So you’ve exhausted all available link building strategies but still aren’t seeing results.
What else can you do?
If that’s the case, you should consider kicking it up a notch.
You should consider building a Web 2.0 Blog Backlinks Network, otherwise referred to as W2BBN.
In this post, you’ll learn:
- What W2BBN is and how it can help your SEO campaign
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of W2BBN
- Why W2BBN is still relevant today
- How to build your own W2BBN network
- What to do to keep Google from penalizing your backlink network
You will also see a few case studies that show just how effective a W2BBN can be under the right conditions.
So without further ado, let’s jump right into the world of building a web 2.0 blog backlink network.
Web 2.0 Blog Backlink Network in a Nutshell
Let’s start with the obvious question:
What is web 2.0?
Web 2.0 refers to sites that let users generate their own content.
These sites are typically user-friendly and do not require any coding knowledge to operate. This is what makes it popular with non-techy users.
Popular examples include wiki pages, social networking sites, media hosting sites, and blogs.
The whole idea behind W2BBN is to leverage high-quality blogs to boost your domain’s SERP rankings.
So… What Is W2BBN?
Blogs hosted on web 2.0 sites like Tumblr, LiveJournal, WordPress, and similar platforms can be bought and used to generate backlinks to your main site.
This is a proactive approach to getting backlinks.
Instead of waiting for third-party sites to link to you organically, you’re essentially taking full control over your own link building efforts.
W2BBN can be classified as a high-risk, high-reward strategy.
If done right, you’ll be working your way up the SERPs in no time. Done poorly, it can leave your site spiralling down organic rankings.
Below is an oversimplified view of what a proper W2BBN structure should look like:
All blogs under your W2BBN should have high domain authority for this to work.
What’s the Difference Between W2BBN and a Private Blog Network?
You might be asking yourself: “How is this any different from a private blog network?”
Are they the same thing?
Though we couldn’t fault you for thinking so.
The idea behind the two is similar. But there are a few key differences that set each other apart.
A private blog network (PBN) has its own specific domains and web hosting.
By comparison, web 2.0 sites are usually hosted on a subdomain like Tumblr or WordPress.
A PBN would require you to buy expired domains under different registrars. You will then need to host them on different hosting accounts.
To hide your activity from Google, you’ll need to use proxy servers to hide your online footprint.
This whole process can be both stressful and time-consuming.
It’s not ideal for someone who’s only starting out with this sort of backlinking practice.
A W2BBN strategy follows the same idea – only simpler.
You could set up a brand new subdomain that is available for use, however, the domain will always lack authority compared to an aged domain.
Your best bet is to search for a domain that has expired and claim it.
It’s a far simpler approach than PBNs that’s easy even for beginners.
The Disadvantages of PBNs
Advanced users are also able to spot PBNs a mile away.
There are tell-tale signs that a site operates under a PBN.
It’s hard to overlook PBN sites that are passing themselves off as having different owners yet share the same theme and site design.
And speaking of ownership, most PBN owners are exposed when users check the WHOIS database for information.
Even worse, lazy SEOs use duplicate content across their PBN network ensuring they’ll be caught in no time.
While W2BBN sites run the same risks, you are able to work around them (more on that later).
The Benefits of W2BBN
What PBN and W2BBN have in common is the ability to have full control over your link building strategy.
- No more cold emails to potential collaborators.
- No more begging for dofollow links.
- No more rejected guest post drafts.
- No more unanswered emails.
- No more wasted resources.
With W2BBN, you can take immediate action without dependency on third-party sites.
You run the show now.
Since you no longer have to waste time reaching out and drafting long-form content for other people, you can reallocate your time and budget to work solely on your W2BBN sites instead.
In addition, even those without any writing experience can create content for W2BBN through Tumblr (as we’ll discuss later in the post).
In short: W2BBNs are easy to maintain and expand.
