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Niche Site Duel 2.0 (Research Interview): What’s Working in SEO Right Now with Alex Becker

Niche Site Duel 2.0 (Research Interview): What’s Working in SEO Right Now with Alex Becker

By Pat Flynn on

Niche Site Duel 2.0Niche Site Duel 2.0 is right around the corner! 

For those of you who don’t know, the original Niche Site Duel (NSD) was a public challenge to create a niche website from scratch, rank it high in Google and start earning an income from it. In 73 days I was able to work my Security Guard Training website to #1 in Google, and since then the site has been earning between $1,500 and $3,500 per month with very little upkeep involved.

In total, since last month’s income report, that one website site has earned over $50,000.

The tactics for Niche Site Duel 1.0 still work today, but there’s a catch…

Several people continue to email me with success stories using my case study as a template for their own, however it’s apparent that the strategies, in particular the search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, aren’t working nearly as much as they used to. In running my own experiments, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.


Because Google made a lot of changes to its search algorithm since NSD 1.0: the Panda updates, the Penguin updates, the Exact Match Domain update and a slew of other mini updates. (See entire Google algorithm change history here.)

My security site has stood the test of time, but some of my other experimental websites did not.

Before I start the Niche Site Duel 2.0 challenge and create a brand new website from scratch publicly here on the blog and keep you up to date on its progress, I want to take some time to first educate myself about what’s working right now, and then decide what strategies or tactics I might use to help rank and promote my new website, in whatever niche that may be in.

Part of the time and effort you put into learning something can pay itself back several times over based on the mistakes and errors that you don’t make as a result of that eduction. That said, you still want to make sure you make decisions and then ‘GO’.

Today’s post (and video) will be the first of several where I ask an expert who seems to know what they’re doing when it comes to certain aspects of niche site development.

Then, sometime in June or July, after a few of these interviews and more research, Niche Site Duel 2.0 will be a GO.

Today’s Guest: Alex Becker of

Alex Becker has a website at where he writes and creates videos primarily about SEO Marketing. Like me, he’s very open about his strategies, which is why he has massive appeal to many people interested in SEO today.

Alex has recently been able to rank several websites, some of his own and many the websites of his clients, for rather competitive keywords and in a relatively short amount of time. This is why I was interested in having him as a guest to share what’s working for him right now.

Below you’ll see the video interview we did together.

Right Click and Save-As here to Download the Transcript of this Interview

Please be sure to read my commentary about the interview and Alex’s strategy below the video after watching.

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(here’s the link to the video on YouTube)

Note: the timestamped questions below are paraphrased…

  • 00:42 – Alex, tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do and what your website is about.
  • 01:40 – Why are you on the show today, what do you have to offer us?
  • 02:56 – What should people avoid in order to get better search engine rankings or avoid getting slapped by Google?
  • 05:53 – What’s working best for the types of anchor text to use right now (on other sites linking to you)?
  • 08:04 – How are we building these links? What’s working right now (for link building) and what should we avoid?
  • 13:35 – Is it the PageRank of the page that the anchor text is on, or the PageRank of the root domain that matters?
  • 14:33 – What are these tools that you keep mentioning that you use?
  • 15:17 – Are you writing articles for those tools? Is that how they work?
  • 15:45 – Blog Networks in the past got murdered. You’re suggesting to create one of your own, aren’t you worried about that being a red flag signal to Google?
  • 19:13 – The domains that you buy for your ‘link network’ – they don’t have to be relevant to the site that you’re linking to in order for them to work in your favor?
  • 20:12 – Where would you find these sites / domains that you could add to your network?
  • 21:39 – How many of these sites do you want to shoot for for your network?
  • 21:55 – Do you need only 1 link coming from those websites to point to your main page?
  • 23:00 – What about for people who don’t have a budget and money to spend on tools and buying websites?
  • 24:06 – If your site got slapped in Google’s recent algorithm updates, can you fix it to get it back to where it should be?

Alex’s Downloadable PDFs

Below are the two PDFs that Alex mentioned he would provide in the video, just in case you’re interested in learning more about his particular strategies:

Right-click and SAVE AS to download to your computer:

My Thoughts

First of all, a big thanks to Alex from for openly sharing how he does what he does. The PDFs definitely help us understand how his strategy works in more detail.

Alex’s primary strategy of purchasing domains with existing Page Rank and then linking them back to his main site makes perfect sense, and it’s no wonder he’s able to rank highly competitive keywords in a relatively short amount of time, especially considering he’s tested these strategies several times over while working for companies that gave him the budget to do so.

