How To Structure Your PBN Sites To Pass Manual Reviews

As a follow up to the previous guide on writing content for your private blog networks, today we will be covering the importance of structuring, and how to structure your blogs to prevent de-indexing by manual review.

In its simplest form, the concept here is to be creating a legit looking website.

That is all you need to know. All we will be covering here is how to mimic this to pass manual reviews and prevent your sites being de-indexed.

This is an intermediate level guide, you do need to know the basics of setting up a PBN site.

It is not about footprints, they are a separate issue that you need to consider. Even if your PBN site looks great, if you have footprints, it’ll get de-indexed sooner or later.

Finally this is not for fast, short term ranking strategies. If you want to rank for a new product launch, or for less than 6 months, you don’t need to do this.

With that said, if you are interested in building a long term PBN that will fly under the radar, here are the 3 elements that I believe define how legit a website comes across…

1. Your Navigation Bar

Real sites have filled out navigation bars. Take these sites as an example:

BritMums – 9 navigation links plus drop downs


F1Fanatic – 11 navigation links


Dezeen – a more reasonable 7 navigation links


If you compare this to PBN sites, the most you usually see is 3. Home, About, and Contact. Many are worse than this, with only ‘Home, About’, and the worst of all, if when it’s only ‘About’.

This is always a very quick indicator that no thought has been put into the site.

Now there is no way we could build out navigation bars like BritMums and F1 fanatics, but you can easily do 4-8 links with very little effort. There is a couple ways of doing this…

Add Easy-To-Create (ETC) Pages

Nothing fancy here, just make pages that are really easy to create.

Take a look at the Dezeen nav bar and you’ll see Submit a story, Advertise, and Contact. You could create these 3 pages in less than 5 minutes.

  1. Install a contact form plugin (1-click if you follow the PBN systems guide)
  2. Create 3 separate contact forms for submitting a story, advertising enquiries, and general contact messages
  3. Create a page for each contact form and add around 50+ words explaining why they should contact you or what will happen

Example wording to put above an advertising page:

We currently allow a small number of advertisements on the sidebars of our website. These are limited by availability (with a waiting list), and subject to approval before being allowed to run.

If you are interested in advertising to our audience of ninja penguin lovers, submit the advertising form below. You should receive a response within 48 hours with the details and availability. Thanks.

This is a very simple way of padding out your navigation bar. Another way is to…

Use Categories

Categories are a great way of doing practically no additional work, but making your website look better.

You probably already use categories on your PBN sites whenever you submit posts, so all you are doing here is adding them to your navigation bar.

Usually 2 or 3 will do for the navigation. You’ll want to keep them relevant to the sites topic.

If you are doing 2-3 initial posts on your site, you can put these into 2 or 3 separate categories and use them for it. Even if there is only 1 post in the category, it’ll do. We won’t have that many posts on our sites anyway, it’s just there to look like we have made an attempt with the site.

To get full control over the navigation bar you need to setup menus.

How To Setup Custom Menus

If you haven’t set these up before, it’s really simple. Go to Appearance -> Menus, in your WP admin area.


You’ll then need to enter a Menu name if you don’t already have one. Usually this is only seen on mobile devices, so you can just put something like ‘Navigation’.

On the right you can select the pages, categories, or custom links that you want to add to the menu. Then hit ‘Save Menu’. Basic stuff.


Finally, to get it to show up on your site, you’ll need to switch to the ‘Manage Locations’ tab, and select it as your primary menu.


That’s all there is to it. Your navigation will look like a legit website after this, but what happens when they scroll down is, they see…

2. Your Sidebar

The default sidebar in WordPress sucks.

default-sidebarIt lists comments, which your website will not have. Archives, which show how infrequent your website is updated. And ‘Meta’, just what sort of crazy mofo leaves this on a real blog?

This leaves us with the following options:

  • Pages
  • Recent Posts
  • Search
  • Text
  • Categories
  • Tag Cloud (not really a fan, but it works)
  • and sometimes custom ones available through themes and plugins

There is no one size fits all solution here, every website should have a unique sidebar. But this is very easy to do, especially with the text widget.

Here are some example uses of the text widget..

Welcome Message

Short example:

Hey welcome to! On this blog you will find the latest trends in design, ranging from DIY training videos, to inspirational galleries and photos.

Adds something extra to the sidebar without taking up much space. You will still want to add plenty of other widgets.

Longer example:

Bad home design sucks. But who has the money to invest in luxury design aka design that looks really good?

