Are Private Blog Networks (PBNs) Worth It In 2019?


Private blog networks (PBNs) are the go-to link building tactic for grey hat SEOs.

But the question is:

Are they worth building from an ROI (Return on Investment) and a ROT (Return on Time) perspective?

I’ll answer these questions and more, but first, a quick story:

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I used to love using PBNs.

But let’s be honest:

I didn’t just love using PBNs… I was obsessed with them.

I would nerd out all day about how I can grow my network, how to find the perfect expired domains, how to build my PBN, how to make my PBN links stronger and most importantly, how to reduce footprints.

And if I wasn’t doing that, I was defending the use of PBNs on forums.

I was all in…

…Until I got nailed by Google.

Not only did Gotch SEO get nailed for using PBNs, but so did several of my clients.

Before that happened, I thought I had complete “control” of my SEO because I was in control of my backlinks.

It’s crazy how wrong I was.

But sometimes you need a rough moment to change your ways.

What I realized about PBNs…

1. PBNs are expensive to build

One of the biggest cons is the cost of developing and maintaining a network. If you’re using auctions, it’s going to cost you anywhere between $40-$400 for a good domain. If you are using domain vendors, the cost will be similar.

As you can image, this can add up.

After you secured your new domain, you have to pay for private WHOIS, get hosting, and add content.

So, let’s say you secured a domain for $100.

  • Domain = $100
  • Private Whois = $5
  • Hosting = $12
  • Article = $5 (a good PBN will have more than one article)

= $112 for ONE site.

You think the cost is high?

Let me tell you about the time investment.

2. The whole process of building PBNs is a waste of time

This was true back in 2014, but it’s even more true now. I can’t believe some of the discussions I see in Facebook groups and forums. The lengths that some people are going to make PBNs effective is astounding…

With all of that effort, you could acquire REAL backlinks from REAL websites and never need to worry about getting penalized again.

Just think about the process:

First, you have to find domains that are worthy of purchasing. About 95% of the domains are unqualified. And that’s being generous.

For my agency in particular, we used expired domains if they met our Topical Trust Flow requirement. That made our research even more challenging, but it was often much more rewarding.

Let’s say you’re trying to build a network of 10 websites. It’s going to take you anywhere between 6-12 hours to find ten qualified domains. A “qualified” domain should have a Trust Flow of at least 15 and a Domain Authority of 15.

A lower metric domain is acceptable if it has relevant Topical Trust Flow Topics.

Now that you’ve secured 10 domains, you now have to set them up. It will take you 2-4 hours to find web hosts and get the sites ready for development.

You then have to develop the site by creating all the necessary pages, finding themes, writing/outsourcing content, installing plugins, and making the site’s look normal. If you want to be extra safe, you may also want to create social accounts for each site.

This process could take 1-2 hours per site.

This equates to about 36 hours invested for a network of 10 websites.

This also doesn’t take into account any type of hosting or hacking issues you may encounter. Cheap web hosts often go out of business without any warning and have horrible uptime.

Dealing with these issues can be a serious time killer.

Now, of course, you can outsource the majority of these steps. But when you outsource, you increase your expenses. Higher expenses will extend how long it takes you to get an ROI.

This brings me to my next point:

Does using PBNs have a good ROI (Return on Investment) and ROT (Return on Time)?

The ROI of Using PBNs

Since both you and I understand the value of money, let’s start there.

For this example, I’m going to use the keyword phrase: “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer”.

Here are some quick numbers about this keyword:

  • It gets around 1,000 searches per month
  • The average linking root domains for competitors on the first page is 135

What this data shows is that you will need approximately 135 expired domains to rank for this keyword. This isn’t an exact science. It may take more and it may take less. You also have to keep in mind the quality of the domains. If they competitors on the first page are getting the majority of their links from high authority sites, then low metric expired domains won’t be effective.

With that said, knowing the average linking root domains will allow you to predict the ROI of targeting a keyword.

Here are some other numbers you need to know to predict ROI:

  • Average SERP CTR ~ 3% – 30% (higher CTR for higher rankings)
  • Average Prospect to Lead (PTL) Conversion ~ 5%
  • Average Inbound Lead to New Customer (ILC) Conversion ~ 21%
  • Approximate cost for developing one network site = ~ $112
  • Approximate time spent developing one network site = ~ 1 hour

To make this easier, I’ve created a Google Sheet:

These are generous calculations, but it gives you an idea of the ROI potential of using PBNs. The Lifetime Value (LTV) of a personal injury client is high. There aren’t many niches that will have an LTV this extreme, which means it will take longer to get a positive ROI.

The month #1 – #3 calculations are based on ranking on the first page for “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer”. Keep in mind that this is a competitive niche, so you likely wouldn’t reach the first page for about 6-12 months (if you’re good). That means you will be in the hole until you get there.

Different Ways to Invest $28k Into SEO

You can do a lot in SEO with $28,000 +. I remember when I was starting out and all I had was a credit card with $500 limit. Back then, I thought this was a lot of capital to invest into SEO. I was able to achieve a lot with $500, but I also invested a lot of sweat equity. So if you don’t have the capital, you have to make up for it with sweat equity, as Mark Cuban would say. With that said, there are two ways to invest in SEO outside of PBNs:


Content-driven SEO strategies will stand the test of time. Not only are content-driven strategies the safest, but they are actually the most scalable link acquisition model. If you had $28k to spend, you should invest 80% of it into creating link worthy content assets. In short, that means creating valuable SEO content that’s better than industry standards.

Real Backlinks

It’s rare for an SEO campaign to succeed without backlinks. But since you aren’t using PBNs, you must focus on acquiring real backlinks. “Real” backlinks come from websites that have traffic and that you don’t have editorial discretion on. There are three ways to get real backlinks:

  1. Through promoting your content via outreach
  2. Through publishing guest posts
  3. Through buying placement (risky)

Here are some link building techniques you can use:

Not that you know the ROI of using PBNs and also some alternatives for investing your capital, let me explain why building PBNs is also a waste of time for developing your skillset as an entrepreneur.

3. Knowing how to manipulate a search engine is not an evergreen skill

Google can make all of your PBN building skills obsolete overnight. It doesn’t matter if you spent years learning how to build the perfect PBN. All Google has to do is change their algorithm and reduce the dominance of backlinks as a ranking factor.

Then BOOM:

You go from SEO expert to working at McDonalds overnight because you focused on improving a skill that isn’t evergreen.

So, what can you do instead?

Focus on building evergreen SEO skills such as learning:

  • How to create content that people actually want to link to
  • How to improve user experience (so you drive more sales for your business)
  • How to build relationships (that will accelerate your business’s growth)
  • How to outreach for quality backlinks (from real websites)

4. Using PBNs puts your business on a shaky foundation

I remember getting a pit in my stomach every time I read about a new Google update. I would run to my computer to check my rank tracker just to make sure I didn’t get nailed.

Let’s face it.

No matter how well you develop your network, you’re always going to be at risk of two things: A) your sites get deindexed and B) your site lands a manual penalty for “Unnatural Inbound Links”.

In seconds, both your cash and time investment can be worth nothing.

Then you realize, you could have invested all that time and money into something more evergreen.

Okay, okay.

I’ve been hatin’ hard on PBNs in this article, but they aren’t all that bad.

3 Reasons Why You SHOULD Use a PBN

Now that I’ve scared the living daylights out of you, let me explain the pros of using a private blog network.

1. Control

Having control in SEO is powerful. With a network, you can dictate the anchor text, the links, and test like crazy to see what works. No other link building strategy allows you such freedom.

Let’s say worst case scenario, you DO get a manual penalty. Since you have control, you can simply remove the links and the penalty will be revoked.

Getting a manual action removed is nearly impossible if you built GSA links or bought links on sites you didn’t own.

2. Instant Authority

Private blog networks are powerful because you’re leveraging the authority of an aged, trusted website. And as you have probably experienced, it’s challenging to get these types of links through outreach or naturally.

3. No Outreach/Relationship Building

If you rely on private blog networks, you won’t have to spend any time reaching out or building relationships. While this isn’t a good thing, it can definitely save you time.

So, since there are both pros and cons of using a PBN, is there any solution?

The Ultimate PBN Strategy

I see too many SEO’s relying way too heavily on private blog networks and they’re making a big mistake. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but you should never put all your eggs in one basket.

This is true for ANY type of link building.

Year-after-year Google has destroyed SEO’s who haven’t diversified and relied on a single link building method.

So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine…

I think of link building the same way I would my retirement account.

First, I evaluate the risk of a link building strategy. Then, I decide how much capital and time to allocate to that strategy.

For example, I may invest in “riskier” stocks because the potential return is higher. But overall, the riskier stocks would only compose a small percentage of my overall portfolio.

This is exactly how you should approach link building and private blog networks!

Link Diversity

If 100% of your inbound links are coming from PBNs, then you’re playing with fire.

PBN’s should supplement your other link building efforts. They shouldn’t supersede other important authority building activities such as building and cultivating relationships within your industry, content promotion (via outreach) and creating content assets.

If you keep your PBN links between 5-20% of your overall link profile, then you should be pretty safe.

PBNs are always risky, but it’s reduced when they’re only a small percentage of your link profile. The other 80-90% of your links should come from internal pages like editorial links, business listings, branded properties, or niche blog/forum comments.

You can also use this White Hat alternative to PBNs if you want to avoid them altogether.

The White Hat Alternative to PBNs

Is it possible to leverage the power of private blog networks without actually building one?

The answer: “YES!”

The strategy that I’m about to show you is white hat, safe, and if you want, will allow you to never have to use a PBN again.

Let’s start:

The Strategy

You’re going to leverage the links that make expired domains powerful. The only reason anyone even considers using expired domains is because of the tier one links going to the domain.

Here’s how it works:
Topically relevant links -> Expired Domain -> Your Site

With this model, you have to buy the expired domain, get hosting, get content and take all kinds of measures to eliminate footprints. More importantly, this model doesn’t allow you to get 100% link equity because the expired domain acts as a buffer.

Here’s what we want:
Topically relevant links -> Your Site

Tier one links are the most powerful because you get almost all the link equity.

I’m going to warn you:

This strategy is not cool or glamorous…

It will take hard work and time.

You may want to consider outsourcing some of these tasks because of the time investment necessary.

Now that I’ve scared you, let’s talk about what tools you’ll need.

Tools for the Job

My personal favorite tool for finding expired domains is DomCop. Here’s how you can find expired domains using DomCop: is also a great option as well. Mainly because it’s a free tool. Here’s how you can use it to find expired domains:

My third favorite and final tool I recommend you use is FreshDrop. Here’s how you can use it:

You will also need Majestic and Ahrefs to analyze the links. You can use Open Site Explorer as well since it’s free.

Why This Strategy is Evergreen

There is a good chance that Google could devalue expired domains altogether or use some type of sandbox in the future. With this strategy, you’ll never have to worry about the effectiveness of your private blog network. That’s because you’re not actually using one! You’re just snatching up the links that make the expired domains powerful in the first place.

The first expired domain resource that I’m going to show you is DomCop. This is one of the best because it emphasizes Topical Trust Flow. As you know, the safest and most effective link building strategy is to acquire links from sites that have a relevant Topical Trust Flow to your website.

1. Open up DomCop and click “Simple Filter”

2. My settings: DA = 20 +, Trust Flow = 15 +, only common TLDs (.com, .net., and .org)

3. Search and sort by Majestic Trust flow

4. Now go down the list and look at the Topical Trust Flow for each domain

5. When you find a relevant one, click the colored number and it will take you directly to Majestic

From there, you can start looking for link acquisition opportunities. After you’ve sifted through Majestic, you should also run the same expired domain through Ahrefs. We just use a simple Google doc to handle all the link data. Don’t over-complicate this!

Keep in mind:

The only way you’re going to have success with this strategy is if your site has valuable content. The site owner isn’t going to replace the old link with some trashy one page affiliate site you made. They will want to replace the dead link with something of value.

Content Replacement

One way to increase your reach out success rate is to replace the content that was originally linked to. For example, let’s say I found an expired domain that used to be a blog about SEO.

I would look at its link profile and discover that it has links going to a blog post about “On-Page SEO“. I could either leverage an article I already have or just create a new resource knowing that there are links just waiting to be acquired.

The beauty of this strategy is that you know that the original content/topic was well-received and “linkable”. All you have to do on your side is create a better resource than the original and reach out. You should consider looking at to see if you can find the original article that acquired the links.

