The Death of the PBN

PBN’s are a Dying Breed – Meet the Ranking Score Patent


Update: After much asking about this topic, we have decided to make an exclusive webinar/masterclass explaining a new way of building links. Click here to register for free.

Or why you should build PRN’s to rank in 2016 and beyond:

I recently wrote an article where I went into detail about “the Google Dance” (read the full article here) and how most of the information could be found in a couple of the patents the company had filed and was granted. In addition, I confessed in the article that I am a Google patent geek and probably spend way more time than I should, looking through them.

But the reality is that there is a wealth of information to be gathered from patents, patent filings, and especially from patents that are granted. This is absolutely helpful in our industry since there is often so much conflicting and misleading information. Why listen to so-called experts when you can get the public information filed when the “invention” is claimed?

It’s still and will continue to be all about links

There are all sorts of so-called and self-proclaimed gurus and ninjas around the web trying to tell you that link building is dead. But with just a little bit of research, you can plainly see that the most recent patents Google has been granted regarding rankings are all about links.

Once again, you don’t have to listen to self-proclaimed experts, ninjas and gurus or me for that matter. Go straight to the source because it’s all there in black and white.

The old axiom

You know the old axiom – Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and three times is a pattern, don’t you? Well, if we apply the axiom to the case in point, then there are three distinct patents which are all link-focused and tend to support the statement that this is a clear pattern:

  3. srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8,924,380.PN.&OS=PN/8,924,380&RS=PN/8,924,380
  5. 2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9165040.PN.&OS=PN/9165040&RS=PN/9165040

Please don’t take what I am saying to mean that there aren’t any more patents dealing with links. I am simply talking about patents which I am currently researching. And I am especially focusing on #3 above because this is the “Trust & Topical Trust” patent. Yes, I know it’s titled “Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a web-link graph.”

I also know that it’s being called the “Distance Graph” since it takes into account how far a web page is from a web page with trust. But titles can be misleading, as this one can be if you go in and focus only on the distance graph.

But Let’s go Ahead and Look at the Distance Graph for a Moment

The distance graph is extremely important and we can’t ignore it. You only have to look at #1 in the description section of the patent to understand the implications.

It clearly states:

1. Field of the Invention

“The present invention generally relates to techniques for ranking pages on the web. More specifically, the present invention relates to a method for producing a ranking for pages on the web by computing shortest distances from a set of seed pages to each of the pages to be ranked, wherein the seed pages and the pages to be ranked are interconnected with links”. (Emphasis added)

Let’s look at the image G presented to explain the statement above:


Now let’s follow the path for Seed 106 in the image above to better understand the Distance Graph. If yours is Page 124 above, you are three hops away from the Seed Page link. The further away you are from Seed 106, the tougher it will be for you to outrank Page 112 because 112 is receiving a direct link from a Seed Page. Flipping this around, the closer you are to a “Seed Page”, the likelier it is that you will outrank other pages because of the “trust” factor. If you could find a Seed set that is themed or topically related to link from to your property, then you’re “In like Flint!”

What are “Seed Pages”?

They are, according to the patent, a set of “trusted’ pages.” It’s really that simple. We don’t know the metrics G is using to determine which pages are trusted and which aren’t. But my tests have determined that Majestic’s TF algorithm is the best way to determine whether (or the likelihood that) a page is going to be “trusted” and used as a seed.

Okay, I hope it’s clear so far because this is where it really gets interesting.

The patent further states:


“One embodiment of the present invention provides a system that ranks pages on the web based on distances between the pages, wherein the pages are interconnected with links to form a link-graph. More specifically, a set of high-quality seed pages are chosen as references for ranking the pages in the link-graph, and shortest distances from the set of seed pages to each given page in the link-graph are computed. Each of the shortest distances is obtained by summing lengths of a set of links which follows the shortest path from a seed page to a given page, wherein the length of a given link is assigned to the link based on properties of the link and properties of the page attached to the link. The computed shortest distances are then used to determine the ranking scores of the associated pages.” (Emphasis Added)

What does this all mean?

It’s all about links with a new twist. We all know that you can no longer throw a couple of million exact match keywords at a destination and expect it to do anything other than get deindexed for “suspicious link activity.”

Well, let me qualify that. The property could rank because of the initial boost and the freshness factor – Yes, there is actually a G patent that accounts for freshness when ranking a page – But this is simply a deindexed property waiting to happen. It’s perfect as a churn and burn strategy, but not so good if it belongs to a client or is making you some serious change and you want it to stay around for a while.

But it is still all about links, right?

The “Overview paragraph” uses the word link or links nine times. For those of you counting, that’s 9 out of 120 words. So it’s obviously all about …

Well, you get the point ———————————————————–>

However, the twist is that it’s now all about getting these ——————–>

from Seed Pages, which is the same as saying Trusted Sources. And if you take a really close look, it’s actually all about how close you can get to a seed.

