The End of PBNs for SEO?
For three weeks now, some Internet professionals in the USA have been alarmed by a new annoyance regarding the referencing of their websites or their networks of niche sites. I waited a little while before publishing this post to see the extent of the phenomenon. Although it does not seem to me to be massive, it cannot go unnoticed by those who live off their Internet earnings. Indeed, last September, Google attacked what it calls PBNs, Privates Blogs Networks.
What is a network of private blogs for SEO?
This is when someone builds a portfolio of websites, often quality or high-powered websites in terms of link and SEO in order to create links to some profitable target sites. Most of these sites are old “expired domain names” that I have already mentioned here (see article). Building such a network costs money, but has so far been very effective. The use of this kind of process for SEO does not seem to be completely destroyed, but I recommend great caution in their handling. We will quickly see what happened and try to understand if we should continue to use this kind of controversial SEO method.
I) With Google, always the same story…
For SEO professionals, it is always the arms race concerning SEO techniques. Major agencies have specialized in testing in order to better understand how Google algorithms work. We try everything to reference our sites, because the sums at stake are considerable. Some methods are allowed by Google, others are much less appealing to them. It should be noted that no technique, even called “black hat” is illegal! Only “forbidden” in the eyes of the king of the Internet.
In its never-ending battle against the naughty referencers, Google has this time attacked the American Private Blog Network. The comments that emerge on the English-language websites specializing in webmarketing are unanimous. Some known PBNs, which sold links or allowed sites to be referenced through their networks, fell, but also some more hidden PBNs, i.e. those belonging to private persons who used them on their own behalf. Nevertheless, the choice of networks that have fallen does not seem to have been made automatically, but manually.
That is, there is certainly an algorithm that has detected PBN-like networks, and then a Google employee manually checked whether or not he could pose a threat to them. I think that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t hear any echo of this type on the French web. There can be no French-speaking employees who have been committed to checking these sites.
Be careful, it could come faster than expected. Some American web marketers claim to have lost significant amounts of money due to the downgrading of their niche sites (see site network category on this blog); and again, I don’t think we are aware of those who “lost everything”. Two schools are clashing over this announcement, those that decide to no longer use this type of network, and those that will continue to do so, but with even greater caution than before.
II) Do we create, develop or stop?
Now what to do? PBNs are an extremely effective method of referencing your sites. There is a first thing to understand. As in all activities, it is necessary to diversify. We diversify our sources of income, but also our referencing, because it is an essential element for an entrepreneur of the net. The single use of PBNs should be prohibited, i.e. you can use links from these networks on some of your revenue-generating sites, but not on the whole, because if Google decides to punish you you will lose everything. The same applies to other types of techniques. Listen to this podcast on the link and learn more information about PBNs.
For those who want to create, keep or develop their network of blog sites for SEO, you can. But you must respect several main rules. I will not innovate here, but rather take inspiration from Viperchill’s article available here in English and that I really advise you to read. I will quickly summarize some intelligent principles that he respects on his own PBNs (and which seems effective.):
– Do not install any software or platform to manage your network through a single interface. Why? Why? For the most part, they leave a digital footprint on each of the blogs that make up the network, allowing anyone to quickly track the entire network.
– Remove RSS links: RSS feeds allow us to easily obtain links, but the problem is that we can end up with a simple search on engines! Remember to disable the option in your WordPress.
– Do not use “spun” content. Spinning an article means passing it through software that will modify each word of the text by a synonym. With this type of software, you can get 100 items from a single one. Obviously the text becomes of poor quality and Google locates it. It is to be banned from any use.
– Hide or change your WHOIS information. When you buy a domain name, you are required (by ICANN) to fill in the information requested in the Whois such as name, address or email. Either you hide this information by paying a small supplement to your host, or you put information from your family and friends. Use messaging systems that allow you to create an unlimited number of email addresses if you need them.
– Block sites that will check your backlinks. This is also important if you don’t want your competitor to be aware of your SEO techniques and copy you. To block sites like Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO you must prevent robots from accessing the.htaccess file on your site.
Remember that on the Internet nothing ever lasts very long. When a system works, it’s time to prepare for the future and test other techniques to avoid getting into trouble when there’s a new algorithm.