Tim

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Results From 10 Rank Guardian Customers

Now that we’ve been up and running for a few months with Rank Guardian, there are quite a few customers who have come through the doors.

We’ve been tracking all of their rankings (it’s part of what we offer), and today I wanted to share screenshots from 10 of those customers.

To protect the customer and their site we are of course hiding the actual keywords that they rank for, but these screenshots should still serve as useful proof that our links are working.

Not only that, it helps you understand the kind of timeframes we are dealing with. Not every site experiences results in the same period of time, and sometimes it takes Google longer to find the links, but if you check out the 10 screenshots below, you’ll notice some clear patterns:

  • It usually takes about a week for the links to start kicking in
  • Once the links get indexed, there’s a decent jump in rankings
  • As more links get found, rankings often continue to slowly climb.

Some of the screenshots below are for a customer who bought multiple Rank Guardian packages, but most of them are from just one package only.

Site 1

Keyword: [product] reviews

Search Volume: 2,900

Ranking Boost: From pos 25 to pos 9 in around 6 weeks.

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Site 2

Keyword: [product] reviews

SV: 2,400

Boost: 31 to 17 in 4 weeks.

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Site 3

Keyword: City + service

SV: 720

Boost: From 4 to 1 in 1 week.

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Site 4

Keyword: City + service

SV: 1,300

Boost: 7 to 2 in 3 weeks.

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Site 5

Keyword: Best [product]

SV: 1,600

Boost: Pos 20 to 11 in 3-4 weeks

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Site 6

Keyword: Best [product]

SV: 590

Boost: 18 to 10 in 4 weeks.

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Site 7

Keyword: Best [product]

SV: 6,600

Boost: 16 to 5 in 4 weeks.

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Site 8

Keyword: Best [Product]

SV:1,900

Boost: 21 to 8 in 3 weeks.

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Site 9

Keyword: [product] reviews

SV: 1,300

Boost: 67 to 21 in 2 weeks

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Site 10

Keyword: [product name] review

SV: 880

Boost: 18 to 8 in 3 weeks

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Final Thoughts

It’s pretty clear to see the patterns in the above screenshots, which I will reiterate now.

Links usually take 3-4 weeks to get results, but in some cases can have an effect faster. One thing we’ve noticed since Penguin 4 went live though is that links are taking a little bit longer to work. Now it might be 4-6 weeks before you really start to see a boost.

Most of these results were achieved with just 1 link package, so getting to the top 3 positions is likely doable with 2-3 orders. There is always more resistance and slower movement once you get closer to the top.

Finally, what you CAN’T see from these screenshots is that all of these sites were well optimized and primed to jump up the SERPS. Some sites won’t budge, and that’s because there is an issue with the site itself. No amount of links can fix bad on page SEO or poorly optimized keywords.

This is why a big part of what we do before taking your order is to analyze your site and the competition, and give you our thoughts on the number of links that you might need. Additionally, if we think you need to work on the on-site SEO first, we will definitely advise you of this.

It could just be a case of adding more words, using the keywords slightly better, or it might be a whole mess of things you need to fix. We can’t say for sure until we know what we are working with.

As you can see though, we are pretty good at getting results!

If you want similar results, or you want to learn more about what we do, then check out our Rank Guardian service here.

Rank Guardian Mini Case Study

There has been a ton of interest in our new Rank Guardian service since we launched it back in August. Unlike a lot of other similar SEO link building services we’re providing both some on-page guidance to help you choose the best keywords to target and also figuring out the optimal link strategy to get the keywords ranking well.

We’re getting a lot of questions from people about which package they should sign up for and I thought it would be helpful to do a mini case study on one my own sites that used the exact same links as what we provide with Rank Guardian. This way you can gauge for yourself which package would be a good fit for your own site.

Background Info

For obvious reasons I won’t be sharing the exact URL of the site. However, I can tell you it’s a small niche site with just about 25 posts (started with 10 posts and added in 15 posts over the span of few months in late 2015). I originally built the site in the summer of 2014 and meant to try and rank it then, but got distracted with a lot of other projects and other niche sites I was working on. So the site mostly sat around until earlier this year when I finally had a chance to focus a little on it.

Now in the interest of full disclosure I had done a little link building in late 2015 and early 2016 before I started using Rank Guardian style links on the site. I used a Hoth “platinum package” and about 15 PBN links from my own network to target about 5 separate pages on the site. However, I specifically had not targeted the page that I focused on later with the Rank Guardian links.

