Most popular Crowd Marketing concerns

Last updated in September 2023

There are many myths and misconceptions about Crowd Marketing. This is what can stop decision-makers from applying effective strategies, thereby depriving their business of many advantages.

Therefore, we decided to dispel all doubts, to work out objections, and asked Erik Ivanov, the co-founder of Natural Links service to tell us more about it.

Concern 1. Crowd marketing is something new to me, does anyone use it at all?

Yes, indeed, this method of link building may be new to you and you may not know what to expect from it!

And for many clients, just like for you, it was at first an experiment that turned out to be successful when they started working with us from scratch and grew up to 100k + traffic per month.

Or there was a traffic plateau and SEO techniques did not give results, but complementing them with crowd marketing, we made a quantum leap in traffic literally in 1-2 months!

In any case, without trying, you won’t know!

We make natural links – these are external links to the site, left by its visitors on other resources in the context of a recommendation, example, or question answer.

That is, for Google, they will never be sponsored, сheated or spammed… with the right approach, of course.

Concern 2. Crowd is unknown. Maybe it’s better to use guest posting, outreach, PBNs?

Here at Natural Links, we believe that getting started with crowd marketing should in no way prevent you from performing other actions using other means, both on page and off page.

Why not use other types of links such as guest posts, PBN and outreach in synergy with crowd links!?

We also believe that for success and TOPs in the search results, the link profile should be as diversified as possible and have as many different types of links as possible!

In addition, you can focus on large outreach articles on direct/commercial anchors and dilute them with general, branded and URL anchors using crowd links!

Such an approach also works for guest posts, outreach, and so on.

Crowd links can strengthen your tier-linking strategy, here’s an article, where you can read about it:

Of course, this is all theory, but here’s a living example for you:

We have a large enterprise client, which is the second most popular job search engine in the world. They have an in-house SEO Department that makes guest posting, outreach, PBNs on a full-time basis.

Their traffic has been on a plateau stage having between 6 and 8 mln traffic during a year.

After applying crowd marketing to their strategy, in synergy with other SEO activities starting from November 2020, the traffic has got off the plateau and started showing a positive dynamic.

The site now has an average of 10 million unique visitors per month.

Concern 3. I use only outreach links and do not wish to change my strategy.

Crowd marketing is not a competitor to the outreach links.

It does not require you to give up everything you have done before – it works in synergy with outreach links, and makes them run faster.

For example, in case your usual monthly batch of outreach articles gives your website a 10% growth in traffic every month, with crowd marketing it will not add much effort to turn 10% into 30%.

Plus, when outreach articles are posted, you are promoting the commercial anchors.

With crowd marketing, you are naturally distributing the backlink profile between commercial and non-commercial, branded anchors.

As an example: in October 2020 we started working with a consumer electronics client with the goal of uplifting the regions that had been minor for their business before. One of such minor regions was the UK – at the moment of the start, the product had just 215 monthly visitors on average. At that moment, the internal SEO Department has been working on more traditional SEO techniques like press releases. In a combination with crowd marketing, the growth dynamics became upward in just 3 months. Traffic has grown by 3 and is still counting.

Concern 4. Crowd links transfer little weight of the donor and don’t seem to affect anything.

Crowd links really transfer less weight than a link from a guest article. But their roles in the link profile are different.

And crowd marketing performs its role, which is forming the anchor text list, better than others. Since links are placed from resources with solid metrics and traffic, and we have the opportunity to mix do-follow and no-follow links, crowd marketing has a very positive effect on the naturalness of backlink profiles.

Concern 5. Links from forums will not give a rapid growth of positions

Well, nothing happens quickly in SEO, as they say, slow and steady wins the race!

Experience has shown that with the right approach, good pitch, and of course everything depends on the site itself, the first results can be seen in a month or two.

It is also worth remembering that crowd marketing, like any off-site SEO activity, works only in sync with regular work on the site, on-page SEO, valuable content, and stuff like that.

Concern 6. As for me, Crowd marketing will not work.

Forum links like any other type of link work.

You need to get a picture of how you want to use it.

If in order to become at the top, then it is advisable to understand the reference competitors in this top. The combination of crowd marketing and outreach shows excellent results.

There are 2 guaranteed cases when the crowd will work effectively:

1) Non-anchor and brand on the site – crowd links;

Anchor on the site – guest posts (outreach);

Links to outreach articles in order to increase the weight (Tier linking) – crowd links.

2) Placing only crowd links to landing pages using the anchor strategy that we offer in Natural Links.

Namely 15-20% of commercial anchors, and the rest is brand and non-anchor and generic anchors.

Works great for link profile growth.

Concern 7. Such links will mostly be no-follow – and what’s in it for me?

Many webmasters have such prejudice or opinion that ONLY do-follow links work in link building!

That’s how it was a few years ago.

But as practice shows, for Google robots, if a site has 100% do-follow links, it looks unnatural and increases the risk of sanctions from search engines.

At the same time, if your site has 100% no-follow links, it will not give any boost for promotion.

We believe that a healthy link profile should have around 70% do-follow links and 30% no-follow links!

Therefore, we adhere to the 50/50 rule in our reports! An additional 20% of Do-follow links can be “picked up” from outreach, guest posts, and so on!

You can research this on your own with this top-notch article.

