How I Would Build a Link Network


I keep getting approached by people that are looking to buy links.  Some of them understand the risks & rewards but most people tend to be stupid/ignorant people but I digress.  All of these link buying requests led me to brainstorm what it would be like building a link network.  From my point of view a properly run link network can generate big profits regardless of what you personally believe  (if you think link networks are effective then profit by boosting rankings for your clients, if you think link networks are an outdated ranking strategy you can still profit by selling worthless links to people that don't know better).  So for my entertainment I decided to go through the intellectual exercise of figuring out just how I would build a link network. 


Step 1 - Buy Some Websites

I could just buy some expired domains that still have some backlinks pointing to them.  One of my recent tests proved this is still possible but personally I feel that has been beaten to death and isn't feasible due to scalability and other issues.  I think it would be better to contact undermonetized websites that are still alive and offer them a cash payout. The nice thing about this crappy economy is that there are alot more people willing to cash out for alot less money.  I'm sure there is some silly blog about highway restrooms that I could buy for $1000 (cause how much money could it be making) and then use it to generate links for automotive related websites (cause those people would pay me good money for links).

Step 2 - Hosting

Once I have control of those domains, I need to arrange for hosting.  If I am going to run a network of 500+ websites in my link network I probably want to take some precautions like not hosting them all together.  I don't think I need 500 hosting accounts.  I could hide in plain sight.  I could use large hosting companies like Yahoo hosting or GoDaddy hosting and put 20 sites in each of those large accounts.  I doubt it would trigger any filter if 10 sites using GoDaddy hosting started linking to a site. Then I can get a bunch of reseller hosting accounts and put a few sites at each of those to help with ip diversity.  It does get annoying managing this many hosting accounts. To make it less crazy I would want automatic credit card billing and an automated uptime checker.

Step 3 - Website Setup

Like most people on TW (or at least the old TW) I have a healthy paranoia of Google so I would avoid using anlaytics and adsense.  Sure this is going to make things more expensive/less profitable but its also likely going to help my link network survive longer.  I would then use a variety of CMS (wordpress, drupal, mt, habari, etc.) so most changes can be made using an online interface.  This might get tricky by potentially buying a static site and then having to convert it to wordpress but I think with a little care those situations can be managed.

Step 4 - Growing Sites

I think a common mistake that many people make is they get too greedy.  I could just add links all over these sites and not add any value but that just seems like a fast way to kill these sites.  I think a better strategy for the long term would be to continue pumping out real content.  Pay a writer to write 50 articles and then schedule an article to go live each week using the CMS.  Some articles would even link out to non-clients in an effort to make it harder to figure out who is buying links from me. Also by publishing real content I am keeping these sites alive to deter link rot and maybe even attract a few new links to them.

Step 5 - Confusing Clients

Assuming the sites are set up with different whois, hosting, freelance writers and with no common code it would be a bit hard to connect the dots, that is unless an angry client decided to out me to Google.  To avoid that you could not tell the clients you own the sites but are approaching webmasters offering guest blog posts.  This would probably limit your exposure so your entire network does not get exposed at once.  Another step to reduce this risk is being careful about which clients you allow into this link network in other words keep this quiet and maintain a low profile.


Anyway that is just my quick thoughts about how I would build a link network.  I am not saying a link network is a good or bad idea.  I'm just having fun brainstorming the potential issues and then trying to figure out how to overcome them.  Feel free to point out what I overlooked cause my fingers are getting tired from all this typing.


If I were to hypothetically

If I were to hypothetically build a link network.......

I would...

  1. Create a script that searches on a pre determined set of paramaters on a web hosting engine search site. EG: Cpanel, under $x.xx per month, etc
  2. I would ensure that I mix up the server platforms according to market share -
  3. I would stick a proxying script on each of the servers that would accept all requests and proxy back to my central CMS. Too much hassle working with (say 25,000 or more) sites individually
  4. I would hire the greatest content producers out there to churn out great quality content. 
  5. I would use domains that have expired, have lots and lots of links still pointing to them and most importantly of all used to rank well from CCTLDs that do NOT have a public zone file. (Nope, these aren't easy to find... I just might [hypothetically of course] be fortunate enough to know about millions of them )
  6. I would mix the topics up following the bow tie principle of topic relateness from the core topics I might wish to rank for.
  7. I would grow the network, once a proven system is in place, by 10% month on month - Compounding is an amazing beast
  8. I would rinse and repeat

At the very least you've been

At the very least you've been able to clearly showcase what's wrong with this industry - the mentality that drives the poor overall image the industry has.

Staggering to me that people still want to follow approaches like this today.  The fact that you openly suggest confusing clients and taking advantage of businesses "that don't know any different" sends a clear message...

Dear Duane aka nicest guy at

Dear Duane aka nicest guy at bing,

I apologize that I enjoy brainstorming different creative solutions including some solutions that might be unethical, unappealing to myself and possibly even downright stupid.  Personally I think taking advantage of clients is stupid.  Why risk your reputation and long term business for a few short term dollars but lets not pretend it doesn't happen.  I hope you can see there is a difference between having fun brainstorming different approaches and from what is actually done in real life. 


ps I really do think you are one of the nicest guys at bing and appreciate your work there.

Framing The Issue

Creating good content is the mantra search engines have been promoting for years, something has to pay for all that content, and advertising on web pages is perfectly acceptable. Heineken paid millions of dollars to be featured in the latest Skyfall movie and it certainly wasn't communicated to the viewing audience before, during or after the movie. The product placement industry is a billion dollar "machine".

I get that search engines don't like it since they want to believe links are only given for editorial reasons, but lets be honest that's an ivory tower approach that's not really realistic or workable in the messy real world where everything doesn't easily fit into a good link or bad link bucket.

Is McDonalds sending a business a check and getting a link bad? If it is I hope all the search engines are devaluing the links on the Olympic sponsors pages, because those links were not put up for editorial reasons, and would not exist if a monetary exchange didn't take place.

@goodroi - completely

@goodroi - completely understand your perspective here - food for thought is alway suseful stuff, and sadly, you're right - there are just those folks out there who ARE willing to take advantage of businesses...

To state this clearly - I support it's many, creative forms... :)

@graywolf - of course you know we devalue links that are seen to be paid in some manner - your example would be an easily spotted one - the sponsor has links everywhere in a busy site - they clearly aren't there for editorial reasons, so we simply look past them and ignore them for ranking purposes.  But let's face it, McDonald's doesn't really need more links to rank well for their targets.

...wait...maybe they do...they don't show up on the first two pages in either engine for "hamburglar"...LOL

@goodroi - Website Setup and Analytics

Here's an open-source analytics platform that keeps you out of Google's clutches:

The trouble with setting up a

The trouble with setting up a link network is that it is an invitation to be banned. The only way to get the sales in is to open it to public use, and as soon as that happens, it's gone.

And if you don't make it public, you are in a crawl to recover your website buying/development/hosting costs. Before it gets banned.

Brainstorming can have various benefits

Nothing wrong with brainstorming... as long as what "seems like" a really workable plan doesn't make us do something we know is unwise.
The other side of that, of course, is that even if one sees the flaws in such a scenario, someone with less scruples may read it and decide it's just the road to riches they've been looking for.

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