the truth about link diversity

The Truth About Link Diversity: What is Actually Needed to Rank?

Many SEOs say that in order to get a website ranking, you need to create a natural link profile with links coming from a variety of different sources. This is what’s known as “link diversity” and it’s been a topic of debate for quite some time.

There are many different types of link sources that SEOs are utilizing today. I recently conducted a poll in the Proper PBN Facebook Group, asking folks what link types they’re currently sending to their money sites.

poll results

As you can see there’s a variety of different platforms that you can use to get links to your site, ranging from “PBNs” to the coveted “Lol 5 idiots put GSA” links. Classy guys…. real classy.

Note: Just to establish this upfront, we’re not discussing social signals in this article as they’re considered to be a different category all together and serve a different purpose in today’s algorithmic landscape.

Back to the question at hand…

Is link diversity really necessary?

Answer: It depends on the size of your website and the niche you’re in.

Huge Websites / Corporate SEO

If you’re doing SEO for a huge corporate client (500+ pages) or personally manage a website with tens of thousands of visitors per day, then yes, link diversity is needed.

The bigger the website, the more natural it is that it would attract all types of links from a variety of different platforms. Take any of the big player sites, such as Amazon. The chances that Amazon is missing any particular type of link is virtually 0%. Large sites simply can’t help but attract links from all sources. Thus link diversity is a necessary ranking factor for sites of this size.

Affiliate SEO / Client SEO / LeadGen

For the readers of my blog, who typically specialize in creating small to medium micro-niche sites (10-50 pages) or manage local clients… link diversity is completely unnecessary.

That’s not to say that diversity doesn’t serve a purpose. I use citations to create local relevance and boost link velocity and I use press releases to get out of the sandbox.

But at the end of the day, trust and link juice gets sites ranking and that can come from as few link types as possible.


Personally, I have at least a dozen websites that rank solely from PBNs. I’ve sold even more and they’re all still ranking quite nicely. While I’d love to share these sites, I’m not going to, because who shares a niche?

However, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what some other industry experts had to say when I asked them about link diversity.

Gregory Ortiz – OMG, Source University

gregory ortiz

“I’ve personally ran tests on a couple hundred sites trying every method available. I’ve seen the best results from utilizing just PBN’s.”

Todd Foster – Blackhat.Community

todd foster

“The screenshot (click here) I have shared is from a site registered two months ago. All I have done so far is drip PBN Links for 2 months at random dates.”

Ben Starr –

ben starr

“I’ve been building sites in competitive affiliate niches for years. At first with exclusively PBN links, and to this day the only essential addition has been social signals. Powerful links are what matters, and I’ve not experienced any evidence that Google requires diversity.”

Gaurav Jaggi –

Gaurav Jaggi

“I’ve ranked a top niche in London (local) purely on base of 10 PBN links alone.”

What kind of links are actually impactful?

So we’ve established that it’s possible to send only a certain type of link to a website to get it ranked.

However, just because you can get away with sending one link type to your money site, doesn’t mean that you always should. Certain situations and budgets will call for different links.

The key is knowing what types of links are bad, what types of links are good, and when you should use them.

Below you’ll find my synopsis of different link types and their value. They’re classed in three different tiers from least to most valuable…

Stay Updated!

Get these articles sent straight to your inbox


  • Great finding Matt.
    That was my thesis too, but when someone such as yourself conducts careful case studies on it, it even sits better.
    Enjoyed reading as always.

  • Awesome post Matt! So, I guess we need only to worry about anchor text that we use right? I’m mostly in affiliate/cpa niche websites.

  • Hey Matt,
    great article as usual!

    Speaking of PBNs… I have a really important question to ask.
    I used lightningrank and ranksource to rank some of my websites and purchased a 5 links per month link package for some of my sites.

    What happened was that both service providers created all the 5 links in 5 days in a row, so e.g. lightninrank created 1 link on monday, 1 on tuesday, 1 on wednesday….