Concern 8. I’m not sure if it is safe to be promoted by the crowd. Can I get banned from Google using your links?

Getting banned for building up your natural link mass is almost impossible.

After all, these are links created by people and for people.

They are placed in the context of the discussion, do not contain “business anchors” such as “buy a refrigerator inexpensively only today”, and interested users follow them.

If search engines impose sanctions for the presence of external links, then no site will remain in organic search results.

It is important to remember that links are the backbone of the Internet, people share a million links every day and will continue to do so in the future, in one form or another, even if the search engines themselves go down in history.

For sure, at least once in your life, such platforms as Quora or Reddit were included in the search results to your query.

In fact, millions of people from India, the USA, the UK, Pakistan, Australia and Canada actively use such services to find answers to their questions, bypassing the search giant Google. Why?

What is special about them and how can Q&A websites benefit your business? Let’s figure it out!

Why social and Q&A platforms are useful for SEO

Online visibility

Getting links from Quora answers or from comments on Reddit increases the credibility of the site and it looks more organic to search engine robots.

For example, 100% of links to a site from guest articles and sites look much more suspicious if, at the same time, no one has ever mentioned this site in social networks and platforms.

Q&A websites are 100% informative, and all messages are strictly moderated to ensure that no spam is spread by users.

Search engines take into account that if people in social networks refer to any external resource, then it is of interest to them, and may also be useful to others.

Therefore, if you get backlinks from these quality sites, the search engines will be happy to reward you with higher search rankings.

Brand mentions

Links placed with accurate anchors that match the related content and the context of discussions on the platform generate high-quality brand mentions or otherwise referred to as social signals.

Profit your site gets from social signals:

  • accelerated indexing of the site by search engines;
  • the link profile becomes more diverse;
  • the total number of links to the site is growing;
  • your site gets additional traffic from social platforms, and your business will benefit from more social media mentions.

Personal and brand awareness

According to BrightLocal’s Consumer Survey featured by Forbes, 84% of people trust online talks of peer users as much as personal recommendations.

It is important to complete your profile to show that you are an expert in certain areas. Make it sound natural and professional. Do not lie. Just talk about your business and what you trust.

In addition, decent behavior on the platform itself, involving active participation in discussions, as well as providing helpful and informative answers will also increase user confidence in your brand, which will lead to an improved business profile.

Links and anchors

Social platforms can be used not only to promote with their help, but also to receive backlinks from them.

Of course, you need to have skills in how to correctly use links, which anchors to choose so that they do not look commercial and what keywords to use in your responses.

This is a whole science, and an inexperienced person may not be able to do it.

And here you can use the Natural Links service.

Such links are nofollow and do not transfer as much weight as outreach placement, but help build a good and safe link profile for the long term.

Quora promotion strategy

Platform review

Quora is one of the leading Q&A sites.

About 300 million users from all over the world visit it every month.

On the interactive platform, you can answer questions, comment and vote up or against what you dislike.

You also have the opportunity to receive relevant and unique answers to your questions from millions of users who are willing to share different points of view.

If you answer user questions well and provide valuable content, then your answer is guaranteed to be viewed by millions of users across the digital space.

Among other things, Quora can be a great tool for promoting your business, whether it’s a branded product or unique content.

However, in order for the tool to be of maximum benefit, you need to learn how to use it.

How to gain maximum value from Quora

In order for Quora to work for your business, you need to make the most of its capabilities.

Answering questions that are relevant to your business play a key role in this.

And your answer should give a certain value to readers: a clear answer to the question posed, well structured and collected information from various sources, relevance, etc.

Remember that your answer can either appeal to the reader, or cause a backlash, it can both attract the reader to your brand and reject it.

Therefore, knowing and using the following techniques when giving answers will save you from failure, but will bring you benefits instead.

To find 5:1 ratio

For high visibility of your answers, try to choose questions where the number of subscribers to the answers is in a ratio of 5 to 1.

Thus, you give an answer to a hot question that is interesting to people and it will bring you visibility and the traffic in it.

To use pictures

The platform loves diagrams, infographics and pictures, and if they are also unique, then your answer will be seen by a larger audience (you can use pictures from your own blog or create simple illustrations yourself in graphic editors).

Even a funny picture or GIF animation on the topic will do – anything that will support the answer or make it stand out visually.

To add useful links

Provide useful links in the response.

That is, not only a link to your own site, but also embed a few more in the context of the response.

By adding links to other useful sources, even if they are not yours, you will show the platform audience that it is important for you to answer the question in a quality manner, and not only engage in self-promotion.

Try not to use commercial anchors, but branded or informational ones. For example, “article about fintech trends”, “graphic editor for smm” …

To promote own articles

On Quora you can and should promote your own content.

There are 2 ways to do it:

1) to look for relevant questions and use the already collected article material to answer them, by giving a teaser in the answer and offering to read more on the site’s blog;

2) to create a topic for your company and repost blog articles there with an indication of the source.

Do not spam

Quora mercilessly suppresses any spammy behaviour and blocks spammer accounts.

Therefore, your answer should always be detailed, using lists, structuring paragraphs and short, clear sentences.

Just remember that 80% of the audience reads your texts using a mobile phone, and long complex sentences and canvases of text are much more likely to be ignored than clearly structured info.

Spamming the same answer to a large number of questions will also result in blocking.

