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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

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.


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
      • – 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
      • – This one is very obvious, 95% all with the same keyword – avoid!all with the same keyword
  • Obvious SPAM in Anchor Text
    • – 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


  • 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)
    • – 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

    • – 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.
    • – 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
    • – 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


  • Non-Relevant Link Pages/Directories/Blog Network Pages
    • (non-relevant links) – Non-relevant backlinks like the ones to this site provide no value.
    • (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!
    • (directory) – Here is another example of too many low value link/directory pages.
    • (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.
    • (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.
    • (non-relevant directories) – Again relevant directories and link pages can be natural however, low value directories as shown by these links are bad.
    • (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
    • (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
    • – 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.


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


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


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, you then want to check it in 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


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!


How to Research, Create and Publish Compelling Infographics

Infographic. Business infographics. Infographics success. Business infographic template. Business concept. Modern infographic for business concept. Can be used for workflow layout, information, banner, diagram, web design. Vector illustration Eps10 file

Are you trying to find ways to increase your organic traffic and Google Rankings? Have you ever tried to do this with Infographics? If not- you should definitely give it a try! We use this strategy a lot on our own websites and it works!

What are Infographics and Why do We Use them?

Infographics are a really great way to build solid links for any of your websites. Infographics take a slightly different approach to SEO and are solely focused on amazing content and really nice graphics and design. We like to try and make infographics as useful as possible so that other websites will want to link to your site in return.

Steps You Need to Take: Research

Like most projects, the initial planning and research phase for infographics creation is going to be the most important part of the process. The first thing you’re going to want to do is get to know your website and the niche it’s in. Figure out exactly what TOPICS are related to your niche, and what kind of information is going to be VALUABLE to your audience.

Make a LIST- This is is going to include a focus topics but also topics that are loosely associated with your niche. This is going to ensure that you can come up with different infographic ideas that might draw from different/closely related audiences.  

Go through your list and do some internet research to figure out what people like, link to, and share. The best methods to do this are the following:

1- Check out Pinterest:

Pinterest is going to be an amazing resource since they are so visually inclined. Search your Topic+ infographic and see what comes up. Then check how many shares it gets and look at who is sharing and linking to them

2- Google Images search is always a good option and you’ll be able to figure out pretty easily who is linking and sharing these as well

3- Another great resource is Buzzsumo– which is an amazing online tool that will help you figure out what content is getting a lot of traction by topic or website. You can sort by all sorts of metrics including social shares which is of huge value


Create your Titles:

Get creative! Your titles are the biggest piece of marketing that you’re going to do so this is going to need to be eye-catching to the reader. Some examples

  • 15 Fun Facts about Canada
  • Keto diets: What Foods to Eat and what Foods to Avoid?
  • 7 Essential Oils to Help Depression
  • The world’s weirdest music festivals
  • Meditation in 12 steps
  • Wedding Budget 101

The general rule of thumb for article titles are that they shouldn’t be longer than 150 words. They should be attention grabbers and pose some sort of question o r fun fact or statement.

Create Your Content

If you don’t have a writer already, use this SOP that we use internally to hire a writer

Please see the Step by Step guide on how to hire and assess writers via Upwork

Part A: Posting your job post

Step 1. Log in to your upwork account


Step 2. Go to the Jobs tab and click on “post a job”

Step 3: Select “part time”  


Step 4: Then- describe the job with the requirements for how to write your infographic – The infographic title should suffice.


Step 5: Select “ Pay a fixed price” and make your budget $10. You should be able to get a really good quality infographic for $10.


Step 6: Generally with our screening questions, we ask them to fix a sentence that is grammatically incorrect so that you can just skip over their profile and application if they answer badly.



Step 7: Click “ post job”. Don’t worry about cover letter


Yay! You’ve posted your job!

Part B: Hiring your writer


Step 1: Wait 12 hours and check your job posting, you should have a few freelancers on the list at this point when you check your job posting

Step 2: Click “Review proposals” and you will get to a list of those who have applied

Step 3: Things we look for

  1. Budget: Does the bid fall within the budget?
  2. What have other clients said about this freelancer? We look for 80% job success minimum
  3. How much they’ve made on upwork so far? Usually those who have made more than $1000 are legitimate freelancers and will be more committed to your project.

Step 4: If you find one you like and meets the metrics, click “ hire freelancer”

You’re DONE!

Hire Your Designer

Once you get the Copy created for your infographic, you’re going to want to think about the DESIGN work for it. Now this is probably the part that is the most fun because you get to work with some pretty creative people. This is the Job posting we put on upwork for this.

Job Description:

We’re looking for an infographic designer to make great looking charts, graphs, and other infographics to go along with informative blog articles.

Ideal applicant must be:

– experienced and skilled in graphic design (please provide examples)

– experienced with Canva or another infographic creation program

– experienced with Photoshop

– available to work 15-20 hours per week


$10-$15 per infographic.

