Jump to content

Private Network Footprints to Avoid

Recommended Posts

Sticking with the more grey/black hat theme of last week, let’s talk about some footprints that can be giving away your private network. Many of you have your own private network or have thought about creating one. No single one of these footprints will necessarily bring the Google Hammer crashing down on your head, but when you start combining them, they can make identifying network sites really easy for Google.

-WordPress. There is no doubt it is a popular platform. It is the most common platform people are using to build their networks on. You do not have to avoid it completely, but if you combine it with these other possible footprints, you might be drawing unwanted attention.

-Text logo/header. Most people just use the default text style header in WordPress. They are not taking the time to design a graphic header instead.

-All posts are on the homepage. Owners of private networks get greedy. They want to squeeze as much link equity out of each site as they can. To that end, they put every one of their posts on the homepage of their sites. As a result, all of their external links are also on the homepage of the sites. This is also common when someone is selling links on a network.

-Sample Page and Hello World post still exist. This is specific to WordPress, but I cannot count how many times I have stumbled on a network site where the default Sample Page and Hello World post are still published. A real site that someone cares about is not going to have those (usually). That is just carelessness.

-About page. Common network sites often do not have an “About” page.

-Privacy page. See above.

-Every post has at least one external link. Now there are some legitimate websites that follow this pattern. Many news sites have links within just about every news story. However, when you combine this with the majority of the footprints in this section, it is just one more ding against you.

-No social activity. Most network sites have no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. site attached to them. Think about real sites you come across and how few do not have these things.

-Wide range of topics. This is another one where there are some legitimate websites that cover all sorts of topics, but many of the public network sites out there do it in an extremely jumbled way with no real organization or reasoning behind it.

-No internal linking. Outside of a navigation menu and things like “recent posts” widgets, network sites commonly have no internal linking between posts. That’s a huge mistake.

-Having the same external link profile. I have uncovered private network sites that are all linking to the exact same sites. How odd would it be to find 25+ sites that are all linking to the exact same 3-4 websites? Vary up your external link profile. Camouflage it.

-Blocking robots. This one is a little more controversial. I know a lot of people who build private networks like to block spiders from places like Semrush and Ahrefs. To me, this could be a footprint Google could use to identify network sites. There might be a very valid reason for blocking them in some cases, but you show me 20 sites that all link to the same money site and all are blocking bots from common backlink indexes, and I will bet you $1 you just found 20 sites of someone’s network.

-Contact information inside cPanel. Here is one most people are not aware of. When you sign up for a hosting account, by default the email address used for signing up gets plugged into the contact information panel inside of cPanel. Change that email to something random.

This contact information gets published publicly. If you do a search for an email address inside of quotes that you have used in multiple hosting accounts, all of your domains can be pulled up that way. I once found 300+ network sites owned by the same person this way.

Again, for the most part, these footprints on their own are not a big deal (other than the last one), but if you take 7 Wordpress sites, with text logos, no About or Privacy page, no internal links, all linking to the same sites, and they are blocking Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, and Majestic… Well, you likely found yourself someone’s (not so) private network.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SEOPress WordPress SEO plugin

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.