A private blog network (PBN) is a group of websites that boost a particular website’s rank in search engine results. PBNs generally consist of high-quality, authoritative domains that link back to the target website. These sites are often created and managed by the same company or person, so they have complete control over the content and links. The goal of using a PBN is to build powerful backlinks from trusted websites, which can significantly boost rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) on sites like Google and Bing.
PBNs have been a big thing in the SEO industry for many years, and for a good reason. A quality PBN can be a golden ticket to high rankings, so if you have the means, it could be an excellent investment for your online business.
As with any big task, the key to success begins in planning. It is always tempting to get stuck in and building, however to ensure you get lasting results, we need to plan it out.
Read on to see how you could build your own private blog network.
Planning for your PBN
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach for any SEO strategy, as no two websites are the same, and no two niches are alike. However, there are some things we want to avoid and others we must do.
The main aim of a PBN is to build up a group of websites that all point to your website. The above illustration shows each PBN website linking back to the main money site.
So this probably looks very simple and not a very complicated plan but this is just the beginning.
As can be seen from the illustration your PBN sites each link to the money site but they do not link to each other. It is highly important to not link your PBN sites together at all, you want to keep each PBN website separate at all times where possible.
At the beginning of your network building I would create a spreadsheet to keep track of all logins for each domain and what is linking to where. The rewards of this will be seen later in the build but trust me, you want a record of everything.
If you are looking to build out a larger, more ambitious PBN you will want to be more specific about what links where and whether a link is a backlink or a redirect. In smaller PBNs it is likely most network sites will link direct to money site.
Choose your domains
If you are looking to build your PBN websites from scratch on fresh domains you will need to do significant SEO on each one so that they have some links and content so that when you link back to your money site you are funnelling some of that SEO power to your money site. Generally PBNs are started with aged or expired domains as they will cut down a huge amount of time and cost in the long run.
If you have the funds for it you can get some domains via auction or if you have more time than money you may want to use an expired domain checker as you will be able to find an endless amount of domains and pay less for them (around $10 per domain rather than upwards of $100+registration fee per domain).
Unfortunately, even when using some of the free methods for finding expired domains and checking their availability, you will still need a subscription to at least one of the major stat tracking services such as Majestic, Moz, Ahrefs or other to check the quality and quantity of backlinks. Something like Domain Hunter Gatherer Pro includes access to a lot of domain level stats as part of the subscription.
Always make sure that any domain you are buying has a history free from spammy content, using a free service such as The Wayback Machine will allow you to check that the content has not changed wildly through the years and doesn’t have anything inappropriate for your niche.
On this blog we have a guide on what makes a good expired domain.
Covering your Tracks Starts Here
After finding your domains you will need to begin thinking about not leaving any footprints that could identify your PBN as being linked. This must begin at the point of registering.
When registering and setting up domains you need to keep everything as different as possible, different registrars, hosts and setup.
Most domain registrars have similar pricing but always be sure to check out our list of the cheapest domain registrars. When registering the domain ensure that you are using different Whois information for each domain.
Take your time! Don’t register multiple domains in a day, make sure you are purchasing and registering domains on different days. Each PBN website is going to take time and resources to get online so don’t just register all of your PBN domains in a day as that would be an easily identifiable footprint.
When setting up the domain make sure you are mixing up your DNS settings. Most shared hosts will provide you with easy to set nameservers but as we’re going to be using different hosts it is a good idea to get used to setting up DNS for your domains. Your web host will likely provide the best settings to use but once you’ve done a few it is a fairly short process.
Use a variety of different web hosts, this is an absolute must. Luckily, most PBN websites won’t be receiving a high load so you should be able to get by with a cheap, budget or shared web host. See our list of cheap web hosts to find the best deals for hosting your PBNs
The decision to go with cheap web hosts is controversial for some that will tout the benefits of more expensive cloud services but the cost difference could be $10-20 every month per domain. When dealing with 10s or even 100+ domains the extra few dollars a month will really add up every month so budget hosting can be great to keep costs down as much as possible.
Vary everything! As a general rule it is almost always best to vary and change up everything you do in your PBN to make everything look as distinct and unique as possible. No 2 websites are the same so no websites in your network should ever have a resemblance to another domain in your network.
