Off-Page Local SEO: Link Building for Rankings

We will mainly be focusing on citations and a Private Blog Network (PBN) for off-page SEO (link building).


A citation is a mention of a local business on the web. This mention can include business information such as business name, owner’s name, address, phone number, email, website address, and more.

We are using citations for mainly two reasons, business mentions and anchor text diversity. Multiple business mentions on the web can help increase rankings.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text that appears highlighted in a hypertext link that can be clicked to open the target web page. For this link here, the anchor text would be “here”.

If you have too many links pointing to your site with the same keyword as the anchor text, it will look unnatural and Google may see it as over-optimization. This can result in the site being penalized by Google.

With citations, the anchor text is usually the URL or some general text such as Visit Website. This dilutes the anchor text ratio and helps us avoid over-optimization.

Citation Business Information

As mentioned in the previous step, the business name can be the niche plus city, such as Loveland Electrician (can be based on the domain name).

In the domain buying article, we discussed how to come up with an address, phone number and email to use for a domain registration that does not have privacy protection. If you have not already created this information in the registration process, you will need to do so now for the citations.

The address and phone number can be from an apartment in that city. Just change the last few digits of the phone number to make it unique.

As for the email, you can use the one you created in GoDaddy or simply make up one if you used another domain registrar.

Some other business information you may also want to provide includes business description, category, business hours, and a business image. The business image can be a simple image found in Google for the niche you are targeting (such as an image of an electrician working for our electricians example).


Fiverr is a good source for buying multiple citations at a cheap price.

You can use the promo code MAXB20 for 20% off your first purchase at Fiverr.

To find citations on Fiverr, go to the site and search for citations or local citations in the search box.

When it comes to links, you want quality over quantity. For instance, 10 high-quality citations are better than 50 or even 100 low-quality citations or directory submissions.

Make sure they are actual local citations for business listings and not blog posts or blog comments.

You want to avoid links generated by software. Anyone offering more than 40 citations for $5 is almost guaranteed to be using software to create low-quality links.

When you have found a seller with good ratings, purchase a $5 package for now. That will be enough citations to get started.

You can test out a few different sellers on some of your sites to see which one you like the best.

Dofollow Citations

The vast majority of citations use nofollow links. Nofollow is an attribute assigned to a link to prevent PageRank from being passed. On the other hand, dofollow links (links without the nofollow attribute) pass link juice.

Nofollow was first created by Google to decrease spam. Below is what a nofollow link looks like in HTML.
<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>

Most citations provided by Fiverr sellers are also nofollow. While it is debatable if nofollow links or certain types of nofollow links pass any link juice, it is clear that dofollow links are superior.

This is why we will also have dofollow citations created as well. Dofollow citations also come in handy if additional SEO is required to rank the site higher.

Since there are no sellers on Fiverr offering only dofollow citations, we will hire a freelancer on UpWork.

We will be looking for a freelancer with experience in building citations so time and resources are not wasted on training. There are several experienced citation builders on UpWork so this should not be a problem.

As in Module 2, post a job on UpWork but this time select Sales & Marketing as the category and then SEO – Search Engine Optimization as the subcategory.

Mention in the description that they must have experience in building local citations. When interviewing the freelancers, ask them about their experience.

Offer around $0.50 per citation. This should be enough to get some interested applicants.

You can download the list of 10 dofollow citations when subscribing to the Local Takeover email list.

With the Fiverr and dofollow citations combined, you should have around 20-40 citations for your site. This is plenty.

The final cost should be around $10.


While citations will help with ranking and anchor text and link diversity, a Private Blog Network (PBN) will be the main force behind ranking the site high in Google.

A PBN is a set of domains (usually expired domains or bought through an auction or seller) owned by someone to be used for the purpose of linking to their site(s) for SEO.

The domains in a PBN are previously registered domains that use to have websites on them. The owners of the domains let them expire (for various reasons) and now they can simply be registered at a domain registrar or purchased at an auction or from a seller.

What makes PBNs so powerful is that the domains still have hard-to-get links from authoritative sites. These types of links would take a lot of effort to get if we were trying to obtain them naturally.

Instead, we can just buy these old domains that already have the links pointing at them.

Analyzing PBN Domains

As mentioned before, quality over quantity is what matters when it comes to backlinks. This holds true now more than ever as Google keeps decreasing the value of low quality links in SEO.

A handful of high quality links is better than dozens or even hundreds of low-quality links. Although low-quality links are the easiest and cheapest to get, high quality links can still be obtained easily with PBNs.

Since Google no longer publicly displays PageRank (PR), the best metrics to use now for analyzing the quality of a domain are Majestic’s metrics. Their two main metrics are called Trust Flow and Citations Flow.

