How Private Blog Networks Help Influence Site Link Mass
Any experienced SEO professional knows that a site’s position in search results is largely influenced by its link weight. Link weight means the volume of links placed in third-party resources with a relevant topic.
Of course, one can hope that someone will leave these links via their own free will. However, it is possible to ensure a stable increase in the reference mass thanks to link building and private blog networks. If this interests you, read on to learn about:
- What private blog networks are;
- The risks and nuances of this SEO strategy that you need to know; and
- How to implement it.
What Is PBN?
A PBN (Private Blog Network) is a group of sites with relevant topics, the pages of which contain PBN links to the same external web resource.
Such a network helps gain link weight for more effective promotion of a web resource in search results.
The first version of PBN was created by SEO specialists back in 1999 for site optimization in the search system Inktomi. From that moment on, the popularity of this approach to link building began to grow rapidly.
In 2014, an algorithm appeared in the Google search engine to impose penalties on sites that used PBN. Therefore, now this SEO method is not exactly the safest.
These sanctions are not causeless: PBN poses a big threat to contextual advertising, i.e., Google’s main source of income. With a self-created PBN, you get to the top of search results and bypass competitors on your own. Those who have pinned their hopes on advertising with Google are then losing.
However, many SEO professionals still practice PBN, as Google’s prosecution does not make the technique less effective.
How PBNs Are Built
PBN construction usually looks like this:
- First of all, you buy drops. These are ready-made websites on a relevant topic with expired domains and/or domains with an approaching expiration date. Such sites should have everything that can establish the trust of an ordinary visitor: articles, comments on them, reviews, etc. Usually, SEO specialists add 2-3 new drops every month to their PBN.
- Then, you check the effectiveness of your drops and fill them with fresh publications on relevant topics. For these purposes, SEOists publish a small article on each tested drop with a link to an external promoted site. It could happen that after these manipulations, in a few weeks, the ranking of the promoted site in the search results does not grow. In this case, the selected drop is recognized as ineffective (perhaps there is a filter on it), and another potential drop is searched for to use in link building. After seeing the successful growth of the rating on your drop, you can start full-fledged publications with links.
- Finally, you can buy content to fill your drops from existing sites and microsites. Apart from sites with expired domains, it also makes sense to buy sites and microsites with continuous age. Typically, the monthly growth in PBN of such sites is 2-3 units (in the case of microsites, this number grows by 2-3 times).
Who Can’t Do Without PBN?
Given the fact that Google is trying in every possible way to pursue PBNs and, upon detection, completely excludes the sites included in them from the search results, this SEO method cannot be considered universal.
However, all of the possible risks associated with Google sanctions are justified if the niche of the promoted site is narrow enough and it is not easy to get external links with a relevant context in it using safer link building methods.
Also, private blogging websites help out in cases where there is a need to get link mass from sites with a high level of trust.
And finally, it is PBNs that bring in “heavy” traffic with the content of the desired topic.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using PBN
Website promotion through PBN is a difficult and time-consuming process. Therefore, it is important to consider both the benefits and flaws of this approach.
Should You Count on Promoting Through PBNs?
Obviously, taking into account all of the listed disadvantages, you need to think carefully before embarking on the difficult, long, and unsafe path of building your own private blog network service.
The fact is that even if you successfully search, purchase, and fill drops with content, your network risks falling under Google sanctions. This leads to a waste of time and money.
Read more about this in the article Google Algorithms That Affect SEO.
What Drops Are Needed and How to Find Them?
Having understood the PBN meaning, we have gotten to the most interesting aspect of them. Now, it’s time to learn what drops are and discuss methods for finding them.
Drops are thematic websites with history and good link weight. Their domains have not been paid for, and now they can be bought by a new owner. Tens of thousands of domains come to an end every day in the world, so there should be no problems with finding them.
There are both new drops (expired domains) that can be bought at domain auctions and old dropped domains that expired some time ago. To build a PBN, we are interested in both of these options, although the first is considered “stronger” in terms of weight for Google search results.
Where Can Drops Be Bought?
