What Is a Private Blog Network

 

 

 

What Is a Private Blog Network?

A Private Blog Network is a group of sites under your full control that host niche-relevant articles and linking back to your money sites. PBNs require a massive amount of work and money to set up correctly. Then there are recurring maintenance costs to keep them hidden and up to speed. The goal is not to associate the blogs with others in the group in any detectable way. When done right, PBNs can offer huge gains; done wrong and will get de-indexed (money site receives a penalty too) or hacked.

Private Blog Networks offer significant quantities of high-quality, fully-controlled backlinks so that sourcing links from external sites is a luxury. PBNs still work today (they are in the market since 2005), but on-page optimization, AI, and content algorithms start to shuffle the cards. Nevertheless, in many local niches and other languages, PBNs are the top backlink tool considering the time invested. Of course, outreach campaigns are the best for sourcing inbound links, but some businesses can't appreciate the ROI when delivered long-term.

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Who Needs a Private Blog Network?

Some niches are too competitive, and a few earned backlinks won't move the needle. Gambling, adult, pharma, loans are niches that don't allow to source links from external websites as their content is not fit for all audiences. Black-hat SEOs have giant networks where they source links for their clients. Yes, PBN is black-hat, it manipulates search results en masse.

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How Much Does a PBN Cost?

-- You have to factor in the cost of buying the domains, hosting, privacy, and maintenance costs, plus the cost of content creation. Typically you start from $1,500 for a small blog network of 10 sites (for local niches with low competition) and scale it up to a crazy level with costs north of $30,000 (for very competitive keywords). The prices above include hosting for one year but don't cover content creation or maintenance (webmaster costs). Keep this number for easy calculation, cost per blog/domain $60 yearly without content or maintenance. Add about $100 per blog for article writing, so total costs are $160 yearly per blog.

To have the maximum effects, though, you have to treat each blog as a real blog. So, content must be of high-quality. In this case, the costs would be:

- Setup: $200 per blog
- Yearly Maintenance: $340 per blog or
- Monthly Maintenance: $30 per blog

 

-- Scalability is everything so you may add more robust and more expensive blogs to your initially small network. The costs could increase gradually following the ROI you see. For business owners, one scalable PBN will do. For agencies, they need scalable vertical PBNs (1 scalable PNB per niche to host multiple clients in the niche).

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How to Build a PBN?

Planning is fundamental when preparing a private blog network. The spending is high, so the expectations; Only feasible goals will work. Careful planning of the blog network structure, hosting, and link diversity will determine if the investment yielded any ROI. Mistakes in planning will have costly consequences down the line. Depending on the competition you have to decide how big the network will be.

 

How Many Sites to Have in the PBN?

You only need a few sites to target a local niche, but a lot more if you target many client sites. Two factors come into play with client sites. You don't want to leave footprints, and you won't see a difference with a few sites in the PBN. You may also need to create niche PBNs or individual PBNs for each client site. For example, there are eCommerce sites with dozens of product categories or landing pages. To rank each page, you need plenty of strong and diverse links. All these options cost money, of course.

 

How Many PBN Links Do You Need?

It depends on how competitive are the search terms you wish to rank for and the level of on-page optimization and content of the money site. My recommendation if you are in a low competition niche: start with 10 PBN links (10 blogs) and scale up if you hit the ceiling.

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pbn hosting

 

 

 

How to Host a PBN?

The easiest thing to set up and host your content is a Wordpress site. With 61% market share and 500+ WordPress sites built every day, it's not a bad idea to use the same CMS for the entire network. This way you can manage all sites remotely. With the help of plugins, you can clone a WP setup without repeating the process for each domain. Wordpress plugins also offer a central management console that allows remote posting/editing content, updating plugins, and more. It is recommended that you randomize the WP themes, so they look unrelated one to the other. It would also be best to disable comments. Randomize the domain names. Use many registrars to dilute registration patterns. Randomize registration dates. Hide ownership (Whois enabled). Avoid explicitly commercial site-wide links. Use registrars DNS. Randomize the plugins. Put some fake contact details (the same you have in Whois if you did that step), so a manual reviewer can see that they are dealing with a real person.

