Two things are important for you to take away from this post and they are listed right below. We’ve then included Google content explaining these two changes in backlinks. If the text is italic and navy blue, its quoted from Google.
Are two additional rel=”” tag options introduced by Google. UGC Sponsored can be used together or separately in an attempt to show a difference between the two backlinks. Nofollow remains a link option but if the link isn’t a paid advertisement or User Generated COntent yet you want to ensure if is not seen as an endorsement you may still use No Follow as an attribute.
Rel+”NoFollow” used to mean don’t follow this link and give the target any credit for this backlink. Thats changing, all links will now be rewarded potentially…some links have been described as “hints” with “signals” still in the rankings. It’s not clear if they are one in the same or separate.
rel=”nofollow”: Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.
When nofollow was introduced, Google would not count any link marked this way as a signal to use within our search algorithms. This has now changed. All the link attributes — sponsored, UGC and nofollow — are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. We’ll use these hints — along with other signals — as a way to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within our systems.
Why not completely ignore such links, as had been the case with nofollow? Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe content they point at. Looking at all the links we encounter can also help us better understand unnatural linking patterns. By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.
We know these new attributes will generate questions, so here’s a FAQ that we hope covers most of those.
Do I need to change my existing nofollows?
No. If you use nofollow now as a way to block sponsored links, or to signify that you don’t vouch for a page you link to, that will continue to be supported. There’s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have.
Can I use more than one rel value on a link?
Yes, you can use more than one rel value on a link. For example, rel=”ugc sponsored” is a perfectly valid attribute which hints that the link came from user-generated content and is sponsored. It’s also valid to use nofollow with the new attributes — such as rel=”nofollow ugc” — if you wish to be backwards-compatible with services that don’t support the new attributes.
If I use nofollow for ads or sponsored links, do I need to change those?
No. You can keep using nofollow as a method for flagging such links to avoid possible link scheme penalties. You don’t need to change any existing markup. If you have systems that append this to new links, they can continue to do so. However, we recommend switching over to rel=”sponsored” if or when it is convenient.
Do I still need to flag ad or sponsored links?
Yes. If you want to avoid a possible link scheme action, use rel=“sponsored” or rel=“nofollow” to flag these links. We prefer the use of “sponsored,” but either is fine and will be treated the same, for this purpose.
What happens if I use the wrong attribute on a link?
There’s no wrong attribute except in the case of sponsored links. If you flag a UGC link or a non-ad link as “sponsored,” we’ll see that hint but the impact — if any at all — would be at most that we might not count the link as a credit for another page. In this regard, it’s no different than the status quo of many UGC and non-ad links already marked as nofollow.
It is an issue going the opposite way. Any link that is clearly an ad or sponsored should use “sponsored” or “nofollow,” as described above. Using “sponsored” is preferred, but “nofollow” is acceptable.
Why should I bother using any of these new attributes?
Using the new attributes allows us to better process links for analysis of the web. That can include your own content, if people who link to you make use of these attributes.
Won’t changing to a “hint” approach encourage link spam in comments and UGC content?
Many sites that allow third-parties to contribute to content already deter link spam in a variety of ways, including moderation tools that can be integrated into many blogging platforms and human review. The link attributes of “ugc” and “nofollow” will continue to be a further deterrent. In most cases, the move to a hint model won’t change the nature of how we treat such links. We’ll generally treat them as we did with nofollow before and not consider them for ranking purposes. We will still continue to carefully assess how to use links within Search, just as we always have and as we’ve had to do for situations where no attributions were provided.
When do these attributes and changes go into effect?
All the link attributes, sponsored, ugc and nofollow, now work today as hints for us to incorporate for ranking purposes. For crawling and indexing purposes, nofollow will become a hint as of March 1, 2020. Those depending on nofollow solely to block a page from being indexed (which was never recommended) should use one of the much more robust mechanisms listed on our Learn how to block URLs from Google help page.
These backlink designations came about to combat link schemes. Yes, I can see any effort to build backlinks as a link scheme but there are permissible and forbidden ways to build links. Here is Google on what is a link scheme.
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:
Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines:
Note that PPC (pay-per-click) advertising links that don’t pass PageRank to the buyer of the ad do not violate our guidelines. You can prevent PageRank from passing in several ways, such as:
The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.