Usually, drops are bought at specially designated sites. There is a large number of them: GoDaddy, Mydrop, TBSolutions, Namejet, ExpiredDomains, CloudFlare, and many other sites that can be found by means of typing such search queries like “Buy dropped domains” or “Buy expired domains.” You can also rent a full-featured PBN hosting like Misshosting.
Note that the drops must “lie quietly” for at least a month before you start posting on them publications with links to the promoted site. Otherwise, your link building activities may be ineffective.
Guidelines on Checking Drops
We have come to the point where we can start building the network. Below is a small guide that you can try out on your own.
Step 1: Looking for Domains
As we have already written, you can use special services to find drops. However, doing this blindly is not the best option. Therefore, we go to the sites of competitors.
First, you need to understand why competitors have chosen specific sites for their PBN backlinks. This is because post topics that have proven to be suitable for their link building strategy may be completely irrelevant to the topic of your site. When choosing competitors, it is better to start from your geo-location (local sites) and afterward to go to the global level.
In this difficult matter, services such as Semrush or Serpstat can help. As a result of the search, you will receive about several hundred potentially interesting domains, among which you need to highlight those whose topics correspond to the topics of your site.
You can also try to analyze domains directly from search results by entering a thematic keyword that is relevant to the site’s content. Then, using the Whois service, you can find out the expiration date of the domain. It is better to immediately analyze several keywords since even slightly modified tails of the keys generate a fundamentally different search result.
To find suitable keywords, it is better to use the service Semrush. This service will help you find the keys to even the most narrowly targeted niches. Here, you can form a top to copy domains even without using a Google search engine.
Important: Never buy domains with the same registration date because you risk being discovered by Google’s algorithms for sanctioning PBNs.
Step 2: Checking if the Found Domains Contain Broken Links
At this stage, you need to find out if the selected site contains broken links. This is done simply using a special service, for example, Semrush. Domains with a high number of broken links should be excluded.
The thing is that search robots have an extremely negative perception of sites with broken links and they lower their search ranking. Therefore, no matter how high-quality publications with links to an external resource you are promoting, they are unlikely to bring the necessary link weight. Read more related information in the article What Are Bad Links?
Step 3: Defining Drops’ Thematics
It is extremely important for the SEO specialist to stick to the drop theme. Of course, you can choose a site for absolutely any topic and completely redesign it later for your SEO needs. Many SEO specialists do this. However, based on experience, we can say that it is much more effective to keep the thematics initially.
If you can’t find anything that matches your niche, it doesn’t matter. In this case, forums, news portals, and other web sites with the possibility of constant content filling by regular users will come to your rescue. On them, you can easily create a discussion thread on the desired topic. Although, of course, these types of sites have much lower authority than sites for business, urban and thematic sites, etc.
The largest assortment of domains that is potentially interesting for building blogging networks is located at domain name auctions (like GoDaddy). It is here that you can not only buy an existing website with a good history and link mass but also restore the one whose domain was not paid on time.
Even if you don’t win the auction, you will get tons of relevant content. It can then be rewritten (do not forget about copyright) and posted on one of the drops suitable for building your PBN.
Step 4: Fulfilling the Preliminary Selection of Domains
While selecting domains, it is necessary to pay attention to the below parameters:
- the number of sites referring to the selected domain (the optimum indicator starts at 30);
- the quality of backlinks (for example, links from comments, forum posts, personal blogs on platforms, etc. are considered low-quality compared to links from full-fledged articles);
- presence of spam (it is important to make sure that the domain has never been used for spam and that all anchor text in it is natural, i.e., corresponding to the subject of the link).
Step 5: Checking if the Selected Domains Are Filtered by Google and Protecting Them from Future Sanctions
At this stage, you need to make sure that your drop is ready to be used. For this, it is important to understand whether a particular domain is under Google sanctions. It’s pretty easy to find out. It is enough to check whether it is displayed in the search results for the key queries you selected earlier.
Note also that Google isn’t the only one that can track your PBN. Your competitors can do it too. To avoid these risks, simply open the htaccess file for each site that has joined your PBN. It is located in the File Manager and becomes visible when the Show hidden files option is enabled. Add the following code to it:
Also, install additional protection for the domains that have been acquired, i.e, Whois. After this, it’s possible to say that the drops you selected are safe and you have managed to build a blog network.
