Private blog networks aren’t dead – They are just private

 

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If you look on a lot of SEO forums you will inevitably see a selection of forum posts from two camps; one that says that private blog networks (PBNs) are dead and the one that is shouting that they are fantastic and still going strong.

The camp that is proclaiming that they are dead are probably the people that also often shout about how SEO is dead too. These people could have garnered their opinions based on the high profile de-indexing by Google of several high profile blog networks in recent times.

The camp that are proclaiming that private blog networks are alive and kicking splits into 2 sub-groups; There is the group that claims how great these blog networks are doing so well, and so strongly do so with mixed motives, as many of them are selling links on blog networks which are supposedly private. The other group know the truth – that private blog networks are not dead; they are just private!

What?!! Private blog networks aren’t dead!

Private blog networks are very much alive and kicking and still a very strong tool to promote your website. This almost mythical SEO tool causes quite a stir in the community because so many people have misconceptions about what they are and how they work.

The wrong type of private blog network

The wrong type of private blog networks are the ones that you see posted all over SEO forums. Normally they will claim to have zero footprint, the link authority of Google itself and be yours for $9.99! OK, I would love to be able to say that I was exaggerating but I am not sadly. I have one thing to say about these networks. If you are thinking about buying links on one to your business/brand websites don’t! If you can pay twenty dollars or whatever for a link on a blog, so can Google. These people’s networks will eventually get burned because they are being too blatant about it, and your relevant link may be among 5 or 10 non-relevant links. These sites will often have really thin content and are usually built from expired domains that have a bit of legacy authority.

The right type of private blog network

The right type of private blog network is one that you have built for yourself; it doesn’t even have to be just blogs. This network of sites doesn’t have to be huge in number, just really high quality. Why high quality if it is just for SEO you might say? The secret is to make the sites authoritative in their own right. This means that they are not spammy and can still pass on plenty of link juice to your main business website. This may take a lot of hard work, time and potentially money but it is really the safest long term solution. The better you make these websites the more authority they can pass to your main websites. A good natural link from a strong website can often be more powerful than 5 lower quality links.

If you don’t want people to know that these websites are linked you can block the crawling of all of the tools such as Moz, Majectic and ahrefs etc, but don’t block search engines! This will mean that when people do link research on your main website, and they will do if you are in front, they won’t see your private websites in their lists.

What if I am promoting churn and burn websites?

If you are creating churn and burn websites the rules change to some degree. If you are blatantly churning and burning a money making website then the decision of spending loads of time on your own private network of websites isn’t as critical. Likely you will have multiple websites in different states of progress. In this case anything is game, of course at some point churning and burning becomes a grind of building a high converting website and promoting it to see it be dead and buried by Google, sometimes within weeks.

Are private networks worth it?

If you are willing to put the time and effort into building a few really high quality websites to have in your network it is most definitely worth it. You can use these to link to several of your own related websites, and if the blogs/sites become successful enough in their own right you can monetize them too! Just don’t advertise them on forums.

Image credit: Peter Lee.

Should you have a blog on your business website?

If you speak to a lot of people about SEO one of the first things that many of them say is that you need to add a blog to your website because they are great for SEO, but this is often heavily misunderstood. In some cases a blog is an ideal way to add more content but in others it is the wrong approach.

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Are blogs great for SEO?

The truth is that it is the content that is great for SEO; the blog has little to do with it. The only benefit to blogs is that most common blog platforms and themes lend themselves well to allowing search engines to crawl the content. This is just as achievable in the rest of your website though! So what does this mean? Should you add a blog to your business website? This all depends on what you are going to put on it.

Everyone starts a blog with good intentions, but unless you are going to post engaging content regularly a blog isn’t really worth it. Why, you may ask? A blog that has not been updated, sitting abandoned with only a couple of posts makes the site look unfocused and un-maintained. This can counteract the rest of a website that is proclaiming enthusiasm, focus and delivery of any product.

Why are you considering adding a blog to your website?

If you are thinking about adding a blog to your business website to develop a community and engage with your customers a blog is a fantastic tool. It can be a great way to show how personable and transparent your business is, which can help to positively influence people’s buying decisions. It is important to have genuine content on your blog as users are savvy and will spot fake content that is only there to force feed a product right away. This way of blogging can be really effective and also have some SEO and social benefits. Here is how:

  • SEO value – Lots of relevant blog posts can often be a great way to rank in search engines for long tail terms. If you post a lot of guides or useful information it can also be a great way for people to discover your brand.
  • Social media – Assuming you are active on social media, your blog posts will be a great resource to share with your followers. If people share your content and link back to your content it can make your website look more popular and have some SEO benefit too! This could be enough to make someone choose your brand over another.
  • More traffic – If done well, your blog should help you to generate more traffic for your website, and that’s the goal right!?

What not to do on your blog

It is important to not be too spammy with your blog. Force feeding products to visitors without any engaging content is just a turn off. Some companies take advice from shady SEO companies to add blogs purely for SEO ranking purposes. These splogs (spammy blogs) are often hidden away so that only search engines can find them. The posts on these blogs are often very poor content that is really spammy and full of links to pages on the website with a view to manipulating search rankings. This is a terrible approach and if the post is successful at helping search it could be a way people find your site. You don’t want someone’s first encounter of your brand to be some really spammy blog post that has no engagement potential at all do you?

Blogs can be a really good addition to your website

Blogs can be a really good addition to your website and a great way of generating extra traffic and exposure to your brand. It is important to have the right intentions for your blog to maximise the potential gains, which are huge.

Should you add one?

If you think that you can dedicate the time to regularly publish great content you should definitely consider adding a blog. You could also get your staff to help! If you feel that you only have the potential to add a couple of articles all together to your site why not consider adding them to a help or information on your website that looks less time based. Wherever you place your content, good content is always useful as long as it is relevant.

Happy writing and good luck!

Low Quality Blogs – Google Parrot Update Target?

Google parrot updateHaving a blog has long been rumoured to help SEO. Sadly what most people don’t get is that a car is great for travel, if you can drive it well… There are so many bad “blogs” out there now that I wonder if Google is looking for a way to sort the wheat from the chaff in its next parrot update. (I decided to call it the parrot update because I’m sick of hearing about panda update 3.142b etc.!)

When it emerged that Google was looking at fresh content as a ranking consideration people selling SEO rubbed their hands with glee across the world. If Google has said that fresh content is a must it is an easy sell to people who have relatively static websites. “Just post news and events articles on your blog a few times a day containing keywords and the world will be your oyster”. Continue reading