What is a PBN? Everything You Need To Know -
4 min read

What is a PBN? Everything You Need To Know

Craig Dewart

Written by Craig Dewart

What is a PBN? Everything You Need To Know
published April 27, 2023

Learn everything you need to know about PBNs with our guide.

PBNs don't have a great reputation. Some see them as useful tools, while others see them as immoral. And it does not matter what your opinion of them is. You still need to understand what they are and how they work since you will likely have a couple of competitors using them.

So, what is a PBN?

What Is A Private Blog Network?

A private blog network is a network of sites one uses to link out from to increase the rankings of one or more of their sites. SEOs' opinions on PBNs are very divided, especially when it comes to the ethics of this tactic.

There is a lot of "link juice" on some of these PBNs. In other words, they are recognized by Google and benefit from this recognition by being able to rank for keywords more quickly. Any website that receives links from these sites gains authority in Google's eyes, thanks to the link juice it receives.

PBNs are frequently created via expired domains, which once hosted websites with links and a certain level of authority - according to search engines. Web admins can buy these domains and turn them into private blog network sites, usually adding new content or material, so all outbound links pass PageRank.

How Private Blog Networks Work

Private blog networks pass on authority via links from various websites and are under your control. Building links is essential, and we all know their critical role in search engine algorithms.

The more links a particular page has, the higher the quality, and the better that page will rank. However, acquiring links can be very time-consuming and costly, so many marketers have started building their own sites to link to their other websites.

And, in a nutshell, that is what private blog networks are. The idea behind private blog networks today is that a marketer will build or purchase several websites with valuable, unique content and include a link (or links) to the pages they wish to rank higher inside that content.

Today's formula calls for unique, high-quality material to be published on PBNs' websites and high-quality links pointing to those domains from other websites. For smaller businesses, however, creating their own PBN is sometimes not cost-effective due to the significant amount of time, money, and effort required.

The Risks Involved With PBNs

In reality, links categorized as unnatural by Google's algorithm are likely to be disregarded rather than receive manual action for most SEOs using private blog networks.

There are no effects on your rankings if your site is ignored. Resources used to establish links (time and money) are wasted if they don't affect rankings positively.

You can lose rankings or get penalized

Link building is crucial for every SEO campaign, but if this tactic is used for multiple sites and an excessive number of links, there's a high chance your site will get slapped with manual action or a penalty. Google does this when they feel that someone has gone against its guidelines.

If your site gets manual action, it can negatively affect its reputation and page rankings, and in extreme cases, your site may get removed.

Why People Use PBNs

While some people may operate in sectors where the SEO landscape is relatively uncompetitive, others may have to engage in ruthless competition with rivals who will stop at nothing to succeed.

You might have the technical expertise, time, money, and resources to establish a PBN, or you might need to invest a lot more and hire someone to do it for you. People generally make use of PBNs due to their competitors and want to get higher rankings.

People use them because earning links can be unpredictable and complex, and PBNs give people more control.

The Logistics

There are many different approaches and loads of variables involved when building private blog networks. But in general, the first step is to secure all the appropriate domains.

You can choose to start fresh and buy brand-new domains for higher quality. This is best for the long term, but it takes more time since all the sites need to build authority before they can be seen as valuable.

Alternatively, you can buy expired domains or acquire existing sites. This means carefully evaluating each domain's history, but you'll see results faster. Once you've got your domains, you must install WordPress and update them regularly.

A private blog network (PBN) typically gets attacked more by hackers than a regular site. They are easy targets because they often receive less attention, and plugins and themes are frequently not updated.

The next step is to create valuable and original content for the sites. The depth, frequency, and quantity of this content will be determined by your competitors and their actions. Lastly, you'll need to build quality links for your PBNs so that they can pass authority to all of your other sites.

Debunking Myths

There are dozens of misconceptions and myths surrounding PBNs, and it is best to be aware of them, even if you aren't using them. But remember, your competitors may be. You willingly give your rivals an unfair advantage if you don't know what you're up against. Here's what you should know:

Myth: PBNs are trash

Some PBNs are garbage, but that is only when they are built and executed poorly. However, some private blog networks are merely normal sites with high-quality content, and others have decided to use them to help their sites rank better.

You are technically using a PBN if you have access to other websites and include links to one or more of your websites from any of them.

Myth: PBNs are unethical

This depends from person to person, Google believes they are unethical, but many search engine optimization professionals know this isn't necessarily true. PBNs are technically a breach of Google's Webmaster Guidelines, but so is almost any other link building tactic.

Anyone who engages in any activity to obtain links violates Google's Webmaster Guidelines in the same way as someone utilizing a PBN. However, note this isn't a violation of any legislation or law, only of Google's guidelines.

At the end of the day, what you choose to do for your websites is entirely up to you. However, it is unethical to collaborate with clients and apply this strategy to their websites without properly telling them the dangers of being manually penalized.

Myth: They don't work

People often claim that Google has a very advanced algorithm and that these tactics won't work well. However, a lot of private blog networks have clearly shown to have a positive impact on the sites they were built for.

Anyone who has ever engaged in link analysis has probably seen numerous instances where a website performs well using only PBN links in highly competitive niches. PBNs are effective, as numerous studies and trials have shown.

However, they will only work well if correctly done, maintained, and implemented.

Myth: Search engines can identify them easily

It is actually quite challenging to identify private blog networks since it is quite easy to eliminate footprints. A marketer can easily make the websites in their PBN appear completely unrelated to each other or the websites they are attempting to rank higher by mixing up registration info, themes, hosting, content, and linking out to numerous other websites.

Due to the sheer number of websites on the internet and SEO experts' creativity, it is almost impossible to discover PBNs algorithmically unless you rent or buy links from someone else since you can't be sure how selective they are.

Because they are more concerned with short-term income than long-term PBN health, those who sell links from their PBNs, instead of solely utilizing them to raise the ranking of their websites tend to be more noticeable to search engines.

PBNs are dangerous - myth or fact?

It is important that, like most things, PBNs come with risks. You could risk getting a manual penalty. But there are risks involved in just about every business decision you'll need to make, and PBNs are no different.

However, it's crucial to note that if a PBN has been set up carelessly or the owner sells links, the risk of getting a manual penalty grows significantly due to an increase in the likelihood of being discovered by search engines.


How do you identify a PBN?

Checking the quantity and caliber of the content is one of the best approaches. Compared to high-quality blogs, most PBNs have less content on their sites. PBNs frequently post low-quality information, photos, and other graphics, in contrast to certain high-quality, authentic websites.

Are PBNs worth it?

PBNs should support your other efforts to develop links. You should be fine as long as your private blog network links make up between 2 and 20% of your overall link profile. Although PBNs are always dangerous, this risk is diminished when they make up a tiny portion of your link profile.

Final Thoughts

PBNs can be highly effective when done well and implemented correctly. Whether you trust them or not is up to you - and as much as risks are involved, there are also loads of potential benefits.

Ultimately, choosing PBN sites comes down to personal preferences, the risk versus the reward, and your competitors.

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