PBN Footprints: A no bullshit discussion or: Chill TF out.

You know what i found most irritating? People who worry about stuff instead of actually working toward their (SEO)goals. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not free of sin, far from it actually. For instance, the importance of pbn footprint avoidance is grossly overstated, still people worry about it. Good way to justify your procrastination for sure. Also a good way to become a completly broke and sad person, eventually killing yourself by jumping off a roof and coursing google until hitting the pavement. Ok, before that escalates even more, let me get into a discussion of pbn foootprint avoidance and to what degree it makes sense to think about it.

The Idea behind footprints

Just imagine you’d be running google. How would you catch the „bad boyz“ ? You would try to find patterns that blackhats, greyhats, spammers and the likes have in common. Yea, we are talking about prejudices here. Google craves prejudice because it allows for automatic penalization of sites. Just imagine a dystopian future where some AI decides who is comitting a crime based on their skin color, body type, tattoos etc. Now imagine the crime that is supposedly comitted by these people is no crime at all. That’s google for you, in a nutshell.

How do people living in „1984“ survive ?

They try to blend in. Fly under the radar. Stay indistinguishable from normal people. I’m not telling you to adhere to googles quality guidelines though. Or spend your time begging for links. But it does make sense trying not to stick out like a sore thumb when it comes to linkbuilding. Still, some of the worries are grossly overstated and sometimes reading forum or blog posts feels like…people believe you only have to slip up one time to make matt cutts come back to googs just to hunt you down.

In any case, here are a few pbn footprints..or at least what people consider to be footprints:

  • Lack of IP Diversity
  • Lack of CMS Diversity
  • Lack of Nameserver Diversity
  • Lack of Registrar Diversity
  • Registration Date footprint

All these footprints are super relative and depend on niche and markets. For instance, in some markets, it is normal to have links from certain platforms which are, of course, hosted on the same Ips. If only your sites (pbns) are hosted on these Ips, that can be problematic, but only at size. Let’s say you are spreading 20 domains across 5 hosting companies and 5 unique ips:

Do you really think that hosting 5 sites on one IP is evidence enough for google to call PBN? Of course not since google does not look at the problem from your perspective but thinks more globally – there are enough legit sites getting links from the same domains hosted on the same Ips.

Same is true when it comes to DNS diversity and CMS diversity. It does make sense to hide in the crowd though. What is more unique: ns1.digitalocean.com or jonathan.ns1.cloudflare.com ? What is more unique: Using 500 different (and obscure) content management systems or just using wordpress or static pages ? Sometimes hiding in plain sight is the better idea and leaves less room for slip-ups. As for registrar diversity, you’d say it makes sense to use bigger registrars more often as to hide your registration pattern.

But, as you are building other links besides your own PBN links this pattern gets diluted. If you are spreading your domains around a bit and stay clear from a monoculture + are building outside links you are fine, i could swear. Don’t forget that if googles algo makes one mistake, a ton of innocent sites suffer as well so think more in terms of probability.

A footprint i find more problematic is the reg date footprint. Just how likely is it, that a site is recieving 50 links from domains all registered at the exact same day or even worse…moment. It’s just not plausible. Even though i have not heard of that being a problem, i feel uneasy about it and keep spreadsheets to prevent registration date footprints.

Now let us take a look at footprints that you can create while making, maintaining and using your private blog network:

  • Site Setup footprints
  • Content footprints
  • Linking foootprint

As for setting up your domains make sure to switch things up a bit, delete sample pages etc, create about me etc. But bare in mind that all these customizations also come with the risk of creating a pattern yourself. We humans simply create patterns and google can find them rather easily. Will they? I doubt it at this moment. Perhaps if someone in mountainview is onto you, they might run a bunch of suspicious, flagged sites through a tool to verify their suspicions. But lets be real – all these actions cost processing time and money. If you are a small fish, i would not worry.

Now what about content footprints? By that i mean using the same articles on the same sites for instance. Who does that? If you are doing that stop now. Also, what site contains only one page with one link to another site? For all that is good on this earth please don’t be so damn lazy and obvious?!

Linking footprints have the potential to be a more serious issue. Imagine you are running 100 pbn domains and all 100 sites link out to a fresh domain which happens to be your moneysite. I would not worry so much about raising red flags re: your moneysite – but if 100 domains only link out to one site that links your network together and makes it a ripe target. ALWAYS link to other sites, that are relevant. Never re-use your whole network. As i said, its a game of probability and how much risk you want to take is up to you.

„Linking to soon“ footprint

This one was popularized by Matt Diggity and he is right. If you are creating links to your site too quickly google knows somethings up. Your rank might improve temporarly just to drop slightly below the starting mark. He suggests to wait 36 days i think. Well, cookie cutter doesn’t work – age your pbns well and work on them in the meantime or you’ll regret it. Seo in 2017 and 2018 means one thing: PATIENCE.

Conclusion

Be fully aware that there are a ton of ways to make mistakes and allow google to track you. Some mistakes are more severe than others though. It is all a matter of probability, your risk tolerance and- luck. If you can build a new link in the time you would otherwise prevent a minor footprint from occuring – build the link. Google is a machine that is getting more intelligent but one has to strike a balance (or hire a ton of people and spend a ton of money). If possible, try to automize footprint prevention by using a good pbn host (this review) for instance, like pbn hosting.

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