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Purgatory Link Building Strategy

Building links in an efficient way has been something that I have enjoyed systematizing for almost 10 years online now!

This purgatory link building strategy is on track to be one of my all time favorite strategies! 

As “white hat” link building goes this is a great strategy since it…

  • is scalable across many sites
  • get you niche relevant links
  • doesn’t require a cost per link (typically)
  • doesn’t require you spamming the entire internet
  • is an efficient use of your teams time. 

It does require you to use a few tools, act reasonably quickly and create a solid piece of content…but what are you doing running an online business if those stop you 🙂 

Enough talk… let us get to the details of what the Purgatory Link Building Strategy is all about…

Basic Link Building Concept:

Stealing backlinks from your competitor is great but really hard! 

Stealing competitors links when they are almost dead is easy!

Why is it named “Purgatory” Link Building – These are links that still have unfinished business, the pages they link to are not quite dead and the links themselves have a lot of life left! 

For other link building guides:

Simple Steps:

  1. Find expiring/auction domains with a lot of links and are reasonably relevant to your site
  2. Create an improved version of the pages that people were linking to (quickly – time matters with this strategy)
  3. Outreach to get people to link to you instead of the almost expired and now useless page

 

purgatory link building strategy

 

How is this different from Broken Link Building? Broken link building is about finding a resource that a lot of people linked to that is no longer available. The difference is in timing and scale… when you do broken link building you are reaching out to people who have had that broken links on their site for a number of weeks/months etc… when we are reaching out to domains that are about to expire it may be the first time that they know about the asset they were linking to no longer being active. Often the expiring domain will be a landing page and never actually show up as broken. Plus, you can do this at scale for smaller resources resulting in a lot more opportunities. This is much more scalable with a lower level of overall effort since you don’t need to find a page in your space with 100’s of links to it. 

How is this different from the SkyScraper Technique? With the skyscrapper technique you need to create a resource that is sooo much better than the page the website owner is currently linking to they are willing to either add your link or replace the link. This is a much tougher ask and not as scalable since you need to invest heavily in each piece of content. With purgatory link building you don’t need to create a 10x better piece of content. 

How is this different from my 301 Building Block Strategy? The 301 building block strategy is related where you leverage a micro site of your content on an expired domain and then move that site to be a content cluster within a larger site leveraging the links to the expired domain to raise the authority of the entire larger site. The 301 building block strategy requires you to actually purchase the domain and create a small cluster of content on the topic. Purgatory link building strategy allows for a more efficient/scalable approach to achieving a similar result.

Step by Step Purgatory Link Building Process:

Part 1 – Find Expiring Domain:

In this step you are going to find a domain that has people linking to it, they may not yet know that the link on their site is useless since the domain they are linking to is in “purgatory” not yet expired but the page is no longer live. 

We will identify a domain, the optimal page on that domain and the type of asset to create to then reach out to. 

1-1 – Find Domains

In this stage we want to identify domains that have solid real links… the best way to do this is to filter on TrustFlow from Majestic and verify it has at least a little traffic. This shows it has quality links and likely not terribly abused from an SEO standpoint since it ranks in Google (meaning the links we are going to want to get are ones that are actually useful). 

  • Go to SpamZilla 
  • Enter into the search term
    • TF > 15
    • Keywords > 1
    • Pick the Topical Trust Flow Category if you want to ONLY look in your niche

Purgatory Link Building Strategy

One other filter to apply is to select “MarketPlace Domains” and then only select GoDaddy Auction

Purgatory Link Building Strategy

You will be using this filter a lot so be sure to save it!

Open up each of the domains that look like they might make sense for you first in MajesticSEO looking for a site that has “real” and “relevant” links to the URL. Looking at both the Ref Domains and Pages that links have been built to help show what site would make a good target.

Purgatory Link Building

We need real links to a decent resource.

Here is an example we will do real time… publishing the alternative page here for these 1,414 domains to link to instead here at the same time I publish this article. 

Purgatory Link Building

In the pages tab we are looking for a page that can be created better then it was before which received several links and had a high Trust Flow. Often building a page to be an alternative to link to instead of the homepage is hard however many sub-pages will be a lot easier to build a similar page to. In this case we are targeting people who linked to the homepage and now need an alternative. 

Purgatory Link Building

Now we have an idea of a page or an article that could replace the homepage to recreate on a reasonably relevant site. 

