There has been a lot of talk about PBN’s getting de-indexed recently, either by manual penalties or algorithm updates. And I mean a LOT.
From Charles Floate/GodofSEO to Devin Zander/Money Mindset, Search Engine Land, and NoHatDigital (which lost quite a bit of its network), and this guy Calin, everyone is talking about this right now. FREAKIN’ EVERYONE, MANNNN
Honestly it sounds like PBN’s are dead, right? I mean if these smart, successful people had theirs deindexed and penalized, isn’t that the only conclusion we can come to?
PBN’s are not dead! They are alive and well! That is what I’m here to tell you, along with why they still kick ass. I’m also going to tell you how I believe you can keep using them while staying safe. You don’t need to buy a stinking “PBN safety course” for this. You need to use common sense play a little safer, and keep testing.
PBNS ARE NOT DEAD
When done properly, a PBN is supposed to look like legitimate sites linking to other legitimate sites. There is no way that Google could ever filter out, algorithmically or manually, legit sites that link to to other legit sites. Period.
If they did, they would be shooting themselves in the foot. THEREFORE, if the network of sites (that you happen to own) that are linking to your target sites look legitimate and do not have a footprint, you will have no problem.
WHY PBNS ARE STILL EFFECTIVE
There is literally nothing more effective for ranking in Google’s own flawed algorithm than authoritative, relevant links.
There are many ways you can obtain these links using various desired-shade-of-hat-tactics. The only reason the white-hat world is pushing “relationship building” is for LINKS because supposedly building a relationship with someone who owns a website in order for them to link to your website is more ethical than just owning a similar website ourselves and putting the link up… All because Google said so in their guidelines.
Building pbn links kills kittens
The reason Google’s guidelines exist and tell you not to game the system is because it WORKS. If “unnatural link building” didn’t mess with Google’s SERPS, aka make you rank, they wouldn’t give a crap if you did it. But it does, so they do.
The problem is that everyone has not only been following the same general instructions to build PBN’s, creating overall footprints for PBN-style link setups that have a footprint basically IDing a set of sites as likely to be a PBN/totally detectable algorithmically, but individual SEO’s have also been creating footprints in their own networks. So it’s like footprint-inception. Eh? EH?
If 1000 people bought a course that handed out specific lists for:
“good hosts to use for PBN’s”
“best themes for your WordPress PBN sites”
“the exact plugins to use on your PBN, and their settings”
And those 1000 people go and follow that template, there are now 1000 TEMPLATIZED PBN’s for Google to look at. Durrrr! (Should have had a v8!) This brings us to my next section..
HOW TO CAUSE FOOTPRINTS (aka what you shouldn’t be doing)
Using the same CMS across every site
Using the same themes or style of themes across every site
Using the same plugins across every site, especially if it’s a set that was on a blog post or in a course
Using the same content templates across every site (aka Becker’s “theme page” concept he teaches which is basically a content template that includes a YouTube video and link to an authority site at the bottom of target pages.. oh look every page on this site has 8.2 PBN links from the same 5.73847 and a quarter sites, and the exact same format, WHAT DO YOU THINK GOOGLE IS GOING TO THINK aksdfakjsdfhakjlsdfh)
Using the same set of sites to link to multiple money sites, as happened here
Spinning content across loads of sites, especially poorly
Doing the same exact freak in thing as everyone else is being told to do without zero creativity whatsoever
I mean imagine if SEOs put the same amount of effort into covering their asses as they did into trying to not have to cover their asses ever.
If you don’t think you have a footprint, I’d be hugely curious to see what results you have after checking one of your sites on Netcomber, a footprint detecting site that was created by someone who used to work with Matt Cutts, whose interview on LinkedIn I’ll post riiiiight below…
HOW TO PRACTICE SAFE PBN-ING
GET CREATIVE. Read this interview. Pay special attention to the part where he says they asked “is this page here just to host this link?” (Another great quote is where he says relevance is the new PR, but we’ll save that for another post.) The takaway here is that if your site is valuable enough, and you don’t want to have to put in clean-up effort in the long run, cover your lazy ass and make an effort to make it completely in-obvious that your PBN sites are not just there to host your links. It doesn’t take much work. Be creative. Do different things like set up bs social profiles and post/share articles a few times on them and link them in your site bar. Add a silly about me that you made up so it looks like some dorks blog. Give it an actual logo. Get creative, this stuff is easy!
I hope this goes without saying, but don’t add ga or wmt to your PBN sites.
Don’t use the same robots.txt files as everyone else or on multiple sites.
Link out to other sites, different from the ones you own.
Don’t use seo hosting and for cutt’s sake don’t use the same 3 seo hosts everyone else is doing.
Don’t rely on Whois to protect you.
Quit storing shit in google docs and using gmail. Your are using google products, you don’t think they are paying attention? They said so themselves that you shouldn’t expect a reasonable level of privacy while using their products.
Give your money site some real links if you haven’t already and by real links I don’t mean anchor text dilution links from Fiverr or BBHL that simply spread your brand name everywhere. I mean real links. Start a Tumblr, a Facebook, and a Pinterest or something that you can put links on to look like a legit site. Why? Because other lazy seo-holes are not going to do this for your affiliate sites and the extra 20 minutes of effort might just save your ass from getting caught in the “look I’m a PBN with no real-world branding, deindex me!” filter that I assure you google is furiously trying to put together.
Basically, you need to be a paranoid little shithead SEO and put in a little more effort than everyone else.
Again, there is no way google would deindex legitimate sites linking to other legitimate sites, so you need to think to yourself and ask yourself, what would happen “in the wild”? How do websites link to each other in the wild? How can I make this website look like more than just a link hosting page? How can I make it so that even if a marketer look at this website they wouldn’t be totally sure if it was illegitimate?
Now look, I understand all of this might seem like too much effort, but it literally comes down to only one thing – whether or not you left a footprint.
If it’s too much effort to cover your tracks, and you don’t have a budget to keep testing and trying until you find a set up that works, there are plenty of other ways to make money online, and even plenty of other ways to rank. Check out the post on Matthew Woodward’s site recently about ranking with pure spam and GSA.
Either way, the truth is private blog networks are not dead, they will never be dead as long as G’s algorithm relies on links, and there is nothing wrong with owning more than one site and there is nothing wrong with legitimate sites linking to each other. Ig Google ever put together an algorithm filter or a team to manually crack down on legitimate sites, their business model would be screwed. So just look legit (#2legit2quit) and don’t leave a footprint.
If any of your sites got deindexed, please comment below so we can start looking at actual data instead of running around like SEO chickens with our heads chopped off. My sites (ummmm, not that I have any… Heh) are fine so far.