And unlike guest posting and other traditional link building tactics, you’ll feel every marketing dollar you pour into a W2BBN and the links can last almost forever, provided that the domain stays in your hands.
Since backlinks still play an important role in SEO (even in 2019), a W2BBN network can have a significant impact on your online presence.
W2BBNs will continue to work as long as you regularly update your content and get new external links.
The Disadvantages of W2BBN
Okay. Let’s get this out of the way.
In case it’s not clear by now, using a W2BBN or PBN is a black hat strategy.
Let this be your warning: W2BBNs and PBNs can get your domain penalized.
These link building strategies are against Google’s guidelines. You’re trying to game the system, after all.
A W2BBN would require you to set it up in such a way that Google will be unable to trace your purchased blogs back to you.
If caught, all of your client’s sites will be deindexed.
By no means are we discouraging you from using W2BBN. Just know that a cloud of doubt might be looming over your head should you decide to use this strategy moving forward.
Think twice before you proceed.
Google has taken action against dubious sites, often those with thin content. And when detected, they will be prompted to send out manual action notices to their site owners.
Black hat SEOs have been feeling the heat but claim that their corrective actions have led to positive results.
But some SEOs weren’t so lucky.
In some cases, it couldn’t be helped. One “brave” SEO, for example, decided to broadcast his plan on Reddit.
Little did he know, John Mueller (Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst) was listening in on his plan.
Yikes! Well, that was awkward/sightly hilarious.
In some cases, only PBNs were caught but W2BBNs were spared.
But even SEOs who’ve been nothing but meticulous weren’t spared.
Matt Diggity of Diggity Marketing ran 11 experiments that saw success rates go down at an alarming rate.
Below is a screenshot from the study that details the drop from toxic domains.
The domain you buy should also have as little ownership change as possible.
He found that the success of a PBN relies on continuous testing to stay ahead of the curve. Also, users should sit on a site for a while before linking out.
This logic probably applies to W2BBNs as well.
So while they can work wonders for your site, there are definitely pitfalls in using the W2BBN strategy.
Why Are People Still Using W2BBNs?
Why—despite the risks—are SEOs still crazy over W2BBNs?
It still works.
Despite all the claims that say otherwise, some SEOs stuck to their guns and continue to use W2BBN to build links and improve their rankings.
And because of its notoriety, W2BBN’s credibility as a legitimate tactic is widely misunderstood.
Franklin Hatchett of Online Dimes gave a small taste of what W2BBN can do for you.
He targeted three keywords and tried to rank his pages using W2BBN.
So used Tumblr for his test.
Here are his results:
Here is a simplified version that focuses on the 3 keywords he was trying to rank for. Notice how far some of his pages have climbed up the SERPs.
Here’s another example.
An India-based SEO named Suumit shared his experience on Detailed. He claims his Amazon affiliate site hit $28,000 in just 8 months.
On a bad month, he makes more than $10,000.
That’s amazing considering his affiliate site did not exist before then. He started everything from scratch.
Below is a screenshot of his Amazon commissions for 2017.
You guessed it. He implemented a W2BBN strategy.
Got your attention now?
Now we can get to the meaty section of this post.
We will now focus on how you can get the same positive results through W2BBN.
You’ll see how you too can boost your link building game while avoiding the pitfalls of W2BBN. If other SEOs can make it, so can you.
Are you willing to take a chance?
I’m Feeling Lucky Today… How Do I Build a W2BBN?
If you’re ready for the risk that comes with building blog networks, read on!
In this post, we’ll be using Tumblr as an example.
However, do keep in mind that this should also work for other web 2.0 sites.
You might be wondering:
Why are we using Tumblr? What’s so special about it?
Well, Tumblr is easy to set up and maintain.
After all, Tumblr is mostly an image sharing site. Most users expect to see pictures and a couple of sentences at most.
Therefore, all you need to do is provide fresh images and a couple of lines of text and you should be golden.
Isn’t that easier than creating a long guest post?
