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Backlinking 101: The Basics of Private Blog Networks

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A private blog network (PBN) is a series of custom websites that you build to link to your main site and improve its search rankings. Essentially, it works like this: you create your main website in a specific niche that’s intended to generate income. However, with so much competition on the web nowadays, it’s incredibly difficult to get your new site to rank high in Google’s search results. A low Google ranking translates into a low number of potential customers. That’s where PBNs come in.

To give your main website a boost, you create a network of private blogs that are all related to your niche. You strategically include links to your main website within the content of your PBN sites. In doing so, you drastically improve the authority of your main website and boost it to the top of Google’s search results.

Post-“Panda” — Quality is King

Over the years, Google has employed a multitude of algorithm updates with the intention of accurately determining the quality of websites in an effort to weed out spammy sites that were gaming the system. Prior to the infamous “Panda” update of 2011, there were a myriad of sites that simply stuffed a bunch of keywords into low-quality posts. They would then buy backlinks to those posts on low-quality public blog networks, and the spammy posts would shoot to the top of Google’s search results.

Those tactics no longer work. Google now uses advanced algorithms to analyze the content of a website — the length of a post, the formatting, and the vocabulary used are all factored into Google’s search results. Even advanced linguistic factors such as the syntax and sentence structure of posts are analyzed by Google’s algorithms.

Backlinks Are a Close Second

Posting properly-formatted, high-quality content is the first step toward search engine optimization as well as user engagement. However, if your niche has a lot of competition, quality content isn’t enough to rise to the top. That’s where backlinks come in.

Google uses scripts to constantly comb the web and find out which sites are linking to each other. If a website has a large number of other websites backlinking to it, that website is perceived to be more authoritative. Essentially, the backlinks your site receives are akin to “likes” on a social media network. They show Google that your site is worthy of citation, and thus worthy of its search engine users.

When It Comes to Backlinks, Quality Is Still King

In the same way that the quality of your website’s content is paramount, the quality of your backlinks is extremely important. In fact, receiving a huge number of backlinks from spammy services such as link farms and low-quality public blog networks can actually hurt your search rankings. In some cases, it can even get your site delisted from Google’s results altogether.

To properly boost your site via backlinks, you need relevant citations from quality external sites. That’s where creating a private blog network comes in.

Private Blog Networking 101

Creating your own PBN gives you control over which websites are linking back to your main site. First, you need to create quality content on your PBN sites — posting shallow content stuffed with keywords and links will be perceived as spam by Google. In contrast, posting quality articles with relevant links back to your main site will drastically increase your site’s authority and search rankings. When building your private blog network, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your results are optimal.

1 — Stay Focused: Each one of your private blogs should focus on a specific keyword related to your main site’s niche. For example, if you’re trying to rank a site that offers automotive maintenance services, create a series of separate blogs that focus on unique services. One blog should focus on engine maintenance, one blog should focus on brake maintenance, one blog should focus on exterior car care, etc.

2 — Relevant Anchor Text: Include no more than one link back to your main site in each article you post on your private blogs. Make sure the main page you link to is relevant to the private blog article. Also, include relevant anchor text in your link. To continue with the above example, post a quality article on your engine maintenance blog about how to change oil filters. Within the article, link a phrase such as “oil filter replacement” to a page on your main site about the oil change services your business offers.

3 — Link Location: Generally, it’s better if you include the backlink to your main site organically within the first half of the private blog article. That will help make your main site seem more authoritative. Tacking on a paragraph at the end of the article with a backlink will be perceived as spammy if you do it too often.

4 — Authoritative External Linking: In addition to linking back to your main site, include high-quality external citations within your private blog articles. That will help further increase the authority of your private blog network and give your sites more legitimacy. When possible, cite top-ranking sites as well as sites with a “.edu” or “.gov” domain, as those citations will be inherently perceived as more authoritative.

5 — Play the Long Game: Your private blog network won’t take off over night, nor will the main site that you’re creating backlinks for. To properly build a PBN and boost your main site requires patience and perseverance. The more quality content you post, the more authoritative your network becomes. Over time, Google will begin to index your network of sites higher in its search results, and the quality of the backlinks to your main site will drastically increase as a result.

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