20 Sep Are Private Blog Networks (PBNs) Worth It ?
Private blog networks (PBNs) are the go-to link building tactic for grey hat SEOs.
But the question is:
Are they worth building from an ROI (Return on Investment) and a ROT (Return on Time) perspective?
In this post, I’m going to give you all the information you need to make an educated decision.
3 Reasons NOT to Use a PBN
I’m going to be a “Debbie Downer” and start the post off with the cons of using a PBN.
One of the biggest cons is the cost of developing and maintaining a network. If you’re using auctions, it’s going to cost you anywhere between $40-$400 for a good domain. If you are using domain vendors, the cost will be similar.
As you can image, this can add up.
After you secured your new domain, you have to pay for private WHOIS, get hosting, and add content.
So, let’s say you secured a domain for $100.
- Domain = $100
- Private Whois = $5
- Hosting = $12
- Article = $5 (a good PBN will have more than one article)
= $112 for ONE site.
You think the cost is high?
Let me tell you about the time investment.
2. Time Investment
Creating a quality PBN can be a serious time-suck. First, you have to find domains that are worthy of purchasing. About 95% of the domains are unqualified. And that’s being generous.
For my agency in particular, we only use expired domains if they meet our Topical Trust Flow requirement. This makes our research even more challenging, but it is often much more rewarding.
Let’s say you’re trying to build a network of 10 websites. It’s going to take you anywhere between 6-12 hours to find ten qualified domains. A “qualified” domain should have a Trust Flow of at least 15 and a Domain Authority of 15.
A lower metric domain is acceptable if it has relevant Topical Trust Flow Topics.
Now that you’ve secured 10 domains, you now have to set them up. It will take you 2-4 hours to find web hosts and get the sites ready for development.
You then have to develop the site by creating all the necessary pages, finding themes, writing/outsourcing content, installing plugins, and making the site’s look normal. If you want to be extra safe, you may also want to create social accounts for each site.
This process could take 1-2 hours per site.
This equates to about 36 hours invested for a network of 10 websites.
This also doesn’t take into account any type of hosting or hacking issues you may encounter. Cheap web hosts often go out of business without any warning and have horrible uptime.
Dealing with these issues can be a serious time killer.
Now, of course, you can outsource the majority of these steps. But when you outsource, you increase your expenses. Higher expenses will extend how long it takes you to get an ROI.
Let’s face it. No matter how well you develop your network, you’re always going to be at risk of two things: A) your sites get deindexed and B) your site lands a manual penalty for “Unnatural Inbound Links”.
In seconds, both your cash and time investment can be worth nothing.
Then you realize, you could have invested all that time and money into something more evergreen.
I’ve been hatin’ hard on PBNs in this article, but they aren’t all that bad.
3 Reasons Why You SHOULD Use a PBN
Now that I’ve scared the living daylights out of you, let me explain the pros of using a private blog network.
Having control in SEO is powerful. With a network, you can dictate the anchor text, the links, and test like crazy to see what works. No other link building strategy allows you such freedom.
Let’s say worst case scenario, you DO get a manual penalty. Since you have control, you can simply remove the links and the penalty will be revoked.
Getting a manual action removed is nearly impossible if you built GSA links or bought links on sites you didn’t own.
2. Instant Authority
Private blog networks are powerful because you’re leveraging the authority of an aged, trusted website. And as you have probably experienced, it’s challenging to get these types of links through outreach or naturally.
3. No Outreach/Relationship Building
If you rely on private blog networks, you won’t have to spend any time reaching out or building relationships. While this isn’t a good thing, it can definitely save you time.
So, since there are both pros and cons of using a PBN, is there any solution?