Everything You Need to Know About PBN Services
If you've operated a blog for long enough, you've likely seen the term "private blog networks" floating around one of the internet's many SEO rabbit holes.
You may have heard that these networks offer incredible boosts to your site's SEO – but that Google actively seeks out and penalizes private blog network users.
While both of these statements can be true, you may still feel that a private blog network would suit your sites.
If so, you can attempt to cobble together a network of sites or enlist the help of professional private blog network services to try to evade the watchful monitoring of Google and its site de-indexing penalty.
Companies or individuals offering private blog networks – or PBN – services do the work for you. In many cases, these organizations own countless high-quality domains.
Simply put, these PBN experts will help improve the PageRank of your main site through valuable backlinks.
Whether you're an SEO professional, blogger, or marketing agency looking for a quick way to improve site ranking, our staff at SpamZilla created this thorough guide detailing the ins and outs of a private blog network service.
What is a Private Blog Network?
A PBN consists of multiple, seemingly disconnected websites called PBN sites (PBNS). Each PBNS has high domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA).
A PBN service will use these websites to build valuable internal links, external links, and backlinks to your main website, also known as the "money site."
In theory, a PBN works as a tool to help your money website rank higher in Google's search engine.
To do so, each PBNS must remain utterly independent of the others, thereby allowing users to create "natural" links.
Otherwise, users will simply create links that connect between their own websites, which won't result in the same PageRank power and will bring down your site at Google's discovery.
Hypothetically, if a private site owner or SEO company can pull off a PBN, they can drastically improve their ranking through backlinks from established websites.
High-quality backlinks play a significant role in a website's Google-search-engine ranking. A backlink from a new site may give your blog a slight boost.
However, receiving a reference from a website the algorithm trusts can propel your site to a coveted position on Google's first page.
We know what you're thinking: "How does a PBN service have access to these authoritative domains?" Good question.
We'll answer that shortly when discussing how PBN services can create a robust private blog network.
But first, let's address the burning question: Are PBNs against Google guidelines?
Are Private Blog Networks Against Google Guidelines?
In short, yes. While the tactic may not get categorized as a black-hat SEO strategy, you won't hear anyone calling PBNs a white-hat method, either.
This "dark-gray hat" method requires a certain amount of risk tolerance, too.
You can think of PBNs as a shortcut to a higher ranking.
Many PBN users see a significant increase in site rank in a short period of time if their PBN uses high-quality sites.
A spam site or junky link won't yield the same results.
And while you may place complete faith in a PBN service agency or your own SEO skills, Google can update the algorithm and turn the game on its head, making your PBN useless.
Additionally, a manual review by the search engine may result in a penalty or total de-indexing of your primary or "money" site.
If you would rather avoid the risk of personal blog network sites, you can certainly build your backlink portfolio the conventional way.
Keep in mind that it may take more time before your rankings begin to improve and reward your efforts.
However, if you need results fast, you may consider getting at least a portion of your backlinks through PBN links.
How Does a PBN Service Create Private Blog Networks?
PBN services can build a blog network in a few steps. That said, these steps aren't easy.
A large amount of strategy, organization, and detailed planning must go into each network and link-building plan, or you stand the risk of a penalty.
PBN services typically gather information about your niche and website to start the process. From there, the PBN experts will design your blog network based on your needs.
Keep an eye out for cheap alternatives. Likely, these businesses use cheap, easily accessed links.
Google's algorithm will spot these junky sites quickly and devalue your links.
You will probably have to pay more for quality PBN services, but these professionals will only use clean, spam-free domains to improve rankings.
Elements of a PBN Network:
At its most basic level, a PBN network consists of five elements:
- Authoritative domains
- Quality content
- Natural links
- Disconnected network of websites
- Separate hosts for each domain
It may seem almost too easy to set up a private blog network.
Why shouldn't you purchase a few domains, whip up some content, and create as many links as possible to your main website?
In reality, the implementation of a PBN strategy can quickly get away from a beginner.
Unless you've got considerable experience with content management, link-building strategies, and social media integration, you may prefer the ease of a PBN service.
PBN Setup in Six Steps
When you contact a PBN service to build your network, you will likely have to answer some questions, provide login information to your website, and then sit back for a few weeks while a team constructs your network.
However, the PBN construction process involves several complex and interrelated steps.
Each one requires precision and strategy, whether you build a PBN on your own or trust a service.
While every project has its own unique circumstances, a typical PBN workflow follows a few essential steps, as follows.
1. Find Authoritative Expired or Expiring Domains
Purchasing an authoritative expiring domain can work for a myriad of SEO strategies, including:
- Transferring current website content to a high-ranking domain
- Redirecting an authoritative domain to the existing website
- Using the domain as part of a PBN
Essentially, the PBN service will leverage the expired or expiring domain's former rankings, traffic, and backlink portfolio to enhance a client's site. However, not all domains were created – or used – equally.
