Why I Don't Use Private Blog Networks (PBNs) for my Sites Anymore – Niche Site Roller Coaster

by    SEO Services   Monday, June 12th, 2017

If you’re interested in Private Blog Networks [PBN]s then you’ve come to the right place. But I’m not going here to say why they’re great. I’m here to say why I don’t use them at all anymore.

I’ll be the first to say they’re an incredibly efficient way to rank a website quickly. But I stay away from them. And today I’m going to tell you why.

Rewinding back five years ago I was unaware about internet marketing, and I was unaware you could make money online. In fact, I didn’t even know what WordPress was!

I started in 2013 when the SEO landscape was much different to how it is now. Initially, I stumbled across the SmartPassiveIncome podcast with Pat Flynn.

While listening to every podcast he had, I came across an episode with Spencer Haws.

I was hooked, to say the least!

At that time Spencer had just launched Niche Site Project 1.0 (thanks for the name Spencer)!

Back then Spencer was at the leading edge of the SEO industry, and he was a big promoter of PBN’s. The concept was frowned upon, but everyone was doing it including the big names.

If you go back to 2011, you’ll see “SEO that works” blog posts by Pat Flynn recommending what’s now considered to be ineffective gray hat tactics.

I launched my career on what Spencer and others were implementing. It worked well! I was able to rank two search terms – one with 1,500 and another with 6,000 searches per month to number one within 2 – 3 months.

Now it can take you 6-18 months depending on how competitive the term.

Within 6 months the site I was working on was making over $6,000

But soon after that in Jan 2014 Google detected unnatural links and penalized the site.

It went from getting 1,300 unique visitors per day to around 100. Income dropped from a few hundred dollars a day to around $100 a month.

This business model is volatile if you’re violating the Google terms of conditions.

Fast forward to September 2014 I had set up some other sites, using a PBN of around 50 sites, which I shared around a small group of friends.

The PBN got exposed, and I received another email from Google. This time the email stated that I had “thin content,” and I was penalised again. At the point, I learned my lesson.
In 2013 I did well and made a good sum of money, but in 2014 I was penalised twice and lost it all.

Some from then I decided I wanted to make an income source that I could rely on. So I stopped using PBNs because no matter how careful you are PBNs are riskier than White Hat.

Being an affiliate marketer is an interesting place because you’re not in control of where the traffic comes from – Google is. And you’re not in control of the Affiliate model – Amazon is. In fact, in March 2017 Amazon changed their commission tier meaning that I took over a 30% hit in fees.

But you have to adapt, and that’s the name of the game. Ultimately I want to be part of a business model that’s low risk, and I want to have a site that I’d be happy to show to my parents.

So for me with the long term time frame for building links, I think it’s the way to go.

What do you think?

Do you use PBNs for niche websites?