If you see a site that is participating in link schemes intended to manipulate PageRank, let us know. We’ll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links.
Google Announced in September 2019 that it was phasing out support for Flash from its Chrome browser following Adobe;s announcement that they would end support in 2020. Apple users wont likely hear much about the end of Flash, in 2010, Steve Jobs wrote a scathing review of Flash and in it explained why Apple products wouldn’t support it.
For 20 years, Flash has helped shape the way that you play games, watch videos and run applications on the web. But over the last few years, Flash has become less common. Three years ago, 80 percent of desktop Chrome users visited a site with Flash each day. Today usage is only 17 percent and continues to decline.
This trend reveals that sites are migrating to open web technologies, which are faster and more power-efficient than Flash. They’re also more secure, so you can be safer while shopping, banking, or reading sensitive documents. They also work on both mobile and desktop, so you can visit your favorite site anywhere.
These open web technologies became the default experience for Chrome late last year when sites started needing to ask your permission to run Flash. Chrome will continue phasing out Flash over the next few years, first by asking for your permission to run Flash in more situations, and eventually disabling it by default. We will remove Flash completely from Chrome toward the end of 2020.
If you regularly visit a site that uses Flash today, you may be wondering how this affects you. If the site migrates to open web standards, you shouldn’t notice much difference except that you’ll no longer see prompts to run Flash on that site. If the site continues to use Flash, and you give the site permission to run Flash, it will work through the end of 2020.
It’s taken a lot of close work with Adobe, other browsers, and major publishers to make sure the web is ready to be Flash-free. We’re supportive of Adobe’s announcement today, and we look forward to working with everyone to make the web even better.
Apple has a long relationship with Adobe. In fact, we met Adobe’s founders when they were in their proverbial garage. Apple was their first big customer, adopting their Postscript language for our new Laserwriter printer. Apple invested in Adobe and owned around 20% of the company for many years. The two companies worked closely together to pioneer desktop publishing and there were many good times. Since that golden era, the companies have grown apart. Apple went through its near death experience, and Adobe was drawn to the corporate market with their Acrobat products. Today the two companies still work together to serve their joint creative customers – Mac users buy around half of Adobe’s Creative Suite products – but beyond that there are few joint interests.
I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.
Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.
Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.
Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.
Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.
Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.
In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?
To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.
Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.
When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.
Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.
Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.
We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.
This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.
Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.
Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 250,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.
New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.
If your site uses Flash, you have a year to stop or no one will see your site content unless they uses an older version of a browser that still plays Flash.
UltimateSEO.org has backlinks from about a thousand domains. In a recent review of these I found an odd reoccurring link from multiple domains but all with the same content and titles. I was introduced with “The Globe” which charges sites to NOT list them or makes money from SEOs paying them to not backlink to them. At $36 a link they’re likely insane and I bet its bringing in some money. But before we go all crazy and start paying Ransomlinks (if its not a word I claim it … Ransomlinks are backlinks from bad sites meant to lower your SEO score unless you pay to not be linked too.)
In reviewing the situation I ran across a list of the most disavowed sites. I figured Id share that with you below, but before I do what outcome did I choose for these bad links pointed to my site?
I’m opting for the third as I dont have any indication that Google cares about these Ransomlinks. They may actually bring some random traffic of use so redirecting them would take that from my site.
And now the most disavowed sites…
First and foremost the most important aspect of your Private Blog Network is randomness. Consider what pattern or foot print your PBN might have and avoid that commonality.
Patterns and commonality to avoid in building a Private Blog Network
First off you need private domain registration, if not private then you’ll need people and addresses from all over. If you always use Godaddy you’re going to have to try out others to avoid a pattern. Incidentally if you always use Godaddy you’re getting ripped off as they will charge you for privacy and many others don’t. Some popular Name Registrars are 1and1.com namesilo.com namecheap.com cosmotown.com each of these can save you a considerable amount over Godaddy considering they offer free private registration and using more than one breaks a pattern.
Each time you add a new site to your PBN you need to approach it from the beginning as if you’re playing a character in a story who has never made a website before, when I say that I mean if you know you have a site on Host A and you like that host you’re making decisions based on previous sites and are more likely to create a pattern. Forget Host A how would you find a host for the first time? Google popular web hosts and pick a cheap new partner.
