|SEO||– 17 min read|
Private Blog Network (PBN) As A Link Building Method: To Try Or Not To Try
When is the usage of PBN worth the risk? Everything is about ROI. If you're in a lucrative niche, where competition is high, it's likely that if you don't use PBNs you simply won't compete.
At a certain point, going too heavy on PBNs will give you diminishing returns. I alluded to this before, but with PBNs you're typically getting links from their homepages. That's why they're so powerful. But homepage links are rare. So when Google sees that you have too many, its time to diversify with links from inner pages. Typically I'm using guest posts and link insertions for this.
The risk associated with the use of PBN website is that a competitor will detect its network and report it to Google via a spam report. Nevertheless, if we intelligently hide our network and strive to have a solid and compartmentalized infrastructure, we obtain dazzling results on competitive niche!
A PBN is not intended to harm unless it is badly done. For example, their creation must be spread over time! Over several months in order to make this ecosystem even more legitimate. For example, domain names must be registered with a frequency in time (not all the same day...) Have a different IP for each blog, inject qualitative and human content over time and well illustrated... It is a goldsmith's job that is done over time to perpetuate the network of sites.
These pages are often created using cheap methods. The photos on the pages are usually royalty-free images or cheap stock photos. The visual part of the sites is often similar. It may even be that the texts of the subpages are the same length. Sometimes network operators copy texts from several other pages, slightly modify them and publish on PBN pages. This is done to minimize workload while avoiding pure duplicate content.
The contact details on the page are often displayed as a picture. It even happens that contact information is generated and the person doesn't actually exist. The Internet offers imprint generators with the ability to select the country, city and gender to generate a fictitious address.
PBNs were formerly used on a larger scale as a link-building method. However, this has been leveling off for years due to the inferiority and content-related emptiness of the pages, which Google is increasingly recognizing. But you also have to point out that there are occasionally better-patched PBNs where the network is not immediately noticeable to the user or link builder.
Links from such sites are of no use and are considered to be inferior, they have negative or no impact at all. With larger and more elaborate PBNs, which often link for monetary reasons, it's only a matter of time before Google downgrades pages, if that's not already happening.
PBN can be recognized if a website is linked, for example, by similar-looking websites. Next you can find out if the pages that are linked to each other also have similar backlink profiles. Almost identical backlink profiles on multiple websites may also indicate a personal blog network. Clever PBN operators disable the crawlers of backlink analysis tools through the Robots.txt so that certain user queries in SEO Tools don't bring results.
Links from such networks can still work. Here it depends on the actual linking domain and its quality characteristics. After all, it could be that somebody really took a page and upgraded its content, even though it belongs to a PBN. However, links from 98% of existing PBNs are inferior, tend to be harmful and therefore not recommended.
There are several ways to set positive signals through respectable link building. Google is designed to provide users with the best possible content in the search results. Search engine results are ordered by relevance. It depends on various factors. The major are the links to the website. Thus, the link building focus must be placed on thematically relevant pages with well-researched and maintained content. Diligence pays off, even in link building.
When I started to learn SEO, I experimented with multiple PBNs to promote some of my personal projects (this was even before Google officially launched their penguin algorithm.) At first, the results were nothing but impressive, rankings improved massively and visitor statistics went sky high. But it didn't take Google long to catch up with me and it all fell apart. These projects never recovered, but luckily I did ;)
I learned a valuable lesson from this experiment and stayed away from black hat tactics ever since.
So to save you from the trouble and frustration from being hit by Google, I would recommend you to focus your time and efforts on more legitimate link building strategies like these:
1. Guest blogging.
2. Recovering of broken links.
3. Copying your competitors' strategy (not just their links) and trying to outperform them.
4. Being creative. After you've had a closer look at your competitors, see what else you can come up with.
5. Trying to combine multiple strategies to see which are most effective and are getting you the best results.
It is relatively easy for the algorithms of search engines to recognize links from PBNs as they are usually ignored directly and they don't help with search engine optimization. In even worse cases, you can expect manual penalties for unnatural backlinks from the search engines, whereby the original domain disappears almost completely from Google's Top 100.
There are many different link building methodology and tactics that will work well in 2019 and bring backlinks on a sustained basis. Just to name a few: broken link building, tracking of mentions without linking, local link building, guest contributions, etc. The biggest strategic recommendation, however, remains content marketing, because, without content, it will be increasingly difficult to come to strong links.
PBNs offer a quick and effective way to obtain a good SEO ranking and appearing in the first results of Google search. A PBN refers to a collection of high authority domains, usually expired domains that used to direct to high profile websites and still rank very high within Google search.
Many SEO experts see PBNs as an illegitimate way of increasing a domain's authority. Google itself seems to agree since it has taken action on sites participating in PBNs and has updated its "webmaster guidelines" to indicate its disapproval of such practices. Even after acknowledging that PBNs are far from being a perfect SEO solution and carry with them the significant risk of having your domain deindexed by Google, they have proven themselves to be very effective at boosting a new domain to the top of search results.
Here's a non-comprehensive list of cases where joining a PBN might be a reasonable option for you:
- A short-term marketing campaign that relies on its domain being able to reach a good SEO rank within a few weeks or months.
- A site whose purpose will only be relevant in the very short term and needs to optimize its traffic until it loses its usefulness.
- You understand the issues associated with partaking in a PBN yet you are confident that its upsides outweigh them and are willing to take the risk.
While PBNs may seem like an attractive solution to increase your domain's traffic, risking your domain's indexing in such a way can be highly damaging to its long-term success. If your goal is to provide quality content or a useful service to your visitors, it is likely that ignoring PBNs altogether and following more traditional paths to SEO optimization will lead to your domain reaching an excellent SEO rank anyway.
In most situations and for most websites, it is highly advisable to stay away from Private Blog Networks and to work on the quality and the accessibility of the content instead, while making sure the interface is mobile-friendly and making use of all of the classic SEO techniques to the best of your ability. Hard work and perseverance definitely pay off in the long term in the world of SEO.
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