How to Reduce Risk For Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

private-blog-network-PBNs-niche-site-project“Are PBNs still effective?”


I get emails all the time about whether Private Blog Networks are still effective. Since the fall of 2014 when PBNs were hit hard, there has been a great deal of fear about the risk involved in a PBN.

The answer is yes, PBNs are still effective.

But you can’t ignore the inherent risk involved. It is against the Google terms of service (TOS) so Google has the right to remove your site from their index if you don’t play by the rules.

General Guidelines

Check out this post for more detailed information in a long format – PBNs 101.

Keep these ideas in mind when planning a network, building out a network, using a network, and so on.

  • Don’t use a domain that was used for spam or any obvious link building in the past.
  • Make sure the website has the look and feel of a real website…
    • Use a nice looking theme.
    • You should have an About Page.
    • You should have a Privacy Page.
    • You should have five or more posts, and more posts are better. It is ideal to have new post published regularly, like weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
  • Don’t register the domain on Google Tools, like Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics. If you find that you must for some reason, then make sure you use a unique account. Do not use the same account as your money site. Refer back to the deindexing post if you need a reminder.


Reduce Your Risk

These are the gotchas that may cause issues, and they are less obvious than the points above.

  • PBNs-niche-site-projectLimit the number of money sites that you link to. The ideal situation is to link to one – yes, only ONE – money site. If your goal is to reduce risk, this will keep you far out of harm’s way. I don’t know the algorithm that led to the deindexing (and I doubt anyone does outside of Google) but I will speculate that it was related to this point. The major issues in September of 2014 centered around public networks where each domain had a LOT of outbound links to money sites.
  • Do not share your network. It is tempting to leverage your network with a friend or two, but the risk is great. The draw is that you can double, triple, or more the number of links you can get by working together. However, it conflicts directly with the previous point, limit the number of money sites that you link to.
  • Limit the number of PBN domains linking to your money site. The illustration should make this clear. You want to limit the entry points from your network to your money site. A great way to do this is to set up a tiered network. If there are issues, then you can disavow a small number of links. It generally looks less suspicious, too. The downside is that your money site will have fewer backlinks. However, when you set up the tiered network you can recapture the link juice.tiered-pbn

Example of a Tiered Network

I will try not to over explain this since a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

The keys are:

  • The number of PBN domains linking to your site are limited
  • If you have to disavow links, you know exactly which 3 domains are in question.
  • You can funnel the link juice from all of you domains to the exact post the you are targeting.
  • You can build relevancy by using a HOTH package on the lower tiered domains.



PBNs are still an effective way to build backlinks, and the risks are very real.

However, you must look at the FULL Risk & Reward equation to truly know if a PBN is right for you.

Be sure to look at the upside potential and the likelihood that it will occur. And, understand the downside and its likelihood of occurring.

If you can minimize the chance of the downside, i.e. minimize the risk, then your decision is clear.

6 comments… add one
  • Gabi

    Hi Doug,

    Thanks for this short and sweet condensed version of the mammoth PBN 101 post! I’ve been toying with the idea of using the Hoth to link to my PBN instead of my money site. Just a quick question for you: do you think it’s ok to use their Filipino content in this case?


    • Hi Gabi – Thanks for the comment.

      Yes, I think it would be fine for your own money site.

      As always, look at the risk…and reward. If it is a client site then maybe you should think twice…

  • Hey Doug,

    I haven’t ever done tiered linking for my PBN sites and I was wondering if there are any difference in terms of ranking power? I understand that it is much safer to go this route but it kinda seems like a waste of PBN sites to point them to another PBN site. If you were looking for raw ranking power would you rather have 10 PBN links to your money site or 3 PBN links to your money site with 2 PBN links pointing at the three PBN links(Like your pic in the post)?

    Love to hear what you think and good post!

    • Hi Josh, I haven’t tested it head to head. So, I really don’t know and I won’t try to guess.

      I think there would be a difference though. 🙂

  • Hey Doug

    Great article here. It really simplified the concept for me. I am interested to build my own PBN and I like your tiered idea a lot.

    Thanks for the share!

  • Nice article Doug,

    But I think PBNs are still playing with fire in my opinion. If you are one that flips sites I know from personal experience the feeling of waking up one morning and seeing your traffic/earnings go down one morning is heart wrenching. What do you think the best idea would be for buying these with different people or under different names ? I have heard that this is something Google looks at and I think that may have been a problem for myself when I had PBN issues.


    Derek Smith

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