You have to carefully choose your PBN hosting as the devil is in the details. Imagine you bump into support or performance problems with your host, and you have to migrate more than 100 domains. Got the picture?

 

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How to Leave no PBN Footprints?

Hosting will determine if your PBN stays up for years or drops off the Google index within months. The most evident PBN hosting in regards to the scope of the sites hosted there is any service that advertises itself as SEO hosting (this is what you need to avoid). Costs play a role as you will read below, and most probably, you will be sharing the same addresses with other SEOs. That's a big scary footprint! Google has fixed eyes on SEO hosting for years now, looking at it as a hornets' nest. Even if your PBN is the best network on the planet, other people can drag you down the cliff.

Any technology you choose, you have to try to eliminate any footprint. If your PBN is exposed, then you lose all your investment and compromise the sites which receive backlinks from the PBN. Additionally, you have to blog link spider bots in robots.txt from accessing your link profile (there are over 150 spider bots) at the webserver level and not at the site level. Selling links will compromise your PBNs as people make mistakes or are vocal about their backlink sources. Having no link diversity could expose your PBN showing a link pattern from particular sources.

Each site should sit on a unique Class C (Subnet) IP (AAA.BBB.CCC.DDD). Every PBN host will sell you unique Class C IPs, but in reality, they will give you a Class C IP for each site in your network, but on the same IP, they will be dozens or hundreds of other clients. Note that these are not normal clients but SEOs running PBNs (bad neighborhood, penalties, de-indexation). So, some hosts came up with a solution to this problem by offering dynamic IPs instead of static and proudly advertise them. Well, my gut feeling says that's not right and here's an article from seroundtable.com that explains why dynamic IPs are bad for SEO. Google bots cannot parse with one pass pages on sites with dynamic IPs and have to repeat the parsing many times, taking even up to 3 months; in the meantime, any backlinks to the network will be credited to the host. Nice!

Prefer a Virtual Private Server (VPS) of Cloud Hosting. Prices are low (from $2.70/month) in VPS, and the cloud is ridiculously cheap (performance pay), and uptime is great. With VPS and Cloud Hosting it takes a while to set up things, but the benefits are many (speed, storage, reliability, scalability).

If you want to use traffic statistics, sign up to different solutions and randomize them in the PBN.

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buy pbn domains

 

 

 

Where to Buy PBN Domains?

My take here is different than what most agree upon. I believe that it's best to start with a tabula rasa, use domains that have not been registered before (new ones). I know about the link juice and domain authority, even niche relevancy, but the thing is, when you register a domain that has expired or has been in the market for quite some time, there's not enough link juice anymore. As soon as Google finds out that the domain is out of use, the clock is ticking. Of course, if one got thousands of dollars to spend, he could buy out domains that have been sitting with their content but are not much use to their owners. I have some myself, I know. But this is only a small fraction of the market. Here are the options:

 

1. Buy expired domains regardless of their content.

There are marketplaces and forums offering lists of domains that expire now and high authority domains for sale who've been sitting offline for a while. If you can't source relevant domains, then you need to change their content (the link juice goes down the drain). If you find relevant domains, you need to snatch them the moment they expire because if they're offline, they lose some of their link equity. The cost of buying expired domains starts from zero to a couple of dozens of dollars. Most of the domains in the expired lists have zero value. As I've explained above, there's no point going for the expensive domains as you're building a PBN (possibly with short-term future), not looking to build your commercial domain. Note: loss of link juice, reasonable costs, risk having hit already by penalties.

 

2. Buy online domains that are in an auction or off the market (you need to make an offer to the owner).

It is natural to assume that the costs here are elevated in comparison to the first option. The advantage is that these domains are uninterruptedly online, so Google sees only its content changes. Note: loss of link juice, elevated costs, risk having hit already by penalties.

