For those of you that don`t know what PBNs are, the term is an acronym for Private Blog Network. PBNs are basically multiple websites built by someone to mimic the look and feel of a blog or news website, but created only for backlinking to and boosting other websites. PBNs were seen as a great way to rank your websites until not so long ago. They were considered uncrackable by search engine algorithms and were seen as the safest types of backlinks that you could create to boost your website in an unnatural way.
Let’s go one step back, to make everything clear for any newbies that have just started reading about backlinks:
Natural backlinking is the safe route, but the hardest to go on. It means creating valuable content that gets viral to that point where news website admins and blog owners feel the need to use you as their source, write a similar article and link back to yours, thus promoting your blog. It’s a long road because it’s pretty hard to come up with something new and make it so interesting that other people reading it feel the need to write about your article. And even when you do get people interested, most of them won’t link back to you, because they want to keep their audience on their website, not let it slip on yours through a backlink. That’s not fair, but that’s just how the internet goes.
Unnatural backlinking is a shorter route to ranking, but one pretty unsafe to go on. It’s when you create backlinks manually to trick search engines into thinking that you have written something so interesting that many other websites link to. Building the backlinks yourself is called blackhat and shouldn’t be attempted especially if you plan to build a long lasting website, because with each algorithm update search engines penalize thousands of websites that use this technique.
Now to get back on our initial subject, PBNs: People that don’t have the patience to wait for natural backlinks, try harder and harder to make their blackhat efforts impossible to spot by search engines. That’s how PBNs were created, websites that look legit, but have a single purpose: to give other websites a boost in authority and to help them rank faster.
People that sell or rent backlinks on their private blog networks advertise them as being perfect, footprintless and safe for the website you worked so hard to build. But are they really all that perfect ?
The first thing you need to take into account before you spend money on PBN backlinks is that building an entire network of websites without leaving footprints for search engines to pick up is very hard, if not impossible. That’s because there are tens of ways in which a PBN can be recognized by search engine algo even without a manual review.
To be safe, among a lot of other factors, all websites from a PBN should have:
- Different IPs;
- Different themes;
- Different whois information;
- Different CMSs when possible;
- Different plugins;
- Different designs and menus;
- Different page arangement;
And those are just 7 of the tens of footprints that search engines look for to identify PBN websites. Say that the PBN you want to get a backlink from is made in a way that none of the footprints is recognized by search engines. That still doesn’t mean that you are safe. Manual review teams work hard to find PBNs also. Their eyes can spot some other footprints that can’t be recognized by search engines, like the same type of writing, spun and badly written content, articles posted in the same order on all websites, and so on.
But don’t fall for all the hype sellers build around their PBNs. Building and taking care of a PBN that’s footprintless is very hard and very costly too. Imagine having to buy reliable hosting with different IPs for tens of websites. Also imagine having tens of writers, one for every website in your network, that writes the same article but in their own way. Already the costs can’t be covered by what you pay for a backlink. That’s why, usually sellers will ignore some of the obvious footprints. They’ll spend less and just get an SEO hosting (most of them having IPs with the same C class), they’ll cut down on writers and just rewrite an article over and over again, making it a big footprint for search engines and so on.This means that you can never be 100% certain that what you pay for is what you get.
Another aspect that should discourage you from buying backlinks on a PBN is the obvious fact that if someone sells backlinks on his network of websites, then the network can no longer be called private. You will be just one of the many people that get backlinks from the same websites, which makes the network a lot more vulnerable.
So to answer the question in the title, I would never risk a website I spent many hours to build, with backlinks from PBNs, even if the reviews are great and the service seems uncrackable.