Worst case scenario, you created a resource that you know is popular based on the link history of the expired domain.

Reach Out

There is no secret to reaching out. Just be genuine, compliment their work, kindly notify them that they are linking to a dead resource/website out of business, and give them an amazing alternative (your website/content) to replace the broken link. Personalize the email as much as possible, but the reach out process needs to scale. So you should test templates until you come up with one that has a high response rate.

Hint: if you have a female who works for you, have her participate in the outreach. Females tend to get higher response rates.

Success Rate

This strategy isn’t easy and it will certainly take more effort than just buying the expired domain. On average, you will probably be able to secure around 20% of the links you reach out to. The key to having a higher success rate is to only focus on opportunities that are highly relevant.

So, for Gotch SEO, I would need to find an old Internet Marketing and SEO blog that I could leverage. It wouldn’t make sense for me to reach out to real estate websites or something outside of my niche.

There are thousands of domains that expire every single day, which means there are thousands of opportunities for you to secure links for your business.

Other Benefits of This Strategy

What I really love about this strategy is that you can uncover all types of different opportunities. When you begin your research, you’ll find the dead links going to the expired domains, but you’ll also uncover content ideas, other dead resources/sites, and all kinds of different link opportunities.

Just the intel you gather from researching old domains should be more than enough for any link builder to put this strategy in your arsenal.

Now I want to do something fun and show you how I ranked #1 in Google for “PBNs” without using a single PBN link.

How to Rank for “PBNs” without Using PBNs

Now you probably just opened a new tab and launched the Google Keyword Planner to see how much search volume “PBNs” gets…

That’s okay because that’s where I want to start:

Why Search Volume is Flawed

The keyword phrase “PBNs” only get 260 searches a month according to the Google Keyword Planner.

And that’s SEARCHES. Not estimated visitors.

So, let’s say I get 30% CTR for that keyword. That means, I should be getting approximately 78 organic search visitors a month from that keyword.

Now here’s why my equation is dumb:

When you rank for a target keyword, you don’t just rank for that single phrase. You rank for many other closely-related terms as well.

So, how much organic search traffic do you think my “PBNs” article gets per month?

500? Maybe a 1,000?

Try 2,983 in May alone.

So, what’s the disconnect?

How can I get 2,983 organic search visitors when my target keyword phrase only get 260 searches a month?

The first reason is because most keyword phrases are “unknown”. So, when you rank for your target keyword, you end up ranking for many long-tail variations as well. Many of these long-tail variations will show zero search volume in the Google Keyword Planner.

The second reason is because I’m using a title modifier, “2017”. Adding the current year to time-sensitive content has always been effective for driving more long-tail search traffic in my experience.

The last reason is my SERP click through rate (CTR). The average SERP CTR for this PBNs article over the last 30 days is 5.81%. The highest CTR for a keyword phrase is 60%. If you can improve your SERP CTR, you can get more organic search traffic.

What I’m about to show you will help you improve your CTR in the SERPs, but most importantly, will help you rank better in Google as well.

Let’s jump in:

It Starts with Content

The key to getting more organic search traffic is understanding that your content is the lead domino.

So, the question is:

How do you create SEO content that performs well in Google?

Here are a few proven ways to make Google salivate over your content:

Be unique at all costs

Creating content that is unlike all others is the #1 way to win over Google’s heart. The first step to creating unique content is to analyze your SEO competitors. Go to Google and enter a keyword you want to rank for.

Now all you need to do is ask one question:

How can I create something that is DIFFERENT than what is ranking?”

That’s the question I asked when creating my private blog network article. In fact, it’s the question I ask every time I want to create a new piece of content.

When I was doing my research, I noticed that every ranking page was a guide on how to setup PBNs.

Knowing this I had only two options:

  1. Try to create a better guide or,
  2. Create something different and unique

I chose option #2.

Now you’re probably wondering:

How do you create something different and unique?

Don’t worry…

Here is a tested framework you can use to create unique content (that people love sharing and linking to):

1. Use unique data

Creating your own unique data is the best way to differentiate your content. Anyone can write “how to” guides.

But, you will never win in Google if your strategy is to out-“how-to” your competitors.

It’s a losing battle.

If you want to dominate long-term, then you should create unique data.


You might see the word “data” and envision a bunch of geeky guys in lab coats.

But listen:

I barely passed math in school and I don’t have formal training in data analysis.

If I can create unique data, then you can too.

The crazy part is that your data doesn’t even need to be real. It can be hypothetical data and still have an impact.

For example, my PBNs article has a section about the ROI of using PBNs. The figures I used are rough estimates based on my experience. I didn’t need to hire a team of data analysts to do it.

I just typed numbers into a Google Sheet. That’s seriously it.

The point is:

Use data if you want to differentiate your content from your competitors.

2. Challenge industry norms

It’s funny because sometimes your content is answering a question you have about your industry. I got the idea to write about whether PBNs are worth it or not because I was pondering that exact question.

The only way you can “challenge” industry norms is by living and breathing your industry. At the time, I knew the risk and cost of using PBNs. I also knew that a large subset of SEOs love using them.

So, instead of going with the flow, I decided to challenge this decade-old strategy.

The best part about challenging norms in your industry is that you don’t have to take a hardline approach. You can be objective and argue for both sides. But in the end, you need to give your reader a clear opinion of your own.

Analyze your industry.

What “best practices” or “norms” can you challenge?

3. Give unique solutions

Good content solves problems and offers solutions. If you use unique data and challenge industry norms, then you need to offer a solution.

To give you an example, I came up with a 90/10 formula for my PBNs article.

It’s simple:

Only 10% of your backlinks should come from “high-risk” opportunities like PBNs. 90% of your backlinks should come from lower risk opportunities such as those acquired through outreach.

All I did was take the Pareto principle and applied it to this situation.

Here’s are the big takeaways from all of this:

  • Your content needs to be different and unique
  • You need to avoid the rabbit hole of trying to create better guides and better “how tos”
  • Unique data, unique positions, and unique strategies will always dominate regurgitated guides.

Remember earlier when I said content is the “lead domino”?

That’s 100% a fact, but it’s not the only domino.

I would be lying to you if I didn’t show you other factors that have allowed my article to perform well.

Let me start with the biggest one:

The “Unfair” Advantage

Do you ever wonder how popular bloggers get hundreds of social shares and blog comments within only a couple days of publishing?

It’s because of their email lists.

I can tell you firsthand that having an email list is one the best (and easiest) ways to amplify your SEO results.


Because content promotion is hard without a list.

You can go buck wild on social media, spend loads of money on ads, and you can even build links until you’re blue in the face.

But NO content promotion tactic is easier and faster than leveraging your email list.

It takes 5-10 minutes to write and send out an email. If you have a decent-sized list, you get thousands of visitors to your new content within 24 hours.

So, why does this help your SEO?

Because you need eyeballs on your content if you want to get backlinks and social shares.

No eyeballs = no natural backlinks

The only reason I got a natural backlink to my PBNs article from Search Engine Watch is because my content had VISIBILITY.

Increased content visibility = better chance of getting natural backlinks

You need to grow your email list if you want to amplify your SEO results.

The third part of this strategy is to create a positive user experience on your website.

Please Your Users (or Pay the Price)

The first step to pleasing your users is giving them incredible value through your content.

I already know you will achieve this goal by following the framework above. But there are several other micro-elements that will impact your content’s performance.

Kill the Distractions

The key to pleasing Google is fulfilling searcher intent and offering a pleasant experience for searchers. Anything that doesn’t help the searcher is a distraction.

Here are a few common user experience killers:

1. Slow Page Loading Speed

Slow loading pages hurt user experience and kill sales opportunities. If you fix anything, fix your site speed.

2. Content is Below the Fold

Fulfilling searcher intent is the priority and that’s why your content needs to be front and center. The searcher’s experience should be effortless. Don’t make them scroll!

3. Annoying Ads

There is nothing wrong with having ads on your site. The problem is the way some websites use them.

Naturally, many websites prioritize clicks over a positive searcher experience by placing ads above the fold. While this may help in the short-term, it will kill your search performance in the long-run.

That’s because:

  • A) ads send searchers off your site and,
  • B) ads above the fold are annoying and distracting.

Anything that negatively disrupts the searcher will hurt your organic search performance over time.

4. Disruptive Popups

If you follow the SEO industry closely, you probably heard about Google’s threat regarding interstitial pop-ups.

In you’re new to SEO, I’ll put it in layman’s terms:

Google believes that pop-ups hurt searcher experience and they may start demoting websites that use them.

Fortunately, there’s a way to satisfy searchers AND use popups at the same time.

All you have to do is modify your popups so that they only show on the second page load. That way you don’t scare off organic search visitors.

Here’s the big takeaway:

Focus on pleasing the searcher.

Just to review, here’s how I ranked for “PBNs” without using PBNs:

  1. Create content that is unique and different (so that it attracts social shares and backlinks)
  2. Start growing your email list so you can have a reliable promotional channel
  3. Please searchers by doing what’s best for them

Are these three steps all it takes to ranking well in Google?


Here is one more important reason:

Strong Website = Easy Rankings

If you follow the three steps I listed AND you have decent website authority, then ranking is a breeze.

How do you know if you have decent website authority?

The easiest thing to do is use third party metrics such as Domain Authority (DA) from Open Site Explorer, Trust Flow from Majestic, or Domain Rating from Ahrefs.

These tools are a necessity, but there is another way to measure the authority of your website.

All you have to do is ask a simple question:

How long does it take a new piece of content to rank in the top 100 for your target keyword?

If your pages never rank within the top 100 after publishing (or without backlinks), then there is a good chance that:

  • A) your site isn’t authoritative,
  • B) your site doesn’t have enough credibility and trust, or
  • C) your site is new

On the flip side, when your site has authority, you can rank faster and easier.

This reduces your SEO expenses because you don’t need to invest as much into acquiring new backlinks.

Here’s what you need to take away from this:

You need to focus on growing the authority of your website as a whole.

So, just to review, here is a process you can use to rank in Google:

  1. Create content that is unique and different (so that it attracts social shares and backlinks)
  2. Start growing your email list so you can have a reliable promotional channel
  3. Please searchers by doing what’s best for them
  4. Focus on growing your site’s authority so you need fewer backlinks (and money) to rank

Doing these four things alone will get you some awesome SEO results.

Is this all there is ranking well in Google? No, but this is a great start if you’re new to white hat SEO.

So, now you have to ask yourself:

Are PBNs worth it to you?

That’s for you to decide.

If you follow the 90/10 rule of link diversification, you will be forced to spend time on acquiring real backlinks.

At the same time, you’ll get the benefits of PBN links with decreased risk.

Keep in mind:

Marketing is all about ROI. If you believe you can get a return on investment using only PBN links, then DO IT.

For most people, it’s best to take the safe route and use more evergreen tactics.

Nathan Gotch
Nathan Gotch

I’m the founder of Gotch SEO and my mission is to help you get the SEO results you’ve always wanted. Check out my new SEO case study. It shows you how we increased organic search traffic by 342% using a stupidly simple method.

Join the Conversation

  1. thank you Nathan to share this article.
    PBN works well, but don’t buy backlinks from fiverr or facebook groups. they host their all website on a single hosting. take only one backlink form 1 user then go for other user. before take a backlink, analyze that website is it worth it or not.

  2. Your post is great for an seo expert and it is according to the latest google algorithm. Thanks for sharing.

  3. You’re 100% correct that PBN’s cannot be the dominant force in your link profile. I always say content and outreach is the foundation of legitimacy, and the pbn links are used to just add fuel to the fire.

    One thing I think most people forget with PBN’s is just the strenuous attention to detail. It took my partner and I years to be able to sort the tons of expiring domains to find legit, single previous owner domains with no signs of spam, previous link building, or repurposing.

    We still spend hours sorting huge lists of domains to find the few gems. It’s painstaking but when you get the perfect domains, they’re extremely powerful, assuming you have a strong foundation of other links, like you said. But we’ve seen remarkable results with these.

    Haven’t had much luck with the domain tools you mentioned, we had to develop our own tools and processes. We haven’t found a way around simply putting in lots of hours in the manual sorting process. Too often if you don’t do your homework you’ll end up with a domain that looks perfect initially, but then you find it has one russian anchor you missed, or it previously had been bought and repurposed in a sly way years earlier, or one link out of dozens that raises questions as to what the previous owner had been doing. The best ones we find were legit, established businesses for years with no signs of previous link building. They’re rare and we manually sort hundreds (again, putting in the hours) to find just a few of these. But boy are they worth it. Our clients have had amazing results and barely understand what we’re doing! Now we’ve got it down to where we can reliably and consistently produce these super quality domains so we’ve got all we need for ourselves, our clients, and then some. Really feel like we should be doing something else with them but simply have more than we can deploy. But that took years of refinement!

