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Are Private Blog Networks (PBNs) Effective in 2016? – $8 Million Dollar Case Study

This is a question always worth asking! In this post I will share why I believe using PBNs is right for my business and use data to show if PBNs are working in 2016 and their risk.

Why Do I Use PBNs?

I believe that those of us with limited time can systematically build useful websites that rank in Google and support the lives we want in less time than the average person watches TV in a day.

PBN's are one tool in my toolbox to help rank websites without me needing to invest a ton of my own limited time.

Jon Gillham

Why share this? Well I know there is a stigma around using PBNs and I understand that but my view is that I need to either not be in the game of making websites or find a way to leverage my skills of systems/processes to help rank my websites.

If I had unlimited time than certainly a pure white-hat approach would be ideal. However, day job, family commitments and other online businesses force the reality that pure white hat techniques executed by me is not an option.

So PBNs for me is a way to systematically continue to build my passive income portfolio to the over $10k/month I now enjoy.

Have you used PBN links to rank a website?
2 answers

The key question for a lot of you, like it is for me as well, is how well are they working now in 2016 and what is their risk?

Using data I will try and answer some key questions…

  1. How Well Do PBNs Work in 2016
  2. How Risky Are PBNs
  3. How to Build a PBN in 2016

How Well Do PBN Work in 2016 – An $8,000,000 Case Study – WHAT??

Getting data on how many successful sites are using PBNs is obviously not easy. However, one location for collecting amazing data on this topic is the EmpireFlippers Marketplace where $8,000,000 worth of sites are currently listed.

I have done this analysis before and by using that snapshot in time at the start of 2015 vs this one I can answer the following questions…

Questions to Be Answered:

  1. What % of people building and selling profitable websites at EmpireFlippers use PBNs to rank their sites?
  2. Has the % of people using PBNs changed from 2015 to 2016?
  3. Are PBN’s used only on small sites?
  4. How much does the use of a PBN drop the value of a site bye?

Big Pile of Data to Answer These Questions...

  • 48 Active Listings
  • $287,757.77 worth of monthly net earnings
  • $7,894,504.01 worth of sites included in the data

Method:

  • Collect all the data
  • Remove websites that don’t use organic traffic at all (some ecommerce, most FBA etc)
  • Compare to previous results and answer questions

Results:

  • Question 1 - What % of people building and selling profitable content websites at EmpireFlippers use PBNs to rank their sites now?
  • Answer 1 – 55% of content websites for sale (excluding FBA & ecommerce) use a PBN to help drive organic traffic to their website.
  • Question 2 - Has the % of people using PBNs changed from 2015 to 2016?
  • Answer 2 – Those of us using PBNs to help their content websites rank has increased from 42% in 2015 to 55% in 2016.
  • Question 3 - Are PBN’s used only on small sites?
  • Answer 3 – PBNs rightly or wrongly often get associated with lower quality sites and not associated with the larger earnings sites. This turns to not the case with PBN sites earnings only a little less than sites that don’t use PBNs showing PBNs are used on larger sites as well. The graph below shows the average income for a site using a PBN vs the average income for a site not using a PBN.
  • Question 4 - How much does the use of a PBN drop the value of the site?
  • Answer 4 – No questions on this one a site that uses a PBN to get its rankings does sell for a discount. The average listing multiple for sites with a PBN was 25.8 vs 27.5 for sites with no PBN.

Conclusion:

Based on this data there are a few clean conclusions…

  1. Use of PBNs in 2016 is widespread (over 50%) and increasing!
  2. PBNs are not typically used on the largest of sites and when they are used the site sells for a small discount compared to a site built without a PBN to help it rank.

Risk of a PBN

No discussion of using a PBN to help you rank your website is complete without an honest discussion around the risks with using a PBN.

Let me stress that my belief is that for those of us with limited time that want to rank a useful website building a niche relevant high quality PBN is a systematic method we can use help us achieve our goals if used correctly.

However, a PBN should not be the only strategy deployed!

De-Indexation Risk By the Data

My team has built close to 3,000 niche relevant PBNs with less than a 10% de-indexation rate. This is very low and the key is for each site to be a “real” site capable of standing on its own.

PBN Risk Priced By the Marketplace

Marketplaces, when efficient, price in the risk of businesses. Based on the EmpireFlippers marketplace and the 6% discount sites using a PBN are listed at we can interprupt that right now the "marketplace" prices in that risk at 6% of the value of the site.

If you have a site that is making a lot of money but has never used a PBN be aware that as soon as it is labelled as using a PBN you should assume you will lose 6% of its value. However, if the ranking improvement outweighs the 6% than it still may make sense.

I hope this discussion is fair/balanced, not everyone should use a PBN and this post was meant to help show people when/why I make the choice to use them. Like everything online there are risks with the decision to use (or not use) a PBN, this data I hope will help you make the decision that makes sense for you and your business.​

How to Use a PBN in 2016 to Rank

If the risk/reward for using a PBN as apart of your SEO strategy makes sense to you here are 3 options for using a PBN in 2016…

Build Your Own PBN Right Way

(100% Free EPIC Guide!)

Save Time - Use My PBN!

(Extremely Powerful & Exclusive PBN)

Done For You PBN Service

(Want my team to build you a relevant PBN?)

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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