We think so too.
It’s the perfect site for the job.
And the platform is ripe with high-domain pages ready for picking.
So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to buy expired Tumblr domains.
Most of their domains retain their authority when abandoned. And you can easily claim them.
But the process can be a pain especially if you don’t cover your tracks. So we’ll show you how you can do all this without alerting Google.
Buying Expired Domains
We’ve mentioned several times now that you need to buy high-domain sites.
But what would you consider a high-domain site?
How would you know you’re buying the right Tumblr pages?
A high-domain site is one that shows high SEO metrics.
Use any of these to review a site.
Each tool will look different.
But for the most part, all you need to do is sign in and paste the URL to get started.
You want to use a site with a high domain authority so you can eliminate the need to build a site from the ground up.
So how do you find expired domains?
There are several ways.
You can go to ExpiredDomains and use their service to find expired domains.
Simply go to the site, sign up for an account, and start your search by entering a keyword in the search bar in the upper right-hand corner of the main dashboard.
You will then be presented with a list of results. Initially, the list shows you all domains. Some of these can be available or being bid on.
You want to narrow down your search by using the Filter feature.
Clicking on Filter will expand all the available options.
We recommend doing two things.
First, you want to tick Only Available Domains under Listing Settings so it only shows you exactly that.
Next, tick the Deleted Domains under Domain Lists which are domains that are available for purchase.
There are other filter options including the ability to only search for Tumblr sites. Feel free to play around with the options to get the type of domain you want.
Once the filter is applied, you can copy the URL and use Ahrefs, or any of the other online tools we mentioned earlier to further analyze its SEO metrics as well as its backlinks.
There is also a tool called GScraper you can use.
GScraper can be intimidating to use but with a little practice, you can get the hang of it.
We recommend that you use the proxy service. You want to do this so you don’t use all your proxies right away.
Note: Google might catch you if you run out of proxies. New GScraper users get a free 1-week trial of its proxy service.
Your main goal is to look for Tumblr users who have changed their blog URLs. This is a good indicator that the URL can be bought.
Fire up GScraper and head to the Options tab. Set Timeout Seconds to “10”, Max Threads Count to “1500”, and Process Priority to “Above Normal”.
Also, tick both options under Process Priority.
Under the Scrape tab, you’ll find a field call Footprint. Enter “site:.tumblr.com” without the quotes.
You can search for Tumblr blogs that cater to a specific niche or you can look for blogs that cover all sorts of niche.
You can generate random keywords with GScraper’s built-in keyword tool. Otherwise, you can use your own.
After setting everything up (including your proxies), go ahead and run GScraper.
It will take its time generating results. Once it’s done, you can start filtering the results.
If you prefer using another tool, you can try Netpeak Checker.
First, start by generating a list of keywords. You can do this manually or have Ahrefs or SEMRush do it for you.
Open Netpeak Checker and open the SE Scraper tool. Add your keywords in the appropriate field then select a search engine to use.
If you’re using Google, make sure that you’re using at least 50 proxies.
After you’ve set your settings, you can proceed with scraping.
Once finished, use the Transfer Hosts button to copy all the domains gathered to the main table.
You can go to DNS > IP in the Netpeak Checker parameters. Using this feature, you can filter out domains that are still in use.
Under Parameters, tick WHOIS > Expiration Date and Availability if you want to find free domains.
Adding these parameters should cut down your list considerably.
From here, you can copy the URLs and use Ahrefs or Moz to check the domain authority of the remaining sites.
Ahrefs can also be used to check the backlinks on the sites you are assessing.
Domain Hunter Gatherer
The Domain Hunter Gatherer is a desktop-based domain checker you can use to find expired Tumblr pages.
Open the tool and configure your preferences, making sure to add proxies in the process.
Under the Expired Domain Hunter tab, click Hunt From Keywords.
Type your keywords in the Search Keyword field.
