sites at each tier are established, indexed, and WELL BUILT instead of selling single links you focus on monthly contracts. The focus of the sales pitch shifts from single links to taking over a client’s SEO with a monthly link building package.
I wanted to show an example of the power of a well done single link before we start progressing further into this study. As you will see in the metrics I had already started to set up my auto social signals to trigger with the back link. The first example is a single back link to a well established domain with a number of back links already in the domain’s history. The second example is of a fresh URL with no back link history.
Well Established Site Example:
Before Back Link