If you have never heard of private blog networks (PBNs), then you probably should. They are a growing concern for Google has the tech giant tries to encourage organic search ranking. Right off the bat, I’ve to tell you that PBNs are to be avoided like the plague if you want to be in good terms with Google and other search engines.
What are Private Blog Networks?
PBNs are networks or groups of blogs/websites usually controlled by one publisher. They are means to build backlinks to a single website for the sole purpose of ranking the site higher on search engine results page. Picture link pyramid or link wheels; they all involve a myriad of websites linking back to each other or to a target site.
PBNs were banned by Google three or so years ago. Only shady, black-hat SEO consultants still use private blog networks to garner higher rankings. However, if you love what you do, it’s best to steer clear lest Google penalizes your site for manual action ranking. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that you should understand the nitty-gritty of this banished SEO tactic.
How to Identify PBNs
The key is to track the cross-site footsteps. PBNs of the yesteryears were easy to identify, but modern private blog networks much more complex. But, if you want to zero in on a PBN, look for the following signs:
Near-Same Website Design: if a group of sites features similar navigation, design, and color scheme, it’s a telltale sign of a PBN.
Hosted on the same IP: Are the websites hosted on the same IP?
Site Ownership: if you crosscheck with WHOIS database and discover that one owner owns several websites, then they visibly form a PBN.
They feature duplicated content across the sites
Backlinks: check backlinks using Majestic or Ahrefs to see if there is a backlink “footprint.”
Similar videos and images: producing multimedia content can rack up costs. PBNs tend to use the same pictures and videos.
How Google Penalizes PBNs
Google will de-index or penalize your website as PBN if you:
- Often upload low-quality content to your website or blogs
- Sell links from your PBN
- Host several blogs or site on the same IP
- Use the same WHOIS information for the entire network
- Host your website on banned or flagged IP addresses
- Don’t give access to Google crawler
- Use similar anchor texts