    Thanks for your idea with redirecting the specific links to the expired domain to a similar piece of content on your site. Usually we just opt for a single brand/url anchor on the homepage of the domain, but this is a really good idea. We’ll have to explore it.

  4. Hello, mate

    2 month back I have gave to create PBN to 1 person. I have done 5 PBN I am using but, i am getting the result 0 I hope you can help me

    Thank you

  5. PBNs are a fools gold. People keep pushing themm so hard that its going to be pretty soon that Google wil take notice and slap these low SEOs with a update and send them spinning in their chairs.

    PBNis the equivalent of keyword stuffing and we know how that played out.

  6. Fantastic read! You truly are an SEO wizard. I’ve built a 50 domain pbn and I’d like to continue growing it but tools like pbn hunter have now got me worried a competitor is going to report me. I guess I have to figure out how to block these or up the quality of my pbns so they survive a manual review?

  7. Hey John,

    Thanks for the comment. I can assure you that Ahrefs does NOT have more link data than Google. So, I’m not entirely sure what argument you’re trying to make.

  8. you said to check your backlinks in ahrefs, well ahrefs has its own indexing, so what that means is it indexes links that google does not. this is a fact i have retested it on lots of websites (try yourself). so this means all achor text ratios are wrong, page authority and domain authority.

  9. This is a really awesome article about PBNs and it has lots of information than other articles on the internet. Thanks for taking your time to write this article!

    btw, I am managing a small seo analysis tool at you can use it to get information about your domain authority, pagespeed, number of backlinks

  10. How many SEO “experts” have you seen who tried to trick Google? Or, perhaps the better question is…would you like fries with that? 😛

  11. Good article Nathan – I would rename this article, “Broken Link Building Using Expired Domains. An article topic I would like to see you write about is about seeking (and sometimes buying) placement of contextual links within niche relevant content/sites to lead back to your site/content that you hinted at #3.

  12. Hi Nathan Gotch,
    I am Muktar Ali from Bangladesh. I read your full article. It’s an amazing article about PBN. I want to make PBN at least 10 sites.
    Do I need to buy every domain and hosting in the different company for PBN?

    Muktar Ali

  13. How much do white hat techniques cost? Will 28K be enough to get ahead in a market like Chicago? BTW — loved your videos. I’m about 30 years too old to master it myself.

  14. Hi Nathan, You have great knowledge about PBN link building. I also believe in link building by Guest Posting and link exchange. But I have a question, Is it good for link building from web2.0 sites like Wix, Blogspot, Sitey, Tumbler etc.?

  15. This is a very informative article, but what do you think are the best ways to build links? I have looked at tons of directories and granted there are good ones and bad ones. But I need a better strategy where I can build good backlinks on different sites that aren’t necessarily directories.

    Thoughts would be appreciated..

  16. Glad you are debunking the PBN life and that this would be ranking for PBN’s related search queries. Also, that you moved away from it and other deceitful techniques, before throwing in the towel. Keep preaching!

  17. Thanks Dustin! My time estimates for PBN development were from my experience. As far as developing this post, it wasn’t long. Maybe 4-6 hours? This is actually one of my least comprehensive articles on Gotch SEO (and it needs to be updated). Some of my other guides can take weeks to complete.

  18. Hey David,

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, the definitely something you can do to preserve the link equity. You can also redirect the old landing page URLs to any new one you create (that’s relevant). As long as it’s relevant and it’s on a small scale, then you won’t need to worry

  19. Hi Nathan, if PBN is not recommended, what are the best link type to build for finance site do you recommend?

  20. Very nice blog for searching . it is so informative and easy to understand. keep it up… thank you

  21. It’s funnny to me, this whole “PBN” thing, or trying to game Google and company in general. At what point does Google push so hard and so far that the only way to win the SEO game is…..

    To actually create content of value.

    Crazy, I know. The thought of actually using our time to write an article with something even slightly beyond the regurgitated, spun and overall worthless content that plagues 99% of the web.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve created and ranked/used to rank thousands of PBN sites from expired domains. Each time I’d get hit, I’d simply get smarter. Build slightly better sites. Go a little bit further then the next guy. Soon enough, After getting my PBNs slapped around enough, and seeing all that hard work flushed down the drain, I realized something….

    “Wait a second, I got it! All I have to do to create the perfect PBN is to focus on finding expired domains in niches that I am knowledgeable and interested in! Instead of hundreds of shit sites with shit everything, I’ll just get three or four great domains and focus on them.

    Then I’ll write the content, and have a social media account, and some YouTube videos. I’ll even link build it by writing guest content, under my own name, and only publish on sites that get real traffic! I’ll even accept quality guest posts….

    …and through all this, I’ll further build out my own network of relevant, niche sites and publishers, where I can also publish more of my (quality) content, perhaps even linking to myself or a client (assuming they have relevant, quality client that I or someone else made sure they did)!

    It’s brilliant! It will be the perfect PBN!

    Oh, wait a second, did I accidentally become a REAL marketer somehow?

  22. Hi Nathan, thanks for such an amazing stuff. But there is something I would like to ask you as I have asked this question many people but none of them has replied me straightforward. Can you please tell me are the PBNs and Web 2.0 are BlackHat or WhiteHat…? i am really confused on this. BTW great article. keep rocking…

  23. Hi Nathan,

    Very complete and informative article. I often found myself chuckling as I read along, for I know all too well finding the right ratio of risk to reward in the link building game is no easy task. Or how tiring and frustrating it can be continuously building out your PBN(s) after losing X% after each update… Or the amount of sleep lost on whether tomorrow will be the day you wake to find your money site(s) slapped with a manual penalty…

    Anyhow my question to you, that I hope you’re aware of and able to answer with at least a modest degree of accuracy is:

    How long did it take you to develop this blog post, including the generation of the excel sheet as well as any DIRECT research that went into writing it? By direct I mean, don’t include all the hours and time taken for you to learn what you had about building and testing PBNs for example; but DO include perhaps any additional time spent researching the “LA Private Injury Lawyer” space for its use as the ROI calculation example in your article, and say, the time spent building the pie charts, or any other custom graphics etc. If possible & necessary, please do include time/labor invested by others as well and specify the hours dedicated by you, yourself, separate from those of others that assisted and/or were hired to help with specific tasks.

  24. Thanks for sharing Nathan! There are pros and cons investing for PBN, but I think when you know the flow and does it works I think it is a better way to link build. I’m currently into ProperPBN services, so far there’s no harm that affect to my sites. Hoping for the best!

  25. Thanks a lot for the amazing post. I wish if you can give me some feedback on my own project. I have two domains for my new site, one is [short] and the other is [long and keyword rich]. I’m going to use the short domain for the site and wondering if I should 301 redirect the other long domain to the short domain? that would be useless as both domains free from links (brand new). PBN is my other option for the long domain and wondering if it could help boost the short domain? Thanks a lot in advance and keep up the amazing posts.

  26. Hi Nathan,
    Thanks very much for this great piece. I want to buy an expired domain to start an authority blog. When I start, what do I do to the existing backlinks? Do I write my wrrite my articles to structure the url to match the links found on other site so that there will be no error 404? Or I should use a 301 redirect to redirect all urls to my authority blog homepage?

    One more thing, will google penalize me for 301 redirect despite the domain I am redirecting to is the same domain but urls does not exist anymore?

  27. Hey Keith,

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I think they are useful for “rank and bank” approaches. But for long-term businesses, it’s not worth the risk

  28. What a nice post as usual, big fan of your works, i have question in mind or more likely im desperated for answer. If you have bunch of pbn you developed for previous project and you facing new project on same niche with previous one, will you build new pbn or using same pbn, in my case im out of fund and not a problem if they two ranked as rival. I just scare it would be leave a footprint or somehow get penalty. Please enlight me mate.

  29. I think you are right about PBN’s I like to use mostly evergreen tactics. What about using the expired domain as a 301 redirect instead of building a site?

  30. A balanced article about PBN use. PBNs are so tempting but even if the benefits outweigh the risks now, who’s to say what will happen in the future. Yes, they still work. Yes, they can be lucrative. But I wouldn’t want to base my entire business on them. Niche sites and “throwaway” Amazon affiliate sites might be best suited to PBNs. Do you agree?

  31. Thanks for the comment! I put both in the same umbrella.

    I haven’t seen any evidence to prove this. Some expired domains are just garbage and won’t work, but I don’t believe Google would discredit backlinks just because a site expired.

  32. I referring to quality content on the actually PBN site or on your business’s website?

  33. Ehh… That’s not what I said lol 90% of your backlinks should come from quality sources

  34. Hey Mike,

    It’s hard to compare those two things. Getting links from YouTube are practically useless because they are NoFollow

  35. Hey Nathan

    Thanks for the amazing article I have been reading allot of your content lately.

    I do have 1 question though, allot of people here are saying expired domains and yet I don’t hear much about auction domains the difference is that auction domains do not drop.

    My question is this I heard some time ago that expired domains for pbns are useless now as their age is reset and also the links pointing to the domain are no longer counted by google so basically it’s the same as a freh domain, is this still the case in 2018?

  36. Thanks for sharing This informative article about PBN. According to Google Updates only they are saying that link should be genuine and Related to the Targeted industry but PBN seems different here. First thing is that it is very costly and secondly it takes 2 or more months time.

  37. Thanks, for sharing such a informative blog post. Now, I completely aware the difference for having and not having PBNs.

  38. The article is very informative but nothing is evergreen in the field of link building, PBNs are working from the last many years and they will work in the future too, because Google love contents and its always willing to provide good and relevant contents to its readers, if PBNs provides good and relevant information Google have no objection on PBNs.

  39. Nathan, thanks for the great post!

    I’d appreciate if you could share your opinion about the role of “good content” in a PBN strategy. I read some authors mentioning that PBNs are all about backlinking, much more than generating actual “human” traffic by readers who appreciated the content. The mere existence of the backlinks is more important the apparent relevance the content actually has to readers. This makes me think that PBNs are more more about tricking Google into believing a site is relevant (by its numbers), than actually making it relevant in its own right (by its content and its relevance to readers).

    In your opinion, does this make sense? Is someone who is thinking about building a PBN necessarily putting “quality of content” as a minor priority? Or can a PBN-model be used to actually distribute high quality content WHILE ALSO leveraging the usual practices of a traditional PBN?

  40. That’s a really good article. It clearly explains upsides and downsides for PBN. I have an SEO startup as well and I think instead of having a PBN, great content can help you reap much more benefits and power of social media generates a better ROI for my clients than PBN networks.

  41. It was Amazing Article. Enjoyed it and cleared the concepts.
    That Means You want to say that if I need nearly 100 backlinks to beat competitor then I should create 90 backlinks from commenting, web 2.0, directories and using 10 from PBNs will help me and safe?

  42. This is really good cut to cut article I event seen on PBN, very clear way to explain PBN strategy. can’t wait to apply on my next project. Thanks for sharing awesome stuff!
    – Nio

  43. Pbn’s are about CONTROL… in this example u turn control over to t1 backlinkers: the control to disapprove the link, the anchor text, ability to test backlink & whether it stays on/off.

  44. Hi Nathan! I build links to my website since New Year. I use WEB 2.0, forum, blog comments, niche directory and I am going to add to my strategy link exchange with bloggers from my industry. I am curious if link from link exchange ( high DA and PA) has the similar power to PBN. What is your opinion? Is it dangerous?

  45. Hi,
    I have read the article & it give me a lot about PBN. Due to this article I am able to recognize which is PBN.

    Thank you for increasing my ability.

  46. PBN’s are useful if you know what you are doing. They should be treated as special forces are treated in the military. You don’t send all special forces overseas during combat, but you do send special forces to accomplish very specific important missions. PBNs should be treated similarly. 90/10 is a great rule.

  47. Hello Gotch,

    I am new blogger but when I send mail for guest posting contribution, many people reply to say I need organic post not pbn site. At that moment I can’t understand what they exactly want and what do they mean by pbn site? But to read this article, now I am very familiar with pbn site. I hope, I will reply them in proper way.

    Thank you for making me familiar with pbn.

