There’s a chance you have heard about private blog networks, or PBNs, in the past, but, like most others, you’re probably curious as to what they are truly used for. Private blog networks are networks of websites used for building links to a lone website in order to manipulate search rankings. Since all of these different websites link to one another or to one specific site, you could also call this a link pyramid. Like a lot of other black hat SEO tactics, PBN’s were used quite regularly several years ago. However, since they are considered a black hat technique, you should consider avoiding them at all costs. This rings especially true if you’d like to keep your current position in search results. Just because PBNs are black hat, though, doesn’t mean no one is using them. Google has been battling private blog networks for years and they’ve been getting better and better at combating link spam techniques. Due to this, it’s harder than ever to establish a successful private blog network.
When PBNs were more prevalent, they were easier to spot since they were on the same IP, had the same WHOIS information, shared servers, and used a lot of the same content across multiple sites. These days, on the other hand, private blog networks are trickier to track down. They span different industries, layouts, and topics. If you think you might be on to a PBN, look for some similarities between your suspected sites. Are they on the same IP, or do they share a ton of duplicate content? Many private blog networks have similar backlink profiles. If you see the websites you’re investigating all link to one website several times, then it’s likely you’ve happened upon a PBN.
On the bright side, the Penguin algorithm now runs in real time and can detect these types of link schemes. Once a PBN is discovered, it can devalue the website rankings and sometimes even result in a manual penalty. To note, owning a number of different websites does not mean you’re a PBN. Private blog networks are typically owned by one company or individual, but other people can be involved too to help with linking across several different groups of websites.
To avoid running afoul of PBNs, be wary of outsourcing your link building to a third party. Remember, buying links could put your site in a dangerous place. If you’re trying to be coerced into a link exchange, don’t go through with it. If you notice your competitors are relying on private blog networks to get links, don’t feel as though you need to jump into the fold to remain relevant. In fact, go the opposite route and build your link campaign off of SEO best practices. Not only will utilizing best practices give you more staying power on the web, it’ll also keep Google from doling out penalties on your website(s). Save yourself from the woes a PBN can throw at you and remain along the path of good SEO. Your brand and business will certainly thank you for it!