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Hiding your PBNs in 2020 in 3 steps

This is what you need to do if you want to block 3rd party crawlers like Ahrefs,SEMrush and Majestic from accessing your site

Copy the code below


SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*rogerbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*exabot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*mj12bot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*dotbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*gigabot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ahrefsbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*sitebot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*semrushbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ia_archiver.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*searchmetricsbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*seokicks-robot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*sistrix.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*lipperhey spider.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ncbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*backlinkcrawler.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*archive.org_bot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*meanpathbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*pagesinventory.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*aboundexbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*spbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*linkdexbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*nutch.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*blexbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ezooms.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*scoutjet.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*majestic-12.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*majestic-seo.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*dsearch.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*blekkobo.* bad_bot
Order Allow,Deny
Allow from all
Deny from env=bad_bot

Step 1 : Find File Manager in CPanel or FTP


Step 2: Navigate to public HTML

Step 3: Make sure “Show Hidden Files” is checked

Step 4 : Find “.htaccess” file , paste the code from above and hit save

 

 

That’s it. Your PBNs are now hidden and won’t show up on 3rd party tools. This is a better way than installing a particular plugin for every domain in your network and keeps footprints low!

The Definitive Guide to Private Blog Networks in 2020         

Updated on 7th of June, 2020

This guide gets fairly complex around the midway point, but I will do my best to explain critical concepts along the way. SERPninja’s team has built upwards of 10,000 PBNs and continues to build quite a handful daily. This helps us to understand private blog networks in a way others cannot.

This guide focuses on building PBNs the right way, not the cheapest way. We will look at saving time over money, and minimize diminishing returns to a great extent. The recommendations in this guide are not speculative and we do not intend to throw the spending decision back at you. We want to make conclusive decisions about what works and what doesn’t based on our experience of building 1000s of PBNs every single month.

What is a private blog network?

A private blog network (PBN) is a network of aged authority sites that link to your money site(s) for the purpose of ranking higher in search engines—primarily Google. A money site is basically a website you want to rank higher in Google—it generates “money” for you, hence the term “money site”.

what is a PBN?

 

We try to keep all the websites in the PBN as autonomous as possible by reducing “footprints”. We want these blog network sites to look real—like any other website you can find on the web.

Average wallet damage when building PBNs the right way

There is no clear number to say how much a PBN network will cost to build. I will not be listing a bunch of absurdly expensive figures in order to convince you to buy stuff from us, but I will base the following numbers on what it costs us on average:

  • Webhosting – $3/month/domain
  • Domains – anywhere between $25-$800—this completely depends on what you are looking for. We almost always see domains that have great value and ROI in the $90-$250 range.
  • Setup costs – WordPress Developer at $15/hour
  • Content – 1000 words of non-native content will cost you about $10/domain
  • Maintenance at 500 words of fresh content on a monthly basis – $5/month
  • Software subscription – $50/month (we will get to this in a bit)
  • GoDaddy Auction membership – $10/year

You can host websites for free on free hosts or CDNs/code repositories like Cloudflare and Github which you can automate by having a virtual assistant build and configure—this guide takes the assumption that you are a solo operation and have to do things yourself. You can save money on building WordPress sites if you have a basic idea of uploading themes and creating posts. I highly advise against writing content for your PBNs as you can get cheap content off any marketplace for $5 per 500 words.

It is, therefore, safe to say that you will spend about $5000-$6000 on a 50-site network and about $100-$150 a month on hosting. There is also the price of yearly domain renewal at $400-$450 in total. This number can change depending on how expensive your domains are.

Is Google ‘OK’ with PBNs?

No. Google isn’t generally ‘OK’ with SEO. Psst, SEO that works. They make billions of dollars by selling ads. They want you to pay for ads as well. PBNs also get the white-hat SEO community riled up with posts like(though they get slapped as often as the rest of us by Google updates):

There is a definite risk which comes into the picture while using PBNs, but a lot of them can be completely eliminated or significantly reduced if you understand the nitty-gritty of building them properly.

Do you need PBNs to rank?

Yes and no. This comes down to how competitive your niche is and oftentimes you are well off by just optimizing your money site and pages by following good on-page optimization techniques. If your niche(“keyword”) is dominated by huge players having 100s of referring domains and you can’t seem to get off page 3 regardless of what you do, you should look at manipulating the search algorithm in your favour by buying or building links. Link building is a pay to play world—you either pay with currency or you pay with time.

 

Using tools like SurferSEO can be invaluable to your onpage research

If your niche only has a handful of sites with little to no link inflation, there is a lot that can be done by content pruning and quality content alone.

That being said, it’s still hard to tell if your competitors are using PBNs. It’s easy to hide these links from third-party link crawlers to keep them away from prying eyes – It takes 30 seconds to do this.

One of the biggest advantages you can get from using PBNs is the ability to control anchor texts. You can experiment with different anchor text ratios and fine-tune them to have higher control in rankings. You choose when you get a link and when you can have it removed.

How to obtain high-value domains for Private Blog networks

There are different ways to do this, but we will focus on what works for us and our clients. At the end of the day, all the tools below work with the same lists of dropping/dropped domains available from public repositories/drop files. It’s what they do with it that matters. Using a paid tool doesn’t mean that you will magically see more available domains for purchase.

Expireddomains.net(not recommended but FREE)

Expireddomains.net is great if you are lacking in budget and just need something to figure out what to buy. It has a decent set of suites to filter domains based on market places, TLDs,etc.

Domcop.com(not recommended)

As of 2020, DomCop isn’t the only tool that is built with PBN domaining in mind. I would skip this tool altogether as there are better, cheaper alternatives to using DomCop. That being said, if you are interested in having a personalized expired domain crawler, this might be a good bet.

SpamZilla(highly recommended)(SZ)

 

The SERPninja team has been using this tool since the alpha release days and continues to use it to this day. There is simply no other tool that can do things SZ does. It’s highly robust and is stupid fast. Putting some effort into learning the ins and outs of this software might eradicate your need for domain brokers altogether. Your time is better spent on obtaining domains than writing content for your PBNs.