  48. Dear friends,
    first this article is grate and shareable. second if PBN links is risky than all website who using PBN links got band including Google, Youtube, and other big websites because they are using PBN links .For Example you can also chek in SEM Rush tool and go SEM Rush tool and type Google , Youtube and after click referring domains you will see Millions of links from one website, this is pbn links.

  49. Got the so much information about the PBN and also get the information how to get rid of panality want to know the one more thing about the EMD something like that am heard with someone and don’t have an idea about it kindly tell us too about this

  50. Wonderful piece of content Nathan. And yes, content is the key to everything (or most of things) in SEO. Then adding email marketing strategy could just do wonders. Enjoyed it!

  51. Thanks for the nice evaluation of PBNs.
    My question: Is the PBN way appropriate for financial affiliate websites? Upon my experience, PBNs may be too risky for this high competitive section.
    Further question: What type of SEO techniques works for financial Website?

  52. Great article on Private Blog Networks and I also like safe route because I don’t like any kind do risk which effects my site.
    Thanks for sharing this with us, sir. 🙂

  53. Hey Gotch, I 100% agree with you on this article. Many SEOs rely on 1 type of link building as they should be focusing on many different link building strategies such as PBN building. It is better to diversify your link portfolio in Google’s eyes to get you that 1st page ranking.

  54. Thanks for the article Gotch. But what to do to get high quality backlinks to get high rank for clients. Even on freelancer site they want quick backlinks. Because usually people have feeling that restrict other to grow. Suggest.

  55. Thanks for post. I’m confused 🙁
    Everybody talks about how great PBN’s are but seems less effort and no money spent putting a video on youtube. I mean would 10 youtube videos be as valuable as 10 links from PBN’s?
    I got a chance to buy a site from Domain Hunter Gatherer a site closely related to mine with DA15 PA29 and 1300 back links for about 9 dollars, wouldn’t I be better off doing a 301 redirect and if I could find 9 more similar sites wouldn’t I be best advised to 301 all of them?
    Thanks in advance for your reply 🙂

  56. Hey Mark,

    No, I don’t use PBNs. As far as finding your competitors PBNs, what’s your reason for wanting to do that?

  57. Hey Thao,

    Thanks for the comment! Not totally sure why that’s happening. I don’t build PBNs any more, so I’m the wrong person to ask

  58. Fantastic clear and detailed information presented on this page. i just found about it recently and am trying to get all the possible data in order to go right and not make any mistakes.

    Thanks Nathan Gotch

  59. Yes, i agree to all above points and i skimmed through all points. But still getting rank is very tough, as on page is in the hands of webmasters but getting quality backlinks is the toughest part. However there is no shortcut, so we need to work upon these factors anyhow.

  60. Nathan,

    I see a couple websites that came out of nowhere and began to rank in top 3 in just a few months’ time. Without a shadow of a doubt, they’re using PBNs. I just used ahrefs’ new Keyword Explorer to see the SERP, and again, they have low DRs and backlinks/domains, yet… ranking in top 3.

    What’s the best way for me to look for their PBN? All I basically see is their backlinks are PR sites.

    And ps: do you use PBNs?

  61. Hi Gotch,
    Thanks for a great and useful insight about PBN.
    I’ve tried this technique and it works but it cost a lot of money as you said.
    But i meet a strange problem in recent months when i use PBNs.
    The problem is: Google Search Console doesn’t show backlinks from my new PBNs.
    Actually, all my new PBNs are indexed on Google and these sites have Organic Traffic for longtailed-keywords.
    I set up these PBNs using Expired Domains.
    Gotch, do you know why?

  62. Hi Nathan.

    New here, how large need to be a list to be, “decent”?
    Where’s your pbns article?

  63. Never thought about this kind of tactics which can increase traffic to a website, PBN seems interesting as it is a self controlled network. Hope building a safe PBN can disguise Google.

  64. Absolutely fabulous article. Appreciate your candor. A SEO firm just last month advocated creating PBN for long-term domination and I opposed it. So glad to learn here that no PBN are Google proof.

  65. Thanks Gotch for sharing this imformation. i have a new website amazon affiliate one i made social profiles, bussiness listings. Do u think i have to go for pbn’s?

  66. Hi Nathan,

    Highly informative. Really like the idea kinda Skyscraper link building technique possibly with better ROT. Now I can easily decide whether should go with pbn or white hat alternative. Thanks you so much for sharing great strategy here!

  67. After Spying on my competitors backlinks I’m surprised to see most of their powerful links are coming from PBNs. Maybe that is the reason they are ranking better than my site. I’ve decided to start my own PBN network. Well, After seeing the excel screenshot above my thinking is changed. Too much of time and effort to be invested there. I dont think so it is a good option now.

    Apart from guest posting and is there any other ways we could get powerful backlinks which can match PBNs?

  68. Thank you! That would look at a lot better, but when you think about the ROT (Return on Time), it would probably be better/easier to get link placements on real websites instead of having to build them out

  69. Nathan, great article! Thank you.

    Would a potential option for PBN’s be to create an authority site in the niche’s that you might want to SEO as an agency?
    Instead of absolutely lathering your homepage with outbound links, create a blog with high-quality content in the niche and work with fewer, but higher paying clients. Any link included would be within a user-centric, quality content piece. Almost like a natively “sponsored” piece I guess.
    Seems like a better way to go.
    Both your clients and your readers win. I think the issue with PBN’s is that they’re used as a vessel to drive volume instead of quality. I suppose it wouldn’t be very “private” to do it the way I’m suggesting though!

  70. Thanks for the article. I think PBN are still powerful way to rank site but as you said comes at a price. Owning multiple PBN and renewing every year can be costly.Would you use PBN for new webiste ? and what do you think of sharing PBN with others?


  71. Powerful stuff there Nathan.
    Looking for the long run you are absolutely right. Nevertheless, currently i wouldn’t give up pbns completely, but definitely start paying more attention to other things.

    Thanks for the great post!

  72. I am still unsure whether or not to use PBN, As of now, I think it’s best to build organic backlinks rather than PBN in my opinion. Thanks for detailed guide Nathan.

  73. Hey Albert,

    According to Google, it will be in the future. I haven’t seen much of a impact based on several tests. With that said, it’s a good move to improve user experience. Especially if you’re selling products and accepting credit card information on your website.

  74. Hey Andrew,

    Thank for you for the comment. Well, the expired domain market is very saturated at this point, so it can definitely take some time to vet and select domains. Meaning, you can go weeks without finding relevant and worthy domains

  75. I agree to this post. Building PBN’s will really cost you more time and money. You need to make sure that the domains history was not been penalized or spammed and no abused backlinks. You have to consider also the trustflow, page authority and referring domain.

    IMO, you can still use PBN but not too much with it. Just like in the graph above. Spend more time with the white hat seo strategy.

  76. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for the comment! I know this is an annoying answer, but you need both. You need high authority links from relevant sources, but you also need quantity as well

  77. Hey Kawser,

    Thanks for the comment. That is data from users all around the world that visit my site

  78. Hey Sam,

    Thanks for the comment. It can be if your site is authoritative and you cover all your bases

  79. Hi Nathan,
    Thanks for the great article, I just wish clients could appreciate the cost both in terms of $ and time for a good backlinking service. They often seem to think it’s a simple process and as we know it really is not. There are also many services out there still offering cheap backlinks and PBNs but the fact is apart from the time wasted waiting for results that will not happen, there is a huge chance that the site will go down in the serps or worse be deindexed, I learnt the hard way 🙁

  80. The PBN method is attractive but we must follow the Google Search Engine guidelines. A SEO worker should always be in search of new way to grow their website rank. Thanks for the place to know more about PBN backlink.

  81. I have tried PBN in some areas of competition in the local area such as real estate, architecture, gym, Food weight loss .. but quite effective initially but it also brings many unforeseen risks.
    Looking forward to using everyone please wake up 🙂

  82. Hey Nathan,

    Great article. I just have one question. About how long does it take you to find an opportunity that you will actually be able to reach out and pitch your replacement piece of content? Just to get a rough estimate of how long this strategy takes to find opportunities.

    Again, this is a great article.

    Thanks in advance!

  83. Hey Gotcha, now I realize that one man one follow approach is danger. Of course both white hat and grey hat both have their own pros and cons, yet we need to be aware of them. Thanks for creating that awarenesses through this blog….

  84. I was ranking at top 4 or 5 in the google but struggling to rank top in google. Thanks for sharing such nice articles as i was really searching for it. Hope after using these techniques my website organic traffic will increase.

  85. Hey Nathan, I’m new to your blog, it’s nice, easy to read and like you say minimal distractions, you talk about increasing the authority of the website. What’s your top 3 tips on doing this without spending hours every week, and is it better to have less weak links, more strong links rather than getting as many links as you can?

  86. I am intrigued with the concept of PBN.
    It just seems so effective and quick to get rankings.

    However, i was strongly advised by a friend that runs an SEO company that PBN’s are very risky and any websites using PBN’s will be severely penalized and cause rankings to vanish when the next Google Algorithm rolls out.

    What are your views on this? Is this a calculated risk?
    Can we take such risks with our client’s websites?

  87. This is the right website for anyone who hopes to understand this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally will need that .¦HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic that has been written about for many years. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

  88. Many of my friends still using pbn’s and Yes they are still working but all we need to use it with care. leave no footprints at all.

  89. i was thinking to create a PBN, but after reading your article, i will rather spend more time on simple backlinking and creating quality content

  90. It’s a very nice article and really inspiring.
    Just one confusion.
    I’m not sure whether someone has already asked this question. PBNs has 880 monthly searches from the whole world. When it is specified for just USA users, then it is 260 search volume per month. Is your May visitor statistics for only USA visitors or from the whole world?

  91. Hello GotchSeo,
    I was searching about PBN, whether I should use it to build my Indian SEO agency site authority but this article plus others I have read here, Its definitely No.
    Earlier I used to believe, having PBN Empire would be so great didn’t realised it just matter of algorithm change it can get destroyed.
    So why not to invest in making friends over the web, making content, infographic, etc.
    Thanks allot and Can you also add my email from this comment to your list? No pop up came to subscribe this blog.

  92. Amazing Post! I absolutely love that it takes more time and effort to build a network to keep it safe for the long haul, as its weeded out alot of the spammy players in seo, and cleans the whole image of online marketing up just a tad.

  93. Hello Nathan,
    Very Useful Information!!
    Is it easy to outrank those sites which use PBN as their main link building?

  94. Hey Sajid,

    Thanks for the comment. If you don’t have a budget, then you need to put in the manual outreach work until you can afford to outsource it

  95. So, would you recommend not using/getting ANY PBN links at all?
    What if you have 90-95% of your links coming from elsewhere and 5-10% are from PBN’s? It’s good to have a varied back-link profile after all.

  96. Nathan, you are indeed the guy..But to be really honest, outreach as everyone says can be done with budget or reference.

    What if i don’t have the appropriate budget for running my blog. Should i take the grey hat route (Web 2.0s) and still be safe?
    Please please reply…!

  97. Am just curious to dig in if pbn still works…. I have scrapped some domain but looking for a detailed article to set up. Thanks gotchseo

  98. Eeee! I was planning to go with PBNs for ranking my tech site. I just started this new blog, and I’m glad I found this, Nathan. I’m going full white-hat! No matter how long it takes.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with PBN’s! Love your posts, mate.

  99. Hey Aliff,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree, but you don’t need to risk using PBNs to achieve the same objective 🙂

  100. Hi Gotch, I just want to share my finding based on one experiment I did with PBN (personally, I prefer to call them publishing platforms) for my new blog from a fresh domain. I gave it a bit of a boost by sending just 2 or 3 PBN links to the site, and then my SERP ranking skyrocketed with 2 months (of course, the keywords I was targeting was much less competitive). After a year, all those PBN domains expired, but I can still get fresh content ranked on the first page within hours after it’s published until now. It appears that because of the top ranking, I have managed to get a lot of traffic to my site because of the high ranking. But then, it’s really the quality content that keeps my links on no.1 of SERP (one of my content even got 2K+ organic share on Facebook within months). So I would say the best way to get the most out of SEO is to initially give it a little boost, but after that, we really should invest time in creating quality content to keep the site on high ranking.

  101. Thanks for the informational piece. Am starting my digital agency after years of consultation. I believe i will be dropping by to check out some of the latest stuff that you have . About PBNs I am planning to set up one and make it run like a real website so that it can serve a certain niche. I hope it will work fine. Wish me Luck Nathan.

