We’ve had a few customers ask us in the past whether they should add their PBNs to Google Search Console.
It’s not something that I do personally, but there are some definite advantages, as well some a number of risk factors you’ll want to consider, so I wanted to write a guide to help answer this question.
All of this applies equally to money sites as well, and the tips and processes that I lay out in the “How to” section are based on the precautions that I take for my own money sites.
Advantages of Using Google Search Console
- Better visibility into the data that Google has about each of your PBN domains – backlinks, etc.
- Can submit sitemaps and access diagnostic data about the PBN.
- Helps make the PBN domain appear more like a real web site that someone cares about, if they’ve gone to the trouble of verifying the domain to have it included in Google Search Console.
- Instant notification of any deindexation event if the site’s added before the event, as well as the ability to check for any past manual actions against the domain.
Disadvantages of Using Google Search Console
- Increased risk of making a mistake that connects multiple PBNs together – eg logging in to multiple accounts from the same IP, not logging in from a private browsing tab.
- Cost/hassle of creating and managing a large number of Google accounts.
How to Safely Use Google Search Console Without Risking Your PBN
Each PBN domain should be in its own separate Google account. The same goes for each of your money sites. One domain per Google account. While this one feels pretty obvious, I felt obliged to include it – you don’t want to give any signs to Google that you control all of these sites.
Use a VPN whenever connecting to each of your Google Search Console accounts. My preference is NordVPN because their app for Windows and Mac makes it easy to connect back to the exact same individual VPN server in any location (they’re all numbered) which means you can get the same IP address each time. They have thousands of unique servers across the US and Europe. NordVPN makes it easy to keep unique VPN servers and IP addresses for each of the Google accounts that you login to, provided you keep a record of which VPN server number you connected to.
If you purchase existing Gmail PVAs (Phone Verified Accounts), you will not have the hassle of potentially needing to go through the phone verification process for each account. This requirement to verify the phone number is much more likely to trigger when you sign up over a VPN. Otherwise, prepaid SIM cards can be a good way to get a unique phone number for each account. Most VoIP services like Twilio are flagged by Google and can’t be used for this purpose.
You could set up email forwarding inside the Gmail account to a unique email alias for each domain on a generic domain (eg one of Fastmail or Runbox’s domains, not a domain that you own) that forwards into your main inbox to save the hassle of needing to login to each account for any notifications. Don’t set the forwarding address on Google to point them all to the same email address.
Forwarding those emails does come with the risk of triggering any tracking pixels from your own IP though, so turn off embedded images in whichever email client you use, or delete most of the emails without opening.
You get bonus “Tin foil hat SEO” points for protecting against browser fingerprinting by at least using a different browser to your main one, or potentially even using a separate computer to your main one. You can fake this to some extent by using a “User Agent Switcher” plugin for most browsers, although it’s also worth noting that you should continue to use the same user agent plus VPN server/IP Address to avoid having the Google account flagged for suspicious activity.
As you can see, it’s a lot of hassle to safely add your PBNs to Google Search Console. It’s something that is only really worth doing for your most powerful domains, or if you happen to get a high powered domain from the auctions that isn’t indexed want want to try to recover it.
The TLDR version (or a simple checklist that you can use, which happens to neatly form the acronym obfusk, a word which means ‘to obscure‘):
- One domain per Google account. No exceptions.
- Buy Gmail Phone Verified Accounts to save time and hassle.
- Forward the emails to a unique email alias, on a generic domain from your email provider that goes into your main inbox.
- Use a separate NordVPN server for each Google account.
- Switch your user agent string to avoid browser fingerprinting.
- Keep records of the Google accounts, the NordVPN server number and the browser user agent string that you’ve used in a spreadsheet or Airtable.