The Ultimate Private Blog Network Guide for Dummies
PBNs or Private blog networks are currently the best and most effective way to build backlinks that stick and bring results. This is actually a sneaky tactic that top-level SEOs have been using for quite some time. It’s just been a few months since I began to explore the perks of PBNs and the unfair advantage that they provide in the SEO game.
And from what I know, PBN backlinking is the single most important SEO tactic that brings result currently. This Private Blog Network Guide I’ve made for you covers all that you need to know about building PBNs.
But what are PBNs? And why do they work so well? How do we find the best domains for PBNs? What is the right and safest way to use them?
What are PBNs?
PBNs or Private blog networks are aged authoritative domains that are used by search engine optimizers as feeder sites that pass along link juice to their money sites. It is similar to the concept of building out Web 2.0 properties for the sole purpose of backlinking to the money site. There are two types of domains that are used as PBN sites:
Expiring Domains: When a domain owner doesn’t renew a domain at a registrar, the domain is said to be expiring, and the owner is allowed a period of about 42 days to renew the domain and retain his ownership. If the domain owner fails to renew the domain by day 25, the domain is auctioned in an expired domain name auction such as Go Daddy auctions. In this period, those who wish to buy the domain may bid on it, and if the domain owner still fails to renew the domain by the end of day 36 when the auction ends, the domain goes to the highest bidder. Although the ownership of the domain changes, the age of the domain is not lost as the domain was renewed before it was dropped from the registry.
Expired domains: If at the end of day 36, the previous owner fails to renew the domain, and there are no bidders, the domain is released to the registry, from where you may buy it again. Such domains are called expired domains or dropped domains. Although expired domains lose their age when they are released to the registry, they retain their backlinks and authority in the eyes of the search engines.
So why do PBNs work so well?
For understanding this, let us first look into how PBN backlinking is done. PBN backlink is done in such as way that a few number of contextual links pointing to the money site are dropped in an article on the homepage of the expired or expiring domain. An authoritative expired or dropped domain has hundreds or even thousands of links from diverse referring domains pointing to it. All this link juice is thus channeled through the few links on the homepage of the PBN to the money site. Take a look at this:
private blog network guide
This is exactly what makes PBN links so powerful. A large amount of link juice flows through a PBN link, and a dozen or so such links is all that a site needs to rank.
How to find the best domains for your PBN?
There are literally thousands of domains that expire every single day. Spotting and picking up good domains for use as PBNs is a skill in itself. It is extremely time consuming to spot PBNs on expired domain auctions such as Go Daddy auctions as they simply contain hundreds of thousands of sites. There are several domain search tools in the market today such as Dropl.io Register Compass, DomCop or ExpiredDomains.net that can be used to weed out low quality domains and zero in on good domains that we can use for PBNs. Both Register Compass and DomCop are paid services, but DomCop does offer a free trial. ExpiredDomains.net is free but offers lesser number of filtering options.
On a side note, I highly recommend Register Compass. Their Domain Database is one of the largest on the internet and all their metrics are up to date. Register Compass costs 37 USD a month, but they are well worth the price. I use PBNs for nearly all my sites. I’m willing to spend 37 bucks a month for finding good sites for my private blog network which will help in my rankings. If you’re thinking about signing up for Register Compass, you can do it here.
The method that we intend to use for finding good expired domains requires three tools: the Majestic Site Explorer, Open Site Explorer by Moz, and Google search. The first step is to set the filters in the domain search tool. The important metrics of value are Moz Domain Authority (DA), Moz Page Authority (PA), Majestic Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF). Set the minimum DA as 20, and the TF and CF as 10. If the domain search tool doesn’t have Majestic filters available, leave it out. The only way around it is to manually check the results using Majestic Site Explorer. Weed out foreign domains by selecting only .com, .net and .org tlds in the filter. Set the minimum number of referring domains as 10. You may also enter the keywords that you would like to have in the domain name. Paid services like DomCop and Register Compass offer a Topical Trust Flow Filter that brings you domains from a niche of your choice based on the Tropical Trust Flow metric in Majestic Site Explorer.
When you search with the above filters, you will obtain a select group of domains that are quite authoritative and valuable. Now the manual work begins. From the obtained results, make a Google search with the query – site:domain.com. Make sure that the domain name is stripped i.e. without an ‘http’. If the first result obtained is the homepage of the domain i.e www.domain.com or http://domain.com, then the domain is indexed in Google and visibly does not have a Google penalty.