1-2 Verify the Content in Archive.org is Recreatable

The next step is to check to see if we can recreate content that is superior to the expiring content.

If we were to execute this example we would need to re-write and add some additional value add that would have people taking the time to link to it. 

Checking in Archive.org to see that the page can be re-written/created anew…

Note – Archive.org and TheWaybackMachine are often down or not working and here are some alternatives

Purgatory Link Building

1-3 Build Outreach List using MajesticSEO and ahrefs.com 

This step is about preparing for the link building outreach plan. 

Using MajesticSEO and ahrefs build as complete a list of everyone who links to that page…

MajesticSEO:

  • Enter the URL in Site Explorer
  • Go to Backlinks
  • Export Data

Purgatory Link BuildingAhrefs:

  • Enter URL 
  • Select Backlinks
  • Export Data

Purgatory Link Building

Part 2 – Create a Link Worthy Piece of Content

Creating “just” an article may not be enough. The goal isn’t to just match the quality of the content but to top it to provide the extra incentive for the site owner to replace the useless link with your own. 

Article: 

Certainly matching the article quality is important. Doing a little bonus keyword research at this stage so that the article is being created to both be a suitable link alternative but then have a reasonable shot at ranking for a keyword that matters in terms of organic traffic. 

The link juice makes this strategy often worth it on its own but if you can find an angle that will move the needle for traffic that is even better! 

Make sure you are using strong internal linking strategies from these pages to the pages that matter most for your site so that you can pass the link juice along to the pages that really matter. 

Infographic: 

If you can get a decent infographic created in a matter of hours for $5 (via Fiverr) with the research already done (share the archive.org link for the data) then it is a great means of getting some additional link love!

Video:

If there is a simple video that can be created that will also fulfill the searchers query that might be enough to reach out and share. 

Tool / Aid:

If the opportunity is large enough there could be a simple template or tool that would make the effort to swap out the link worthwhile. 

Publish the content and be ready for the next step.

 

See example – 10 Best Note Taking Apps for Windows

 

Part 3 – Outreach

If you want to build a really robust outreach machine then have a look at this B2B Lead Generation article! 

However, for this relatively efficient outreach system focused around linkbuilding than the outreach tool from SEMRush fits the bill. 

  • Upload list
  • Create template
  • Start sending 
  • Monitor and follow up if needed

SEMRush Link Building Tool

To see a detailed post on how to do cold outreach for link building checkout this guide.

More on this Content Marketing Strategy…

This is just one of several strategies we have been developing and scaling within the ContentRefined.com team to be able to REALLY push a site! 

Fun Story About the Inspiration for This Strategy – I am a Terrible Loser!

I was buying some expired domains with traffic and lost one I REALLY wanted… being a terrible loser I decided to quickly create some superior quality content then what the site had and “steal” the links going to the domain that I just got outbid on. Yes, I am a petty and a terrible loser! But now hopefully you can be too!

Purgatory Link Building

Later talking with the ContentRefined team we decided that this wasn’t just something to execute on a one-off basis but to scale and hence the reason for this post existing.

Very interested in hearing your thoughts on this strategy and more importantly the results you are able to achieve with it! 

 

Constantly Improving Our Systems – Spamzilla

With every business I operate, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our systems and either make them more efficient or to provide better results. This is no different when it comes to our LightningRank services. For each Lightningrank service, we rely on expired domain tools to help us fulfill our services, and in the past, we have used Register Compass, but more recently we have switched to Spamzilla.

RegisterCompass was great over the years but it’s more expensive and I find the usability of the program to be a bit harder. When taking a 3 hours period, with Register Compass we would find about 5-6 quality domains, however with Spamzilla since we have started using it, we have been able to find double that amount in the same time period on average.

We have been using this tool for just under a month and since then our team has loved it and has been able to be more productive with it, so we wanted to show you some of the cool features that go along with it. If you are interested in building out your own PBN or having us do it, using our improved system, you can take a look at this case study we did a few weeks ago.

Variety of filters to choose from

The filter section is great. It allows you to customize exactly what you are looking for down to the Topical Trust Flow you are looking for. Another feature I really like is that you are able to select the anchor text language, which helps to quickly eliminate thousands of spammy domains.

If you have a particular set of filters you like, you can also save the preset so it’s quickly usable the next time you go to find domains as well.