Personal branding

If you are promoting your own personal brand as an expert, or as a representative of a brand on Quora , it is very convenient to do this by simply creating an account with a photo of you, your real name and links to other social networks.

You can increase trust in your personality and brand by linking your account on the Q&A platform with accounts on other social networks, for example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others.

When users see that you are just as common as they are, they tend to be more attracted to you and rely on your experience.

This means that they will listen to your opinion and trust your offers.

It is also recommended that you take your interest graph seriously. If there are discussions that only fit your niche, it will make users hesitate.

Questions and their creation

The last life hack.

If you think that some issue has not yet been disclosed in detail, or there are no keywords you need.

Ask the question yourself, you can do it anonymously, and then answer it yourself.

Or create a question and send a request for an answer to other specific members of the community if you are interested in their opinion.

Quora is the perfect platform to promote your brand and business by posting quality content to your target audience.

If you act correctly in promoting and distributing links to your resources, then Quora will reward you with thousands of views, which in the future will grow into a large number of potential customers.

If you find this promotion method incomprehensible or too complicated, then we at Natural Links are ready to help with our service.

Reddit promotion strategy

Platform review

The main difference between Reddit and Quora is that Reddit is completely user-generated.

The main goal of is to create subreddits, that is, categories with their own targeted focus, where people from all over the world can share their content and comments.

The platform’s fan statistics are impressive: it has grown by 30.1% compared to last year and now stands at 430 million monthly active users.

It’s worth saying that Reddit is one of the freest and tolerant discussion platforms where almost anyone can find interesting topics and like-minded people.

Therefore, any niche can be represented here, discussions of disapproved or controversial topics, for example, cryptos or CBD (Cannabidiol), are especially vivid, and therefore those products and companies that find it difficult to promote themselves using traditional methods (for example, due to a ban on advertising) should consider Reddit.

So now let’s take a closer look at working with Reddit.

Reddit promo features

Everything is tied to the karma of the Reddit account.

Karma is the number of votes you receive that can increase or decrease depending on whether your posts or comments get upvoted, and vice versa.

With high karma, the likelihood that your words will be trusted is higher; with a low one, respectively less.

If you spammed or tried to directly sell your own product, it will reflect badly on your karma.

Before you start promoting your brand on Reddit, you need to earn at least 500 karma points.

To do this, by creating an account, you should not indicate your involvement in the brand – just communicate, comment on publications, vote and so on.

The platform works on the principle of good advice and recommendations (preferably unselfish).

Alternatively, for example, you can ask for advice on a difficult issue and people are actively involved in the discussion.

No need to rush to recommend your product.

In some subreddits it is impossible to post materials and comment until a certain level of karma is reached, but in general, karma does not give anything other than trust.

Promotion strategy for Reddit

Account creation.

You will need to enter your username and password.

Earn karma.

Reddit uses an algorithm to calculate karma and does not reveal exactly how it works.

As with any community, building a reputation on Reddit boils down to posting good stuff. The following two steps will help you with this.

Joining thematic subreddits according to your interest or profile.

Each subreddit has its own moderators, they can have their own rules and their own design.

You need to find out which subreddits your target audience is participating in.

To do this, go to the search bar and start typing keywords that are relevant to your niche.

And don’t neglect carefully studying the rules of each chosen subreddit.

Posting useful information or entertainment.

It sounds pretty obvious, but your post needs to be visible to get noticed.

Memes with viral potential are probably the best choice, as are unusual, engaging photos and videos.

For a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t on Reddit, check out the top rated posts of all time.

This will give you an idea of what the community as a whole really values and what you can work with.

Sometimes it is better to ask the moderators if it is possible to post this or that material.

This will allow you to build relationships with them.

Sometimes they even help edit the text to receive a better audience reaction.

Comments on hot topics.

You need to track messages that are relevant to your business (category, brand, competitors).

You can use the search engine of Reddit.

There are always a lot of hot topics for discussion on Reddit.

If you want to give your opinion on the side effects of the coronavirus vaccine, or the fact that a Tesla car hit a police car, go ahead.

Answer first in popular topics or choose old ones with a small number of answers – so there is a chance to get more votes.

Write a lot, competently and consistently. Monitor the selected topic of questions on Reddit daily for promotion.

When it’s time to post something of your own, make sure it’s something awesome.

In order for the promotion with the help of Reddit to go as smoothly as possible and with the best result, you can use the help of experts in this area.

The experts from Natural Links know how to get the highest karma on Reddit and how to make the best post with attractive anchors and links to your website or blog.

Lacking a clear understanding of what Crowd Marketing is, many entrepreneurs deprive themselves of the opportunity to expand their business and increase their income without making an incredible effort.

Therefore, we decided to tell you what the point of crowd marketing is and how it can be useful to your business.

The main benefit comes from:

  • Links from forums and platforms that help to expand the anchor profile of the site, transfer links from trustworthy resources, and links with relevant post content, show Google that the site is popular in the local community, and thus raise it higher in organic search results.


  • Social buzz – social signals from forums and platforms, participation in thematic and relevant discussions, increasing brand mentions for the audience that discusses the problems that this brand solves.


  • Articles on news and thematic platforms – most often there is an opportunity to comment on a published article or news, start a discussion of the event with other users, and this is an excellent opportunity for placing crowd marketing links.

