As SEO strategies go, few have become as hyped as building a private blog network. It’s true, PBNs can offer a quick, easy blast of power. When done right they can be a near unstoppable, almost undetectable ranking strategy.
But considering the work involved in building your own network it’s not always clear that a PBN is the right tool for the job. It's hard work protecting your sites from competitors and Google. Could you get simpler, cheaper results through content marketing? Or even just outreaching to bloggers and exchanging a link for products, bribes or cold hard cash?
Given the hype, it’s definitely worth remembering there is more than one way to skin a cat. Any effective SEO...
A blog network is a major investment in both money and time. It’s important to set goals before you start. Decide how you wish to structure you network and links to make sure you don’t make costly mistakes.
Link Quality vs Domain Quantity
The first question you need to answer is will you build a big network of weak domains, or a smaller, stronger network? This can have a major impact on the cost and design of your network.
There are two key factors that go into this decision:
How many sites are you targeting?
If you are running an authority site in a single niche it may be more appropriate to focus on a handful of quality domains with strong metrics.
If you run a network...
Perhaps one of the biggest taboos in the hype surrounding building private blog networks is just how expensive they can be!
How much could a PBN really cost?
Imagine you evaluated your niche and decided you needed at minimum 80 strong domains to hit #1 for a head term. You’d done your research and knew that diverse IPs were vital, so you hit WebHostingTalk and hoovered up all the $12 hosting deals. You still needed more, so you raised your limit to $40/year, figuring you’d average out at $25 per year per domain.
80 hosting accounts
80 accounts * $25= $2,000
You also didn’t want to waste your time with low DA domains so you hit the auctions, spending an average $...
Footprints in a blog network are the obvious signals that the sites that link to you belong to the same person or persons. They could be spotted by your competitors, Google the machine or their manual reviewers.
Most importantly, they are signals that your links are not earnt but deliberately built to manipulate and improve your rankings.
Understanding what footprints matter
If we sit down to list all the things that could constitute a footprint, we’d be here all week. A scan of the blackhat forums throw up any number of crazy theories of what is a hazard for your site – some credible, some less so.
It makes life simpler if you break down the signals into two categories. There are...
To build a blog network, you need domains for your sites to live on. In general you have 3 options:
Using expired domains where you build off somebody else’s link equity
Use fresh domains that you can build into a relevant pumper site
Using someone else’s site entirely – a web 2.0 network, for example.
Sourcing expired domains
Using expired domains is the quickest way to see an impact from building your own blog network. By selecting the best domains you can find in your niche you can enjoy backlinks you may never have earnt by yourself.
If you can score niche relevant domains with strong, authoritative backlinks from traditional media or the kings of your niche you could be...
So you have your strategy, you have your domains and you have an idea of how you’re going to build out your sites. All that’s left is finding a place for them to live.
Would you open your office here?
Hosting your domains
We believe the true make or break factor when building a blog network is your choice of hosting. Get it right, and you’ll be hiding in the open, surrounded by other quality websites and basking in their reflective glory.
Get it wrong and you’ll be trawling the sewers with the detritus of the internet. In this neighbourhood it’s shoot first, ask questions later.
Good and bad neighbourhoods
An age old theory in SEO is the concept of good...
Once you’ve bought your domains, configured and hosted them you need to fill them with content to justify their existence. Here are a few of the options:
If you’re looking for a quality network then forking out for real content is not a terrible idea. You’ll need to write in moderation to avoid costs getting out of control. Yet with online writing so cheap it’s not impossible to knock out 10-20 mini sites to support an important money site.
Your options here range in cost and quality. Hiring an apprentice or starving university student could be as cheap or cheaper than outsourcing. But keeping it in-house gives you more control over content quality.
Online there are...
Once your network is set up, your blogs are hosted and your content is primed, you need to look at management options.
Posting content to your domains
If you are using Wordpress this should be pretty straightforward. Login, add a post, copy, paste and publish. Things get far more complicated once you have 10, 50 or even 100 blogs. You can task a VA with uploading all your content, but we’d recommend looking at using automated tools. These allow you to plan and schedule the delivery of your content with ease.
Some WP management tools such as MainWP have content posting baked in. Content generators such as Seo Content Machine and Kontent Machine also come with posting tools...