Learn more about Private Blog Networks
Perhaps you have heard about Private Blog Networks before but you have no clue what they are and how they work. Popularly abbreviated as PBN, Private Blog Network refers to a network of websites that are used to build links to your money site. For many years, PBNs have been considered as the king of link building for grey hat search engine optimization.
However, that has changed in recent years after Google decided to fight link spam techniques.
So, the million dollar question that people are asking is whether PBNs still work today?The answer is a big YES.
However, you need to build your Private Blog Network right and stay safe so as to avoid landing into trouble with Google.
In this article, we are going to look at what are PBNs, the risks/ benefits all the way to finding quality domains for PBNs.
Let's get started.
What is a Private Blog Network?
A private blog network refers to a network of domains that are used to build links to your money site for the purpose of improving your ranking on search engine result page. In case you did not know, a money site simply means that client website which actually generates money.
It is possible to create PBNs that consist of free blogs such as wordpress.com and tumbr.com.
Usually, a private blog network consists of expired domains. An expired domain is a domain that was once owned and had content but was disowned and left to expire by the webmaster. In this case, if a domain is not registered to one person, anyone can acquire it for a fee of $10 to $15.
Why and how does a PBN work?
The quality and number of backlinks a website has usually determine how highly it ranks on search engines. According to one Matt Cutts, backlinks cannot be excluded because they play a big role in determining the quality of search results.
If you are serious about ranking highly on Google search engine results then you need to use a lot of good backlinks. PBNs are an easy way of getting lots of high-quality backlinks without doing all the hard work related to link building.
This is an effective strategy because the websites that form part of the network are considered to be authoritative by Google.
When you use PBNs, you are not receiving links from a spammy or brand new website. Rather you are getting links from trustworthy and popular websites that Google's algorithm use to rank websites.There are two main reasons why expired domains are more authoritative than new ones. The first reason is the age of the domain. For example, if an expired domain has been around since 2007, it is considered to be more authoritative than a new domain that was created in 2017.
The second reason is the backlink profile of an expired domain. A backlink profile takes into account the title tag of the link, the anchor text of the link, the number of backlinks, linking IP addresses and linking domains. It is no secret that public blog networks work better compared to white hat link building.
The reason is that the former allows you to control the content and links used within the domain. In addition, one has the ability to change the anchor text which links the website.
With white-hat link-building, you are required to do an outreach campaign so as to get authoritative sites to link to content. Following this route usually yields a low conversion rate. This is because people that run authoritative sites are bombarded with lots of outreach emails every single day.
Thus making it increasingly difficult for them to see your outreach email unless you know the webmaster. Another challenge with outreach is that you have no control of the anchor text or content to the link you receive.
Why you should use a Private Blog Network for your website
Creating PBNs allows you to control the content and backlinks within the domain. In addition, it allows you to alter and create the anchor text which links to your website. When you use an expired domain, it allows you to pass link juice to other websites that link to it.
This will give your site more ranking power than when you use a brand new domain with no authority. It can be complicated to build a network of blogs. The general idea behind creating PBNs is for them to bypass Google's algorithm without being seen by the real eyeballs. What you ought to remember about PBNs is that it revolves around gray hat SEO.
Unlike black hat SEO, gray hat SEO does not require one to spam websites thus making your links look natural if done properly. Because you are manipulating search engine's algorithm for link building purposes, you should know that it is something that is against the standard and policy set by Google.
However, that does not mean that private blog networks are not useful.
White-hat or Black-hat strategy?
You may have come across people saying that PBNs are a white hat strategy but that is only for purposes of selling their courses. As much as we would want to believe it, that is not the case. Private networks are a black hat strategy because it involves link manipulation which is against Google's policy and guidelines. In case Google discovers that you paid a third party journalist to link your site from an article he wrote, you will be penalized for it. Likewise, if Google discovers you have a network of sites that link to your client site, they will either de-index the private network sites or penalize your client site. Luckily, Google recently announced that they will not penalize websites that receive the link, but will devalue the links instead.
At this point, you are probably wondering why should you use PBNs if Google can penalize you for it? People accept that PBNs come with a high risk of penalty but they choose to use it because it gives them more control over links i.e. the anchor text and content. SEO expert also uses PBN in combination with white hat strategy. Instead of using private blog networks on sites with no links, SEO experts use organic links derived from outreach in addition to PBNs.
What action has Google taken?
