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Ye Olde Blog of SEO
Sep 15

5 1/2 Signs Your PBN Sucks, and You Should Quit SEO

“Good” PBN sellers don’t have to PM people and fight for business. They have 14+ day waits.

That said, while I was locked in my house for 3 days for Hurricane Irma I started perusing a well known PBN forum, browsing through some of the sites these people were slanging.

I’d like to say I was “shocked” with the results, but really it was just more of the same. More of the same total crap. We are in an era where there are so many gurus pushing online money making schemes most of which are backed by instant SEO results by way of cheap PBN links.

Before I go any further I’d like to say there are quite a few respectable PBN’s out there. More than quite a few, a ton of them. So don’t think this post is a blanket statement to PBN sellers.

If within 5 seconds (literally) I can tell a website is a PBN, don’t you think Google can too? The last PBN I looked at had more footprints than Miami Beach on Labor Day.

A great PBN should consist of sites where you truly cannot identify that the sites are PBNs. That is, when you look at the site it looks like a real website or company and you can’t tell it is a PBN.

Pretty basic stuff, aye?

So like I said recently I made a post stating I was looking for some links. Within 20 minutes I had 5+ PM’s all of which containing a spreadsheet in the form of a Google Sheet / XLSX file, payment info, and instructions on how to order. The spreadsheet contained anywhere from 20 to 200 websites with column labels such as “niche, IP address, and URL.” Cool, I’ve seen tons of these in my day.

These are not PBN’s! These are a hair above SAPE links in my opinion. In fact I’d put them closer to the “Spam Gone Wild” category than the PBN category for real.

If the following applies to you, you might want to consider your career as an SEO.

Your Categories Look Like a Failed Machine Learning Experiment

….or your categories look like total ass. Look at this. What in the actual f***

I don’t have too much more to say about this, but its no good.

You’ve got more footprints than Miami Beach on Labor Day Weekend

The most recent PBN I looked into was crawling with footprints. Again, If I can identify blatant footprints within 10 seconds, Google has got your number.

You might think you aren’t fooling anyone because your PBN still stands, but it is just a matter of time before you get slammed.

For a quick list of PBN footprints check out this massive list I made a few months ago.

This site I made with Wix + Spintax is 500x better than your PBN’s content

Let’s take things to a very basic level here: if your PBN was given a manual audit by some Googler, would it pass?

If some random person came by your site and read an article, would it make sense?

The crazy part about PBN content is it doesn’t have to be award winning content! It’s just gotta be readable, and semi-interesting.

Here is another piece of wisdom: don’t let people from another language write your content! If you are in Germany, don’t let some French dude with 1 year of German write your content.

Same with English…if the person you are talking to can barely speak English, they should not be writing your English content. Again, SEO 101.

If this was a post about SEO utilizing “” or SAPE, I’d say FTW throw that shit in a spinner and bank. But not for PBN’s. PBN’s are supposed to be all about quality.

Also note: several websites I checked appeared to have an algorithmic penalty attached to it within the past 2 years+. I highly doubt these sellers went through the trouble to remove these penalties, or mitigate them.

PBN Poisoning – Zero Quality Control

For gods sake, say “no” to people! If you’ve got a “health” site and someone wants a gambling link, say no! Say no to all gambling links for that matter. Porn, Gambling, Pharm = NO. That is SEO 101. If you want those links, make PBN’s just for those categories, don’t poison your PBN!

I went through the first 5 posts on 5 average health blogs, and found:

  1. a link to a roofer with anchor text “san diego roofers”
  2. a link to an amazon affiliate site with anchor text “buy redacted”
  3. a link to a fencing company with anchor text “fences”
  4. a link to a movie review website with anchor text “movie reviews”
  5. a link to an SEO company with anchor text….wait for it: “SEO company”

This is all on a supposed health website. For a PBN seller, quality control means:

  • limiting velocity – 20 new posts per day is no bueno
  • denying niches – if its an “auto” site, only accept auto niches or closely related (trucks, rims, upholstery, etc)
  • content quality – spun text, content that doesn’t read well, etc is no good
  • content length – if all your posts are 400-600 words, that is a footprint. real blogs have posts of varying lengths. My personal blog has posts 200 words and 5000+ words

I know it is tempting to stack that money and sell every link you possibly can, but it isn’t helping your network and it isn’t helping your clients. In the end, your clients will respect you more for saying “no” to them once in a while.

All your domains begin with the keyword of your category!

It’s been a while since I looked at PBN inventory, so when I saw this list of sites I almost thought it was a joke. Footprint city. I wouldn’t link my web 2.0 property I built for a pool cleaner in 2006 from this site.

I swear, I’m not outing this one individual seller. All 4 sellers that sent me their lists had this exact same footprint. 70%+ of their domains began with the category. To illustrate:

  • The “business” category has domains that start with the word “business” or contains the word “business”
  • The “health” category has domains that start with the word “health” or contains the word “health”

It’s just not realistic. I get how the PBN owner might think this would be good, but it is not. It is a HUGE footprint. If it were me, I’d keep it below 20%. Think about it:

  • Google doesn’t have the word “search engine” in their domain
  • Buzzfeed doesn’t have the word “news” in the domain

Know what I’m saying?

People, I’ve barely scratched the surface!

If ya’ll are pointing these links at your money sites, you must not care that much about longevity. Listen I get it, if you are in on the “rank and bank” strategy, these links are perfect. If history has taught me anything about SEO, its that if there is a really good blackhat method that works well, Google will eventually squash it.

Again, I’m not even saying to stop using PBN’s. Have at it people! There are tons of reputable sellers. Or make your own! Keep it all to yourself. Just stop buying these links. There is a reason these links are being sold for $5. They are LOW QUALITY links. I respect the hustle but these links are poison.

I reiterate: a “good” PBN website is one where you can’t tell its part of a PBN, for all intents and purposes it looks like a legitimate business. If part of your business model is to get traffic from Google while you are violating their guidelines, you better be smart about it…really smart about it. It is only a matter of time before Google makes a few adjustments and bakes PBN’s into their algorithm.

That’s all folks. Don’t hate the player hate the game. ✌️




About The Author

Patrick is an SEO blogger and the founder of Elite Strategies, an SEO and internet marketing agency located in Delray Beach, FL.