The dirty little secret of the SEO industry

In this episode, Alex explains what you need to know about Private Blog Networks if you invest in SEO with an agency.


Hey, my name’s Alex Cleanthous, Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits, and today I’ll be talking about one of the dirty little secrets of the SEO industry, private blog networks, and what you need to know about them.

If you already know what a private blog network is and how to protect yourself from it, then you don’t need to watch this video. Otherwise keep watching.

Private blog networks are nothing new, but ever since Google cracked down on most forms of aggressive link building, private blog networks have made a big comeback, especially with SEO companies in Australia.

For those of you who don’t know, a private blog network (also referred to as a PBN) is a group of websites owned by one person (or company) for the purposes of increasing the rankings of their own websites.

Here’s how it works…

There are thousands of domains expiring every day, many of which have strong SEO value (because of their backlinks). A private blog network owner buys expired domains with SEO value, and installs a blog on those sites. They then proceed to (usually) write low quality content and then stuff a link in the content to the site they want to rank.

Private Blog Networks are powerful because they can get you results faster and at a lower cost than pretty much any other SEO strategy out there.

And because of their prevalence, Google is putting a lot of focus in catching them out.

And when Google puts its mind to something, they’re very effective in achieving their goal.

There was one example from Germany where an SEO agency and all its clients were banned by Google because of their blog network.

There are many other examples as well.

Private Blog Networks certainly have appeal for any company that wants to rank their website at the top of Google, but make no mistake that this is a very risk tactic that is getting riskier everyday.

The most important thing you should know is that A LOT of SEO agencies have their own private blog networks and this is how they deliver rankings to their clients. It’s one of the reasons why they can offer such cheap SEO with such strong guarantees – because they don’t have any cost in delivering their service. They just put up a bunch of links across their websites and wait for the results to come in. And they do come in.

What’s my stance on private blog networks?

If you don’t care about the long term success of your website’s rankings (or you don’t have the budget to invest in white-hat SEO but you need results fast) then go right ahead and find an agency that has a private blog network they can link to your website to increase its rankings.

You’ll probably get some good SEO rankings in the short-term but don’t be surprised if you wake up one day and your website has disappeared from the search results completely.

But if you care about the long-term success of your website’s rankings, then my recommendation is to avoid private blog networks at all costs.

At Web Profits, we stay away from private blog networks because we’re in this for the long run, and we won’t do anything that will jeopardise your website’s rankings – it makes achieving SEO results slower, but a lot more stable.

At Web Profits we’re on a mission to change the way business is done online. To find out more about some of our latest initiatives get in touch at

I’d love to hear what you think, so if you have any thoughts at all, please post them in the comment section below this video. And if you like what you heard, do us a favour and share this video. We love word-of-mouth.

Talk soon.

Alex Cleanthous

Alex Cleanthous

Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits

Alex Cleanthous is Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits. With more than 10 years experience in online marketing, Alex is always on the lookout for smarter, faster and more scalable ways to achieve maximum growth with minimum spend.


  1. Steven Doig says:

    Can you outline what methods you use in white hat SEO Alex?

    August 4th, 2015 at 2:34 pm

  2. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Hi Steven,

    The methods will depend on each website and each industry but some examples of tactics we use include (there are a lot more) the Skyscraper Technique, non-linked brand citations, and high-quality industry and local directories.


    August 4th, 2015 at 2:42 pm

  3. Iman says:

    Hi Alex,

    White hat, black hat, grey hat…there are no guarantees with any of them your website will be safe in the long run. I have seen plenty of good white hat website’s getting penalised over the years.

    August 4th, 2015 at 3:22 pm

  4. Rudy Labordus says:

    Great content Alex. Keep up the good work. A tip for you (if you don’t mind me giving you one) A presentation looks really good if it comes across like you’re naturally talking to camera as opposed to reading from a teleprompter. It’s only 10 minutes to do it again and use ‘take 2’ or ‘take 3’ and you’ll look so much more professional. Just my 2c. ;) Well written and thought out content though. I look forward to seeing your next video.

    August 4th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

  5. Anne Flint says:

    Very well written article Alex. I had no idea that the PBN method eventually gets penalized. thanks for the tip.

    August 5th, 2015 at 10:25 am

  6. Alex Cleanthous says:

    Anne, you might be lucky and never have your website penalized… just be aware that Google is really focusing on reducing the impact of PBNs – and when they focus on something, they usually find a solution ;)

    August 5th, 2015 at 12:13 pm

  7. Jason says:

    I find that instead of the use of PBN’s being the real issue, its more that nearly every SEO agency are setting them up very poorly with very little content. The only way Google can determine a PBN is through a manual review, and if you have PBN’s that simply look like a blog thats recently been created on an authoritative domain, that purely links out to different websites… then its a no brainer to them. PBN”s today should look like real and authentic websites that still provide value to the internet.

    January 1st, 2016 at 4:44 pm