Welcome to the first Free Case Study on BH.C. Today we have one of our Moderators putting together one of the biggest Black Hat SEO case studies to date. We’ll be covering everything to do with building out the affiliate site, optimizing it, link building to it and finally getting the results and earnings back from the site we invested in.
There will be follow-up improvements, results and more in the Premium Section here.
So, without further ado, I’ll let Daniel get into the case study.
- Keyword Research
- Building The Site
- On-Page SEO
- Link Building
Let’s talk seriously for a minute.
Today we’re in a better position than we have ever been to rank our sites on Google.
It’s obvious to all that despite more competitors and the fact that Google have updated their algorithm many times since the days when keyword stuffing was actually an intelligent strategy, that we have become better at ranking on Google for many reasons, but the big one being that we now have access to better software than ever.
No matter how hard Google crack down on ‘spammy link building’ that violates their – let’s face it self serving TOS, we’re still ranking and we’re still making big money for our efforts…
We’re still laughing at people who claim SEO is dead.
One thing that black and grey hats as a community do really well is case-studies because we’re true optimizers.
This post is no exception and I’m going to be making this case-study and in-depth look at how you can go about building a site, ranking it with GSA Search Engine Ranker and a few other pieces of key software and tactics along the way.
Is this churn and burn? In a sense, yes.
What we’re doing here and what you’ll find out is that we’re working on ranking a site as fast as possible, while limiting the risk as much as possible.
I will take you through the whole process, from keyword research all the way to monetization and everything in between.
So sit back, get in your zone and prepare to share this article when you’re through, because BHC needs love for providing something this awesome for the community at large, as well as it’s members.
Keyword research is a tricky topic… There are so many ways to do it and it all comes down to this. Without selecting your keywords and your overall niche SEO can’t begin.
I’m not here to give you the biggest, best keyword research guide in the world. I will show you how I like to do it though!
First of all I just think about some of the topics that interest me generally. I also like to build the majority of my sites around one category that I love.
This helps because if I want to be in a particular niche it gives you an edge if you’re passionate about it and know a little about it. This also helps if you want to build up your own PBN in creating an SEO Empire in one particular niche.
So I jotted down a few broad ideas:
– Acting (Don’t ask)
I then came up with a more specific list for each of these and this allowed me to begin thinking about the keyword research phase.
I selected a specific niche within fitness that has 301,000 searches a month, what you should know is that for me personally, one of the most important aspects of selecting a niche isn’t the keyword research itself, not in the traditional sense…
What I am mostly looking for is a niche that has a high amount of advertisers because it suggests commercial viability.
Commercial viability is the most important aspect of looking for a niche to me personally. Especially when I’m doing a churn and burn project. Aside from looking at the SERP itself it’s worth checking out what the CPC is for each keyword… A high CPC means there’s a lot of competition for the keyword. High demand drives up CPC.
I don’t want you to fall in the trap of thinking that a keyword with high searches and low competition is always a good thing. If you can’t monetize it – leave it alone. Checking for commercial viability is a quick way to ascertain if the keyword’s golden or not.
In my research phase I came across the keyword ‘how to twerk’… High searches, (which reduced faith in humanity by 200%) but was essentially a dead end for making good money doing churn and burn. I checked competitor sites and they were monetizing purely with low CPC AdSense and selling crappy apparel.
With some obvious exceptions, doing churn and burn will allow you to rank for just about anything and so the competition doesn’t really come into it as much as usual if you have a very high end budget.
What I like to do is use Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Ubersuggest and Scrapebox for finding keywords. I’m also becoming more reliant than I used to be on Long Tail Pro because the Keyword Planner is becoming a huge pain in the ass to use and it will continue to become more tailored to AdWords customers and less accessible to our SEO needs.
First of all in keyword planner, did you know you can use Spintax? That’s extremely valuable. For getting long tails you’re not going to beat the combination of Ubersuggest and Scrapebox. Both of them scrape Google Suggest which you will know as ‘searches related to’ at the bottom of the page on the SERPs.
Of both UberSuggest and Scrapebox I prefer Scrapebox honestly. If you don’t have Scrapebox you’re missing out on a hell of a lot because in this instance I can scrape hundreds of keywords and export them in seconds.
From one keyword ‘bodybuilding supplements’ I got 321 keywords… In the keyword scraper you want to set the level to 4 to get as many long tails as possible.
I would then export these and drop them into the keyword planner and make sure to select ‘get search volume for list of keywords’. You can then export these into Excel and sort according to your own preferences.
This gives you a huge list of long tails to target for extra traffic. Having a lot of content on your site is never a bad idea. In churn and burn I really believe adding more content over time for freshness is essential.
The other tool I mentioned is SEMRush… I like this because I can grab all my competitors keywords that they’re ranking for. I think that should be enough said, but I’ll just say that you’ll find stuff you’ve missed otherwise and to dominate this niche you want to REALLY dominate it and research thoroughly.
