PBN Backlinks: Should You Use These Links?

PBN Links

Ranking high on search results takes time and consistent effort. You need to build authority, be seen, and be upvoted by other sites – best if they are authoritative sites too.

But that’s too much “waiting.” Isn’t it?

You need results now. You want to rank your money sites on the first page.

Why not try PBN (Private Blog Network) backlinks?

You heard PBN links are a thing and are being advertised all over marketplaces. Then, they must work. Right?

PBN links must be GOOD and SAFE for SEO. But are they?

Let’s find out!

This article shall provide all the answers to your inquiries. Here is a summary of what to expect:

Like the name, PBN backlinks are links generated from PBNs – a hive of blogs and sites that are privately owned.

The primary goal of PBNs is to pass authority votes to a website through PBN backlinks. In turn, the website gets a boost to rank high on search results.

So, does this link-building strategy work?

Yes (limited), but not sustainable!

How Do PBNs Work?

Generally, the logic behind linking building strategy is that the more websites point to your site, the more authority you have. Search engine algorithms also follow that logic.

In fact, Google checks your link profile to rank your site. And if several links upvote your site, Google translates that as an authority.

PBNs and PBN backlinks use that same logic too.

With PBNs, however, you’re circumventing the convention and organic practice. As a result, search engine bots might penalize your site.

Note: being penalized for using PBN backlinks wasn’t the norm years back. Recently, search algorithms have evolved and sought those using PBN links to boost their site.

The said penalties could even be severe if you generate links from external sources.

You can generate PBN backlinks for your site in two ways:

  • Do it yourself
  • Get the links from sellers

To generate DIY PBN backlinks, you must build a network of sites and blogs. That would serve as the little pointers to your website.

However, this method can cost a fortune. Plus, the maintenance will eventually take its toll on you.

Regardless, DIY PBN backlinks are safe – limited. Since the networks are yours, they might escape Google’s scrutiny for a long time – if run effectively.

Eventually, however, even the DIY PBN backlinks will be discovered by Google.

On the other hand, you could acquire PBN backlinks from sellers. These providers already have existing networks. As a result, you can cut spending and time to build enough ranking juice for your site.

Unfortunately, you don’t know how the external PBN backlinks were built. That aside, other businesses are probably using the same set of PBNs.

In other words, the PBNs would already be under Google’s radar. The likeliness of your site being flagged and penalized is relatively high.

So, perhaps you shouldn’t use PBN backlinks. We’ll discuss the pros and cons later in this article.

But first, let’s see if PBN backlinks contribute to SEO.

For starters, you must understand that all linked websites are not PBNs. If you own a couple of sites, there is nothing wrong with linking them at the top bar.

Think of the strategy as adding product/service pages to a site.

Linking to sites at the top bar is 100% okay. Adobe does something similar for its products.

Another example of a website network is the Gizmodo Media Group. They (the company) linked to several (11) websites at the top bar of their homepage. Different sites but the same owner!

In such cases, a website network is not a PBN. And fortunately, such a strategy is GOOD for SEO and is sustainable.

At this point, the chances are that you are confused between PBNs and other website networks. How can you tell the difference?

To avoid confusion, let’s discuss how PBNs are built.

How Are PBNs Built?

PBNs, unlike other website networks, are built primarily for link-building purposes.

And unlike other strategies that involve working one’s site up search results with links from authority websites organically, PBNs are shady.

PBNs use the same technique synonymous with link farms: building sites on aged, expired domains. Why?

Aged domains have some authority votes – thanks to the previous owner’s activities.

Fun twist: PBN owners trick search engine algorithms by hosting their private sites on different hosts. Yet, the sites are found out. That’s why they are always buying aged domains to build new networks.

All that is left is to manage the authority with relevant and informational content. Unfortunately, most PBN owners resort to cheap, spun articles to save costs.

The two terms (PBNs and link farms) are somewhat interwoven. In fact, a link farm can be a PBN. How so?

All sites in a link farm are interconnected like in a PBN.

So, can a PBN be a link farm?

Hardly. Here is why:

Link farms, while interlinking with each other, rank together. On the other hand, PBNs send all the ranking juice to a different site – outside the network.

Another thing to note about link farms and PBNs is the intention behind creating them. The former is often built for shady link-building purposes.

PBNs, on the other hand, are less shady – especially the ones for personal sites.

Overall: PBNs or link farms might boost your site’s ranking temporarily. However, none of the two is a permanent or sustainable fix.

And BTW, you don’t have to believe us with mere words. Hear what Google has to say below.

What Is Google Saying About PBNs?

