Private Blog Networks are all the rage now, every man and their dog uses them. That is because they work, no doubt about it. But so many run them in such a poor fashion.
Today, I will show you some of the big mistakes that all these so called SEO gurus are making and also newbies alike when it comes to PBNs. This post will be a fantastic reference material when it comes to planning your very own PBN, and more importantly, how to spot the big no-nos in other networks if you plan on utilising their services.
Firstly, what are PBNs?
If you haven’t head of PBNs, it is simply a collections of websites that you own, usually set up on expired domains which have strong SEO signals that you then use to place a link on to your money site or site you want to rank highly. That is the simple version of it, but it gives you an idea of what we are talking about.
The burning question – do PBNs still work?
Answer – deffo!
If these type of links are so good, surely Google doesn’t like them? Yep, Google does not link PBNs what so ever. Google does not like sites that add no value to the user and to the web. Face it, most private blog network sites are useless rubbish, so if you create these type of sites that a lot of SEO pros suggest, then it is simply a matter of time till big G penalises you.
A lot of emphasis is placed on having private blog network sites hosted on unique IP addresses or at least unique C class IP address. Also registering the domains under different names or through privacy options etc. Albeit important things to do, but to do a private blog network site in a gold standard way, you want to think about making them somewhat valuable and user friendly – similar to how you would make a money site.
Not that I would try this, but it is a point to consider – if all private blog network sites were truly valuable, you probably wouldn’t need to worry about hiding the fact that they are all owned by the same person.
Google isn’t too fussed about who owns a domain, however, it does care about the user experience on the website. Google values sites that provide a good user experience and usually assumes the site it links to will be related and add the users’ experience. This ultimately will rank the site higher in the search engine rankings.
A private blog network done wrongly
Here are a few of the most common issues with most PBNs that I see:
All the sites in the network look similar. All too often there can be a network of a hundred sites a lot with the exact same WordPress theme and plugins. Just imagine that you have 100 websites that all look the same and use the same plugins and they all link to the same money site. It is just asking for trouble. It will not take long for Google to completely de-index such a network of sites. Take home points should be:
- Use different WordPress themes
- Use different WordPress plugins
- Place ads in different places
- Use different layouts
Don’t go too overboard and waste a lot of your time on this, but at least mix things up so you do not leave a foot print.
Many private blog networks have total rubbish content or it is just completely irrelevant. Personally, to keep on top of content writing, I usually do outsource. You will need to work with quite a few people before you get the quality that you are after. A lot of cheap writers will be from those where English isn’t their first language and the articles they write will have loads of spelling mistakes and not make grammatical sense. In these cases, I will normally re-write or correct what they have done wrong. Never use spun content from software packages, it simply will not cut it. For quality content, do expect to pay slightly more than what seems to be the norm. Think about the content for a minute because you are trying to game Google to achieve higher rankings. And Google spends a large sum of money to make their algorithm as human like as possible and to interpret things the way we do, in turn this will produce better search results for its users. So if your content isn’t up to scratch and doesn’t read well, the chances are Google isn’t going to like it either. And if that is the case and it doesn’t like your content then why would it like to link that your site has on it either. It is all about trust.
Another thing that I really don’t like about the way people run their PBNs is when a site in the network links to every possibly niche known to man. How can that possibly be relevant or trustworthy? Google likes to see topical backlinks, i.e. similar sites linking to each other or sites of relevance linking. So if a site is spammed with lots of irrelevant or unrelated content then it isn’t going to help.
The sites are spammed to hell with outbound links. Each post is sold to a customer and will link back to their money site. Is it really natural for each post to link out to a different site? Also, the posts never interlink to each other, something that would happen on a normal site. So, with that noted, try and a post with no outbound links and only internal links. Typically successful sites will link to their own content more often than they would to external sites. It all helps make things look natural and avoids the issue of leaving a footprint.
Lack of social media connections: something that a lot of SEOs will not bother with. For a private blog network site to look normal, the addition of social media account links to that domain will do it wonders in terms of looking natural and trustworthy. Although setting up these social profiles can be arduous work, it really will give your sites within the network credibility. Also, share a link to your PBN site from the social media account and it also acts as link juice!
So, if you use these above tips and make your private blog network sites look more like real website then they will stand the test of time and ultimately make your network more powerful.
PBNs work. They do exactly what you need them to do when carried out correctly. Avoiding the about pitfalls will ensure that your private blog network never gets de-indexed by Google. Do not take short cuts and you will have ever lasting rankings for months and years to come!