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Private Blog Networks for SEO: avoid these at all costs

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Have you been promised fast SEO rankings by an agency you have just phoned? I bet you didn't know they were most likely using private blog networks. Watch out as they will kill your business and Google rankings.

Private blog networks

Unclear about Private Blog Networks? Need to know why your Google rankings have tanked?

PBN’s are a killer for your SEO and are used industry-wide by many SEO agencies – you can thank us later for warning you!

Many SEO agencies will never tell you that the link building they are doing for you is nothing more than placing links on their private blog network. It’s rampant in the SEO space and so many businesses do not know what is happening behind the scenes. It’s a really terrible SEO method and if your SEO company is building links through their private blog network or PBN all I can say is get the hell out of there. It’s a time bomb waiting to explode and take your website along for the terrible ride. You about to get a Google penalty and it ain’t pretty. Neil Patel sums it up nicely when he says; Google hates PBNs and intentionally tries to penalize people who use them.

Search Engine Watch goes even further and says; If you are using PBNs to acquire links, you are walking on a constant tightrope and risk of getting penalized by Google. You may not be automatically downgraded – but all it takes is one Google update or algorithm shift for this to change overnight. 

Like most people, you have never heard of a private blog network as your concern is just the rankings. So let me explain to you what a PBN is.

What is a Private Blog Network or PBN?

Semrush defines Private Blog Networks as a network of websites that place a high quantity of links to another website. These link networks consist of low-quality links designed to manipulate search engine rankings. Basically, it’s the lazy way of doing SEO. What happens is that an SEO company will buy and a group of expired domains that still carry some authority. They may be a 2, 3 or even 10-year-old domain that is now expired and on the market for sale. These domains have some Google authority and this is how they integrate it into their PBN. What happens is once they own the domain name they start to build pages and content on the domain and with it, they will ad some content relevant to your business and place a link back to your site. This is a backlink and they might replicate this a dozen times on the sites they have created.

Also read: Are Quick SEO Results Possible?

These SEO companies and there are many out there doing this; will outsource the content writing to India or to a third party for say $5 or so dollars a page and do this multiple times. The profit for them goes like this:

  • Buy an expired domain = $100 – $200
  • Place 10 pages of content on the site = $50
  • Do this 10 times over 10 websites and the total cost is $2000

What they then charge clients is a monthly SEO fee of $500 + per month and all they are outlaying is the $5 to write 1 page and add a link back to your site. They might create 2 or 3 links per month on their PBN and as you can see their profit margin is huge.

The only issue with a PBN is Google. What I mean by this is that PBN’s leave a heavy spammy footprint that Google can easily detect. Once it’s detected the website on the PBN is penalised and so are the sites on that PBN.

Let’s say I run my own PBN and I have 20 clients that I do SEO work for. The issue with the PBN is that the same 20 clients will all have links pointing to their sites from the same 20 sites. It’s so easy to detect and any trained eye can pick it up in a minute. Just imagine what Google can detect with their superior algorithms.

Why is PBN’s used?

Because these SEO companies can control the links that go on these sites very quickly and if you have just signed up with them then they can pop dozens if not more links to your site, giving it an artificial boost. Your going to be happy as you will start to see an immediate increase in rankings and the SEO company is happy because they can show you the good work they’ve done. It’s all a facade built on smoke and mirrors.

The problem is that Google is aware of these types of activities and is clamping down heavily on agencies that still use PBN as their preferred link building method. You will find that this link building will give a small bump in the rankings but you will never get higher than those agencies that practice credible link building techniques like outreaching.

I must admit that I have over the years been tempted to use a PBN but it’s just not worth the consequences. Trust me when I tell you that if your SEO provider is part of a PBN then your going to cop a Google penalty. This is a certainty. They are only using their PBN because they are lazy and are unable to implement a proper SEO campaign PLUS they want to maximise their profit margins at your expense. It’s a horrible cycle. These guys know how to lead you down the path of thinking that they are doing some SEO when in fact they are only hurting your website and any chance of really good rankings.

So how do you spot a PBN?

As your SEO agency to show you a few of the backlinks they have built for you.

1) If they say they can’t as it’s part of their intellectual property and they don’t want to give this away then you know it’s complete BS and they are doing something shifty; a PBN


2) they show you some links they have built on their ‘supposed websites” and on the page, there are links (generally in the right-hand column) to other unrelated companies. You have to ask yourself this question: why are there links to totally unrelated businesses on a page that’s meant to be all about your business? This means that you are part of their bigger PBN.

Folks, if your reading this and your rankings are going no where you could be part of a PBN. Give me a call and I will tell you very quickly if you are. I know the Sydney SEO agencies that are using PBN’s so I will be able to let you know fairly quickly if you have fallen into their evil trap.


steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 18 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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