PBNs, an acronym for Private Blog Networks, are today a referencing strategy used by most SEO agencies and by the communication / web marketing departments of many advertisers. If their use is sometimes controversial because it is (wrongly) considered as a risky exercise, the use of a PBN in a netlinking strategy is a practice that is constantly growing. While it is relatively easy to build a network of blogs or private sites, two categories of PBNs can be distinguished: good and bad PBNs. So what is the difference between them?
This category includes blog networks that were made at a lower cost, or as quickly as possible. This first type of PBN is relatively common, and is in fact the most criticized, which explains why PBNs sometimes have such bad reputation in the eyes of their detractors. As these PBNs are more common, they are easily recognizable.
The main objective when creating these PBNs is therefore quantity rather than quality (meaning the quantity of blogs – and therefore links – that will be generated to spread their SEO juice to money sites). The quantity of PBNs can reach several hundred sites/blogs for a single money site. The generation of these private sites is generally done in an almost industrial way, often automatically – sometimes with only one page. The quality of the content is optimized (sometimes over-optimized, some would say) with the production of texts filled with keywords with the sole purpose of being read by indexing robots of search engines.
So what is the advantage of this type of technique? By setting up a campaign of this type, you will have an almost immediate effect. Your target site will be boosted very quickly and in the very short term towards the first results of search engines. Alas, as with any doping product, the effect wears off and the bad trip quickly follows, much like the side effects of a drug. Beware of going downhill when Google identifies that the content (and the rest of the site) is of mediocre quality.
This type of strategy is only aimed at getting a quick boost. It is occasionally used by some agencies or SEO providers who want to show quick results to often impatient advertisers. It is by no means a sustainable strategy (which requires a little more time in its implementation to be successful), aiming at positioning a website in the first results of search engines.
These are high-quality, content-rich PBNs. They are real sites and are part of a true SEO approach as defined by Google’s guidelines. These websites are built and powered in such a way as to appeal mainly to users, instead of appealing primarily to Google and other search engines. In the end, this approach proves to be profitable because it corresponds to the prerogatives of Google’s algorithm which will take into account the various criteria favoured by Internet users.
This type of site offers quality content that answers concrete problems. In other words, an Internet user who comes across a website will not perceive it as a “spammy” site, but rather as a “real” site. The result is a low bounce rate, increased interest, more traffic and even a certain virality in social networks. SEO experts using this type of PBN often create information or news sites. “Hot” news allow them to publish content very regularly and build loyalty among the users, who will then return on a regular basis. Moreover, by taking advantage of rich snippets, this type of site can appear on Google News, which is a great advantage in terms of visibility.
Other types of sites developed on a content-rich PBN are forums and other community sites. Their main advantage is that they are somehow self-propelled by member content. With the help of a community manager, these sites can even be used to solicit your community on social networks. You may wonder at this point why you would want to talk about your network sites and not your money site itself. The reason is simple: by making these network websites popular, the power of the links they provide is greatly increased. Thus, the money site benefits directly from their popularity while passing under Google’s radar.
So what is your preferred strategy for setting up and using your PBN?