At this point you’ll have a niche – with a main keyword, a huge database of long tail keywords along with hopefully a dozen other ‘money’ keywords. The next step is to deal with finding a suitable group of domains for your project.
Before we go any further I want to say we’re going to be talking about two types of domains. ‘Expired Domains’ and ‘Auction Domains’.
Depending on your budget you’ll want to either go with a mixture of both or one or the other.
In a churn and burn project you’re going to need a fair few of domains. This is because we want at least 2 or 3 for the main site/s and then 5 or 6 for using as buffers to .301 redirect.
Why did I say sites?
One thing you should know is that while it’s common opinion that churn and burn is a short-term strategy for quick returns it’s not precisely true…
If you hit a big niche hard and you bank like crazy with it and your site eventually gets hit and de-indexed are you seriously going to never go back to it? You know what it takes to rank in that niche and you’ve made a crap load of money.
Only an insane person would do that.
We’re going to build 3 sites and put our primary focus on 1 of them. The other two are going to get built and indexed and we will do some minor work on them to get them ranked somewhere in the top 100. These are our backup sites and when the main site inevitably gets hit we’ll switch everything over to one of the other domains.
There’s so many methods for finding good expired domains out there, you can also buy them off of people like me who often have too many on our hands, you can also buy them off of vendors who have entire websites and businesses setup to do this around the clock.
Buying from others is always going to carry a cost, but it can be really worth it if they have the right domain.
If you prefer to do the dirty work yourself then you can check out this guide here How To Buy Domains The Right Way which I helped Charles with a little, this method is the common one being used by the members on our forum.
Alternatively you can use my very own method which I’ll give you for absolutely nothing when I probably shouldn’t. You could follow me on Twitter if you appreciate this though.
My own method is Scrapebox based and is actually pretty sneaky.
So let’s grab some niche relevant expired domains!
The first step is to repeat our process from the keyword research chapter and scrape a bunch of keywords. The main difference here is we’re doing this on a level of 2 and not 4.
Once you’ve done this hit ‘send to scrapebox’. Just as a quick reminder to you, this process is going to need proxies. Even 10 private dedicated proxies will do fine. I use BuyProxies which you can purchase here at 10 dedicated for $20.00.
In the footprints field in Scrapebox we’re going to use the daterange operator to ensure we get old results as these are more likely to contain dead links and thus, expired domains.
In case you’re wondering this uses the Julian calendar instead of the calendar we use today which is called the Greogrian calendar. Here’s a cool Julian Calendar Converter to help you out.
Let’s start harvesting now.
As you can see I’ve got back 24,645 URLs. Repeat this process with different keywords and even different footprints if you like.
Make sure to limit to a maximum of 50,000 URLs in the harvested URLs section though. Once you reach this number (not arbitrary trust me) you’re going to export them as a sitemap.
You can only export a maximum of 50,000 URLs into a sitemap on Scrapebox so this is why we’re limiting this to 50k. In all make between 10 and 20 of these sitemaps which will give you 500,000-1,000,000 URLs to play with.
Now each sitemap will be uploaded to one of your web hosts. You can do this via FTP or cPanel. Once done, check the URL path in your browser to ensure the sitemap is working correctly.
Take a note of the URL and put it into a new .txt file. Repeat this for every sitemap you’ve created.
Scrapebox has a wonderful dev community and this means there’s a host of great add-ons available for download. You’ll notice the add-on section at the top of Scrapebox. We’re going to download and install the Scrapebox sitemap scraper.
Read the above carefully… What many people don’t know is you can provide a sitemap to this add-on and do a deep crawl which will go out at a level of 2 and visit each URL present on each URL. It then adds this to your bountiful harvest of URLs and essentially gives you back even more than you started with.
You’re right in thinking that there will be potentially millions of them.
This is a good thing though… If you took a million URLs and trimmed them to their root you’d probably only get a few thousand available domains and only a small percentage of those would be worth registering.
It’s a pure numbers game and we’re stacking our odds.
In the settings make sure you have deep crawl enabled.
Connections should be limited to 1 per proxy. Obviously it would be much faster with more connections and more proxies, but don’t get yourself IP banned by being a crazy mofo.
So now you just have to load the list of sitemaps that you created earlier…
Then hit start and wait for this to finish.
Once you’ve got the list, add them all back into Scrapebox and trim the urls to root, remove subdomains and remove duplicates.
Export the and split the list into batches of 1000 if you want to use the BHC Tools Domain Availability Checker or alternatively you can export into Excel and use SEO Tools for Excel to check. I personally find SEO Tools for Excel gives you a lot of false-positives and false-negatives though.
Then using the Netpeak Checker you can add the URLs in and get info back from OpenSiteExplorer on their DomainAuthority and PageAuthority to filter them down before running them through MajesticSEO to get TrustFlow metrics. If you have API access to MajesticSEO then you can actually do all of that within Netpeak Checker and it’s a crucial tool for checking the domains quickly.
