How to recognize a website is part of PBN?

In the SEO world, we can establish the saying that “sites of a private blog network flocks within the same WHOIS information“. But if the PBN is the owner is clever, how could we spot a PBN site?

How can you tell if a site is PBN?

Currently, the number of web pages live on the internet is around 50 billion. That’s around 7 times as much as the world’s population.

On those number of pages, only the strongest 10 are showing up on the results page.

What made the internet populated with billions of these pages is the fact that there are tons of domains that are only used as part of a private blog network.

These PBNs are built by webmasters to manipulate the loopholes of the search engine algorithm towards the benefits of their main money site.

These money sites could either be a brand page, online store, or even a simple hobby blog that aims to get much traffic and earn from ads.

What’s more interesting is that some webmasters are too keen about the health of their PBN sites or it could be that they also want those to be as strong as their main money site that it becomes visible to non-professionals.

Learning how to recognize PBN sites is beneficial for your offensive and defensive SEO strategies.

What are Private Blog Networks?

Putting it simply, PBNs are the improved versions of link farms that were prominent in the early age of the internet.

Their common denominators are they aim to manipulate target site rankings and they are both not allowed by most of the webmaster’s guidelines.

These blogs sites are private in nature and are usually not meant to be at the top of the search engine results page but are structured to push backlinks to the money site ultimately aiming to become at the top of the SERP.

By essence, it is the webmaster’s guide because the ranking score it feeds to the target site is not organic. But why? How do we say so?

PBNs are built from purchase old or expired domains. These domains still hold their metrics even though they are no longer live on the internet.

Webmasters capitalize on metrics such as backlink score and domain authority, creating a virtual scoring factor to the target money site.

This also requires the builder to buy a handful of old domains and link them to each other.

Now you can see that you are trying to refer yourself to you and convince the system that you are the most relevant answer to a search query that logically doesn’t make sense and is thus, considered illegal.

Of course in every rule and guideline, there are always grey areas that you can thwart to the benefit of your cause and so, webmasters have come up with a lot of different workarounds to make PBN do its job without repercussion.

What does a PBN look like?


Recognizing the PBN site requires you to understand the playing field of it and that is site authority and backlink quality.

Private blog network sites will always have an impressive backlink score tagged to them and this was from the traffic it once had when it was first to live.

With the traffic, it once was having comes along its domain authority as it was once being a source of answers to a search query on its target niche.

Since it was barred by webmaster’s guides after 2014, private blog network developers started to also tweak their building efforts making it more difficult to detect both by humans and bots.

So how do we spot them? Let’s find out how.

Eyes on the Design

One characteristic of main money sites is they have a navigable user interface and an engaging user experience.

This is because site owners will most certainly invest in this aspect of their website to attract organic traffic.

PBN sites on the other hand will usually be of poor design as it is not meant for public viewing and more often than not, the overall setup, how it was hosted, what plugins were used, themes applied if there is any, is usually of poor quality.

Just like by touching a tomato you can determine if it’s still good or going rotten, so as by looking into the entirety of the page layout from the homepage to its subpages.

Background Check Site WHOIS Information

When you click on the top answers on the SERP as you search on the query, you can start investigating its backlink profile using the link address through the online tools available.

Check some of the backlink source sites and start doing a WHOIS look-up. There are tons of free browser plugins that you can use. From there, you can bust a PBN site as they are typically owned by a single person or entity.

You may also want to check for the IP addresses to identify where is the site web hosting and of the domain name server. Chances are PBN sites are housed in a single IP address because this is quite a savings on the end of the PBN builder.

Domain Rating Check

Domain Rating is a metric that quantifies how authoritative a site could be in the perspective of a search engine. This rating is defined by a handful of variable metrics from blog content to the front and back end development aspect of the site.

Before, DR 25 is a score to avoid, but nowadays, clever webmasters have made their DR scores high giving an impression of it being real and authoritative.

While it’s safe to say that a 26-80 DR score is a safe zone, you will still want to do an in-depth analysis on the suspiciously PBN site digging deeper on how it had obtained its rating pointing us to the next step on recognizing PBN sites.

Organic Traffic History

PBN site retains its domain ratings even though they were off-grid. You can easily recognize a PBN site if you check on the organic traffic history of the site as there should be a gap of months or years on its traffic data.

PBN sites will also tend to have low traffic volume that will not account for their high domain rating.

Baclink Profiling

Since these PBN sites are made up of old domains, you’ll find a bunch of 301s and 404s even when you’re just doing a general SEO analysis using the online tools available.

For the 404s, it could be possible that the PBN builder tends not to recreate the entirety of the pre-existing pages of the domain although this could not always be the case as webmasters today are clever and they know this risk too.

Sites with long gap months will have backlinks pointing to this old domain that no longer exists. Probably that those source domains have expired.

For the 301s, these are the remedies of webmasters to curb the impact of 404s. Whenever you click a link, it redirects to another webpage or domain.

Check Some PBN Site

If you’re suspicious if a site is part of a PBN, do the aforementioned ways and better do it in conjunction with each other to give you a clear call as well as you could also avoid these risks if you yourself is utilizing private blog netowrkds.

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