The sole purpose of a private blog network (PBN) is to leverage the authority of multiple sites under your control to boost rankings and authority of your main site.
You might be thinking: didn’t Google do away with private blog networks years ago? Didn’t they remove all the authority from PBNs? The simple answer is yes – for the most part. But the truth is even if Google removed 90% of all private blog networks, it still leaves tens of thousands of them surfacing on the web with authority.
So, if these sites still have authority, that gives them the ability to manipulate almost anything on the search engine results page (SERP). Take for instance the search term “Best Business Credit Card” and do a quick Google search. Chances are, the site you see ranking is the Simple Dollar.
Many SEOs would never think a creditable site like the Simple Dollar would ever purchase backlinks, let alone have someone building links to their pages from private blog networks to increase the authority of these pages and acquire answer box results.
A simple search using aHrefs will show you that this page has a high page rating (relative) and a high domain rating. The second callout I would look at here is the fact that there is a low number of referring domains in comparison to backlinks, which is typical for a large site like the Simple Dollar.
Now, when you click the “Referring Domains” icon it will populate all the referring domains pointing to this page. Here are a few examples of private blog networks – although they don’t always look like this and are sometimes extremely hard to spot.
How do you spot a private blog network?
Here are a few tell-tale signs that can give away a private blog network at work:
- Too many links pointing externally when they only have a few inbound links
- Multiple domains on the same IP block
- Multiple domains linking to the same sites
- Similarities in the domain name
- High link to domain ratios
Why PBNs are still effective (although you still shouldn’t use them)
As I stated earlier in this article, Google has done a decent job at removing a lot of the junk from the web – and by junk, I of course mean private blog networks. As I have already pointed out, there are sites like the Simple Dollar that rank using PBNs to acquire an answer box result.
I understand that it is tempting to go and hire a black hat link building service to build you links from private blog networks in hopes that you too will acquire the answer box like the competition did.
Other than to state the obvious, the reason I would strongly recommend that people avoid using a PBN is while Google might not have caught them just yet, a future algorithm undoubtedly will. And when they implement this new algorithm, you will find yourself scrambling through all of your links one by one to avoid any further penalty by being associated with these types of sites.
How black hat link builders can trick Google into thinking that their networks are legitimate
Whether I’m at a speaking engagement or a client meeting, other link builders and trainees frequently ask me the same question: “Have you ever built black hat links?” The answer is always “Yes, tons!”
When I first started link building, I would sell links to everyone all over the world. From C-Class IPs to Link funnels, writing scripts to function as humans, I sold it all. I had prices that ranged from $20 a link to packages of $1,700 for four links.
Every time Google caught me, I found a workaround. Until it was all too much for me to maintain and I grew a conscience, which lead me to the white hat path. Just for the record, some of the best white hat link builders I have met were some of the best black hat link builders in a past life.
I say all this not to boast, but to paint a picture: sure, you might trick Google for a period but when you get caught, everything comes crashing down and you’re left with nothing but angry clients.
Acquiring links will be a key success metric for you to obtain Google featured snippets. Always go the route of looking at your competitor’s backlink profile first before you start building your own link plans.
We are noticing with a number of our clients that 63% of the time, the person with a cleaner, more authoritative link profile gets the featured snippets.
While there are many other factors that go into acquiring it, link building is by far the biggest factor we’ve seen above all others, which makes sense given it is still the largest contributing factor to the algorithm.