Simmer Down, Chicken-Little: The sky is not falling

The Google Ban-Hammer has struck again. On September 18th, Google took manual action on a whole slew of sites suspected of being boosted by PBNs, or Personal Blog Networks.   Personal Blog Networks are, essentially, a web of connected blogs that are controlled by the same source, and have power-boosting links interwoven throughout, designed to boost a site’s authority and rankings within the various big search engines.

Don’t panic.

PBNs aren’t illegal or against Google’s webmaster guidelines *in their own right* necessarily, but they can fall under the ‘thin content’ or ‘content spamming’ clause and become cause for site de-indexing.  If PBNs have been working for your site, and you don’t want to lose that power, you’ve simply got to make your sites legit, starting by:

  • Create real stuff.
    • Don’t just throw up spammy content, fill it with links, and hope for the best. Make them quality sites with dedicated blog sections, make your blog content real, authentic blog content that the public would want to read.
  • Make your site believable.
    • Sites connected to PBNs that are generic and sloppy are sure to fall under the ‘thin content’ clause and be de-indexed. Take the time to shape the look and feel of your sites. It takes extra time, but the trade-off is worth it.  Better power, and of course, no de-indexing.
  • Know your audience.
    • The best way to generate real traffic that Google won’t raise eyebrows at is to offer content that makes real people want to read your real stuff. Content, content, content. What stories are getting attention?  What topics make people engage?  You don’t just want to hook the search engines, you want to hook users, and bring in real, engaged users who want to stick around.
  • googleAvoid tempting shortcuts
    • Not everyone using PBNs got hit. The ones that did get hit weren’t really paying attention to (or weren’t taking seriously) the need for clean backlinks, and for unique networks.
      • If you must link to multiple sites with your PBN, keep your saturation limit for shared PBNs below 25%.
      • The least risky PBNs are the ones that are completely private, and are strategically funneled or silo-networks. It’s more time-consuming, but hey – not more time consuming than starting over from scratch when your site gets tanked by the Google Hammer, right?
    • Your sites need some TLC – make sure you have the stuff that makes a site legit; an About Us page, a Contact Us page, Services page, Policies page, etc…

What it comes down to, is that a quality, sophisticated PBN is no different than building a really good money site. It’s not shady to build a good site, and it’s not shady to build a good network of sites, *so long as the entire network is legit*.  Above all, quality wins. Always.  We’re all in a hurry, but no amount of saved time through outsourced and crappy content can make up for the amount of lost time (and money) when Google takes you down.  You can use strategic SEO tactics without being a slimy quick-fix SEO dealer.  Find the sweet spot, keep those # 1 spots, and prove that your site deserves to be there.

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