Yashar Ghaffarloo


Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Yashar Ghaffarloo, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Yashar is known as the SEO Wiz-kid to many. He started SEO 10 years ago when he was just 8.

He has ranked some of the toughest keywords in many competitive spaces and is currently working on finance (loans, stocks, and binary), iGaming, and health (alternative health, supplements).

If you have questions on how he is tackling competitive keywords and his take on SEO, please feel free to pick his brain.

You can also check out one of his earlier videos.


Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

What is the keystone ranking tactic you start with and what is different about how you use it?

I rely most heavily on my network I’ve built over the years (back when domains were cheaper).

It’s something I cherish especially competition on domain auction houses increases by the day.

I’m glad I invested early on in building a solid network.

I also have relationships built with a few thousand bloggers and site owners through the years.

Working on outreach for my own sites & previous clients, and a lot of them crossover.

(e.g. some news sites, like the infamous augustafreepress.com are general enough to where most any new niche I enter, I’m able to write a piece and angle it to fit on these sites.)

There’s 30~ high traffic sites with solid link profiles that are general (mostly local news sites) that I reach out to when building a new site to get a good foundation.

The other sites are mostly niche specific and I leverage them where relevant.

Where do you get your knowledge from?

Testing theories.

I rely a lot on Matt Diggity’s private testing group.

Where him, myself, and a few other SEOs test theories and report our results weekly.

I’ve heard finance niches require paying huge amounts when building links. How do you avoid having to pay out big sponsored fees? What kind of content would you recommend to create, which entices enough good quality resource links?

The finance niche is extremely difficult to get anywhere in without capital.

Even creating better content (skyscraper), developing tools (debt repayment calculators, etc.)

And reaching out offering what you’d think is value — which works in most every other niche.

Most sites ask for money because chances are.

A (wealthier) competitor has already reached out to the site with the same pitch you had + offered a few hundred bucks as an incentive to the site owner to link to them.

It’s cutthroat, so even if you’re “creating value” for the site owner, so many ask for money.

We all know backlinks matter especially for medium to high difficult keywords, but from your experience are you seeing the average strength of a backlink or volume of links required to boost being affected (in either direction) over the past few years as the algorithm changes? Has your off-page efforts/strategy changed much now from what you’d do say 2-3 years ago?

Links certainly are still important, but I’ve noticed the ability to rank with a (much) weaker link profile.

If you have other factors establishing yourself as a real business evident not only on page, but elsewhere on the web.

It always puzzled me that real businesses with no knowledge of SEO are able to rank for keywords that SEOs spend thousands trying to compete for.

And this is something I’ve been trying to decipher with varying levels of success this past year.

Part of this is schema w/ NAP, NAP visible on site (detailed about us, contact us).

Active social profiles (posting more than just your recent posts w/ IFTTT).

And coverage and real “buzz” about your brand online (branded press release certainly helps with this), citations, and mentions on the web.

I’m actively running a test on how to “manufacture” this real world credibility.

As it seems Google has a way of knowing, but still far from a concrete strategy.

But, of course, there are some sites that can “bruteforce” their way without any of this stuff with *enough* links.

Take a look at these pair of sites, owned by the same guys: purekana.com, premiumjane.com, marijuanabreak.com, shoppingcbd.com.

10k+ referring domains (most all nefariously obtained) and they’re able to rank their eCom sites for broad, high volume.

High competition keywords like “CBD oil” with the likes of webmd, livescience, medicalnewstoday, healthline, etc. just because they have so many links.

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What’s your best strategy for ranking highly competitive keywords? How do you do off page SEO?

Vague question, so I’ll give you a vague answer:

1) strong network

2) relationships with site owners

What’s your anchor text strategy?

Matt Diggity has a great guide on anchors: https://diggitymarketing.com/anchor-text-optimization/

The only two thing that I’d add from my observations that I haven’t seen talked about is the following:

Including your target keywords in the same sentence, right before your link & implying what the link that follows is about.

But not linking the exact match phrase, rather a brand or URL anchor.

Target keyword: best blue widget e.g. You can find the best blue widget at <a href=”http://example.com/”>example.com</a>

It’s pretty easy for readers (&googlebot) to decipher what the site being linked out to is about with the very explicit context.

But you don’t overoptimize as the linked phrase is a brand, domain, or bare URL.

How do you evaluate sites for possible link targets? What metrics do you look for?

The only metrics I use are:

1) Majestic’s C-class count: this is better than referring domains as you can filter out link farms hosted on the same servers (and avoiding inflated ref. domain counts from image scraper, “top X sites” lists, etc.)