Although I mentioned in the video that I would put Alex’s strategies to the test, for NSD 2.0 I’m going to reconsider that statement. I’m doing this for two reasons:

  1. Not everyone who will participate in NSD 2.0 will have a budget to buy other domains and websites to build out a private blog linking network. As the main example, the less money I can spend, the better. I don’t want people spending a ton of money on creating a network of websites if they don’t have to. Although in theory the strategy makes perfect sense and it would probably work most of the time, at least for now, in practice it’s just not possible for everyone. I’m going to continue conducting research for a more economical way to possibly get the same affect. That said, even though I’m not going to use the exact same strategies as Alex, I will definitely keep the theories behind them in mind. I still find this interview with Alex to be extremely helpful.
  2. It’s sort of “gaming the system” and not really White Hat SEO.

In regards to #2 and gaming the system and doing things that are un-natural to look natural to Google (and I know I’m probably opening up a huge can of worms here), there are a lot of points to be made.

For one, when you think about it, isn’t all SEO a way of “gaming the system”? Even guest posting, with a specific attribution link with a specific anchor text at the bottom of the post – that’s “gaming the system” too, isn’t it?

Of course, there are varying degrees of doing so, but where does one draw the line?

With Niche Site Duel 1.0, I did practice some unnatural backlinking tactics that I learned from “what was working then”, and it worked – very well.

It helped my site get to #1 in Google and as a result has helped thousands of people get started in their career as a security guard. There’s proof in the number of people who connect with employers on the job board each and every day. So, does this mean that it’s okay when the website you’re trying to rank actually helps people?

How about the links that I built – could they be considered spammy? They were created just for the purposes of linking back to something else, so in that sense, perhaps – but they weren’t bothering anybody or getting in anybody’s way, which is what spam traditionally does. Those sites and their links just take up some of the infinite space that’s available on the web. Is that bad?

There are lots of things to think about when it comes to SEO. White Hat, Gray Hat, Black Hat. What works? What doesn’t? What’s right? What’s wrong?

I know what I say, write, record and publish has a lot of influence on what people do. As a leader in this space, I want to use this opportunity and the upcoming Niche Site Duel 2.0 challenge to see if I can White Hat my way to the top of Google. Alex’s strategy, at least for most people’s standards, is not considered White Hat.

But what does White Hat mean exactly? I looked to an online dictionary to find out.

From Webopedia:

In search engine optimization (SEO) terminology, White Hat SEO refers to the usage of SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience as opposed to search engines and completely follows search engine rules and policies…

Cool, human audience – I like that. But the rest of the definition is where it gets confusing again:

…For example, a Web site that is SEO optimized, yet focuses on relevancy and organic ranking is considered to be optimized using White Hat SEO practices. Some examples of White Hat SEO techniques include using keywords and keyword analysis, backlinking, link building to improve link popularity, and writing content for human readers. White Hat SEO is more frequently used by those who intend to make a long-term investment on their Web site.

Wait…backlinking and linkbuilding – White Hat? Now I’m confused again.

The truth is: some link building has to take place. Depending on the niche that you’re in, the success of your website may depend on it, but there are different ways to build links and what it could come down to is common sense – but even that differs from person to person, as we all know.

I also think it comes down to creativity. We might have to get a little creative in how we get links back to our websites, which could be a lot of fun too, especially when taking a White Hat approach. Furthermore, I feel that a White Hat approach would be more likely to stand the test of time, no matter what Google may end up deciding to do in the future with its algorithm.

To conclude, I just want you to know what’s going through my head right now as we prep for NSD 2.0. Although I don’t have a clearly defined answer for what’s right and what’s not, I’m going to approach NSD 2.0 by always remembering that I’m here to lead by example, so I’ll do my best to try and set a good one.

What’s Next

Up next for NSD 2.0, I have an interview with Spencer Haws from and creator of the popular keyword research tool, Long Tail Pro[Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.] Spencer recently got to #1 for a niche site of his own that he’s sharing publicly on his blog, and I’ll be going deep into his keyword research strategy, as well as his backlinking strategy in a podcast episode that’ll go live in a couple of weeks.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear from you. Whether it’s a comment on Alex’s strategy, excitement about the direction of NSD 2.0, your opinion on white hat vs. gray hat vs. black hat SEO and what’s working now, let me know what you think.

Here is a question for some direction:

What is your definition of White Hat SEO, and do you think it can compete with other SEOers who are ‘gaming the system’?


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