I recently wrote an article talking about what to do when you discover a competitors PBN. I would like to point out, that the articles entire premise is that when you encounter something like this, it leads to a choice that a webmaster must make. At no point was I actually suggesting to go one way or another.
I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my experiences with a penalty and sudden traffic drop. It occurred at a time when I wasn’t actually working in SEO.
My brother had worked his way up really well in a local company which was doing really well and growing.
Part of the reason they were growing so well, was that they were one of the first companies in their industry to start investing in SEO.
This provided consistent leads with which they could grow their business.
The problem with leads from SEO however, is that they are always at the mercy of Google.
As we all know, they can suddenly dry up at any point in time if Google’s latest algorithm update hits them.
The company my brother was working for relied on those leads, and made coordinated business decisions based on what they understood would be a consistent lead generation tool.
Then they were penalised, like many other early investors in SEO.
The company that was doing their SEO was using tactics that were blacklisted, and the company’s entire client base all lost their rankings. This sent the SEO company bust obviously.
The Direct Effect it Had on Me Personally
My conversations with my brother shifted from him being excited about his work, to being concerned about his work.
No more talks of expansions and promotions, we were starting to talk about contingencies.
What was a large workforce was forced to retract, jobs were lost.
At the time, I didn’t know why my brothers company was taking a down turn, all I knew was that he was far less optimistic about the future than he previously had been.
With perseverance they pushed through a very rough patch whilst a new company was working towards removing any penalty and restoring rankings.
I eventually found myself working there when I finished University, as it was simply work I could step into easily. Still not working on their SEO or marketing however.
Over the years I have always worked there on and off, and had a great relationship with the CEO, whom I consider a personal mentor in business ownership.
Eventually What Started as an Outbound Cold Calling Job (which I couldn’t stand) became consistent work in the marketing team.
From there I started to learn about SEO, and fell in love with it. I knew that there was a darker side to it at times, but the topic, the practice, all of it enthralled me.
I learned about how the algorithm worked, how people try to test it, and how occasionally the algorithm turns against those who push the limits a little too much.
I realised, by looking at the sites history that they had been hit by a penalty previously, and judged by the time frame that it coincided with the period in which my Brother was experiencing tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety.
The Main Thing That Irks Me about Webmaster Guidelines Violations
The largest concern to me has always been that the business owners do not always have conscious awareness of whether any violations are being performed on their site. They simply have to trust that the company they have hired has done the right thing.
Short term rankings can actually be more dangerous than never having rankings in the first place, and many business owners walk into that situation blissfully unaware.
Whilst I’ll never be against calculated risk when it comes to business, or life in general, I always think it’s a moral responsibility to make sure that all parties involved know what risks are being taken at all times.
One thing that I do admire about grey/black hat techniques, is that they actually typically show quite a bit more ingenuity and often a much more advanced understanding of the algorithm than many white hat seo’s actually have.
To this end, I find PBN’s extremely fascinating.