At this point you’ll hopefully have the 20 odd domains you’ll need for the project and a whole bunch that you can sell to others at $15.00 a pop if they’re half decent.
If all this seems like too much effort to you then you can always buy them from elsewhere or go to auction sites.
One of the best sites to check for expired & auction domains is ExpiredDomains.net, though I do have to warn you that because this is a free service it’s extremely popular and it reduces your chances of finding something truly powerful by a hell of a lot.
Having said that about ExpiredDomains.net though it’s worth mentioning that I have found some useful aged domains on there before. So it’s just one avenue you can check out as well.
Auction Domains can be so so good! Obviously these are webmasters selling these domains, so the price is a lot higher than the price of registration.
The art here is trying to find good domains for under $25.00.
If you have a huge budget though and you find a beast of a domain in your niche then it can be worth the investment… Depends on what kind of ROI you’re expecting from the project!
People scrape GoDaddy Auctions all day everyday. So I don’t do it a lot myself. If you’re wondering what tool you do that with, it is of course Scrapebox.
There’s no reason you can’t hit up GoDaddy’s or NameCheap’s auction marketplace yourself though if you’re just doing this as a one time task for each project.
Blackhat.Community has our own GoDaddy Auctions Marketplace scraper which you can find here and it’s a time-saver if you’d rather not do the scraping yourself.
Note: The feature is for premium BHC members only.
So to save time and tell the truth I didn’t use an auction domain in this case-study, but it’s worth looking into when you’re in the domain phase of your project.
Personally I ended up going with a brand new partial match domain name for the site and two expired domains for the use of .301 redirects. I also purchased another couple of new partial match domains for the backup sites.
Safe Domain Registration:
When it comes to registering your domains you need to know that having them all in one place is a really, really bad idea. It’s a big old skull and crossbones flag to Google ‘Aargh we be SEO’s here!’
So to eliminate this potential footprint we need to use multiple registrars and multiple accounts on each registrar.
Here’s a few that I use:
What I then do is make multiple accounts on each of these sites, using fake details.
There’s an easy way to do this using FakeNameGenerator it even has a disposable email system where you can wait for any incoming emails to that address.
Personally I’m not 100% sure how secure that is so it’s easier to head over to Fiverr and have someone setup a bunch of email accounts for you. Unless you’re registering hundreds of domains it’s never going to be a huge problem. 4 or 5 accounts on each site should see you sorted for quite a while.
I personally don’t put more than a few domains on each account that aren’t privacy enabled. If you’re getting UK domains then it’s even more important to diversify your accounts because you can’t get privacy on UK domain names.
I also firmly believe that it’s important to register domains for different lengths of time and saving your powerful domains for longer registration dates is the best idea.
Being safe with domain registration is important whether you’re building a PBN or not. End of discussion.
Moola. Sweet sweet money. That’s what this is all about right?
What’s the plan Stan?
Knowing in advance how you’re going to monetize is essential if you want to be successful and personally I prefer to monetize as many avenues as possible.
We have our data on our keywords from Google Keyword Planner or Long Tail Pro, including the CPC. This will give you a rough idea of what kind of money you can get for monetizing with AdSense. I say rough idea because the CPC data is inclusive of Google’s cut. We obviously only get a small percentage as an advertiser.
This means that we already know whether AdSense is worth pursuing as our first potential monetized channel.
Other obvious programs are Amazon’s affiliate program and eBay’s affiliate program. These aren’t totally ideal though, personally I only use these if I can’t find anything better.
One of the first places I check is oDigger, oDigger is partnered with a number of affiliate networks and allows you to search by keyword for affiliate programs and they’ll search their partners for a match. Very useful.
I ended up going with AdSense and Amazon Affiliates for this particular project as it’s a product. Since it’s an existing product you’ll want to affiliate with wherever you can get the best commission and is likely to convert well.
Amazon allow a tracking cookie for 24 hours which means that if the person who clicked on your affiliate link goes back to Amazon at any point in those 24 hours and purchases something you’ll still get the commission. If they click on somebody else’s affiliate link then your cookie gets replaced.
Due to the limitations of Amazon having different sites for different locations, being an affiliate on the UK site will mean you lose U.S sales unless you can detect location and provide the corresponding link.
The easy way around this is to use a plugin that automatically detects the location of the visitor and redirects them to the correct site. You’ll need to register for each individual countries affiliate program, but in my experience nothing will lose you more sales than not doing this simple step.
The best plugin for this is EasyAzon and it is paid for about $45.00. It’s a one time payment for an unlimited license and I highly recommend it if you intend on doing Amazon sites.
Here’s a couple of other affiliate networks:
Aside from these good ways to monetize there’s pretty much no limit to what you can do other than resources and imagination… Imagine setting up your own course or building a product that’s custom built to your niche and selling it for a price they can’t resist!
