Blog Networks, Ban Hammers & A Whole Lot of Fear

Blog Networks, Ban Hammers & A Whole Lot of Fear

All of this is just research based knowledge. I don’t work for or own Google so I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. That being said, I generally don’t do a post unless I’ve researched the topic very well.

All of the admins or moderators on BlackHat.Community run blog networks, none of us have had any of our PBN sites hit, so far.

A number of people have been getting all worked up over blog networks, Spencer got his hit, so did some of the no hat digital sites and a load of others in various private communities complaining of sites getting hit.

As per usual, whilst the industry is doing back flips over the latest Google thing, which in this case is PBNs being hit left & right.. There’s always me –

What I’ve Already Said –

James and I posted in my Facebook group a few weeks ago about blocking bots, and how it causes a massive footprint:

blocking bots

This was actually about 10 days before everyone started getting hit.

So far, from the over 50 people I’ve spoken to that had sites hit, around 30/50 of them are running SpyderSpanker and nearly all (except 2 people) are blocking bots on the robots.txt level.

As a number of people said, yes people can block bots and use plugins like SpyderSpanker to do it for them.. Though as you can see above, it creates a footprint that Google can index – All it takes is for Google to manually check sites to see if they’re blog networks or not.. A couple hours of employee work later and an entire PBN could be pretty easily reverse engineer’d.

Real Example of Reverse Engineering –

So, I don’t want to have to do this and don’t really want to “oust” anyone, but for the purposes of proving a point.. I’ll show you what I mean.

Step 1) Use Blocked Bots Footprint

For this, I used a slightly different footprint search that shows a lot more PBN sites – I won’t release it, because it’s obviously going to cause more harm than good.

Then all you need to do is look down and manually filter through sites that aren’t /robots.txt and make sure you’re only going with sites that really are blocking bots.

Step 2) Locate Sites

The very first site that comes up when I put in this search is a WordPress site, with the first post on that site being this:


The content itself is very poorly spun, I’m guessing whoever owns this site is using an automated tool as the anchor text in this case is highly generic. It also links to a WordPress site, so I’m going to assume this specific blog network is used for tier 2 link building.

Step 3) Reverse Engineer the Linked Site

So now we have that WordPress site I was talking about, all we have to do is fire that link into Ahrefs and find other sites linking to it:

wp url

There’s 3 referring domains here – All 3 are from poorly put together WordPress sites. For literally 2 minutes work, we’ve already found 3 PBN sites, we can then reverse engineer the rest by looking at where these 3 sites link out to, and looking into those sites backlink profiles. Systematically ticking off your PBN sites one by one.

The Second Coming –

Something a lot of other people have expressed concerns around is buying your domains through Godaddy Auctions. Though not all of the people I spoke to did this, most of them did.

All Google has to do is scrape the auctions every week, keep a note of those domains, then a few weeks/months later ping to see if they’re up (returning a 200 status) then fire the URL through to a manual reviewer – Who can then look to reverse engineer your network.

But, But, I Did None of These Things??

Ok, so you didn’t do any of those things. There’s a pretty much never ending list of things you could’ve done to be caught up in this mess though.

  • Did you buy any links from other people’s PBNs?
  • Do you use SEO Hosting? (Google does target specific “SEO Hosts” – Buy a package on there, find out the IPs, find out the other sites on those IPs, reverse engineer the links of all those PBNs and you’ll find an entire network within a few hours of work)
  • Do you use your PBN for Churn & Burn projects?

And so, so many more…

My Take –

I already did a video about 2 weeks ago now, so I’m just going to leave that here again:

That’s my advice for PBNs, and I stick by it even now all these sites have been hit.

Following Up –

If you’re a Premium user on BlackHat.Community, you can check the discussion thread here. Myself and a number of the other Admins/Mods will be revealing sites and showing & discussing sites that have been hit. If your site’s have been hit, you can also PM us on the Forum and get an overview of why they were hit.

Thanks For Reading –

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Charles Floate
I'm a UK based Search Engine Optimisation and Search Marketing Consultant. With over 5 years in the Search Industry, I'm hoping to build up God of SEO as a Dedicated Internet Marketing Blog with tons of Information for the Community to engage with.
Charles Floate
Charles Floate
Charles Floate

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