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Dangers of Using PBN SEO Tacti...


Dangers of Using PBN SEO Tactics in 2024

Dangers of Using PBN SEO Tactics in 2024
The Silicon Review
19 April, 2024

PBNs are still used by many SEO professionals in 2024. However, websites that rely on PBNs for link building are at a much higher risk of deprioritization and penalties. Search engine bots continue to adapt and learn, making them better at identifying manipulative links.

Google continues to prioritize high-quality content and relevant links with keyword-rich anchor text, which doesn’t meet the definition of many PBNs. So far, in 2024, tens of thousands of websites have been penalized. If you’re one of them, it could take years to recover. (Some websites never recover.)

In this article, we’ll review what a PBN is in detail and how it works. We’ll also review whether or not PBNs technically violate Google’s search quality guidelines. A deep dive into the dangers of PBNs will also help you better understand the risks involved if you use them to rank websites.

Finally, we’ll discuss a few steps you can take if you currently have PBNs linking to your website URL while exploring better ways to generate more links of higher quality.

What Is PBN in SEO?

A private blog network (PBN) is a collection of websites built to generate backlinks and improve search rankings. Private blog networks temporarily boost a website’s domain authority in an attempt to trick Google and other search engines into thinking it deserves a higher ranking.

PBN Sites Examples

PBN sites are designed to generate backlinks. A few well-known PBNs include Green Living Blog and SEO Assassins. These websites build links from other websites they also own, manipulating link juice. In some cases, they may even build links to and from an expired domain, making it easier for Google to identify them.

It’s not always easy to identify private blog networks. However, a few things you can look out for include the following:

  • The types of referring domains to the website.
  • The ratio of follow versus nofollow links.
  • The quality of content on the website.
  • The types of backlinks within the content and their relevance to the website topic.

Many PBN owners put a lot of work into their primary website, which means it may appear to have high-quality content and good visibility. However, expired domains leading to or from it and easily visible link exchanges may indicate that it is a PBN. The website's traffic could also help distinguish PBNs from high-quality linking opportunities.

Additionally, paying attention to the website and widget designs can help better understand a website's overall quality.

How Do Private Blog Networks Work?

Private blog networks include creating different sites to generate backlinks via guest posts. PBN website owners typically purchase a domain, such as Usefulhomecrafttips.com. The main site, Useful Home Craft Tips, will include basic content, likely around home renovation and crafts.

The same site owner may then create similar websites, such as HomeprojectsDIY.com and Kitchenremodelingforbeginners.com. They will continue creating new websites, with each linking to the other and, ultimately, the main page, thus transferring link juice from one to the other. Then, they will reach out to businesses who want to boost their SEO rankings and offer them placement on these websites for a price.

The business pays the PBN owner for placement on the original site. Depending on the deal, the website owner or business may supply the blog post, anchor text, and URL. Once placed, Google recognizes that the PBN website links back to the business's website.

However, if Google discovers that the PBN website links to a wide range of other sites that are not relevant to the topic, it will quickly learn that these are not natural links.

Do PBNs Violate Search Engines Quality Guidelines?

Yes, a private blog network violates search engine quality guidelines. Here’s what Google has to say about manipulating links:

“Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam.”

Google and other search engines don’t favor websites that attempt to manipulate or trick them into higher rankings. Since PBNs are created to generate links, Google and other search bots likely consider this manipulative.

Dangers of Using PBN SEO Tactics

Private blog networks are unethical and risky for your website’s performance. A private blog network PBN included in your SEO strategy could harm your ranking and revenue and lead to a number of dangers.

Your Site Can Get Algorithmic Penalties

One of the most common outcomes of using PBN links to achieve SEO results is that your website will be penalized. Google updates its algorithm as many as 500 to 600 times per year, and algorithmic penalties are automatic deprioritizations. Many of Google’s most recent algorithm updates have prioritized the creation of high-quality content and authoritative links. Failing to do this could lead to an automatic penalty.

Manual Penalties

Websites purposefully trying to trick Google may be subject to manual penalties. Manual penalties are common and are specific penalties targeted at website owners. These penalties are often accompanied by a notification alerting the web host master what they’re doing wrong. You can find these notifications in your Google Search Console.