Unfortunately, Google didn’t come out to say no to PBNs. However, when you check their guidelines about link spam, you’ll find that the following are frowned upon:

  1. Exchanging money for links or posts that contain links
  2. Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  3. Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
  4. Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles or links with optimized anchor text in articles, guest posts, or press releases distributed on other sites.
  5. Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
  6. Keyword-rich, hidden, or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites
  7. Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites.

If you check all the 7 rules, you’ll find a correlation with the basics of PBNs – how they are built and run.

So, it’s best to avoid PBNs.

Despite the publicized stance of Google about PBNs and shady links, people still buy them. Perhaps you should too.

To be fair: we can’t just deny or discard PBNs. They are everywhere. And to a considerable extent, people get results with them when used sparingly – well, at least till Google discovers them.

But is that what you want? A ranking solution until Google discovers, and you’re back to square 1?

Probably not!

The pros and cons below will guide you to the best decision.

  • PBN link-building strategies are easy and faster than the organic methods
  • You can create the links in a short time frame and in bulk to selected pages
  • They are exceptional tools for transient ranking and can be free 100% if your own the networks
  • PBNs only offer short-term ranking benefits.
  • Even when you own the networks, PBNs are not free. You have to acquire the sites, host them, and get content. Even AI-spun articles are not cheap – considering you’d need several articles published.
  • The links are worthless as soon as they are discovered.
  • Your site might be penalized.
  • Unfortunately, you can’t cash out on what’s left of your PBN. No one wants to build on a flagged site.

Still not sure if you should build or acquire PBN backlinks?

Check this out:

Wasted Effort And Resources

If you spend weeks or months building a PBN, it will all be a waste in the end. The temporary increase in rankings will drop after a few weeks.

Worse case: despite the efforts, you might not even see the “temporary” ranking boost. Google might detect your shady links from the get-go.

This case is less common for DIY PBN but common for external sources PBN backlinks. The chances are that the latter is already on Google’s “blacklist.”

Dealing With Penalties

Note: using PBN backlinks doesn’t always result in penalties. Google ranking algorithm might ignore your tweaks altogether. Here is why:

If all PBN backlinks result in a penalty or ban, people will soon use that glitch to attack their competition. Competitors will send backlinks from the “worst source” to your site to cripple your rankings.

While PBN backlinks don’t always result in a ban, there are still penalties. If you seek PBNs to game your rankings, a “human” reviewer will check your site.

And when you are eventually found guilty, your rankings will be decreased, or your site could be removed from search results altogether.

Know this: before any penalty is enforced, you will receive warnings on your Google Search Console (GSC).


You are better off without PBN backlinks. They are too much headache for results that won’t even stick.

But wait, what if you take our advice and receive warnings on your GSC about PBN backlinks? What can you do? Can you fix the issue?

Find out below!

Negative SEO tactics exist; your competition might intentionally send shady backlinks to your site. In that case, you might get warnings on your GSC.

Also, if you outsource link building to an agency, they might use PBN backlinks.

Either way: let’s show you how to check your sites for PBN backlinks. And if they were indeed pointing to you, we’ll guide you to remove the unhealthy links.

Thankfully, spotting PBN backlinks is not a technical process. Anyone can do it with Ahrefs or Moz.

The Ahrefs method is straightforward. So, we’ll focus on that below.

  • Visit Ahrefs dashboard.
  • Input your URL in the bar.
  • Look towards the “Backlink profile” at the left side of the page; click “backlinks.”
  • Now, sort the results by “Dofollow.”
  • If the domain setting is not set to “One link per domain,” make it so.

By now, you should see a result page like this:

Check for any sudden spike in the page traffic. Also, look at the anchor text for any suspicions.

You can analyze the referring domains further for the quality of the content. Are the articles well written?

Lastly, check for the “about page.” If you can’t find it, the chances are that the links are shady.

If the Ahrefs site audit only revealed a few PBN backlinks, you might not do anything. In that case, stop working with the agency you’re using. Or focus on healthy link-building strategies.

However, if the shady links are too many, create a “disavow file.”

A disavow file is just a text file that contains all shady links to your site.

Now, send the list to Google. Do that by uploading the file in your GSC> disavow tool.

Note: disavowing a link might take some time.

Now that we’ve agreed that PBN backlinks are not healthy and good for SEO, what method should you use?

How can you build links to your site the RIGHT way?

Instead of PBN backlinks, prioritize blogger outreach and guest posting. Build genuine relationships with owners and authors of authority sources in your niche.

More importantly, write articles worthy of your site and reputation.

That way, you will increase the chances of your content being published – and getting the RIGHT backlinks.

The only issue is: guest posting and outreach take time.

But don’t fret; we can help!