Click Search and let the program run. Once finished, it will show you a list of all available domains along with data you can use to decide if they’re worth buying or not.
Clicking on one of the links will show you its current status and whether it’s available to purchase.
But if you want to search for specific web 2.0 platforms like Tumblr, you need to head over to the Web 2.0 Hunter tab. Here you’ll be able to filter your search by site.
Once you start your search, the tool will search for expired domains for you.
Claim the Domain
You now have your list of Tumblr domains.
Well, it’s time to go shopping!
But before proceeding, we’d like to remind you of two things:
First, you will need to register each site using a unique email address. You can’t use the same email address twice.
Second, you’ll need to sign up for a VPN service and use it when signing up for each domain. Ideally, you’d want to use a different IP address per registration.
Note: We suggest using one IP address for three Tumblr domains at most. There are programs like IP Vanish that changes your IP address with a click of a button.
Performing both actions will help ensure that Google doesn’t suspect you of owning all the domains you’ll be purchasing.
Now, onto claiming Tumblr blogs.
As a point of clarification, we should discuss the difference between claiming a site and registering a domain.
If the site you want to own is a web 2.0 subdomain, then all you need to do is claim the site. Claiming a subdomain can be done for free.
If you want to claim “thisavailablesite.tumblr.com” then all you have to do is create a Tumblr account and use “thisisavailable” as your account name.
We’ll show you how to do this later on.
But if you want to own a real domain like “thisisavailable.com” then you’d have to buy the domain through GoDaddy or any other domain registration site.
Claiming a site is more closely related to W2BBN while buying domains is more for PBNs.
Claiming a Tumblr Site
Note: Do not use Google Chrome. Use a different web browser like Mozilla Firefox or Opera.
Go to Tumblr and create an account. Use a unique email address. For the Username, use the same one found in the Tumblr domain you’re claiming.
Log all your information in a spreadsheet for future reference.
After you’ve entered all your information, click Sign Up.
Follow all the on-screen instructions to proceed. Once that’s done, select a couple of interests. Just click a few from the options presented. You can select at random as it doesn’t really matter what you choose at this point.
Once that’s finished, Tumblr will build your dashboard.
Verify your account after you’ve accessed your dashboard.
You now have successfully claimed a Tumblr account.
You can continue claiming other Tumblr blogs using your newly created one. Just go to Account > Settings > Create a New Blog.
Fill up all the fields. This time, the next Tumblr URL in your list of expired domains.
We suggest adding no more than 4 blogs per account.
If you want to claim more, create a fresh Tumblr account.
Buy a Domain
Go over your list of domains and see which ones are available. Again, you can use ExpiredDomains to check.
Then simply go to GoDaddy and try to buy that domain.
The only problem with this method is that you’ll have to recreate the website once you have the domain.
When you claim a Tumblr account, the site is pretty much built already. You only need to repopulate content.
This is yet another reason why W2BBNs might be better than PBNs.
Building the Blog From Scratch
You can’t just claim a Tumblr site, add a backlink, and leave it be.
That’s a disaster waiting to happen.
You have to do more.
Do that and Google will flag you for having thin content.
To avoid running into issues, you’re going to have to rebuild the site and make it appear legit.
As we’ve already mentioned, this process is much easier for Tumblr sites. But you can also do this for other web 2.0 sites.
Here’s a list of web 2.0 sites for your reference:
Use these sites if you want to diversify your network.
With that out of the way, let’s work on building your newly acquired site.
Customize the Site
By default, your Tumblr site would look very generic.
You want to dress it up so it would look like someone actually runs the blog.
What you don’t want is for your Tumblr site to look unnatural.
So what can you do?
There are a few things you can change to make the site more appealing and functional.
In Tumblr, go to Account > Edit Appearance.
Here, you have the option to edit your Tumblr theme.
A new window will pop up. You’ll be shown a list of options that will help you update the look of your site.
Just above the appearance settings, you’ll find a button that allows you to browse themes.