This works really well in some niches and even in some churn and burn scenarios. When time is of the essence though it may pay to go with what’s already out there.
You should be using a few hosts for a churn and burn project.
Not only do we want to rank our backup sites in the top 100… But our .301s as well. Common consensus is that a .301 from registrar level takes about 3 weeks to kick in.
Well I don’t do them that way so I couldn’t tell you for sure.
A great tip I was given early on was ranking those domains and then doing a .301 redirect, this passes over authority as well as their metrics and is all in all the best way to do a .301 redirect.
If we’re going to do it this way we’re going to need hosts for every .301 domain, the backup sites and our main money site.
This may or may not be necessary, it’s just another potential flag for Google that we’re manipulating the SERPs… Knowing that these sites won’t last forever means you can be a bit more risky or limit the risk by attempting to get as much longevity out of them as possible.
I prefer to do things with as little risk as possible. Ultimately this step is up to you though as not everyone does it this way.
When choosing a host for this step you don’t need to be as crazy about it as you would be when running a PBN. Choose what fits your budget, but obviously a better host means better load times and that’s an advantage.
Building The Site:
Building the site should be the easy part… Well it is really. I’m just a fussy son of a gun.
Obviously I’m going to suggest you use WordPress. The plugins available, the ease of use and the themes you can edit with the most minor knowledge of CSS is enviable to all other CMS’ out there.
Generally I stay well away from themes that are too fancy because you’ll get lost in the endless amounts of features, half of which you won’t use. This means that you’ll be slowing down your site because your theme has endless amounts of code you don’t need/use.
I purchase all of my themes on ThemeForest, by the way, I’ll give you a list of some of my favorite themes in a moment.
I want to discuss some rules of thumb. I was originally a web designer, so I won’t get too technical here, but I’ve got a few tips I can share.
- Responsive themes are a must.
- Avoid parallax themes, as cool as they may seem these sites have higher bounce rates.
- First impressions make or break your website so if in doubt keep it simple and clean as this looks professional.
- Font choices convey personality & color conveys tone so pick wisely based on your audience.
- Ensure navigating the site is easy, do this by keeping everything a few clicks away from the home page.
- A site without call-to-actions is a dead site so use these wisely.
Granted that’s far from a full checklist, but you’ll be surprised how many people forget this or just don’t realize it.
Now we’re done with some of the basics we should talk more about the WordPress setup.
Absolutely make sure to disable and delete all themes and plugins you’re not using. My own tests have shown this increases load speed on pages considerably. You can test load speed here. If you get anything below 80% you’re in trouble and need to address site speed, or move to a better host.
Once that’s done you’re going to need to go and ensure permalinks are setup correctly and install the plugins Contact Form 7 & WordPress SEO by Yoast. These two plugins are the only ones I use on every project.
Once the site is setup and you’ve got your plugins configured correctly you want to install a plugin called Duplicator, what this plugin does is creates an installation file and a exact copy of your website for uploading to a new server.
We want to use that for the benefit of our backup sites and .301 sites. We can then go ahead and install these on those domains and make minor design changes to each installation. Doing this will allow us to pass human moderation.
Minor changes means messing around with some of the features, changing the logo and color scheme etc.
You should now have all the sites setup and you’re ready to roll with the content… I’ll just quickly show you a few of my favorite themes.
Captiva – This is an eCommerce/WooCommerce theme that I like a lot because it’s feature rich – in a good way that will result in conversions.
SEO WP – This theme is one of the best legit looking themes I’ve ever seen for agency needs. What I’ve used it for is as a lead gen site, for as it says SEO. Hi hi Todd!
LiteMag – I won’t even get into how to use this properly here, but if you’re looking to be an authority site then you should model yourself on the media and sites like BuzzFeed etc. While this design is quite different from those it’s great for using in that way… Authority sites live and die on clicks, shares and of course quality of information depending on the niche. This is a great theme for those needs.
Other than ThemeForest I’m more than happy to dig through the free themes that are available all over the web.
If you’d like a more traditional blogging theme that’s free to use for an authority site which you can monetize with AdSense and Amazon then I’d suggest using Point which is precisely what I’ve used for the money site in this case-study.
Content IS extremely important… People still seem to be really confused about what type of content you should be using for your money sites.
Let me clear it up now.
It doesn’t matter if your money site is black, blue, yellow, pink or red hat – the content has to be unique and readable. This means writing the content yourself, or outsourcing it to someone else.
The importance of content for a churn and burn website is we need to maximize the amount of keywords we’re ranking for which means the long-tail keywords we uncovered earlier are all potential pieces of content. We also need this content to drip feed onto the site over time for freshness. This may give your site a little bit more longevity and potentially better rankings.
Content Creation & Research Done Right:
Forget what you get told by content marketers… The best way to create good content in any niche for rankings is to find what’s already ranking well and improve it.