Benefits of crowd marketing for businesses

Crowd marketing brings two key values to your business:

  • Boost of organic traffic. Your business gets revenue from the targeted traffic that comes to your website from the search engines. Crowd marketing can help you boost this traffic x10 or even x15 over a year at minimal effort.


  • Increase in brand awareness. Crowd marketing promotes a brand through active lively discussions on online resources. This helps those who hesitate to make a decision in your favor. Currently, 60% of users claim to believe real user reviews more than official ads. Crowd marketing creates user-generated-like content that helps you engage those 60%.

How the growth in mentions increases sales to business

Well, there is a direct interrelation:

The growth of mention (links) = growth in visibility = growth in traffic. 

Organic growth = lead growth.

Growth in mentions is an indicator of market interest in your product. The more people talk about your brand – the more they are likely to buy your product. Here is how this can influence your sales:

  • On the technical side – an increase in the number of mentions grows the brand’s visibility to search engines which leads to an increase in organic traffic. And more traffic leads to more sales from your site.
  • On the user’s side. When people want to buy something and hesitate about what to choose, they search for opinions and reviews online. The more positive mentions they see online – the more likely they are to buy. Our practice shows that after growing the volume of mentions by 400 mentions a month, a consumer electronics brand that we worked with increased the sales in the promoted markets by 20% which has boosted their revenue by extra $5mln after the spending of $10K per month on mentions.

What is crowd marketing (infographic)

Is it safe to use forum links

It is hardly possible to be banned for building up your natural link mass.

After all, these are links designed by the people and for the people.

They are naturally placed in the context of the chat, do not contain commercial anchors such as “urgently buy a car at half price”, and interested users follow them.

If search engines penalize only for placing external links, there will be no sites left in organic search results.

It is essential to remember that links are a fundamental part of the Internet.

People distribute dozens of links every day and they will keep on doing so even if the search engines themselves will cease to exist.

Could links from forums give a rapid increase in positions?

It has been proven that with the right approach, thorough knowledge of how everything works, and, of course, everything also depends on the quality of the site itself, the first fruits can be seen in several months or even less.

Here is a case of the result that the site with a zero web presence (drop domain) got in just a month after using the crowd marketing methods:

But for an existing site with a history, the first results should be tracked in 5-6 months, as is the case with this client:

Also, it is worth noting that crowd marketing, like any off-site SEO activity, works only together with regular work on the website, on-page SEO, stuffing with relevant, interesting content, and so on.

The hard facts above don’t lie, which means that promoting a business with crowd marketing is a great solution in terms of efficiency and return on investment.

Sharing content is the leading communication method nowadays.

People share texts, images, and videos, mostly for emotional reasons.

However, we can make the shareable content work for us and make it a part of the crowd marketing strategy.

Crowd Marketing: basic definitions

Crowd marketing – this is what I do for many years.

If you read this blog from time, you know something about this; but let me briefly describe what crowd marketing is for newcomers.

Imagine you want to buy any product on the Internet.

You type the search query in your browser and click a button.

A search engine – Google, as a rule – provides the list of relevant sites where you can purchase the product.

Stats says, 70% of users do not go on the second page of Google top, and only 5% check the third page and further.

Thus, most of the orders go to the sites in google top-10.

Obviously, all commercial websites want to appear in the Google top-10 search results for relevant search queries.

Starting SEO – search engine optimization – we face the necessity to create, nurture, and develop a link profile for the site.

As you know, the link profile is a combination of the outbound and inbound links on the website.

The number of inbound links and their quality is not the only factor that defines site ranking in search engines, but it is essential.

Placing the outbound links on the site is easy.

A more complex task is to convince other webmasters to add your link and increase the number of inbound links for you.

We know and successfully use several methods of link profile development.

For example, in some previous articles, we discussed outreach marketing – guest articles or paid posts in popular blogs and pages.

Also, I described Private Blog Networks, their benefits, and their advantages.

And, of course, a pure crowd marketing – inbound links from the forums, review sites, and other popular resources.

How to build a crowd marketing strategy

I sincerely believe in balance – say, a balance between work and personal life can make your life better.

A well-balanced crowd marketing strategy can also add some happiness to your life.

If you use various internet resources, check the site’s quality, make regular audits and profile updates, your site’s link profile will improve day by day.

Earlier I mentioned the popular link-building techniques.

My experience tells me that no method is perfect enough for solo performance.

Buying links from popular blogs and sites will cost you a fortune.

The blog author can also add a “nofollow” attribute to the link and cut traffic.

Purchasing links from PBNs is too risky: when search engines found such a network, they ban it with all the links.

Placing natural links on the forums and sites is the safest option, but it works better with other techniques.

So, to build a well-balanced crowd marketing strategy, you should follow these steps:

  • Make an audit of your link profile;
  • Evaluate the balance and diversity;
  • Plan the number of links you need to add in this iteration.

At last, I can move to the main idea of this article.

Shareable content can be a good source of inbound links for your site.

If you are lucky to create a viral video, catchy text, or funny image, add the link to your site and let people do the rest. Let’s discuss.

What a shareable content is

Shareable content is content people want and can share. Thanks, Captain Obvious.

People dispense useful and interesting information that can be helpful or funny for others.

We are social beings, and sharing content is the most natural thing for us.

