Servando: Since the last time I interviewed Zach who was making $8,000 per month with Amazon Affiliate Sites (now more than 5 figures per month) the topic got a lot of popularity around my blog. When I was contacted by Dennis who’s making 4 figures per month and he has managed a few PBNs and backlinks for other people around the niche I just couldn’t refuse to accept his guest post 🙂 I bet this will help a lot of people who’s got questions from the last interview I did a few months ago.
Hey everyone, let me quickly introduce myself, my name is Dennis from Passive Solutions, I’ve been into SEO for almost 4 years now, initially ranked a few sites myself with pure spam (which worked great for a while), and eventually turned into PBN’s and sold over $500000,- worth of link packages at the Warrior Forum!
As SEO got a bad name I moved into ranking my own sites again, Amazon affiliate sites that is, as it became harder and harder to gain clients it was simply not worth the effort nor money for advertising to attract new customers so that’s how this new business was born.
Let’s talk about some mistakes first
My first 10 Amazon affiliate sites sucked big time, I outsourced it to a $2,50/500 words writer and well the content shows lol. I didn’t apply any keyword research either, it was just a quick hasty job to get some sites live and ranking. That’s mistake number one and two, poor content and little to no niche research. However, these sites did make enough money to turn a profit, some are still ranking and still making money, to date about $8000.
Then came the 2nd batch of 10 sites, which I outsourced completely at $200/site if I remember correctly. These were a little better but it was clear the builder of those sites knew little about SEO, it took quite a bit of effort to clear things up. That’s mistake number three, don’t outsource your site building to random people unless you know they know what they’re doing. Those sites made a combined $30,000 till date.
Right now I launched a 3rd batch of 10 sites, I used 4 star level writers from TextBroker so the content is on average a lot better, however there are quite a few poor writers, which you pay $2,40/100 words for so be careful, paying more doesn’t always mean better content. These sites are build very recently and haven’t made any significant money yet.
Let’s sum the mistakes up quickly:
- Lack of niche / keyword research (made some really poor choices like Tablets)
- Poor content
- Hiring site builders that know nothing about SEO
My oldest sites are approximately two and a half years old, and have gone through several Panda and Penguin updates and some suffered dramatically. Part of the learning curve I’d say. I could add that poor link building was mistake nr.4 however it was not so much poor link building, more so poor anchor diversity, more about how to diversify your anchors properly here.
Why I only make 4 figures a month right now!
The short answer is, taking too much hay on my fork, as you just read I launched sites in batches of 10, this comes from my background as a link seller where I dealt with dozens and at some time hundreds of clients at the same time.
However, times change, to rank for medium competitive keywords you need 2-3 times as much links as you needed let’s say three years ago. Mostly caused by the fact that you need to diversify your anchor texts. In other words, a large portion of your links are actually anchor fodder, think of brand + generic anchors, they do very little for your rankings besides avoiding your site too tank during an update, which is kind of important so you can’t skip on it 😉
I know that many who are reading this would love to make four figures a month, as it can be a decent income of course but personally for myself it has been a huge failure. Simply because I could’ve made a TON more money had I taken a more organized approach and one site at a time.
Why I think I could’ve made a ton more…
This realization came when my largest client told me how much he earned, while he used to fully depend on my link services. In October last year he told me he earns $50,000 per month!!!
In December my sales nearly tripled, his as well, meaning he just broke 6 figures in a single month!
Let me list a few things why he’s doing so much better than me:
- Content. He goes through great lengths to find proper writers, not just any writer that writes decent English, no he tries to find writers that put some real personality in the content they write and he sticks to max 1 writer for 1 site. He pays them generously (though no professional rates like $150/article btw), more like $3/100 words. The visitors of his site love it, and the bounce rate shows it.
- Site Design. Building sites was a hobby for him and with his experience as a programmer for a large firm he applies certain professionalism to all he does, and it shows. All of his sites look great and broadcast a certain trust, in combination with the enjoyable content and the honest reviews (not just listing the positives) people really trust the site which helps a lot in terms of conversions as well.
- Backlinks. He doesn’t do a lot different than me, he buys about 80 links per site from me, about the same amount that I build to my own sites. However, I didn’t know that he had a PBN of his own as well, which counts 250 sites by now. So he doesn’t only buy 80 links from me, he also builds an additional 40-50 himself. Don’t under estimate the power of links guys, this is the #1 factor that can make a huge change of income or better said the difference between ranking at the bottom of page one / top page two (like many of my sites) vs ranking in the top 3 and often the first position. 1
For the record, he has about 30 sites, I have about 30 sites. My sites made $6,250 last December, and are on its way to make $3500 this month. His sites made well over $100k in December and probably about half this month so it’s not about the amount of sites.
Did I mention keyword research? No!
The reason is that if you have enough resources kw research or better said competition research becomes kind of redundant. Especially when you plan to cover dozens of main stream niches. You simply run out of choice when you apply strict filters. The only rules we apply are pretty basic:
- Keywords must have at least a few thousand searches/month
- Should not be in the tech or digital niche (high competition/low commissions)
- Products must be sold on average for at least $30/product, preferably a lot higher
When you apply these rules you’ll have a tough time to come up with more than let’s say 50 complete different niches so there is simply no room for competition analysis besides avoiding niches like electronics.
What if I don’t have plenty of resources?
In that case it’s wise to apply competition research of course, you likely won’t end up with a site that will make $3000-5000/month like that client of mine does on average per site but once you start to make money there’s always room to grow, just don’t register a domain like bestcarseatsfortoddlers.com, try to keep it a bit broader!
A great keyword research tool that I ran into very recently is Term Explorer. Most likely never heard of it as it isn’t marketed that well and it doesn’t come with an affiliate program so many refuse to promote it, I personally refuse to promote poor tools, even if it would make me a million dollars!
