It’s 2019, and everyone’s wondering if PBNs or Private Blog Networks are still worth building. Some would say yes, while others say no. Looking back at how it started (who can forget how Google penalized two public blog network and made them a cautionary tale?), there will always be proponents and opponents of this SEO technique.
PBNs gathered steam in 2014, but people have been searching about them since 2005 based on Google Trends. It is highly likely that it has been used by many SEOs since then or even earlier.
When it became the go-to strategy for grey hat SEO, the conversation went from “maybe” to “how to use PBNs effectively”. In fact, deciding which is the best solution for hosting became a critical part of building PBNs. After all, the choice of web hosting has a direct impact on whether your PBN will be flagged for a manual review.
The success of PBNs, however, depends on many factors. You should first have a look at PBN introduction.
What is a PBN or Private Blog Network?
This is a network that has a number of blogs linking back to the main blog. It helps a blog rank on the top of search results, which is basically equivalent to manipulating SERPs using a number of backlinks. For this reason, search engines have developed smarter algorithms that can de-index a page using PBNs. So why bother?
It provides a shortcut to ranking a page. For instance, content can be spun, cutting down the time needed to develop content. You can also use a Waybackmachine to search for blogs that have been used as PBNs and analyze the quality of their links. The process is not entirely quick and easy. But it is quicker and easier than building a blog from scratch.
So, is PBN still worth building in 2019? Yes it is. You just need to be smart about it and ensure you have a good return on investment and a good return on time.
2019 PBN Best Practices
The new formula is PBNs + Outreach
Most PBN links are directed to the homepage, which will make the page highly suspicious if it becomes saturated with links. There should be links to inner pages as well. This can be achieved through outreach, where you find other websites to exchange page links with or guest posts.
Building a successful PBN and evade de-indexation is not easy. But the new formula has an added a new challenge to the strategy. In the past, PBNs are the way to eliminate the need to do outreach or build relationships, which many consider a waste of time. This isn’t exactly a good thing but the focus then was to use time wisely, not outreach.
2019 is telling you something else entirely. If you look at it, outreach is the solution to strengthen PBN’s weak spot.
A volume of PBNs is half the power of link building that provides short-term boosting strength. What you need is the other half that offers long-term benefits through links that continue to mature in authority and trust. So, this 2019, your blog should have a blend of PBNs and Outreach.
Optimize anchor text
The wrong anchor text makes anything look bad. So you should master choosing the right anchor text and distributing them properly. Matt Diggity of Diggity Marketing has provided a complete guide for optimization that you can use in 2019.
One thing is vital, however, Anchors must look natural, resulting in variety. The more natural anchors come from your backlinks, the less likely they’ll look the same.
- Use a mix of different texts
- Use a pillow anchor with the usual Target + City anchors
- Use a diverse set of anchors–Brand Anchors, Target Anchors, Topic Anchors, URL Anchors
- Use miscellaneous phrase–”click here”, “learn more”
As for the type of distribution to use, do your homework and find out which strategy is typically used in your niche.
Avoid keyword cannibalization
- This happens when a single site has two pages or more that rank for the same keywords.
- If two or all of the pages come up for the same query a user searches, all of them are performing worse than a single page doing badly on SERPs.
- So make sure to check for keyword cannibalization. Use Ahrefs tools and refer to their cannibalization guide.
Measure link velocity
- How many new links do you need to get per unit of time to make a real difference in ranking?
- The exact number or calculation remains a hot topic for debate but nothing like a good measurement to provide you with answers.
- Track a steady drip of links per month and see if they make serious changes. Does the velocity measure accumulation at a slow or fast pace?
Link PBNs to Outreach
This practice gained popularity in 2018 and is likely to continue in 2019.
It is one way to boost tier 1 (best) links by linking them with tier 2 (low-quality) links. With PBNs providing a source of links at all levels, you should employ this strategy.
Go slow with backlinks during the sandbox stage
Consider this as the probationary period for young domains.
This means staying true to the whitest hat ranking factors and following Google’s guidelines like a good boy. With a young domain under close scrutiny, doing anything and everything to reach the top quickly and outrank other top sites is a recipe for disaster.
The site will get stuck in the sandbox.
Have you reached the #1 position?
Rather than stop link velocity, which will put you at risk of being kicked down the rankings, you should recycle PBNs to keep backlink activity fresh and active.
Many SEOs employ different strategies to make this happen.
- Kill and replace 1 link per week
- Remove 1 link and add 2 more or vice versa
With this strategy, the link profile is kept fresh minus the risk of changes that may cause penalties.
PBNs or No PBNs?
Using a private blog network is not failproof, but it does provide you with a level of control in SEO. You also get instant authority, especially when leveraging an aged and trusted website’s authority. Success won’t come easy. But employ the best PBN practices in 2019 and you will be closer to it.