Expired domains vs Auction domains

Before we come to a conclusion about what is better, here is a quick run-down about what is what without needing to attend a masterclass on domaining.

Basic overview of these confusing terms:

  • Expired domains – domains that you find by scraping huge sites like Wikipedia,BBC.co.uk and checking for “domain name not resolved errors”.All expired domains are dropped.
  • Non-dropped domains – domains that haven’t been available for registration at registrar prices since the first registration. Thus, “aged”. They were always “owned” by an entity.
  • Dropped domains – non-dropped domains that haven’t been owned by anyone at some point in time. Thus, not “aged”.

By non-dropped auction domains, we mean domains that haven’t been dropped and are available for purchase at auctions or domain marketplaces. You will also find a lot of dropped domains at these marketplaces. Therefore, the term “auction domain” should not be confused with the domain being dropped or not.

Non-dropped domain > dropped domain > expired domain

Given an unlimited budget, you should always aim to obtain domains which can be link building assets over a long period of time. A good qualifying factor in obtaining an asset quality domain is the domain’s age.
By common consensus, expired domains have a higher probability of working in non-English SERPs like Google.de than in English SERPs. Therefore, if you are in a non-English market, using expired domains can supposedly give you a higher ROI than by using non-dropped domains, which are usually more expensive.

The ideal metrics for narrowing down options

There are multiple metrics that can help you filter out domains. You should focus on using metrics that can complement your size of operation.Oftentimes, using a combination of filtration techniques based on multiple third-party metrics can narrow down your options fast.

Cost of API data

Ahrefs > Moz > Majestic

Use this idea to your advantage. If you have 1000s of domains to be processed, you can filter that list through Majestic’s API to remove options that don’t make the cut. Then move over to processing whatever is leftover on Ahrefs. This can help you save costs when processing huge lists. This can be irrelevant if you use SZ as you will be able to pick filters for Majestic filtering in their dashboard.

We primarily use Ahrefs for all our link metrics, which is Domain Rating(DR), RD(Recurring domains) and organic traffic numbers.

One of the biggest mindset problems we have seen among customers is the fact that they are fixated on abstract metric numbers when acquiring domains. Look at what the market has on offer before coming to a conclusion on what is worth obtaining.

Setting DR(Domain Rating) of 30 effectively removes all DR29 domains which are probably available for half the price than your DR30 options. Always cast a wide net and objectively compare domains based on cost per acquisition and backlink profile over third-party metrics that are not an absolute indicator of how much Google trusts those domains.

Automating domain acquisition using SpamZilla

Spamzilla has a good tutorial here to help you understand the basics of the tool.

These are our recommended filters:

SZ Drops – 0-2, this refers to the drop history of the domain.0 is great but that may not alwaysthrow out a lot of options. A couple of drops earlier on in the domain’s life shouldn’t hurt its value.

Age – 2+

SZ score of 0-23. This is where you get your money’s worth with SZ. The SPAM classification algorithm is fairly advanced and can weed out most domains that you shouldn’t be looking at—a huge time saver. 0 = squeaky clean and 23 = suspicious.

Majestic TF of 1+ / RD 5+ – Majestic’s crawler data is generally poor when compared to Ahrefs(big claim but most SEOs can come to a consensus that Ahrefs is better. Ahrefs isn’t perfect but their crawler data IMHO is vastly superior). A lot of the times you will be able to find 2x the claimed Majestic RD in Ahrefs.

Ideally, we want to do a quick spam check of all the domains we find in SZ and do a final thorough check using Ahrefs. If you do not have an Ahrefs account, you should replace the recommended Majestic RD filter to whatever RD you are going after.

You don’t need the flashiest of domains in your PBN for it to be effective. Go after domains that have good backlink portfolios. 500RD doesn’t mean anything if most of them are spammed blog comments. Vanity metrics are great for filtering out domain lists but shouldn’t be the only reason you buy a domain. Find the perfect balance of value/domain quality which works for you instead of going after an arbitrary number like we mentioned earlier.

That’s one of the many reasons why SERPninja generally acquires domains on a value proportion across domains of different metrics from RD40 to 1000/DR20-60 based on rigorously analyzing what the domain offers at the price point.

Checking PBN domains on Ahrefs (Quick Pointers)

1.Checking Anchors

Check historically – do a quick glance in every page just in case. SZ will do this for you as well.

A quick tip: Check for popular SPAM tools’ default anchors as well. Example: GSA SER’s “visit poster’s website”

2.Checking previous ranking history

 

 

Check “movements” in ahrefs so that you can see if the PBN site had ranked for any shady terms. Type out “casino”, “porn” etc in the search bar to have a quick check to see if the domain was hacked and made to rank for something else.

3. Checking backlinks and referring domains the right way

One link per domain helps you narrow down quality of sites linking to your PBN domain

4. Checking linking history

No crazy spikes in graphs – check. Good dofollow-nofollow ratio- Check

Should you check if the domains are indexed in Google?

If your auction domain is already indexed on Google, that’s a good sign. And most good auction domains will be.

But there will be a few times in which the domain is not indexed, but that shouldn’t usually be a deal-breaker for low-cost domains. Domains can be de-indexed if they have been parked for too long.

GoDaddy closeouts over scraped expired domains

Closeout domains get cheaper every 24 hours

 

GoDaddy closeouts are basically auction domains that do not receive any bidding action. They automatically go to a secondary marketplace from where you can buy them for a fixed fee, starting at $13. A lot of the sites these domains aren’t technically dropped since they roll over from previous domain owners and get picked up by SEOs or other domainers. You can often find some great domains here for a bargain.

This can be a great alternative to scraping for domains using automated software.

Domain brokers vs Doing it yourself

How much is your time worth to you? Do you plan to acquire domains often or just every now and then?

