What Is a Private Blog Network?
A private blog network (PBN) is a network of authoritative websites that are used to build backlinks for a single website. It’s a list of unrelated sites all linking to one central domain to pass link equity to it and improve its’ rankings.
How Are Private Blogging Networks Made?
A PBN begins with someone buying lots of old domains that have high authority in the search engines. Then, they start creating content on those sites while linking to their main website.
That gives the central site lots of quality backlinks. And just like that, they get to boost their SERP ranking for the main domain and get higher traffic on it.
Are Private Blog Networks Illegal?
To give you a short answer: Yes.
PBNs are against Google’s guidelines. Websites that get caught practicing this often end up losing all their rankings in the SERPs.
Google will manually penalise any website that’s part of a PBN and cause it to vanish from top results.
While this used to be a popular method that marketing experts were proud to share, it’s no longer efficient. The SEO community now regards it as a black hat technique that you should avoid like the plague.
Do Private Blog Networks Work?
Private blog networks still exist to this day for one simple reason:
It's because they work.
Backlinks are one of the strongest ranking factors on Google. They're an honest way of telling search engines that a web page is valuable and provides helpful answers.
A PBN can help the main website boost its' rankings by passing link authority. The variety of authoritative domains tells Google that the central site is trustworthy.
That's what gives the main website a boost in the SERPs.
But, one thing to keep in mind is that Google is always on the look for PBNs. Any website that gets caught doing this will be severely penalised and is prone to lose all its' rankings.
It's unlikely that a website that's finding success by following these shady tactics will last long. Private blog networks may work for a short period, but they all disappear in the long run.
Do your competitors use Private Blog Networks?
In most cases, you can't just use an ordinary backlink checker to find out whether your competitors are using Private Blog Networks or not.
Many Private Blog Networks block third-party crawlers to stop backlink checkers to find backlinks originating from Private Blog Networks.
This is usually achieved by blocking the crawlers of Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz etc. with server-side mechanisms like .htaccess blocking rules.
To bypass this you can use a hidden backlink checker such as Linxact which is specialized in crawling hidden PBN backlinks.
Stay Away From Private Blogging Networks
There are lots of legitimate link building tactics you can use to grow your business. And most of them will deliver better results in the long run if you take things seriously.
You shouldn't be intimidated by your competitors' results if you feel like they're part of a PBN.
Don't follow their path. Give it some time, and Google will take care of them for you.
Also, stay away from buying links from shady SEO agencies. Most of the time, those come from a PBNs. That will backfire on you and may even put an end to your business.