Recently, Google decided that they will take action against PBN sites. The two main actions that Google take include deindexation of PBN sites and imposing a penalty on websites that receive links from PBNs. However, you don't have to be penalized by Google if you use them right. It requires a lot of money and time to build a PBN. Hence, it is important you know what can lead to a penalty or deindexation to avoid diluting your effort. The following are the top reasons that can lead to a penalty or deindexation.
- Using the same IP to host many domains
- Using a domain that was penalized
- Selling links privately or publicly
- Using the same registration details for different domains
- Span content that leads to manual review
- Blocking crawlers with robots.txt
- Not linking your website to other useful sites
- Failure to mix up anchor texts in links from private blog networks
To avoid a penalty or deindexation, your PBN site should follow these rules. First, make sure you use different registrars. That is, buy domains using different registrars. In addition, use DNS of that single registrar instead of using the same name server for all your website domains. Second, use different hosting. This means that each site should be on its own IP address. Third, pay attention to the quality and uniqueness of your content. Each of your PBN websites should have valuable content that is not spun. Also, make sure the quality of PBN website domains is good just like your money site. Fourth, link each domain to each money site once. Linking your domain to multiple money sites only increases your chances of being penalized.
Fifth, for the purpose of keeping your link profile natural, each web page should have a maximum of 2 to 5 outgoing links. Make sure that all outgoing links from one web page link to authority sites only which are relevant to your niche. Sixth, use different anchor texts each time you link to your money site. And finally, make sure your PBN site was in the same niche as your money site before its domain expired.
When you check Google trends, you will see that people started searching the keyword "private blog networks" in the year 2005. This means that PBNs was used as a link building technique as early as 2005. However, it was in 2014 that this technique gained a lot of popularity but dwindled a little bit after Google penalized a few public blog networks.
It is no secret that PBNs are costly and time-consuming to create. That is why it is important you have an effective plan before you get down to business. Start by planning for the following things.
1. Linking plan
First and foremost, plan for the number of PBN links you want to rank. This will depend on the authority of your money site, including the competitiveness of your niche. The rule of thumb is that you should have as many as 10 PBN links for a keyword that is medium competitive.
2. Cost plan
You already know that building a private blog network doesn't come cheap. That is why you need to factor in the cost into your PBN planning. The three costs to consider include:
a) Domain cost
If you want to know the real value of a PBN link, you need to take into account the backlink of that domain. Therefore, you should aim to buy a domain with a quality backlink. It can you between $80 to $500 to find a domain with a quality backlink.
b) Hosting cost
Hosting your website a continuous cost that you have to budget for every year. With that said, it should not cost you more than $20 every year to host each website.
c) Content cost
The content on your PBN sites needs to be unique and high quality. Content creation sites can charge $5 for a 500-word article. Of course, you can pay more than that if your budget allows. With five such articles, you can create a private blog network and keep adding one new article each month.
Finding quality domains for PBNs
Domains that you should be buying should have some Citation Flow (CF), Domain Authority (DA), and Trust Flow (TF). CF measures how strong the links to the site are. DA looks at domain links to determine how authoritative the entire domain is. TF measures authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the links to a website. The score that is available in the metrics is based on the domain's link profile and age. Therefore, you won't be registering a new domain. Check out the following steps on finding quality domains for PBNs.
- Find a broker
- Use auction websites
There are quite a good number of broker websites that you can use to buy one or more domains. However, be careful because not all brokers sell quality domains. Do your research before settling on one website that you trust.
Auction websites is a place where you can find quality expiring domains for PBNs. Expiring domains still have their age since its registration is being passed to another before it is deleted.
This is an advanced method that is used to buy domains from back ordering companies once they drop from registration. A backorder service allows you to request for domains that are yet to drop for registration.
The risks of the strategy
Once Google discovers that a site is part of PBN, the webmaster will receive a notice informing them they have been penalized for thin content. This is because Google deems such website have little value to web searchers. Google will tag the website as spam and proceed to de-index it. This is a harsh penalty because de-indexed websites don't show up in search engine results page.
A PBN is a secure network because it is not connected to the internet or external networks. Thus it is not exposed to threats such as identity theft and privacy spoofing. Another benefit is that private networks are not exposed to technical difficulties such as external server outage or poor internet connectivity.
The risks and benefits of PBNs are well documented. However, if you have a money site and you find it beneficial to link it to blog networks then go for it. To avoid landing into trouble with Google, don't use too many links on a new site. Instead, slow down and keep building your private network over the long term.