Using Google we will manually go into the top 10 results and get a rough understanding about what we’re writing about. Using our superior knowledge of SEO we will optimize the page better than them, whether it’s keyword density or keyword prominence it doesn’t matter. Use every trick you know!
This is why I said in the keyword research section that it’s helpful to know a bit about your niche beforehand if you’re serious about building multiple sites around on particular subject. Anyway… The other option is to copy and paste the content and manually re-write it.
Manually rewriting someone else’s content means you can take the best parts from each of the top 10 sites and improve it as much as possible.
This is how the internet works… People copy from each other and put their own spin on it. ‘Professional’ Bloggers are in reality just savvy editors.
At the end of the day we’re black hats, deal with it Yoko.
General Content Tips:
There is some merit to what content marketers say in my opinion. I have a good amount of experience with content marketing and here are some of my top tips for you presented in a black hat way 😉
- Pissing people off creates engagement.
- If you want shares, bribe them.
- Sensationalize the headline as much as possible to get clicks.
- If you want to create a discussion
encourage commentsensure comments by creating them.
- People want to be entertained so use pointless images and feign arrogance.
- Ask influential people for quotes just so you can get a share out of them later.
Basically that’s the down and dirty, no bullshit approach to content marketing. Enjoy.
Where to outsource:
Outsourcing can be really difficult if you can’t find a good writer. There’s a few options though and some are a little bit more unorthodox.
iWriter – Unless you go for the elite writers which is a lot more expensive you’ll most likely end up with rubbish that is either spun or badly written. I like to use this for GSA campaigns and similar automated link building campaigns.
oDesk – You can find some decent writers on oDesk and I find the best idea is to give out a number of trial jobs to a few different writers. Test them out and let them know that rates will improve if they’re successful with the trial job. This can be one of the best ways to get a long-term writer who will learn more about the niche/s you’re in as they go.
Natasha Nixon Authority Content – A lot of people say good things about this service. I had a client use it before and the TAT was horrendous compared to what they claimed. Could have been a one off and so I do suggest it based on the sheer amount of reviews out there, personally I don’t use it though.
Advertise – Wait, what? Yes I said advertise… If you post up an advert on CraigsList or similar and hire a Uni or College student who are looking to pay the bills then you can have a very reasonably priced English speaking writer who can both create good content and learn your process quickly.
There’s a load of other sites and methods out there to get content done, but these are some of the most common ways to get writers. I personally prefer building up a relationship with a number of people for different tasks. If I can’t get a good enough quality writer for a specific job then I will do it myself.
In the case of this niche churn and burn site I wrote all the content myself!
As I mentioned earlier we want to have two other sites hidden in the background, waiting to jump like Ninjas when we need to call upon them.
Content for these sites can be manually spun from your initial content on the original site.
In terms of spinning the industry standard which provides the best quality content is WordAI Turing.
If this is too expensive of an option for you then the other option is The Best Spinner.
If you’re willing to put a little time into this step then using The Best Spinner is fine. This is because we only need a few variations of each piece of content. This makes doing a manual spin less time consuming than if you had to generate hundreds of variations.
Should you ever find yourself needing that amount of spun content then I really do recommend WordAI Turing, it does such a good job itself that you’ll save a lot of time while doing a manual spin as there will be less errors. There are times when you don’t need to manually spin content, but in this instance we do need to.
As I said you absolutely need to do a manual spin here. This basically means that you’re going to need to spin the content as you would normally and then do some manual moderation of the spintax to make sure it’s both unique and readable.
The Best ‘The Best Spinner’ Tutorial:
Not sure if Matt was being cheeky in that video with spelling correct incorrectly haha.
On-Page SEO is more important than you’d care to believe. Links are the be all end all that’s true, but on-page can make a big difference too.
I’m going to give you a run down of every area of on-page that I believe to be useful and give you an idea of how to do it right.
Keyword Density is a pretty important part of on-page SEO. While we can’t get away with keyword stuffing like we used to I do firmly believe that the conservative 2% that so many stick to is totally arbitrary.
Having said this I can’t really give you a definite figure and the best advice is to add in keywords whenever you feel it fits naturally.
This firm belief that 2% is an arbitrary number has come from my own experience messing around with this on-page factor and analyzing heaps of websites on different SERPs.
Don’t dare quote me on this because I still haven’t done enough tests to prove it definitively, but I’m starting to think sites with more authority can get away with using higher densities. Obviously I’d prefer to just build more links if I’m struggling to rank, but it’s worth noting if you’ve got a domain that’s already got some power behind it.
The highest keyword density percentage I’ve seen on a page 1 site is about 15% in a UK SERP that I won’t divulge here. Just saying.
So for churn and burn you’re going to definitely want to get that keyword on-page with a density of more than 2%. You have a few sites in this project to play around with and test so I’d highly suggest doing just that.
What exactly does this mean? A quick way to describe it would be where the keyword appears on the page in relation to the content body.
