Hey guys! Wyatt here
And I've got a value-packed post for you today by one of my good SEO friends, Alexander, who is an underground SEO that is absolutely crushing it right now
We looked at the TWO main things that people are struggling with:
1) Finding powerful, cheap domains
2) Setting up hosting for PBN's the right way
So that's exactly what Alex covered in this post, and I decided to share this with you guys because of his unique strategies (especially his cool method for finding great domains)
Enjoy! And don't forget to leave a kind "thank you" in the comments below :)
- Wyatt... Out
P.S. He's a pretty smart dude, so I asked him to dumb it down for everyone but if you have questions, definitely ask them below
P.P.S. Skill Level for this Post = ADVANCED
There are going to be some requirements when building a private blog network, and they greatly vary on how strong you want your network to be.
- Money put aside only for domains, hosting and prerequisite items - things such as hosting are monthly charges
- Time put aside for dedicated work, I do all the work myself because for something like this, I don’t trust anyone else
- Patience is needed, it’s going to get tedious at times, especially when you need to manage your domains and hosting accounts all at once
Now, get a cup of coffee, go do your business, it’s time to get serious.
Finding and Organizing Domains
Let’s jump right into finding domains. There are several tools available that will help us with finding expired domains, I recommend the two most popular: ExpiredDomains and DomCop. ExpiredDomains is the most popular, and it is completely free. We will be using ExpiredDomains for this tutorial.
You’re going to want to sign up if you haven’t already.
You are going to want to navigate to the deleted .com section to view all of the .com domains that have dropped.
Since we are going to be building our PBN with as little time and money as possible, we are going to try to avoid expired domains, because unlike dropped domains, they require additional fees, bidding, waiting time and further screening.
The first thing that you are going to want to do is play around with it, if you’re not already familiar with the platform. It’s like panning for gold, there is going to be a lot of garbage, but a few gems are hidden in there, and we are going to find them.
You’re going to want to click show filter on the top left, as seen in the screenshot below.
Now, setting filters is one of the hardest parts of finding domains that are gems. Below are the settings that I use for the three different tabs of the filter function:
Going in depth a little more on the options that I’ve selected:
PageRank: I have selected sites that don’t have a fake PR, unsure PR or -1 PR. Setting a filter for PR will greatly reduce the pool of domains you will have to chose from, as it has not been updated for several months and Google doesn’t plan to.
Only Available Domains: I selected this option just so we can have results of domains that are only available, sometimes domains are taken, but not removed from the results until a specific time. This is going to help us avoid false positives.
Moz Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA): These are metrics put into place by Moz, this data, however, is not used by Google as it is from a third party source. Moz is not the best at finding links (tools such as Ahrefs are better), so some of the most important links may not be crawled by Moz and the domain authority may stay low, when in reality, it is a very authoritative domain. This is just to filter out the real garbage websites and deal with a pool of decent results.
These are the filters that I have used, now let’s see the domains that we have in the pool of results.
For the sake of having the highest quality results first, we are going to sort by PR. DA and PA. First, we are going to have the highest PR sites.
Any of these domains can be picked up for $10, but the main issue is finding the domains that are good, and filtering the ones that are spammed.
We are going to be using a tool called Ahrefs (use coupon SEOBOOK for 50% off) for this. I recommend having a premium account, as it does give us a better idea of what is going on and what type of links the site has/had.
Let’s put the first domain in Ahrefs:
A lot of newbies would pick up this domain and call it a day, not examining the actual links, just looking at the PR/DA/PA. As you can see, there are currently 1,700 links from around 170 domains - 10 links per domain. It is usually good to have a maximum of two links per domain, unless the domain is a high authority one, such as Wikipedia.
Something that a lot of people ignore is the graph that Ahrefs provides. The domain had 200,000 links, and dropped to just 1,700 recently. This means that there were huge link drops, either from link farms, or blogs that expire (spammers use blog commenting and trackbacks for bulk links) that contained their link. I would avoid this domain just at this point, as it shows that when the domain was dropped, lots of links were lost as site owners saw no site on that domain (or the spam links explained above).
This is not a good domain, but for the sake of this tutorial, let’s look at some of the anchors pointing to this site.
This shows that links were obviously built, and the site was a pharma site, selling drugs.
Without even looking at the links, we can tell by the anchor text and link loss that the domain is no good.
For future reference, there should be no links built by the site owner for the domain that you are looking into. There should be only natural, high quality links from authoritative domains, this helps make the site look less like a PBN site and more legitimate.
For the anchor text, you should be looking for the URL, brand name or some natural anchor text. The anchors, such as the one above, can not be spammy, foreign (Chinese, Bengali, etc) or things like <a>NoText</a> only.
Let’s take a look at another domain.
Again, spammy. At one point, it neared 1,000,000 links. That’s never good, especially since only 385 of them are live right now.
For the sake of this tutorial, we are going to also look at the anchor text for this domain.
This is a new kind of spam, Nike, Air Jordan, outlet, etc. Anything like that should be avoided at all costs, this is going to infect your PBN and make it look like you are receiving links from bad neighborhoods.
Let’s move on, the third domain has a name of fsxds, so anything like that with random numbers or random strings shoud be avoided. A lot of Chinese links spammers use these for buying domains in bulk and utilizing the domains for link farms.
These domains are link farm domains (hence similar DA/PA and other metrics):
Now, you know what to avoid. Now, we need to find domains that are good and high quality. I went ahead and did some more tests, and found a nice domain. A few hours after writing this tutorial, someone picked this domain up, so I’m going to try to make it as anonymous as possible, but revealing at the same time.
