PBNs have long been utilized to enhance search engine rankings, but as search algorithms evolve, so must the methods employed to conceal these networks.
This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on the steps necessary to hide PBNs effectively. By adopting these steps, webmasters can fortify their networks while adhering to the guidelines set forth by search engines.
Is It Possible For Google To Find Hidden PBN Links?
You may believe that by hiding your PBN, you can easily get away with deceiving search engines like Google; you may be mistaken!
Google works according to its unique PageRank algorithm that uses various calculations to categorize the pages on the search result page. This algorithm lets Google know which page should be ranked higher and which should not.
Let’s say link x is connected to link y, and link y connects to link z. Now link z can connect to link x, and link y can connect to link x. Here the idea is the number of backlinks for each site. A node represents a web page such as x,y, or z; the ends show the link between each page.
PBNs are often used to boost the authority of your main website as it is one of the major factors in calculating the PageRank. And since Google bots can crawl through these PBN links, the bots will find them whether or not you hide PBN links.
However, SEO experts are working hard to make it harder for search engines to find these links by making them look like regular websites.
But while Google can find PBN links, there are steps that can be used to keep the links from being seen by third-party bots. The steps we discuss later will help hide your PBNs if they are found using backlink monitoring tools and will prevent being crawled by their bots.
Why Should You Hide PBN Links?
One thing has been made very clear. You cannot hide your PBNs from search engines. So, why do you need to hide PBN links?
One of the main reasons is to prevent your competitors from replicating your backlinks.
Tools, such as Ahrefs, can give a complete backlink profile of a site. This makes it easier for the competitors to analyze the gaps and use them to improve their own strategy.
To check the backlink profile using Ahrefs, consider the following steps:
Step 1: Log in to your Ahrefs account and go to Site Explorer
Step 2: Enter the website or web page you want to check the backlink profile for (in this case, we have taken serpninja.io)
Step 3: You will get a comprehensive view of the backlinks of your selected domain. To get more details, you can simply click on options under “Backlink Profile” in the left column.
It is possible that by using backlink checker tools, your competitors can know if you are using PBNs to improve your ranking and authority. If they find you’re doing so, they can use identical domains no longer in use and build their own PBN link to outrank you.
Therefore, we have discussed a few effective steps to prevent these tools from finding and crawling your PBN links.
Different Ways To Hide Your PBNs
There are two primary methods of hiding your PBNs: the Robots.txt method and the .htaccess method. Both methods are explained below in detail, along with other ways to keep your PBNs hidden.
Using this method is simple. However, it doesn’t fully guarantee that it will work for every crawler bot.
To carry out this method, you need to run a simple disallow command on your robot.txt file. The bots you decide to block won’t be able to collect the backlink information from your site, preventing them from crawling the PBN links.
Eventually, your competitors will not be able to see the PBN link you are using or the backlinks pointing to your PBNs.
For example, if you don’t want Majestic to crawl your PBN, you can implement:
The same can be used for other third-party crawlers as well.
Here are the steps you need to follow to use this method:
Step 1: Log in to your cPanel account and navigate to File Manager
Step 2: Open it and select public html
Step 3: After accessing public HTML, click on “+ File” to create a new file and name it “robots.txt”
Step 4: Create a robots.txt file using the previous step and save the code in the file
This is one of the full-proof methods you can use to hide your PBNs. .htaccess is a file that comprises advanced and sophisticated configuration that controls your websites, allowing you to make changes to your site.
While using this method, you don’t have to reconfigure the server setting, saving you time and effort. This is built on the backend of your website, but it also has strong results on its front end.
When you use this file, you can not only hide PBNs but also use it for other purposes. These are removing unwanted .html and .php extensions, rewriting websites, and implementing 301 and 404 redirects. In the end, you will be fulfilling the purpose of hiding PBNs, but you will also be improving your site’s visibility.
This is what you need to do if you want to block 3rd party crawlers like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Majestic from accessing your site:
Copy the code below
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*rogerbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*exabot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*mj12bot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*dotbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*gigabot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ahrefsbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*sitebot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*semrushbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ia_archiver.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*searchmetricsbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*seokicks-robot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*sistrix.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*lipperhey spider.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ncbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*backlinkcrawler.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*archive.org_bot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*meanpathbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*pagesinventory.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*aboundexbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*spbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*linkdexbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*nutch.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*blexbot.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ezooms.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*scoutjet.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*majestic-12.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*majestic-seo.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*dsearch.* bad_bot
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*blekkobo.* bad_bot
Allow from all
Deny from env=bad_bot
Step 1 : Find File Manager in CPanel or FTP
Step 2: Navigate to public HTML
Step 3: Make sure “Show Hidden Files” is checked
Step 4 : Find “.htaccess” file , paste the code from above and hit save
That’s it. Your PBNs are now hidden and won’t show up on 3rd party tools. This is a better way than installing a particular plugin for every domain in your network and keeps footprints low!
This will help keep your competitors from snooping around your PBN but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. If you would rather have the experts manage the PBN, check out our PBN rentals.
If you find the above two methods too technical, you can also apply other techniques. If you use the right combination of methods, it will surely make your PBN links look natural. These are:
• Hosting your websites on various hosting providers such as GoDaddy or Hostinger and storing your purchased expired names with several domain registrars. For example, you can set up a PBN link on GoDaddy with the name “example.in” for one website, and the other can be hosted on Hostinger by the name “example.com” for the other site
• Expanding where each of your domains is hosted will make the PBN sites appear to be individually owned. So, instead of hosting on just one hosting platform, you can diversify and make use of several other hosting platforms.
• Make your domains appear to have many owners by using multiple website designs and themes.
