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$1,000 Challenge: Update 5

The giveaway site is up, it has content, and that content is indexing. Now the real fun starts!

Having a nice niche site is great, but it's just a toy if it's not earning any revenue. 

Good long-form content, like what you can get from HPD's content service is a solid first step. With decent keyword research, you'll even start to see some of your keywords popping up in the top 100 without any additional work. 

But, the real impact from when keyword research, long-form content, and back links come together. We've already done the keyword research and built out the site. That means this update is all about back links!

Outsourcing Link Building

There are many ways to build links, but at the very start of this challenge I stated I was going to try and outsource as much of the process as I could for up to a total of $1,000. I also said this was going to be a gray hat approach, so yes, I will be buying links.

shocked man

Did he say, "Buy links?"

Why am I buying links when all of the mainstream SEO advice you read says NEVER to do such a thing?

It's pretty simple really. It all comes down to a few facts:

  • I only have a budget of $1,000 to make and try to rank a site
  • I'm trying to do this without investing hundreds of hours of time (thus the reason for outsourcing a lot of the work)
  • It works

I'd love to get some legitimate tier-one quality back links, but let's be real, a smallish affiliate site has a very uphill battle in front of it when trying to do so. And again, I am trying to do this without making it a full-time job.

Don't be misled though. Any time you do any kind of artificial link building, whether it's building your own blog network, or buying links, you run the chance of getting smacked down by the big G.

This is strictly a risk vs. reward endeavor. If done properly, the potential reward outweighs the risk for the current investment in this type of site, in my humble opinion.

Now let's get started.

Step 1: Press Release

Yes, I still use press releases. No, I do not try to rank press releases.

The main reasons for why I use press releases is two-fold:

  1. to "wake up" my site
  2. to build a nice base of non-optimized anchor text

The real goal here is to just send a little link love to my site to help get all of the pages and posts to index. And, while doing so I can buffer or pillow the anchor text. I do this so when I start getting better links with targeted anchor text I won't end up over-optimizing my anchors.

Just writing a press release isn't going to do anything though. You need to have it distributed to PR sites.

The easy way to do this is to use a full-service PR service like this one that Dom over at Human Proof Designs has set up

Unfortunately, my budget is way too restrictive for that. I had to go a less costly and much more annoying path. I also think it's not as potent as the distribution is fairly minor. 

I ended up writing a short 300 word PR myself about the site launch. I spent a few minutes checking some sites for PR writing services without distribution, but they were over what I was comfortable with spending. 

After I drafted the PR, I used this PR distribution service on Fiverr. It's not amazing but it is within my budget and should accomplish my basic needs for tapping my site with a few links and building up some naked URL anchors.

I let these links simmer for a few days before moving on to the next part. 

Total spend: $6

Part 2: Web 2.0 Sites

Remember those Web 2.0 sites we set back up a few weeks ago? Now is when they come into play. 

After I see the PR links start popping up in Ahrefs (or do a manual site: check in Google against the report the Fiverr seller supplies if you don't have Ahrefs or something similar), I can revisit the aged and tiered 2.0 sites I built. 

There is no right or wrong to where you point these. I usually just make it random. For example:

  • Site 1 links to the money site homepage from its homepage
  • Site 2 links to an internal page on the money site from the homepage
  • Site 3 links to internal pages from all of its post, including the homepage
  • Site 4 internally links to a post that links out to an internal money site page
  • Site 5 links to the money site homepage from an internal page

There's no real rhyme or reason here. I'm just trying to mix thing up. It's probably overkill, but I like randomness.

As for anchor text, the PR took care of URL links. From these sites I like some branded and generic links. I'll occasionally toss in a very long tail keyword, but I'm staying away from my main keyword targets until the next step.

Total spend: $0

Part 3: Network Links

This is where people will start to freak out. They will be OK with building nofollow blog comments on spammed sites, blasting a PR with GSA spam, etc., but when you mention network links they run in terror. 

