SEO in 2014 and Onwards

Content is King

2014 has been quite an interesting year in terms of SEO. I’ve also previously written a little bit about this.

One of the most prevalent trends in 2014 has been the rise of Private Blog Networks, or PBNs, for short. It almost appeared to be a new gold rush of some sorts.

Suddenly everyone went out looking for expired domains, manically browsing through auction listings and to find some golden nuggets to set up blogs on.

It seemed like PBNs was THE TACTIC to use that would skyrocket your rankings.

But like everything else, good things eventually come to an end.

The first signs that PBNs might not be a good idea after all

Back in April, one guy got completely wiped from Google, losing hundreds of sites in the process. The culprit? A massive network of PBN sites.

In September, prominent SEO-blogger Spencer Haws from Niche Pursuits shared his painful story of how his PBN was hit and how he lost several money sites and thousands of dollars of potential earnings in the process. He also made a follow-up podcast episode about PBNs and his thoughts on them.

Spencer wasn’t the only one that got hit. The guys over att No Hat Digital also experienced a partial wipe of their PBN network.

Needless to say, the SEO-community went into a bit of panic mode and some (not just Spencer) swore off PBNs forever.

Are PBNs dead? Is it time to move on?

While some people claim that PBNs aren’t dead – I actually believe so. There’s a lifespan for different tactics and methods, and I firmly believe that PBNs have played out their role.

Besides the scenarios above, I’ve been in touch with a lot of webmasters in different countries that are targeting different verticals and they all say the same – PBNs are not as, if at all, effective anymore.

What’s the alternative? How do I proceed with SEO in 2015 and beyond?

The answer is surprisingly simple: go full-on White Hat-mode!

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that various Black Hat/Grey Hat-tactics doesn’t work and that Google is becoming increasingly smarter and more effective with identifying these tactics.

Of the people previously mentioned, they all seem to have dropped the PBN-tactic and are moving on to authoritative and larger SEO-projects. Sebastian, the guy that got completely wiped, is focusing on his new finance project Smartlend. Spencer and his business partner Perrin are focusing on their own authority project.

In terms of tactics and actionable advice, what should one focus on?

I’d argue that the best way going forward is:

  • Outreach – connect with interesting bloggers and site owners in your niche and try to find a meaningful way to promote your brand via their blogs/sites.
  • Social Media – create connections with potential visitors and customers and nurture that relationship.
  • Authority – focus on authority sites/projects rather than building small and thin sites.
  • Content – invest time and money into creating fantastic content rather than spending your money on links and various link schemes.
  • Engagement – engage your audience on your site and try to get them to stay on the site longer, and if possible, to contribute with ideas or content to your site/project.

Your mileage may wary, but the above plan is what I’ll be focusing on going forward.

Questions and suggestions

I’d very much appreciate your thoughts and ideas in relation to this topic.

What do you think will be the best way forward in terms of SEO in 2015 and onwards?