PBN Myths: Stop Making These Mistakes

As a link seller, there is nothing worse than seeing misinformation about how certain things work. Unfortunately, it's seemingly impossible to correct the ignorance that's out there. It gets to a point where you want people to believe the garbage that's being spread so that you know you're that much further ahead.

The following are some pretty common "myths," recurring themes, or customer questions I've seen on PBNs.

red pen

3 PBN Myths

1. Only Full Posts on the Homepage Work

A typical network site features giant homepage posts dishing out links to 25+ sites at a time.

This site features a skeleton WordPress setup, 25 recent posts, and is set up with "Full-posts" on the homepage. For some reason, there is this universally accepted way of performing PBN posts, and they require full posts on the homepage for the juiciest of juice.

At the end of the day, the goal is to please customers. When they have certain expectations of how something is done, you want to adhere to those expectations. While I'm not saying this doesn't work, I'm saying it shouldn't have to be the standard for how things are performed.

There are straight up people who think this is the only way network sites can be set up in order to pass link juice to your money site. This is dead wrong and the sites look like a pile of flaming dumpster trash. It's also a pretty massive footprint to get only homepage links.

I've decided to break that mold and do things as I see fit in order to make things last longer for customers. These changes were inspired by deindexings back in mid-June of this year when I lost 20 network sites because my sites became associated with blogs that look like the above. This resulted in a re-evaluation of how things are being done.

Over the past 6 months, I've had to reject tons of orders because people have links similar to my example. While I may be losing money, at least I won't have to replace a couple thousand dollars worth of websites.

Some data to back this up because everyone loves data

I had planned to release this back when I did it but stuff happens and my main priority isn't to blog.

I told my VA to take the new sites and setup skeleton setups with a single excerpt on the homepage. Here were some of those results.


The above is a representation of 10 unique network sites sending a single link to 10 different target sites (or a 1:1).

While that's well and good, my service obviously has 12-15 excerpts on the homepage.

The next question is does this result in positive rankings across client sites?


The results after making the changes in June have been the best I've had since starting this service in 2015.


The above sites received 10 posts on a drip for 30 days (my standard). I have a lot more screenshots, but those are all being saved for when I compile them for my sales page.

Hopefully, you get the idea. If excerpts didn't work, the above results wouldn't be possible. Not to mention stuff like Guest posts and Link insertions wouldn't work either.

2. Posts Rolling-Off the Homepage are Useless

This topic is somewhat controversial. To preface, I'll explain what the general belief on this topic is:

One-off posts have no actual value because while they may temporarily increase rankings, eventually they roll-off the homepage meaning rankings will inevitably drop.

No. Stop. You're traumatizing me.

movement old to now

This topic has been covered in detail in the past, it's similar to a "Link Echo" or a "Link Ghost." You can learn more in a 2014 post by Rand Fishkin if you aren't familiar.

Earlier this year I made the conscious decision to continue tracking orders until I made this blog post. Some of the clients above are repeat customers and I knew that they actively build links and as a result, I knew their rankings would be maintained and they would have continuous growth.

So when I hear people say that one-off posts offer no "value," it confuses me. If the belief above was true then that would mean rankings should plummet after all posts leave the homepage.

Comparatively, we can look at Rental links. In a PBN rental you will pay a fee in order to maintain your blog post on the homepage of the network site. These fees vary, but with non-payment comes the removal of your link from the blog post and the post rolling into the inner-pages of the domain.

In this case, you will experience a ghost/echo for a number of months (completely random number of days/months) because your link no longer exists on the domain.

In the case of one-offs we have links that are on the blogs forever, or until the site becomes deindexed, stops providing positive juice (usually because of link loss), or in some cases has too many indexed pages (personal preference for retirement).

Please note that I'm not saying that all sites stick. I'm saying that in order for long-term rankings to stick you need to maintain link building and growth. In nearly all cases where clients report ranking drops it's because they bought 10 posts from me, saw increased rankings, and then completely stopped link building. That isn't natural.

3. Traffic, Relevancy, Foreign Language Targets & ccTLDs, and Minimum Metric Requirements

Minimum Metric Requirements

I'm actually dumbfounded when I read messages from people that request this type of stuff. I haven't used Moz or Majestic metrics as a way of gauging domain power in a long time. With that said the number of times I've been asked about the "average metrics" of my network is too many to count. Every time someone asks this question, my answer is "I have no idea."