Usability of the Dashboard

Once you are searching for domains, the look and feel of the dashboard is very user friendly. You can quickly see the Topical Trust Flow categories under the Maj Topics heading which allows you to easily look for domains that are in the niche you are looking for.

You also have the ability to click on the number in the TF column and it will bring up the MajesticSEO screen where you can dig deeper and look at the backlinks. The one thing I don’t like is that you can’t move the headings and arrange them the way you want them to be arranged, but it’s pretty easy read the headings that it’s not a big deal.

If you are looking for domains for either building out private blog networks or you are looking for a money site domain, this tool is a fantastic tool to have and it comes at the fraction of some of the other tools in the space.

PBNs in 2019 – Do they still work? Rankings to Show

I always get emails from potential clients asking about PBNs and whether or not they still work in today's day and age. The last time I did one of these updates was back in 2017, which you can find here. However,  I decided to do a little test with one of my sites to see how it reacts to PBNs in 2019. During this test, I decided to try and improve 6 keywords by pointing 1 PBN link to each. Below are the results, most of the results were positive however there are a few that had little improvement. This could be due to competitiveness of the niche or that it may need a little more time to pass the link juice onto that keyword.

Keyword #1: This keyword was stuck around the  38-40 rank but within 2 months of the PBN link being live, it bumped up to #7.

Keyword #2: This keyword lost its rankings back in October, where it fluctuated between 55-60. I wanted to try and bring it back to life as it was a high volume keyword. The link went live on Feb 20th so less then a month later it popped back up in the charts at 48. I am hopeful that after a few more weeks it will move a little more.

Keyword #3: This keyword is one where it either may need a bit of time or it may need more links in order to help it move more in the rankings. The PBN link was added Jan 5th, it did drop its rankings in October and the link seemed to help it gain back its rankings. Hopefully in a few more weeks it will move a bit more.

Keyword #4: This keyword was consistently sitting at 5 in Google for a long time. After getting a PBN posted on Jan 3rd, the keyword took a bit of a ranking hit but soon increased its rankings and is now sitting at 1 for a keyword with a volume of 2K/month and is a buyer intent keyword as well.

Keyword #5: This keyword was sitting at 4 for a while. After the link was posted, the keyword lost its rankings completely, however about a week later the ranking came back and within 2 months, the keyword bumped up to #1.

Keyword #6: This PBN link was posted on Jan 10th, it initially had some good traction and climbed to 29th but then dropped to 32. It would of been nice for it to stay up but it is ranking higher than it was prior to the link, so although not a huge push, it still moved a bit.

Frequently Asked Questions on PBNs

What is a PBN link?

PBN (private blog network) are sites that are built up with the intent to link to your site. We find expired domains that still have quality links pointing to them, build a similar website on the expired domain and link to your money site. The end result is you can create network of high authority and relevant sites linking back to your money site and increasing its rankings in Google.

How do you get PBN links?

There are two approaches you can take when building PBN links. One is to create your own sites, which I have created a how to guide here. The other is to use services such as LightningRank who will do everything for you.

How many PBN links do I need?

This is a very hard thing to judge as there are so many factors that are involved in the process. What we usually like to do is look at a few similar sites that are ranking higher for a particular keyword and look at how many links are pointing to that page in Majestic. If there are 10 links but 7 of them are very low quality (ie TF<10 and CF<10) we do not count them. So we would only count 3. Meaning we believe that we would roughly need about 3 links to rank that keyword similar to that site.

How risky is it to use PBNs?

Just like any links on the internet, there are risks associated with using PBN links. You must decide if the risk is worth it to see if you can improve your rankings. We do keep up with Google algorithms and make changes to our process so that we keep up with building sites that are able to mostly withstand Google.

How to Quickly Analyze Backlinks before Buying a Website or Expired Domain

Whenever purchasing a website or an expired domain there are a lot of risks that need to be considered. One of the biggest is the exposure to a Google Penalty based on the sites backlink profile (penguin or manual un-natural link penalty).

In this article I will show you the 9 common kinds of backlink SPAM and how to quickly spot them.

For an even more in depth guide on performing due diligence before you purchase a website checkout https://www.motioninvest.com/buying-websites-for-sale/

With both my expired domain finding service and my recent focus on purchasing a couple of websites I have been deep diving into analyzing backlinks.