Applicant must be willing to perform a test assignment.

Now all you have to do is provide them with the COPY and let their creative side take over. I’ve always been happy with the different iterations I’ve received and designers are usually really great and taking your feedback.

Publishing your Infographic

What I usually like to do it make sure that I have a blog post or article that can support my infographic. Here is a list of tips about publishing:

1- Posting an infographic should happen at the beginning of the week ( on a Monday or Tuesday) A typical infographic life cycle is about 1 business week

2- If you’re doing an outreach effort with a vendor, make sure that  you coordinate with them properly

3- To get more traction to your infographic, it can be worth buying paid traffic from sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon etc.. to get more social shares and links

4- Make sure that each infographic has Social Share Icons to make it easy for people to share. It will also help you measure what platforms are working best for you. For WordPress- use ShareBar which is a plugin that will give you advanced sharing options.

If you have any other tips with regards to the use of Infographics- feel free to share in the comments!

Monetize Your Emailing List: Use Email Marketing to Grow Your Business

Businesses today need to have a strong digital footprint alongside their bricks and mortar presence. Today’s savvy and upcoming entrepreneurs know that they need to do more with less and not sacrifice their reach or influence on their customers. It’s so important to connect with their audience in a highly personalized way, but also stay on budget doing it. A smart and focused email marketing plan can do just this – connect you with your prospects and customers in a highly targeted way that will be successful in delivering a high ROI and increase revenues that can be invested back into the business. Currently, Email has the largest reach, more than another other digital communication application and is the best way to monetize a digital marketing strategy.


Why is Email Marketing So Important?

Reported by The Radicati Group, a research firm who recently released statistics on email, “More than 34% of the people worldwide use email.” That’s an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide, with projections estimating it to increase to 2.8 billion email users by 2020. Out of all those emails, around 196 billion emails the majority, a massive 109 billion, are business emails. Those numbers are mind-boggling and blatantly stress that Email is the main channel where businesses can grow their reach and potential the fastest. To make it simple and clear; Email Marketing is a powerful strategy to inform and connect with the masses. Almost everyone has email and based on that premise we can help you use an Email Marketing strategy to effectively reach your target audience, clients, and customers- and win over new ones.

Email is the main currency of the digital world, and any person who us active online is highly likely to have an active email address. That’s exactly why when you decide to reach out to your market, there’s no better channel with a greater reach than email. Just look at the numbers since there are three times more email accounts than Twitter and Facebook profiles combined.

Email Will Get Your Message Across

Almost 90% of email will find its way to the intended recipient’s inbox, when you look at social media marketing the number is only 2% for Facebook users to notice your posts in their News Feed. Facebook has an algorithm that restricts the number of times your posts can appear in the News Feed, and they naturally do to drive traffic instead to competitor brands that has paid for advertising spots. That means the cards are stacked against you to find organic leads.

The whole point is to get your message read and noticed, if you break these stats down into real numbers the difference is striking. Your post on Facebook, if shared with 10,000 users, an estimated 200 of them would ever get it in their News Feed. On the other hand, using an effective email campaign sent to 10,000 subscribers mean almost 9,000 of them would get it directly in their inbox. That’s almost 50 times more looks than using Facebook.

The Email inbox is a person’s front door to their virtual world, and if campaigns are sent to the right subscribers, with the right message, targeted to the people who appreciate the information and service they would be getting, means your business will grow because Email drives conversions. This can be in the form of leads, sales, memberships, or a metric that specific to your business strategy. The ultimate goal for us is to help you turn potential customers into paying customers.


Start your Email Marketing Strategy Today using our Processes!

Have you stalled on starting your own email marketing because you just don’t really know how to do it? Check out our simplified guide below and feel free to reach out if you want to talk strategy!

Step One: 

Do an initial audit of what you already have in place for email marketing on your website.  You will either need to create or update sleek opt-in forms and overlays to your site, where visitors can sign up. Hack: you can incentivize this by offering giveaways or free guides or resources, etc., based on your business. It’s an important function to upgrade whether with a slider or header or pop up, so you can grow your list and expand your reach.

Step Two:

Consolidate, import and clean your list by using software that allows you to analyze how active your list is and remove the emails that are either dead, defunct, incorrect to streamline your email list.  We use Xverify for this! Make sure you’re signed up to reputable Email Service Provider. A few reputable ESP’s that we recommend are Klaviyo , Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign and can help you get set up quickly. We would recommend segmenting your list so you can get the maximum out of the subscriber list you already have.



Step Three:

Create core templates that you would use for your emails, and create them based on the type of email you’d want to send, whether that’s a newsletter, announcement, marketing offer or event invitation. You will need to figure out which templates would work best for your business and then create them matching the exact style and feel of your site and branding. You’ll generally be able to do this right from your ESP- OR you can use 3rd party tools like we do, such as Litmus. 