The industry demands a minimum of 50% margin over the acquisition costs on average. A lot of times, that can go to 100%.It’s not an unjustified markup—obtaining domains needs a certain eye. Like many skills in SEO, it’s acquired and needs quite a bit of time to perfect and do as second nature.

How to host private blog networks the right way

There are a few solutions we use to get PBNs up and running. The broad classification in PBN hosting just comes down to what niche you are in. You may not be able to host Casino/Adult niches in a lot of PBN hosting services.

We are looking for hosting companies which give you different Class A/B IPs for every domain in your network so that they can be as unrelated to each other as possible. We are also looking for solutions that host your PBN sites along with real websites. Something like a shared-webhosting aggregator.

BulkBuyHosting (Recommended)

SImple to use UI – API access. The whole shebang.

BulkBuyHosting gives you CPanel accounts from a network of reseller accounts they obtain from companies offering shared hosting. BBH does not allow you to host casino or adult PBNs.This is what the team at SERPninja uses.

LaunchCDN (for casino/adult PBNs)

This is another company operated by the folks at BulkBuyHosting. This is a solid choice if you need PBN hosting for “shady” niches.

PriorityProspect(for massive networks – 200+ sites)

PriorityProspect uses popular infrastructure providers like Amazon AWS and RankSpace to host your website on unique IPs. A lot of our clients with massive networks use this service and seem to be very happy with it.

Building private blog network sites

The critical idea when building out PBN sites is to make them good enough to pass manual reviews. Does your PBN look like a real site when someone stumbles onto it? Does it look convincing enough when the Google SPAM team look at it?

WordPress

Time and again, our internal testing has pointed to significant advantages when doing a hybrid setup—setting up WordPress on your PBNs while carrying forward the niche and URL structure of what you find in Archive.org. The sites index faster and stay indexed for a longer period than doing WayBack exports. About half a billion websites (455 million out of 1.3 billion total active websites) run on WordPress. Theoretically, this means that at least half of your PBN can run on WordPress while mimicking the natural web—this number only gets higher if you compare the total number of blogs that run on WordPress.

 

We almost entirely build our networks—both personal and business—on WordPress as we understand that there can be other glaring footprints other than the CMS itself.

Selecting a theme for your WordPress PBN

Always go for popular themes that are used by the majority of real sites. Almost all of the popular themes and frameworks will have a GPL licensed free version that you can use. Also, picking a random theme from the WordPress repository can pave the way for a lot of problems, including poor maintenance of code and vulnerabilities which will get your sites hacked eventually.

You do NOT have to be particular about making every single site on a new theme either—rather try to mimic whatever people use the most.

The same goes for your choice of plugins—make sure you randomly select and install a few plugins that are commonly used. It’s safe to assume that you can use the same set of themes and plugins a couple of times for every set of 50 sites you are building.
Some themes and frameworks you can use are:

1.Astra
2.NewsPaper
3.Elementor
4.Divi
5.Beaver Builder
6.GeneratePress

Some popular plugins:

1.Contact form plugin
2.Yoast SEO
3.All in One SEO
4.Really Simple SSL

You get the idea.

Evading Manual Reviews

Have a solid top fold design

 

This is NOT how a PBN should be. Be better in 2020

This is by far the most critical aspect while designing PBNs. Implementing a slider, video or a lead magnet can instantly gain trust points when someone is looking at it. You can also use the popular “as seen on” method to get your PBN more trust points.

Adding new content

Do not buy or build PBNs if you do not plan to constantly update your website with new posts.PBN domains—if obtained the proper way—will already have keywords they can easily occupy top pages for. You will have to check historic ranking information for the domain so that you know what to base your new posts on. Make sure you buffer posts you link out from with new articles, focusing on obtaining trickle traffic.

Stop linking out too quick/Stop using a considerable size of your network for a project

A good practice—with or without data to back this claim—comes down to linking to your money site a good 30-45 days after you build your PBN. It gets too obvious that the site has been repurposed for building links if you link out too quickly.

Another important aspect of using your PBNs is to not link out a considerable portion to a single project(money site). A good conservative number is to use less than 40% of your network for a project, which is 4 out of every 10 sites. If you don’t like these numbers, build out your network over a period of few months and link out at different points in time. These methods can make it almost impossible for Google to sniff you out with an algorithm.

Stop hosting in cheap hosts

 

Easy to do reverse IP checks and figure out all the crappy sites you host with

 

Having bad neighbours in your IP is a good way to get your PBN deindexed. Make it a point to host your website along with real websites in shared hosting accounts or in IPs of infrastructure companies. Cheap $1/year hosting accounts from webhostingforums.com is guaranteed to have your websites on subnets which are primarily used for SPAM, emailing or other shady activities.

HTML Archive.org Exports

As mentioned earlier, we are not big fans of using archive.org exports for a multitude of reasons, including:

DMCA takedowns from previous owners for the usage of copyrighted content, including images or text. This is particularly common in.uk domains such as.co.uk /.uk and other cTLDs from countries that have tighter laws around copyright claims.

General ineffectiveness while indexing and ranking properties

But there can be situations that absolutely need an Archive.org export—like having to setup 1000s of pages in URL structures that are not supported by WordPress’s character set.

https://github.com/hartator/wayback-machine-downloader

If you know what GitHub is or have some level of technical expertise in working with a script, this should be a good bet.

SpamZilla Wayback Exporter

Good UI/No frills and gets the job done.

PBN testing

This testing machine is straightforward and deals around these 3 basic ideas:

  • Picking a closely related niche
  • Scouting for targets in page 3-6
  • A rank tracker and patience

If you are in the cannabis dispensary niche, specifically Cannabis dispensary in San Diego, figure out a few targets that are ranked in pages 3-6 in the “Cannabis dispensary in <small town>” niche. If you are in a more competitive niche, use Ahrefs.com to pick out keywords which have little to no competition using their KD metric. Again, we are trying to figure out if the particular PBN site works—a YES or NO over how effective it is.

