Planning your PBN is a crucial step and often overlooked.
The plan involves brainstorming the size of your PBN, budget, and the strategy on grouping your network. Not only that a proper plan will save you time later on, but you will decrease the cost and increase the effectiveness of your network.
How Many PBN Links to Rank?
To determine how many links you need to rank a website you need to determine the competition in your niche and the strength of your competitors.
There is no definitive answer here since every niche is different. What I like to do is to get 10-15 links spread over 30 days on an existing site, or a surrogate site (3rd party site that’s sitting on page two) and see how that affects it, much like when testing a new PBN.
If the site ends up on page one you should have an indication how many PBN sites do you need to build to rank in this niche.
In some of our case studies, 10 site PBN was enough to rank a local lead generation site in a medium-size city.
On the other hand, for some affiliates sites in more competitive niches, numbers rose to 40 or 50 sites.
If you don't know your niche already, test it out. If you are new and starting out, build a 5-10 site PBN, test it and you will have an idea how many more you will need to rank in your niche.
How much does it cost to build a PBN?
There are handful things you need to make a blog network site.
Domain – If you are finding the domains yourself the costs are much lower but if you are sourcing them from a vendor they go for around $20-70 for a decent domain. Auction domains go for $80 up to $300-400 (or higher, but that’s a whole different story).
Hosting – This topic is covered in our post about pbn hosting and usually costs around $2-3/mo/site. You can go with lower than that if you have multiple network groups and sites hosted on a single IP. You can read our entire hosting guide here.
Setup (Design, structure, back-end) – The price varies in this case. You can do this yourself, hire a VA or a service to do it for you. Each option has its pros and cons. It's cheaper to do everything yourself, but you can’t scale. Hiring a VA is an option, but you need to teach him everything and find someone who is reliable. PBN Services are your best bet but are usually a bit more expensive, around $40-70 per site in most cases, for a complete design and setup.
Content – Content is usually the most expensive thing on your PBN after the domain name. It's best to use high-quality handwritten content, which is quite expensive if you have a lot of posts. You can get good content for about $4-6 per 500 words. If you hire a full-time writer, the cost is usually much lower.
Management – If you want to scale your network, you need to have good management in place. This means hiring a dedicated VA to schedule posts, take care of your domain registration and watch out that everything is working. The Cost of management varies.
You need to decide how much do you want to spend on your network. You can make a PBN for as low as $100 (or even lower in some cases), and you can build one for $500.
The main difference is the domain and the amount of content. What I urge you to do, is not to skimp on hosting and design/content if you are spending hundreds of dollars on a domain.
Should I build 5x $100 PBNs or 1x $500 PBN?
That’s an interesting question. You can grab an auction domain with TF35+ and RD150+ for $300 that’s more powerful than 5 expired domains with TF15-20 and RD30, BUT that’s still one domain and one anchor text.
These 5 domains, with a little care and love, can grow to become a lot stronger than a single auction domain.
And if you do grab a powerful auction domain, build a proper website on it.
How many money sites can I rank with my PBN?
Ultimately, you want to have your networks isolated and not link to more than 6-8 websites in total. If you run general type sites (portals, news etc...) I still recommend that you do not link out to all your sites from the entire network.
Total number of linking posts should not go over 6-8 and that’s with at least 10 more filler (padding) posts to have some other content other than articles linking out to the money sites.
Doug Cunnington wrote a great post about this at nichesiteproject.com
How to isolate (group) your network
This is an important step when planning your network. Failure to do so will just cause headaches later on.
This concept will allow you to host multiple sites on a single IP (since they won't be linking to the same money sites), and be safe in case of a manual inspection. Daryl from Lion Zeal calls it network clustering and he explains this well in his pbn guide.
In an ideal world, you would have a separate network for every single money site. Since the cost of running such setup would be tremendous, we need to think of the best way to group several clients/money sites and still be safe.
For example, if you have:
- 3 Clients in Law Niche
- 3 Clients in the state of California
- 2 Clients in Home Improvement Niche
- 4 Affiliate Sites in Home Niche
and a 50 site PBN, you can separate them into groups like this:
- 25 site General PBN for the state of California (or the USA in general). These 25 sites can push client sites in California, and law clients.
- 25 Site Home Network - These sites can push your 2 clients in home niche and 4 affiliate sites as well.
Now let's brainstorm this setup a bit.
In this case, you have two groups (clusters) and worst case scenario, you lose only one group instead of your entire network.
Now, let's see if we can come up with a safer way. Same situation with client/affiliate sites but a different approach when grouping your sites.
50 Site Network grouped into:
- 15 site Law PBN
- 15 Site network for California clients
- 20 site home improvement network
In this case, if your Law network is discovered, it will not pull all your California clients along with it. Yes, you will have less "power" overall, but it's a fair trade if you ask me. Cali clients will continue to pay and you will recover much faster.
You may even go further, and isolate your affiliate sites from home/construction clients and host them on same servers, saving you tons of money.
As you can see, isolating and grouping your sites makes perfect sense in terms of hosting charges and security. You can even build smaller groups and exchange few links with your partners or trustworthy associates. You will get the same amount of links and have peace of mind.
Niche Relevant PBN vs. More General Network
Niche relevancy is a convenience, not a necessity. If you have enough sites or clients in the same niche, go for it.I have tested everything from closely niche relevant network to something as general as BuzzFeed.
And there is no real difference when it comes to ranking. It's just nice to have something niche relevant if manual inspection comes along so that you don't end up with only 20 news blog links.
Mix it up, that's the whole idea behind PBNs.
Domain Name - Does it have to be niche relevant ?
In most cases no, it doesn't have to be niche related at all.If you have a domain name bjr-new-york.com (I made this up) you can build anything from a Law website, home improvement blog, fitness blog or just a portal/news site.
If you have a domain jammie405.com you can go nuts and build anything you want.
If you happen to find a domain such as lagoonhotelnyc.com, your options are rather limited. You can re-theme it, but it just looks weird if you have such a domain name and a fitness site on it.
In any case, ranking wise, domain relevancy doesn't play any significant role (yet). I usually end up re-theming everything I find, except these rare occasions where the domain name is closely niche related.
And Last but not least,
Introduce a Management Plan
If you have a VA or a team, make sure that they are familiar with the way you keep notes and sheets. There is nothing worse than handing over a sheet with 50 rows and columns and thinking that a team member will have an idea how to use it.
I like to have one master excel sheet, split into several tabs. You can grab an example here.
Everyone has a different way of organizing data, and there is no definitive “best” way to do that. In any case, you should have a sheet where you keep all your information or the whole thing will soon turn into a mess.
Now that you have a proper plan you can start and first things first, you need a domain name for your site.
Next Post: How to Find Good PBN Domains For your Network
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