I did a pretty lengthy blog post on domain analysis back in May. If you haven't read it, I'd suggest checking it out. You can find that blog post here: https://www.www.hatred.io/analyzing-pbn-domains/.

TL;DR: I'm after strong referring domains to the homepage. The strategy outlined in that blog post I've used for a very long time and it will continue to work as long as Big G' values links. We aren't relying on algorithm generated metrics, we're looking at links.

Foreign Languages

So this is actually a decent question and I can see why it's asked a lot. At the end of the day, a link is a link is a link. Meaning my English domain will move your Danish, German, French, Spanish, Australian, etc domain in their respective SERPs.

To go further, my ccTLDs (.co.uk, .co.nz, .es, .pt) will move your English and Foreign domains in their SERPs. Truth be told, a HUGE portion of my network consists of ccTLDs and clients get movement regardless.

While these still work, I'm not a huge fan of using foreign anchors. I do allow stuff like branded anchors, naked URLs, author names, and generics. So most of the stuff below that doesn't have English as a first language, I used one of those options for anchors.

This Patent for ways of detecting spam is also another reason: Learn more

region specific

Listed above are 5 different sites in various regions. They all received 10 posts from my ccTLDs.

Relevancy and Traffic

So while we're on the topic of foreign language movement, we can discuss relevancy and traffic. I'm not a huge believer in "relevancy" being a factor. I will completely agree with the fact that niche relevant sites do tend to look better as a way of future proofing yourself.

I also believe the same thing in terms of traffic. Sites that are niche relevant and have traffic look better as an outsider, but these posts often cost an arm and a leg. On average a decent guest post is going to run you $100+.

I decided to grab the first Danish site and look at the links that support it.

The Danish site is related to the outdoor niche. The niches and traffic of the PBNs that support it are:

Video Games0
Gender Equality111
Security Consultants0

The client had an overall movement of 80s to 11th. So would you say relevancy and traffic were a significant factor?

An analysis I like to reference for this question is one Terry Kyle ran in 2017. It can be found via his blog on Archive.org:


Again, I completely agree with people who think relevancy and traffic are ways of future-proofing themselves but are they a significant factor when it comes to ranking and passing juicy juice around the table? No.

Wrapping this Up

Unfortunately, I had another myth related to diminishing returns based on increased outbound link percentages, but the test was run so long ago that I can't seem to find the data in my Skype files. Which stinks because another one of the most common questions is "What is the average number of OBL on the homepage?"

This question is somewhat moot considering I've swapped to excerpts, but as noted above, the number of posts is 12-15.

This test wasn't run by me because I opted not to split the costs. My buddy ran it himself and was nice enough to share it with me and was going to allow me to share it in this blog post.

Oh well, maybe for next time.

How to Analyze Domains for Your PBN: What to Look For

"What do you look for in a network site?" - John Doe

"What Metrics do you use to filter PBNs?" - Jane Doe

PBN Domain analysis is something that seems to be up in the air. If you are active in SEO communities on Facebook or through forums  then you have likely seen the array of responses. Everyone has their own ideas of what makes a domain "strong" in terms of link equity or juice. That or they regurgitate what someone else said and so the cycle continues.

Most people look at metrics as a way of filtering down their sites. While that's well and good, their methodologies are off. I've personally never been able to move ranks with metrics, rather I move rankings with strong referring domains. This is also why I don't advertise metrics on my sales page. I advertise toxicity tested network sites, not TF 60 sites with 5 Referring domains.

How to Analyze PBN Domains

List of Domains

Before I go about breaking down domains, I need a list of domains to work with. Listed below are some of the providers I use, as well as some sites I use for auctions.

Domain Scrapers / Auction Domain Providers:

Kalin: https://seo.domains/

Max/Nargil: His BHW Thread

Patrick: https://www.serpchampion.com/

Sumit: http://www.dominatingpbns.com/

TB Solutions: https://www.tbsolutions.info/

Auction Sites

Dropcatch: https://www.dropcatch.com/

Namejet: http://www.namejet.com/

Godaddy: https://auctions.godaddy.com/

Pheenix: https://www.pheenix.com/

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the providers or auction sites listed above.