 

3. Buy expired relevant domains.

You won't avoid loss of link equity, risk having hit already by penalties, but costs will be reasonable. The advantages are in what's left from their niche relevancy, and that's only for Google to judge.

 

4. Buy online relevant domains.

You stay in their usual niche, only changing the articles. You keep the link equity, have content relevancy, but costs are high, and there are risks that they already have a penalty.

 

5. Use fresh domains.

You have to build the relevancy, wait some time for their content to mature, and you have to build link equity. The advantages here are the low cost plus you can shape them to your liking (no bad history, no redirects, no penalties, no content changing). I believe this solution to be the best of all and it doesn't have to be lengthy in time (waiting for the domains and content to mature).

 

6. Buy a ready PBN.

This solution can be good or bad. I would have many reservations to buy a ready PBN because of its previous use and bad history. The advantages here are: you don't waste time finding domains; you don't have to install websites; if the niche is the same, you may not need to create content; you change the link destinations; you get faster results if everything is OK. The disadvantages could be catastrophic: the PBN could be already flagged as link farm (why does the owner want to sell it?); the cost might be higher than building it yourself, but you have to factor in the time you need to launch a PBN; if the niche is different then you lose domain authority by changing the content, and the results might take longer or be of a lesser scale than expected.

 

7. Use a Private Blog Network Service (read below).

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How to Create PBN Content?

A PBN with unique, niche-targeted content sends more link juice. If the content is mechanically-generated, i.e. spun articles, it may do more harm than good. It will not rank, and the backlinks will be spam.

Changing the site topic when buying a PBN domain will not transfer all the link juice that the site used to have and certainly not the traffic (high bounce rates), so it's not worth spending on expensive sites. Medium to low-priced sites work best for all intents and purposes.

For a high-quality PBN, you need the best content. There are marketplaces where you can find writers (iNeedArticles.com, iWriter.com, Textbroker.com, Hirewriters.com, Freelancer.com, Fiverr.com). Average quality articles cost $5-$10. Keep in mind for what it's worth, that those writers don't sit down and write unique content for you. They do research, find some articles and twist them to meet your needs and pass the Copyscape duplicate content checks.

Having unique content (at least such that passes the checks) is fundamental. Google will not consider any content that has many similarities (copy and paste essentially) with other online articles. So a good start is to pay for unique articles.

The articles should be relevant to the niche with max two backlinks, written in natural language. I suggest a length of more than 500 words. Upload up to 10 articles per site, so if you have 20 sites in the PBN, you need 200 articles. Others will suggest fewer articles and shorter content, but that's my take.

You could as well hire a VA from Asian countries and pay them a monthly salary. Expect though that they will deliver articles in broken English. People will sell you a lot of hype and leave you worried if you are going to make any progress with the delivered articles. But I understand that sometimes in life you have to make compromises. In SEO, it doesn't work this way. You get what you pay.

Upload some fake details (the same you have in Whois if you did that step) in the contact and about pages to pass manual reviews. Also, upload a Privacy policy page.

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What Is a Private Blog Network

 

 

 

How to Build PBN Links?

-- PBN links are outbound links from the Private Blog Network pointing at the target (money) websites. Choosing anchor texts is a demanding task as the number of sites in the network can exceed the links earned/acquired in other ways. That said, if you opt for a few keyword variations, you are over-optimizing your anchor text, plus you are leaving footprints. Online PBN management tools help diversify anchor texts in the PBN and also build backlinks to make the PBN stronger. The quality of links you need for the PBN is lower (Tier 2) than those pointing to your main site (Tier 1) for obvious reasons. Relevant backlinks to the PBN articles will raise the link juice flowing to the main site.

-- Stick to the rule that each blog links to one money site only. If you mix things, you leave footprints that expose your PBN. Use contextual links, no footer links, no sidebar linking, no site-wide linking. Add some link diversity by linking to relevant high authority sites (Wikipedia) in your articles.

