Hey SEO experts, what are your thoughts on PBNs and micro-sites? Talking with an SEO agency and they have a service that sounds a lot like a Private Blog Network (PBN), though they say it's not and have their own name for it. I've read some black hat PBN stories and it's given me the feeling I shouldn't go near this with a 10 foot stick. However, also been reading about acquiring online publications to have content marketing be like a media company. Looking for honest opinions of whether you've done PBN or micro-site, what your experience has been.
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If it sounds like a PBN, it’s a PBN.
It’s all a matter of your risk tolerance whether to go that route or not. The fact that this SEO company isn’t being straightforward about its link building tactics is a massive red flag.
Yeah I've been getting a few other flags from this SEO agency. Have you done PBNs?
It was a tactic I used years ago. Too short-term and risky for my taste these days.
We do manual outreach and create the kinds of content that can passively earn links over time (stats, how to guides, etc.)
Makes sense. Manual outreach and creating stellar content are what I'm used to. Have you heard of micro-sites or acquiring online publications? Joe Pulizzi talks about it a lot in his book, Killing Marketing.
Buying relevant websites that have strong back link profiles can be used as a link building strategy. We’ve done some of it at Sagapixel and I know of some large agencies have done it as well.
Scott Allen 🎓
You guys are going to have a hard time ranking against other SEO users that know what they are doing and actively use PBNs.
The pure white hat approach might work in some smaller local niches, but in the bigboy niches you are going to have to supplement your link building
Sophie ✍️ » Frank
and after purchasing websites, do you maintain and keep publishing content on those purchased sites too? Wondering what the balance is between the resources and effort and the return.
No, we would consolidate the content into the website and map the redirects to the corresponding pages.
Sophie ✍️ » Scott Allen
For sure we'll be in bigboy territory. But also want to minimize the risk of hurting our chances right out of the gate. We're just starting Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Sophie ✍️ » Frank
oh so the purchased website doesn't remain as it's own entity. It's absorbed into the main website.
Frank » Sophie
yes, you get the link equity and the content
Scott Allen 🎓 » Sophie
like Chris said if you know what you are doing they are worth using. I've been doing this for 10years years now and never had an issue with PBNs.
Chris M. Walker 👑
If you or they don’t know what they are doing a Private Blog Network (PBN) can be dangerous (no matter what they call it).
If it’s done right it is just another, powerful, link.
Do you have any resources you'd recommend on how PBNs can be done right? I've read some positive articles about PBNs, but then found the publisher is link building company so bit of a conflict of interests.
Chris M. Walker 👑
I sell PBNs too so if that's your disqualifier not sure I can help haha…
Ultimately they are the most powerful type of link if done right, but if you aren't sure of what you are doing (or what they are doing) I'd say avoid.
Haha just trying to find an unbiased, or perhaps less biased, opinion. Sound advice, thank you.
I doubt many would share their PBN strategy but as Chris said if unsure best to steer clear of it. Perhaps, start with focussing on some internal link building.
Sander Spiegelaar 🎓 » Sophie
I have some resources for you, you can PM me if you want
Speaking of “being sure” could you please advise a check list or musts of a successful PBN? Are they exact match, branded? Web 2.0?
PBN or not, it doesn't really matter. The most important part is how they create, manage, and uses this network. A private blog is just another site, but if used incorrectly, and detected by Google, then you doom.
If it is a truly private network, it can be extremely powerful. If it is a public network that they sell links off of to just about anyone willing to pay, it's a landmine just waiting to go off.
so I'm guessing you are hesitant about any marketplace public networks? 🙂 I've heard of a few names who seem to keep things clean and don't let just anyone in… I've used only sparingly… It seems far to resource intensive to maintain.
Mike » Abram
If it is being sold on a marketplace, I wouldn't touch it. Even besides all the risk involved, if they are adding tons of links, the links you are getting are going to be weaker and weaker over time.
That's why I like my networks. I have 100% control over them and where they link to.
Mark » Mike
ya right. Do you build a network for every site you are trying to rank?… It seems that the investment is massive especially if you are only using them for one site and need to fill it with tons of content
Mike » Abram
Sometimes there is more than one site, but I'm careful the network sites do not share a similar outbound link profile. That would be a huge footprint to identify them with.
The investment is pretty big, but if you are not making a positive ROI on them, you are doing something dramatically wrong. The time investment can be pretty big too. Just searching for domains to buy can take up quite a bit of time if you do it right.
Mark » Mike
ya I'm sure the ROI is there… Seems like a lot of work 😅
Mike » Abram
So is begging shitty bloggers for links.
Mark » Mike
probably my least favorite pastime ever…
I don't send PBN links directly to my money site(s). I would send something like a guest post from a strong site, then power the actual post page with PBN links. Another way would be to power say your YT channel or tumblr account. You do get a decreased affect, but it keeps your site cleaner.
And why sending links you hate on your own site to another webmaster asset?
their sites are typically much larger – hence a valuable guest post. They are less likely to have a positive or negative affect on a site with thousands more links than one of my own smaller/younger sites.
Hey Sophie, You'll find a lot of people going for PBNs nowadays because I'd say it is an easy way to get links. A lot of people suck at offpage and to be frank having a PBN is often super nice when working with clients as (if you know what you're doing) ranking won't be that much of a problem. That said, a lot of people don't know what they're doing and of course you should always be transparant towards your clients asking them whether they're okay with it and explain the risks to them. So, while I like PBNs, becarefull and do some reading on it. Make sure they understand it completely and know what they're doing. If you aren't sure, don't allow them to use it. What I often like to do is build REAL sites, sites that make me money as well and not just linking assets.
do you build your own network or do you have a secret provider? 😉
Brent » Abram
I build them myself 😛
Our agency has a link building department and we deal with PBNs daily. We evaluate the domain based on the merits of the domain and it's fit for our client. 90% of the PBNs out there are crap content and spammy if you look at what they rank for and dig into their sites. However, a good site that has real traffic that fits a few other metrics that we look for is fine. Let's not forget that the most successful PBN I know of is supporting WebMD.
I'd love to see what you're looking at to give you an assessment. Our service gets similar scrutiny at first glance like you described and I could tell you exactly why and how it works and isn't a PBN.
Brother, i have 25 different websites all have good traffic and stats. If i have to post anything i post 25 different artciles for one of my client on all 25 websities. If its a PBN and if its dangerous then anyone can think. It depends on PBN structures. Its all about niche? uniqueness and value of content you have in each article and so own. As all 5 fingers are not different so as PBNs.
YET, mostly people wear rings in their ring fingers so mostly SEO users dont know how to create long lasting PBNs. Check about site structure.
My personal suggestion is if you want a PBN setup your own. Its time and resource consuming too but after 1 -2 years you get paid.
This may satisfy you: What Is a PBN? | What Is a Backlink?