Rankings

Unfortunately I wasn’t planning on using the site for a case study so I don’t have the best rankings data to share. I use Serplab.co.uk to track most of my rankings and while it’s a fantastic free ranking tool that I highly recommend, it only tracks 30 days of data unless you pay $5/month, which I wasn’t doing until recently. Here are the rankings in Serplab for the keywords I was targeting for this case study.

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I luckily did have a couple of the main keywords in Serpfox which is another good rank tracker to use, but you have to pay for it based on how many keywords you track. Keyword #1 has an estimated monthly search volume of 5,400/month according to Serpfox and when I first started targeting it in late March it was fluctuating between the high teens and the low 20s. It’s currently ranking #2.

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Keyword #2 has an estimated search volume of 4,400/month and it was in the low 20s in late March and now ranks #1.rg-1

Here you can see the SEMRush report that shows the number of keywords the site ranks for in the top 100 (3.5k). SEMRush also shows the estimated traffic for the site as well which loosely corresponds to the real traffic it’s getting.

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Traffic

While I don’t have the best rank tracking data available I do have very useful traffic analytics to show. Below you can see the traffic quickly increase for the entire site since I started tracking it in Clicky ( Clicky is a great analytics tool that I prefer over Google Analytics, but you unfortunately have to pay for it). It steadily climbed from around 50 visits a day for the site to around 400-500 visits.

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As I mentioned above, I was focusing on one specific page with all the links I was doing and in the screenshot below you can see the traffic for both that specific page and the entire site (dark blue line = site’s traffic and light blue line = specific page).

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As you can see, the page I was targeting went from pretty much no traffic at all in mid-April to over 200 unique visits a day by July.

What’s really interesting is that the traffic for the entire site went up across the board despite the fact I was only targeting one page with all the links. This is almost certainly because of the inner linking I have done on the site (i.e. I have internal links on the targeted page to several other key pages on my site that I want to rank well).

Link Strategy

The point of this whole mini case study is to give you an example of what to expect with Rank Guardian so below I’m going to list exactly what I did to get the site ranking so well.

In total I added in 3 sets of links over about 4 months targeting the one specific page I was trying to rank

  • Mid-April – Added in a “Results” (15 links) $399 package
  • Mid-May – Added in a “Results” (15 links) $399 package
  • Early-July – Added in a “Basic” (10 links) $299 package

So with 40 links and what would cost $1,097 with Rank Guardian I went from around 50/visits a day to well over 400/day on most days, including 200/day on my targeted page.

Below is an outline of when the links got added in and how the traffic improved after each set of links. Note that for the early July links most of the keywords were already ranking pretty well so I was really trying to bump the last ones in the 3-5 range up to #1 or #2.

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Earnings

As you can see by targeting just one page with about 40 Rank Guardian links the site’s rankings and traffic have jumped considerably over the past 6 months. Traffic and rankings are great to monitor to see progress, however, what really matters is whether the site is really earning any money. Well I’m happy to report the site has continued to improve and in August (the latest full month I have stats for) the site shipped 177 items and earned over $400.

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I’m very pleased with how this site has done both in terms of the traffic/rankings and earnings. My plan now is to target two new pages I had made for the site and try and get them ranking well within the next 2-3 months. I think I can continue to bump the earnings of this site up and hopefully reach $1,000 month in the next 3-6 months.

Penguin 4.0

Since Penguin 4.0 launched a couple of weeks ago I thought it would be useful to give a quick update on the status of the site. I’m happy to report that this site (and all of my sites actually) have so far not seen any negative impact from the new penguin. In fact traffic for the site has actually jumped over the past few days as you can see below.

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It’s too early to speculate on what might happen in the future, but right now I’m very optimistic about this site and its longevity. Of course no artificial link building is completely risk free, but with Rank Guardian we make the links look very natural and use a lot of diversification. This will very likely help sites continue to rank well while avoiding the potential negative consequences from appearing to have too many unnatural links.

Wrap Up

To recap this mini case study:

  • Started trying to rank a specific page and set of keywords in mid-April
  • Created 40 links in total over the span of about 4 months (would cost $1,097 using Rank Guardian)
  • Traffic jumped from about 50 visits a day to 400-500 visits
  • Rankings for the keywords I targeted jumped from the 20s to either #1 or #2
  • Rankings for the site rapidly climbed from around 500 in the top 100 to about 9,000 in the top 100
  • The site earned around $400 last month and I expect it to do well, especially during the Christmas holiday season
  • My new plan is to target 2 new pages and get them ranking well and have the site earn $1,000/month within 3-6 months

I know there is a lot of confusion over links and when to expect results, so hopefully this mini case study gives you a better idea of what to expect when using Rank Guardian (or any link building service).  If you have any questions leave a comment below.

