A PBN backlink is a link that comes from a website whose purpose is to pass PageRank. The term PBN is an acronym for Private Blog Network and linking from PBN websites is considered a black hat SEO practice. Before we go any deeper into the details of PBN backlinks, it’s important to establish a few definitions that will help to understand how PBNs work and how they play a role in the development of a website (if any).
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is any tactic that is used to manipulate websites ranking on a search engine and violates Google’s best practice guidelines. Examples of black hat SEO include PBN link building, automated link building, paid links that pass PageRank (followed links), and more.
What is Page Rank?
Invented by Google co-founder, Larry Page, PageRank is a proprietary system for assigning a value to a webpage that determines the likelihood of that page ranking in the search results. The system is based on the quality and quantity of backlinks that point to a page. PageRank, in its purest form, represents how popular, credible and authoritative the content of a page is, creating more reason for a search engine to show the page in its search results.
The PageRank system precludes that backlinks are one of the most powerful ranking signals that search engines follow. For this reason, website owners and digital marketers alike, strive to find ways to manipulate ranking through a variety of link-building tactics-one of them being PBN link building.
Do PBNs Still Work?
The answer to this is, it depends on if you get caught. The history of PBNs is somewhat like a civil war story-a bloody battle between black hatters and Google. Through a series of updates, Google has been able to identify PBNs and penalize websites that are linked to these websites. The stories of website owners having their traffic decimated overnight have worked as a warning to anyone who considers linking from PBN sites.
The threat of being exposed and losing your ranking is too great a risk to make PBNs a significant part of your link-building strategy.
You may be thinking “Wait. Did you say a significant part of your strategy? Are people still using PBN backlinks?”
The truth of the matter is, PBNs work to improve your authority metrics. There are still many, many PBN websites that are successfully propping up website ranking because they are built well and aren’t super obvious.
How Do You Build a PBN Website?
One of the most popular ways to build a PBN is to buy an expired domain or a domain in an auction. Why? Because these domains already have backlinks pointing to them and can be used to pass on “link juice” or to be more technical, PageRank. You need a domain with backlinks that are strongly related to your target website (money site).
Choosing a suitable domain can be extremely time-consuming since it means going through the backlinks of hundreds, if not thousands of domains. For expired domains, you can go to a site like Expireddomains.net and use the filters to narrow down relevant domains to your niche.
Copy and paste the domain names to a tool like Ahrefs (you can do up to 200 domain names) in the bulk analysis tool.
You can then filter for a minimum number of backlinks and minimum domain authority to narrow down viable prospects.
The final step is to choose a domain that doesn’t have too many low-quality backlinks and whose domain metrics will in fact boost the authority of your money site.
Build a Website With High Quality Content
The type of website you build will vary depending on the niche, the name, and the type of backlinks that point to it, You can get an idea of what the website used to look like by checking archive.com to develop your PBN with a similar style and format. The more high-quality content you add to your site, the less likely it will seem that it is being used as a PBN.
Add a Link Pointing to Your Money Site
Once the website is completed and you’ve consistently added content for more than a month, you can add a link to your website. Use an optimized anchor tet link to get the most from your PBN.
Advantages of PBN Backlinks
- Control over backlinks (placement, can be removed if necessary, can build as many PBNs as you like)
- HIgh authority metrics pass through to your website
- Promote high ranking
Disadvantages of PBN Backlinks
- High-risk black hat SEO tactic (risk of penalty)
- Lose trust with search engines
- Hard to disguise and make Google-proof
- Expensive and time consuming to build and maintain
White Hat SEO is Always the Safest Bet
Many individuals make excellent black hatters when it comes to link building. Despite the potential gains from PBN link-building, it is not the safest route to go when you want long-lasting results in the search engines. White hat SEO, meaning natural link building will always be the safest method of acquiring backlinks and although it takes longer, it eliminates the possibility of a Google penalty.