  102. Gotch, I concur with you totally, I have been stating for a long while that external link establishment resembles speculation, you need to measure the hazard versus the reward. Topically important and well-manufactured PBN destinations are an incredible expansion to a third party referencing technique when you have to get a lift to make the last push onto page

  103. I would say stay away from PBNs the reason is Google is always doing updates. Plus there’s always a “reporter” that tells Google that there’s a pbn. There’s other ways of getting your website ranked #1 on Google. Thats my 5 cents.

  104. Really Like your approach Nathan. Creating something different than better seems like a good idea. I have tried “better” route but it failed miserably so I think I need to go the “different” route.

  105. Thank you Jo!

    Building a strong base of content before getting aggressive with backlinks seems to work well in my experience. But with that said, almost every new website goes through this sandbox period, which causes a lot of volatility. Your rankings usually stabilize after you build more authority (and with time)

  106. Nice write-up Nathan.
    How do you get over the
    “If your pages never rank within the top 100 after publishing (or without backlinks), then there is a good chance that: C) your site is new”
    Is there any way to speed up time?
    Also, how can you tell it isn’t one of the other 2?

  107. I agree that PBNs are a future risk for every website owner. The only way you can get away if your PBNs all look like a real website and would pass manual inspection. In which case you might as well just build a real website in the first place, like one that funnels traffic to your main site.

  108. Hey Elizabeth,

    Thanks for the comment. That’s an impossible question for me answer…

  109. Hey Ashutosh,

    Thanks for the comment! That’s a common practice when building PBNs. Google can still uncover a PBN through other methods (usually footprints).

  110. Hey Alessandro,

    Thanks for the comment! They should be DoFollow because that’s what a normal website would do

  111. hi,
    I am planning for buying link for PBN sites to bring my website’s ranking. but little bit confused because i read on another blog that this strategy falls under black hat SEO.
    So scaring from spammy website, please suggest anyone should i buy it or not ?

  112. Thanks for the great article. I was wondering if we use blogs of same niche hosted at different servers which are regularly updated to get a backlink then it would be difficult for google to find out if its earned or not.

  113. Hi Nathan, great post. I have a question regarding outgoing links on my PBN: follow or nofollow? I mean follow to my money site for sure, but what about the outgoing links to authority websites? Thanks

  114. Hey Krish,

    Thank you for the comment. That’s not something I can answer. I will say it’s a risky business model

  115. Hi.

    Thanks for sharing your views.

    I was trying to build the PBN and wanted to sell links from it. Will it be beneficial…what you think?

  116. Great article, Nathan. I think you make a good point about the flaws in Google’s search volume numbers, especially for single specific keywords. It seems Google is trying hard to get people away from optimizing for a specific term, which is why so many come back as unknown in analytics. I suspect it is also why they are now combining keywords and giving search volume ranges in the keyword planner. If you search for “pbn” in the keyword planner tool (at least on an account not running adwords), they give a search volume of 10K – 100K. That isn’t particularly helpful.

  117. I still use PBNs for SEO but the change it that I have made each site content driven with the monetization by money site. Not just putting up sites and abandoning them like I had done in the past. It takes more time and money but seems to be working.

    I appreciate the point you made that SEO takes investing money and/or sweat equity. I tried the sweat equity for a couple of years but noticed the difference when I added investing money to the equation. As always a lot of good content.

  118. It’s really a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you shared this SEO helpful info with us to rank in Google. Please keep us up to date like this.

  119. Hey Miyavi,

    Thank you for the comment! There really aren’t any suitable alternatives

  120. I am a regular reader of you blog and I really like your blog post.

    Quick question: Suppose if i re-create all the domains(to be used as PBN) using will this method be safe from future Google penalty?

  121. Hey Nathan,
    This a very helpful article. Regarding the analyzing of links, I was wondering if there’re any credible alternatives or complements to Majestic and Ahref?

  122. Hey Kedar,

    I wouldn’t say it’s “safe” because any artificial form of link building carries risk

  123. Hey Fahim,

    Thanks for the comment.

    1. Why would you go through all that effort when you can get a real backlink instead (without the risk, without the effort, and without the management)?

    2. Outreach is harder, but that’s why it’s better (not everyone else is willing to do it)

    3. I focus on creating quality content assets and promoting them

  124. Hey there,

    Thank you for the comment!

    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. You wouldn’t get penalized using this tactic
    4. It depends on the scenario. There really is no limit, so do whatever it takes to rank

  125. Hey Leon,

    Thanks for the comment. It’s very hard for me to say without seeing the situation directly. There is a good chance his results won’t last if he’s going that route

  126. Nice post , I learn about the pbn network , plz replay my mail is that safe to used web2.0 back link to money site . if yes how many back link need for a one web 2.0 site

  127. Fantastic write-up! I do agree on these points, especially the portion regarding pop-ups! I was just at a website that had FOUR separate pop-up blocks hit me… one after another! One my very first visit, nonetheless!

  128. I totally agree with you.PBN is a risky strategy.Specially when Google is keeping an eye on every website that is created on web.It has both advantages and disadvantages but unless and until you know how to manage your own accounts its worth paying money.
    Creating a network of your own and managing them properly will definitely payback in sometime .hard work always gives result.

  129. Hey Chris,

    Thank you for the comment. I’m not implying that backlinks won’t be a ranking factor. I just believe there is a good chance that the dominance of backlinks as a ranking factor will decrease. I don’t work for Google, so I can’t tell you what will be different. But, user signals already have an impact on rankings and that’s only going to grow. Google values user experience above all else.

    I have to respectfully disagree on your point that my site or other content-driven sites would suffer. My site and other content-driven sites aren’t propped on backlinks alone. You have to consider the content itself and the user experience that is a direct results of that content.

    But at the end of the day, all I (and you) can do is test. My main point is that backlinks acquired through a content-centric approach are less risky than using PBNs.

  130. Great article as always Nathan, but i have to disagree with this point……..

    “All Google has to do is change their algorithm and reduce the dominance of backlinks as a ranking factor.”

    This is never going to happen! Google has become the dominate force in Search through using backlinks as a way to rank websites. Lycos and AltaVista did not use the number of links pointing back to a website as way of displaying the best search results. Look what happened to them.

    Also if Google do change their algorithm to reduce the dominance of backlinks as a ranking factor, surely you would suffer too, regardless of if your backlinks were from PBN’s or content marketing?

    My final point……. what would become the dominant ranking factor? Social? I don’t see anything, which Google’s algorithm could control as astutely as they do backlinks

  131. Hi Nathan,
    Thanks for considering this topic.
    1- How about treating your PBNs like money site, means build PBNs with high quality content just as we build our money sites and keep it active with fresh content on regular basis. I find this way very secure comparatively using few posts or low quality content based content.
    2. I experienced by focusing blogger outreach approach, we don’t need to go for the PBNs but its very hard & time consuming comparatively PBNs.
    3. What do you recommend for the fresh website from where to take initiative of getting links. Normally, I initiate by taking some social signals, then business directories, press releases and finally PBNs & guest posts (sometimes these are paid as well).

  132. Hey Rod,

    Once again, not sure where you are getting these conclusions from, but I will have to respectfully disagree.

    First, it’s a problem for every blogger? That’s obviously not true. No one said producing quality content was easy. If any entpreneuer is looking for “easy” ways to grow their business, then are already on the path to failure. The hard stuff is what has the biggest impact.

    Also, Google doesn’t stand a chance…? A multi billion dollar company with the best minds in tech doesn’t stand a chance against you using a private blog network? Come on man…

  133. Hi Nathan,

    Well, I know lots of bloggers giving up due not being able to create good fresh content.

    I myself have a few decent domain names which I would like to develop but cannot write the content for. It’s the biggest problem for every blogger. May be some sites such as recipe sites find it easier but as a whole content creation is the one and only reason that stops us from getting rich!

    Also, regarding footprints, I personally would not use a PBN site more than once for each backlink to each of my money sites. Google would not stand a chance if you did it this way.

  134. Hey Rod,

    Thank you for the comment. Sorry, I don’t agree with that rational at all. Why is it beyond most blogger’s ability? Not sure I’m following. A content-driven SEO approach isn’t predicated on quantity. It’s based on quality content. Frequency doesn’t matter. Creating quality content and doing outreach isn’t reserved only for authorities. In fact, it works best when you have NO audience because there is more opportunity. Who said I covered all my footprints?

  135. One of the best articles written about PBNs.
    It’s quite timely also, as another giant of the SEO world, Matthew Woodward is really pushing his new PBN business. It’s rather disappointing to see that. I could ask for your opinion on that but I guess it’s already pretty clear what the answer would be.

    What stands out for me in this article is that you’re not focusing on the “PBNs are too risky” argument. You’re focusing on the “do things that improve your skills” argument.

  136. As you know one main reason that most bloggers stop blogging is because of not being able to create regular interesting posts – This is the hardest part of keeping the site going for most.

    Also, in the case of affiliate niche sites, the only way to quick ranking is by using PBN’s. So your suggestions can only be valid for authority websites, something which is beyond most bloggers’ abilities to create.
    Even famous bloggers like John Chow have got most of their contents written by someone else. So it’s never easy.

    How many times have we heard that some of the big domainers have said they had bought certain domains for development purposes and they never got round to it – In fact what they mean to say is that it’s just too hard to keep creating interesting contents day in day out – So this is why PBN’s are still a good option for some bloggers.

    Btw, why did your PBN’s got found out by Google, if you’d covered all the footprints?

  137. Is PBN still work in 2017? this article already 2 years ago and I think Google has updates their systems for manual reviewers !
    BTW, thank you for nice article !

  138. Hi,
    Thank for the article. I wonder have you have instructions on building web 2.0 pyramid or other techniques that may improve website trust rank?
    Thank in advance!

  139. Hey Troy,

    Thanks for the comment! You can use keyword-rich anchors if it’s in the body of the content. I would avoid keyword-rich anchors if it’s only a bio link

  140. Excellent article as always, but a question regarding outreach. Did you suggest anchor text when guest posting or did you let it fall as it may?


  141. Hey, Nathan! Thank you for the great post! I always thought that PBNs are “must have” in order to get ranked for the target keywords. But more and more people in SEO industry are saying the same thing all over again – PBNs will rather hurt your rankings. Do you have a suggestion on how to outreach bloggers in order to get natural links via guest blogging? It looks like it’s one of the hardest things to scale.
    I also wanted to ask you a quick question about that popup that comes up when the user is about to leave the page. Is it a specific plugin?
    Thank you!

  142. Hey there,

    Ehh I wouldn’t personally pay for placement on any directory at this point

  143. I enjoyed reading your article alooot, made some notes as well, but how do you comment on the latest rumors that Expired Domains don’t carry/will not carry link juice anymore?

  144. Amazing article my bro, I have few doubts I will be really great full if you answer it .
    1-Are you still practicing it in 2017 ?

    2-Is it effective nowadays or not ?

    3-What about getting penalize from Google ?

    4-How many domain max you recommend for this practice.

    Sorry I have asked lots of question, but when you are new in the game you always want to be aware of risk

  145. Thanks for sharing excellent information. Your site is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this blog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched all over the place and just couldn’t come across. What a perfect website.

  146. Hey Nathan quick question. I know a guy that is ranking really good in a health niche with PBNs that are created on fresh tld domains on T1 (.info for .88$ I guess). With no existing link profile at all. You will find 3-4 posts where 1 contains a link to the MS. Then those T1 pbns are spammed with web20 (probably rankerx) on T2 and gsa on T3. Can you tell me how is that possible? Shouldn’t such domains have no impact at all?

  147. This is gold – I have some sites that really need quality links and are in industries I’ve struggled with. I am going to add this strategy to the quiver – can’t believe I never thought of it. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  148. Hey Matthew,

    Thanks for the comment. That’s true that homepage links are nearly impossible to get, but that also makes them unnatural. If a large portion of your backlinks are coming from homepage links, it’s a huge footprint.

  149. Hey Karan,

    That depends on what your plan is with each site. Are they individual sites that you are trying to rank?

  150. Totally agree with you Nathan. PBN’s are always risky and time to time search engines are fighting against them. And there is chance to get manual penalty. You will spend much more on bringing website back to index then on building PBN.

  151. Hi Gotch,

    Are you prefer using PBNs for long term niche sites? For getting relevant backlinks, the work pretty good.

    Anyway, thanks for the guide, mate!