This means that Google will consider the keyword to be more topically relevant to a searcher if it appears at the beginning of the content, opposed to say in the middle of the content.
If you remember on-page is all about Google determining relevance you won’t go far wrong.
This is another important one that we need to consider because it’s one that’s becoming more important and it’s one for the future.
This is what text appears around your links as well as what individual words are close by that fit into a certain keyword.
So let’s go with our example keyword ‘bodybuilding supplements’.
If I had a long paragraph and 7 words to the left of the word supplements I had the word bodybuilding on a page already primarily about bodybuilding supplements that’s got prominence ticked and density ticked then that’s another tick for good on-page optimization!
I could have mentioned this before now, but it’s pretty obvious and widely known… There’s a bit more to it though as while I say headings I’m talking about keyword emphasis too.
What you need to remember about headings is that these are essentially specific HTML elements that act differently to how normal text does on a web page.
Using H1, H2, H3 etc is important and using them semantically correctly is important as well. Also making use of emphasis <em> and strong <strong> is something I personally use a lot. Oh yeah I almost forgot about underline <u>.
I like to make use of all of the above three in additions to headings sparingly when I can.
Think footer links don’t work? Think again. They work amazingly well still for funneling your metrics around the site.
A footer link isn’t always ideal though and it all depends on the kind of site you’re building. A blog type authority site is going to rely on interlinking from post – post and maybe some permanent widget links.
A business site can get away with footer links for ‘keyword in location’ internal links and you see this pretty commonly on local level SERPs.
A bigger business site or eCommerce site will benefit from having a hallway page that you then directly link build to and is also linked to from the homepage.
My point is that there’s a few methods for internal linking – don’t ignore it if you want to rank for long tails.
We obviously need to talk about images. It’s not a huge topic so I’ll just touch on it briefly…
Put keywords and partial match keywords in your alt tags and image file names dammit!
We could also get into stuff about sitemaps and speed optimization… I’ve already touched briefly on speed optimization in the building the site section though and as for sitemaps just install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. Unless you have a gigantic site it’s not something we need to talk about massively here!
Now I’m going to show you how to link build for this project. The Mother of Dragons!
In this case-study there’s three key things you need to know.
– I won’t be building a single link by hand.
– You need some money to do this.
– Success depends on understanding.
Now, when Charles approached me about this I knew I couldn’t actually rank this particular site purely with GSA SER spam – more on that in a moment.
The very first thing we did was get some ‘PBN’ posts from SESlingshot. We did these to the homepage and went for some exact match anchor as well as some variants and partial matches on the main keyword.
This was done because I wanted to get an early feeling for how competitive the SERP was.
Despite already having looked at the SERPs and checking some of the competition in MajesticSEO I knew that realistically I wasn’t going to know how much work there was to do without building some links right off the bat. It is a 301,000 search term though for crissakes it’s never going to be easy.
The encouraging part, right from the start, was that the SERP for the main keyword didn’t have other SEO’s in. It was dominated mostly by the brands own site and a few co-incidental parasites which only had a handful of links. I could have gone down the parasite route myself, but I thought for this case-study it’d be better to show you how to do it with your own site.
So early results indicated to me that one package of posts from SESlingshot was going to need to be repeated later on in the project. Don’t get me wrong, the other keywords I was targeting all got into the top 100 and 2 months on those links from SESlingshot haven’t caused any problems!
It wasn’t until I started on the spam though that the main keyword even got into the top 200. This bitch needs more power.
Other than spam I wanted to go down the SAPE route to add more power. First though I needed to even out the anchor text ratios and so I used a reliable guy I know of on Fiverr to build some branded links from social bookmarks quickly.
Branded links are going to be things like SiteName, Site Name and other variants. Social bookmarks are just one of the ways you can get branded links.
With the spam which was going to one of the .301 sites I was building as many links as possible and trying to ensure they weren’t absolute garbage. I’ll be showing you how to do this momentarily.
On the .301 that I was blasting with GSA SER Spam I wanted to rank it in the top 100 first… It wasn’t going to be possible on spam alone though. The PBN links I had already weren’t enough to get our main site into the top 200 – so with the first .301 I had a slight change of plan.
I probably shot myself in the foot here a bit… Ideally you’d build the domain the same as you would any site and then .301 it later. Unfortunately though this project which was thought up as a primarily educational look into how to do churn and burn would have started costing thousands. Charles and I agreed that in this case it was a good way to show that even with a strategy in mind, it’s not always possible to do everything perfectly.
A .301 will change the anchor text ratios on your main site so with this in mind I decided to use the roadblock I’d met by using this .301 as a way to build up a specific type of anchor text. This I knew would be easy to switch to another domain later.
The .301 will then also be lined with social signals.
SAPE would be going through another .301 domain and this one I actually wanted to index rather than do a registrar level redirect. I used an aged domain which wasn’t exactly powerful – PR2. This would at least give it some contextual relevance when I redirected it later.