Trust Flow is somewhat similar to PageRank in that it predicts how trustworthy a web page is based on how many trustworthy sites link to it. Citation Flow predicts how influential a URL might be based on how many sites link to it.

Citation Flow can also be used to predict if a domain is spammy or not. If the Citation Flow is much higher than the Trust Flow, it is usually an indicator that the domain has lots of spammy links.

This is known as the Citation Flow to Trust Flow ratio. Ideally, you want a domain with a ratio of less than 3.

You should also be looking for domains that have a Trust Flow of around 10 or higher. Two or more of the backlinks for the domain having a Trust Flow of 10 or higher is usually a good sign too.

With all that being said, Majestic’s domain metrics are not Google’s PageRank, so they may be off at times. This is why it is best to use these metrics as a baseline while also considering other factors.

Another such factor to consider is the number of referring domains. This is the number of backlinks coming from different sites.

Generally, the more sites (backlinks) pointing to the domain the better chance there is for the domain to have more authority. The exception for this is if all the backlinks are low-quality spammy domains.

You can look at the history of a domain using Just enter the domain name in the search box and you can see any past pages indexed by

You can tell if the domain was used previously as a PBN before. Simply go through the past pages and if you see a simple blog with content that is not relevant to the domain, then it was used as a PBN. You want to avoid this as the domain may be penalized by Google.

These are all the criteria to consider when buying PBN domains.

Buying PBN Domains

There are several ways to obtain PBN domains.

One of the options is to purchase from auctions, such as GoDaddy Auctions. However, there are so many domains on GoDaddy Auctions that you will need software to filter out the domains. The software will also need to show Majestic’s metrics. These programs are not cheap, and understandably so since the costs have to cover Majestic API credits.

Another option, which use to be more popular, is to scrape websites and try to find available expired domains yourself. Basically, the process involves scraping sites with software to find dead links on the sites. You would then find which domains from the dead links are available to be registered. The domain list still has to be narrowed down by the Majestic metrics.

There is software that does all three of these steps but it is costly. If you want to do this on a large scale, you will need to also purchase a dedicated server and proxies, which adds more to the cost. Another reason why this isn’t as popular as it use to be is because it’s getting harder to find good domains with this method unless you scrape on a massive scale. As you can see, this can be quite costly and time consuming.

A third option is to buy PBN domains from a seller. The downside to this is that many domain sellers have domains that are either overpriced or less expensive ones that are low quality (i.e. not worth buying).

Fortunately, there is a fairly new service PBNHQ offering quality PBN domains. The prices are low compared to other sellers, especially considering the quality of the domains.

All of the domains at PBNHQ have already had their domain history checked, so you don’t have to deal with going through the history of every domain to check for spam. This is a major time saver.

Several metrics are included for each domain listed at PBNHQ (in the Marketplace section), including Trust Flow, Citation Flow, and Referring Domains. Referring Domains is listed under the LRD column, which stands for Linking Root Domains.

Keep in mind that the price only reveals the domain and does not include domain registration. You still need to register the domain at a domain registrar. Though with the low prices at PBNHQ combined with discounts available at domain registrars, you can get some good deals on quality domains.

How Many PBNs to Buy

A good starting point is 10 PBNs for up to 10 of your sites. That means 10 articles on each PBN and each article will have a link pointing to one of your sites.

After you have more than 10 sites, you can start a new group of 10 PBNs. This new group will be used for the next 10 sites.

The reason for not using more than 10 sites/articles per every 10 PBNs is that you do not want to risk leaving a big footprint.

You can also use the same niche for every set of 10 PBNs so that all of the articles are related to each other.

For example, you could have 10 electrician sites that you use across 10 PBNs. All of the articles would be about electricians. Then you could use a different niche for the next set of 10 PBNs.

Although, this is not necessary and you can use different niches on one set of PBNs if you prefer.

If after a few months you still have some sites that are at the bottom of page 1, you can add some more PBNs to boost the rankings to the top of the page.

Anchor Text Diversity

Even though citations help with anchor text diversity, you still need to be careful with the PBN links to not use one keyword too much.

Each keyword used as anchor text on your PBNs should be used a maximum of 20%. For our electricians example, the keyword electricians loveland co should be used a maximum of 2 times for 10 PBNs.

Different keywords and keyword variations, such as electrician loveland, can be used for the remaining anchor texts on the PBNs.

In addition, generic terms can be used as anchor text on a few of the PBNs to avoid over-optimization, such as click here, this website, visit this page, etc.

Managing PBNs

There have been some web applications and software developed recently that make managing PBNs a lot easier.