Make sure you pick a target page which has little to no backlinking activity. Again, the ranking page and not the domain. Once you pick a few target pages to test your PBN link on, send it a few partial matched exacts.In this case, “check out the best cannabis dispensary in<small town>”

 

Root domains – Non-authority domains in the lower pages are perfect

Track the page using a rank tracker (a good free tool is serprobot.com) and see where the target webpage settles after a probable dance in the SERPs.

If it gains any positive movement and maintains the positive swing for a couple of weeks, your PBN has passed the test.

Sometimes your PBN link can be “toxic” and can cause a negative movement. These can be few and far between and can be greatly avoided by buying domains from good vendors or doing it yourself properly.

Recommended vendors and tools for building PBNs

Archive.org

You will need to be familiar with using archive.org. It’s a good idea to check every single timestamp if you are getting expensive domains.

GoDaddy Auctions

Without a GoDaddy auction account, you will not be able to bid on domains. It costs $10/year and should typically be the first thing you get if you are into getting PBN domains.

Other popular marketplaces include:

Dynadot.com
Sedo.com
Flippa.com
namepros.com

Spamzilla.io

SZ can significantly reduce the time needed to scout and obtain domains. It also comes with a plethora of other tools like:

Ahrefs.com/Majestic.com

You will need a Majestic.com or Ahrefs.com account if you are into SEO—not just building PBNs. Ideally, this should not be a separate expense. You will need one of these accounts to accurately rebuild PBN domain URLs which have linking activity and to find historical ranking data to create PBN blog posts on.

Select “Best Pages By links” and sort by RD to find pages worth rebuilding. thehoth.com is for representational purposes only – don’t email me telling me it’s not a PBN

A subscription at SZ comes with Majestic SEO data anyway.

To Build or to Rent—Shooting for the highest possible ROI

As of 2020, building your own PBN will not make much sense in terms of ROI if you do not handle clients or if you are not in a niche that does not have significant upsides of ranking on top and can make the money you spend on building PBNs look miniscule. Oftentimes, PBNs become the only source of scaling link building efforts in certain industries like pharma, casino and adult, since mainstream link building services do not usually accommodate these niches due to the simple fact that most real websites often consider these niches spammy and are not okay with linking out to sites in this niche.

Building your own PBNs will not be worthwhile if you are a small-time affiliate marketer or someone new in the industry, in which case you should probably be looking at obtaining a brandable domain to build your money site on—using the same methods mentioned above—so that you get a headstart in ranking as you already have a “trusted” domain by Google’s terms and can walk in comfortably to a niche without worrying too much about your competitor’s age and backlinks. Brandable domains also have a better selling multiple when you are after an exit.

How and where to buy PBN links

Here is a simple checklist of the thought process you should consider before getting PBN links from an SEO vendor:

  • Do they have a client intake process?
  • Do they reject customers who are not a good fit for their networks?
  • Do they reject customers who come in with money sites which are spammed?
  • Do they reject pharma,adult and casino niches?
  • Do they sell links based on metrics and nothing else?

A lot of metrics can be manipulated to a certain degree—the most popular of them being DA(Moz) by consistently spamming them by using automated tools. If the entire sales angle revolves around having certain XYZ metrics, that is a red flag.

Good vendors will qualify you

One-time fees vs recurring fees

As a business that focuses on “economy of scale” ourselves, we can understand the math behind having one-time fees for permanent PBN posts—PBN links that occupy the homepage and then eventually roll over to inner pages. But from an SEO perspective, this creates a posting gap between promotional (PBN) posts and general informative posts (to drive traffic). If you work with reputed vendors who are probably not the cheapest since they also have the overhead of posting content between promotional posts.

One-time fee vendors are like “unlimited hosting” web hosting companies, which will have a fair use policy at the end of the day. The typical lifetime of a one-time fee post should probably be a year or two, or until the domain deindexes or the vendor goes out of business.

On the other hand, rental links—links you pay once a month/6 months—seem to make more sense as they encompass the non-fixed expense of maintaining a PBN. A lot of PBN costs aren’t one-time—good hosting, good content. These should also be cheaper and help you track your ROI better.

At the end of the day, it comes down to who you are working with.

A ServiceNow wizard by trade, Gaby quit her 9-5 to pursue the world of search marketing. As a Customer Success Manager at SERPninja, she makes sure your projects get the attention they deserve. She is a certified Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing Expert and a SEMrush Expert – it is safe to say she knows exactly what she is talking about. She swears by  “The 5 Hour Work Week” but ends up working 80 hours a week to make sure your SEO is handled right.

Local SEO Strategies for Cannabis Companies in 2020

Local SEO for the cannabis industry requires a little more finesse than many other mainstream niches, but don’t let that stop you from trying to rank well. With a partner like SERPNinja, you can improve your local SEO presence, and drive clicks and calls from localized customers.

Google’s paid advertising platforms like pay-per-click aren’t available to cannabis-related products. Instead, many cannabis businesses focus on generating organic traffic by optimizing their online presence for search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO has been a game-changer for many cannabis companies since they’re better able to generate traffic their websites, which means more customers. Local advertising on platforms like Leaflytakes a huge chunk of money that could be directed toward your business, and leveraging organic traffic helps lessen that dependency.

Search Engine Optimization For Cannabis Companies

SEO is the practice of optimizing content for a search engine’s organic search results. When someone types a query into Google, the algorithm sorts through different metrics to include relevant results on the first page.

The goal of optimizing your website and content is appearing for those customers searching for your specific product or service. So if you’re a cannabis dispensary, you want to optimize your content, so anyone searching for nearby dispensaries or cannabis-related products will find your business. And this is accomplished through optimizing for local SEO.

Local SEO

For local SEO, cannabis businesses should be focused on attracting nearby customers that are using search to find a relevant service or content. For example, a customer in Los Angeles looking for a local dispensary will likely search “cannabis dispensary near me.”

 

Ranking on top of the local pack can be game-changing for your business

Then, Google’s algorithm directs them to the most relevant search results. There are many different strategies for appearing in these search results, such as using Google My Business, optimizing for Google Local Packs, general SEO strategies, which we cover below.