But why “trusted sources” or “seeds?”

If you’re familiar with Majestic, then you know that the only way to pass TrustFlow is through links with the “follow” attribute – same as Page Rank and Trust Rank – both of which I spoke about during our Trust Flow webinar. Watch our free webinar here.

In fact, Google came up with the “nofollow” attribute so that websites could control how they would pass Page Rank. Once the powers at Google realized how easy it was to manipulate Page Rank, several attempts to control it were made. But we simply doubled our efforts and G had to find another way.

The Distance Graph again

And along comes this patent which tries to further control how “juice” passes through a link and the way it’s measured. For those of you who have built up the power of your PBN’s through pure SPAM and are using them to rank your properties, keep a close eye on this because this is how your PBN’s are going to atrophy and die off.

Don’t tell me that you haven’t already seen this in your PBN’s. So either you build links with trust into your PBN’s or the PBN simply loses power over time.


A simple but effective strategy.

The point is that Google is telling you through this patent how it’s going to kill your PBN’s. There is no need to search out PBN’s anymore because the algorithm will incorporate the Distance Graph.

Since nothing is further away from a Seed Page than a PBN, it’s easy to see how Google has to do absolutely nothing except let them die a slow, painful death through atrophy.

The typical layout for a PBN is SPAM links >> site you control (outbound links added) >> destination. I’ve also seen SPAM >> Contextuals >> Site you control (outbound links added) >> destination. Given this scenario and the Distance Graph patent, unless you have links from trusted sites among your SPAM links going to the site you control, you’re in trouble.

PBN atrophy

Our tests (and many other tests around the web) have shown that setting up a website for the sole purpose of adding links toward a destination (money/client website) and boosting the link with SPAM has diminishing returns. The PBN simply loses the ability to pass juice over time.

These diminishing returns or PBN atrophy were often attributed to link loss. But we can clearly see from this patent that atrophy is actually caused by the fact that the Distance Graph was being slowly tested and rolled out. The patent was pending and it stands to reason that Google would test it, tweak it and make sure that it did what it was supposed to do.

Outsmarting the big Guy

We often think we’re way smarter than a bunch of genius-level programmers at Mountain View. While there are some people in this industry that I would put at that level, they tend to be lone wolves and simply don’t have the billion-dollar resources Big G has at its disposal.

For our PBN’s, we work at hiding footprints, diversifying IPs, link diversity, link velocity, buy high DA/PA – high TF/CF domains, cloak, use different platforms, worry about DNS, cloak IPs, use hosting diversity, etc. – all with the idea that we are so much more clever than Big G and can hide from its prying eyes.

All the while, they have been setting up a way for PBN’s to go the way of the dinosaur: Mass Extinction. They’ve been working on killing PBN’s without having to bother about going out and searching for them, touché!

What a masterly stroke of genius – and would you or should you expect any less?

Becoming a Seed Page

The way to work around the Distance Graph or to manipulate it is by producing Seed Pages, but how practicable is this? If you have hundreds of websites in your PBN, how can you possibly convert them all into Seed Pages?

If you have the resources to turn all of the websites you use in your PBN’s into seeds, then my hat’s off to you. But we don’t even know the metrics G is using to identify a Seed Page and then use it in its Page set to produce a Ranking Score.

Well, those who know how to do it aren’t sharing the information publicly

Once again, SEO’s and Online Marketers are a guarded, secretive bunch. It’s in the nature of the game. And many of those who understand the concepts behind “Who, what, where, when, how and why” when it comes to the ranking algorithm are out there making a killing and not sharing information.

We tend to spend more time arguing about white hat vs. black hat SEO than sharing information for the benefit of other SEO’s.

Then again, there are many people out there who are still sharing the same information that wasn’t working 5 years ago, and it sure “ain’t gonna work” to rank in 2016. You also have the “Johnny come lately’s” who think they have the secret formula and want to show you how to rank in two days and be a millionaire in a few months.

If it were only that easy to …

Wait a minute … it might actually be easier than you think to rank in 2016 and beyond.

I think it’s time for Semantic Mastery to say: This is why our IFTTT SEO strategy is so effective! We go into websites we consider trustworthy and authoritative (seeds), manually build profiles inside them, customize the properties, theme them, post quality, related content on a regular basis and keep the profiles active. Find out more about our networks here.

These profiles end up producing traffic in and of themselves which makes them even more valuable as a long-term strategy. The assets we build in the network become highly authoritative and trustworthy as they age and the theme is solidified.

There you have it. Now you know what it’s going to take to rank in 2016 and beyond. You do it through PRN’s or Public Ranking Networks.

Once you get to this point, your website, YouTube Channel, free blog or any combination thereof become an unstoppable rank and bank machine.

Video explaining why our IFTTT strategy is so effective!