"What's the best link building strategy?"
I see this question come up often, naturally.
I have tried many temporarily successful link building techniques for ranking pages, but one method that stands out as better (and much more long term) than the rest is joining a well run private blog network.
A private blog network in laymens terms is a group of 20 (an arbitrary number chosen for the sake of simplicity) websites owned by the same hidden entity.
While this might not seem significant at first, it's the details of the sites in the network and the way that network is set up and managed that makes the difference and I'll get to what constitutes a well optimized network in a minute.
If you join such a network, you essentially pay a monthly fee to get one way contextual anchor text links placed on sites that have authority in the eyes of Google. These links in theory will give you a boost in the rankings for the keywords you specify.
Some networks will make your links permanent even after you leave, some networks are 'rentals' which means you lose the links if you cancel your subscription.
While I'm not an expert in the way of the best private blog networks, the following criteria should be considered when considering joining a PBN:
1) The strength of the PR for each site in the network.
2) The number of outbound links each site has.
- A well run network of sites will have very strong back link structures in place for each site in the network. If the owners of the sites have done their homework on the sites they have purchased for the network, algorithmic updates won't matter much and the Page Rank will be strong enough to survive updates.
3) Are reports given?
- I would look for a network that keeps it's OBL's under 40. Even that seems like a lot these days, but you should get the point here. The less links, the more powerful the juice.
4) Are the sites hosted on separate C Class IP's?
- I am okay with not receiving reports on the work being done behind the scenes. It is much too easy to get sites flagged, de-indexed, etc. when each link is live for the world to see. Sure, serious reverse engineering can disclose what some try very hard to keep 'private', but I would look for a network that doesn't readily give away the sites in the network. I can tell very well if the money I am paying monthly to a network is working because my rankings will increase to a point that satisfies me and justifies the recurring payment.
5) The content of the sites in the network
- The keyword in private blog networks is 'private'. And by private I don't just mean hidden from you and I, but hidden from Google. Ideally, each site in the network is hosted independently of the other sites in the network. If there was any inkling that the network of sites was related, link diversity would vanish along with the total value of the network itself. I'm no expert here, this is common sense application as I see it. IP diversity is essential.
- This goes back to why the network owner bought the site for the network in the first place or at least it should. If the content was good enough, the back links that are already pointing to the site should have been strong enough to give the pages the high PR they currently have. Good content makes a difference for PR purposes.
6) Minimum PR
- Each site should have a minimum of 3 as their homepage Page Rank. That's my personal preference and it seems to do me well. If a network has a minimum of PR4, I'll inquire even further.
Finding good private blog network owners isn't easy, but it isn't hard either. The good network owners have their slots filled up quickly. Search well known forums, use appropriate search terms when seeking out the information you desire and you'll find what you are looking for.
The network owner and their network running acumen really make a difference in the total value of the PBN.
As for the appropriate amount of money to spend on a monthly subscription, that's is for you to decide. Having had enough #1 rankings to know exactly what some of my main keywords are worth, I can easily justify price X for a network when position Y will net me price Z.
I hope those who own such networks that come across this post will tidy it up and add value to the discussion. I am eager to learn much more on the topic myself since I'd like to own my own network eventually. I only know that this link building method has given me the most substantial increases in SERP positioning and I am pleased with the results.