The Tools

The following are what I use in order to analyze domains

Ahrefs: https://ahrefs.com/

Majestic: https://majestic.com/

Archive.org: https://archive.org/

*Domcop: https://www.domcop.com/

Domcop isn't necessary but makes things easier having several auction sources in one platform.

Visual Analysis?

Depending on the platform and what you are looking at, this entire process varies. If you are working with an auction hunter like Max, Patrick, or Sumit you can usually be sure the domains are spam-free. If you are working with a scraper like Kalin or buying domains at Auction they may not.

For this example i'll be using Dropcatch. The first thing I do is go in and grab all their listings and paste them into excel. I'm essentially just looking for plain-text from their table that I can then stick into Ahrefs.

Head over to the bulk-analysis tab on Ahrefs. Stick the domains in and wait for Ahrefs to process the domains. Once you are done you are going to export them and look at the Referring Domains (RDs). From the list of 200, 83 of them had RDs greater than 10. That's already 117 I don't have to look at.

The next part of my process is going to sound foreign to some people. I'm not going to use "data-based" analysis in the classic sense, rather I'm going to visually analyze trend graphs on Majestic based on that data.

This domain is likely "clean." There is a clear trend between trust flow and citation flow. Meaning the referring domains are likely decent.

This domain is likely spammy. This is why you shouldn't blindly trust metrics. If this site had 1 TF 50 link it would skew an overview of this site.

This process brought the list from 83 to 7 potential purchases.

Link Type

The next thing I look at are the style of links. We are after 70% or more contextual links (TextLinks).

Note: There is a reason people sell contextual PBN posts and not image homepage links.

This site is perfect. Over 98% of the links are Contextual (text based anchors).
This was the worst of the lot. It is still above 70%, so we can keep it till the next phase.

I've had sites that appear solid from the trend graph but have 80% of their links as images. This is the primary reason I use this as a step for filtering.

The next bit I look at are links to the homepage. In most cases you are going to create a network site and leverage the power of the homepage.

This is just from personal experience but generally speaking, sites with more RDs to the homepage initially are going to perform better than sites with RDs spread out throughout the site. Granted, you could re-create those pages, setup internal links, or even link from that page specifically, but this process can be hit or miss when it comes to testing and actual movement from the site.

We want around 50+% of the total RDs to be to pointed at some form of the homepage; www, non-www, /index.html style pages, etc.

Put the domain into Ahrefs overview. On the left hand column find pages, and "Best by links."

This process removed 4 more sites. 

304/459 RDs go to the homepage

Archive and Spam Checks

Only at this point do I then stick the sites into Archive.org in order to check spam history. We are looking for people who used the site to create a PBN.

Essentially a site that blatantly looks like a PBN or a site that was recreated from an archive with a new-found liking for a random website.

If a site looks "legit," back-track. If a site went from looking one way in html with an actual business address & phone number. Then it transforms into a blog with a homepage link. There's probably a reason for it, and it's sketchy. I'm not a huge fan of hoping for the best. There are thousands of domains on auction every day, and anything that you don't feel confident about, shouldn't be up for discussion.

When looking at Archives, you want to look at the most recent date, as well as a point in the past.

For instance, this site has met the criteria thus far: DogInmySuitcase.com

Archive from 2013


Archive from 2017


The archive from 2013 looks like the actual site. It features an address, phone number, about, legal, etc pages. The version in 2017 doesn't feature any of these. A text based logo, and strange image links on the homepage. There was also a random period where it was related to cheerleaders?

The site is indexed but i'm not willing to risk it.

IP History

Say the site is an archive rebuild or a nice PBN and you can't find a sketchy anchor. It may be time to check the IP history of the site.

If you see a site is hosted with a particular service and it randomly changes, but the site is the same, there is likely a reason for it.

This process has left us with 2 sites. We now need to check anchor text history on ahrefs. Be sure to check both the www and non-www versions of your site. Ahrefs may treat these different and if you only check say the www version but the spam happened on non-www, you will not be able to see it.