    After that I got really concerned and asked if that would not appear to be suspicious to google and the answer I received said, that it’s just fine and I do not have to worry. But to me that looks highly suspicious.

    What do you think? Would it be really obvious for me to notice it in the ranking positions, if I had been penalized, like 40 or 50 positions?

    By the way, the ranking of one of my websites increased after the first link package but dropped of about 8 positions from 8/9 to 16/17, but is back on 12 now. My other websites don’t look as good, about 30-40 and they are already 6 months old.

    Sorry for my bad english.

    Best Regards


      • That sort of burst link velocity on such a small scale is fine. Remember, these links are going to be picked up on different days as well. Google will notice (index) them at different times. Just make sure you have the social jusitification to back those links.

  • Hey Matt, nice read. I like to throw in 10 manual blog comments and a few of the top sites from each link type (social bookmarks, comments, etc) but I suppose doing without them could work as well.

  • You’ve just changed my whole SEO plan for one of my websites 😀 – That’s good! Thanks!
    BTW, where can I read more about A, B, C Class links? Is it all about the IP of hosting server?

    • Is it all about the IP of hosting server?

      Sorry, I’m not making the connection. The way I’m classifying these links has more to do with their difficulty in obtaining, history of abuse, relative safety, and effectiveness in ranking. Doesn’t have anything to do with IP.

    • A PBN, you own. A guest post, you dont.

      When you own the property you can decide if it goes on the homepage (where all the power is) and you can build links as fast as you want while being in complete control.

      Guest posts take time to obtain and perform the outreach.

  • Hi Matt,

    If we can only build PBN links to a MS, then what is the star time? In the past, I usually started sending the PBN links when MS jump to page 3-4. Before that, I built diversity links to MS.

    Now, Can I send PBN links as soon as the MS be built & indexed, but don’t mind if it has any postion in SERP?

    Thanks very much, Matt.

  • Hi, matt ,
    i’ve few questions, my site is UK based and is having a monthly search volume of <500 or so. Right now the site sits at position 6 ( previously it was on #2 ) without doing any SEO .

    I'm given a task of improving the site's ranking back to #2 or #1 .

    I've analysed the competitors sites backlinks, all of them have few backlinks, and two of them are directory listing sites,

    Right now i don't own any PBN , so is it okay to buy PBN links for the site ?
    Can i point them directly to the money site .
    How many links can i go with ?

    Sorry for too many questions .

    • PBN links are fine to send straight the money site. As for how many, the anchors, link velocity, where to get them from etc… that’s your job as their personal SEO analyst to determine.

  • My first thought was.. can this be true? Everyone says you should be so careful and use sites with different IP:s, subnets, server locations and so on. This is good news though and something I experienced as well!

    • Hey Freddy. Please don’t misunderstand. Have varied IPs, servers, etc is required to have a natural link profile. However, the idea that you need various types of links (PBN, comments, web 2.0, directory, etc) to rank is a fallacy.

  • Matt,

    Do you have a press release service that you would recommend? I know that there are some decent distributors and some that are completely horrible. Could you point me in the right direction as far as finding the a press release distribution service that would provide the needed results?

  • Hi Matt,

    Great post. Im curious how you attain proper link diversity with just using PBNs? Would you use Naked, and general anchors on your PBNs? I am using PR and Socials, along with several PBN links for one site. All of the anchors in the PBN links are Partial match, LSI, Exact Match, and branded. Would it be a good idea to use some naked anchors from PBNs aswell, or just leave that to the PR, web 2.0s? Reason I ask, is that it would probably look more natural if i had some naked, and general back links from in context PBN links aswell.

    • Hey Tyler… I link solely from PBN, press releases and ccitations. So for sure, I’ll end up using PBNs for a lot of pillow anchors. This is my strategy and it works for me. Many people feel like you shouldn’t waste PBNs for non-critcial anchors, yet I’ve never seen a single testcase where this is proven to be true.