A quick rule for domains:
– A new partial or exact match domain is better than a non-relevant domain.
– An aged partial or exact match is better than a new partial or exact.
– An aged partial or exact match with no links isn’t as good as a new domain with links.
– A new domain with links isn’t as good as an aged domain with links.
– An aged partial or exact match domain with no links isn’t as good as an aged partial / exact with links.
SAPE by the way can be powerful if you know how to get the links or who to get them from so I wanted these links anchor to be exact match and variants.
Back to the GSA SER spam though, I chose to use the domain as anchor text and try to pull in as many high PR links as possible.
GSA Search Engine Ranker:
What you need to know about GSA is that it’s an extremely complex tool and I don’t pretend to have mastered it yet. Having said this it’s quite easy to get to grips with; the better you get the more powerful it can be.
If you don’t have it then you really should get it.
You will need some dedicated proxies and I suggest starting off with 10 dedicated proxies from BuyProxies.org
Also a Captcha breaker is going to be important for obvious reasons. GSA Captcha Breaker by the same company (duh) isn’t the best out there, but you should be using 2 or 3 of these if you’re serious about spamming. For a beginner it’s going to be just fine.
I’ve got a 10% discount code for GSA Captcha Breaker which you can use to save yourself some moneys.
10% Discount Code: 1A86C358E4
With only 10 proxies on Scrapebox and a limited understanding of how to scrape like a pro it’s sometimes better to buy a list of targets for GSA off the bat and you can buy some good ones at SER Lists.
I really can’t recommend doing that enough and I stand by it so firmly that I’ve not even looked to get an affiliate link there.
Yes by the way, some of these links are affiliate links as I’m not getting paid to do this you know! Any support is appreciated, though I won’t blame you if you just want to Google the services & tools I’ve mentioned.
So shall we get into the juicy stuff?
My Basic GSA SER Setup:
The first thing you need to do when you load up GSA SER is head into the settings and configure your proxies, captcha services and the like. Just so you know, with 10 proxies you may want to use less threads – just sayin’.
Once this is done we’re going to open up a new project.
As you can see there’s a few potential link types here that you can do. I’ve highlighted just a few to show you that a lot of services you pay others for can easily be done in GSA SER with the know how.
I’m not going to set up all these within one project though…
I’ll give you an arbitrary example and let’s say we’re going to build some blog comment links – this is how you can set it up.
In the data section you input basic things like the website URL and then you’ll enter in the keywords and as this is a very generic link type we’re going to use them as anchor text. We will be doing some more with the anchor text settings as well though.
What you’re looking at here is me selecting 90% of the keywords to come from sources that I’ve setup rather than exact match keyword anchor. Depending on the type of link you’ll want to change this accordingly.
Why do I personally setup different link types for the same site in new projects?
I’ve half answered this above, but it’s also because I may want to scrape my own target sites and keep these in different files. Also depending on the link type I may only want it to attempt to create it if it’s of a certain PR.
At the bottom of the data page you’ll be entering in your blog comments which will be spun hence the spintax.
This one is actually included by default in GSA; even though we’re doing churn and burn we aren’t going to be lazy or stupid so let’s create our own. You should know based on the keywords you entered what kind of sites you’re going to be posting these comments to, so create them accordingly.
Once done with that we can move on.
The options section is probably where most of the magic goes on when creating different link types based on PR.
What we have here is the settings I use for how to submit/verify. I’ve used an arbitrary large number of 1000 verifications because this is spam and I want a large number of links to be created. When we go through the rest of the options you’ll realize that we probably won’t get to 1000 a day as we’re limiting ourselves by our keywords as well.
Most of the settings here are disabled as we’ll use our own lists. Right click on the countries section though and select by language > English.
Let’s skip ‘Scheduled Posting’ and go straight to ‘Filter Urls’.
Again, feel free to use my settings here.
With something like blog comments you’re better off skipping sites with too many outgoing links. Also we’re not setting the PR standard too high here. If I was showing you how to setup a campaign for article sites I’d be looking for a much higher PR.
I’m pretty sure though that you can see how complex GSA SER is… It really wouldn’t be practical for me to give you the full lowdown on how I do this. If there’s enough demand I will do a video though for premium members and I swear to you Johnny it’ll be better than Woodwards!
We’re not done yet so we best press on!
Confirm all the settings and it will return you back to the main screen. You’ll also want to hit test to make sure it’s all good!
We just need to import our own site list of target URLs now.
How do you do tiered links in GSA SER?
Good question Johnny!
First off though you’ll want to read Jacob King’s sage advice on tiered links.
Once you’ve got an idea of what kind of links you should be doing within your tiers it’s time to set that up.
All you do is select a new project and enable the two underlined segments above. Then using what you know from Jacob’s post you can set it up accordingly.
So this shows you how I’ll setup GSA… Obviously I’m not going to do this for every single ling type I’m after, but if I want to severely limit the types of links I get from a certain source based on PR or outbound links on a page then I’ll create a new project for each link type.
