Wow, apparently my article from earlier this week really rocked the boat! I made the firm stance that I will no longer be building private blog networks (PBNs), and it garnered A LOT of attention.
In fact, my article was mentioned on SERoundtable.com, SearchEngineLand.com, tweeted by Rand Fishkin, and even Matt Cutts tweeted about the news articles (that I was in). Then of course there have been plenty of other blog posts, online discussions, and overall a major buzz around the topic of PBNs getting deindexed and whether or not to use them going forward.
The day of that blog post was the highest traffic day this site has ever had, and there are already over 400 comments on that blog post! To say the least, I've hit a nerve that lots of people care about.
As a result, Perrin and I only felt like it was appropriate that we record a follow up podcast to dive a bit deeper into the risks vs. rewards of private blog networks.
As you can see from the podcast title, I still think you should NOT build a PBN.
Listen to the podcast for all my reasons why.
What's Covered in the Podcast
Overall, Perrin and I discuss the penalty that hit our sites, causing us to loose about $9k a month combined in revenue from our websites. It hurts…bad!
When we take a look back at all the work we've done since January (when I hired Perrin), its pretty devastating to see most of it wiped out overnight.
However, on the bright side, we have been working on one large authority site for almost 3 months now, that has never utilized PBNs. So, we had actually made the decision several months ago to start moving away from link networks, and start moving more towards natural link building.
We cover this in the podcast.
Return on Investment of a Link Network
In addition, we discuss the topic of ROI for using a PBN. Is it really worth it?
Here's some of the costs involved in getting a proper PBN set up:
- Buy high value expired domains at auction
- Or spend time finding your own expired domains for registration
- Buy multiple hosting accounts on different IPs, countries, etc.
- Make sure you have private whois or different whois info on domains.
- Install WordPress or other CMS, write about page, install plugins…all takes time.
- Hire authors to write content for your PBN sites
- Multiply all the above steps by 20 to 100 times depending on how large you want your PBN.
- Oh, and then actually write the articles and insert your links that point to your money site.
You can spend many thousands of dollars BEFORE you even build your actual site that you want to rank in Google!
Why not invest the thousands of dollars that you were going to use on your PBN, and just invest in great content, infographics, a VA to help you connect with others, or some other method of attracting natural links? It lowers risk and quite frankly might even cost you less money.
In the “old” days of the internet, it was very simple to find some great keywords, build a site, and point a few PBNs link and rank quickly. As discussed many times, it now takes a least 6 months to start ranking a site and its not quite as easy anymore (Google has made a lot of updates).
Guess how long it would take to rank a site using more “natural” methods? About the same time.
So, here's the deal; using PBNs used to be faster, cheaper, and better. However nowadays when you compare a PBN vs. real marketing (outreach, great content, etc); a PBN is no longer much faster, or cheaper, and certainly not better.
PBNs are Higher Risk
And the real kicker is that PBNs are clearly MUCH higher risk. Google is more likely to crack down on your site if you are using a link network than if you are not. Yes, there are going to be risks no matter how squeaky clean your link profile is; but anyone is lying to you that says using link networks doesn't increase your risk.
And of course your PBN could get taken down in addition to your money sites at any moment. In fact Glenn from ViperChill just mentioned this morning that 100 of his PBN sites got de-indexed. Of course, he shrugged it off because it was only 5% of his network. But how would you like to see $xx,xxx worth of work go down the drain overnight? I'm guessing most people don't have the kind of money to lose.
I've simply made the decision that I can no longer tolerate that risk. It's a business decision. Sometimes the risk is worth the rewards. However, I've done the calculations for myself and decided that there's a less risky way to do SEO than messing with PBNs.
Yes, it took a big fat kick in the pants from Google for me to fully realize this; but I had been coming to this conclusion anyway for several months. That's why Perrin and I stopped building new sites other than our authority site about 3 months ago. That's why we never built a single PBN link to our authority site.
Adapt and Evolve in SEO
Google is an ever evolving beast. Myself and many others have always believed that it's important to adapt and evolve right along with Google. For some reason people think that adapting and evolving means continuing to use the same old practice of private blog networks…but just doing the PBNs “better”.
I tend to think that truly adapting and evolving means seeing what's going to work LONG TERM and evolving your business in that manner.
So, I'll let you be the judge of what is a better method to adapt: taking your PBN even further underground, or writing better content and forming a network of contacts in your niche that actually want to talk about your website.
You know where I stand.
Overall, I hope you enjoy the podcast, and as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts below.
Listen to the Podcast
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