Fortunately, both of the sites have clean anchors and clean histories. When you are scanning the anchors on Ahrefs, take note of the sites niche and terms that should generally be found there. If your site is about dogs, then you can expect to find dog related anchors. Something like Cialis or Gambling probably aren't related.

Link Analysis

To summarize, we have taken our list of 200 sites and brought it down to 2 potential purchases.  These sites feature hundreds of referring domains that are primarily pointed to the homepage. Their link profiles and histories are clean from spam. The links are also contextual in nature.

To this point, we haven't looked at any metrics other than referring domains. We now need to look at the actual physical links that support these domains. Generally speaking, Ahrefs does a better job of picking up links in comparison to Majestic or Moz so we will be using it in order to analyze links.

Do-follow vs No-follow

  1. We want links that are primarily dofollow in nature. Both of these domains check out.

Links to Like and Links to Avoid

When doing link analysis we are looking at the actual links obtained by the site. Just because a site had clean anchors and contextual links doesn't mean they are the best when it comes to being contextual.

I will navigate to the Referring domains, select the Dofollow drop-down menu, and then sort by Domain Rating (DR).

From the list below we can see contextual links on several editorials talking about the site. There are obviously 401 results and another 9 pages of links. I typically go through pages 1 to 3 and see what sort of links the site has.

Don't be thrown off by sites that are "search" based and some of the auto-generated SEO pinging sites. These are bound to happen, same with Chinese anchors. Translate them in Google, if they aren't spammy, don't fret.

There are also links to avoid

Typically these can be identified easily. The sites will look like a bad SEO touched them.

Look for: Web 2.0s, directories, profile links, links from article directories, spammy comment links, guestbooks, etc.

If you start to see these types of links, look at the anchors used. If you see an anchor repeated or a pattern, it could of been spam to a page you missed during archive/spam checks.

Basically avoid stuff that looks like a GSA SER campaign or automated link building campaign was run.

This process left me with the site screenshotted above. I wasn't satisfied with the other domains contextual links. The site was related to cooking and featured several mommy style blogs and round-ups. Meaning you share links with 50 other people on a single page.

That also explains the number of image links being 24% of the total profile. In round-ups, Mom's like to drop links to logo's or screenshots of author faces.

What About Traffic?

While traffic is great to have, it is not a significant factor in regards to movement. If anything you could use it as a way of "future proofing" yourself.

This concept is similar to niche based relevancy being a factor. Contrary to popular belief, your technology domain will still move your dog site in the serps.

Niche based relevancy tests from Terry Kyle:


You can also check out my graphs from my service, as my blogs are not niche related. Movement is achieved regardless of a niche specific domain being used.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this provides some insight on how I do domain analysis and why I don't provide metrics on my sales page. The above method is how I have gone about analysis for years and it has continued to work. Namely because I don't rely on algorithm generated metrics. Really all I care about are strong contextual links to non-spammed domains.

How to Test a Private Blog Network Site: Tests for Toxicity

Link-based testing for toxicity is something i've used for years.

It's one of the reasons my service has remained successful and why people continue to rank with it. I don't assume my stuff works, I need to know that it works.

What is PBN Toxicity Testing

Whether you're testing PBN posts, guest posts, insertions, or really any other link type. The goal is to determine whether or not the link is going to have a positive (pass) or negative (toxic) impact on your rankings. There are a number of factors that go into ranking; Having a list of domains or even providers that test their sites means that you should only see gains with proper anchor text selection.

Typically if you buy links from providers, like me, you want to ensure they are performing these types of tests. Nothing sucks worse than having toxic links going to your site resulting in lost ranks, time, and revenue.

Essentially this is what we are doing:

What do you mean by toxic?

You can define a link as being toxic if it has a negative impact on rankings. Meaning your rankings decrease after placement of the link.

Passing and Failing

Here is an example of a positive test for blogs being added to my service:

We have placement on Oct 24th and gains occur Dec 20th. Overall movement was 16th to 3rd.

Here is an example of a negative link test.

Same date of placement, Oct 24th.

What you see above is what myself and a buddy call “draining.”

Imagine your money site (MS) is like a bottle of water or a cup of juicy juice, 100% juice. If a link is toxic, your site doesn’t want to drink it, let’s face it, bad Kulaid sucks. Instead, it starts to drain. Above you see this happen gradually, and then down the rabbit hole she goes.