-- Tier 2 Backlinks: These are backlinks you build to the PBN. The best quality of a backlink is when it originates from the same language and in the same niche. Imagine a German website selling dog food linking to your plastic surgeon article. Wrong language and wrong niche. The value of the link is meager.

-- To not appear as a link farm, it's best to leave some articles without outbound links. If your money site is new with no backlinks, it's not wise to start loading with PBN links. Do some link building with different anchor text and start linking to the money site after you have some PBN content indexed and gradually drip feed backlinks.

-- Do not force the article indexing (pinging). Instead, build a sitemap.xml file but not submit it to Google, let the Googlebot find it. You shouldn't connect any of the blogs to your Search Console account or install Google Analytics.

-- Another way to build PBN links is to buy directly from a PBN manager or a broker. These are not Private Blog Networks, though, but Public Blog Networks. The same way they sell links to you, they will do it for every client (footprint alert) and possibly some Google insiders.

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What Is a Private Blog Network Service?

PBN services automate mundane, time-consuming tasks. Imagine a PBN with 20 or 100 sites and the maintenance work it needs. Manually logging in and post to 100 blogs is a nightmare. Here is where the services come in. They can migrate your sites and differentiate/dilute the IPs. They offer a dashboard for reports, automatically updating plugins and setups. They provide solutions to optimize anchor texts, monitor keyword rankings, bulk edit links without touching the content, monitor the network for DNS or SEO issues (penalties, de-indexation), and more. You can always hire a VA to do the tasks, but I challenge you it will cost more and will not have the consistency of bulk automated solutions.

Online tools take care the content tasks, for example, you can plug in your blogs to an online dashboard, and it takes care the posting schedule, link diversity, uptime, tier system, etc.

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What Are the Risks of PBNs?

1. PBNs are black-hat. It is a massive search results manipulation. Everything that's scaled up ends up attracting attention and reaction (turning into black-hat). Google de-indexed Public Blog Networks at the end of 2014 and many SEOs left the technique. When the PBN leaves a footprint, Google or a competitor can submit a spam report to Google and have it deindexed along with the sites which receive backlinks from the PBN. Google may say that they devalue PBN backlinks, but this is not the case for manually reviewed link profiles.

2. Low-quality PBNs (content-wise and link-wise) can also trigger a penalty which results in deindexation for the PBN network, spam penalty for the client sites. Churn and burn is the way affiliate marketers do, hit the websites hard, look for fast results, and a short lifespan.

3. Having no link diversity in your articles could expose your PBN showing a link pattern from particular sources.

4. Sharing IPs with other SEOs will eventually expose all people's PBNs (bad neighborhood).

5. Buying preregistered domains could transfer any penalties not yet resolved. Often more reasons make people abandon their domains. Check the website history and if websites pages are indexed. If no pages are indexed, then the site has quality issues. Remember, nobody abandons a website with no reason.

6. Domain redirects expired domains, offline domains, niche, and content changes always result in some loss of link equity.

7. Don't monetize the PBN. You are leaving a footprint, plus you would need separate accounts for each blog.

8. Don't use tools like Artisteer. These tools embed comments in the code and if your entire PBN is built with Artisteer, imagine what a footprint you are leaving out there.

9. Run health checks. Every few weeks, check if the domains are indexed, what traffic they have. If you notice any problem, investigate and if the domain is burned, take it down and use the content on a new domain.

10. Don't use Google Analytics, and if it's necessary to use traffic stats randomize the solutions by signing up to different companies.

11. Nothing is invisible. To the careful eye, your PBN is always exposed. If Google does not pay attention, someone using a link crawler can easily discover the hidden PBN links. You can't hide the backlinks since you've made them public. And public as they are, they can pinpoint the source. After that, it's only a matter of time to start figuring the patterns and discover the link scheme. You can do nothing about it. That kind of risk is not going away.

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Ted Politidis

Ted Politidis

Advanced landing pages with fully automated conversion funnels. Start with your email.

 

 

 

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