Clicking the button will show you all the themes that you can use to customize your site.
Update your page’s look so it looks just the way you want it. Just remember to keep your Tumblr pages unique. Do not use the same settings across all your sites.
You should also update your avatar and create a bio. Remember to use a different avatar and bio for each site you’ll be customizing.
Anything that would set your blog apart from each other will help.
Tumblr’s greatest advantage over other web 2.0 sites is prioritizing images over text.
This means you can post an image coupled with a few lines of text before adding your backlink and it would look just like any other Tumblr site.
Your page can look organic without the need for long-form content.
Just look at how simple NASA’s Tumblr page is.
This makes Tumblr a low-risk, high-reward platform for link building.
But for your Tumblr page to be effective, you want to provide a steady stream of content.
Of course, you can do this yourself.
As your network grows, you’ll find it harder to maintain all your sites.
It’s highly likely that you’ll end up hiring content creators to join your team.
Where do you get one of those?
There are sites that connect site owners and content creators. But since you’re not looking to produce written content, you can simply hire people to upload images on a regular basis.
Fiverr is a good place to start. Here you’ll find writers who specialize in Tumblr content.
Services start at $5 so it’s a perfect fit for SEOs on a tight budget.
But Fiverr isn’t the only place that lets you hire writers. There are other marketplaces where you can hire experienced content developers.
Another popular destination is UpWork. Here you can hire people on a short-term or full-time basis.
Your posts could be about anything. But we recommend you stick to your niche.
As long as you stick to Tumblr’s guidelines, you should be fine.
There have been recent changes to what passes off as acceptable content on Tumblr.
You might have heard about the site’s ban on adult content which it previously allowed.
Aside from the obvious (posts that promote terrorism, self-harm, and fraud), here are some other types of content to avoid.
- Unauthorized contests – Some users use contests to boost their traffic or get additional links. Don’t do that. Besides, your goal is to use your blog to create backlinks for your main site.
- Copyrighted content – Be careful about the type of content you upload. You or your writer might end up drawing the attention of the wrong people.
As far as copyright claims are concerned, Tumblr has a three-strike policy:
“With regard to repeat copyright infringement, we use a three-strike system to evaluate the standing of a user’s account, where, generally, each valid copyright infringement notice constitutes a strike, and three strikes results in the termination of a user’s account. When a user submits a valid DMCA counter-notification, we remove the associated strike from their record.”
Losing access to a domain you just acquired would be such a waste.
It’s important that you use different anchor texts across your Tumblr sites. The more diverse, the better.
Using keyword variations prevents over-optimization.
The good news is that there are tools that can help you monitor your keyword usage.
LSIGraph is a free-to-use keyword generator. Simply visit the site and enter your keyword.
It will then produce additional keywords you can use for your content.
Unfortunately, the free version can only accommodate a limited amount of searches (around 3 per day). If you want to do more, you’re going to have to update to the paid version that starts at $27 a month.
But if you already have an Ahrefs account, you might as well use that.
Its Keyword Research Tool should be more than enough to create a list of anchor texts you can use for your Tumblr blogs.
At the end of the day, you want to have a good keyword ratio.
Use your web 2.0 sites for pushing keyword variations and branding. Leave your exact match keywords for the stronger sites in your portfolio.
Your weak Tumblr domains can be reserved for naked URLs and branding anchor texts.
Bypass Tumblr Redirect
Unfortunately, Tumblr has a redirect feature that prevents link juice from being passed on to your main site.
But don’t panic:
There is a workaround available. We’ll show you how you can add links to your avatar and your H1.
Log into your Tumblr account and open your Settings.
Look for Website Theme and click Edit Theme.
On the next screen, click Edit HTML.
This will open the HTML for editing. You’ll need to look for the code that contains the URLs for both the avatar and the H1.
You can use CTRL + F to speed up your search. They should be visible right after the tag.
