Can You Use Niche Sites For a Private Blog Network?
Someone asked me a question a few weeks back.
“Jamie… can I build niche sites to use in a PBN?”
Now, I had to look up what a PBN was. It turns out that a PBN is a private blog network.
Let’s start by defining that because outside of SEO forums, most people aren’t going to be familiar with the term.
What Is A Private Blog Network?
If you’ve read a little about building websites, then you’ll know that building links to your website is important.
You can use Twitter, leave blog comments, leave your link on Reddit or on forums, or if those things fail or you’re impatient, you can spam the hell out of everyone.
I don’t recommend the latter.
It’s only a matter of time, when you’re doing something slightly below board, before the big dog in the park decides you’re a threat and bites your face off. In this case, the dog is Google and your website’s traffic is your face.
Now, there exists an alternative to having loads of people link to your website: Build a load of websites yourself, link to your website from those satellite sites and presumably profit from having people link to your website.
That’s what a PBN is, basically.
Now, spammers, scammers and get-rich-quick-er’s, as always, have made this process incredibly complicated. They’ll make sure they never use the same hosting, obfuscate all their contact details and adopt pseudonyms because the idea with a PBN is to make it look like other sites are linking to you.
Then they’ll put up a five page website that links directly to their site and think, “Boy… got ‘em fooled this time!”
You’d be forgiven for thinking that I think the idea of a Private Blog Network is stupid for this reason. I don’t though… but with a caveat.
The Goal Of a Private Blog Network Is To Provide Real Backlinks Using A “Fake” Site
Or, To Go The Long Way Round To Get To The Short Cut
Yes, you can build niche sites that have a major goal of sending traffic to your main site.
Google and related search engines don’t specifically say, “Hey Jimmy… you’re only allowed one site ever and any others are banned from our search engine!”
That’s not their goal with the whole backlinking thing. The backlink metrics are designed to group relevant sites and make sure that people don’t get ahead by creating hundreds of low level sites that serve only to bump sites up the rankings when they don’t deserve to be there.
Now, when you go through the whole “anonymous hiding stuff for a five page website” you’re relying on the fact you won’t get found out… because the minute you do, you look as dodgy as a guy standing outside a kebab shop at 1am on a Saturday morning selling “Paracetamol.”
In reality, you’re better off just following the guidelines.
If you’re building multiple niche sites in a niche and it’s a niche you’re in an authority in, then you won’t have a problem when you link to and from sites. Why? Because it makes sense.
In fact, back when I was doing the niche site challenge, I wrote about the opposite problem: None of my websites are in a niche related to copywriting, so I can’t send any of the traffic between my sites.
Take my friend Kyle for instance. He runs an authority site, ThisIsTrouble.com, which is basically a Digital Nomad authority site. He writes about travel, dating and online business.
Now, he also has several smaller sites. One is specific to Ukraine, another specific to Eastern Europe. He also has sites specifically set up to host his online products too.
Now, Google’s search engine spiders will look at all of those sites and say, “Hey… these are real sites and they’re pretty consistent in what they talk about.”
Essentially, they’ll pass the “real site” test better than anything you could fake, because they’re real sites. They have a real purpose, real visitors and unique content.
Now, if and when Kyle links from This Is Trouble to Ukraine Living, Google’s algorithm isn’t going to say, “Hey… this guy is sending traffic from one place to another burn him!” because the subjects are related and it makes total sense.
They’re also not going to say, “Gosh darnit! Look at that EVIL internet marketer with two websites!” They don’t care. If you have two high quality sites that bounce links between each other in a totally natural fashion, then that’s good.
Back To Niche Sites
Fundamentally, you won’t have a problem if you build niche sites in the way I tell you, because I’ve never recommended anything other than building real sites with unique content and real value.
If you build niche sites in that way and they’re related to your authority website, then go ahead. Don’t, for instance, link your niche site on Alpaca wool fibres to your internet consultancy business because it a) doesn’t make sense for search engines, but more importantly b) it won’t make sense for visitors. They’ll all leave and you’ll get a high bounce rate and thus poor performance.
But say you have a niche site that reviews WordPress plugins and you’re also a computer programmer by trade… link to your niche site. It won’t kill your sites.
Now, should you build niche sites solely to link to your main site?
I’d say no but it has nothing to do with backlinks or search engines.
It’s more the fact that you’re wasting your time and domain name on a property that doesn’t directly make money. You can build a niche site that generates small amounts of revenue through advertising and product sales. You can also link to your authority website as a secondary goal.
So why not both?
It’s easy to over-complicate online business. There’s no sense in making it more complicated for yourself than it has to be.
The problem with “playing the game” with search engines is that they’re better at it than you and they have infinitely more resources.
As far as building websites go… the rules are simple. Build high quality websites that people want to visit and use, and they will be successful. If it makes sense to link your properties from that standpoint, then link them. If it doesn’t, then don’t.
With niche sites and arguably any websites outside of hobbyist blogs, your big goals should be 1) provide value and 2) generate income. There’s little sense in building a site just to link to another site when you could throw up a review every now and then and share some thoughts on relevant news stories and go from “PBN” to “Actual network of real sites with real purposes.”
Of course these are just my thoughts. You should always test these things out yourself.