Why you shouldn’t use PBNs even though they work

17 Dec 2018 Nancy Koskoshie
seo - pbn network - strategy

What is PBN?

If you’ve ever been researching on SEO tactics, I am sure you’ve asked yourselves the questions ‘What is PBN’, ‘what is PBN in internet marketing’, ‘Will I benefit from PBNs’ and many other related queries. The purpose of this article is not only to answer your questions but also to help you understand why you should not invest in PBNs but find alternative ways to achieve your objectives.

PBN stands for ‘Private Blog Network’, a group of expired domains brought back to ‘life’ in the effort of building a strong network of websites. This kind of tactic is used by website owners and it is classified as a Grey Hat strategy. The overall scope of this network is to build effective websites to send links to your backlinks, boost your backlinks strength and eventually capture as much link juice as possible from both.

In this article, we will help you to understand how Private blog networks operate and why you should oppose using them, even though they might bring some benefits in the long term. Furthermore, you will get valuable insights from our past experience using a PBN and the kind of results we gathered, as well as what other alternatives you can use.

Why use PBNs?

There are many reasons a website owner can utilise PBNs. Let’s have a look at some of them:

  1. Increase Return On Investment (ROI)
  2. Increase traffic
  3. Avoid time-consuming traditional link building methods (manual outreaching)
  4. Greater control over your link building acquisition
  5. Increase rankings

Many website owners try to find strategies to achieve all of the above and stumble upon PBN development. Developing a network of websites that are not traceable back to the owner, yet  send Tier 2 links to the owner’s website seems like a very attractive option.

How can one develop PBN sites?

A PBN consists of numerous expired domains that have been purchased and returned to normal website operation. These are developed in line with the website’s industry. Usually, PBNs are blog websites that offer informational posts to users who are looking for info or answers to their questions.

For example, if your website belongs in the fitness industry, then your PBNs will ideally revolve around the fitness industry i.e. fitness tips blog, fitness products reviews etc.

The reason for doing this is to build Tier 2 links to your backlinks that are relevant and authoritative.

Before building those links, a successful PBN strategy will require tests to take place to see how effective those links are and if they will benefit or harm your efforts and rankings.

There are some crucial steps one should follow when developing PBN sites:

  1. Scraping and finding expired domains to purchase, it is important for those expired domains to have been in the industry that you’re involved in.
    1. A tool that is consistently used is Scrapebox. This helps to scrape expired domains, based on a set of keywords we provide, to ensure that the websites we will rebuild belong in the same industry.
    2. The tool also provides info on whether the expired domain used to have good metrics (E.g. Domain Authority and Trust Flow).
  2. Best practices require that all websites be purchased from different hosts and use private ‘WhoIs’ so as to not be traceable back to your IP. Ideally, Cloudflare is a great way of hiding IPs, allowing you to use the same host, therefore providing great time saving benefits.
  3. Developing the website with unique content, as well as rebuilding their old pages using WayBack Machine, to retrieve the pre-existing information.
  4. Testing the sites’ effectiveness by sending external links to other websites – test pages – and checking to see if those backlinks negatively or positively affected the test page you are sending a link to. This test usually takes 1-3 months. You can do this using a tool called SERPFox where you add the test page and check rankings every week or two to monitor trends.
  5. If the test was positive, you can send Tier 2 PBN backlinks to your already acquired existing backlinks to boost them.
  6. If the test was negative, you can send Tier 1 links to competitors to harm their rankings (negative SEO).

Now, let’s have a look at our past experience with building and developing a PBN seo blog network and what the results were.

Case Study

Our client belongs in the dating industry and was looking for ways to achieve their objectives of increasing rankings and traffic generated to their site by investing in a network of PBN sites.

Therefore, the websites that were built for this client’s SEO PBN strategy revolved around:

  1. dating advice blogs
  2. dating experts’ advice
  3. lifestyle blogs

…and many more.

The Cost

Their investment was $10k including:

  1. Domain purchase
  2. Website development
  3. Consistent monthly content development
  4. Link building to all PBN sites
  5. Cost of Labour
  6. Tools and subscriptions including PBN hosting

Each website cost around $100-150 to set up and then each article cost around $20-30 for content development.  

The Time

The investment was spread over a period of 6 months before ensuring that the PBN was ready to be incorporated into our strategy. The tests and website development took most of our efforts and then articles and landing page creation, as well as PBN management, remained an ongoing exercise.

The Tests

In order to determine whether the sites are worth having and maintaining, we had to test this on other websites. The test took approximately 3 months to finish and then was used on our sites which would then take another 3-6 months to gather results.

The results

Once we entered the ongoing management phase, all sites on our PBN hosting provider were directed to the client’s money sites. The results were not as beneficial as we anticipated. Although some pages saw an increase in rankings, the client did not see an effective ROI.


  • Expensive
  • Timely
  • Anticipated results were not achieved
  • Low ROI

The Verdict on using PBN sites

Although we found some benefits in using PBNs, considering the time and money that operating them requires, we recommend not using them unless you have the option of repurposing them into money sites or affiliate sites. The aforementioned practice is considered white hat since you simply use domains already built and further develop them into sites that will actually increase yours or your client’s ROI.

So there you have it. What is PBN? Well simply put a practice that is likely to cost more in time and effort than it is likely to provide for you or your clients.