Is PBN Safe for SEO? PBN Risks & How To Avoid Them

Private blog networks offer high rewards to those who are willing to stake with higher risk. While this is a truth every webmaster has to accept, is there a way to avoid these risks? Let’s find out.

Is PBN Safe for SEO

PBNs or Private blog networks are considered to be a black hat SEO practice by a good number of webmaster’s guidelines.

However, with the competition towards ranking first in the SERP, clever ways to circumvent the rules of engagement are being devised by SEO professionals by making good use of the grey areas of the webmaster’s guide.

For certain, you probably know that there are penalties on getting caught doing black hat SEO from getting delisted in the search engine index to getting blacklisted.

These consequences of doing what is considered illegal at that very moment are, in a nutshell, very costly risks.

Speaking of the term “that very moment”, we mean that webmaster’s guides are constantly changing with the most frequent being annually which tells us that something illegal in 2018 could be legal in 2019, and what is OK in 2021 could not longer be allowed in 2022.

By this, we can conclude that we must understand how the fundamentals of the algorithm really work for us to maximize the loophole of the search engines and make sure that we avoid getting into trouble being caught doing malpractice.

Do PBN Still work in 2021?

Before the existence of these private blog networks, the early days of the internet is riddled with a lot of farm links that employ pay-per-click manpower as a complementary venture.

Webmasters are using this technique in order for them to drive their site ranking based on the current rules set by search engines way back then. That was around the mid-2000s.

These link farms are live, indexed, and the owners are linking their own domains in plain sight with the goal to make sure their website for promoting their brands will always be at the top of the SERP.

What went wrong is that these web pages contain unuseful information and if not, are articles that are either plagiarized or spun.

As the number of search engine users grows, the need for the right information being published for public consumption becomes a vital item that search engines must consider and so they did establish a webmaster guide.

These guidelines have eventually declared link farms to be illegal and started delisting sites that are employing these link farms.

Over the years, search engine developers have continuously developed algorithms to increase the reliability of the information being delivered to the users.

Whilst the webmaster guides are becoming more developed, so are the SEO hackers on how to have a workaround on those restrictions.

When the updated guides were released, link farms were penalized and tagged illegal so SEO geeks decided to work on something that is in the grey area in the mind of the 2010s.

This is where private blog networks were born. PBNs were like link farms but are made aligned with the current legal SEO practice.

Google, being the taker of most of the market share amongst search engines, eventually considered PBN as illegal after 2014. This has rocked the world of lots of webmasters who have employed pretty vile tricks on their PBN.

Why and how did their website got slapped with fines and penalties then? Let’s take a closer look.

Ranking Risk Factors

Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and many more have a calibrated way how they produce searches on every query. Of course, for most of the SEO geeks, the primary rule being followed is that of Google.

Google uses their own PageRank algorithm named after the founder, Larry Page.

This algorithm uses lots of mathematically computed scores from complex sets of data obtained from several variables some of which are:

  • Word Count

    The primitive version of the algorithms tends to think that the longer a blog post is, the more relevant it is and so, link farms usually contain articles that are more often than not just full of the keywords for the target niche.

    Today, the search engine bots are now programmed to be more intelligent with the ability to understand the content of an article and the word count can be used as a variable against the blogpost itself to determine whether the post is relevant or spammy.

    This was designed to simulate organic traffic which is the goal of doing SEO, to gain organic traffic.

    It was also good to add a reference that Ahrefs has conducted research on about 900 million pages and found out that 10,000-word count posts have less organic traffic compared to those that are of 2000 word count.

  • Keywords

    Search engine bots take the queries entered in the search bars as their keyword on looking at which web page is relevant.

    Keywords are one of the major factors being quantified by the algorithm in conjunction with the word count.

    The intelligent search engines can determine whether keywords are relevant to the whole article itself through latent semantic analysis.

  • Anchor Texts
  • From the keywords being analyzed by the algorithm come the terminals where websites interconnect across the internet. These are your Anchor Texts.

    Search engine algorithms also check on how the placement of hyperlinks is made in the whole article.

  • Backlinks

    Backlinks play a major role in making or breaking your domain and are one of the considerations being made when building a PBN.

    Backlinks are the number of web pages from outside your domain that points to your own page through anchor texts relevant to the target niche.

    Some of the options webmasters are choosing to obtain backlinks are from affiliate blog posts, guest posting, and buying backlinks from reputable sources like news outlets and educational institution websites.

    Now, when the domains that point to you are of good reputation, this is a great boost to your site rankings in SERP.

    However, when the backlink source is of a bad score on the search engine algorithm, chances are it will bust your PBN project including your money site.

  • Front and Back End Development
  • Web hosting, domain name servers, meta, image loading, scriptings, content delivery networks, front-end development language, themes, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), and site security are some of the website development factors that search engine algorithms consider when it comes to tell which pages are relevant to the query.

    In building a PBN, the purchasing of old domain names, where to host each domain, how the site looks like, how long does it take for the site to load, and the plugins being used in each domain can affect the implementation of your PBN.

From these variables, Google can quantify which are relevant to a search query that is being done.

Are PBN Safe?

The honest answer is No. That’s the reason why understanding the risk factors mentioned above is important since this will make help you an educated decision on how you will plan and execute your PBN build-out for your SEO campaign.

As mentioned above, the risk is high since the reward is high. If you come to think of it, you may save a lot of time, money, and effort if you are familiar with the risks and you know how to avoid them altogether.

Avoiding PBN Risks

You’re probably here in this article because you are planning to build your own private blog network or you might have got an offer from someone else and we want to tell you that you’re on the right track.

The first step in avoiding PBN risks is to be familiar with what are those risks and how to spot them. Then and there only you will be able to avoid them.

Here are some of the major risks starting the PBN groundwork to going live and how to avoid them.

Purchase Quality Old Domains

Private blog networks rely heavily on old domains as you want to gain the value of those and this can pose a risk if you will not check the history of those old domains.

One way to avoid this risk is by avoiding old domains with high backlink values but low domain authority scores as this could be flagged suspicious.

If the old domain purchased is of suspicious scores, more likely it could be a source of trouble on the whole blog network.

Diversify Hosting

PBN requires you to own multiple domains and search engine webmaster’s guide considers it illegal that you own multiple domains and have them linked to each other in plain sight.

One major reason is that link farms before are constructed this way and these link farms manipulated the search engine results page to the point of disinformation.

To avoid this risk, have your domain names and website hosting placed on different servers and might as well scatter them all across the globe if needed.

This is part of your first line of defense against unsafe PBNs.

Unique UI/UX

Search engine bots can determine whether sites have similar looks and this can be a point of suspicion that goes bust your PBN.

Avoiding this risk is done by making sure you are using different themes, and as much as possible, different plugins for each domain.

Third-party plugins especially in WordPress could pose a risk if not used properly as they are usually open-source in nature.

This may sound too much but similar themes and plugins are considered a PBN footprint.

Content is King

Your blog network will be scrutinized by search engine crawlers through the content because after all, it’s the content of the pages that are being searched for by search engine users.

Risks that you have to take note of are whether your content could be spammy, plagiarized, keyword-stuffed, and lengthy.

How to avoid it? Make sure to do proper keyword research and maximize the application of latent semantic indexing. Also, avoid being spammy and don’t plagiarize.

Ensure the Safety of Your PBN

You’re know informed about the pros and cons of utilizing private blog networks for your main money site.

We hope that this article helped you make an intelligent move as you work on your SEO campaign for eh website you want to top the search engine results page.

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