Before purchasing an expiring domain, the business will ensure that it meets or exceeds several requirements such as spam-free content, quality backlinks, and referring domain links.
Otherwise, your site could end up in a network with de-indexed, blocked, or spam sites.
What is the difference between an expired and an expiring domain?
While both an expired and expiring domain can enhance a PBN strategy, choosing an expiring domain could result in faster results.
An expiring domain still belongs to the current registrar, but they no longer want it. The registrar can hold onto the domain and sell it through a marketplace or auction.
Expiring domains carry more weight because they retain their registration age.
For example, if the previous registrant filed the domain seven years ago, an expiring domain will retain the seven-year registration history after transferring to another owner.
On the other hand, anyone can purchase expired domains from a domain registrar at the standard market cost.
An expired domain will need aging for about two months before it begins to provide rank-boosting links.
How to Purchase Domains
Anyone can purchase an expired or expiring domain. Bloggers, entrepreneurs, marketing agencies, and domain investors can access domain lists from registrars.
In many cases, these registrars will have either a marketplace, where a domain will sell for a set price, or an auction, where hopeful owners can bid on the domain.
Where to Purchase an Expiring Domain
PBN services and individuals can source expiring domains from several suppliers, including brokerages, the current registrant, and auction partners such as:
- GoDaddy Auctions
- Namecheap Marketplace and Aftermarket
Your PBN company will likely source domains from multiple registrars and even purchase on different dates to prevent any connection between the PBNS.
Additionally, the company will invest in private WHOIS services to prevent auditors from identifying the domain owner.
Critical Domain Metrics
As mentioned before, domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) play a critical role in building an impactful PBN.
Search engines will score domains on a scale of 1-100 for both of these metrics. Higher scores typically mean that a website will see better rankings, thanks to quality content and valuable backlinks.
That said, a PBN service will analyze other metrics, such as the number of referring domain links, the amount and type of traffic, the number of backlinks in the domain's profile, and the previous use of the domain.
Platforms like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush can index and analyze the backlinks of a domain, while Google Analytics can determine whether traffic comes from organic visitors or bots.
Internet Archive's Wayback Machine will provide an overview of the domain's content from the first launch to present use.
The PBN service will also analyze how easily replicable the links appear. Other analysis may focus on the employed anchor text and the possible use of the domain for spam or adult content.
If the domain's profile relies mainly on an easily replicated link from blogs, forums, or directory sites, or if the anchor text references fake or unsavory content, the PBN service will usually source a different domain.
2. Choose a Hosting Service for the Domain
After purchasing domains, your PBN service will set up web hosting before launching the sites.
To ensure that the sites remain independent and unconnected, your PBN managers will likely choose to host the accounts on different servers.
Hosting all of your PBNS domains on the same server would make it easier to connect the accounts.
The demand for disconnected hosting accounts has led to the creation of countless SEO hosting services.
However, these hosts aren't "footprint-free," meaning that an auditor could connect the accounts' providers.
Before Google augmented its algorithm to zone in on SEO hosting services, many PBN users took advantage of their low-cost hosting.
However, a PBN business can still choose from several popular hosting platforms that any website would use – not just PBN sites.
Hosts like GoDaddy, BlueHost, Amazon Web Services, DigitalOcean, and HostGator allow your PBN sites to hide in plain sight.
Because thousands of other high-traffic sites use the hosting platforms, search engines can't easily differentiate between individual sites.
These hosting platforms aren't cheap, though. That said, when it comes to reducing the risk of a penalty, the benefits outweigh the additional cost.
3. Set Up the Website
After your PBN setup service obtains your domains and manages their hosting, it will likely start setting up your websites.
Depending on the strategy, the team may work with the domain's old topic, re-brand it, or turn the domain into a local business site to ensure that the backlinks and referrals seem natural.
Next, the service will begin designing the site. Many use basic WordPress themes for easy setup and posting.
Additionally, the team will usually install various PlugIns to make the PBN sites feel more natural.
Most importantly, the service will ensure significant variance in themes and PlugIns. Each PBN site should have a different theme and page setup with a variety of PlugIns.
While this may seem like an additional step in an already complex process, taking the time to build individual sites will provide extra ranking power and help prevent a penalty.
Your PBN sites will likely contain re-created or redirected pages from the previous website.
These pages probably had a high Google search engine rank, organic traffic, and high-quality external backlinks from authoritative sites.
In doing so, the PBN setup service can get a free SEO boost, thanks to the pages' content.
4. Create Quality Content for the Website
Simply put, more content means more PBN padding. Adding original, helpful, and relevant content to a PBN site helps make it look even more realistic.
Most PBN experts recommend at least three pages and two or three posts to pass a manual Google review, should one arise.
