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.
When it comes to the operation of PBN, you will have to acquire a number of domains. The number and type of domains chosen may be mostly due to your own personal preferences. For example, how much money can you spend on each domain? How many domains do you need in your PBN? Which type of domain will suit you perfectly?
These are all questions that you need to ask yourself so as that you can draft up a solid plan before looking to purchase domains for your network.
These sites are usually old and expired domains and are operated by you. Domain acquisition is vital for the success of the PBN. The type of domain and how it is acquired mostly depends on the specific goal of the PBN. Domains can be purchased by different manners and it is very important that you understand the essentials surrounding domain purchase so that you can operate your own PBN efficiently.
Risks and Benefits of Domain Acquisition
It is important the before you dive into purchasing your first domain for your Private Blog Network, you should understand the risks and benefits that comes with it.
RisksYou can be scammed
Since the main method of acquiring domains is through the internet. Unfortunately, a risk that comes with using the internet to purchase your domains is that you may be exposed to scammers who will try to cheat you out of your hard-earned cash. This is a huge risk that comes with acquiring your domain through the internet.
So please make sure that you purchase your domains with a lot of thought and consideration. Also, as with all internet purchases, there is the risk of hackers gaining illegal access to your vital and private information. With that being said, please put measures into place to protect your private data.
BenefitsChoice of great domains
To create your PBN, you will have to acquire domains for your network. The benefit of doing this is that you will have an array of domains to choose from. Domains come in a range of prices and metrics that may suit what you are looking for. There is a domain for every niche with varying amount of backlinks that you will need for your own PBN setup.Not a mind-numbing process
To do white-hat link-building is a long and lengthy process with little growth. On the other hand, if you are doing PBN, then it will not take long until you start seeing results, saving you a lot of time. However, let it be known that like the white strategy of link-building, you will have to put in some hard work into the PBN at the start. Remember that good things don’t come that easily.
PBN Linking Plan
It is always good to draft up a plan before taking on a new venture. With that being said, here are three things that you have to take into consideration when creating your own Private Blog Network.
How many PBN links will link back to your main site?
This varies from individual to individual and is mostly based on certain aspects of your site. For example, does it have high authority and how much competition do you have in your niche? However, a good place to start is around eight linking sites and you can build and refine your PBN linking sites as you gain experience.
How much money will you need for your PBN?Similar to the above tip, this will vary depending on the person and the money-making site that they are linking to. Like any business venture it with come with a price and to decide on what that price is, one must take into account the following factors:
- The price of the domain
- The price to build high-quality content
- The price for hosting.
These things can be expensive or cheap based on the individual but it is recommended that the majority of your finances ought to go to the domain. It is this factor that can make or break you when it comes to PBN. The content can come second and there are numerous freelancers that can provide you with this at a reasonable price. The hosting is the cheapest of them all, and the least significant.
How will you manage your sites?
Instead of managing one site, when your building your links organically' you are now managing five, maybe ten, sites all at the same time. This will take up time and some energy, so a solution to this problem is again, freelancers. With freelancing, you can hire a virtual assistant and content creators who are eager to manage your site and content at a reasonable price.
Just remember that you ought to fully outline and detail what they should and should not do so as to prevent your sites from being devalued by Google.
How should you go about feeding links into your main money-making site?
This should be taken with the utmost care. We do not want Google to detect any suspicious activity and devalue your site so it is vital that you operate this carefully.
What is advised is that you feed links to your main site naturally. If you make mention of a topic that is related to another article that is on your main site, then naturally you will link to it, right?
Do not start sending out links until your new hatchling main site is gaining traction and gaining backlinks on its own accord. After which, you can then use your PBN links regarding your niche in a well thought out manner so as to avoid the suspicions of Google.
How to find high-quality domains for your PBN
Now we get to the most important factor of PBN, the domain. What domains you purchase and use for your PBN is the key to the growth and success of your network.
Before we dive right into where you can find these domains, first let’s look at how to distinguish a good domain from a bad one.
What are we looking for?
First and foremost, what are we looking for?
Simple. We are seeking domains that are in the same niche as your main site, that possesses great backlinks and is spam free.