The image above shows the section where you can insert the URL for the avatar.
Use this to insert a backlink to your main site.
The same can be done for the H1 tag.
There are other sections in the HTML that you can add a link to. Feel free to play around the HTML to discover new places to drop backlinks to.
Rinse and Repeat
That’s pretty much everything you need to do.
As already mentioned, you don’t have to stick to using Tumblr. You can also try sites like Weebly or Over-blog.
While these sites are different, the methodology should be the same.
In fact, it might actually help if your W2BBN is diverse and includes domains from different sites.
This way, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.
You can use some of the scrapers we’ve mentioned earlier or look into other tools like Supagrowth.
You can use this to look for expired domains on Weebly, for example.
Just keep in mind that you want high authority pages as you did with Tumblr.
If there’s any confusion by some of the metrics you see in your domain search results, here’s a cheat sheet you could use.
- DA (Domain Authority) is a metric used by Moz users. It measures the authority of a site based on how many people link to that page.
- PA (Page Authority) is also for Moz users. It works the same way as DA. However, PA measures a single page on a domain.
- TF (Trust Flow) is by Majestic. It determines how trustworthy a site is and gives it an overall score.
- CF (Citations Flow) also by Majestic. Use this metric to determine how powerful the links are in a given domain.
While you can adjust your preferences, you would want a site to have a DA score of 18+. The TF and CF should at least be 13+ and 15+ respectively. But of course, it all depends on you.
As long as you work with high authority sites, then the plan should work no matter what web 2.0 site you decide to use.
Let’s go back and review the success stories you saw earlier.
How did Franklin Hatchett and Suumit perform overall? Did they net positive results after launching their W2BBN?
Oh, you betcha.
Franklin saw an immediate increase in rankings. The screenshot earlier showed his results after nine days.
He placed his keyword once in his title and twice in an article. There’s also a link in the sidebar.
42 expired Tumblr blogs were used to build backlinks to his main page.
As for his anchor texts, he used branding, naked URLs, and keyword variations. There were some exact match keywords but they were kept at a minimum.
And he was floored by the results. Here’s a refresher.
As of his last update, this is where he was standing in the SERPs.
What about Suumit?
He too used expired domains with great links. Just how great were these links?
Being able to claim domains with backlinks from the LA Times, The Verge, Gizmodo, and PC Mag certainly didn’t hurt his chances of success.
Suumit lamented that with guest posts, his competitors could replicate the same links. But with W2BBN, he didn’t have that problem.
He gathered domains using Ahrefs. He claims he now has a database of around 1.7 million domains in his pocket.
Because he is from India, he had trouble finding content writers who can write like a native English speaker. He did eventually find freelancers from UpWork.
His main site now ranks very well for the “best product” term in the health sector. So his affiliate site is performing quite well.
And while only 30% of the people he sent over to Amazon purchased the products he was promoting, the others ended up buying something else.
The end result?
$28,000 in just eight months.
So Should You Build a W2BBN?
We’ve been transparent throughout this post stating that W2BBN is a black hat tactic.
So you should really consider the repercussions of using this strategy.
It’s hard to argue with the results.
Clearly, there are merits to using the technique for getting your main site to rank.
If you’ve used up all your link building options and looking to roll the dice on something different, building a web 2.0 network is a risk worth taking.
But if you do, don’t forget the following tips:
- Only buy domains with high authority and legitimate backlinks.
- Repopulate the bought site with good content regularly. Don’t dump your links and forget about the site.
- Use a VPN when registering a site. Don’t use the same email address more than once. Hide your activity from Goog le at all costs.
- Customize your site so it would look unique.
If you’re not comfortable building a W2BBN on your own or simply don’t have the time, check out DFYLinks’s Tier 2 offering. They can help you set up a blog network so you can benefit from higher organic rankings.
Do you have any experience with W2BBN? What other link building tactics have you tried that worked?
We’d love to hear from you.