2) TF/CF ratio, filtering out anything 0.45 or lower as it’s usually a link profile you wouldn’t want (spam, nofollow blog comments, etc.)

I use these to filter larger lists into smaller ones to review by hand. I don’t base any domain acquisitions solely on metrics like TF/DA.

Any strategies you’re willing to share to unstick a GMB ranking just beyond the 3 pack? High volume keyword.

Don’t have any experience with GMB or local, I’m sorry.

How is the best resource for building back links for weight loss niche?

I don’t have any experience in this specific niche.

But I’d recommend you reverse engineer what your competitors are doing in terms of link building and start there.

Money is certainly a good resource to have in a cutthroat niche like weight loss though.

If you’re an seo beginner and have an ecommerce 3 years old business, What are the top things you start doing right now or hire someone to do?

1. keeping track of all products & their status, actively purging any expired products or redirecting them to updated versions of similar products.

2. leverage category pages to include more than just cards showing your product name / image / price.

Including content on category pages is a great way to rank for more short tail keywords.

3. adding schema / rich snippets to product pages (+ adding reviews w/ dates is a great way to keep these pages fresh and sneak in longtails that you want to rank for in the review text)

Do you have a list of the first links, foundationally, you build for new sites? Also, what types of links do you build if you have location-specific inner-pages? Do you build links to location-specific inner pages or focus all the links on the homepage?

1. citations, branded profiles (buildmorelinks is a great cheap knowem alternative for the former: https://www.blackhatworld.com/…/build-branded-links…/)

2. press release (not an SEO grade press release, but through a service w real distribution like prnewswire)

3. announcing the launch through full feature articles on publication partners (sponsored posts mostly on local news sites who I’ve built relationships w/ in the past)

What is your opinion about expired domains that are used as money sites? Is it a long-term strategy or will Google catch on to that soon?

Google already does a pretty good job at algorithmically deterring old domains from being picked up and repurposed into money sites.

I’ve spent a lot of time and resources in this in the past two years and have found a few things that increase the chance of a successful repurpose.

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But still a lot of it is up to chance.

Still, I don’t see Google dedicating more resources to single out these sites, and unless you do something to cause suspicion and a manual look at your site (to uncover the fact that it’s repurposed).

You should be fine, and in my experience.

You can get a way with a lot more on repurposed domains due to their past history than you would on a new domain.

And that lessens the chance of a manual look if you can get Google to acknowledge and rank the site & it’s not a total flop.

When it comes to cyberspace and social media, do you have other ‘interests’ besides SEO?

I dabble a bit in cyber security & software development

What’s the best way to get a client in the alternative medicine niche mentioned in a big publication? Do you have a service you prefer, or do you reach out yourself?

Easiest way is to see if they offer advertising, ask for media kit, and see if there are sponsored posts offered.

What’s worked for me is to find freelance journalists individual profiles on these sites.

Hire them to write pieces for my site, and then after establishing that relationship.

Asking them if they can include a link to their by-lined piece in any of their future publications on that site (+ offer additional incentive of course).

What is your process for finding businesses that are shutting down or already shut down but holding on to their domain names? And how do you approach them and negotiate with them to acquire their domain names? And what criteria/metrics do you use before deciding to buying expired/expiring domains?

Great question.

Currently building a network of sites through this technique so not open to share publicly (only so many sites in this pool that everybody is fighting for).

But happy to share ideas if you have anything valuable to swap as well

About your tech stack, what apps/tools do you use to find your VAs, team communications, project/task management, dealing with content and managing PBNs?

1) onlinejobs.ph for VA, problogger.com’s job board for writers, upwork.com for project managers

2) team communication is all on Slack + AirTable

3) managing content is done through a master AirTable list.

PBNs through AIrTable (with status code checking, site title [for database error, etc.], index checking, etc. all through their API).

What do you do when links don’t move the needle and all on-page optimizations have been done for a competitive keyword?

Get more links or give up are the only two options in this case. Links certainly work.

But if your competitors are building more links in a day than you can afford in a month, and are already ranking higher than you.

Then it’s going to be tough to keep up and make any progress towards the top (high competition niches like finance & CBD where this is the case.

If you don’t build links for three months, your site will have dropped a page or two from the aggressive linkbuilding by others fighting for the top).

If you’re at a last resort and have no more links to send, then at that point I’d try some riskier tactics.

Try finding a relevant domain on an aftermarket or auction and 301ing it, I’ve “revived” a few stuck / declining sites through this.

But keep in mind that this is a quick fix, and you’re going to need more links after this or you’ll continue to fall in niches like the two mentioned.


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