Blog comments are one of those.
I won’t lie to you though dear readers who have stuck with the post this long. Setting up blog comments is a cinch compared to some of the stuff you’ll have to do.
So experiment and test in GSA to learn as much as you can as fast as you can. Setting up GSA can take much longer than an hour if you want to do it well and set things up properly.
A few other things you will inevitably need for GSA is the access to a spinner, a content generator and lots of fake e-mails on tap.
Link Building Wrap Up:
I’ve given you a rough idea here of what I planned to do with the link building for the churn and burn site. I’ve also shown you how to setup a basic, but clever GSA campaign for spam.
One thing I’m not going to do though is hold your hand and tell you everything you need to know. Even the best SEO’s in the game are testing day and night, without taking the initiative to figure these things out for yourselves you’ll never reach your full potential.
Jesse could cook meth, but only Walter White ‘Heisenberg’ understood the science.
It’s fair to say all of us could do with a little more commitment to understanding since that’s what the black and grey hat communities pride ourselves on.
As for blog network links you can try different providers until you find somewhere reliable, but I was really impressed with SESlingshot… Rankings went up after the pages dropped off of the homepage as well.
SAPE should probably be used in all your churn and burn projects… It doesn’t matter if you do it through a .301 or to the homepage, or a mixture of both depending on your budget.
Spam is an effective tool, but you need to know why you’re using it and what each link type is and why you’re using it. Spam can be done to an internal page on your site, to a domain you’ll .301, a web 2.0 or even other links such as PBN links used as a tier.
The more you do the more you’ll learn and the really important thing is to keep asking why. This is why it’s so helpful to be part of a community like the one we have here and I recommend you sign up and ask as many questions as you can… Get your moneys worth!
How do you monitor all of your efforts up to this point? Well it’s a good question. Most of you will know the answer, but personally I want this guide to be accessible to all.
For Analytics you should be using something like Clicky and this keeps your site will out of Google’s greedy mitts.
So that’s sorted.
What about keyword tracking?
For consistency I’ll tell you what I use and what most of the people I know use. It’s called SERPBook and it’s both very affordable and a must-have.
What SERPBook does if you haven’t guessed already is allow you to enter your website and keywords you want to monitor the rankings of. You can also set it up to include additional data like the search volume for the keywords per month and a few other tracking preferences such as showing all time change in rankings.
It can show you changes by day, week, month and all-time as well as your original ranking when you started tracking. This is a really useful tool to have because it’s what allows you to become a true SEO and test things out and monitor the results of everything you try.
Results have been a mixed bag…
Unfortunately I was on a tight deadline to get this post out for the launch of BHC and along with other commitments I haven’t been able to put as much time or investment into this as I’d like yet which means I’ve not yet hit page 1.
Like I said though I got into the top 200 once I started hitting the .301 domain with spam and to be honest with you all it will take now is for me to setup a good amount of SAPE links (probably 100 or so) and another one-two punch from SESlingshot should see the site ranked page 1 for most of the keywords.
The main keyword will undoubtedly take a little more because while SESlingshot has proved itself as reliable for now they’re not the most powerful links.
If I could I would twist Kaytav’s arm to get some links from his creative network which I’m sure I will do
You can see the live SERP tracking link here and see how it’s done over the last month or so. This isn’t the original tracking link which is why the start looks like it indexed so well when in reality none of them were ranked until I hit the site with the original blog network links!
Since I haven’t touched the site in the last month you’ll probably get a pretty good idea as well for what happens when you start to lose links from your spam layer and how age can positively affect rankings.
Don’t forget that this ‘churn and burn’ site that’s been completely black hat since the start is 2 months old, has never received a penalty or dropped majorly for more than a few days which is mostly just shuffling.
In the event that it does I can just switch to one of the backup sites that I built pre-hand. Honestly though I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon unless SESlingshot loses a bunch of sites.
Basically if nothing else this has gone to prove non-believers that black hat sites can last longer than a few weeks without getting themselves de-indexed or a penalty.
I’ll be carrying on the case-study in the private section of the BHC Forum with a few more details that I’m not going to let out in public. Also this next month coming I’ll be seriously unloading on this site and really getting it up to where I wanted it to be by the time I had to release this case-study.
Unfortunately as I mentioned before I was running a tight deadline here and some life stuff got in the way during the case-study. So I haven’t quite made it to page 1 yet.
What I will be doing though is carrying this case-study on in the private section of the blackhat.community forum for members of the community to follow along with and ask questions as I go.
Even if you’re not a member yet I’ve given you all of the tools and the basic understanding of how to setup and rank a churn and burn project and you simply need to implement, test and learn as you go to start making some serious money with this method.
While many question churn and burn as a sustainable way to make money I’ve shown you precisely how to dominate the niches you select permanently and I really hope you enjoyed the case-study!
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.