SEO has been a hot topic among online publishers and marketers for years now. One technique you will hear them shout is the use of backlinks to give a website legitimacy. Backlinks are the links established between your website and other authoritative blogs and sites. And in the spirit of delivering pleasant cyberspace experiences to online audiences, search engines reward such trustworthy and legitimate websites with higher rankings among organic results.
Backlinks, however, should be from trusted third-party domains to safeguard online audiences’ interests. But unfortunately, no matter how good a system safeguards are, people eventually find some hack around it. One particular way publishers have found for gaming Search Engines is through the use of Private Blog Networks to generate backlinks.
Fooling Search Engines with backlinks from PBNs
Because getting authoritative websites to link to your site takes time and lots of effort, publishers have found a way of generating such links themselves and fooling search engines to rank higher among organic search results.
How so? By establishing a database of authoritative domain websites and linking them to your money website.
How are PBNs set up?
It begins by the publisher ponying up for expired domain websites with an already recognized domain authority then posts some essential content to these websites and later links the sites to his primary money blog. These databases of authoritative domains will then give the primary money blog(s) legitimacy.
For these links to work, the domains in the PBNs should not be linked to each other at all. The links must be as natural as possible so as to fool the search engine. This, therefore, means the domains should pass as unrelated in every way.
Why PBNs work?
It’s approximated that almost 40,000 domains expire daily, and these have already established metrics. For example, you can find an expiring domain with links to local governments’ websites, news websites, and other trustworthy and authoritative sites. PBNs work because:
• The links generated are not spammy
Search engine’s algorithms are essentially crawlers and love sites with links to already established or authoritative domains. They presume websites with ties to established domains as reliable too hence give them higher rankings. Therefore, even though they’ve expired or expiring, purchasing and registering the domains for Private Blog Networks works wonders for a money blog that has links to them too.
Brand-new domains, on the other hand, are presumed to be low-quality. The expired domains are already presumed authoritative
• PBNs allows for more freedom.
Experts say that with time, at least in the eyes of search engines, the quality of content in various websites equals. The only thing that is going to determine to rank is the number and quality of the backlinks a money blog has. The search engine algorithm is favorable towards good backlinks. But since outreach campaigns to establish links with authoritative domains take time and money, PBNs are a shortcut to the top.
With PBNs, the user can choose the anchor text, content and link position they want, unlike with outreach where you can get boxed and might end up with poorly placed links and non-compelling anchor texts.
PBNs are however a Blackhat strategy
Google guidelines prohibit intentional link building and therefore no matter what those marketing gurus tell you, PBNs are risky. You are going to get penalized, especially if your PBN domains leave enough footprints to put you on Google’s radar.
• Google targets sites that make use of PBNs
Google has been fighting against such manual manipulation of rankings for a long time now. One famous example was the J.C. Penny Link Scheme that appeared on the New York Times in 2011. With the growth of technology, Google algorithms are getting smarter in detecting such black hat tactics leading to:
• Loss in rankings
• De-indexing of these links
• Manual penalty
Since such crackdown in 2011-2014, the use of PBNs by SEO experts has decreased tremendously, but even so, some gurus still offer courses on how to do it. Which raises the question, can PBNs be used safely?
Can PBNs be used safely?
Choosing the black hat trick depends on how you weigh the advantages vs. disadvantages. While PBNs promise legitimate results and freedom without any outreach hassles, your joy may vanish when Google detects this domain. Experts, however, have a few tricks you can use to fly under the radar, and I’ll summarize as:
• Pick authoritative domains each with different but challenging to replicate backlinks: pick a domain with above 30 referrals from trustworthy sites. Domains with only forum posts or blog comments referrals are not authoritative. Avoid domains with similar referrals too!
• Check whether the domain was ever used for spamming, e.g., fake goods, pornography, and other censored sites and avoid such.
• Avoid linking the domains. Avoid buying domains with similar registrars and registration days. Mix things up a bit so as not to leave footprints. Also, avoid putting your name and information on every domain.
• Host the domains on different servers. Don’t put them in a single hosting account.
• Setup the website and avoid posting duplicate content: especially videos and images.
PBNs links are juicy and promise fast and tantalizing results, but come with the penalty OD de-indexation if detected. If you’re a risk-taker however, you can use the above tricks to fool Google. But if the advantages don’t outweigh the disadvantages for you, also use the above-mentioned points to flash out PBNs and avoid linking to such domains. There’re several risk-free strategies you could use to get better rankings, plus it helps not to con your online audience; it establishes loyalty!