I'm not really sure why. 

Anyway, I'm not going to debate whether to use them, if they work, or any that. This is a gray hat and outsourcing challenge, so I am using them just as I would for one of my sites similar to what I have built for this.

As mentioned in the last update, we still have $512 to work with minus the $6 from the Fiverr PR gig. That might seem like a lot, but it's actually very limiting.

There are a lot of different networks and link sellers out there, but I usually go with what I know and who I trust. So, for this, I am heading back to Human Proof Designs to use their existing network

There is a 10 link and a 15 link option. I would love to go for the 15 as it's more bang for your buck. The 15 link option equals about $26.60/link as the 10 link option comes in at about $29.90/link.

Due to my tight budget and potential need for a second round of links from a different source in a few weeks, I'm stuck with the less economical 10 link plan.

That gives me 10 links to aim and 10 anchors to consider. I could spread these out, but that's just going to waste them.

Instead, using the mindset that I don't have any more to invest after this $1,000 budget is burnt, I want to do anything I can to start to get some kind of cash flow ASAP. That means getting at least one money page ranking and pulling in some affiliate sales. 

With that mindset, sending the 10 links to one money page is the obvious play.

As far as anchor text goes, the PR gave us some naked URL links. The 2.0 sites gave us some generic anchors. Now I can mix in the rich anchor text mixing in some natural variations and long tail anchors. 

Total spend: $299

In Summary

This entire update was about link building. We spent a good chunk of the the remaining budget as well. 

Here is where everything is at -

The Good - We are about 90% done with the work and outsourcing at this point.

The Bad - The budget is getting really thin. We also need some patience at this point. It takes time to get out of the dreaded Google sandbox, and it takes time for our new links to index and start passing juice. 

Money Spent - Before I started any of the link building, we had about $512 left in our budget. 

After the $6 Fiverr PR distribution gig and the $299 HPD link package, we are left with - 

Current Total Spend: $793

Remaining Budget: $207

Time Spent - I had to write my own PR. I spend about 20 minutes staring at a blank Word doc annoyed, and then about 25 minutes writing and formatting it. I also spent about 15 minutes logging back into the 2.0's to link out from and 15 more minutes with the HPD link order.

That adds up to 1.25 hours of time spent for this update, which brings the total time invested thus far to 13 and 1/2 hours.

Next Step -  After all these links get built and have time to simmer, I want to see how the site reacts. It will let me know if I should still focus on the same page I sent the HPD links to, or if I should put more effort towards another page. 

This requires a little patience.

That's it for now.  And, if you're looking for a rankings boost, I urge you to check out the Human Proof Designs link program, which will help support my site and this contest at the same time.

Thanks, and keep hustling!

  • Bilal Khalid

    Good to see another update and I learned a couple of things from it.

    Also I want to ask;

    1. What type of links did you use for tiering the web 2.0s? If it was a fiverr gig do you mind sharing it?

    2. The page you are sending links to, is it a product review or a ‘best of’ type content?

    Thanks

  • Shantanu Varun

    Wow, I love how detailed this case study is. Thank you so much i get to learn alot from it. just amazing!

  • The hardest part is finding quality links…

    Very curious on how well your project ranks on this tight budget 🙂

    • Tim

      I am very curious too. I never really tracked my budget down to the penny before, and I know for a fact that I was never so restrictive on my spend. Fingers crossed!

  • Steve Jones

    I’m finding this whole process really fascinating! It goes a long way to explaining why my own websites are not doing too good as I don’t do quite a bit of the things that you are showing us. If I’m honest, a lot of it goes straight over the top of my head!. However, it’s a very steep learning curve and I am enjoying every minute of it, thanks, Tim.

    • Tim

      Hey Steve. I hope I help you reach your goals.

  • Derick Shaffer

    This is fantastic, Tim. Really enjoying your updates!

    • Tim

      Thanks Derick!