The psychologists defined four main features of shareable content. It should be:

  • Trendy. The content should be related to the hot or popular topic.
  • Emotional. Each piece of shareable content makes people feel something.
  • Useful. It can provide a portion of helpful advice or contain valuable information.
  • Tied to identity. People should feel they belong to a specific social group.

The shareable content speaks to people’s interest in the same language.

The bright and attractive image or even video increases the chance for sharing.

You probably know that the proportion of video on the Internet continually grows.

By the way, have you already created an account on Tik-Tok?

However, do not disregard the good old texts.

The reading audience is less than the watching audience, but the number of decision-makers is higher in the first group.

For example, at the end of 2020, all the most popular social media posts discuss covid-19 vaccination.

Topics related to the most dangerous virus of the сentury arouse the strongest feeling: fear.

People feel their involvement in the global community of people who want to stop the pandemic.

It is worth saying that people share both useful information and fakes: when it goes about a fare, emotions dominate over common sense.

So, if you want to get the number of the good crown links, write a text for social media about the covid-19, add some facts about vaccination, a good supporting image, and do not forget to put the link.

If you do everything right, people will share your post and increase the number of incoming links for your site.

How to collect shares of the content

When almost all companies try to launch shareable content, you have to invest some effort to get your portion of links. Among the numerous ways of getting shares, I prefer four.

  1. Create viral content. People do not like advertising, but they share content when they feel strong emotions. For example, this nice video can get thousands of reposts, and people even do not notice they share the VW leasing ad.
  2. Offer something valuable. I mean coupon, gift, a prize for the contest, anything. It is unnecessary to use expensive products – many people love the chance to win more than the prize. I am not a fan of giveaways; the lovers of free staff rarely convert to your clients. However, it does not mean you should offer nothing for free.
  3. Collaborate with the influencers. People more willingly buy the products after the recommendations of their favorite bloggers. Find some media persons who can create a piece of unique shareable content, and add the link to your site. Don’t be surprised with the costs: in time of pandemic influence, marketing is at the peak of demand.
  4. Open the discussions on the forums. Do not be afraid to start topics but make sure the topic is relevant to the forum theme, otherwise, you can face a ban.

A hint: motivate your users to generate content. Of course, user-generated content is not always of perfect quality, but it is unique, and people value it.

How to track mentions of your brand or content

To evaluate the work, you should see the results.

Investigate if people mention your brand more frequently after your viral content campaign.

Tracking of the brand mentions on the Internet is called social listening.

The market offers various social listening tools, and I’d recommend trying several solutions before sticking with the chosen one.

The first useful tool is Google service Google Alerts.

It creates a specialized news feed containing all mentions of your brand online.

It helps to find new backlinks, notice black SEO attacks, track competitors, and always stay in touch with your brand.

Mention is one more useful tool. It is paid, but you can start with a free trial.

Mention started as a tool for social listening, but now it offers a wide range of functions.

You can generate reports and share alerts.

For me, the most exciting feature in Mention is the influencer rating.

You do not want to miss the comment from Elon Musk, don’t you?

Mention shows you the rating of the commenter to help you notice the famous names.

Hootsuite is a multifunctional solution for social media marketing.

Among all, it offers the simple multichannel method of social listening.

The basic account is free. Hootsuite allows teamwork, so I’d recommend it for corporate use.

Awario is a new tool for social media and web monitoring. Free trials and an affordable monthly plan make it suitable for most businesses.

Of course, it can monitor the web for brand mentions.

However, this new generation tool can find you the new leads predicting which people will look for a product like yours.

This is how an artificial intellect works for marketing.

This list can be endless.

The market is full of fantastic monitoring solutions; pick up one, and start.

Most of them are worth buying.

Manual brand monitoring is a time-consuming process.

This time obviously costs more than $30 per month.

Conclusive thought

A good deal is a win-win deal.

In crowd marketing, increasing the link profile with the shareable content is a perfect win-win.

People get something useful they can dispense, and your site gets an improved link profile.

However, remember the balance and combine these techniques with other crowd marketing tools available in Natural Links.

Private Blog Networks Essentials

I need to mention that I don’t want to discuss whether private blog networks are a black-hat tactic or not.

It exists and is rather popular nowadays, so let’s just analyze its effectiveness and reliability in modern SEO.

What is a PBN?

PBN, or private blog network, is a group of privately owned sites that place the outbound links to third-party websites.

The PBN does not collect traffic from the search engines; it is not intended to take the top positions in Google ranking. All the next points would be a logical consequence from this one.

PBN business model directly contradicts the Google vision of “websites created for people.”

That is why the Google crawler analyses the sites for “footprints” – the evidence the website is a part of a network. If the search bot reveals the network, Google bans all the sites with the same footprints.

After the Google ban, PBN owners and their investors lose their investments and the existing link weight on the target site in a moment.

What are PBN links - Scheme

PBN Scheme

I would roughly divide all PBN owners into two categories.

1. The first category develops site networks for their own business needs.

They order high-quality text from copywriters, buy the trusted domains, remove or mask the “footprints.”

However, these Santa Clauses charge a high price – and often refuse to work with the external customers.

2. The other category of webmasters tries to minimize the prime cost of the network.

They pump the domain rating (DR), fill the sites with cheap content, and sell the links for a dime a dozen.