  152. Thanks Rashid! I don’t recommend that you do that. Using web 2.0s for the sole purpose of getting backlinks is a grey hat tactic

  153. I have read it fully. It is very useful for everyone. Keep up the good work. Thank you for giving me some light.

  154. Hey Nathan,

    I still think good PBN domains are valuable, especially when you hold onto it for a long time. Think of it as an online real estate. In the future, chances of us SEOs getting homepage links from 600+ RD will be slim to none unless we start buying up LEGIT expired domains.

    Only my $0.02



  155. Great Article, like you said you have to look at everything you do in SEO as an investment, currently I believe you can buy quality sites at auction for very cheap because mot people are still basing everything off power. If you look past the overall power and look into more specific factors you can find gems for $12 all day long that will do more for a website then a $200 dollar PBN would. Overall great article and I’ll definitely be back for more very soon.

  156. Oh…This is a great and informative article, Gotch. Agree with you, the cost of PBN is too high. Is there any way to use it but still save money, Gotch?

  157. I have a question. If I create one blog per niche in one IP address, making it 10 blogs per IP, will it be considered as a PBN.

    I’m looking forward to publish a lot of good content (with or without links). Nofollow wherever applicable.
    Also, expired domains are good or shall I go for brand new domains. Note: I do have the patience to work on SEO for these blogs.
    I await your response.

  158. Hi, Gotch. Very elaborate post. I think the main problems with link building through PBN’s is the time and cost. For a professional blogger, that may not be a problem but for an amateur blogger, it may be better to build relationships and friends.

  159. Gotch, All information is very valuable for me thanks fro sharing such type of article.
    But i have a question in mind, If i post 1 same article on 10 web 2.0 sites, does this activity is said to be called black hat? or My content is said to be called plagiarized content?
    Please let me know about it.

  160. Hi
    with local seo would PBNs be more advisable and more lenient from google, as we just targeting a local term.

  161. I have to agree with you about the value. I have ranked my SEO site in my hometown (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua) with no PBNs. I also rank for multiple keywords in the Southwest, my US hometown is Chandler, AZ. I have used no PBNs and rely on outreach and other methods of link building.

  162. Hey Victor,

    It depends on your risk tolerance. I personally don’t like the risk involved with PBNs and I think a content-driven approach is a better long-term strategy. Either way, backlinks are going to fuel your results. Read this article:

  163. Thanks for the comment Nicholas.

    The short answer is that not all search volume is created equal.

  164. You gave me a helpful topic which is good for ours. Thanks for sharing a great article with whole people. PBNs links are useful or not that does not matter but your writing on this topic are too good.
    Again thanks for it.

  165. Thank you for this awesome blog, i have learnt a lot for this step by step article. I really appreciate your effort on this. am going to start my first ever PBN site now.

  166. Great article, I think that the killer for me (in terms of PBN use) is paying for hosting. I don’t mind spending some time hitting up an auction or register compass. But when it comes to forking over money for hosting that’s what really gets me. I totally understand spending money on the PBN domain but you need so many different hosting packages (if I spend top dollar on a PBN I put it on a decent hosting company too $$$) that I tend to buy less PBNs so I don’t have to go through the whole hosting process!

  167. Am I just being naive? I started working in digital marketing nearly 5 years ago and everything I’ve ever read has taught me to produce “good, shareable content” and that would produce backlinks. however, what I’m seeing is that to realistically have your content shared by way of backlinks, your website has to GENUINELY be loved by the masses. So here’s my dilemma: should I start using PBN’s? It seems that PBN’s are black hat SEO… aren’t they? Additionally, how can I claim to help customers with their own SEO when I can’t rank my own site on page 1? Granted, the keyword “SEO services” is tough to rank for, but am I going about this the wrong way? I focused all my energy on on-page SEO, but that hasn’t made much of a difference. Any advice?

  168. Hey Gotch,

    Awesome posts! I learned a lot. One question for you,

    Is it okay to build more than 1 site on same vps server, and use cdn to make them looks like different IP?

  169. PBNs generally do perform if you treat them like you would any other site. If the content is real, good gramar is used and the site is updated regularly, then to me this scenario is white hat. The author states it is grey hat seo, I think that a broad brush. I have been using what the seo community calls PBNs for years before it was even a thing. I think ANY site or business with multiple sites, if one links to the other, that is technically a PBN 🙂 I agree though, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Link diversity is the safest bet.

  170. Since when have you needed 135 links to rank for a term that gets 1000 searches a month. ?

  171. Hey Gotch, I 100% agree with you on this article. Many SEOs rely on 1 type of link building as they should be focusing on many different link building strategies such as PBN building. It is better to diversify your link portfolio in Google’s eyes to get you that 1st page ranking.

  172. Great article! Was searching around about back links and I found out about your blog. I’m currently working on the SEO for my biz site and hopefully using your techniques will help us get there. Thanks for the tips!

  173. After visiting your site and reading your in depth articles it really fill a new life in my seo strategy and i have change my on page setting according to your suggestion and its show a good result and my pages shows in serps. But the next day it disappear but i know its due to no back-links for my site that why it happens.But my question is that which type of back links strategy will be effective for me without BPN, so i can rank my website pages well on the first page of google.My website niche is technology by the way.

  174. Hey Steve,

    Thank you for the comment. Yes, as I mentioned, a small percentage of PBN links can be a good move

  175. Good read, useful comments as well. I think I’ve finally made up my mind that I will invest in an own PBN (so I can also show the client some ‘builded links’ quite soon) but not rely on it too much.

    May I remark there’s a duplicate sentence in the article?

    Here it is (I copied it from the article):

    So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine… I think of link building the same way I would my retirement account. (thanks to

    I think of link building the same way I would my retirement account (thanks to Gen Wise Wealth).

    Greetings and thanks for the useful article

  176. Maybe I am reading between the lines too much but it seems to me that mixing in PBNs to one’s SEO strategy is a good idea. I mean obviously, you need to have your normal outreach and backlinking methods and strategies but to have control of anchor text have a high value as well.

  177. Travis you are right. Gotch thanks for this useful article on PBN link building. PBN are risky to use but I have use strategy for one of my clients in 80%-20% pattern where 20% are pbn. It help me a lot

  178. Perfect article. I agree that PBNs shouldn’t be the main link type you go to for ranking a site. I have a small PBN(7) for local seo and nothing has ever happened to my link-profile in webmaster.

  179. I just started my website and I was asking myself the exact question if it’s worth building a PBN (ROI) considering Google’s stand on PBNs. This post has really opened my eyes to things I was not taking into consideration. Keep up the good work Nathan.

  180. Good post. I see others here are using PBNS still.
    It’s powerful for foreign language SEO.
    If you look at some of the foreign language sites even 2006 spam techniques are still working. Which is why a lot of SEOs are making affiliate sites with this method and monetizing with clickbank, maxbounty, and other affiliate offers off offervault/odigger and other aff sites.

    Authority sites with a content-centric approach to SEO will last as will anything that improves the user experience.

    Good stuff

  181. Hey Elliot,

    Thanks for the comment. I avoid giving value to SEO rumors. Instead, I make decision based on what our testing and data shows. I highly recommend this approach above all else

  182. Thanks for the comment Bruce. “Decent” is a low standard. Good domains are going to cost much more than $100

  183. You state here that your agency uses expired domains. I’ve been seeing a lot of information recently about Google planning to wipe out the value of inbound links upon expiry of a domain. Such a move would destroy the effectiveness of expired domains. Some commentators are saying there is no evidence that Google is doing this or are likely to; and that they are just trying to scare people into ditching this tactic for SEO. What are your thoughts on this? Will you continue using expired domains (along with your balanced approach to SEO link-building)?

  184. I have read recentley that google stated they will soon no longer be giving any authority to links from expired domains purchased by a third party. if this is true its the death of PBN’s

  185. Happy New Year, Nathan! And thank you for the interesting post. I do not mind using PBN sites if they look like real sites and get some traffic from the search engines. But I think that if using the right tools and approach, Outreach is cheaper and also takes less time than building PBN sites.

  186. Hey Roxana,

    Thanks for the comment. There is some evidence that social signals impact organic search rankings, so they are definitely worth the effort

  187. Great post, Gotch
    I think i will personally opt in for a PBN if i can find one..
    But in your opinion, how are social media links worth the effort?

  188. Great article, thanks!
    I have one doubs though, if you could answer I’d appreciate. When searching for expired domains, does the domain name matters? Does it have to be related to my niche money site or it can be anything as long as it has good metrics?

  189. great summary, gonna send this link out to my fellow teammates. We are currently having issues with the start of PBN, but i guess we should invest in other links after reading this great article. Thanks!

  190. Thanks for the comment! It’s hard for to say what is “going to happen”. All I can say is that using PBNs carries risk

  191. Frank,

    With all due respect, this article wasn’t about hiding your network. Thank you for the comment though!

  192. Fantastic read Nathan. You hit some good points here. My question is, What happens when SEO agencies buy links from already built and maintained PBN networks from “black hat” websites/individuals? Would love to hear your thoughts on this?

  193. Hey Gotch!
    There are certain measures to take care of while building a PBN , Hosting is most important requirement now days. I do build the PBN with c class IP Address and always publishing unique contents.

    Hope it will add more value to your Post.

    Thank you

  194. Hello,
    Theres nothing about hiding Your PBN! I’ve got a 328 blogs withs few posts (30-50) linked between this blog. Also I’ve got it on one server so that’s the cheap trick and hidding it by setting for every site to block ahrefs and majestic SEO, setting different for every site server header and mask DNS for all sitest. Is a good choice?

  195. The discussion on PBN’s has been going on for years and continues to be fascinating. Google will continue to weed out low quality link networks and PBN’s and gets better at the process every year. The smart SEO needs to understand that PBN’s give a powerful ranking advantage with the ability to use anchor text at will, but also needs to understand that even with the utmost care, all or part of their network can get taken down by Google.

    Ultimately, if PBN usage is sprinkled in with “white hat” linking methods, you’ll have a much greater chance of keeping your PBNs safe and keeping your money sites (or your client’s money site) safe as well.

  196. Thank you for the comment. I explain in the article, but the $100 cost was based on buying pre-vetted expired domains from a vendor.

  197. Where do you actually buy domains for $100 or more? Every registrar i know sells for less than $10.
    I build 10 PBN with $100.

  198. I want to create my own PBN but I was little bit confused about cons and pros of PBN and you have cleared my all the doubts . Thanks for sharing. The way you explain each and everything about PBN is really great, Thanks once again.

  199. Hey Mehradad,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t use Moz’s spam score to determine the quality of link opportunities. Just manually check the link profile

  200. Hi Nathan!
    Very helpful post. I recently found a domain which is good in terns of Majestic metrics, but I ran the domain through and saw that the score spam is 5/17. What do you recommend for spam score of moz?

  201. Considering the fact that one has to invest around 120$ per domain, do you think this PBN strategy gonna work for niche sites which has potential of making around 5k USD a month?

    Is there any alternative where I can utilize this money? Something like infograhic link building or similar?


  202. Thanks for the awesome info. I was very curious if I should be using pbns or not, but the way you put it as far as using it as a smaller percentage of your links makes perfect sense! One question, what about if your not sending all you pbns straight to your money site, and maybe a web 2.0 which then goes to the money site? Would that make a difference?

  203. Hey Howard,

    Thanks for the comment. There is more risk relative to “whiter” hat strategies, but I agree there are ways to minimize risk.

  204. Thanks for the article! I think that if your network is built well however, you don’t run a whole lot of risk. There are also ways to build on the cheap without sacrificing quality. Learning to scrape for expired domains yourself saves a big chunk of money, using shared hosting and cloudflare to keep your IP unique is another good way. While any strategy that relies exclusively on PBNs isn’t going to have legs (or maybe it will…), I think they are still a hugely powerful tool and will be for some time!

  205. Great post. I really like the idea of leveraging the link power PBNs use in expired domains by creating similar content and asking the owner of the link to link to me instead. Awesome! I will be using these tactics to push content my newest site. Thanks so so so so much!

  206. In my situation links from PBN are about 20% o higher but not more than 30%. Afert an update which took place in september i didnt have any penalties. I think is because not any artice has external backlins. And all content is unique 🙂

  207. David,

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, as I mentioned, the numbers can change depending on your quality vs quantity approach for expired domains. The main point is that your site needs at least equal authority to those that are ranking (in most cases). That can be achieved through quantity or high-metric domains. But I agree, the ROI needs to be a big consideration for anyone who isn’t experienced in building PBNs.