The posts should span various categories, from infographics to reviews to a standard 500-word article, and can relate to your niche in some way.
Each page should include relevant content, though your PBN team may falsify some aspects of the site. Before a PBN site gets launched, however, it should include common pages such as:
- An "About" page
- A contact page
- The site's story
- An FAQ page
- Resource pages
- Terms and Conditions
When crafting the homepage, the website should display each post in its entirety.
While your PBN service may choose to add a separate blog page as well, linking to your money site from the homepage will add more "link juice."
Remember, all SEO tactics – whether black-hat, gray-hat, or white-hat – should integrate best practices like contextual backlinks and appropriate anchor text.
When creating content, a backlink to the money site should add value, even to a PBN site. Otherwise, you may risk devaluing the content on both sites.
In general, a PBN service should avoid presenting your sites as those of an industry expert.
Even if your money site belongs to a regulated niche, a PBN site should never have to face scrutiny to determine its authority or qualifications.
Each article should simply share general information, personal opinions, or experiences.
5. Create a Link-Building Strategy
When your PBN managers build a linking strategy, they consider different types of links, including footer, header, sidebar, image links, and contextual links.
Linking from contextual content – such as an article reviewing a clothing brand or a blog breaking down the best way to travel cross-country in an RV – provides the best boost for rankings.
However, contextual posts do demand extra work.
The content requires manual, ongoing creation and should include several relevant keywords and target anchor text to improve SEO ranking within the niche.
Here, your PBN team may have to get creative. Depending on the types of authoritative sites purchased, they may need to create relevant content spanning a series of apparently unrelated topics, such as finding a way to link a finance blog to your money site's health niche with an article detailing how to eat well on a budget.
Your PBN site's content should also contain articles linking to other trustworthy sources related to your niche.
This natural linking strategy helps boost the reliability of your site.
6. Integrate Social Media
Adding a social media presence to your PBN will help increase traffic and engagement.
Most companies have some type of social media strategy, so linking social media to your PBN site helps make it feel more realistic.
A quality PBN setup team will build free social media profiles that connect to your niche.
There, you can share a new post, engage with followers, and enjoy the added benefits of linking to your site while using free and paid social media advertising strategies.
Should I Build a PBN in 2021? Pros and Cons of Building PBN Sites
Even with the threat of a penalty from Google, a PBN provides powerful support to your SEO strategy.
Link-building from these authoritative sites will improve your ranking, increase readership, and may even result in a nice payday, depending on your site's structure.
However, creating a PBN requires time, experience, and money. Each post requires manual creation, and link-building takes time to perfect.
Depending on your niche's competitive nature, you may still struggle to rank in a Google search with a PBN.
Does building a PBN make sense for your site? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of building a personal blog network in 2021.
- Effective link-building strategies can result in better SEO performance for your site
- A link from an authoritative domain can give your money site an advantage in your niche
- High volumes of traffic on your PBN sites can result in secondary monetization and increased traffic on your main site
- If you managed the link-building process yourself, then you have complete control. After you finish promoting particular articles, you can use each link again
- There is now some fantastic software for PBN management to make your life easier.
- Building PBN sites requires considerable time and energy
- Non-PBN sites can sell for more in the future
- Whether you pay for a PBN setup service or manage set up yourself, you will spend a significant amount of money
- One mistake in the network or link-building strategy can result in a Google penalty or de-indexing of the entire network
For most people, a PBN site will add more hassle to their days. Instead, you can focus on renting a link or building relationships with other sites in your niche.
Quality content, optimized pages and images, and a consistent strategy still matter to Google's algorithm.
However, if your site focuses on affiliate marketing, you need SEO results quickly, or you plan to remove PBN links in the future, you may consider hiring a professional team to manage the process.
Can I Handle My PBN Setup Alone?
Depending on your level of expertise, you may feel reasonably confident that you can handle creating your own PBN sites.
If you choose to move forward without a PBN management team's help, keep in mind that you will need to craft an in-depth strategy to maintain your sites and avoid penalties and de-indexing from Google.
If you would prefer the ease of a team, then keep an eye out for high-quality PBN services that will build your site, construct a link strategy, write articles and blogs, and continually maintain your personal blogging network sites.
A PBN site can result in a significant boost in Google rankings. However, you should consider your options carefully and decide if a PBN will work for your niche, goals, and budget.
Ultimately, only you can determine if the risk of a Google penalty justifies the impact and potential reward of a personal blog network.
However, there's no denying the success that can come from a well-managed, strategic, and carefully maintained PBN site when you obtain powerful PBN domain names.
If you're ready to get started, our team at SpamZilla can help.
Use our free domain search tool to locate the best expired and expiring domain names with quality backlinks.
For more information on choosing a domain for your site, contact our staff at SpamZilla today!