These links work in the short-term perspective, but they meet the Google ban and vanish.

PBN Creation Approaches

If you decided to build your own PBN, the general strategy is:

  • Buy a network of sites or create it by purchasing expired domains with some history.
  • Clean up the organic SEO and eliminate any back end problems like 404 errors or existing spam links.
  • Link each site back to the target in a natural context.

Keep in mind that the best backlinks come from pages that don’t link to many sites.

The dilemma – if you decided to save some money and buy links, most PBN services won’t go the extra mile, or even the extra step, to ensure the organic portrayal of their links.

PBN services often pump as many links from one page as possible to maximize profit.

The partnership with such a service provider does not bring profit; just the opposite, it can ruin everything.

How Does Google Reveal Cheap PBNs?

Today, PBNs are rather sophisticated systems and may be harder for users to spot because the sites span different industries, topics and layouts.

The most common features of cheap (and, as a result, dangerous networks) determining if a site is part of a PBN — and therefore one that you should avoid like the plague — consider the following:

  • Hosting.
    Use service or a similar tool to find if the sites have the same IP address.
  • Site design.
    The owners of the cheap PBN networks usually do not invest in the unique site design. The similar WordPress theme, colours, and navigation menu immediately show if the site belongs to the network.
  • Site ownership.
    It does not take much effort to find who owns the site. The same owner’s name on the suspicious sites is a red flag. The worse option is only the hidden WHOIS data. Probably, the most profound evidence against the site.
  • Duplicate content.
    The simplest way to check the content for plagiarism is to copy one paragraph and search it in Google. For large texts, professionals use special scanners – web or desktop software.
  • Images and videos.
    You can find similar images or videos using Google search. These days AI quickly recognizes the attempts to uniqualize the image – inverted or cropped images are not considered unique. However, if there is only one problem, it is not dangerous.
  • Backlink profile.
    Compare the backlink profiles using one of the largest databases – Majestic or Ahrefs. The interlinking will immediately reveal the network.

The backlink profile is the final argument for the PBN network.

The visualization of the link between the sites in PBN shows the numerous link pairs – inbound and outbound – and the external links to the same site.

Probably these sites are also part of PBN, or they sell the links.

Using the new algorithm, Penguin, Google can reveal such schemes in a moment.

If your site is a part of PBN, say goodbye to high positions in the ranking. In the best scenario, you can remove it from the black list manually.

PBN Links, Pros and Cons

I do not appreciate the strict division on the black and white SEO techniques: I prefer discussing the tool.

PBN is a tool; it is not bad or good, it either works or not.

Let me summarize the main arguments in support and against the PBNs.


  • Fast SEO results and ranking. The use of PBNs can create the immediate effect of ranking growth.
  • Relatively low price. Many PBNs that sell the backlinks are relatively cheap, and without considering the risks, look more attractive by the price.
  • Monetization of the network. If you already own the site’s network, why do you not generate the additional income?
  • Control in the niche. Using PBN, the owner can catch control in the chosen niche.
  • Relative secrecy. With some tricky techniques, it is possible to hide PBN from the sanctions, but it won’t be long with the developing AI and new Google algorithms.


  • Budgeting. Cheap PBNs do not live long, and high-quality PBN require costly basic: high-quality content, domain with a positive history, and so on.
  • Google updates. The Google AI analyses the unbelievable volumes of the data and finds the casual relationships. PBN owners have to be very smart to hide their networks from this all-seeing eye.
  • Risk of penalties. If Google finds PBN and puts the sanctions, the penalties can go to the site-acceptor.
  • Complexity. PBN is not for the beginner, it requires some technical skills, time and efforts.
  • Time. PBN management is a time-consuming process. With the hourly rate for a manager, the price becomes visibly high.

Here is a dilemma: cheap PBN links provide short-term effects and high risk, and expensive PBN are heavy for the budget.

The best PBNs are those owned by you, but it costs a fortune; it is just a separate business.

I don’t say you should not use PBNs at all, but I’d advise you to combine it with crowd links and links from the guest posts.

In Natural Links we work with popular web resources that give substantial traffic volume, social signals, and live communication.

In combination with natural links, PBNs can work more effectively.

Crowd links and PBN: Shaken not Stirred

You probably know something about crowd marketing if you do SEO and read this blog.

Crowd marketing is a methodology of promoting target sites through direct contact with their target audience on popular online resources.

Simply speaking, it is the placement of the outbound links that generate link weight and traffic flow to your target site.

Crowd marketing raises brand awareness and creates thousands of safe and natural backlinks that nurture organic traffic.

Crowd Links VS PBN Links

What can crowd marketing do for marketing purposes?

  • Increase product visibility;
  • Push up the demand;
  • Increase brand awareness and shape perception;
  • Generate additional traffic;
  • Attract potential leads to websites.

What can crowd marketing do for search engine optimization?

  • Shape the balanced backlink profile;
  • Create the correct anchor list;
  • Bring in pure natural links with no automatic posting.
  • Add some social signals from the forums and other web resources and diversify your link profile.
What is the difference between PBN and crowd backlinks

Crowd Marketing vs. Forum Spam: How to Stay on the Light Side?

In 2019 the share of spam messages on the Internet reached 29.8%, as crazy as that.