  208. Hey Nate, if I have great tier 1 backlinks from HA sites (DA 60+) should I still use cheap PBN’S with different IP’s. I only have a list of 90 tier 1 links, mainly directory profiles pages, guest blogs, etc…I wanted to do PBNbutler but was quoted 900 bucks. Most of these backlinks are nofollow 🙁 Only 30% are dofollow but they are directory listings or resource links.

    As for anchor links, would: ‘visit website’, ‘click here’ work better than generic keywords for my terms: attorney, lawyer, law firm, criminal, instead of: criminal attorney, criminal lawyer, etc or LSI. Naked links?

  209. Hi Gotch, I like the post especially because you also want to hear about what others think in this field. I am very new to SEO but I think that your strategies of social signals, well I also read that post too, together with blogger outreach, which I may consider, and other white hat techniques should do the job. For the time being, I am just trying to rank my website. I will definitely consider these techniques. I also understand that it is hard to get hold of a good PBN and it may also require some experience. But I sincerely think that its worth all efforts especially because we can control the anchor text. I intend to consider them at a later stage in my career after I gather enough experience to take the risk. Thanks again for sharing.

  210. Hmmm intersting topic…

    PBN’s definitely still work (and have for the last 10 years or so hahah) if you don’t use them like a fool they’ll continue to work long into the future.

    There is nothing that’s going to move the needle faster than relevancy+power – and in terms of your example above a handful of relevant + power PBN’s will trump most of the first page results for the injury lawyer niche – no need for hundreds…

    Having said that, we are doing outreach and content promotion at the same time – always good to diversify to solidify results.

    Great post – just don’t quite agree with the ROI you’ve outlined, but for people who don’t know how to use PBN’s the right way it probably it’s probably right on 😉

  211. I don’t personally think that PBN’s are really worth it. Since all the time and effort you put in your websites, and get ranking after writing that good piece of content and all those hours. They could just go to waste, only because you skipped one corner, when it came to link building. I have always been a white hat seo enthusiast.
    Almost all of my blogger friends, no matter how much precaution they maintained, their PBN’s got tracked down by google, and the websites using that link juice cam with it, deranked. After all, they say “What Goes around, comes around” . I don’t personally see the point taking the risk with your hard work, and putting it under Google’s Spam Radar. Another great post 🙂

  212. Thank you so much for the article suggestion! I actually have 4 of them opened in tabs from links in these 2 articles ready to read. I noticed above that you had mentioned that you were willing to share with us your “high-converting email templates” for this. That would be awesome! Can you please do that so I have an idea of how to start?

  213. PBNs work great…until they don’t. I know several SEOs who do great with them. I’ve done great with them.

    But I’m also starting to get nervous about the long-term effects. Learning content marketing & white-hat SEO, paid search, paid social, email marketing, etc. are necessary for our growth as people and companies. Like any entrepreneurial tactic, we use it while it works, but when the door closes, it’s time to move on.

    Another good post, Gotch.

  214. Thanks for the great strategy suggested here.

    I used to mess with PBNs, but gave up mainly because of the vast amount of time required to keep up with it (even with a PBN app to help with content generation).

  215. I agree that PBNs shouldn’t be the main link type you go to for ranking a site. However I’m currently setting up DR30+ sites for the price of registration, hosting is a small cost and in terms of time taken to get these domains, setup the hosting and a site it’s about 30 minutes per site. I guess the real issue here is how good your processes are and whether or not you either know how to improve them or simply have the time to. For me PBN links make up maybe 5-10% of what links I build for clients, so for me it’s a highly efficient link type in any campaign.

  216. If pbn’s are greyhat what is blackhat? Good read, I like articles that can quantify ROI with link building strategies, better than reading articles about theories.
    Btw, the site looks good, don’t know what you did to spruce it up, but it’s noticeable.

  217. Just getting into the SEO part of things for my websites after several years of hoping people would find me since I didn’t want to learn about it….I have happened upon your site and I am glad I did. Although the terminology is still a bit confusing (I do look up a lot of what is being said on Google for clarification) it is all starting to make sense. A training I’m involved with is highly encouraging PBNs and my search for their relevancy brought me here. They certainly seem like a huge expense with both time and money. Great article with a very welcome alternative to PBNs.

  218. Deron,

    Thanks for the comment. Yeah, it’s time consuming, but it’s definitely something that can be outsourced. The best part is you don’t have to buy the domains 🙂

  219. Hey Nathan,

    Thanks for the great strategy suggested here.

    I used to mess with PBNs, but gave up mainly because of the vast amount of time required to keep up with it (even with a PBN app to help with content generation).

    What I like about this is that it also does not require buying a bunch of domain names. It’s as simple as looking up the backlinks and then reaching out to the upstream webmaster.

    Time consuming, surely, but I think these links would be quite valuable.

    Thanks for sharing.

  220. Hi Nathan!

    I’ve been looking to learn more about PBNs and landed on your article. May I ask if purchasing an expired domain is crucial to build one? Also, It would be absolutely wonderful if you could write a piece on – How would someone like you build one? With all the necessary caveats like not linking with GA or Search Console like you mention. Would you also advise against using Gmail? I currently use Zohomail

    Thank you

  221. Hello Gotch, thank you for sharing so insightful information.

    But, I’ve a question. Hope your response would solve it.

    Suppose, I’ve 10 keywords to work on. Could I create 5 different blogs for 5 of my keywords and start creating backlinks by blogging?

    Is it a PBN?

    Btw, I always publish the fresh content on blogs, no spin or duplicate content piece. And then, I promote the blog posts by other means, you know already.
    And nothing has ever happened to my link-profile, no links or sites ever spammed or penalized by Google.

    I do it all with proper relevancy of keywords and backlinks frequency.

    But, I don’t know if this is what is called a PBN.

    I’ve simple blogs on blogger and some on wordpress, they don’t even have their domain names, its just the or

    Please let me know if this is a PBN. Thank you.

  222. Thank you for the great article. I have a small PBN(5) for local seo. I have opened a gmail account for every 5 of them. Is it a footprint to connect each one of my PBN’s with google tools like webmasters and analytics via their own gmail accounts? Especially when I’m connecting let’s say for PBN n1, and after and so on… from the same IP? Appreciate the answer 🙂

  223. I think your cost estimations are off. Yes, having a PBN can become expensive very quickly. I’ve talked with some PBN experts with networks around 100-500 domains with a 1% or less yearly deindexing.

    1. Using a reverse proxy on your sites (not on all – that’s a red flag) will allow you to host multiple domains on the same hosting account granted that you know how to play around with the DNS.

    2. You can get high-quality domains for $10-50 if you look in the right places. No, these aren’t PBN marketplaces.

    3. Don’t use private WHOIS, Google can get around it. There’s plenty of case studies out there with more information about it. FakeNameGenerator is what the experts use.

    4. When it comes to content, if you know the right places to look you can find high-quality unique content for $0.50/100 words.

    I have nothing against what you said. Someone who doesn’t know where to look could very well pay over $100 to buy, register, host, and set up a domain.

  224. Hi Gotch,
    how about using weblogs such as tumblr as PBN?or other platforms!
    scraping them and finding the HQ ones then spamming them to death in order to get their juice pass as possible
    waiting for your answer
    thanks for your awesome article;)

  225. Thanks a lot for the valuable information. I had a doubt about it whether it is safe or not. finally I understood whether I should avoid or not. I am impressed. whenever I have a SEO related question I find your blog almost on the top

  226. nathan Hi , I’ve been thinking about making a pbn to better position , because in the Spanish market is difficult to get good backlinks , I think it’s 80% of seo if I’m not mistaken

  227. Great article, I am currently running and almost all my articles are ranking in between 10 to 40 position on google without even link building because of the quality. My question is that would you prefer me to build up a PBN and boost my ranking or simply use other white hat link building strategies like Guest posting, Broken links, etc.

  228. Hi Nathan, from your experience, can I use PBN networks to target websites with different categories? (One of my money site is about online promotion, another one is health related)

  229. That reply doesnt make sense, of course the 301 wont get 100% link juice, but i bet a million it will get more then 10% that you will be able to manage getting people to transfer to your new link.

  230. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the comment. As long as they aren’t linking to the same sites, it doesn’t matter. Keep in mind: there is never a 100% “safe” strategy when using PBNs. No matter what lengths you go through to hide them

  231. If you have PBNs in separate niches, for example 1- Healthcare (each separate site designated by latter, so 1a is one PBN site, 1b is a separate site, etc), 2 – Dating, 3 – Travel, is it ok to host 1 of each on the same account/IP range? For example:

    Registrar (using WHOIS protection):

    Godaddy – 1a, 2a, 3a
    Namecheap – 1b, 2b, 3b,

    Hosting :

    Bluehost – 1a, 2b
    Hostgator – 1b, 3a

    Then point, for example

    1a, 1b, 1c —–> Health money site
    2a, 2b, 2c —–> Dating money site

    Etc. Is this a safe strategy or should you create separate hosting / registrar accounts for EACH PBN site?

  232. Thanks for an amazing article sir.Well, I have some doubts regarding PBN’s,
    1. Can we use PBN as 301 redirect to money site ?
    2.PBN can be directly used as money site or only link passer to money site ?
    3.Do we need multiple low authority PBN’s to rank our sites or One Good authority PBN is enough (Ex :Which worth 2000$) ?

  233. Joe,

    Thanks for the comment. If the PBN sites are identified, then will get deindexed. There is a chance that all of the sites being linked to from the PBN will get a manual action as well. However, if these PBN links are a very small percentage of your overall link profile, then you should be fine. Just know that there is always a possibility for manual actions when you use PBNs.

  234. Hey Gotch, quick question. I do have some PBN links to my site, unfortunately they were in my “newer” years of SEO link building. They are from a service, but they are ranking my keywords quite well. Unfortunately, backlink crawlers are still able to see the links, and they are wide open to competitors.

    The pages themselves also have a ton of weird and irrelevant posts, so they would never pass a manual review. But regardless, I was wondering what would happen in case they did happen to get slapped or de-indexed.

    Would my site also get a penalty? Or would rankings simply go down a little because the PBN is no longer indexed/or penalized? The money site also has a lot of natural, high quality links too, so I am curious about your thoughts.


  235. Has anyone heard of this: Ant Aladdin 2.0

    Is this risky product to build links? I am very new to this and was wondering if this product could be used without the threat of a site being de-indexed or a manual being action taken.


  236. Agree with you, i am doing pbns from the last one year and none of pbns get deindexed.
    All i do add 100% unique content along with quality designed theme so the website looks legitimate.. it works perfect for my Niches..

  237. Thank you for the guide. I didn’t see you have mentioned that, but I wanted to chump in with an observation: lot of rookie PBN builders don’t work with existing domain backlinks in any way, or at the max they just 301 every 404 to the homepage… There are even WP plugins for that. But in fact it’s a deadly tactics. One totally needs to 301 all the worthy backlinks to different inner pages of the site.

  238. Like your articles very much, contain many useful information, btw, do you have some tutorial about how to find PBN domains, thanks

  239. Also please let me know about the broken link technique, I wish I could learn it here…anyone has tips? have you shared any detailed article on the topic? or can I learn it through any websource or article?

  240. Thanks for the help, I’ll proceed step by step and will see if I am able to build a strong and reliable seo strategy on my own, and I am hopeful getting more helpful tips here..

    thanks again


  241. Agree 100% with you Nathan, PBNs are still most powerful way to fight in rankings but it must be done right. I wonder if you can show any other tricks to build topic related PBN. What’s your way to acquire niche targeted domains ?

  242. Hi guys,

    I am currently in a process of building backlinks for my niche site and was looking for an alternative to PBN and web 2, as I am totally freaked out because of google penalties to PBN and web 2 linking sites…I am not sure what will work out for me, but will try Gotch’s tech definitely.. thanks for the tip… 🙂

  243. Adela,

    I agree with all of the points you made! It’s risk vs reward for me personally. I just got sick of watching sites get deindexed and having to worry about manual actions. It’s not worth the stress, time, and money in my opinion. PBNs work, but so do cleaner tactics. The cleaner tactics just take a little longer 😛

  244. Working on a “PBN” for around 4 years now. Network is now pretty big – over 400 websites, all expired websites with nice metrics. They’ve helped us grow a few money websites from scratch to page 1, a few even on the first place for some strings. Some are difficult niches – like hair loss, or male enhancement, make money online etc. I can only say that:
    1st: if you have the money, buy it! But, you are not smart enough until… you buy THE knowledge and that’s something nobody would just hand it over to you. I know some people who invested massively throughout time, experimenting, A to B testing, trying different schemas for about anything… just to learn how to manage it. Don’t think just because some people are talking about successful PBN is enough for you to get started. So yes, they’re working just fine, but in order to worth the investment and escape penalties, you need to know… stuff.
    2nd: every update, your investment is under threat. There’s no other way. Mine’s doing well, losing about 10% of my websites with each update. It is a price I have to pay. So no matter how good you are, you’re still going to lose this 10%. Add that to your investment.
    There are tons of information on this subject online. Nobody covers it. NO-BO-DY. That’s because everyone using it knows one thing and one thing only: secrecy is a kew. More PBNs = More trouble.

