While trying to crack Google’s algorithm, SEO experts have come up with numerous strategies that are supposed to help websites rank better. Although not everyone agrees on everything, one of the most controversial strategies is building private blog networks (PBN). Is it worth the risk, and why? Let’s try to find out.
What Is a PBN?
Everyone knows that getting backlinks from high-authority websites is not something that comes overnight. However, someone was impatient and decided to find a way to get around that by simply purchasing expired domains that already had authority. Genius, isn’t it?
Once you acquire multiple websites with expired domains, you kind of create your own private blog network PBN, and you can start posting some basic content on every expired domain. Of course, you will include a backlink to your main website in everything you post. That’s how you grow your “money site,” it’s link building gone wild.
With so many highly reputable backlinks, your websites ranking, domain authority, and SEO can only benefit. But is there a price you have to pay for taking the shortcut? Many digital marketing experts claim you should think twice before using a personal blog network as a part of your search engine optimization strategy.
What’s Not a Private Blog Network?
It happens that a business has several websites, and they all link to each other. However, they don’t form a private blog network. As long as the linking is done in a natural way without pushing it too much, it is all good. Private blog networks are built for the sole purpose of link building, which is not the case when you own several websites.
Are PBN Links Paid?
You purchased the expired domain, but you’re not paying for the links. Private blog networks are not a link building service, that’s a different thing. However, if you ever get offered to buy links from a list of websites, know that that is a public blog network, something you should not join at any cost because they bring much more risk.
What Are the Pros of PBNs?
First, let’s talk about all the good stuff, about what made private blog networks so popular and perhaps worth the risk. Link building has been one of the most powerful and proven SEO tactics, which is why it is no wonder that many are searching for the best ways to get those quality backlinks and get them fast.
One of the ways is to rely on writing guest posts for high-authority websites or simply create quality content and wait for your search result to improve. However, nowadays, not everyone has the time or patience for waiting games and organic growth. That’s why PBN backlinks seemed to be the long-awaited solution for that. Let’s see what you get when relying on PBN links:
- Building private blog networks will give you full control of your link building strategy, you choose the pages to which the links will point and the optimal anchor text.
- When used properly (not so obviously), private blog networks can help you rank better in search engines for whatever keyword you want.
- It gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility to experiment with different strategies and find what works best.
- It is easier to do that than white hat SEO (not breaking the search engines TOS and maintaining your website’s integrity).
What Are the Risks of PBNs?
Now the risks. Why are private blog networks so controversial? Well, it is because they are basically a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines, guidelines on optimal website optimization compiled by a search engine. But who has the time to read that? Whenever there are rules, there will be someone trying to find a loophole, a hack, and that’s what a PBN is.
You might think that’s a genius way to do backlinks, and in a way, it is, but you have to be aware that Google might catch you, and that’s when literally everything falls into the water. Google seriously penalizes websites that use PBNs, so carefully weigh all the pros and cons and figure out if it is worth it in your case. Here are the biggest risks:
- Establishing a private blog network can be an expensive undertaking because you do have to purchase those domains and produce content.
- Websites that are built with the help of PBNs are usually harder to sell.
- With a private blog network, you will be going against search engines’ terms of service.
- Unnatural PBN links tend to be ignored by search engines, so they actually might not have an impact on your ranking.
- Severe penalties for violating Googles Webmaster Guidelines.
Why Some SEOs Still Prefer Using PBNs?
The risks of building PBNs are quite serious, so you may wonder why anyone would risk it all. Well, getting quality links takes a lot of time and effort, and even when you do invest a lot of effort and produce quality content, no one guarantees you’re going to get those links. PBN gives people at least some sort of security and control. Especially control over anchor texts.
The Grey Hat SEO
Using multiple sites and PBN links falls in the so-called grey hat SEO territory if done properly. It means that you’re not doing everything entirely fair, like writing a guest post and waiting for it to get published so you can get that link, but you’re taking an “elegant” shortcut instead. You use a different IP address and different PBN hosting, and your PBN network is not so obvious, every website looks like an independent one, while it is actually a part of a private blog network.
Do PBNs Still Work?
PBN links can help you achieve quick success and high rankings, but if the algorithm detects anything unnatural, your ranking will drop faster than it went up. Using the same IP address or having each domain name owned by the same person are the most common mistakes that will unveil your little scheme, and then it’s game over. Whether you’re going to give private blog networks a shot is up to you. Just make sure you think through everything before you purchase an expired domain and cross over to the dark side.
Is Using PBNs Safe as a Tactic?
The potential risks involved with using PBNs are typically not worth the reward you get from them.
Our agency specialized in eCommerce SEO and doesn’t use PBNs in our campaigns. Natural outreach for guest posting or creating a valuable content or tool is a more safe strategy long-term.