Perhaps the author of this site can write a detailed review about Term Explorer some day as they truly deserve it or you can have a look at the review I wrote myself. Believe me when I say it’s a true gold digger!
Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks…
I can’t say it often enough; backlinks are still the no. 1 ranking factor when it concerns Google.
So let’s talk a little about backlinks, and the types of links you need.
In an ideal world you would want links from sites that are relevant to your niche or related in some way but we don’t live in an ideal world. It’s absurd difficult to gain true white hat links, I’m not talking about blog comments or forum posts here. I’m talking about editorial contextual links at authority sites.
I am not saying it’s impossible but you would have to put a TON of effort into your sites to make them link worthy, don’t underestimate that. If you want to take the white hat approach you must aim to be an authority yourself, without that you won’t have much of a chance.
My aim is not to build authority sites, let that be clear, my aim is to make sites that make money!
Right now there are a lot of sites that offer guest posts for sale, ranging from $60 to $200 per post. That’s not only quite expensive but most SEO companies offering those aren’t even offering legit guest posts. Just pick some and ask for samples and run them through SEMrush. You will see that these sites advertised as legit sites receive ZERO traffic. In other words, it’s a scam!!! They are just PBN sites with a nice design around them to make it look legit. Well if I had to spend $60-200 on a guest post I do expect a certain amount of visibility and traffic, not to end up on a dead beat site!
My point, white hat can’t be bought, or in other words it’s tremendously hard to scale.
That’s why I stick to private blog network links, they are easy to scale, they are more affordable and they work!
How to identify a solid PBN link?
Most have been brainwashed either by Google or by Spencer from Niche Pursuits that PBN links don’t live a long life. What Spencer didn’t mention is all the mistakes he and Hayden made when setting up the network, nor the huge publicity they gave to it as his site is quite popular!
Yes, Google did take out a large number of private blog networks but not without reason, most simply sucked. I could give you tons of examples like BMR, HPRS, UAW and what they all did wrong but let’s just summarize it all in one list:
- Hosting – Most use SEO hosts, reseller hosts or cheap $1/month hosts, all hosts that are widely abused by thousands of SEO’s and Internet Marketers. No wonder Google picks some of them periodically and takes them down. Big NO.
- Content – I own a large network myself and tried many things in the past, also using spun content. My observation was that PBN sites where I published spun content had a much higher deindex rate than the sites where I only published unique content. E.g. 1% deindex vs 10%+
- Domains – The majority of sellers use long time dropped domains, e.g. the Hayden method, which is a big fail. I tested this again, recent dropped domains hardly ever got deindexed by Google, however domains that were deleted for years in a row dropped like fleas. Not to mention that those oldies were much weaker in terms of link strength. Solid domains aren’t available for $10 registration fee.
What you also have to watch out for are people advertising their network based on metrics like PA (Moz’s Page Authority) or TF (Majestic’s Trust Flow). Most people who advertise it based on DA/PA spam their domains to artificially inflate those metrics, you don’t want your link on such domain. Others who often base the strength on TF use the TF of the actual URL, e.g. http://www.site.com/ instead of entering the root domain site.com. Which means that a domain with a TF of 12 (which is reasonable) often have a root domain TF of only 5 (which is completely unacceptable). Most sellers in the current marketplace apply one or more of these tricks to make their network look stronger so be warned, it’s a dubious place out there.
In fact, it’s pretty hard to find a reliable seller of PBN links so it’s best to set up your own. I tried to find one myself, with the knowledge I have, but the majority of sellers simply lied about most and eventually I had to ask them to remove the links. I couldn’t even find one seller who did a proper job. No wonder most people fail to make money online.
How I setup my PBN’s
Let me tell you a little more about my network and how yours should look like:
- Only use shared hosting plans, not the cheap $1 hosts nor reseller hosts that provide multiple IP’s, it costs a little more but later on you will thank me
- Only use unique written content, I wouldn’t recommend iWriter though however HireWriters is a fairly decent alternative as they have a stricter policy when it concerns writers. Haven’t spot a million Indians there, no offense!
- Backorder domains, here you can get decent domains at $69/piece, there are also auctions but prices can really get out of hand there so try to stick to backordering through SnapNames or NameJet.
- Never spam your domains with GSA or anything, it’s just not worth it to turn a good domain into a spammy one.
That sums it up pretty much!
Personally I’m taking it one step further lately by only using native UK/US writers for my PBN’s, it was a hell to find them as all the semi-decent places like HireWriters and TextBrokers still have an awful lot of poor writers in their arsenal. What I did instead was start a paid Facebook campaign to recruit writers and that was really worth the effort.
Quality really matters guys, not just for your money site but for your backlinks as well, sure it isn’t getting any cheaper this way but believe me when I say it’s possible to build a sustainable online income while still using grey hat methods, e.g. PBN links. It’s really up to you how much effort you put into your network.
Heck I even have PBN sites that are ranking at page two for keywords with 1600 searches/month, I could never even have dreamed of that in the past. All the side effect of decent content.
Some final words
You don’t have to go full white hat to build a sustainable income and pull in 5 or even 6 figures a month from your Amazon affiliate sites. Just change your mind set and focus on quality.
I only started to understand that concept very recently lol. Right now I own 35 Amazon affiliate sites, yep there was a 4th batch and some sites of the 1st batch have been removed. All my sites are ranking between page one and page three right now and I scheduled a few dozen extra links for each of them so before the summer comes I expect to increase my current income from $3,500/month to $15k/month, simply cause so many sites are at page two and three right now.
Had I build one site at a time and focused on quality right from the start I would’ve made 5 figures much earlier.
Never too old to learn!