Setting Up the Test

There are a number of factors to consider when setting up your test. Things like money site targets/niche selection, anchor selection, setup, and more. I’ll address a couple of common questions and what to do in certain situations both pre and post-test.

Preparing Stuff

I’m assuming at this point you have a domain ready to be tested. The domain should be setup, hosted, and indexed.

Note: At this stage, your site does not need to look pretty, think 2012 PBNs. A simple skeleton WordPress site with possibly a unique theme and full post on the homepage. There is no logic in having a site fully setup and looking nice and fancy when it’s toxic.

If you set them up yourself, you’re wasting your time. If you pay to have them set up, you’re possibly wasting money. At this point, all we are doing is testing the site and the above will get the job done.

Picking targets

This is probably my least favorite part of this entire process.

I’m not a big believer in niche-based relevancy. To test your blogs, you shouldn’t be either. The goal here is just to see if your network site is passing positive link juice.

All my targets are local in nature. Meaning niches like carpet cleaning in Yorba Linda, tree removal in Tulsa, DUI lawyer in Miami, etc. So essentially a local service + a populated city.

The reasoning for using local sites to test with is simply because local is easier to rank in comparison to e-com, affiliate, and authority sites. E-commerce and affiliate-style niches have several variables and the goal is just to see if OUR link is causing the SERP movement. There should be no doubt that your link caused the movement. Meaning we are trying to eliminate as many false positives as possible.

The first thing you need is a list of cities:


You then need a niche. You can google “local niches” and there are likely thousands of ideas. Pick one and that’s what you will be using for all of your target pickings. In this case, I opted for “carpet installation.”

Here is what my excel spreadsheet looks like:

In column “A” we have the city. In column “B” the niche and in column “C” the niche and the city combined. The last column is simply =CONCATENATE(B2, A2), and then dragged all the way down.

Analyzing Keywords

Now that we have a way to find a target, we need to analyze these keywords and decide whether or not they are best suited for our testing needs. For this, we are going to be using Ahrefs keyword explorer. Essentially we want sites with a Keyword Difficulty (KD) of less than 5.

Image from https://ahrefs.com/blog/keyword-difficulty/

Why less than 5?

Simply put, the keyword is very easyto rank and we should see SERP jumps that give you a clear idea that you are causing the movement.

The next step is to stick the “Niche+City” portion into ahrefs. I tend to search for only the service + city like this: Carpet Installation in CITY.


Rant While I Have You: It’s 2019. Google is pretty smart. You don’t need to use broken English in your anchors just because something is tool-assisted and says that the “in” version doesn’t have volume. Carpet installation in City is the same as Carpet installation City. One is actually grammatically correct.

I’ll let Vadim explain this for me, he does it better.

This is what I mean.

I use both Keysearch.co and Ahrefs for keyword research. Comparing these two:

Correct Grammar
Bad Grammar

These SERPs are nearly identical. Don’t be afraid to use proper grammar in your anchors. I’ll love you, Google will love you, and your site will love you.

Picking a Site to Send a Link to

As I said, the criteria is a KD less than 5. Typically I’ll take a 0 if we can get it and a volume of 50-200 works best. Basically grab your list you created above and start to simply plug and chug till you get one that meets the criteria.

The next thing to do is actually pick the site. There are two schools of thought for this.

  1. Pick a site that is on page 2, hovering around 15-20 and send a link in order to get it to the first page.
  2. Pick a site that is on pages 5-6 and attempt to bump it up to page 1-4.

I prefer the latter.

My reasoning is that some sites are just stuck on page 2. I’m not here to attempt to get a site unstuck or diagnose the reason for why the site is there. Moving from page 5+ to page 2 is typically easier than moving from page 2 to page 1 on a site that you don’t know the exact history of.

What to Look For?

  1. We want link profiles that have not received links in the past 3 months.
  2. Natural branded link profiles are better options than sites that look like a bad SEO has touched them.
  3. Location in the title or meta.
    1. Check what the SERP is favoring. There are cities with the same name across the states. For instance “Springfield” is the name of 41 cities across the US. This can also be IP specific.
  4. Homepages. Usually, this helps avoid authority sites where they feature several hundred locales. I also avoid sub-domains.

