“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.
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.
- Limit 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.
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.