Google My Business (GMB)

One of the essentials ways to optimize your business is by taking advantage of a free Google My Business (GMB) account. When potential customers search for your business, they’ll see what Google calls its Knowledge Panel. This lays out information like directions to your location, reviews, hours of operation, and more.

Optimizing your GMB listing can be crucial

This is a free opportunity to take advantage of Google’s search algorithm, especially for local traffic. If someone in your area searches for nearby dispensaries, they’ll find your business listed with directions to get there and hours of operation.

Google Local Pack

The Google Local Pack is the pack of specific local GMB listings that appears in a relevant search results page.

Fortunately, this feature is reserved only for local businesses, since third party sites like reviews and web content can rank high even during local searches. If a customer is nearby and searches for your product, Google will make sure the customer finds your information in this widget.

Even more, the Local Pack widget appears more prominently on the results page than other organic traffic. Below are some quick ways you can optimize your business for Local Pack, as well as Google’s SEO algorithm.

Local SEO Tactics and Strategies for Cannabis Companies

Relevance

Google judges relevance by the information publicly available on the web. Adding all the relevant information to your website, GMB account, and more will help Google bring more customers to your specific business.

Including relevant things like profile and cover images, your hours of operation, and the location of your business help business rank higher than those who ignore this.

Keyword Research

Using tools like Google or Moz’s keyword planners will help you find the phrases people use when they’re searching for your products. By analyzing and choosing these keywords carefully, you can optimize your website’s content to help Google’s algorithm rank it higher.

On-Page SEO

To rank well in local search, it’s essential to include your keywords and the location of your business in the heading of your content, as well as the title tag, and description tag. This helps the algorithm organically rank your site, your GMB listing, and your content by knowing where to find that information.Other factors, such as your site being mobile-friendly, factor into this ranking. Today’s websites should feature a responsive design that has 2 seconds or less of load time, and that looks the same whether you’re using a phone, tablet, or computer.

Using tools like SurferSEO can be invaluable to your onpage research

Reviews

A vital aspect of online business, positive reviews will show Google that other customers have found value in your products and services.Most customers these days trust online reviews like a personal recommendation. An effective way of taking advantage of reviews is to build business profiles on sites like Yelp and Yellow pages. Here, customers can easily leave positive reviews and help your business rank higher.

Links

An off-page SEO strategy, link building, is when other sites link to yours, telling their readers and customers that they trust you and your products and services. When it comes to SEO, links works in a similar way to votes. When more and more sites link to yours, Google’s algorithm sees that you’re relevant for search results and will begin directing more traffic to your site.By taking advantage of these free local SEO strategies, any cannabis industry will begin to build organic traffic, rank higher on Google, and find more customers. Cannabis companies can now stop haemorrhaging cash for local advertising and focus on actually providing their products and services. If you’re ready to trust the professionals with your local SEO, call us today!

How to do keyword research for Cannabis/Marijuana Businesses

So, you have a cannabis business and want to increase your online presence and attract more customers from organic search? Well, to do that, you will need to understand search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword research strategies specifically for Cannabis-related businesses.

A clear understanding of how to incorporate your keyword research into your content will help you to rank better for more terms, and allow you to create a better connection to your customers.

First, let’s cover the basics, then we’ll get into the specifics of researching and developing a keyword list to promote your cannabis business.

SEO is the practice of trying to increase the quantity and quality of traffic coming to your website from organic search.

When you search the web, what you’re really doing is searching through huge indexes built by website crawlers. Crawlers visit your site and download the content there to a massive database on a server. Now, when people search the internet, you receive the results based on all of the website information saved in the search engine’s database. For your site to be found online, it must be available to crawlers, or bots, to index your site and save it to their search engine’s database.

What Are Keywords and How Do They Play Into My Strategy?

Keywords are essentially the foundation for any online marketing strategy. They are the words and phrases that people type into search engines to get what they are looking for. Keywords play an important role in describing what a website is about, and hence are crucial when it comes to your site’s ability to rank among competitors.

There are different types of keywords with different characteristics:

Branded Keywords –any search term that includes your business name (ex. Dispensary name, dispensary name hours, etc.)

Localized Keywords – search terms that include your store’s city and a cannabis keyword (dispensary in San Diego, San Diego cannabis, etc.)

ProximityKeywords – geo-targeted keywords based on user’s location (ex. Cannabis dispensaries near me)

General Keywords – generic search terms related to your business (ex. dispensary, marijuana, cannabis, etc.)

Now that we have a basic understanding of how organic SEO and keywords work.let’s look at some keyword research tips to help bolster your cannabis business.

Conduct Keyword Research

Step One: Inventory Your Site

Complete a high-level inventory of the cannabis products, and cannabis-related content you are offering on your site. One way to do this is by building a list of every page on your site, each page’s intent, and each possible way someone could search for that page.

For example, for a cannabis dispensary, your keywords might include words such as cannabis, weed, marijuana, pot, Indica, Sativa, etc. You want an exhaustive list of search terms that could bring up your site. This is the start of your seed keyword list.

Step Two: Research Your Keywords

Once you have your exhaustive keyword list for your site, it’s time to find relevant keyword variations. For this step, it’s helpful to use SEO tools, like AHREFs.

A couple of clicks on ahrefs can give you keyword data which you can use to optimize your posts

 

Some quick ways to generate keywords are to use competitor’s URLs and URLs to similar sites to your own. One interesting tactic is to prioritize high-volume keywords that your competitors are not ranking for. By going after these, you can be the leading cannabis business in that keyword search.

Step Three: Filter Out Keywords

Now that you have an exhaustive list of keywords describing your site, filter out the keywords that have a high difficulty rating. To do this, go to Moz, and click Keyword Research. Select your created list and view the metrics of your keyword list. Using the Toggle features, filter out the keywords with a difficulty rating above 20. Keywords with higher difficulty ratings are harder to rank for. By filtering these tougher keywords out, this should leave you with a list of competitive keywords for your cannabis business.

