This question comes up a lot and for good reason too.
The answer directly impacts 2 very important things:
- Return-on-Investment (ROI)
- Overall Risk
Those 2 factors will impact whether or not you actually build a Private Blog Network (PBN).
If you don’t think you can get a profitable ROI on your PBN, then you won’t build one. And, why would you if you thought the network would ultimately lose money.
If you aren’t sure if the risk is tolerable, then you may not want to engage in getting backlinks from a PBN. (If you are new to PBNs, I list a bunch of resources at the end.)
Let’s talk about…
The ROI of a PBN
Let’s assume that you have a PBN with 10 domains, an average Domain Authority (DA) of 20, and the cost of the network, including content, is $1,500.
As long as the PBN helps you make over $1,500, then it is a good investment. You should also factor in the time that you are spending on building out the network (or outsourcing it), but we will ignore that here.
Let’s assume a 10 Domain network, Avg DA of 20, and a cost of $1,500…
If you can link to a LOT of money sites, say 20 money sites, then the revenue generating portion of the equation is potentially much higher. That is great for making the PBN provide a high ROI.
The other extreme is to have the PBN link to a single money site. In that case, the revenue generating portion comes for one source – the single money site. There may be more “link juice” flowing to the money site, but it’s unclear how important that is to a ranking factor.
(Check out the free new email course on PBNs here.)
The Risk Factor
I believe the more money sites that you link to, the higher the risk. This is more intuition than any real, concrete facts. The reason that I believe that is because of the fall of certain public blog networks. These are different than private networks…
Those public networks were most likely built well and hosted on different hosts. One thing the domains in the network had in common was a lot of outbound links to money sites that were unrelated to each other. That is what I am looking to avoid to reduce the risk of a PBN.
I realize that there are many other potential footprints that could be an issue like WhoIs data, plugins, or hosting, and so on…
The other problem is that all of the outbound links to money sites tie all of them together. That presents two issues:
- If a competitor finds your network, then they could find all the money sites that are linked from the network.
- If your network is discovered by Google, then your money sites can be discovered and manual action can be taken against them by the spam team.
How Can You Balance ROI & Risk?
A great starting point is to consider is a saturation rate of 50%, where the saturation rate is the number of money sites compared to the number of domains in the PBN.
In our example, a 50% saturation rate for the 10 domain PBN can link to 5 money sites.
Saturation Rate is the number of money sites compared to the number of domains in the PBN.
If you link to 20 money sites from a 10 domain PBN, then the saturation rate is 200%. That’s well over the limit and certainly a risky proposition.
Sometimes exceeding a 50% saturation rate is not as risky as it seems.
- Lots of White Hat backlinks. If you have a lot of other backlinks from White Hat sources (like Wikipedia or real guest posts on niche relevant blogs), then you can have a higher saturation rate with the same relative amount of risk.
- Niche Relevant PBN. Let’s say you have a niche relevant network and have clients within that vertical – for example, a dentistry blog network. You may be able to legitimately link to the target money sites and exceed the 50% saturation rate. You can get niche relevant domains at Hammerhead Domains. (I am an affiliate for this service & appreciate the support.)
The lowest level of risk while still using a PBN is to have a network support a single money site. This is the best practice for building a long term website.
Back to our example, the 10 site PBN would link to 1 money site. That’s it. All 10 of the domains would link to you money site. Many successful niche site owners take this approach.
A PBN supporting ONE (1) money site is the best practice for building a long term website.
Another huge benefit is that you can sell the website with the network. That is a massive added value and it adds security to the rankings for the new owner. Some people are hesitant to buy a website if there are PBN links that are out of their control. If you can sell them the network too, then everyone wins.
Using a private blog network is inherently risky, both financially and from a rankings standpoint. The key idea is to limit risk while ensuring a positive ROI.
- Aim for a 50% saturation rate as a baseline.
- Adjust your saturation rate based on other factors. If you have a niche relevant PBN, then take that into account. You can get niche relevant domains at Hammerhead Domains.
- A PBN supporting 1 money site is the best option for selling the site.