Look for HTML sites that look like they are from the early 2000’s, they usually meet the criterion.

Note: Don’t be super anal-retentive about picking a site. The above is just a general idea of what to look for.

I went through the SERPs and found this site:

Overall this site is a solid test site target. The meta features the locale. The title features “install” and “carpet.” The site hasn’t received any links in 3 months and the anchor profile has no money target anchors, only brand, generic, and naked urls.

Anchors %
Naked URL40%
brand name, llc20%
naked URL variation20%

Add the URL and KW to your tracker. Usually, if you have this planned out properly you can track the target site for a week and get an idea of how it moves around in the SERPs for the keyword. Although if you opted for the method above and decided to go to pages 5 to 8, then moving to say page 2-4 would mean your link likely caused that jump.

Either order an article from a writer or spin something up. Spinning is the cheaper option in the grand scheme of things, but if you don’t mind paying someone for a $5 throwaway article then opt for that. You may even consider theming the article to the niche of the site. Say your PBN is about travel; theme your article to be about where to stay when you travel, have the writer mention carpets vs hardwood flooring and work the content in.

“It was hard to find someone for carpet installation in City, our hometown, but we finally did and it worked out great. Unfortunately for us, our airbnb had hardwood floors so we had to ensure we were careful not to scratch it…”

Network site metrics:

I know most people will ask for this so i’ll provide them.

Again this is something I’m not a big fan of. I don’t really look at “metrics” when I’m buying or using network sites. When I’m on a scale and I need to filter sites I use Majestic graphs + ahrefs to filter. Once they are down to a manageable amount I look at their link profile. If their links are solid, then they should work. Typically if the graph is similar to the one below, and they have a decent number of referring domains with contextual links you are going to see gains. That’s also why you don’t see me advertising tons of metrics on my gig.


So this part can be the worst. I’ve had movement as fast as 24 hours and I’ve also had movement take as long as 3-4 months. I wrote this article over several weeks on and off and on 1/31 is when I posted the test article on a network site that I forgot I owned.

Micrositemasters Tracker
Whatsmyserp.com Checks

So the placement was on the 31st. The PBN was sitting there since August/September 2017 when it was set up. Indexing took a while and Google cached the update on 2/9. We can see a jump from high 60-70s to 38th on Micrositemasters. Usually,I’lll double check on whatsmyserp as they usually have the most updated rankings in comparison to most trackers.

As expected the next day I check and the ranking is now 18th on Micrositemasters. That’s typically why the search is run on whatsmyserp just to double check.

Overall movement: High 60-70s to 18th. Not bad for one link.

What if the Test Fails?

Whenever I have a site drain or just simply fail completely I will run a re-test. Maybe you missed something when picking your target or overlooked something. This time we are going to increase the number of indexed pages and pass a possible filter that’s causing you to fail.

When running tests myself and a buddy started to notice that certain sites where we had greater than 10 pages indexed, our sites would pass. This included re-tests. What we decided to do was grab some archived content from archive.org, as well as new articles created in order to increase the number of indexed pages.

In the test site above I only had 8 pages indexed and it passed, if it had failed I would have created 5 more posts about whatever niche the site is about or went into archive.org and repurposed the old content.

To accompany my new articles are also new “authority” links. I go to Google news and search for my keyword, in this case, “carpet installation”, or i’ll use Ahrefs content explorer to find some more links for the articles. This looks better than using Wikipedia links that everyone uses.

Once this is done I wait a week or two for the content to index. I’ll restart the process of finding a new niche and a target site, post the the link and wait for gains.


I’ve had this happen where the sites just don’t pass. There may be more filters, but I personally don’t know them. I simply remove the hosting and let them drop and move onto the next site.

Examples of a Retest

The following is an example from my personal network. This is a prime example of why a retest is performed and why a possible filter is in place.

Old Test from November 17th, 2017 - +18 - Movement same day as new test
New Test - May 15th - +22 On MSM

The original test is now passing because of the addition of a new post (new test). The old test increases to 13th the same day the new test passes. Indicating to me that a filter was in place on this site.

Wrapping this Up

Hopefully, this provided some background on how most providers go about toxicity testing. No matter how you slice it, it’s better to test something and know that it works rather than to guess and hope for the best.