Google Sends Manual Action Penalties to Sites Using PBNs
In an effort to prevent sites that make use of “thin content with little or no value” from ranking prominently on Google Search, Google has reportedly begun taking action against sites that participate in private blog networks, or PBNs. On September 18, 2014, Google sent out thousands of manual action notifications to webmasters who make use of PBNs.
PBNs are groups of blogs or websites that are controlled by a single publisher. PBNs are not restricted from either search engines or the general public, but are deemed “private” because their main goal is to build up links within the network to help targeted content rank better on Google Search and other search engines.
Rather than earning links naturally, many PBNs are designed to artificially manipulate rankings on Google Search. Simply put, these blogs are not really meant for site visitors, but instead are being used to generate links to boost organic search rankings.
Google equates thin content with search spam. In their Webmaster Guidelines page, Google’s Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, explained that his team will take action against this type of content.
“It’s on a spectrum of value add, and if you get low enough, then we consider that you have violated our webspam guidelines,” he said. “We’ll send you that [manual action notification] and then you can think about, ‘Okay, what do I need to do to move up that value add where I’m really doing something that users will find compelling?’”
Spencer Haws, one of the numerous webmasters who has received a manual action penalty from Google, addressed this action in a blog post. “Google has beaten me into submission, I’m done with PBNs…forever!” exclaimed Haws. Figure 1 is a screenshot of the manual action notification sent to Haws by Google.
Many who run PBNs, however, doubt that this crackdown will signal the end for their networks. “Even though there is no doubt that Google is taking serious action against webmasters who are hitting it big with PBNs, either promoting their own money sites or running services, I don’t believe the end of PBNs is somewhere near. NOT EVEN CLOSE,” stated a member of a black hat SEO forum.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Will Google’s crackdown signal the end for PBNs? Leave a comment below!
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