What is a Private Blog Network (PBN)? You may have heard about it, but don’t really understand what is it.
What is PBN?
A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of high authority websites that link back to your money website.
Here is a simple diagram that illustrates a PBN:
Individual PBN site is not linked or related to each other. In PBN, sites are not related to each other.
Since they are made of high authority sites, they help your site rank better on search engines. PBNs exist to manipulate the search rankings.
PBNs are made of expired domains. Expired domains are domains that were previously owned by site owners. It has content, traffic, and backlinks.
It happens to get expired for several reasons. Perhaps the site owner failed to renew it or they have issues with the payment. Usually, they can be purchased for $10 to $15.
Acquiring expired domains provides a lot of benefits. For one, getting expired domains still have its former ranking power and SEO value, so you don’t have to work from scratch.
PBNs are powerful because you can alter the content and links within the domain. You can also change the anchor text that links to your website.
Again, expired domains pass a good number of link juice to any site. Link juice is deemed as a ranking power. Thus, expired domains can pass more link juice than a new one.
Why it has more authority?
Expired domains provide more link juice because Google places more value as a site ages. For instance, if there is a site created in 2007, it is more authoritative and provides more link juice than sites created in 2019.
Expired domains have more link juice due to backlink profile. Backlink profiles account for:
Total number of back-links
Total number of linking domains
Total number of linking IP addresses
Anchor text of the links
Link location on a post or a page
The title tag of the link
Whether links come from comments
Whether links come from images
Whether the link is a follow or a no-follow
The structure of PBN is comprehensive. Let’s go through the elements that compose a PBN for better understanding:
A money website refers to the site where you earn revenue from. Since it is a money site, you want it to rank higher on SERPs.
Tier 1 Private Blogs or Web 2.0 Website
Tier 1 blogs or Web 2.0 sites are high domain sites directly linking to your money site. It can be a group of blog sites that form a PBN.
Tier 2 Website
Tier 2 websites support Tier 1 websites. It helps Tier 1 to obtain high domain authority. There are about 4 to 5 sites supporting Tier 1 sites.
Tier 3 Websites
These sites support Tier 2 sites. There are about 5 to 6 sites supporting Tier 2 site. It results in hundreds of sites linking to one another that create a network of sites.
Write blogs on Tier 1 private blog sites then link to your money site. Use different keywords associated with your niche on money site.
You can check the diagram below on how it works:
You can check this post https://www.hybridtraffic.net/single-post/How-To-Boost-And-Power-Up-Your-PBN-Network-2018-Update on how to boost and power up your PBN
Do PBNs work for your site?
Yes. It works well for sites. However, you have to build it properly or else you can get penalized by Google or manual action against Google. When it comes to getting organic results, PBNs are not a good source of information.
Websites that create PBNs are effective because Google classifies it as authoritative. Another point is that you are not getting links from new sites that can be spammy. You are actually getting links from authoritative and reputable sites that are well loved by Google.
While this scheme is used by sites many years ago, PBNs are now considered a black hat tactic. It must be avoided by sites because it can lead to declining rankings or you could get penalized. It doesn’t provide real value to the sites they are linking to.
Google has been eyeing those sites practicing this black hat tactic. It has developed smarter algorithms to detect them.
How to Identify PBNs?
You can identify PBN through the “cross-site “footprint” where most of the technical data are similar. It means that old PBN networks belong to the same shared servers, same IPs, had similar WHOIS information and used similar content across sites.
Today, it has been harder to detect PBNs. Users may find it hard to recognize it because the sites cover multiple industries, layouts, and topics. If you want to detect if a site is part of PBN, consider the following:
Hosting - Use SpyOnWeb.com or other similar apps to detect sites hosted with other sites. You’ll know if they belong to the same IP.
Similar themes - Look at the source code in the browser. WordPress themes usually have the theme name in the code. If they have the same themes, it’s PBN.
Images and videos - It’s very intricate and costly to create images and videos. Some sites would rather use it than produce their own. Check and use Google image search or video search to find images and videos that are similar.
Backlink Profile - Use Ahrefs or Majestic to see how much interlinking is happening between sites.
Duplicate Content - Copy and paste a paragraph to identify if it exists on other sites. You may use grammarly or copyscape tool.
Logo - It's obviously you can tell if they are PBN because of low graphics logo or effortless of creating a logo just like text.
Traffic - This is the most important one, a lot of legit sites recieved organic keywords and organic traffic. If the site's don't have much traffic or ranking keywords for 1,00 blogs of posted then there's something wrong on that particular blog. You can check by using a tool of Ahrefs, semrush or moz.
Site Ownership - Check the WHOIS database to know who is the owner of the site. If the information on WHOIS is hidden, it’s something questionable. If all the site owners are similar, all the blogs are connected.
Site Design - Check if all the sites use the same navigation, color scheme, and design.
It’s very common to spot PBNs with the same backlink profile. If several sites link to one site many times or they have similar link profile, it’s easy to say that the site is part of PBN or can be suspected for selling links.
Google’s Penguin has algorithms that run as a core ranking algorithm. It can spot this kind of practices. If spotted, your site would be devalued. Worst, you could get penalized.
You should note that a site owner that owns multiple sites doesn’t mean that it’s part of a PBN. Some sites like media companies own many sites and link to them in all site footers. They don’t have to be flagged as PBN unless sites are not related, they link to similar internal pages repeatedly, and there are multiple links in the footers.
PBNs are a grouping of sites owned by one individual or company. Another way to distinguish PBN is a group of separate individuals working together to link to one another. If there is an obvious pattern of repeated linking to the same sites or pages across different sites.
Is there a way to protect your site from PBNs?
The unfortunate thing is, your site could be involved in PBN without you noticing it. There is no SEO consultant that would recommend a PBN for boosting site traffic and link building.
It’s possible to become a part of PBN if you are outsourcing link building campaign to a third-party. If you are buying links from Fiverr or any other site, your site could be in chaos. Your site could also be in trouble if you agree with a site for a link exchange.
The best way to safeguard your site from PBNs is to monitor your site’s link building activities. Study and get updated with Google’s algorithms. Make sure that you know what Google considers as link schemes.
If any site is linking to your site, make sure that they adhere to Google’s guidelines to avoid penalty or affecting your ranking. An authority link-builder must be open about giving you links.
You need to oversee the whole scenario. You have to watch out what’s really happening in and out. There are no excuses for ignorance if your site is caught as part of PBN.
What are the best practices to safeguard your site against PBN?
PBN has become the target of Google lately. Although PBNs is a risky business, some sites use it as a source of their revenue. You wouldn’t get penalized if you build PBN according to Google’s defined guidelines.
Some of your competitors may be using spammy link-building tactics like PBNs. You could help protect other sites by reporting them. If not, Google can easily trace these sites.
If your rivals in the business are using PBN, you can have a robust link-building campaign by using the best practices. Up to now, PBNs are questionable and unacceptable as a link-building strategy.
Remember that links are only given if the content provides value to the users. If it doesn’t, it could impact your visibility in the SERPs or could get you penalized.
If you own a PBN Blog, it is vulnerable to frequent attacks or hacking. They can insert unwanted scripts or delete some of your files.
The best way to secure your PBN blog hosted on WordPress is to install Plugins. You can install Security Plugins or disable comments.
Install WordFence or ithemes Security plugins. Ensure that you configure it manually to avoid unwanted attempts to your blog.
PBN comments can slow down the entire system. To make it work, disable comments to protect your blog.