What is the Risk?

Several months ago I purchased a website which I knew had paid for a few links. I believe as a result of those links the site went from making close to $1,000 in the first month I purchased it(after making monetization changes) down to $250/month due to a penalty!

I was aware of the links and believed I priced the risk fairly into the purchase ($4k to buy the site)…unfortunately for me the site got hit pretty quickly after purchasing.

Analyze Backlinks before Buying a Website

What Happened When I Purchased a Website With a Few BAD Backlinks

The 9 Types of Backlink Spam

I use MajesticSEO(not an affiliate link) to analyze backlinks because of the graphic representation of the link profile which makes it incredibly easy to quickly see the quality of the backlink profile.

PART 1 – ANCHOR TEXT


Anchor Text manipulation is pretty easy to spot in Majestic SEO. Using the Anchor Text section there are 2 key things to look for..

  • First unnatural anchor text density
  • Secondly obvious SPAM in anchor text keywords (porn/poker/pharmaceutical or completely un-relevant keywords)
    • Unnatural Anchor Text Density
      • bedandbreakfastparksville.ca – Not as obvious an example but with the large number of links and only 3 different anchor texts this site shows clear signs of manipulation.Un-Natural Anchor Text Density
      • naturesgoldspecialties.ca – This one is very obvious, 95% all with the same keyword – avoid!all with the same keyword
  • Obvious SPAM in Anchor Text
    • classic-purse.com – This example is subtle! Often the spam is far more obvious with Porn/Pharmaceutical/Poker or other highly SPAMMED niches like PayDay loan anchor text. Whenever there are obvious signs of anchor text manipulation avoid it! In cases like the one below we need to ask ourselves if the anchor text could naturally occur in the way that it is being shown?Obvious SPAM in Anchor Text

PART 2 – LINK METRICS

  • Large difference Trust Flow to Citation Flow – Links build naturally should be balanced between citation flow and trust flow (or for MOZ PA/DA should not show a large (~3x or more) difference between them)
    • bushybride.ca – Here there is an obvious mis-match with Trust Flow = 2 and Citation Flow = 15. Ideally we want that ratio to be close to 1:1 but anywhere up to 1:3 can naturally occur but be cautious whenever you get below 1:2 Trust:Citation.

mis-match with Trust Flow to citation Flow

  • Root to URL completely different – This one is often miss-understood. When there are good metrics for one domain and then none for another it often means that links were intentionally built to one URL and then none to another. This represents link manipulation!

Root to URL completely different

    • goteamintraining.com – Here the metrics on the Root Domain are ok but then the metrics at URL are non-existent!

metrics on the Root DomainVS…

metrics at URL

  • Concentration of Links on the TF vs CF Map – This is one of the reasons why Majestic is so great. A quick look at the TF vs CF graph can tell a lot about the backlink profile. The ideal graph is a series of domains spread along the line moving 1:1 from the origin. Two indications of a SPAMMY backlink profile is when there is an unreasonable concentration of links all in one location or when all the links are low trust. On the graph each dot represents a single link and the Trust and Citation score of that link.
    • whoswhere.ca – In this example shown below there are 2 concentration and another grouping along the bottom representing Trust Flow on each of those links of ZERO. Typically what occurs is when a link building service is purchased a lot of the links will come from similar sites with the same CF/TF which results in concentrations on the TF vs CF graph.Concentration of Links on the TF
    • bedandbreakfastparksville.ca – Here there is one single high density concentration of links, there is a chance with this link profile that it could occur naturally but this is a warning flag. Whenever there is a single concentration of links on the TF vs CF graph there is a reasonable expectation that the links are artificially created. Large consentration

