Do private blog networks (PBNs) still work in 2021? The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!
But a lot has changed over the years, so I figured I’d share some of my thoughts for those who are interested.
If you aren’t familiar with private blog networks, basically they are a network of websites that you set up to link to a website(s) that you want to move up in Google’s rankings. Basically you’re mimicking what’s supposed to happen naturally when you create good content, but now with artificial structures.
Obviously artificial backlinks like PBNs goes against Google’s guidelines, however they work so well they’re still all the rage in the SEO world, well some parts of it anyway.
Why Do Private Blog Networks Still Work?
I think private blog networks still work because Google hasn’t really found a good way to detect them. There are literally trillions of pages on the internet, and if you aren’t actively selling links on a public forum or marketplace, a private blog network can be pretty hard to find.
Unlike automated spam links that are easy to root out via algorithm updates, private blog networks mimic real websites, so unless the owner is doing something egregious or has built one without the proper cloaking protections, they can pretty much go undetected.
I also think to be honest Google just doesn’t care as much any more. Years ago when they first rocked the SEO world with the Penguin and Panda updates, it seemed like they were out for blood against anyone trying to manipulate their algorithm.
These days it seems like they’re just screwing organic results with Google Ads so hard that going after private blog network owners isn’t even worth their time any more.
I mean before if you remember Google Ads were on the side of organic results, in a green and yellow format that screamed “IM A GOOGLE AD!!!”.
These days Google Ads are the first few listings on top of organic results, almost indistinguishable unless you’re paying attention.
I bet 40% of people out there googling probably don’t even realize they are clicking ads with the new format.
Thus I just don’t think Google cares as much any more, which is great I guess if you own a private blog network.
What’s The Future Of Private Blog Networks
I think the future of private blog networks may come to an end for many not because they’ll stop working, but because people will start being priced out of the market.
Before when only a small handful of ambitious SEOs were using PBNs they were really effective because domains were also relatively cheap. There wasn’t a lot of competition at auctions, and you were using your PBN to battle other webmasters in the SERPs that weren’t using their own.
These days everyone and their mother uses private blog networks (some better than others). With the influx of newbs building their own PBNs, the cost of domains has risen considerably over the past couple of years.
The rise in popularity of private blog networks though is damaging not only in price, but also the competition as well. So now you’re not only paying more for domains, you need a larger network because your competitors are using private blog networks as well. So it’s basically a double whammy to the pocketbook.
Should You Still Use Private Blog Networks
I think you should definitely still use private blog networks if it makes financial sense. If you can still profit after the cost of the setup, then PBNs are definitely a good investment.
I also think that PBNs will still work for a long time, and again I believe the limiting factor is going to be the costs of domains due to its growing popularity
I also still think that growing your site “the right way” through quality content and a social media presence is the better long-term solution over private blog networks. However depending on what niche you’re in and how patient you are, that may not really be a viable option leaving PBNs as your go-to solution.
So yes they still work, I just think in the long-run you’re better off building a site that doesn’t rely on them.