Step Four: Analyze Your Data

SEO tools are available for you to analyze the traffic to your site. By utilizing sites, like Moz, you can get an idea of what keywords are performing and which ones don’t do as well. This can give you an idea of how to tailor the content on your site to drive more search traffic to it.

Leave Your Keyword Research To The Pros

Keyword research can be complex and challenging for cannabis business owners or marketing teams. Let our team of experts utilize our keyword research knowledge to build you a comprehensive SEO strategy that attracts more clicks and calls!

Top 5 ways to promote online casinos DIY style!

Online casinos, also known as internet casinos, serve a unique function compared to casinos that have a physical presence. The internet allows casinos and gaming lovers to enjoy casino-related activities from the comfort of their own home.

However, many online casino business owners and marketers underestimate the importance of marketing a casino online and rely strictly on organic search for customers to find their site. Unfortunately, that tactic won’t cut it today when there are so many online businesses out there competing for attention. With new casino sites popping up every month, there is more and more noise in the system. Thankfully, with the right online marketing strategy combined with your direct mail strategy, you can ensure customers will find your site and stay.

Top 5 tips to promote your casino on the internet without doing SEO

  1. Ensure your casino has a highly intuitive and functional website – Any marketing that you do, online or otherwise, needs to steer your customers to your casino’s website (obviously). Those who receive your marketing messages will likely have questions about your casino, and your website should serve as that one-stop-shop to answer all of those questions. The best casino websites will make it easier for patrons to understand loyalty program options and perks, laws and regulations related to online gaming, and more. The addition of an FAQ can help with your search engine rankings and make it easy for customers to find what they are looking for fast.
  2. Release a weekly or bi-weekly blog on your website – Blogs are a great way to engage customers and to keep your virtual casino top of mind. Not only that, but blog content can help tie your overall digital marketing strategy together. Your blog, hosted on your gaming website, can bring in organic traffic when the proper search terms and keyword strategy are used. Further, your content can be promoted on social media and through targeted emails. Blogs can be about anything that might be entertaining or enlightening to a customer within the world of online casino operations and patronage.
  3. Make use of social media – Digital marketing via social media is a great way to find interested internet casino patrons, fast. 3.5 billion of the 7.7 billion people in the world are on social media, so don’t be surprised to find out that many of your older casino patrons have social media accounts. This means that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more are great ways to keep your customers up to date on virtual casino activities and promotions. Consider making use of an influencer as well that can help you with messaging and can help attract new site patrons.
  4. Pay attention to email marketing – Email marketing has been around for ages, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, email marketing, when done correctly, can have a return on investment of 4000% or more. Over 293 billion emails are sent around the globe every day, and there are an estimated 121 emails received by your typical email user each day. This means that email is alive and present. However, casino marketers need to ensure that email messages are clear, concise, and on-brand to help entice and excite customers to make a visit to the site. So, capture email addresses at every point possible – on your website, tied to various online games, on social media, etc.
  5. Don’t forget direct mail. You may be operating an online casino, but that doesn’t mean that direct mail shouldn’t play a key role in your strategy. Don’t forget; many would-be internet gamers still don’t know much about online casinos and how they work. This provides you with a great opportunity to get in front of customers offline so that they will join you online. There are a host of data providers out there that can help you generate legitimate lead-lists that can help you target the customers that you want to visit your site.

A Holistic Online Marketing Strategy Will Keep your Casino Top of Mind

Leveraging the above tips will be a great way to help you attract more online gamers and keep the ones that you already have. Many of today’s consumers and casino goers are already online, but as we mentioned, some still don’t know you exist online. With so many physical casinos popping up around the country, and new online gaming sites joining the race every day, your marketing strategy needs to take advantage of all online tactics, and direct marketing tactics as well.

 

How an Online Reputation Management Strategy Can Help Your Casino

Online Reputation Management for Casinos

In this age of digital information, your future costumers can instantly read the opinion of your past patrons. Free marketing by word of mouth can have advantages for many businesses.

However, in the casino industry, which is based on luck and the fact that the odds are always in the houses’ favour, online reputation management is critical. You can’t guarantee they will win, but you can make sure they have a good time!

Why is Online Reputation Management a Crucial Tool for Casinos?

According to WebFX, “All it takes is a couple of bad reviews or negative comments to hurt your casino’s business.” An online reputation management system will help you keep an eye on everything that shows up on the internet about your establishment. Having an ORM strategy and system in place will catch anything that shows up on review sites and social media! It is like having a PR firm that deals with Facebook and Google!

You want to ensure that the people who frequent your casino have a good time even though they will likely not be the next big Jackpot winner. Potential customers crave the excitement of knowing they could go from rags to riches with the push of a button, but they also want speedy drink service, clean facilities, and friendly dealers. Running a casino is a balancing act, and an online reputation management strategy is like the safety net!

There are five significant advantages to having an ORM campaign:

  1. Gain customer trust- With an ORM, you will be able to respond quickly and sincerely to any issues that arise on the web.
  2. Direct interaction- The benefits of an ORM include the ability to respond to a customer directly. This type of one on one communication goes a long way in resolving conflict.
  3. Address criticism- During the public conversation, you get the chance to show others how you respond to valid complaints. Maturely responding to people builds confidence with future customers.
  4. Gather information- Online comments can help you figure out if a member of your staff has a pattern of behaviour that needs addressing. Or maybe, there is a patron that likes to cause trouble.
  5. Gain business- An ORM also allows you to respond to future guest questions. For instance, maybe a potential customer goes online and wants to know if any tournaments are happening around town.

As you can see, an ORM is helpful for troubleshooting, but it can help strengthen your brand, especially if you take steps to keep a positive reputation. Leave the gambling to your guests and don’t take any unnecessary risks when managing your presence on the internet.

