If you researched how to improve your site’s rankings, you’ve probably stumbled upon the dark arts of link building. Also known as black hat SEO tactics, these go against Google guidelines by manipulating its algorithm to fast-track a website on top of organic search rankings.
Some avoid black hat SEO like the plague, as they should. But others swear by its effectiveness and use them to get their websites on top of Google.
One of the most (in)famous link building efforts is PBN (private blog network) backlinks.
This post discusses everything you must know about this link type, its advantages and disadvantages, and whether you should build them for your website or not.
PBN Backlinks in a Nutshell
A private blog network is a collection of blogs and websites owned by a person and uses them to build links to help boost links to your money pages.
Ideally, you want to build your network from the ground up to enjoy the full benefits that pbn backlinks bring to your site. Below is an overview of creating PBNs from scratch:
- Buy aged and expired domains from domain registrars – Research available domains for purchase and bid for them on sites like GoDaddy Domain Auctions. Aged domains are those previously owned and have high domain authority due to the link profile built by their former owners. For this reason, an aged domain costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
- Create a website for each – After securing the domains, host and create a website for it on different hosting providers. The kicker here is you have to create a natural-looking website. That means you have to use a distinct blog layout and create content for it regularly.
- Use CDN for each PBN site – Using the same hosting provider for all your PBNs is one way that Google catches sites manipulating its algorithm to rank on search results. The reason is it uses the same IP addresses as the sites. So, to help cover your tracks, use a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare on all your PBNs. It allows you to use multiple IP addresses at once for your PBN sites. This makes it impossible for the search engine to identify the sites you use for building links to your site.
Creating a network of blogs from aged domains can be expensive since you have to purchase the domains, pay the hosting fee, and hire someone to create content for each.
How to Link to Your Sites Using PBNs
Before we discuss the process of linking to your money site from PBNs, you have to understand that this tactic goes against everything Google wants from websites.
In Google’s Link schemes page, it states that “any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site” violates Google’s guidelines.
And since you have complete autonomy over how you want your links built on PBNs, you manipulate Google to rank your website.
Here’s a visual representation of how PBNs work in principle:
Using a predictable linking pattern from your PBN sites like the one above is another footprint that Google uses to identify unnatural links. This reason is why you can’t afford to directly link from your PBN blogs straight to your money site.
A workaround to this issue is to build PBN backlinks with no rhyme or reason. Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about:
In the example above, tier 1 backlinks are acquired through white hat means, ex. guest blogging, broken link building, etc. Tier 2 backlinks are your PBN backlinks that mostly link to your tier 1 links to strengthen their authority.
The benefit of this approach, aside from hiding your tracks from Google, is to minimize the effect of the penalty should Google uncover your PBN backlinks. Since you’re not linking to your money site from your PBNs, the site shouldn’t see a massive drop in search rankings.
Having a strategic link building pattern that borders on chaos helps make your links appear natural to Google. As a result, the search engine will find tracing your footprints much harder so you can enjoy the benefits of outbound links from PBN sites.
Pros of Links from Private Blog Networks
As mentioned, some SEOs consider building PBN backlinks as a crucial part of their SEO strategy. Below are the reasons why they use it to full effect:
- Very powerful – Links from sites with established link profiles pass link juice, thus improving your site’s rankings and organic traffic. And since PBN sites are authoritative given their link profiles, you can guarantee that all the links you’ll build from the network will be much better than the links you’ll get from other websites.
- Full control – It’s one thing to build powerful backlinks. And it’s another to have full rein on the anchor texts used for each and where they will be located on a site. Private blog networks give you the privilege of creating strong backlinks for your money sites.
- Scalable – You can conduct tests as to which backlinks from your network increase your search rankings. Also, you may purchase more aged domains to turn into PBNs to help move up the rankings faster.
Cons of PBN Links
Despite the effectiveness of building backlinks on PBNs, the practice isn’t for the weak. And below are reasons why:
- Violates Google guidelines – No matter how hard you spin it, you can’t deny that PBN backlinks go against everything Google wants from its backlinks and can put your entire online business in danger once caught.
- Expensive to develop and maintain – Aside from the initial investment that should cost thousands of dollars, you should also pay the hosting and content fees every month to ensure that your sites are live and are churning out content regularly. And we’re not even talking about growing your PBNs by purchasing new expired domains over a period to maintain.
- Covering your footprint is a pain – Aside from using the same IP addresses and link patterns, Google uses other cues to identify unnatural link building practices. Examples include links from thin or spun content, over-optimized anchor text, link placement, and others. You must be aware of these factors and more to avoid Google from catching and penalizing your site.
Should You Build PBN Backlinks?
Links from private blog networks can benefit your site if you know what you’re doing. That’s a big if, in this case, given the risk you’re putting on your website.
However, in most cases, the answer to the question above is a big fat “NO.”
Using private blog networks for link building is more trouble than it’s worth. The exorbitant costs of operating your PBN sites could quickly deplete your budget if you don’t know how to spend it properly.
More importantly, expect the search engine to penalize your website once it finds out that you’re manipulating your search rankings with PBN backlinks.
In fact, there’s a good chance your site may never recover from the penalty again, even if you removed the PBN links from your profile