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?



SEO in 2014 – What’s Working and What’s Not Working?

Best practices

SEO is constantly changing.

Tactics that might’ve worked yesterday might be frowned upon today and something that might get you penalized.

A tactic that has been extremely popular in 2013 and 2014 has been private blog networks. By private blog networks I mean networks of blogs (often based on WordPress) that you own and that you can place links on.

People find expired domains and then just set up blogs on these domains since they’ve already got decent link power.

Of course this was something Google didn’t like and eventually they started going after people pursuing this strategy.

In April, one guy got completely pulverized by Google and lost all his sites.

In mid September the Niche Pursuits guys had their network and some money sites penalized. Simuntaneously the guys over at No Hat Digital also got penalized.

These guys are definitely not the only ones getting their networks penalized, there are a ton of penalization threads in various Black Hat-forums.

So I’m guessing you’re wondering – should I completely stay away from Private Blog Networks (PBNs)?

While the recent developments definitely suggest to step away from PBNs, some people are even suggesting that they’re going to double-down on their PBNs while others believe that Google is just working on a scaremongering tactic.

I’m personally leaning towards scaling down my PBN efforts, but that’s just because I don’t generally like risk.

If you’re risk averse, I’d suggest to stay away and focus your SEO efforts elsewhere. If you have a bit of a risk appetite, give it a shot, but make sure to cover up your footprints.

If PBNs are dead – what should I focus on then?

What seems to be a bit of a trend right now is to go White Hat and work on Authority Projects.

Sebastian (the guy that got wiped by Google) is working on his authority project Smartlend and Spencer & Perrin from Niche Pursuits are also focusing on authority projects and real business models.

I myself has also started working on an authority project. I’ll probably write a bit about it here on the blog soon – so stay tuned :-)!