2

The Real Cost of Setting Up Your Own PBN

pbn cost

Private Blog Networks, or PBNs, have been all the rage in the SEO community for the past few years. The accolades are not without warrant.

As far as ranking websites, backlinks work. And, as anyone who has done outreach knows, asking others for links is a long and often fruitless endeavor. Instead, having links on demand seriously reduces the time burden of building the links your websites need to rank well in the SERPs.

How to Build Powerful Backlinks Without Outreach

Update: As of August 2016, I now offer my own link building service, Rank Guardian. The results have been fantastic, and I'd love to help you rank your site too.

Outreach and guest posting work, but they take serious commitment. If you have the time and resources to spend 40 hours or more a week, or to hire someone to spend that time fishing for links, then you can see serious results from this type of link building.

But, if you’re looking for a better ROI and much more scalable link building method, you basically have two options:

1.) Build your own PBN

2.) Buy links from a third party

Both strategies can yield some stunning results, but before you make a choice of which is right for you, it’s important to break down the costs associated with both options.

The Cost of Building Your Own PBN

Setting up and running your own private blog network can result in fantastic ranking improvements for your websites. But, a PBN is not something you throw a few dollars into to get started and set it up over night.

There are two basic expense categories to consider while planning out your PBN if you decide to build one: infrastructure and maintenance. 

Infrastructure can be further broken down into –

  • Domains
  • Hosting
  • Content

Whereas maintenance refers to –

  • Setup
  • General upkeep
  • Unanticipated upkeep

To get started on putting a real dollar amount in getting a PBN setup, built out, and maintained we can take a look at each of those above categories independently. 

We are also going to work under the assumption you’re planning on starting out with a relatively small 10 site PBN.

Domains – You can’t have a PBN without domains. The important part of these domains is that they are expired with some nice links already aimed their way.

There are a few ways to get these types of domains, such as buying them from auctions, buying them from brokers, or scraping them with tools, with each of these methods carrying different costs. The strength of the domain also affects the pricing.

The cheapest method mentioned above would be scraping for domains your self, if you don’t include the time you put in to doing so, which should not be ignored as scraping can take days, especially if you’re not experienced with it.

Brokers can get pricey, and auctions even pricier if you’re aiming for some real premium domains.

Since most people reading this want to rank websites to make money and not become a professional web scraper, we’ll work under the assumption you’ll buy expired domains from a respectable and not overly expensive broker.

The quick and easy way of doing so is to just use a broker that orders packages like those you can find here from Pure Quality Domains. Their cheapest 10-site package runs $250.  You could try to scrape for those domains, but as stated before, the time and tools needed to do so would most likely end up costing you more than the $250.

Total cost for your PBN so far: $250

You then also need to register the domains. There are various places to do so such as GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Hover, and they all charge different amounts. However, it’s best practice to not register all of your PBN domains with the same registrar, so a fair average cost of registration per domain is around $10, or $100 for all 10 for each year your own them. (fake whois)

Total cost for your PBN so far: $350

Hosting – Now that you have some great domains you need to set them up on hosting. Several years ago using cheap $1/month hosting was cat’s pajamas. That was until lots of people using cheap $1/month hosting had their PBNs de-indexed.

There are plenty of theories why that happened ranging from Google targeting specific cheap hosting resellers to just the fact that bargain hosting usually results in horrific site performance, which can get you de-indexed too. Regardless of why it happened, it still happened.

So, best practice now is to use more common web hosting solutions, like Bluehost, HostGator, and A Small Orange. And like with your domain registration, you won’t want to use the same hosting for each domain, and you want different IPs for each domain too.

You can get some small or baby plans from the hosting solutions for around $4/month give or take, so the sake of simplicity, we’ll say properly hosting your 10-site PBN will run about $40/month, or $480 for the year.

Total cost for your PBN so far: $830

Content – You can’t have a PBN without adding content to your new sites. Again, you can try doing this all yourself, which a lot of invested time and usually leads to total burnout, or you can pay for content.

