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Link building is an important aspect of Search Engine Optimisation, but it can be a tedious and long process. If you have entered the world of SEO, then you may have already heard about “PBNs or “PBN links”. For some SEO professionals, PBN links are a valuable part of their SEO strategy, whilst others will steer well clear.
In this post, we will shed more understanding on PBN links as well as how they work.
What is a PBN?
PBN stands for “Private Blog Network” and refers to a network of websites created purely for the purpose of linking out (backlink) to other domains.
An important part of how well a website ranks organically is down to its Domain Authority, part of which can be measured by how many other websites, or referring domains point to it (via a link). Each link acts as a positive signal to search engines. However, because of the difficulty and time that goes into organically acquiring links, some people choose to use PBNs.
How does a PBN work?
When you have a link pointing from one website to another it can be seen by search engines as a “vote” or “recommendation” from one website to another (the referring website to the target website). The more “votes” your website receives, the more authoritative it will be seen by Google and the other Search Engines. Naturally, search engines rank websites that are more authoritative and most useful to the searcher’s intent.
The main appeal of a PBN is that it allows full control over when and where links are placed over a number of sites to help boost the authority of a domain.
For PBN’s links to have any sort of effect, they themselves need to have some kind of link profile and authority. This can be done by purchasing expired domains that already have some historic rankings and links, or by building new links to a PBN site.
When creating a PBN network, owners need to be mindful of creating footprints such as using the same hosting IP address or Domain registrar details across their network of sites, as Google’s systems would pick this up and start to question the legitimacy of the websites and their purpose. Eventually, if Google feels the sites have no value, then they would simply be removed from its index, and any links would be disregarded.
Are PBNs bad?
As the top organic (SERP) places are so highly valued, search engines, such as Google are constantly updating their core algorithms to try to catch out any tactics that are used to fool their signals, which are outlined in their Guidelines. Therefore, PBNs or SEO in general should always be done with caution.
Do PBNs still work?
As most PBNs are created using a blog or content on the homepage, a link coming from a strong PBN site will still have some positive effect on the target site. However, the more outbound links that are placed on that site, the more diluted each link will become. So be wary of how many outbound links a PBN has, and exactly where the links are being placed.
PBNs although classified as a type of Black Hat tactic are still an efficient way of generating links to a website. While there are penalties if caught, properly done PBNs cannot be easily traced.
If you decide to use them, it is wise to remember that they should be part of an overall Link building strategy and not the only type of link being built.
For those considering building their own PBN Network, you must avoid any kind of footprint, as if the search engines figure out the link between the sites they will deindex the entire network very quickly, making the whole process a costly and worthless exercise.
Here are some reasons why you might still consider using or building your own PBN;
- A quick and easy way to boost Domain Authority
- You can control the content and therefore niche of the website, along with the anchor text used in each link.
- If properly done and all footprints are erased, it’s hard for search engines to distinguish a PBN site.
- A good PBN has some value, which can potentially be sold on if not required.
At Phoenix Media, we do not use any kind of PBN links, for ourselves or for our clients, however, we are still aware that other SEOs do and even in 2022 they can still provide some form of movement.