Tips For Maintaining a Positive Online Reputation

Utilizing an online service is an essential step in the right direction, but there are other things that a casino can do to help maintain their reputation on the web.

  • Video Marketing- Did someone hit it big, or win a drawing? Capture the moment on video and post it to YouTube!
  • Positive Online Branding
  • Removing Unwanted Google Results- This can be done but is best handled by the experts!
  • Blogging, Reviews, and Outreach– Blogging is a fantastic way to build your brand online!
  • Social Media Outreach- Share all the winners, or people celebrating special occasions to your casino’s social media pages! Engaging with your customer base might be the reason they choose your establishment over another!

Of course, the best way to maintain a positive presence online to be kind and respectful to people, even when they complain. You are in control of how you portray yourself in public. Use that kindness when you have happy guests inside the casino as well, as encourage them to leave good reviews on review sites. Most people don’t read every review, so between the monitoring system and an active campaign to garner favourable reviews, you can directly impact what your customer sees.

Contact The Professionals

As you can see, there are many benefits and reasons why your casino should utilize an ORM service. Choosing the right professionals to help manage your image online is almost as important as that reputation itself! We can be the Ace in the hole when the chips are down, and you need someone in your corner to make sure all goes well! The more people who come and sit at the tables and play the slots, the more your business will grow. Let us help you get them in the door, so you can prove why your casino is the best in town. Click here to learn more!

A ServiceNow wizard by trade, Gaby quit her 9-5 to pursue the world of search marketing. As a Customer Success Manager at SERPninja, she makes sure your projects get the attention they deserve. She is a certified Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing Expert and a SEMrush Expert – it is safe to say she knows exactly what she is talking about. She swears by  “The 5 Hour Work Week” but ends up working 80 hours a week to make sure your SEO is handled right.

 

Creating Authority Content in 2020 and Beyond

To create authority content that is relevant for 2020 and years beyond, you must perform proper and detailed research. It is essential to start with research from authoritative sources. You must include updated, correct facts and statistics in your content.

The more that you as the writer understand about “What is SEO writing?”, the more prepared you are to write top-quality content. Google and other major search engines favour short, concise sentences and paragraphs. Limit your use of adverbs. Adjectives and all descriptive text should be kept to a minimum.

Remember, in today’s busy lifestyles, everyone needs to skim or read through articles, blog posts and web page content quickly. You can capture the reader’s full attention by producing engaging, compelling text that sells products, services and website memberships. Keep headings and subheadings short and engaging.

Most visitors to your blog on are mobile devices

 

Using a pyramid style for your content outline, present the most important facts and ideas first. The remainder of your text can explain different aspects of your topic in greater detail. Just remember to write clearly without using an excess of words.

Especially since many people currently read web content and published articles on mobile devices, responsive website design now rules. When you write concise, easy-to-read content, your text can be accessed and read on all digital devices and screen sizes. You will also provide your client with highly valuable written content for increased website sales conversions.

Performing Effective Research

All of the research that you do for a writing project will also help fulfil the hyperlink requirements. When you use high quality, authority websites for researching your topic, they become ideal links to include in your content. Remember to use only primary sources of information to research the topic. This rule is one of the standards of, “What is SEO writing?” These verified and respected sources of information include the following types of sites:

  • Government Sites (.gov). Choose official government websites that provide research results on the topic.
  • Education Sites (.edu). Get data from college and university websites that publish results of research studies on the topic.
  • “Big Data” Websites. These websites are created for the purpose of providing accurate statistics, graphs and other types of data concerning a specific subject.
  • Studies & Clinical Trials. Data and results from clinical studies, case studies and other types of verified research can be found on these sites. They may be the official websites of academic journals or company publications that include reports and white papers.
  • Authoritative Websites. These sites provide verified information on your topic that will not create any conflicts of interest. They are good websites for your research since they are owned and operated by valid companies and organizations that are not competitors of our client.
  • Recent News. Most of our research for written content is timeless and remains relevant regardless of when you read it. Yet current news content can help with your research. You can perform a search for your topic by visiting Google News. News articles that your search returns may include links to primary sources for locating more information on your topic.

 

Google Tools for Locating Authority Resources

Google provides innovative tools for finding our most relevant resources quickly and easily. We can examine how this process works for us using the topic of “energy boosting supplements” as an example:

  • Google Search on .Gov and .Edu Sites. You can locate valid information concerning this topic on websites with .gov and .edu URLs on Google.com. On Google, use the “site:” operator to search “energy boosting supplements” site:.gov and “energy boosting supplements” site:.edu. This will narrow your search to these two types of authority websites. If you change your search terms somewhat, you can obtain varied results to enhance your research.

Referring to .gov and .edu over any random internet source gets more trust points

  • Google Search on Big Data Sites. To locate verified resources on Google, perform searches with such terms as “energy boosting supplements” + data, “energy boosting supplements” + statistics or “energy boosting supplements” + stats. Before obtaining source material from these sites, ensure that they are primary sources for this data. If not, they most likely link to the website of the primary source.

High Authority sites worth giving citations!

  • Google Search for Studies and Clinical Trials. You can search on Google to find sites giving the results of clinical trials and case studies concerning your topic. You can obtain good sources by entering “energy boosting supplements” + study, + case study, + clinical study, + white paper or + research. Since many of these studies are lengthy, you can skim through them or read the study abstract to obtain your information.

    ResearchGate is popular for white papers and is free!

  • Searching Google for Authoritative, Non-Competing Websites. Initial searches for these sites does not usually return primary source websites. Yet by visiting these sites, you will most likely find that they are linked to primary sources. Just using the search term “energy boosting supplements” should bring good results.
  • Searching Google for Recent News Sources. Although our type of content rarely relates directly to timely news coverage, current news stories often link to primary sources. By using your search term of “energy boosting supplements,” you can search Google for relevant news stories. Primary source links in these articles can help improve your SEO copywriting.

