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Linking from PBN Sites

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I have quite a few PBN sites and I have tried to present the links from each of them to my primary site in a diverse and varied manner in case the network comes under human scrutiny.


Some links come from blog posts, some from the homepage, some from contextual 1st tier pages etc.


For a new PBN site I am considering placing a link in a sidebar "advert" image, as this seems the most plausible and natural-looking way that the site would link out to my primary site. Is this a bad idea?


Assuming for a moment that the link is only ever crawled by bots and the PBN does not undergo human scrutiny with a manual review, then the potential problems I'm worried about are:

  1. The links will be from multiple pages (although I can control this and limit my ad link to just the homepage, or just 1st tier pages etc), will they therefore be discounted as "sitewide"?
  2. Will sidebar links automatically be demoted or channel less link juice simply by virtue of being in the sidebar?
  3. Will google bots identify the link as an "advert" and therefore assume that it is paid for, and therefore discount the link?
  4. As a continuation of point 3, will this lead to a penalty for the PBN site on the basis that the site is displaying adverts but not tagging them as "no-follow"?

I don't want to forgo link juice from the PBN site purely in the interest of making the links more varied from others in the network.


Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

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Image/ad links like that are not a problem.


1) Like you said, you control this, but if the site is not huge, it is likely not something I would worry much about.

2) Depends on the setup of the site. Usually, the sidebar appears after the main body on a site. When you look at the text version of a site, there are no sidebars. The sidebar content normally is after the body and before the footer. They are weaker links. Links closer to the top of the page are typically stronger. However, that is easy to fix. You either make it a header ad or an ad just below the nav menu (plenty of sites do this), or you change the float value in the CSS to shift it so the sidebar shows first in the text version.

3) Never have really seen that happen.

4) Google prefers that "no-follow" is added to ads, but I have never seen them just penalize a site for not doing it. Remember that a lot of webmasters do not really pay all that much attention to Google or what they say. Most have no idea what "no-follow" even is.

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Image/ad links like that are not a problem.



Thanks Mike!


I've been purchasing domains that have only a small number of backlinks (10-50), but where both the site's historic content and the backlinks are 100% relevant to my niche, the backlink profile is completely spam-free, and the backlinks are from strong domains. These are pretty cheap, partly because everybody seems to focus on nonsense metrics and quantity over quality when purchasing domains. So if I screw up with any one domain, it's not really a big deal in terms of cost.


I'll give this image-ad link style a go with this one site, and see what happens.


Which leads to another question . . . What are some effective ways to track the effects of these PBN links?


I keep track of my SERPs for major keywords in an excel document, and note the date when new backlinks are created, but it's hard to know what effect any one link is having on a site's rankings. Some of the problems are:

  • There's a lag before Google actually discovers and crawls the links.
  • The effect of links from any site that has a dynamic 'blog-like' front page (including news sites) is to cause an initial spike that then fades as the piece rolls off the front page.
  • There's obviously more than one thing going on at once in terms of my link-building strategy, so it can be hard to pin down whether the benefit has come from a PBNs, outreach or guest post link.
  • Google has previously claimed that link equity from expired domains is lost when ownership changes. While this is possibly the case some of the time, it certainly isn't the case all of the time. If the domain has been "reset" by Google and all historic links effectively treated as no-follow, then there's no clear way of knowing this (unless you're dealing with a domain that has a huge number of historic backlinks and should therefore generate significant organic traffic).
  • I completely ignore PR, DA, and any other metrics as they seem to be pretty meaningless. I can make a good common-sense assessment of the strength of clean inbound links to a site without these, but from there it's a leap of faith to guessing what benefits a link from the site has brought to my rankings.

Does anyone have any more reliable method/tools that they use to try and estimate the value of any particular component in a PBN?

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I've recently restored the bulk of the content, care of WaybackMachine, to a PBN domain that I purchased.


Google has had plenty of time to index the site now, (I submitted a sitemap and fetched and submitted key pages to index).


In webmaster tools today I was surprised to discover 114 crawl errors. These are all 404s for URLs that must have existed historically on the legacy site. How does Google know about these URLs/pages, and why has it gone looking for them now?


Is it because Google has records of its index of the legacy site, or is it because there are links out there somewhere on the web to these 114 pages?

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  • 4 years later...

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