One thing that’s really beneficial about building PBNs that is more helpful to you in the long run is the forced exploration. After you’ve built ten sites on ten hosts using ten registrars and ten WordPress themes you’ll be able to write three top ten lists and rank the best of the 720 combinations that were available to you. It’s a lot of practice and as you’re avoiding patterns and repetition you’ll find yourself stepping out of your norm.
Speed of a web host is important normally but not necessarily when your building a PBN. While you want your primary or money site to load in under 3 seconds its perfectly fine if your PBN site loads in 7 seconds and that opens the door to all manner of generic no name web hosts. Your primary goal with multiple web hosts is to utilize a different IP address.
Considering the complexity that can quickly arise when seeking randomness of your sites.
The only two big issues with this model …
What site is down? Oh….well which domain registrar did I use? Am I using their nameservers, someone else’s? Where did I point that to be hosted? Sure these aren’t that annoying to answer with a 10 site network, but try answering it when you’ve built and scaled up to 200 sites using 7 registrars, 20 name servers, 150 different IPs … it becomes unmanageable as you find yourself searching for your site more than you are building new sites, and why are you having to search? Maintaining a site is essential, as updates roll out to WordPress, plugins get updated and hackers exploit new vulnerabilities. If you log into every site you own and spend 5 minutes on each site your 200 domain name network will take 16 hours … or two days a week and consider that you only spend 5 minutes on a site, you likely didn’t fix any issues and took no breaks! It’s time to consider an apprentice or spreadsheets that fully document every aspect of your network, or both.
Somewhere around 100 domains I figured out I needed to approach this like an enterprise would and have actual uptime monitoring allowing me to see the state of the network easily. UptimeRobot allows you to set up 50 monitors on a free account.
In the real world 94% Uptime is horrible. Consider that in the last 30 days I had a recorded 104765 minutes sites were down in this sample of sites. I had issues with a server getting attacked by someone using 1700 servers causing a DOS attack. Why? Anyone’s guess … usually its a game to them and they aren’t paying for those 1700 servers but they’re other people’s hacked resources being used to grow their network.
You may be interested in MainWP or InfiniteWP … Godaddy provides Godaddy Pro. You need to be mindful that these only work when they work and will they give away a signature pattern? Likely they can create an easier management solution but easier is dangerous.
As you scale up from 10 to 20 to 50 sites your going to wake up one day and realize youre spending hundreds of dollars a month on infrastructure and all of your time will now be consumed with maintaining your network. Adding someone to help you is going to increase costs and take your time to train them in being effective at maintaining the network. Be careful who you bring in to help you, friends are obvious choices but when they get upset about something unrelated to the network they could leave you high and dry. Worse yet, they are the most likely to teach you a lesson by bailing on you for a couple weeks. Trust the people who are in it for the money … pay them more than they can get at a retail job to build loyalty to your mission. They need not be technical people but they need to understand that if a site is down, Google can’t index it and that backlink is missing now. They need to be able to follow a logical progression and understand the parts that are in play to help you maintain the site.
The obvious answer to addressing costs is to bundle services and make sure you’re utilizing resources in the most effective manner but that is accomplished by making patterns. You can’t find cost savings by giving away your sites.
Cloudflare allows some consolidation while masking the pattern
Cloudflare offers the ability to hide among the masses. Who is Cloudflare? They stand in front of your server and take the brunt of the internets crap. Upwork.com, Medium.com, Themeforest.net, Chaturbate.com are among the names using Cloudflare.com services. Some estimates suggest that Cloudflare is about 8% of the entire internet. Thats huge! At one point they found themselves protecting the Israeli government’s network as well as the PLOs.
Using Cloudflare is hiding in plain sight and free. I recommend it but in a mixture capacity still have some sites out side of their network just to avoid any one bottleneck, it would seem odd if 100& of the sites linking to a domain are using Cloudflare….remember they are 8% and while the largest chunk of the internet they aren’t the internet.
This article has focused mainly on external and infrastructure concerns of building a PBN. This is really a third of topic and in the coming weeks I’ll include two more posts that address on site content issues of building a PBN and site design considerations for a network of sites.