Step 6: Buying Hosting for Acquired Domains
Now you have to choose a host for launching a satellite site (the former drop that you have chosen in the previous steps).
For this, it is important to have an account for each such drop so that they do not fall under sanctions. For this purpose, you may use the services of popular hosting providers like BlueHost, HostGator, DigitalOcean, AWS, Cloudflare, and others. Of course, their services will cost more than budget SEO hosting services, but the level of security (and this is a key aspect for building a PBN) will be much higher here.
Unfortunately, linking each new PBN site to a new account is quite costly for network owners. To reduce potential expenses, you may need to resort to clustering. It is important to make sure that sites from the same cluster do not link to the same site promoted with PBN.
Step 7: Setting a Satellite Site
Here, you can resort to the help of the most popular site-building platform, i.e., WordPress, as well as free themes that can be found in its catalog. It is important to choose a theme that would display blog posts on the start page (the most important page for a search engine) in full, without the Read more button.
Also remember that for each new PBN site, the theme should be different from all the previous ones used in building the network.
Another recommendation is to turn off notifications for new blog articles because they will annoy those who are registered on your satellite site.
Now, we move away from the technical aspects of creation as there are a lot of decent tutorials on this topic on the network. Instead, let’s take a look at what’s important to you as an SEO specialist who is busy building PBNs.
So, you have installed WordPress, and now you have to decide on the format of your future site. As we have mentioned earlier, it is very important to respect the former theme of the site. Therefore, it makes sense to either leave everything in the site structure as it was (but amend the content in your own way) or make a site in the same niche, but change its format for “local business representation.”
In the second case, you will have to work more intensively since you will have to copyright the description of the business itself, invent logos, search for photos, create a catalog of products or services, write customer reviews, etc.
By the way, there are two more alternative site formats that can replace the format of the former drop, i.e., a thematic blog and a city site. However, the first type binds you to only one thematic niche, and the second will require too much work with sections and content (there are usually quite a lot of events in the city).
Finally, install at least a couple of plugins on the redesigned site to make it seem more natural to the search engine, which means it will cause less doubt about its involvement in PBN. The combination of plugins should be different for each site. You can read more about plugins for WordPress in the articles Yoast vs All in One SEO Pack, Setting Up SEO Plugins, Rank Math Plugin Installation, and Yoast vs Rank Math SEO.
Step 8: Posting Content and Adding Links to the Promoted Site
Finally, having waited the required 30-40 days from the moment of purchasing the drop, you can start publishing relevant content with a link to your promoted site.
You can hire outside copywriters and ask them to create content for publishing external links in a couple of days. However, the relevance aspect of satellite sites may suffer, as Google’s current search algorithms have become so human-centered that they simply won’t let low-quality content reach the top of search results.
From this point of view, it is much better to ask your in-house copywriters to rewrite existing content on competitive websites and insert relevant images. In this case, you need to carefully circumvent copyright. Therefore, you may need to link to the source site.
Also, be extremely careful about writing content that requires an expert opinion. Here we are talking about legal topics, health care, finance, etc.
In addition, you will have to demonstrate to search robots that the site was created for people and not for promotion. This means that you need to take care of filling the start page, as well as pages such as Contacts, FAQ, Privacy Policies, Events, Why We Created This Site, Tips, Advertising, etc.
The optimal frequency of publications for PBN sites is usually 1-2 per month (initially on the site you need to have at least 3-5 posts with a length of at least 500 words, having relevant keywords, videos, and pictures, not more than one link to the promoted site (in each post) and at least four links to other authoritative relevant websites). At the same time, it is advisable to designate the authorship of each publication so that the site does not seem impersonal.
Of course, this is a very painstaking process, but in a number of situations, only the promotional approach through the private blog network can bring the most sustainable results among other SEO methods.
Building PBN or Not: The Dilemma Is Solved! Build!
We hope we have helped you understand what a private blog network is and have explained how to build them.
The creation of a PBN is a very resource-intensive process, but it is also able to create a high and stable position for a promoted site in the search results.
Do you have any link building experience? Have you ever performed a PBN building? Have you experienced any pitfalls with this? If so, please share your stories and expertise with us in the comments below.