BuzzSumo is Google News on steroids

Creating Engaging and Informative Content

Product or Service Reviews

This variety of content often requires inputting text on set company templates or boilerplate style pages. It usually calls for either brief or detailed service and product descriptions. Additional static textual content for a brand or business site may be requested. In some instances, relevant charts and graphs or photos and other media can help engagement. These elements will also enhance your SEO copywriting. Engagement and using custom images is everything – using tools like Graphically.io (shameless plug) can make this process super easy!

 

Content Titles and Topics

The client briefing for a writing project includes either a general topic for every article or the exact titles. This section also often lists the word count desired by the client for each article in the project. (Example: 1000-words each). Clients want articles with eye-catching headlines that attract wide audience interest. They look for titles that compel potential customers or site members to take time to read this content.

For this reason, it is your task as the writer to generate enticing titles that capture new volumes of readers. There are many online articles by experts with valuable tips about writing catchy blog titles and headlines.

Setting Content Word Count

Unless they must fill a specific space on a web page or standard form, most clients can reconsider content length. Most agree that producing high-quality written content has more value than conforming to producing a certain number of words. You can also perform a web search to determine what the client company’s main competitors are using for word count. Check their general site content sections and any blog posts for the length of textual content. Then strive to create more clear, concise and informative content.

Tools like SurferSEO can give you an overview of what your competitors are doing. There is no correlation between word-count and ranking in this case though the minimum you should be writing is 1500 words

 

Selecting the Most Effective Keywords

As you may know, there are two kinds of keywords. These are the main or primary keyword and the secondary keywords. The main keyword consists of a single keyword or key phrase that is the major focus of the article topic. Secondary keywords are multiple key terms or phrases that are not the main topic, but have strong relevance to this topic. One of the basic essentials of how to write for SEO results is using effective keywords.

Tools like Ahrefs can give you hyper accurate data of what people are searching for

 

Include the main keyword in your article headline and from three to five times throughout the article content. Use secondary key terms once each in the content. They can also be used skillfully in article subheadings. This reveals that you know how to write copy that sells.

Creating the Tone and Angle for Your Content

Your written content should assume the tone of a friendly expert on the topic of your project. You should address your readers directly as though you are engaged in a real-time conversation with them. Although friendly and relaxed in tone, your cornerstone content should offer an abundance of valuable information. Each article is to be written from a second-person viewpoint. Address the reader as “you,” and refer to our site using “we” “our” and “us.”

Choosing Hyperlinks for Your Article

Informational content should contain at least three hyperlinks per article. Reviews do not have any requirements for hyperlinking. However, you can link to the company page and/or to the product being reviewed, if you like. Website content should contain internal links to other pages of the same site. Your hyperlinks must use anchor text and be placed in your article content.

You can choose to anchor one word or an entire phrase. This anchor text must clearly indicate the type of content that the reader can access by clinking the link. As discussed in our section entitled “Research” above, you are to link only to primary data sources for quality SEO articles.

When you make a claim or share an item of information, it is essential to link to the primary source. No matter how brilliant your writing skills may be, your article must link to the primary source to gain acceptance.

Following Formatting Rules

Divide the body of your text into subsections. Each of these subsections should have its own appropriate subheading as a Heading 2 (H2) header. If you sub-divide these subsections, you need to use sub-subheadings for this content. Use Heading 3 (H3) headers for sub-subheadings. Be sure to omit any fluff or filler language in your content. This explanation of how to avoid the use of fluff and filler writing may be helpful to you.

If suitable for your content, include a bullet list at some point within the text. Each bulleted item should contain a short phrase or one sentence. If the text for your bullet points is the length of a paragraph of longer, you should change the bullets to subheadings. The only time you should indent your content is when using the auto-indent function for creating a bullet list.

Nope,these are not cool.

 

Refrain from using numbered lists and always use Arial font, size 11 or Calibri font, size 11. Be sure to select justified alignment for your text. Leave one line space only between paragraphs, subheadings, lists or quoted material. Take care to remove any extra line spacing before submitting your writing project for approval. Using correct line space is a good SEO content writing strategy for reader clarity.

Use a Short and Sweet Writing Style

Our own testing and the studies of others have revealed that clear, short and concise sentences and paragraphs are best. Cornerstone content presented in this manner supports easy reading, comprehension and absorption by the reader.

The current reading skills of the majority of Americans is between a 6th and 8th grade level. For this reason, the use of a short and sweet writing style will result in higher readership for your content.

Website content that is simple and easy to read encourages visitors to stay longer on a site. They are more likely to examine all pages of a website, learning about a brand’s featured products and services. These visitors may become new customers and eventually, loyal clients for a company site. They can increase sales conversion rates as well as the client base for this company.

The Hemingway Editor is also of great help in developing a shorter, more concise writing style with excellent clarity.

Clear, Concise Sentences

We want each sentence of written content to focus directly on a hyper-specific thought. We have found through testing that extended sentences using commas, colons and semicolons can confuse or mislead a reader. This confusion may compel the reader to exit the website without reading further. The ideal sentence will exclude any punctuation that extends its content beyond one specific stated thought. Our intent is simply to prevent the use of long, confusing run-on sentences. We are not attempting to ban punctuation that extends a sentence when helpful. We just want to limit its use.

Paragraphs Focused on a Single Point

As with sentences, we need paragraphs that concentrate on one idea. This idea is introduced in the first sentence and clearly explained in the remaining sentences of the paragraph. This practice is a good SEO content writing strategy. Each paragraph should be limited in length to four visual lines. This does not mean four sentences. A paragraph with four visual lines is composed of four lines of text on your computer screen. Four visual lines of text are equal to about two or three sentences or approximately 50 to 60 words.

A ServiceNow wizard by trade, Gaby quit her 9-5 to pursue the world of search marketing. As a Customer Success Manager at SERPninja, she makes sure your projects get the attention they deserve. She is a certified Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing Expert and a SEMrush Expert – it is safe to say she knows exactly what she is talking about. She swears by  “The 5 Hour Work Week” but ends up working 80 hours a week to make sure your SEO is handled right.