Link building is not a quick and simple process in SEO. Considering backlinkings importance as a search engine ranking factor, getting backlinks should be the top of everyone’s agenda. Earning links from authority sites is a challenge that most find far too difficult. When guest posts are not working for you, you do not need to delve too deep into the rabbit hole to come across practices known as link pyramids and private blog networks.
Before you get too excited, these methods are both considered black hat SEO. Even those who are experienced in link building campaigns can find they end up causing more bad than good to their blog. Using black hat methods as part of your link building strategy can cause you lots of trouble. Do not trust the adverts for cheap backs that are google safe. Spending time on white hat methods is the only safe way to rank your website.
What is a Private Blog Network?
A private blog network, usually abbreviated as PBN, is a network of websites that are normally owned by a single person or team. With a few hundred websites under their control, the owners of a PNB have the ability to write dozens of blog posts with the ability to provide you backlinks in each of those blog posts. If you pay them, you can decide on the anchor text and even write the content to make sure it is sending the correct ranking signals for your domain.
Since the entire blog network is private, the owners can have full control over how they link to your site and end up providing a large amount of natural links to your website in a way that makes it hard for Google and other search engines to detect. Some PBNs are very old and can have some very high power domains inside of them. Getting backlinks from these high power domains can do wonders for your ranking as they are high quality links that will never go offline.
What’s the catch with a PBN?
This all sounds way too good to be true, because it generally is. Google do not like PBNs. They are difficult to detect and they allow people to game the system. Over the years, they have managed to take down quite a few of these private blog networks. These events often cause huge damage to people’s rankings. When a PBN is taken down, all web pages that they link to lose all of the illegal backlinks and this will undo all of the ranking bonus that people have gotten.
The example above might not seem that bad. Get away with it while you can right? Well it isn’t that simple either. The quality of a PBN is something that is not consistent. A low quality network can actually damage your website. Google doesn’t always ban a PBN. Sometimes they use them as ways to find people who are cheating. Buying a large amount of backlinks from cheap PBNs nearly always negatively impacts your website. Using a PBN to create links is a risky business.
What is a Link Pyramid?
A link pyramid is a concept that was once the ultimate way to rank in search engines. There are plenty of case studies that show how effective this once was. Unfortunately, like almost everything, Google has figured a lot of this out and regularly takes these link pyramids down.
Much like PBNs a link pyramid is made up of web 2.0 websites, regular domains and lots of social media pages. Web 2.0 websites can often be immune to spammy backlinks. So this is where the first post is made. Lots of spammy links are sent to these sites along with lots of spammy social signals. These all give this low level page some “credibility” and google will index this page, see that it is popular and it will gain some authority. This page will then link to another domain, that is a level up on the pyramid. This domain is less spammy and while it has links from the lower domains, is not riddled with spam backlinks. These sites gain far more authority as the lower level web 2.0 websites have been linking to them.
The middle level sites now have decent page rank built up. The posts here will then link to your website, aka the money site. These can pass lots of page rank and authority. It is a way of using spammy links and fake social signals without getting your website banned.
Is a PBN the same as a Link Pyramid?
The concept and end goal is the same. Both are a network or group of websites and hosting platforms that are under the control of one group. You pay for your website to be targeted by these networks in order to rank for keywords. How these networks execute the final job is where things get different.
A PBN is normally made up of regular website/domains that have expired in the past and been picked up by the network. These domains have some domain authority when they are purchased which makes them worth the investment for that PBN.
A Link pyramid is a method of using social signals and a lot of other, often spammy, methods of making a website rank on search engines. These methods can often be a bit risky and are not the most safe things to use anymore. Considering you can often buy link pyramid services for $20, it says all you need to know about the quality of these.