The old way of managing PBNs was a huge hassle. It involved signing up with a different hosting provider for each PBN site and recording everything in an Excel spreadsheet to keep track.

Then a WordPress blog had to be installed for each site. While there is software available that can post to multiple WordPress blogs, it does not always work with every hosting configuration.

In order to keep costs down, small hosting providers are used since they are cheaper. The downside to this is that these small hosting providers are mostly used for PBNs, so this leaves a footprint and makes it easy for Google to find and deindex these sites. They also have a lot of downtime.

As you can see, the old way of managing PBNs was very time consuming and risky.

Thankfully, there are applications available now that can manage the entire process while leaving minimal footprints.

Currently, the best application is is a huge time saver and makes managing PBNs much easier. You can bulk add domains to the platform and sites with random themes are automatically generated. Then you can bulk add articles to the sites.

Included is a huge IP diversity from popular cloud hosting providers, so Google won’t deindex PBNs based on IPs.

Static HTML sites are used so you do not have to worry about the sites getting hacked like with WordPress.

In addition, backlink crawlers are blocked and important domain statistics are tracked, such as Trust Flow and Google Indexing.

The cost of is much lower than buying a separate hosting account for each site at well-known hosting companies, such as HostGator, BlueHost, etc. has extensive tutorials on how to use the platform so that will not be covered here.

Posting Articles on PBNs

After you have bought some PBN domains and easily set them up on, you are ready to post articles to the blogs.

As mentioned previously, if you have 10 PBNs you will post 10 articles for each site (1 site’s article per PBN).

Given our electricians example, we would have 10 articles related to electricians with each article containing a link to our site.

You should drip feed the articles to make it look more natural. For instance, you could have it set to where 2 articles are posted a day. Since you have 10 articles being posted to 10 PBNs, it would take 5 days to post all of the articles.

These articles should not be high quality since they are only being used for link building. From an ROI standpoint, it does not make sense to spend much money on these articles.

However, the article should be of decent quality and readable for the most part.

Including images and/or embedded videos in some of the articles is a good idea as Google likes media rich content.

Linking to authority sites in some of the articles should also be done. An authority site is a high quality website that is respected by knowledgeable people in its industry and also by Google.

For the electricians niche, examples of authority sites would be electricians associations or organizations, electricians directories, or sites like Wikipedia describing electricians.

If every article on a PBN site had only one link in it linking to your sites, it could leave an obvious footprint. This is why some articles should contain an authority link as well.

The articles should be at least 300 words. You should be able to get a non-native English speaker on UpWork to write 300 word articles and randomly add images or embedded videos at about $1.50 per article.

You will need to run the finished articles through Copyscape to make sure they are unique.

Keep in mind that you will need 10 articles per site to post to the PBNs, so around $15 per site. So even if you only created 5 sites per month, this would add up to be $75 a month in articles just for your PBNs.

Fortunately, there is a less expensive way. Article Forge automatically generates unique articles and randomly inserts images, embedded videos and links.

Given our 5 sites created a month example, you would save $28 a month by using Article Forge. If you create more sites per month, you will save even more.

Article Forge also has a yearly subscription which almost cuts the price in half, dropping it to $24.75 per month.

Creating Articles in Article Forge

To create articles with Article Forge, first come up with a keyword list related to your site. Each keyword will be used to generate one article.

You can use Google to help with creating a keyword list. Google’s autocomplete can be used to come up with more keywords as shown below.


You can also scroll down to the bottom of the search results for more keyword ideas.


Only use keywords with a maximum of 3 words. Keywords with 3 or less words usually generate better articles as they are not too descriptive.

Save your keyword list in a document after you have come up with several keywords. Then when you need to create an article in that niche, all you have to do is go to that document, pick a keyword from the list, and copy and paste it into Article Forge.

When you are ready to create an article in Article Forge, click on New Article in the menu on the side.

Enter the keyword for the article where it says Keyword.

Select Most Readable below where it says Money Site Filler.

Select either Medium (~500 Words) or Long (~750 Words) for the Article Length.

Add Titles and Headings and Replace Keywords with Links should be turned ON.

You can set the Image and Video probability to whatever you like.

Then click + Add New Replacement and enter the anchor text in the Keyword(s) box and your site URL in the box below that. You can also add another anchor text and the URL of an authority site if you want to link to an authority site in the article.

Guarantee Article Uniqueness should be turned ON. For this feature, you will need to sign up for a Copyscape account, buy some credits (only $0.05 per credit), and add your Copyscape API credentials to Article Forge.

The rest of the settings should be left as is.

Below is an example.


Note: You will need to generate 10 articles like this for each local lead generation site to post on 10 PBNs.

NEXT: Client Acquisition

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