I'm curious on people's thoughts. PBNs, are they still relevant/effective. Any thoughts on their future?
Another day where I wish Fathom were still with us...
Fathom was one of our most senior, active, and interesting members. He ran a very big PBN for a while, until he got caught. I believe it was rather big news at the time - one of the largest farms/PBNs that Google had ever caught. He liked to share the story as a cautionary tale. Here is his account: Rodney L Brown - fathom Palm Beach Gardens FL 33410 - SEO Chat Author Bio Take a look at some of the old posts he made - or search our forums for "PBN,' you may find them that way!
I'm a bit pressed for time today, or I would dig through his post history myself. I will try to find the threads next week if I can.
Anyway...I feel like PBNs are only natural for people to dream up. They seem like such a foolproof and easy way to get what you want out of SEO. But the effects of being caught (and Google is increasingly more sophisticated and nimble when it comes to catching these things) are devastating and basically impossible to recover from. As I understand it.
For crash and burn sites I have to agree with KernelPanic here, You can see fantastic growth in SERPS but I am afraid its not a long term practise.
It always makes me smile though people always seem to think they have found a new way of not getting caught
Its a bit like driving from A to B and boasting you can do it faster than anyone else, the truth is your speeding and sooner or later a traffic cop is going to spot you (or your past journeys) and he will remove your driving license.
I refer to them as churn and burn, poof !!
Great stuff and interesting views, thanks guys. Personally, I think they're used quite a lot. However, it's becoming more expensive and harder to maintain them. I'm not sure I agree if they're churn and burn as I'm sure, someone with the know how and skill would make their PBNs look like real sites. From that standpoint... It'd be very hard for Google to detect them. On the other hand, people who link farm are gonna get burned sooner or later.
Nathan, personally I suggest don't do this as it will work for sometimes but once you will catch by bots then your site will be penalized. After that, you will have to work for recovering the site from a penalty then you will work for targeting the site again organically. And many of cases I have seen people have changed their domain and start work from scratch.
So now the choice is your's you want work for short term profits or you are looking long term perspective.
I had worked with e-commerce portal they are basically dealing in Gifts for different occasions including Holi, Diwali, Raksha Bandhan (other Indian Festivals.).
For targeting these festivals they build the main site and also they have created sub domains for each festival their name like holigift.brandname.com, rakhabandhan.branname.com etc and parallelly they have created 5 to 10 web.2 properties for each subdomain.
Their 5 to 10 content writers update the content on web 2.0 in the whole year. They usually link backed to their subsites 15 days before when any festival came then and they reached to top 5 to 3 within a week on all of the transactional terms for their subsite and main site and they use to remove the links after festival from their web 2.0 properties.
But in 2014 they caught by Google and they lost organic traffic and business by a huge margin. They survived because they are big fish and didn't put all the eggs in the same basket.
But the point is PBN works for sometimes but not the save game plan. As you given Rod's example I remembers one time he suggested me if you are risk taker then you can get more business or no business. So, choice is your's
We used to operated PBNs three years ago. At the height of it we had 350 blogs for one single client.
We lost the PBN, got caught by google after 1.5 years of stupendous success. It was worth the effort then.
But when we lost the PBN we lost 35% of organic traffic and got fired.
With that being said, we still use PBNs for "churn and burn" sites like said above. For keywords like "buy facebook likes" and stuff. Its like you pour some money into PBNs zoom into ranks - get lots of orders - make good money - and then die after 3-4 months. Then what - You repeat the process with another domain. LOLz
There are many doom and gloom stories about how companies have been hit hard by PBN's.
There is/was a SEO company fairly close to me, They invited me to their offices, I was intrigued by some of their massive success stories so I took them up on their offer to learn more.
They where really quite sophisticated and clinical in their approach, they purchased on a daily basis expired domains of good authority but then checked them out before using them, (A art in itself). A team of about 20 content writers and a couple of wordpress guys plus graphic designers / artists populated these sites on a full time basis, Some of these blogs where quite big, others just a few pages. I dont know the exact number of domains they controlled but it was in the 100's if not higher, they would not tell me a figure.
They had developed in house a graphical system which showed page rank flow around these sites, it also allowed them to test where to place links within this network to gain the most page rank. Because their network was vast they covered many niches so getting a local florist or a garage to page 1 could be achieved within a few weeks of the company becoming a client.
They were very proud of their system and rightly so it was impressive, I particularly liked the page rank sculpting element which showed the operator by placing a link here or there how it would effect the whole network in real time. Very clever.
They was so sure of being able to rank any site it was very convincing I can assure you, They were also very confident their network was bullet proof and nothing google could do would effect them and they had many safeguards in place should their network be detected.
Well that was about 3 years ago, I recently checked them out, and they have closed. I also checked out some of the clients they so proudly showed me and how they helped rank them, I honestly could not find most of them so I can only assume google took them out and everyone who was connected to it.
The issue is these clients hired them in good faith, they have families to support, bills to pay etc etc. These are the true victims of an approach like this. OK you could say they got greedy but I think everyone wants to see their site success, people offering these services you can say they deserve what they get but its the trusting clients who are the ones who often end up paying for their mistakes in trying to game the system.