    3rd and last: they are working! Buy it, start exploring, do some experiments, see what’s going on. For me, with hosting, fresh content, design and linking strategy, everything I’ve set into place, one domain is around 30-40 bucks, depending on other things. Not hundreds, no complications, just the know-how.

    Payout is amazing. Could be better, but I’m still learning!

  245. How relevant does the pbn have to be? It has to be in the same niche… but does it have to be more specific than that? If your money site is shopping/sports can the pbn be shopping/jewelery?

  246. Thanks Natchan, definitely great post ( btw i’ve came to your blog from google images “PBN SEO” when i try to find something useful for my inside presentation ). Need to follow your blog more often

  247. Hi Anny,

    We’ve tested this and it isn’t very effective. Although you can buy a relevant, fresh domain, it still won’t have any authority because of its lack of links. One expired domain with relevant links is more effective than 100 fresh domains (even if they are relevant).

  248. Great information regarding the PBNs Gotch! I am into link building from few years and I am recently getting attracted to PBNs for getting the backlinks. But the main problem for me is the budget and niche. I can hardly find the expired domains that have backlinks and are related to my niche. So i am thinking about to start a PBN by buying few FRESH Domains. I know it will not be as good as expired domains PBN! What you think about it? Is it going to help or not? Or I should just drop this idea?

  249. Very well written Article. PBN’s are constantly appealing. I have actually been stung several times by Google for not placing adequate effort right into my PBN sites specifically with including top quality content to them. Currently, I comprehend it is crucial that my PBN websites ARE NOT SLIM.

  250. Broken link building is a time consuming, yet very powerful form of SEO. This is an expansion on what people have been doing with Wikipedia for years. Great post on the subject! We all need to find, or at least use our own twist on PBN’s, as the blatant footprints are getting easier to detect.

  251. Awsome article Nathan…My question its next:
    How to approach to link building and PBN setup for multiniche site?
    How PBN posting and linking should look for multiniche sites?


  252. Nikhil,

    Thanks for the comment!

    1. You should build foundational links before jumping into PBNs
    2. More posts = safer
    3. Yes, you can to increase the authority
    4. Don’t build low quality links to your private blog network

  253. Mind blowing article!

    I was seeking for this article only. I have seen many of my friends building PBN’s and ranking websites on the top of the results for highly competitive keywords. I just had few queries –

    1. After setting up a new blog and writing around 10-20 posts, should I start building a PBN or I should wait for some more time?
    2. How many posts each PBN should have?
    3. Should we build 2 tier links for PBN’s?
    4. If yes, then should it be build manually or we can buy it from fiverr?

    Thanks! 🙂

  254. I have reconstructed literally hundreds of domains and never encountered one that didn’t get a “second chance” i’ll bet that you didn’t do proper due diligence, because if you would have this would not be a problem at all.

  255. Thanks for your article.This is how I do PBN setup.
    1. Moneysite/youtube channel
    2.create 10-15 web 2.0 sites having 3 article which is in b/w 500-1500 word count .All are not expired web2.0.Some of them include
    3.Expired domain 5 nos
    How I connect

    3->2->1. I hope other got idea.I am planning to do like this.What you think ?

  256. Hi Nathan thanks alot for this great article. I has using PBN services in my local place for 6 months. And I had to admit it that is not cheap since including the fee. And I decided to learning pbn so I can reduce my cost.

    My question:
    1. what I need except domain expired, unique articles, different hosting, and private who is? Because I read in other blog and they said that the IP class should be different. I don’t understand this part, because pbn has been include private whois and different hosting.
    2. And if I already have the criteria on what you said. My next step is just post my articles and place my targeted keyword on the article. Am I right?

    Sorry about my bad language. And thank you for this great information. 🙂

  257. Jason,

    I totally agree! NoFollow and DoFollow doesn’t matter as much as the anchor text. I would avoid using keyword-rich anchors in press releases

  258. Hi Wojclech,

    Thanks for the comment! You shouldn’t quit if they are no longer effective! Just diversity and improve your skills, so it doesn’t matter whether PBNs are effective or not

  259. Hi Gotch. Great article. I absolutely love that it takes more time and effort to build a network to keep it safe for the long haul, as its weeded out alot of the spammy players in seo, and cleans the whole image of online marketing up just a tad. I’ve got a question though a little off topic…I’d like to know your thoughts on press releases and whether to use “no follow” links or not?

  260. Michael,

    Thanks for the comment! I totally agree with your PBNs not having thin content. Thin content not only puts the site in danger of deindexing, but it can also trigger a Panda penalty, which effectively makes the site useless. All of strategies are great, but I wouldn’t use spun content on tier one. Too dangerous for me 😛

  261. I have been musing over building my own PBN for quite sometime now. Your article helped me make a decision about going ahead with it. Thanks for the insightful read, outlining both the pro & cons so well.

  262. Honestly, I prefer to invest the same money – unless even less money, actually – in publishing high quality articles/advertorials on high quality related websites – paid guest posting. This way I get not only links on a high quality website, but also some nice targeted refferal traffic. When you are a customer, you can decide where to put the link in the text etc. pretty much the same way you would have done with a website you own.

  263. First comment here, Ive been following you Gotch for some time. About PBNs, I really dont Think there is any other way to build and use them, just stay smart. Day PBNs are dead will be the day I propably quit SEO as its the only “control” we can have. I dont agree about time consume to find domains, build sites, research etc – there is many tools that can help you to do it right and fast. Good point is that these days you must have budget to do SEO so all the “one click tool” users got burnt and you propably dont have to deal with them anymore;)

  264. Try building a PBN from expired web 2.0. You can get tumblr, blogspot and weebly blogs etc with PA30+ for less than a dollar each on sites like fiverr etc. Less time spent, less risk, less investment. I still have my own domains but I bulk it out with these.

  265. I place a domain purchased at auction in a web 2.0 site (blogger or wordpress Free) to not have to pay server and not run many risks leaving footprints?
    It is effective to do so?

    sorry about my english

  266. Amazing content !

    I’m doing PBN for spain niches and it’s working good actually but i’m scared about google updates 😛

    Regards, Joel

  267. I had a questoon. How will I come to know about manual action if I am not using Google Webmaster? (I think using webmaster will just make it too easy for Google to bust my PBN)

  268. Good article. I’ve read about broken link building many times but haven’t ever implemented it. Have you ever put together a full scale broken link building campaign? Can we see that email template you mentioned you’d share?

  269. Hi Gotch,
    Great Post. PBN’s are always interesting. I have been stung several times by Google for not putting enough effort into my PBN sites particularly with adding quality content to them. Now, I understand it is very important that my PBN sites ARE NOT THIN.
    I use different registrars, hosting accounts, and super spun content. And always varying anchor text leading into my money sites to keep the PENG happy. I love PBN’s and certainly don’t think there dead as long as you put effort into them. A good expired domain can last years. I usually will place at least 5 @ 1000 word articles on each site with varying outbound authority links, youtube videos, images. Still works for me. 🙂

  270. Gotch, I agree with you completely, I have been saying for quite some time that link building is like investment, you have to weigh the risk vs. the reward. Topically relevant and well-built PBN sites are a great addition to a link building strategy when you need to get a boost to make the final push onto page 1.

  271. Yes .. Its also remind me the brian sir. moving man method.. This post is also amazing . Please sharing How to rank images on google search..

  272. Thanks for the comment!

    You certainly can, but out of the gates, PBNs are better because you get immediate authority. With a web 2.0 network, you have to increase the Page Authority through tier two links for it to be effective.

  273. Hi Chris,

    Sorry for the confusion and thanks for the comment! The strategy you’re implying is to create a private blog network. The point of this article was to show you an SAFE alternative to creating a PBN. Yes, you won’t recover many of the links you reach out for. However, the links you do recover will be much more effective because they will be sending link equity and relevancy directly to your website. More importantly, this strategy is 100% safe. PBNs are not.

    * Important note: I’m not “hatin” on PBNs. I’m just trying to show some alternatives for people that don’t want to take on the risk.

  274. Hey Gotch,

    Maybe this is a little unrelated, but I would like to know:
    Can you create a PBN-esque setup with web 2.0s such as wordpress, weebly, etc?

    Thanks in advance.

  275. Hi gotch you didn’t answered:
    Ok thanks gotch, I understood, now just tell me that profile links are considered as naked links or what?
    Thanks in advance.

  276. The tactic that you are outlining here is a method of Broken Link Building. But is one that I haven’t thought of previously. I’m going to use this when I get to broken link building for the current SEO campaign I’m working on.

  277. Great article, but I’m slightly confused. Wouldn’t the link just stay and all you have to do is recreate the link URL with some decent content or from (as mentioned).
    What is the idea behind contacting the person who is linking to you? I don’t think 98% of website owners go back and look at their old outbound links. By notifying them, aren’t you in essence guaranteeing that 80% of them will drop you by your math?
    I think I’d rather take my chances that they forgot they linked to the site.
    Am I missing something here?
    Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer my question.

  278. Hi Gabriel,

    Thanks for the comment and sorry for any confusion! This strategy is all about contacting the webmasters who are linking to dead resources (expired domains)

  279. Dan,

    Thank you for the comment! Using proxies is safe measure, but isn’t necessary on web 2.0s because Google can’t see who is signing up. I definitely will share some high-converting email templates 🙂

  280. Hi Nathan,

    I don’t get it, maybe I should read it one more time. Do you need to buy the expired domain and contact the webmaster who links to the expired domain?

    I would just contact the webmaster who linked to the expired domain and tell him: the domain and business is expired and ask him to link to my niche site.

    Please reply Nathan. And thanks for taking the time to write down this wonderful piece of content.

  281. You can get away with this for a couple of times, but if you start mass redirect “rainbow marble” domains to “green marbles” it will, eventually, raise a flag; if not manual then automatic/algo penalty will apply. Better success rate with relevant domains but also tread easy. Another thing – if you just bluntly redirect expired domain, you will lose a lot of those links soonish. Been in PBN biz for last 5 years. Do a careful research in each and every domain history before you buy it, might be surprised how many spammed and dropped “very old and good” looking domains expire each day. Some of them don’t even get second chances in GWT with new owners (wonder what you gotta do to get that hard a slap).

  282. Hey Gotch, what an excellent post, I have two questions:
    1. Profile links are good for tier 1?
    2. Web 2.0 single paged based websites are indexed faster, how much tier 2 links we should build, like I usually use YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion and some social sharing sites to get links and it gets indexed, but the problem is, I don’t get my posts ranked with web 2.0’s, so please tell me how much tier 2 links I should build on my web 2.0, Thanks in advance, waiting for your reply, please respond soon, I know you will help me because you are the only one who solves other people problems, Thanks 🙂

  283. Anyone claiming that SEO and link building in particular is an easy task should read this one in order to understand how much work is needed even to acquire a simple “good” backlink. I wish it was easy to explain that to customers who want “serious” SEO services with £100/month. Thank you Nathan 🙂

  284. I recall in a previous post by you, you had dismissed the need to use a proxy IP to set up something similar (I think it might have been your web 2.0 post). Would you still agree with that with this strategy? On a side note, I would love to see some of your outreach email samples that get you a 20% success rate! That would be awesome to see!

  285. Well-done on this article, Nathan! is a great website for expired domain names. The founder, Akash, is also a great guy and very helpful!

  286. Hi Chad,

    Good question. Anything that’s “easier” in SEO is typically more dangerous. Having multiple 301s is highly fishy, so scale would be a problem. Just having the links is way more safe/effective. Plus 301’s don’t pass 100% link equity, so you would be losing out on power. Hope that makes sense and thanks for the comment!

  287. Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy the expired domain – see what links went where and use 301 redirects to the “new content” on your site?

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