Link-building is one of the oldest and most effective search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, but because natural, high-authority backlinks are hard to come by, many website owners have devised easier and faster ways of building links for their sites.
One of these link-building techniques is the use of private blog network (PBN) links.
However, you need to use your PBN links carefully to avoid detection since private blog networks that are too obvious can be identified and deindexed, making them worthless for link-building.
Sometimes, you can tell if a site has PBN links by checking its hosting details and WhoIS data.
How to Spot Sites with PBN Links
Previously, you could easily detect PBN sites by just checking their IP addresses and WhoIS data. However, PBN builders have become sophisticated, making their networks difficult to spot.
Basically, finding a private blog network is part science and part intuition. You’re looking for what is known in the PBN space as “footprints”.
Footprints include, but are not limited to, the exclusive use of c-class IPs, using one or only a few themes across hundreds of PBN sites, certain CMS plugins, redirection patterns, and the use of some analytics services such as Google Analytics.
In short, anything that makes it obvious that a single operator is controlling many sites will give away a PBN. If you think you’ve found a series of sites from a PBN, here’s how you could test your theory some of the footprints listed above:
Check for any tracking scripts. If the sites are using analytics or serving ads, see if the tracking scripts are the same across all of them. It’s an obvious sign that they’re all run by the same webmaster.
Check when the domains were registered. If all the domains were registered at or around the same time, there’s a good chance they were all registered by the same person.
And, one of the dead giveaways that you’re dealing with a PBN site is its appearance. Unfortunately, too many people who build PBNs don’t take the time to customize their sites in any way and the sites just look like a low-effort blog with a bunch of random elements all mashed together.
What Is a PBN?
A PBN is a range of interlinking high authority blogs and websites put together for the sole purpose of donating their link equity to your main site (money site). The blogs and sites within the network will be used to link back to your money site to trick Google’s algorithm into believing that your site is an authority in your area of specialization thus ranking it higher in its search results pages (SERPs).
PBN links work the same way as natural backlinks; however, Google considers PBN links as a black hat SEO trick. So, it will immediately de-index your site if it detects PBNs. To avoid this penalty, you should learn the rules of using PBN links. For instance, you shouldn’t use one web host for all your PBN links because they’ll all have the same IP address, making them easy to detect.
Many web hosting companies allocate one IP address to all their domains. This can be dangerous for PBN sites because they can be picked out by web crawlers and reported to Google for suspension. Fortunately, you can find reliable PBN hosts like Easy Blog Networks, which uses multiple hosts and dispersed data centers when hosting PBN sites to remove footprints. It also installs each blog and site fully with a random theme, username, different plugins, and a mailbox. Wondering what VPS hosting for PBNs entails? Take a look at our latest post.