Even if you invest significant time, money, and labor into creating a quality PBN, it could all amount to nothing if you choose the wrong domains.

The little details in your domain name can mean the difference between getting rankings and losing all your associated websites.

Creating a PBN—a private blog network—comes with a not-insubstantial amount of risk. For those who are already familiar, this goes without saying.

However, it may not sound so bad to someone at the start of their research. After all, why is backlinking to your own domains such a potential problem?

The answer is complicated. You'll find a lot of contradictory information about PBNs floating around, and almost everyone who offers to host PBN domains does so with an asterisk.

There's a good reason for this, as we'll explore in the guidelines below.

Get the Facts About Private Blog Networks

For the uninitiated, private blog networks (PBNs) are essentially link-building marketing schemes designed to flow as much link juice as possible between an association of privately-owned domains.

The owner's goal is to fool Google by linking numerous sites together and, especially, creating links that point at their primary "money site." This can boost its ranking on the search engine and add significant value.

PBNs are recognizable by their digital footprint.

Older PBNs, in particular, were once easily distinguishable by their shared IP address, WHOIS information, page data, hosting data, and similar metrics.

Today, SEO marketing experts who choose to work with a PBN are better at disguising it, but perceptive viewers can still find sites (and links) belonging to a PBN.

What's the Difference Between a Private Blog Network Domain and an Expired Domain?

Put simply: Expired domains are almost always the foundation of private blog networks.

While you can build a private blog network from newly-registered domains, doing so undermines many of the benefits we'll discuss later.

Therefore, PBN domains tend to be a specific type of expired domain that is viable for use in a blog network, and around 5% of all domains are PBNs.

The Benefits of PBNs: What Works

No one would use a PBN if they didn't get some kind of result, right?

While controversial, building a shared link network of even if you rent or buy PBN links that are for sale has multiple well-known benefits.

You Get Quick Authority

In a digital sense, "authority" refers to a combination of domain age and confidence on the part of search engines.

Because people usually build PBN sites on pre-existing domains, they naturally come with some amount of trust flow due to the number of links, and especially backlinks, associated with them.

That’s exactly how PBNs increase traffic to their money sites and artificially boost rankings: by building a link profile using pre-established content.

This link-building tactic has the (temporary) effect of significantly increasing Google's interest in the owner's website.

They Require Minimal Outreach

A conventional, "white-hat" SEO strategy accesses other websites by building backlinks with sites in a relevant industry.

This process is what Google's guidelines expect of a website and what its algorithm prefers to select.

From its perspective, much more ad revenue is involved if the network includes real people.

However, organically building authority backlinks can be tedious, risky, and expensive from a business's perspective.

Put simply, writing pages of articles or otherwise developing keyword content is more reliable than asking someone else to do it for a paycheck.

You Have Full Control

Because every site in a PBN is under one umbrella, the owner can directly administer keyword content, backlink strategy, and other tactics to drive up page quality.

If Google or another search engine penalizes you, you can undo any spammy-seeming manual action and remove the offending links immediately.

As many SEO experts admit, no other link-building tool gives you quite as much freedom.

By contrast, links pointing to your website (i.e., links you don't control) can be a liability.

If something is wrong with them, like a disreputable backlink or issues with their domain, it hurts your website in ways you can neither predict nor repair.

The Downside: What Doesn't Work

Your ROI is Low

The fact of the matter is that PBNs rarely justify the expense.

Finding the right domain means sifting through a vast sea of unqualified domain names, only to end up paying hundreds of dollars at a public auction.

You'd then need to pay the registrar for each domain, pay for content and links on your new blog site, and pay in time and effort just to hide what you're doing from Google.

Building a blog network in 2021 requires a lot more than simply creating sites with backlinks.

Every site needs to rank independently, which means that you need to spend the time link-building, creating article content, and even setting up social media profiles to sell your story.

The System is Always Changing

Even if you're able to create a successful linking network, you should never forget who is really in charge.

Google does not like seeing private blog networks; it considers them scams and treats them as such.

Hosting these links on your sites sometimes comes with a steep penalty.

SEO is about gaming to discern the algorithmic tools that Google uses.

This information is not public knowledge—experts have to figure it out through trial and error.

If every significant search engine changed its algorithm without warning tomorrow, all of the work you've done and all the skills you've learned would suddenly be for nothing.

The Ethics Are Questionable

After all this talk of trickery and pretend, you won't be surprised to learn that many SEO specialists refuse to use PBNs.

Most marketing professionals consider their use a "black-hat" tactic that is "spammy."

Instead, they recommend using the time and capital involved to build legitimate manual links and rank your site naturally.

Buy PBN Domains Safely

With all of this information in mind, it's undeniable that PBN owners get access to a quick rankings and metrics boost that, if done right, can be used to build a more robust network.

Even if you don't want to manage one, you can always register your PBN for sale.

If you intend to purchase private blog network domains and links, it's essential to know that there is nothing underhanded about doing so.

Owning domains and links suitable for building a PBN is not the same thing as operating one.

You can and should also run any prospective expired domains through the Moz backlink checker (Link Explorer) as well as through SpamZilla's many checkers for expired domains.

Where Do You Buy?

Investors

Buying directly from an investor site or a PBN broker is usually the safest method.

A broker can assist novice buyers by finding a good domain or two that suits your content niche.

These domains are reasonably priced and tend to come with multiple pages, established links, and a high post count, which adds to your purchase value.

Buyers beware, however, of scammers and disreputable services who will gladly short-sell you.

Public and Private Auctions

The most common way to buy an expired domain is through an auction, either public (such as a GoDaddy auction) or a privately held auction between a few interested buyers.

Many brokers prefer to avoid public bidding because of how high it can drive a domain name's price.

In the case of a PBN domain, even a private auction risks increasing your expenses past an acceptable threshold.

Remember, keeping costs as low as possible is essential for your ROI.

Backordering Services

Multiple platforms exist to reserve soon-to-be-expired domains for clients.

Usually, this still means going through a bidding process, but services like Dynadot and NameJet have an excellent track record when securing a name before anyone else.

Catch Them Yourself

It is technically possible to buy an unwanted, unrecognized domain without paying anyone else.

Some domain registrars don't require you to participate in an auction, and a handful of buyers are known for grabbing whatever names they can and making the best of them.

Some people even build their site around an unwanted name. Naturally, however, we don't recommend this approach for even the most experienced domain investors.

What do you look for?

For an effective PBN, your domains should register as an independent business or service without incurring a penalty from Google.

Prioritize these metrics when buying domains:

  • Conversion Rate
  • Site Index History (aka Clean Histories)
  • Spam Score
  • Backlinks and Link Profiles

Grab Expired Domains for Every Niche

Whether you're building a PBN or turning to a career as a broker, at SpamZilla, we have the specialized search tools to give professional hunters an edge.

Find great domains from a list of millions at SpamZilla.io.