When paying for content you’re going to need to decide on what quality you’re aiming for. The cost of writers from tier 1 English speaking countries like the USA, Canada, the UK, etc. is going to be significantly higher than the cost of using Filipino writers. Since you aren’t trying to really win readers over or sell them anything from your PBN, most opt for the latter.

There are plenty of writing services out there like HireWriters and iWriter. Using iWriter as an example, the cheapest 500-word article would run $3. Making the assumption that your 10-site PBN would link out to 10 money sites, you would need 100 articles, not including any supporting pages you add like an About page. The total cost of the content would be $300. Again, this does not take into account any other posts or pages you add to the PBN sites, but for simplicities sake, this estimate will do.

Total cost for your PBN so far: $1130

Content isn’t just articles. You’ll also need your PBN sites to look like real sites to minimize the chances of them getting de-indexed. That’s why most people add customs logos to each site.

You don’t need award-winning logos, so a basic Fiverr style logo should do, but you need to include the cost. Fiverr now adds on a processing fee per order, so one logo will run you $5.50, making the total for the 10 you need $55.

Total cost for your PBN so far: $1185

Setup – Websites don’t build themselves so after you have your domains, hosting, and content, you need to put them all together. Without getting into the some of the trickier stuff you need to do when managing a rather large PBN, even the basic setup can take some time.

For example, here are some of the tasks that need to be done:

  • Connecting your domains to the hosting
  • Installing WordPress or whatever CMS you choose to use
  • Choosing a theme
  • Adding a logo
  • Installing and setting up plugins
  • Setting up your menu
  • Adding your content
  • Formatting your content
  • Adding images

To make these websites look like real sites and not part of a blog network you need to spend a little time on all the above.

Depending on your experience with setting up sites and how much editing the cheap content you bought requires determines how much time each site would take to setup, but for the sake of putting a dollar figure into this process, let’s say you’re fairly quick at setting up each site, averaging 2 hours per site. That would be a total of 20 hours of setup time.

How much money are those 20 hours worth? Again, this is a bit of an arbitrary number, but by taking an annual salary of $45,000 a year, your hourly pay rate would be around $21.60. So, using that pay rate your setup time would be the equivalent of about $432.

Total cost for your PBN so far: $1617

General Upkeep – While you can set and forget your blogs on your PBN, it’s not really a great idea to do so. Firstly, failing to update plugins is one of the biggest ways to get your sites hacked. Second, stale sites tend to lose their ranking power.

Even by doing the bare minimum and spending two hours a month on upkeep at the same hourly rate listed before, a year would run around $518.

Total cost for your PBN so far: $2135

Unanticipated Upkeep – It’s an annoying but unavoidable fact that when working with websites, things break. It doesn’t happen all the time, but perhaps a hosting server crashes and you lose all the data for one PBN site, or there’s a problem with the billing on another.

Dealing with this kind of thing takes time, and any time you spend fixing the problems is time you aren’t spending working on your money sites or other parts of your business.

Assuming you only have a couple medium-sized hiccups during your first year, we can estimate in 10 hours of time at out previously determined hourly rate. That would add another $216 to your costs.

Total cost for your PBN so far: $2351

In Summary

Setting up a PBN, even a smaller 10-site one, is not the quickest or cheapest way to help push your money site up the SERPs, but it’s certainly an effective one. The fairly low-cost example we set up above would give you approximately a total of 100 links spread out to 10 sites for $2351. That equates to $23.51 a link for the first year. The, there’s recurring annual costs of maintaining those sites and links of  $1314 for the domain renewals, hosting, and general & unanticipated upkeep.

It’s important to remember that this estimated cost-per-link is basically a best-case scenario where you’re maximizing the value of each PBN site and getting 10 outbound links per site. That means you also need to fund 10 money sites.

If you only have 5 money sites the cost-per-link would actually jump up to around $44, and if you are only running 3 money sites it jumps even higher to around a whopping $71 per link. The reasoning behind this is that regardless of whether your PBN is supporting 1 money site or 10 money sites, you still need the domains, hosting, logos, setup, and maintenance. The only expense you would save on is the content.

And, all of this math assumes you don’t have any of your PBN sites de-indexed.

So, can you build your own PBN to help rank you money sites? Absolutely. However, unless you have a suite of money sites, you usually get much more bang for you buck when you purchase backlinks from a third party. Aside from the money you’ll save, you’ll have much more time to spend on building your websites and your business instead of messing around with setting up and maintaining a private blog network.

Also, you should really check out Rank Guardian, our new ranking service.