All the chatter of yet another update targeting PBNs got me thinking about how easy it would be for G to identify them if it wanted to do so, and therefore what the future for them might be. Lots of sales threads here talk about low footprints. There are some huge ones in the networks I have seen. It isn't individual things necessarily, but rather combinations that create a footprint. If I was G, I'd start by looking for sites that block all crawlers. I haven't come across any good reasons to block every crawler (you could argue that you might to prevent server overload by persistent Chinese robots - but how many sites really do this for every crawler?). I'd then further narrow down those sites to those that also have general niches - ones that talk about protein supplements on one page and accountants in Idaho the next. There are plenty of legitimate general sites, but I bet you could correlate the topics that PBNs target vs those that non-PBNs do. It would be even more obvious to look for the above where the domain had changed ownership before lots of content being added. I'd then look for each post on a site having 300 to 500 words of content that use non-brand or URL anchor text. Every post would have one link (or maybe two - one would point to Wikipedia). There are few sellers on the marketplace who offer 800 to 1200 words of content. Of course there would be false positives, but if you then looked at the link profiles of the sites to which a suspicious site pointed, and saw other similar sites, you could probably deduce that a PBN network was being used. The point is, it wouldn't be hard for Google to identify PBNs if it really wanted to do so. I think that the executives at G probably have no will to wipe out all PBNs at the moment because use of them is so prolific - particularly by brands that claim to be squeaky clean. It can, however, reduce the use of them. So what is the future? I think PBNs will become ever more like real sites where you can guest post now. The cost will have to increase to pay for the creation of longer and additional content. Instead of $15 a post, the highest quality ones might cost $60 or more per post. That means sites that exist on low income - Amazon affiliate commission and advertising income - won't be able to afford to use them. That plays to G's strategy of making sure brands rank higher without needing to kill use of PBNs entirely. There will always be sites that don't try to pretend that they aren't PBNs, but all G has to do is to increase indexing time so that these can be identified before a page is indexed. That is partly what I reckon is happening now with indexing - a longer time allows a more thorough check of quality. A longer indexing time also changes the value of keeping posts on a home page for a short number of weeks - if the page is only indexed after 6 weeks, then a promise by a seller to keep it on the home page for 4 is worthless. A PBN seller who is successful at selling (i.e. who has many clients) will have difficulty indexing the posts before they move from the home page and lose a lot of power. What are your thoughts?