Lesson 1: Should you use a blog network?

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 should be considering both the risk to their money sites and the upfront and recurring costs of building a network.

When you shouldn’t use a private blog network

When operating in a non-commercial or easy-to-share niche

Run a site on cuddly animals like kittens?  A hobby people obsess about? A cause such as the environment or sick children? You could get these links for free by writing something people care about

When operating in a popular niche with a large blogosphere. (For example, fashion, cooking, DIY and travel. ) 

You are likely to succeed with quality content. Mature blogging communities are much more receptive to the idea of trading a post for a link. Outreach for paid links can be quick and to the point in these niches. With a near endless long tail of bloggers there are few limits to the potential you could score a link from.

When you couldn’t bear the risk of losing your site.

All SEO activities imply some level of risk. Google hates the idea that you could be successful online without paying them their tax. 

But there is a big distinction between lower risk activities and 'black-hat' activities.  These include building blog networks, bulk directory submissions and all out spam.

Only you know the level of risk you are willing to take on your own websites. You should discuss with clients the approach they want to take too.

When you should use a blog network

When you operate in embarrassing or unpopular niches

Work in payday loans, gambling or sexual health testing? There are some niches where it is nigh impossible to get natural links to your website

When relevant websites have absurd notions of the value of a link

Ever reached out to a blogger to find their low quality website is worth $500 per sponsored post? Does the world wants more for a link than you will to pay?  It may be cheaper to manufacture your own links than pay for them.

To hide your strategies from your competitors

Want a website that looks whiter than white? If you have a PBN you can build 100% brand anchors in your 'public' link profile. Then you blast your site with the exact anchor text you need to rank in private. Nobody will ever know - especially not your competitors.

To add weight to an existing strategy

Have you have done all that ‘real company shit’? With genuine PR, infographics, guest posts and relevant industry linking you should be sat on a pretty pile of authority. Yet there is a huge difference between being on the first page and ranking #1. A blog network allows you to laser target specific anchors, pages and rankings. That push over the line can take your revenue from ordinary to amazing. 

Too risky after all that investment in quality content? There’s no reason you can’t operate a network that never links to your money site. You can build one solely to add tier two power to quality ‘earnt’ links that cost so much blood sweat and tears. 

To keep total control of your links

Whether you beg, borrow or bribe your way to links on other people’s websites, you are always at their mercy. Your link might have the wrong anchor text, be nofollow and or you might get no link at all! 
 Unscrupulous webmasters might decide to hoard their page rank and cut off the link flow with nofollow. Web redesigns might delete the page you worked so hard to get a link from. To top it all, thousands of websites die of neglect every day. By owning your link network you know that when you place a link it sticks. 

To get links you would never get otherwise

We all aspire to greatness. But the reality is it is near impossible to build a world class website on a bootstrapped budget. Buying a powerful industry domain at auction allows us to ‘level up’ your authority and trust. The added revenue from better rankings  allows us to invest more into a site’s quality and content.

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