• Creating quality content to prevent your competitors from eying on you and avoid being caught by the search algorithms.
But even after using these methods, you can still find your competitors hidden PBN links. How and why it is important will be covered next.
Why Is It Important To Find Your Competitor’s
Finding your competitor’s PBN does matter, especially if you want to rank on the first page in Google. You can find these competitors by simply searching for the keyword you want to rank for. The sites you see on the first page of the search result page will be your competitors.
But how can you outrank them? Through backlinks!
Backlinks are known to build your site authority. And therefore, website owners tend to keep these PBN backlinks secret to prevent their competitors from knowing their strategies.
So, finding these competitor’s backlinks become important for you to outrank them.
Once you find those hidden links using the methods discussed in the coming section, you can copy them and use them in your SEO strategies. Businesses that create highly authoritative PBN backlinks have higher chances of doing better than their competitors.
And well, it’s also essential because, without high-quality backlinks, it will be difficult for you as well to rank higher in SERP.
Find Your Competitor’s Hidden PBN To Outrank Them
There are several ways to find hidden PBNs. Some of them are mentioned below:
Analyzing the Quality of the Content
PBNs often have limited designs and navigational features, making managing these websites difficult. They also have limited content or content that is repetitive, which is one of the most common ways to spot a PBN domain.
When you come across these kinds of websites, they can be linked to PBNs most of the time but not always. This means it is not a definite way to find all hidden PBNs.
Using SEO Analytics Tools
Finding hidden PBN is quick and easy when you employ SEO analytics tools. These tools are built with a backlink scraping feature that allows you to find hidden links.
Once you enter the URL of the website you want to search hidden PBNs for, the tool will then show you a list of links.
These tools will also give you additional information on the website’s page authority and domain authority.
You can use tools such as Ubersuggest and Moz that will provide you with the required details of what you want. These tools can be used for free, but you can always switch to their premium plan to get detailed information.
Step 1: Log in to Ubersuggest and go to “Site Audit”
Step 2: Enter your competitor’s URL on the search box and hit Search. You will then see their DA, backlinks and referring domains details.
Step 3: Click on backlinks and select “Follow.” Doing this will show you all the follow links of your competitor’s site which you can replicate.
Searching For Outdated IP Address
Through hosting also, you can find hidden PBNs. You just have to search for their IP address, and you will find the hidden PBN link you’ve been looking for. So how’s that possible?
Many PBNs use outdated tools and have just a single IP address for all the sites that fall under their network. And just like backlink scraping, various tools also allow you to analyze the IP addresses of domains to find PBNs.
To look for outdated IP address, you can do us a simple windows command:
Step 1: Press “Windows + R”. This will open a command box
Step 2: Type “cmd” in the command box and click “OK”
Step 3: A window will open where you need to add “ping” followed by the name of the domain you want the IP address for
Step 4: You now need to run “tracert” command to know the locations of the data
Step 5: Once you find the IP address, look up the IP address on sites like “What Is My IP Address”. This website will give you the exact location and other details for free. Just enter the IP address and hit “Search”
Employing Backlink Checkers
When we are talking about finding hidden PBNs, we cannot forget backlink checker tools. While some PBN links can tackle backlink scrapers, there are tools developed only to find the hidden PBN links.
These will help find PBN links even if they are configured to be hidden from several backlink scrapers.
You can use backlink checker tools such as Mangools Link Miner and WebCEO Backlink Checker, where you just have to enter the site domain you want to look for hidden PBNs. Once you do that, compare the profile of the backlinks you get.
Step 1: Open Mangools and select “LinkMiner”
Step 2: Enter the domain you want to find the backlink and click on “Find Backlink”
Step 3: You will see a number of link including New and Lost backlinks which you can compare and get the details you want.
These tools will also give you additional information, such as the domain’s trust flow, so that you can analyze the domain better.
Domain authority takes all the cake when it comes to finding hidden PBNs. It is a ranking score developed by Moz that calculates the probable rank of a domain in SERP. The more DA score the domain has, the more chances they have to get valuable backlinks.
So how do you find hidden PBNs through domain authority?
While PBNs may assist in quickly ranking a site higher, they also carry some disadvantages. PBN links are usually created from expired domains with extremely low DA scores. You can easily find these PBN links by using Moz and analyzing their domain authority.
To use Moz for finding the DA of a domain:
Step 1: Open Moz
Step 2: Enter the domain you want to search the DA and Check Authority. Once you do that you will get the scores right away.
While you may think that it’s just you who must be using PBNs to improve your search engine ranking, you should know that your competitors are also doing the same. You must always be a step ahead of them and prevent them from copying your PBN links and strategies.
We have also mentioned ways to find your competitor’s hidden PBN and use it to your advantage. But be careful, as your competitors can do the same with you.
What to learn how to create your own PBNs? Read the full review here. Need us to build PBNs? Check out our DFY PBN service.
What do you mean by hidden PBN link?
Hidden PBN links are PBNs that website owners hide from third-party backlink crawlers like Majestic, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. Website owners often use this to hide their strategies and maintain their SERP ranking.
Can PBNs be hacked?
Yes, just like any other websites, PBNs too can be hacked. However, since they are not very attractive and don’t offer immediate monetary value, hackers don’t usually prefer hacking PBN sites.
How can you analyze a PBN link?
If you want to create PBN links that are authoritative and can compete against that of your competitors. Here are two ways to do so:
You can check the domain authority and page authority of the links using any backlink checker that will help you build high-quality PBNs.
You should also check the Trust Flow of the domain you plan to use. It is a metric designed by Majestic, a third-party SEO tool that measures the trustworthiness of a domain. The higher the Trust Flow, the better your PBN will be.Last Updated on June 23, 2023 by Gaby