If you think the percentage is too high, just imagine this is a historical minimum!

A significant part of the spam is the comments on forums. Webmasters use special software – Xrumer, GSA, etc. – to place thousands of links.

However, spammers disregard the topics, content relevance, and text uniqueness.

Although any moderated forum deletes spam links and bans the accounts, the spammers are looking for new and new methods to pass over moderation.

The reason is simple: the moderated forums have better SEO metrics, and it is a stroke of good luck to place the links here.

There are three levels of moderation in the web resource:

  • Weak moderation, many spam links;
  • Middle moderation, severe spam links;
  • Strong moderation, no spam links.

In high-quality crowd marketing, 80% of links will be posted on the middle-moderated resources, and 20% on the strongly moderated resources.

In the so-called “grey niches” the proportion can differ: strong moderators remove such links quickly.

The more inbound links you have got from the poorly-moderated sites, the closer you are to spam.

Middle-moderated Resources You Can Use for Crowd Marketing

People rely on the opinions of other people. Even those they do not know.

Looking for problem solutions or searching for a product or good, they read reviews or ask for help at forums, special Questions, and Answers sites, social networks, etc.

There are several types of popular resources to post crowd comment on:

  • Review sites
  • Social platforms/communities
  • Thematic forums
  • Q&A services
  • Comments on relevant websites

What should the webmaster do to place the crowd links on the well-moderated forums?

  • Create an excellent base of web resources. Websites, blogs, forums, and social media accounts should be relevant for the service or brand you promote and have high traffic and SEO-related metrics.
  • Register and develop the accounts on these resources. It makes sense to register several profiles on each web resource, but use a new email address for each account. Then post some welcome messages, participate in discussions, and create a new topic to show the accounts are alive.
  • Before posting something on the forum, make sure you have something to say to these people in their language. Otherwise, they just do not understand you.

So what?

I repeat I do not try to convince you not to use PBN.

But I ask it to use it in the right way.

Avoid cheap PBN solutions, care about footprints, build the strategy and diversify the backlink profile with high-quality Natural Links.

Before we start discussing the high-competitive niches, I’d like to ask you – how many low-competitive niches do you know?

Based on my experience, if the niche is low-competitive, it is just non-profitable. Do you remember the joke?

– Who was that?
– It was Joe The Uncatchable.
– Is it really that difficult to catch him?
– Oh, not at all. Just nobody wants to.

However, if it is possible to make some money on this product, you’ll never stay alone in the niche.

Thousands of your competitors look for new goods to earn, and no one can hide from them.

So, let us assume every profitable niche is high-competitive. If you find the latest market niche with a few players, reject the hope it will stay uninhabited for long.

Is it so bad? I don’t think so.

I can find many positive sides in active competition.

When you consider promotion under competitive pressure, you know that all possible strategies and solutions are already tested.

Before you invent something principally new (if you are lucky enough), you can just copy the most effective methods.

You can learn what works and what does not without wasting time and budget for testing hypotheses.

Of course, there are some minuses.

All prospective channels are occupied with other players.

The conversion is minimal, and the PPC budget or traffic acquisition price is skyrocketing.

So, you have a little choice: you either search for new channels and opportunities or increase brand awareness and build a loyal community.

The task goes more complicated if you work in grey or black niches – pharmaceutical industry, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, food supplements and diet products…

You do not need to be a criminal to face the sanctions on the Internet.

Facebook and Instagram can close eyes on many suspicious activities – once I saw false banknotes’ advertising! – but they ban any effort to promote food supplements, pharma, or cryptocurrency.

Google follows the trend.

I have already mentioned in earlier blogs that Google transforms into a global censor.

The work of SEO professionals looks like astrology: they try to calculate the regularities in the chaotic environment that continually changes.

The promotion of high-competitive niches is still possible.

Again, we turn to organic traffic and crowd marketing solutions. It takes time – but it creates human capital, a value that can hardly be overvalued.

One of the strategies is the tiered link building.

Tiered link building strategy, how to build it

Tiered link building is a process of building the link profile based on various sites that are tied with the target site.

Many SEO professionals consider tiered link building as the Black Hat practice.

Really, tiered link building can quickly boost the page rank, but Google does not praise the sudden growth.

A well-thought tiered linking strategy that supports the link profile’s smooth growth can be incorporated into the white link building strategy.

Tiered Link Building Scheme Picture

Tiered Link Building Scheme

1 Tier

The first level of the tiered network includes the donor sites that provide outbound links to your target site.

This level should consist of relevant, contextual, non-aggressive links: sites on the domains .edu and .gov, blogs on and, you’ve got the idea.

You can place the quality content, like guest articles, on high-ranking sites, add the links from wikis and social networks related to your niche in the first tier.

2 Tier

The second tier supports the sites of the first tier.

It can also include social networks, articles, but also directories, forums, etcetera.

It works as follows: you post a guest article on the high-ranking site and add the outbound link for the first tier.

To increase your article’s engagement, you repost and advertise it on the forums and social networks.

On the second level, you care about the quantity but still maintain some degree of relevance and context.

The inbound links increase the weight of a high-ranking site, and it passes the part of its ranking to your target.

3 Tier

After you developed the second tier of links, you can go deeper and build the third tier.

This level is mostly for quantity.