Step Four:

Structure and create your first campaign. You can do this based on a special offer or announcement or welcoming email to your subscribers. Whatever strategy you use,  it will need to be relevant to those on your list. Hack: Sometimes it’s best to create two different campaigns to two differently segmented lists to better target that audience.  You really need to ensure that your campaigns are on brand and build trust with your list, to encourage interaction and business, making it easier to convert.

Step Five:

Imagine the customer journey being fully automated 24/7 so you don’t have to worry about it? Similar to the campaign emails which are custom and made to suit each campaign, you would need to set up your automated emails for welcoming new subscribers, or for managing the purchasing flow (Cart abandonment emails, browse abandonment, transactional emails, reminder emails etc.,). Automation has several series such as; Welcome series for prospects, Post-purchase and Win-Back which all work to help keep your list interactive. You can read more about the different types of automated emails you can use here.

Step Six:

Time to measure your results.  For this, you need to understand the basic metrics that allow you to see how your flows and campaigns are working, how successful they are and how much revenue this channel is bringing your business. Based on these numbers you’ll be equipped to make adjustments on future campaigns and further segment your list, based on behavior, to fully maximize conversion on your interactions. Hack: Things you’ll really need to pay attention to is number of unique opens, number of bounces, number of emails not opened, overall open rate, CTR or Click-Through Rate, the unsubscribe rate, spam complaints, and social media shares. All this information will help you better understand your list and it’s activity and will let you plan and execute better for the next campaign.

Step Seven:

Create a monthly calendar of campaigns in advance and carefully strategize and plan your emails, based on frequency and receptivity of your list, and also around holidays or events that are relevant to your business. This monthly email marketing campaign calendar should be ready 2 weeks in advance so that you can eventually start predicting the possible revenue you will make from your various channels.

 Step Eight:  

You’re done! Aside from having to think about different strategies, the heavy lifting is done. Strategy can be the hardest part, so if you’re stuck on that- give our email marketing expert a call and see how we can help.

Let’s Review: Why Email Marketing is Not a Channel Your Business Should Ignore?

  1. More effective than social media for getting leads
  2. Economic and Cost Effective
  3. Customisable and Personalized to Targets
  4. Action Oriented and Drives Traffic
  5. Measurable Metrics and Reporting
  6. Constant Mobile Device Access to Email

Kicking Off with Content Refined:

As you might have already heard, Content Refined is launching its very own Email Marketing Service and is looking for some additional Beta Testing clients at this time to help test our systems before we make this a public offering ( ideally 3-7 new beta clients). We’ll help you get set up, so whether that’s starting from scratch or consolidating what you already have, we’ll make sure you have the basics like a reputable email service provider, a solid opt-in and opt-out process and see if your current set up is CAN-SPAM compliant. We will look at your current metrics and establish your goals and document what you want and can expect from this channel at reporting intervals of 3, 6, 9, and 12 months.

We Can Help You Get a Higher ROI on Email

Email has no competitors when it comes to driving conversions, especially for e-commerce. Think of any successful business or your own inbox. How many emails do you get weekly from your favorite store or service, and how many times do you take advantage of a deal offered exclusively online? It’s exactly why email is the most effective marketing channel to drive ROI. From our experience, Email marketing can bring an average 3,700% return on investment for e-commerce businesses. That means for every dollar you spend on email marketing, the average return on your investment can be $38. What other channel offers that? Email marketing is the most cost-effective channel for businesses to market their goods and services, outperforming other channels so greatly when it comes to ROI because it gives you the ability to deliver highly personalized and relevant messages and timely incentives.

Since email is the preferred communication channel for the majority of online consumers, it’s the best medium to target instead of social networks which are just that, a more personal form of communication that most use to stay in touch with family and friends. When it comes to business, email is the number one channel for communicating your offerings and since it will probably be around a long time, it’s imperative that you start building an email list, that will become a stable long-term investment and resource that will pay off for decades to come.

When it comes to conversions, there isn’t a more powerful channel than email. Even functioning at its most average a campaign would have a click-through rate of around 3% (of total recipients), so imagine what we could do with a targeted campaign and segmented list made especially for you? Take the time to get a free quote from us and let us show you what you can do for your business with a streamlined and effective email marketing strategy. Increasing revenues from email doesn’t have to be complicated anymore.

So don’t wait any other and monetize your subscriber list, and take advantage of a revenue channel that’s at your digital front door. Find out why email marketing is a crucial part of your small business digital marketing strategy, and let us help you get started. Learn more about our Email Marketing Service here!

Are PBNs Working in 2017 – Case Study and Test Results

So the big question…. ARE PBNs STILL WORKING IN 2017???

See the case study process and results below and how I generated 800 organic visitors in a day!

This post is a case study aimed at identifying the potential power of expired domains with actual traffic data and link metrics revealed.

Some of the results are pretty surprising…

PBNs have been a very controversial subject to talk about but have also been the most systematic way of ranking a website I have found.Continue reading