On this free blog, I’m going to share with you, the inside secrets to great interior design on a small budget.

This isn’t about cheap junk that looks good but falls apart in 2 months… it’s the secret tricks interior designers use to get the best stuff at the lowest prices.

Whether you are into modern, contemporary, or traditional design, we will be able to help you.

To learn more about this website, take a look at our about page.

This is only 100 words, but in a sidebar it is a lot of content because of the short width. You can easily get away with just sticking 1 or 2 widgets below this, maybe ‘Recent Posts’ and ‘Categories’.

Many times I like to use a welcome message to explain an ‘oddity’ about the website. Say you rebrand it and the domain doesn’t quite suit, explain why this is the case here.

Welcome to! Your online resource for home design news, trends, and inspiration.

We have been sharing design advice and inspiration since 2009, starting with just phone covers, but evolving into general design at home.

Whether you are looking to create a contemporary, modern, or traditional space, you’ll find plenty of useful content on the blog.

You could expand on this a bit more (or less), but that is the idea, explaining the backstory behind the name.

About the author

Who are you? Not you literally of course, the persona you use on each blog. Example:

Hey, there! My name is John Smith and I’m obsessed with time pieces. Ever since I was given my first watch, I’ve been an avid collector. Now I’ve got 27 real swiss watches and constantly adding to my collection. On this blog you’ll see which brands to buy, what watches I like, and I’ll even show you what I’m buying.

If you do this, make sure to match up the about page, if you have one. You can literally just copy and paste the content if you want. You’re hardly going to get penalised for that.

Take this up a level by adding a photograph of the author…

Image sources:


I searched for ‘Man’ and found over 5,000 images on PixaBay. The top row is paid ones, probably affiliate links.



You can be more specific with images too, I searched for ‘Angry Man’ on DepositPhotos and got thousands of results again…


Two neat tricks you may find useful for using paid image sources:

  1. Up to 70 free images at DepositPhotos for NameCheap customers
  2. Buy images that contain a collage of people, like this one

Banner Ads

You need a why.

Why are you creating this blog?

Here are 4 reasons people create blogs:

  • To genuinely help people (most rare)
  • For an ego boost
  • To make money
  • Passion for the topic

Maybe I am missing some, but you can generally fit most blogs into one or more of these 4 categories.

You can sell people on genuinely caring with the about page. Passion is a bad one unless it’s something really easy to fake knowledge about from reading other sources. Ego boost can be made abundantly clear from writing about themselves a lot.

But making money is one that we haven’t covered any way of doing. The process of mimicking this is simple, add banner ads.

You don’t actually make money out of these ads. You probably could if you wanted to, but who cares, you’ll be making money from the rankings it gives you.

How to setup banner ads

We are going to use an awesome site called Moat.

Moat allows you to search for big brand companies, and see the exact adverts they are running online.

To show you an example, here is a search for Lowe’s:lowes-moat

Download these images and add them to a ‘Text Widget’, by doing this:


Select it once it has uploaded:


On the right, copy the URL of the image:


Finally, pulling out our coding skills, we’re going to use:

<a href="" rel="nofollow"><img src="URL of image" alt="ad" /></a>

Like so:


Save that and it’ll now be on your website. This process is the exact same for author images, except the code is slightly different:

<img src="URL of image" alt="me" align="left" />

This removes the link, since it no longer needs to be linked. And it aligns it to the left, so you can have text on the right, you can also switch it to align=”right”.

Relevant Video

Leverage YouTube’s trust and authority by including a video on your page, and get a relevance boost from using a relevant video. Plus it just pads out your sidebar.

All you need to do is find a relevant YouTube video. Set the width to one that would fit your sidebar (up to 350 usually). Copy the embed code.


Then as before, paste it straight into a text widget.

Sidebar Variations

Now you know the different types of widgets you can add to these sites, here is a few examples of variations you can use:

  1. Text Widget (Contact Form)
  2. Text Widget (Welcome), Recent Posts, Pages
  3. Text Widget (Welcome), Recent Posts, Categories
  4. Recent Posts, Categories, Text Widget (Banner Ad)
  5. Text Widget (Author), Recent Posts, Pages, Categories

You may have noticed I added in a contact form text widget. You can put any code in the text widget, this means if you use a contact form plugin, you can easily use the shortcode they give you.

Pre-creating these variations is how you systemise this, tell your VA to pick a random number and setup that variation for the website.