Here you can use the aggressive links from blog comments, forum posts, reviews, guestbooks, image comments, and so on.

Effective tiered link building

In SEO, we can measure the effectiveness with the metrics: the number of visitors, new and returning, average time on the page, the number of inbound links, etcetera.

The smooth growth is optimal for all metrics.

If we register it, it is possible to conclude the strategy is successful.

Let us discuss how we build success.

Here is what you can do on the upper level.

  • Put the link building process under your own control. You can manage the process by yourself or hire a reliable contractor – in any case, do not forget to check the reports and compare the metrics.
  • Tie your target site with the quality and relevant sites only. In Tier 1, the weight of donor sites influences the positions of the acceptor.
  • Use contextual backlinking – support your backlink with a good piece of relevant content. It will live longer and have a more positive impact.
  • Avoid search engine penalties at your tier network. The penalties from Google Zoo – Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird – can annihilate most of your efforts.

Tier one. White hat only.

Let us start from the target site and tier one, the sites directly tied with your target site by the backlinks.

I believe most of my readers know this but declare it once again: only white technologies on the upper level!

Invest your time and efforts in the well-thought site architecture, create or order the unique content, place anchors and links in the right places – do all your best for this level.

Only one mistake can kill the campaign, so act carefully and do not be in a rush.

Tier two. Still unique content.

The networks of second-level sites should be more extensive, so the entry-level is lower.

Of course, it is better to avoid the sites under Google penalties and post your backlinks on relevant resources.

I also recommend using unique content for Tier two.

Search engines increase the copyright violation control: you’d better prevent the problem than later remove it.

The good news is you can use low-quality content.

Tier three. Fruitful Soil.

On the lower level, you should create a broad field that will nurture the sites on Tier 2.

Moving forward with my agricultural metaphor, you should add some nutrients for better productivity.

Some of them smell bad like organic manure – in terms of backlinks, I mean forums with weak moderation and free blogs.

You can use it or switch to more effective mineral fertilizer; I mean natural crown links. It costs a little more, but you need less of it.

Anyway, it works; it is practical and safe.

Tips for Getting More Backlinks

  • Create shareable content – viral videos, funny jokes, reviews, expert articles can bring a substantial volume of new backlinks legally and for free! Do not undervalue this tool.
  • Go to the influencers – even nano bloggers with an audience of fewer than 10k subscribers can add value to the backlink profile. Influencers with an audience of 100k and more can make your site a star, but it will cost a budget.
  • Contribute as a guest author – posting the articles on third-party resources is one of the white link building methods. Besides, you can attract organic traffic to the target site.
  • Commit to social networks. People in social networks love to open interesting sites if they find a good lead and attractive pictures.
  • Use communities and forums. The quality of backlinks from forums and communities is lower than for outreach links from influencers or viral content. However, they add value to the link profile and work well in combination with types of links.

Crowd links as a part of Tiered link building

Crowd marketing is another technique of link building; the links to the target resource appear in the forum posts, reviews, Q&A sites, and other resources.

To distinguish crowd links and spam links, remember that crowd links are placed on the relevant resources together with a piece of useful content.

That is why my business’s name is Natural Links: we put many efforts to make them natural.

Let us review two main crowd marketing benefits.

Healthy profile diversification

When you build the link profile for your target resource, Google and other search engines can put sanctions on it because of the inbound links’ homogeneous nature.

The natural crowd links dilute and diversify the backlink profile and make it healthy.

Safe growth of the backlink profile

Natural links in the topics tailored to the target resource attract additional traffic and support the steady and safe profile growth.

Sharp peaks can be suspicious for the search engines, and crowd links help smooth the growth tempo.

Crown marketing can be effectively used in combination with tier link building, especially in the high-competitive niches.

Natural links improve Tier strategy and make the structure looking more natural for search engines.

This statement is not just words: I can prove it with the cases.

Use cases with tiered link building and crowd marketing

CASE 1. Dating agency Overview

The dating portal started working with Natural Links in September 2019.

The brand developed the following strategy of tier linking: the multiple non-commercial sites supply traffic for one target resource, the commercial site that generates the income.


Tier 3 (low level) links – strengthen third-party websites linked to the client’s non-commercial sites.

Tier 2 (middle level) links – backlink profile growth and positions of the non-commercial sites managed by the client.

Tier 1 (high level) links – increase and diversify the backlinks profile of the commercial site.


  • Organic traffic multiplied x2.5 within one year.
  • No significant impact of the May 2020 Google update on the client’s business.
  • Traffic indicators keep showing stable gradual growth.

Case 1: Tiered link building and crowd marketing for Dating niche

CASE 2. CBD Shop Overview

The client addressed Natural Links in December 2019.
At that moment, the client registered 15,598 organic visitors per month and 864 backlinks.


Tier 3 (low level) links – find the third-party websites, create the Tier network to improve the profile for Tier 2 sites
Tier 2 (middle level) links – create the network of the tied sites to improve the link weight of each one.
Tier 1 (high level) links – a combination of the outreach links and natural links.
Also: additional work on the site content, creation of new useful pieces of content.


  • Smooth link profile growth from 100 per month to 800-1000 per month
  • Up to 29k backlinks in profile at a moment
  • A well-balanced link profile consisted of outreach links and tier links.

Case 2: Tiered link building and crowd marketing for CBD niche


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