The next step is manual backlink analysis. Backlink analysis is the single most important step in finding good expired or dropped domains for your PBNs. The better the backlinks, better the domain. Majestic Site Explorer is one of the best tools for backlink analysis. Ahrefs.com is also an excellent tool for backlink analysis, but the Trust Flow and Citation Flow metrics are an easier and better way to determine the quality of a referring domain or backlink. Initially, look at the CF:TF ratio of the domain. The CF:TF ratio should always stay below 1.5, and the lower the ratio is, the better. CF or Citation Flow is basically the number of citations that the domain has received on other websites. Trust Flow is a metric that depends upon the authority and niche relevance of the backlinks. So a CF:TF ratio or 1 or lower would mean that most of the domains that link to the PBN is relevant and authoritative.
Now take a look at the backlinks of the domain. Check if the backlinks are from good authority domains. Take a look at the anchor text diversity. A very diverse anchor text profile is a good sign that the previous owner of the site hasn’t resorted to spamming. Avoid domains that have names of prescriptions drugs, foreign words, and adult terms in their anchor text profile at all costs. Also take a look at the referring domains tab in Majestic Site Explorer. The higher the number of referring domains, the better. A 1000 links all coming from 10 referring domains is just pure spam. If the number of backlinks is lesser than 10 for each referring domain, it is a good sign. Look out for backlinks from authority websites like Wikipedia or News Sites like Huffington Post and New York Times. Such sites are hard to come by, and make very good PBN sites if they pass through all the filters.
A good PBN site should cost anywhere between 35-50 USD. Try not to bid above this amount in an auction. Given that there is a lot of competition for auction domains, there can be a slight increase in this estimate. Finding good expired or dropped domains is a way to get much cheaper domains for your PBNs. For expired domains, the only cost incurred is the registration cost which is about 10-15 USD. Most good domains are picked up in the expiring period in auctions, so finding good expired domains may be a bit time consuming.
The right way to setup and use your PBNs
However good domains you find for setting up your PBNs, the only thing that matters is how you make use of it. There is a refined way to use PBNs for best results.
First and foremost, what you need to understand is that using PBNs for linking is a blackhat strategy. Now before you get all fired up, know that there are hundreds of internet marketers who have been using PBNs for ranking without any interference from Google for a decade now. What matters here is how well you can cover up your tracks. The golden rule here is to stay natural and maintain a low profile. Simply follow these steps and you won’t need to worry about Google de-indexing your valuable sites:
Hosting: The first way in which Google zeros in on Private blog networks is through the hosting that they are on. Imagine a site that is linked to by a dozen other sites all from the same IP address. Whenever you get a hosting account with a Hosting provider, all you get is a single IP address. So always host your PBNs on different C-class IPs. There are tons of hosting providers that offer this, but never go for SEO hosting providers. SEO hosting is used mainly for PBN domains and Google knows this too.
WHOIS data: Whenever you buy a domain for use as a PBN site, buy WHOIS privacy along with it. When all the sites linking to your money site belong to the same person, it is obvious what you are doing. Namecheap offers free WHOIS Privacy for the first year.
Content strategy: Improper and obvious content is another teller that the site is a PBN. Always have good and meaningful content on your PBN sites. The principle here is to make it look like any other blog on the internet. Always link out to your money site only twice or thrice from a single post on the homepage of the PBN site. Never link out from multiple articles to the same site. Never link out to your money site alone. Link out to authority sites like Wikipedia too once in a while. Mix up the links as contextual, non-contextual and image links. Keep in mind that only homepage links on the PBN are valuable. Never even think of selling links unless they are standalone PBN sites created solely for selling links.
Try to add some content to your PBN sites once in a while. This, apart from making the site look legitimate, can also help in retaining its authority. Create social media accounts for the sites. This helps gain trust and makes the site look legit.
CMS: Never use the same CMS or Content Management System for all you PBN sites. It is fine to stick with WordPress, but it is better to use others like Joomla or Blogger once in a while. There are a number of free CMSs in the Cpanels of most hosting providers. Also, if you stick with WordPress, never use the same plugins for all the sites as this can leave a footprint.
These are all you need to stay on a low profile and build a safe Private Blog Network to rank your sites.
Although many SEOs and internet marketing gurus point out that PBN backlinking is nothing but a blackhat strategy that can get you penalized, it is one that has been effective over a decade in ranking sites. There is no debate over the fact that excellent content, social media engagement and content strategy is the way forward for natural rankings in search engines. However, you would be losing out if you don’t use PBNs simply because they work well currently and are easy to get away with.
Now, as I always say- Just go and take action. MASSIVE IMPERFECT ACTION is the only way to success.