How to setup a sidebar and add widgets

Really quick, in case you have not done this before.

Go to Appearance -> Widgets, then drag widgets into the ‘Primary’ box.


3. Logo?

You are not going to get a manual penalty for missing a logo, likewise you are not going to get away with terribly spun content when you have a logo, but it is a finishing touch to looking more like a real website.

Fortunately with free resources online, this takes less than 5 minutes per website.

Let me introduce you to logologo:


They have 303 free logos you can download and use on your blogs. You can even get niche relevant ones.

Going back to the home design example we covered earlier, a quick search for ‘home’ brings up 11 free logos, you can see some of them below:


After downloading, you’ll be given a PSD file to edit. Now it is slightly technical, but they really make it easy for us.

You need either:

  1. Photoshop
  2. Gimpshop

Once you open the PSD file in either of these programs. I’m going to show you using Photoshop, so Gimpshop may work slightly differently.

The first thing you should look at is the layers:


Layer 3 is the text. Layer 2 is the logo image itself. Layer 1 is the background.

The layer names may vary for you depending on the logo you download. Click the little eye to the left of the layer image/name, to hide them, then click again to show it. This will show you which it is.

Unfortunately, LogoLogo don’t make it as easy for us as they could. The text cannot be edited, so you’ll need to re-style your own.

This diagram explains it a little bit:


Click the T icon, then click anywhere in the document to add text. Click that little A icon in the right toolbar, then you can edit much more settings about the style.

The font size is not important now, we’ll change it in a moment anyway.

And don’t worry about making it amazing, it’s a PBN site. Nobody is judging your graphics skills, most company logos I see are terrible.

Delete the layers you won’t be using now. The old text, and the background:


Move the layers around a little bit to align how you want, use the move tool for this:


And now we need to get the zoom right, so we can see the actual size it’ll be. Right click and select 100%:


You’ll see the image is huge now, way bigger than you need it.

We’re going to shrink it down now to a size we want it to be:


For the text, you need to click the T (text) icon again, click within the text you wrote, then highlight it all (CTRL + A).

Then you can click the font size in the top menu, and try some different sizes. Keep repeating this until you get the right size.


Now it should be the exact size you want for your website. But the canvas size is still huge, so let’s shrink it down.

Grab the Crop tool and drag it down to just fit the logo and no more:


All done! Just save it now as a PNG file:



Then click Save.

This may seem like a lot of work the first time, but it literally takes less than 5 minutes when you get used to it.

There are also plenty other free logo sources..

Just have a quick search for ‘Free PSD logos’ and you’ll find tons of them.

This takes time an effort

All of these ideas take time and effort to implement.

Building a quality PBN is a long term investment. Treat it that way.

Turn everything we have covered here into systems (I’ve done most of that for you!) and get your virtual assistants doing it for you. That is the only way to turn it into a real business and be effective with your time.

And finally, leave a comment below if you want more content like this, or you have any questions.


About Daryl Rosser

Daryl runs a six figure SEO business primarily focusing on local clients. He's extremely analytical, and his favourite ranking strategy is using PBN's.

23 Responses to “How To Structure Your PBN Sites To Pass Manual Reviews”

  • Peepers  September 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    If you don’t have or don’t want to download photo editing software, there is an online tool at which mimics the photoshop interface. I use them a lot if I need to create, crop, edit, whatever on a different machine with no photo editor.

    I’m not affiliated with them, just tossing out another resource to readers. Cheers!

    • Daryl Rosser  September 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion man.

      I’m a Photoshop nerd, so it’s the easy option for me.

  • philip Hewitson  September 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Quality post Daryl very useful resource

    • Daryl Rosser  September 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Cheers Philip. Hope you learnt something new from it.

      • philip  September 20, 2014 at 1:22 am

        Yes, I will be adding menus to all my sites it makes sense, I’ve just done one using category’s and it already looks much better, also added a personal photo to the side bar, also looks better.

  • Merve  September 18, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I’m lucky to find your blog at perfect time, just setting up my PBN and will build the structure according to your suggestions. thanks!

    • Daryl Rosser  September 18, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Hope it goes well Merve!

      PBN’s are a great investment, it’s worth putting the time into doing right.

  • Adam  September 18, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Hey Daryl,

    Another great post! Now i know why we need VA and how to make them busy 🙂

    Looking forward for more posts from you. Thanks.

    • Daryl Rosser  September 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Cheers Adam. So much work to do, I need another VA!

