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Did you know your Google Ranking can be penalized if you are using PBNs?

Everyone should know by now that Google doesn’t play nice when they think they are being bamboozled. Google is known for penalizing sites that they deem to be using gray or black hat tactics. The most recent tactic they are targeting is PBNs or private blog networks.
Google reportedly started to take action on sites participating in private blog networks on September 18th, sending out widespread manual action notices via Google Webmaster Tools to these sites for “thin content” spam. Google considers thin content to be search spam and has a page in their webmaster guidelines explaining why and how they can take action on this type of content.
PBNs are generally groups of blogs or sites often controlled by one publisher, with the goal of building up links within the network as a way to help particular content rank better in Google. PBNS aren’t really “private” from Google or the public, but the “private” name comes out of the idea they aren’t really meant for public visitors but are instilled just to generate links for SEO ranking purposes.
This is a definite no-no in the eyes of Google and it seems like they have hit a massive number of web sites utilizing these PBNs since September 18. Google is letting webmasters know about pages they deem aren’t following their Webmaster Guidelines through Google Webmaster Tools and is letting them know the recommended actions to get back in their good graces.
Recommended Actions
  • Update you site so that it meets Google Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Once you’ve made these changes, submit a reconsideration request.
  • For an updated list of manual actions currently applied to your site, visit the Manual Actions page. If no manual actions are listed, there is no longer a need to file a reconsideration request.
PBNs are something that Google is not a fan of and even though they are taking measures to get people back on track, many people believe that PBNs are long from being gone. Some think quality PBNs have a chance of sticking around but it is pretty clear that Google is not happy and is working to get rid of them.
Should you be worried?
  1. If you have lots of microsites lying around collecting dust, then maybe you should be worried. Are these sites so inactive or so low in value that they haven’t attracted any new links in years? Do they all link back to other sites of yours? If the answer to both these questions is yes, then it definitely looks like these sites are being used simply to funnel link juice back to your main sites.
  1. If you’ve been buying expired domains, putting up new content, and then selectively linking back to your main sites, then you should definitely be worried. If you are not actively marketing and promoting those purchased domains in a way that drives new links to them then you especially should be worried.
  1. If you have been buying links from sites that fit the description of 1 and 2 above, then definitely as well.
If you fall into any of these categories you should definitely consider getting out of that game before Google penalizes all of your sites. 
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