Private networks (or private blog networks – but they don’t necessarily have to be all blogs) are a great (albeit a bit expensive when done properly) way to take a shortcut on link building efforts if you’re fine with a bit of grey in your SEO. However, many “gurus” selling all sorts of tools, ebooks, webinars and the like products targeted at beginner private network builders make it sound easier than it is, and newbies set off building, wasting money and their time, then wondering why their network doesn’t provide them with any SEO benefits or worse yet, gets all banned right away.
The rule of thumb when building private networks is RANDOMISE – randomise everything you can think of (and then everything you didn’t think of, too). Think I’m too paranoid? The fact I’m (possibly) a wee bit paranoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you (and your network), and I’ve built enough of my own (or client) networks and deconstructed enough networks done by other people to know you just cannot be too paranoid with this kind of project.
What goes below is a list off the top of my head of the things that will, if not burn your network completely, surely serve as good pointers for whoever is trying to sneak on you. This comes in the form of a list as, if I start expanding on each item and explaining why this is a risk, I will be writing this for a few weeks and probably end up with a book, not a blog post. You may argue that some of these may not constitute a serious risk per se – but make two or three of these mistakes at once and someone like me will easily uncover your whole network. If you need to ask why any of these matter or don’t know what I am talking about you probably shouldn’t be building a private network anyway.
WARNING: This post contains explicit language and scenes of violence. If you object against such content you should not read any further.
- Buy all your domains around the same time
- Bonus points for buying all domains of the same age (i.e. only new or only 2-year-old)
- Buy all your domains from the same registrar
- Buy all your domains with private whois
- Bonus points for buying all domains in your own name or using other personally identifiable information (your house looks really nice on street view)
- Use the same CMS for all of your sites
- Bonus points for using the same theme on all of your sites
- Use the same set of plugins on all of your sites
- Follow your “guru”‘s “blueprint” step by step without thinking or questioning (think how many clueless newbs will do the same – and said “gurus” should probably be hung publicly for selling shit advice like that too)
- Use an automated tool for setting up your whole network without clearly understanding what exactly it does and not interfering to randomise things (those selling such automated tools should be hung publicly right next to the aforementioned “gurus” – those selling especially primitive tools incapable of any randomisation should be burnt alive)
- Host all your domains on the same host
- Bonus points for hosting all your domains on the same IP
- Bonus points for using dedicated IPs but same name servers on all your network sites
- Host all your domains on so called “SEO” hosts
- Build your whole network out of completely repurposed old sites where it’s obvious from the domain name
- Build your whole network with domains differing only by a number at the end of the domain name
- Build your whole network with domain names based on your mid-tail and long-tail keywords
- Interlink all your network sites
- Link to the same client sites from all network sites
- Bonus points for linking to nothing else but same client sites
- Extra bonus points for placing links to each site on all network sites around the same time
- Extra bonus points for using the same anchor texts for each client site across all your network sites
- Extra bonus points for using poorly spun content with identifiable chunks of text on all your network sites
- Extra-extra bonus points for stealing other people’s content and posting it on your network sites
- Super-mega-extra bonus points for using the same stolen content across all of your network sites
- “Boost” your network sites’ link profiles by using the same link sources for all of them (e.g. something like this but not necessarily)
- Extra-extra bonus points for using links from hacked sites for “boosting” your network sites’ link profiles
- “Boost” your network sites’ social networks visibility by tweeting/liking/pinning/sharing/bookmarking them from the same accounts
- Bonus points for buying multiple Fiverr gigs for this purpose from the same provider for all network sites
- Extra bonus points for using your personal social network accounts for this purpose
- Use the same stats tool with non-varying, identifiable code that requires placing on the sites on all your network sites
- Bonus points if the tool is Google Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics
- Extra bonus points for trying to additionally monetise all your network sites using AdSense (2005 called…) or affiliate ads
- Extra bonus points for trying to sell links (or link removal, as it happens) on your network directly on network sites
- Have a list of all your network sites somewhere publicly accessible online (basically, all of the above equal having a complete list of your network sites online – but if you’re stupid enough to actually have a LIST posted/stored somewhere you should probably be banned from the internet and not allowed to breed)
This list is surely far from complete – this is just something I could remember right away based on a few recent cases I looked at. To those who will accuse me of selling the farm to Google by listing all of these here – rest assured, Google knew it all as far back as 10 years ago – just ask my old mate Earl Grey who experienced it first hand back in the day.
So yes, private networks can be very effective and safe if you do all the right stuff – but no, they are by no means cheap and certainly not a quick method, unless you have a good one handy already.