  • Chris  October 30, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Hey Daryl,

    Thanks for the guide. Super helpful.

    One question:

    I can’t seem to add the Banner Ad. Triple check the code. All I can see under the Sponsors is this word: Ad

    Thank you.

    • Daryl Rosser  October 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Are you downloading the ad image and uploading it to your site correctly? If you just see “Ad”, that is the alt text meaning the image is not showing it correctly. I would double check you are copying the direct image url, so it should end in an image format i.e. jpeg or png.

  • Chris  October 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm


    Sorry for the double post. I thought the 1st one didn’t go through.

    Anyway, here is my code:

    I follow your guide to the T.

  • Chris  October 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Damn code won’t show 😉

    Here the code again:

    a href=”” rel=”nofollow”></a

    I remove the

  • Chris  October 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Ok, can’t insert code ;(

    Yes, the direct image url end in jpeg or jpg.

    • Daryl Rosser  October 31, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Chris, go ahead and email me it (you should have my email address if you’re on the Lion Zeal email list). I’ll take a look and see what is up. The code is definitely correct so not sure what is happening. Make sure you enter http:// at the beginning of the image url.

  • Vishal  November 1, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I though the manual method to identify PBNs was a myth? I’m not talking about manual review of money sites… I’m talking G trying to find PBNs… I may be wrong, but I think they have an algo to weed out PBNs. I worked out a matrix of logic on how the algo is actually built… and that seems to be the only way G can keep up. They gotto do this with an algo. Perhaps a manual check comes in much later by someone senior when he just sees screenshots of top folds and has to hit one button to deindex the whole network.

    in any case, i think putting in too much effort to build a PBN site is way too risky. Chances are if a person gets to it because some alarm bells went off in the PBN detection algo… then no matter how much you fancy up the site, its gonna probably be hit.

    • Daryl Rosser  November 9, 2015 at 8:34 am

      I don’t believe they manually find PBNs, that would take too much effort. But there’s definitely a correlation between terrible looking PBNs and de-indexing. If you want to create awful looking PBNs, be my guest lol, but considering the investment and business we’re building around these, I think it’s worth putting in the extra effort.

  • Nathan Scheer  January 13, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    This guide.. is… actually good. Thank you for confirming further what I’ve been doing has not been wasted time. I did recently notice after starting to use more pages on a PBN it actually rocketed rankings for a local client within a couple days… compared to a few I didn’t take the time to build out. Seems like it also matters to the algorithm too.

    I think I’ll start taking it a bit further and start adding logos on the sites now too. Thanks for the reference, I also use this site for logo creation: I think you have to register a free account now to use the service since I was last on there. But it’s a very easy logo creation tool, and I’ve actually made some logos that were good enough for my $$$ site.

    Looking forward to trying out some of these different tactics with my next set of PBNs


    • Daryl Rosser  February 1, 2016 at 3:40 am

      Cheers man. Great to see someone else seeing similar results.

  • Jonathan  April 20, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I have a question about images, JPEG’s, etc. that we put on PBNs. When we download an image to our computer to either edit it or to directly turn around and upload it to a PBN, it puts identifying data in the image, such as who modified the image last.

    Is this a footprint?

    I have never seen any expert address this issue of identifying data on an image being a footprint.

    Is this being overlooked? Or, is Google unable to crawl the data on an image?

    One training I saw at source wave suggests that Google is able to read the data on a JPEG. In the training they suggested putting longitude and latitude information in the JPEG to help increase rankings on a local lead generation site.

    If you Google can weed location data on an image, then couldn’t they read who last edited the image. And if they can, then that means if you have 50 PBN’s, they are all going to have images that were edited on the same computer with that identifying data in bedded in the image.

    • Daryl Rosser  May 12, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Wouldn’t worry too much about it. Clear it all if you like before uploading.

  • Ano  April 30, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Hi daryl, is a great Content..
    Can I asking for some case at PBN?

    – PBN must be index at GWT or no?
    – PBN will give money site as referring domain and backlink at ahrefs or no?
    – PBN must have high PA or no?

    Thank u daryl, perhaps I will ask something around the PBN 🙂

  • Ghayoor Shaikh  September 1, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Hello It is my first ever in the life visit to your blog. I have now understand the point why people are being authority!! By the way I would love to make my own PBN. Can you guide me that can we make these PBN on Blogger, WordPress, Jimdo, Weebly, Tumblr?
    Your response is highly appreciated !!!