Creating your websites
A running theme in creating a PBN is ensuring everything is different and unique, this continues throughout the process of building your website. Every design, every type of structure and CMS can all be made unique with relative ease.
Shortcuts here can save you a lot of time and effort but do not take shortcuts to ensure everything is unique. Using a CMS platform such as WordPress or Drupal is fine and may be the best choice for some users, just be sure to keep them up to date, use a different theme and unique content.
Another option that is becoming ever more popular are managed CMS platforms such as Wix or Squarespace, these can be good where you want to build a new website from scratch. New websites can be brought to life quickly with these services.
Rebuilding an old domain’s content. Software such as DomRecovery (part of the DHG Pro package) can recover the old content from your domain to quickly get a domain displaying the content that was previously on that domain. This makes going from blank domain to live website much quicker, just be sure that you have a right to use the content. Links and new content can always be added to these old designs, if you have experience with html this will be a fairly simple task.
If you are wanting to create a new website from scratch and prefer to do it manually, rather than using a self-hosted or managed CMS, you can make use of templates. Lots of websites are now based on bootstrap designs as they can look very professional with minimal work and cost. As these designs are very changeable it is easy to build multiple sites that are all very unique.
There are so many different ways of creating a website on a domain, no one method is better than the rest in every use case so mix it up and reduce any chance of leaving a footprint that will give your PBN away.
Unlike some, I don’t believe there is a true ideal content size for written content. Lots of sites rank and perform perfectly fine without any written text so, as with everything, keep it varied. Have some sites with lengthy wordy articles and others with less.
Don’t fill every website with the same template and same structure each with 5x 750-1000 word articles, not every site is like that so not every site in your PBN should be like that. Vary up context size and type to appear more natural.
Do not link up your ad accounts and tracking pixels on these sites. You can leave fake ones so it appears as though your site is registered on an ad network but certainly don’t touch any google (adsense, analytics, webmasters tools etc) properties with your website.
You can display ads on your sites but it is important that all of the sites have a unique set of ads. Do not use the same ad network for every site, it is important there is nothing to suggest these sites are associated in any way.
If you can hold off on publishing all of your content until your site is indexed you will be able to show the search engines that your website is currently being kept up to date with new content. This will convince them to come back more often and will likely result in higher rankings for longer.
Periodically posting new content to lots of your domains will keep your PBN alive and increase its power greatly over time.
Linking your PBN up
With your domain, your hosting and a design and content sorted you will need to start implementing your linking strategy.
Knowing that links are one of the most important ranking factors it can be tempting to just link to your money site from every page on your PBN sites but this is not advised. It is rarely seen except in cases where links have been purchased or are between two jointly owned websites, either way the links won’t count for much and may be detrimental.
The best links are from within the most important and related content on a PBN website. You absolutely can link from any page but don’t always have a link from the homepage unless it fits and could be seen as a natural link.
The aim is to make everything look very natural
Don’t Interlink your PBN! It may be tempting to link up your PBN sites to pass on some SEO power through your PBN but this will just leave a big footprint.
Never link from your money site to your PBN sites, this should be self explanatory, it leaves footprints, don’t do it!
Do link to other websites! Most websites link out to some other sites in one form or another so yours probably should too. These don’t need to be laser targeted to your niche but linking to authority sites in your niche that aren’t competing for your keywords would make your content look more natural. Be sure to mix up what sites you link out to.
Wait. No seriously, Wait!
Patience is key in many things and PBNs and ranking is no exception. We can expect true results to take weeks to start coming through so we need to remain patient and not expect things to happen overnight.
Once a website has been published you will have time to return to the finding an expired domain phase of the process to find another domain to add to your PBN.
If you plan on creating some links to your PBN websites that can be done now but do not just create a handful (or a lot) right away and then move on, make sure links are added over time and spread link building activities across all of your websites ensuring not to link to the same PBN site from any page.
Increase your link strategy over time. Your PBN will get more powerful over time and retain rankings if each of your properties receives occasional new backlinks so keep creating backlinks for older sites even as you add new domains to your PBN.
Rankings can take time, it is better to be patient and wait more time than to resort to underhanded tactics that could cause issues down the line. Don’t risk all of your hard work, time and money just to try and save some time getting your websites reindexed.