How can I find out the quality of the backlinks?
After you understand what you are looking for, make use of certain services like Moz or Majestic to find out the quality of the backlinks on a particular domain site. If you can not figure out the niche of a domain then Moz can be used to provide some clarification. Also to avoid domain sites that have distrustful backlinks, employ the use of the tool, Internet Archive - Wayback Machine.
Is the site indexed?
Most importantly, you have to find out if the site was indexed or not. If the site is not indexed that means that Google is about to remove the site, which is not good. To find out if a certain domain site is indexed, search the domain using site:domain.com. No results mean that the site was not indexed.
Where can I buy a high-quality domain for PBN?
Since you now understand what is required of a high-quality domain, it is time to explore the different places where one can purchase these domains. Purchase a domain through a broker.
If you are new to PBN, then this is the best route you should take when purchasing your domains. It is much easier than the other methods that are in this list since it entails fewer skills requirement when it comes to doing research on the backlinks.
You ought to buy your first two domains from a broker and two reputable sites to do this are WickedFire and BlackHatWorld. As a warning, be wary of scammers and make sure to be cautious when purchasing.
Purchasing domains through auctions
This is probably the most popular way to purchase domains because here you will easily find the domain sites that have the best backlinks. There are many auction sites that one can consider purchasing from. A few are Flippa, NameJet, GoDaddy and SnapNames.
Of course, with all methods, there are the cons that should be weighed. One is that it may be hard for SEOs to buy a domain cheap when using an auction. This is because many persons bid on a domain too early, which draws in other bidders.
What you ought to do is wait until last few minutes before the auction closes, then you place a bid.
Place a backorder for pending expired domains
Another viable option that you can use to gain an expired domain is to place a backorder on certain sites like SnapNames and NameJet. When back ordering, it is wise to use multiple sites so that you are able to get the best deal possible. You only pay for the pending expired domain when the site has won it.
Search through dropped domains
This option is for the experienced SEOs who are able to search and find great domains that were mistakenly cast aside by back ordering. The cause for this can vary from domain to domain but one primary cause is that the domain did not show high scores with Moz or other ranking services so it was mostly ignored. The sites mentioned above are great places to look for archives. Another one that you can consider is DomCop.
Make use of a domain crawler
This is a successful and highly recommended way to find and purchase domains. The domain crawler is tasked with finding broken links of authoritative sites of a particular niche.
Then it makes sure that the domain can be registered. If it can be, the domain crawler then collects information or metrics regarding the domain from Moz or other sites and presents the domain to the buyer.
The buyer then purchases the domain from the registrar and the only cost accrued is the registration fee. This is a great way that you can consider purchasing domains. A trusted site that provides this service is DomCop whose domain crawler is Guru Plan.
What are the different types of domains?
After you have decided on the method that you will use to purchase a domain it is time to contemplate on the type of domain that you will purchase.
These are the domains that are still alive and well. They haven’t been de-registered or dropped and can be considered as a valuable way to build your PBN. Auction sites are usually the best way to find existing domains.
As the most popular type of domains used to build a PBN, these types of domains have the disadvantage of being too expensive on auction sites. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep an eye out on for great deals on domains in your particular niche.
Dropped or Non-registered Domains
Using the domain crawler, one can easily find and register dropped domains. However, bear in mind, that these type of domains can quickly lose their authority because of the age of the last added content. However, on the bright side, a well-backlinked site will still have enough authority.
Buying a new domain will lose the benefit of your site having any authority and you will have the task of building links organically’ for this site.
Which hosting will I use for your domain?
After you have acquired the domains that you need, it is time to consider what hosting service you will use to host the domains. Like before, the hosting service will vary from individual to individual. However, this very important tip should be used by all: Do not use one hosting service to host all the domains on your network.
You have to divide them among different hosts so that Google is unable to pick up any suspicious activity’ that will trace back to you, leading to the shutdown of your network. Now, you can think about using SEOs hosts, but they have the risk of leaving traceable footprints.
So, what is recommended is that you spread out your websites using various popular hosting services such as Bluehost, Hostgator or Dreamhost. This alternative may be more expensive compared to the others but at least it is safe.
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.