It seems that I’m always the late guest to the party: I had just started working on building my own Private Blog Network (aka PBN) and dripping some much needed link juice to some of my websites, but it appears that Google managed to find the footprints or whatever PBNs have and heavily penalized websites with links coming from such networks. So is the death of PBNs here? Did Google kill websites with PBN links? So it seems!
Apparently, Google started a mass de-indexation process about one week ago targeting websites in Private Blog Networks or the sites with links from these PBNs. Many of the big guys were heavily hit by this. If you haven’t read the stories yet, here are a few important and scary ones:
– Spencer Hawks from Niche Pursuits took a $5,000 hit and decided to stop trying to game Google
– Greg over at No Hat Digital lost a huge batch of PBN sites, but also authority websites built on expired domains
– Jon Haver over at Authority Website Income lost 1 money site, but also his Lightning Rank PBN service lost 32% of its websites.
There are also a ton of comments suggesting that even though PBNs are not dead (yet), they have been massively hit. I am sure that even more reports on the matter will follow-up shortly as it is pretty obvious that Google is working on finding all the PBN sites and links out there.
Was I affected?
As I said, I rarely tried strategies to game Google, and I had no sites built with PBN links. And although I was slowly working on setting up my own Private Blog Network (5 websites and I planned to slow drip more up to 10), they have no links pointing out to my sites, so I was not affected. Yay for playing fair! Or being, as always, late to the game.
Do I regret not using PBNs sooner? Well, people have been using this method of building links for over two years now and many of them managed to get huge amounts of money out of this. So I wouldn’t have minded to have started earlier with this and reap on the benefits. But I didn’t so that’s it. I can’t say that I am happy or sad. It’s just how it had to be.
What did I use?
I have recently started using The Hoth and, as you have read already, I was not affected by this PBN update. This is because The Hoth uses a different strategy: they create Web 2.0 properties for you, then send tier 1 links to these properties and tier 2 links to the properties linking to them. This way, you only get a few links back to your money site and the risks of getting a penalty are minimal. Also, you get the logins for all your created properties, so you can remove the links pointing to your website at any time. This is as risk free as it gets and I strongly suggest switching to this service/method.
Are Private Blog Networks dead?
This is probably the question that everybody wants to answer and doesn’t have an answer for. Personally, I believe that PBNs are not dead and people could still use them to their own advantage. However, PBNs as we know them might be dead!
If you were to build your own Private Blog Network, I still believe that chances of success would be pretty high. However, you should built high quality content websites first. Then, you should make them look as individual websites, not a few page websites with a link to another site. Build them into authority websites (or at least leave such an impression to potential visitors), create some social profiles for your sites, get a few likes and make it look like a regular website.
The golden rule? Link to others. I know that you want links for your money site, but it will be pretty obvious for somebody visiting your site (say some smart crawlers) if you only have links to a single site. No real blog out there does this, so share some links from your PBN sites, from your articles, to other blogs that you don’t own. Don’t go for the obvious Wikipedia pages and very high authority websites. Find blogs in a niche similar to yours (but not direct competitors) and send a couple of links that way too. Make your PBN networks site seem as natural as possible. Offer some value and Google will have no reason to penalize or even worse de-index your site.
Don’t try to trick Google!
Now this is the most obvious advice one can offer after Google’s massacre of Private Blog Networks: don’t try to game Google. Every time webmasters managed to find ways to trick Google, Google found a way to destroy those websites. They do work heavily to have a spam free internet filled with quality websites only, so why not try doing that instead?
Instead of spending hours per day trying to fool Google, why not write a super high quality article? Google will love that and you will see the results. Build an authority website! Go big, go safe and you’ll reap on the benefits. It’s true, things won’t be as fast as they used to be, you’ll need months of work before seeing the results, but it’s the safe bet. I guess that Google proved one too many times that it can’t be played.