Hitting the first page of Google SERPs is a tough nut to crack—but not impossible. One of the many ways to achieve this feat is through a Private Blog Network, or PBN. A PBN uses a network of websites to link to YOUR website that makes you money (aka “money website”), which in turn makes your money site rank higher on Google.
Now, you may have heard that Google shut down a few public blog networks back in 2014. Many white-hat SEOs refuse to use any kind of blackhat or even grey backlinking to sites they own for this reason; they fear having their entire site’s links devalued, causing serious harm to their ability to rank. For gray and black-hat SEOs, however, there is ample evidence that backlinks are still extremely important to SERP ranking, and that if you create your PBN carefully, it is very unlikely that your sites will be found or devalued.
Here are the key rules to DIY your private blog network without catching the attention of Google’s oversight:
- Don’t make all your backlinking sites identical. This is a major way that Google catches and devalues websites. You should give all of your PBN sites just as much care and attention as you do your money site. This means creating or buying unique content for them, having domains across several different hosting sites, and keeping them up to date. Sites should have unique logos, and should not be tied together in any easily recognizable way.
- Don’t use the same Whois registration for each of the domains. If possible, keep most of the PBN sites whois information private.
- Link out. Some amateurs think that they should only focus on inbound links, but having high quality outbound links makes the site more legitimate.
- Primarily focus on in context keyword placement. Having a link embedded in anchor text is vastly more valuable in Google’s algorithms than having a list of links somewhere on the site. Switch up your anchor text as well; Google rewards keyword variation more than ever before.
- Create links to authoritative sites in your niche. Don’t just link to Wikipedia and Youtube. Part of making your PBN sites work for you is spending the necessary time finding the sites that are considered expert. Get a few pages on the domain, and then start getting those links in place.
- When buying old, expired domains (a great way to build a profile of legitimate sites) make sure your new site is in the same niche as the old one. This is key to making sure that the old backlog of links still counts for the new site. If Google sees that the old and new sites are different, then the old links will no longer count for the site you just bought.
- Don’t talk about your Private Blog Network. Just like fight club, you don’t talk about owning your own DIY private blog network, and you certainly don’t sell links to anyone. These mistakes are the fastest way to get your entire network discovered and shut down.
It’s important to be clear; any attempt to create backlinks like this is considered unacceptable by Google can absolutely get your site penalized. That said, experts in DIY PBNs have suggested that, if you’re careful, the only way to get discovered is through a manual review. Frankly, the Internet is growing at too rapid a pace for Google to look at each site individually. If you follow the rules and avoid creating reasons for a manual review, it is very unlikely your network will face any kind of scrutiny.
DIYing your own private blog network isn’t expensive, but it’s certainly less expensive and less risky than having someone build one for you. Buying domains is possible if you can find recently expired, well ranked domains at a reasonable price; domain hosting is less expensive than people assume. The cost of content depends on whether or not you can write it yourself.
But paying someone to create a PBN for you is going to be even more expensive than that, and increase your risk of getting caught. Building your own is definitely the safest way to proceed and funnel links to your money-making sites, increasing their value in SERP and in your wallet.