PART 3 – TYPE OF LINKS

  • Non-Relevant Link Pages/Directories/Blog Network Pages
    • legal-professionals.net (non-relevant links) – Non-relevant backlinks like the ones to this site provide no value.
    • trendier-diaper-bags.com (directory) – Here is an example of a site that only uses directory links. Relevant human-reviewed directories are good but having only non-relevant free  directories are bad!
    • nadafhospitality.com (directory) – Here is another example of too many low value link/directory pages.
    • howtotreatkidneystones.net (PBN & Hacked Sites) – Sometimes most metrics can look good but when you visit the pages linking to it it becomes obvious the links are all blog network links or sites that have been hacked.
    • kitchenexhaust.info (SPAM sites) – When the sites linking to the URL are only SPAM sites then it is obvious the site provides no value and should be avoided.
    • theweddingdiamonds.info (non-relevant directories) – Again relevant directories and link pages can be natural however, low value directories as shown by these links are bad.
    • whoswhere.ca (Blog Network) – There is the famous quote from Judge Potter Stewart stating in regards to Porn vs art “I know it when I see it” and this applies to most of us who look at websites and can quickly determine if the site is built only for links or not. When the majority of the links pointing to a domain was clearly built for the purposes of providing a link, like in this example, we should avoid it.
  • Blog Comment or Forum SPAM
    • allhandbags.info (Forum) – Blog comments and forum SPAM are old low value black-hat tactics that still many domains have links from. In these cases it is important to look at the comment and forum post and just think if it is reasonable. Blog comments and forum links that are real are fine, blog comments and forum links that are only left for the purpose of the link are bad! Another fast way to tell is to see if there are A LOT of useless comments on the post…if that is the case then the site likely has auto-approve comments on and has been hammered by low-value black hat SEOs. 
  • Foreign Language Links
    • fantastic-bags.com – Here is an example of english links on foreign language websites. This is almost always a sign of link manipulation and if spotted should be avoided.

Summary

Most of the instructions above are pretty obvious. The intent of this post with the videos was to hopefully show a nice effective way to quickly determine the quality of the backlinks pointing to a site. Using MajesticSEO daily is a huge time saver for me and I wanted to share some of the tricks I have learned analyzing thousands of domains and dozens of sites over the last few months.

What other tools do you use to analyze a sites backlink quality? Ahrefs? OpenSiteExplorer? other?

How to Check Backlinks of Domains

 

Over the last 8 years my team has been finding domains, buying domains and building PBN sites for both my own portfolio as well as clients. One of the most important parts in the whole process is finding quality domains that can give your PBN some power, and in turn give your money site some power.

 

Most people believe that just going based on metrics such as Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) are really the only things that matter when deming whether or not the domain is good. However most people forget that these expired domains were once used for something else and so checking the backlinks of the domain to ensure there isn’t anything spammy going on is very important and is often overlooked. You don’t want to put your money site at risk by getting links from a domain that has spammy links pointing to it because Google could penalize you for that.

 

Below, is a step by step guide on how you spot check the backlinks of the domains to ensure they were not once abused. For looking at the backlink profile, we always like to use Majestic as it is one of the more reliable tools that we have used.

 

Example of a Bad Domain

For this example, we are going to use the domain ablasor.com

 

As we can see in Majestic, it has a bit of TF and CF (although you want to try and get to as much of a 1:2 ratio as possible. If you can get a 1:1 that’s even better.

But there are two other places that need to be checked. The anchor text profile and the backlinks.

 

For the anchor text profile, you can see that their are not only spammy words being used but also foreign anchor text. This is a clear sign that this domain has been abused.

However, sometimes the Anchor Text appears to be normal and we would have to also check the backlinks to ensure there isn’t any foreign or spammy links.

As you scroll through the list of backlinks, first check to see if there are any unusual or foreign texts.

If there isn’t anything that stands out, click on a few links and open them up to see if there is anything suspicious that pops up. When we open up a few we get some pages that look like the below. This is a clear sign of spam.

Example of a Good Domain

In this example we are going to look at the domain platinumassetdiscovery.com

 

That domain has good TF and CF and has a pretty close ration of 1:1 which is a good start.

When looking at the anchor text profile of the domain, we can see that the anchor text words are relevant to what the domains topical trust flow is which is Society/law. There is also no spammy or foreign words.

When we go and look at the backlink profile we can see that they all look good and no foregin words are present.

When we open them up they go to sites that are relevant and not foreign content.

What’s Next?

After you have looked at the domain in Majestic.com, you then want to check it in archive.org and check a few different dates to see what the domain once was. Ensure that the domain wasn’t used in an inappropriate way or that it had foreign content on it.

Other Tools

I used MajesticSEO here and personally use ahrefs and SEMRush as well. However there are an amazing number of tools to help with backlink checking. Here is a complete guide reviewing the best backlink checkers

Conclusion

I find that a lot of people miss a few of these steps which can be vital when looking at potential domains to link to your site. If you have any questions at all or need some further clarification on how to follow these steps please let me know!

 

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