Quick update: Although PBNs still work, they now have a history of being targeted by Google and therefore may not be the safest option. This is why we now focus on creating online businesses that are independent of SEO traffic.
You’ve invested so much time and money into building your Private Network – so protect your damn investment! Too often I hear about people losing their entire networks because they didn’t have the foresight to think proactively and predict possible ways their networks could be identified. Some of these are points are vulnerable to the potential algorithmic assassination by Google, some are vulnerable to asshole assassination (a competitor identifying all your sites and reporting them), and some are vulnerable to both.
Same Registrar/Hosting/Analytics/Whatever Account
Vulnerabilities: Assholes + Algo.
Just don’t do it. You’re vulnerable on both the algorithmic and the “asshole competitor” side. Check sameid.net to see if anything is sticking out.
Same theme / Relics from Duplication
Don’t use the same theme. Just don’t. Check that you’re not posting as the same author across your sites! Anyone can search for “inurl:/author/name” and find your sites. Also if you’re using the same plugins across sites, make sure they don’t leave any common footprint. Check sameid.net.
High Percentage of Posts with External Links
If 100% of your posts contain 1 or more links to external websites, that’s a giant red flag gyrating wildly in GoogleBull’s face. If I were Google I’d charge at it. Make sure to write some actual posts for your private network site. This is especially important now that Matt Cutts the Purie has said Guest Posting is out.
High Percentage of Outbound links with High Monthly Searches
Vulnerabilities: Algo and Asshole
Google knows the the monthly search volume of all word combinations, we know this all too well. So if all your anchors have high volumes… well that smells like a PBN. Plus this doesn’t help your money sites rank anyway so stop doing it. And as for the assholes…. well nothing says PBN more than that “buy dvds online” link.
Low Percentage of Posts linking to Each Other
Similar to the above footprint, not linking to other pages on your site with content is definitely a low quality indicator. The solution is writing posts for your private network site.
High Percentage of Short Posts
Similar to above, with the same solution. So if for every five 400 word linking posts you are writing one 800 word, internally linking resource, I’d say you’ve got your bases covered.
Have a unique about page
Captain obvious says write a unique about page, preferably something longer than 200 words please.
Include Self-hosted Images in your Posts
If I was Google I’d really only care about targeting blog networks that are being used by multiple people. And if that’s the case I’d look at what weaknesses XML-RPC and similar protocols have. One is that there’s no way to easily upload images from outside of the WP client itself.
Stuff I don’t care about:
There are some things that I am not paranoid enough to do. I feel the potential risk of penalty is too low to warrant the cost of preventative maintenance. However you may be less risk-averse than me, or maybe just less lazy. So here they are.
Staying away from mentioning my sites on Google Docs / Gmail / Browsing them with Chrome.
Big brother has bigger fish to fry.
Not letting 3rd part crawlers access my sites
I would do this if it wasn’t for the fact that Ahrefs will show it anyway. Thanks Ahrefs…
Anything to add to this? Please leave a comment, if it’s good I’ll add it to the list.