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Has Google’s John Mueller Put An End To PBN’s With This Recent Statement?

Google PBN Update Header
Google PBN Update Header

Over the last decade of SEO evolution, we have become smarter as marketers and have developed a better understanding of what a natural link profile looks like and how to mimic one. So today when looking for options to build high authority links in a scalable way, SEO agencies and marketing teams have had 2 main options. Conduct genuine outreach to bloggers and webmasters and ask for a link or build and maintain your own PBN (Private Blog Network) and mimic a site that looks alive and kicking.

Whilst there are pro’s and con’s to both and each strategy will have their place in certain SEO campaigns, a quote from a recent Google Hangouts video has surfaced, causing a stir in the SEO community, especially those heavily invested in a PBN strategy.

For those that are not familiar, a PBN strategy is designed to harness the instant value from high authority domains which usually involves buying expired domains with existing link value and resurrecting and maintaining them as new sites or blogs to place links on.

New Information Which Suggests Expired Domains Lose Value


This recent Webmaster Hangout video with John Mueller suggests that Google are taking a much closer look into re-registered domains.

Link to the video:

“Sometimes we recognise that a new site is completely unrelated to an old site. So for example if you go out and buy an old domain name, it might have been a church website for 10 years. If we recognise your new website is really not the same as it was, then we need to understand that difference and say that, these links, they apply to the old website but they don’t apply to the new one.”

Reading between the lines, what John is saying in the video is that a re-registered expire domain should keep the same agenda/content, otherwise, Google will recognise the site has changed and will lose or ‘reset’ it’s link value.

This ties in with something Matt Cutts said around 9 years ago…

PageRank Reset


“Google tries to reset pagerank/links for all expired domains to zero when they are registered by someone new. They don’t try to penalize the expired domain, but they also don’t want to give credit for the previous owner’s links”. Matt Cutts, 2008.

Read the full story on that here:

Matt Cutts as far back as 2008 explained how Google are ‘trying’ to treat expired domains that have been resurrected. This is known as ‘PageRank reset’ and whilst we understand that PBN’s have been known to work very well since this statement was made, it does confirm along with the more recent statement that Google are trying to diminish or adjust the value of a domain if it changes agenda or changes hands after being expired for a period of time.

This Makes Sense, Doesn’t It?

When we’re trying to develop link strategies here at Fat Joe we’re always looking at ways to be able to mimic a natural link profile. If we don’t allow our clients to be able to control all the variables to what they order, then we run the risk of allowing our clients to build a link building footprint. This is why (despite numerous requests) we have historically always steered clear of creating an easy to order Link Package as the majority of the time you’ll just end up re-ordering a service which is creating a link building footprint. 

As we have seen amongst the online SEO Communities, it seems the popularity of PBN’s has been steadily increasing over the past couple of years. Obviously the Google spam team are having some problems with the increasing number of PBN’s artificially inflating website’s authority and rankings which is why John maybe opening up more than usual in this latest Hangout.

If I Were Google How Would I Stop This?

As we know Google have full access to registrar information and know when a website expires and changes hands so if you were to ask yourself the question ‘If I were Google, how would I stop this?’ the most obvious simple solution would be to reset the value on a site that expires and is re-registered and re-purposed by a completely different owner. 

Should I Stop Using or building PBNs?

As always you should take this statement from John at Google with a pinch of salt as you should do with all Google announcements. PBNs will of course have their place in more aggressive markets and strategies but our advice would be to ensure you supplement a PBN only strategy with various other types of links and link strategies to ensure you don’t leave any obvious footprints.

Imagine a websites link profile where all or most of the links are from sites with a re-registered expired domain. If it doesn’t now this could surely cause problems in the future especially if Google start actually putting into practice what they have been saying for almost 10 years now.

Something to think about!

Daniel Trick
Daniel Trick

Head of Content

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