Recovering from penalties can be time-consuming and expensive. In fact, it’s estimated that over 70% of websites penalized by Google don’t recover previous rankings within a year. Of those that don’t recover within a year, 40% end up closing down for good. Search Engine Land reports that Google has issued over nine million manual penalties since 2020, with manipulative link-building tactics being one of the most common reasons.

Good Backlinks Are Ignored

Using private blog networks also leads to your good intended links being ignored. Any SEO work done to generate high-domain, highly reputable backlinks may be for nothing if you also use PBN links.

Google has repeatedly reported that they tend to ignore any link-building tactic that doesn’t appear natural. This could mean wasted money and time.

Private Blog Network Sites Lose Ranking Quickly

The problem with private blog networks is that they can and often do lead to a temporary increase in rankings. However, PBNs are much more likely to lose those rankings faster, even when they contain high-quality content.

Loss of Money and Effort

Many marketers fall prey to PBN link-building because it’s an easier, faster approach than generating high-quality backlinks. PBN websites also tend to be cheaper and require less effort than high-quality link-building strategies. In most cases, though, link building that uses PBN websites wastes time and money and will usually cost a business more to recover.

Google easily identifies PBNs, meaning relying on them for link building will usually result in expensive penalties. Many marketers wonder, “How much does SEO cost per month?” and while the answer depends on many factors, it’s likely to be much more when you use PBNs. Any time, money, or other resources put into link building are often wasted when PBNs are a part of your SEO strategy.

Can Your Site Belong to a PBN Unknowingly?

Yes, it’s possible for your website to unknowingly belong to a PBN. Identifying private blog networks is not always easy, which could lead to unintentional penalties. Choosing the wrong link-building agency could lead to you unknowingly having links from multiple sites on a PBN network.

Being more involved with your link-building data can help you identify when an agency is using low-quality links.

What to Do If Your Website Has PBN Links?

The quality of your backlink profile affects your rankings, whether the placement was intentional or not. If you believe some of the links pointing to your website are coming from PBN sites, you can request that Google disavow them.

However, before using Google’s disavow tool, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand your link building profile. Disavowing high-quality links could also significantly affect your SEO rankings.

Rather than proactively disavowing all suspected PBN links, consider only doing so if you receive a manual penalty notification or you’re 100% sure the links are from PBNs. Keep in mind that you may still notice a temporary drop in traffic while disavowing the unnatural link. But you’ll also protect your website from future penalties and updates.

If you decide to disavow PBN low-quality links from your website, you can do so with the following steps:

  • Determine which links you want to disavow, including link or domain.
  • Open the Google Disavow tool.
  • Upload your list as a .txt file.
  • Wait for Google to remove the spam links.


If done right, building links has the potential to generate traffic and boost rankings. However, so many marketers take the easy route and rely on PBNs to generate links. While this may temporarily boost your site’s visibility, it rarely produces long-term results.

PBNs go against Google’s quality guidelines, making them a risky choice for website owners. Instead, taking the time to reach out to industry-relevant website owners for link placement produces much better, more sustainable results.


Can Google detect PBN?

Yes, Google and search engines can detect PBN. Search engine bots attempt to ignore inbound links that appear unnatural, often leading to lower rankings. Additionally, even if some private blog networks (PBNs) are capable of tricking Google now, routine algorithm updates will increase the likelihood of website deprioritization in the future.

What does Google think of PBN links?

Google doesn’t like PBN links. Search engine guidelines don’t specifically mention PBNs, but they do stress the importance of natural, relevant links. Additionally, the fact that Google has released algorithm updates deprioritizing websites with low-value links and black hat SEO techniques shows that they’re considered unnatural links.

Does PBN still work?

A PBN network can work, albeit for a temporary period. Google search results are largely dependent on link-building strategies, and websites with multiple backlinks (even PBNs) will typically notice increased rankings.

However, as Google identifies existing websites with backlinks from the same IP address, they’re likely to deprioritize and even penalize the site. If you choose to build PBN links, you may temporarily increase your search rankings, but you also put your rankings and website traffic at risk. Other techniques, including link outreach, may offer a better, safer, and longer-lasting approach to link building.