What is a Link Network?
Link Network – A blackhat link building strategy that uses a network of websites all interconnected with links in order to boost backlink profiles and rank certain sites higher in google search results. Some link networks can also be known as private blog networks (PBNs). Link networks and PBNs are against Google guidelines and are devalued or penalized when detected.
Simply, a link (or site/blog/article) network is a group of sites that are connected. They can be owned by one person or multiple people; their connections can be as obvious as a badge displayed that proudly identifies the site as a member of X network or as covert as a footprint uncovered by lots of digging.
There are many immediate sites tells that indicate a site may be a member of a network:
- Language on the site. From “Proud partner in ABC Network” to “See our other networked sites” the key here is the wording about networks.
- Network badges.
- The page that lists a ton of other sites. This can be linked with the anchor “Friends” or “Partners” and doesn’t always indicate a network, but it does indicate the need for attention.
There are a few others that require some digging once you think sites are connected as network members. I mention these because my experience has been that many webmasters won’t be upfront with you and will offer you links on various sites while swearing, they aren’t connected in any way.
- Same or very similar template used for multiple sites.
- The Same Google Analytics number or Google AdSense number used. You can use www.whois.com for this.
- Same site owner for loads of different sites.
- The same IP address. This one is tricky in case there’s shared hosting involved but it can be useful. It just doesn’t guarantee that the sites sharing the same IP address are networked of course.
There are also immediate webmaster tells if you’re in contact.
- Email signature lists 10 or more other sites.
- Webmaster contacts you and says he has some great new sites for you to look at.
- Webmaster sends you a list of sites he owns without you asking.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which, as they related to links, seem to be getting tighter and tighter. They warn against the use of link schemes and specifically mention “using automated programs or services to create links to your site.”
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