There are some great links on there, I left some information on the links available.
As for the anchor text, the site name was NewBlueWidgets (example) and the anchor text was the domain, and also New Blue Widget, NBW contact, etc.
This is the type of anchor text that we are looking for. These are natural links and anchors that are naturally occurring on the pages.
As you can see, there were no major link losses that weren’t covered up by more natural links, right before the domain expired it received some nice links. The links are from 992 unique domains, and not just from one domain, meaning that is has a diverse link profile.
Also, a tip is to check www. and non www. on ahrefs, so NewBlueWidget.com and www.NewBlueWidget.com should both be checked.
Social shares on the top right also indicate that the website had engaging content for the end user, and they decided to share the URL on social media.
This is a golden domain, and compared to a lot of the domains we can buy in auction, it has put them in the dust.
To register a dropped domain, you can use any registrar such as NameCheap, 1and1, OVH - any registrar will do. I try to stay away from HostWinds as they have terrible support and threaten clients who run PBNs with fake reports they receive (someone submitted a fake report in terrible English, they suspended my services for 2 weeks until I proved it was fake).
Hosting Your Domains
After finding the domains, you’re going to need to host the domains on different IPs. A lot of users find hosting domains on different C class IPs to be sufficient. I take it a step further and try to get unique A/B class IPs as well.
aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd is the format of the IP, so for example, if a site has an IP of 184.108.40.206
192 = A Class
182 = B Class
252 = C Class
16 = D Class
For hosting, you need to manipulate Google into thinking that your site is a natural site and not a PBN. This means adding SSL ($1.99 on NameCheap with purchase of a new domain) on some domains, hosting them on different C class IPs (I’ll discuss this later, and why A/B may be a better idea) and trying to not leave a footprint.
A footprint can be left by having your site hosted by the same ISP or organization, such as below.
This can be a huge footprint, if all of your websites are hosted on some random host that nobody has heard of (*cough* SEO host *cough). The site that I used for this information is Whoer, it is free and I am surprised that not many people use it. All the information you need can be found with that site.
There are many approaches that you can take to host your sites….
- SEO Hosting
- Multiple Shared Hosts
These are the 3 main ways that you can have different IPs on all of your sites.
The first option is SEO hosting. This is the easiest and cheapest method to manage your PBN sites. Now, there are quite a few things that I dislike about SEO hosting.
The main reason is that SEO hosts are just buying B blocks and selling different C blocks on the B block to all of their customers.
So, for example, let’s say that they buy 192.64.xxx.xxx
They can now assign these IP addresses: 192.64.(1-255).(1-255). When you try to host 30 sites, you’re going to have all of the sites on the same ISP and organization, and not to mention, the same B class.
It will look suspicious to Google if that is the case (same B class, ISP and organization), so if you do chose SEO hosting, you should use custom nameservers and not just the same ones on all the domains. Self hosting them is good (such as ns1.yourdomain.tld and ns2.yourdomain.tld) and will give you a little extra security if you do decide to use this method.
Again, Google can buy SEO hosting, look up all the IPs on the B block and see all the sites hosted on the sites. From there, they can conduct manual reviews, and it’s easier said than done. Your sites are relying on everyone else that is a customer of that SEO host, if one of them does something wrong and makes their site look like a PBN, the whole block of IPs may be investigated.
To mention one advantage of SEO hosting, it is the fact that most of them give WHM access, so you can choose from a selected set of IPs (usually thousands available). To add on to that, if Google buys SEO hosting, they get WHM access and the list of IPs too. Just thought I’d add this in there, as it is a neutral idea.
The second choice would be using multiple shared hosts. Now, this can be very hard to manage, so I recommend that you use an online spreadsheet service. For the love of god, do not make a Google spreadsheet and name it Private Blog Network (or make a Google spreadsheet at all) just use OneDrive, it is basically Excel online and it has all the options (better than Google Drive).
Make sure to go with hosting companies that are not resellers, the amount of times I’ve seen people have all of their sites hosted on a “different” hosts is surprising. Let me explain the reality of the situation that people experience when buying hosting from random hosts on WebHostingTalk (like so many other blogs and forums recommend):
John wants to make a quick buck. He starts a hosting company, throws up a nulled copy of WHMCS on a .info domain and makes a thread at WebHostingTalk. He is reselling off of NameCheap, and is paying around 50 cents per client. John gets all of his friends to post saying that it’s a great host, and sometimes makes new accounts himself to bump up the thread.
You go to WebHostingTalk, see the thread and buy the hosting. You also buy from 5 other people who did the same thing that John did (it’s not that uncommon, people that offer 99 cent hosting don’t usually have their own datacenter and servers). They all sell off of either NameCheap or 1and1 (just an example). You get the same C class IP, and the IPs of your 5 best domains are now so close together. This will make Google suspicious, and they will either devalue the links from your 3 sites and only count 2 (they will think it’s a similar site/same person linking to you, since you only have 5 links and they are on 2 different C classes) - those 2 will also be weaker and may be classified as bad link neighborhoods if they are linking to the same site and have everything else similar. They will be classified as more spammy, and your money site will be receiving terrible links, instead of high quality ones.
One thing you can do when using these hosts is to check on Whoer (as mentioned earlier) and see the ISP and organization. If it’s their own datacenter, go ahead and buy it. If it says something like Black Lotus Communications (or something else), do a Google search and see who owns that datacenter. If it is used by a big company like NameCheap (which Black Lotus Communications is), ignore the host and try another.
Here is a list of shared hosts that I have found on Google and several forums:
NameCheap (best by far, I use it for my own personal sites as well)
You can try those out and see which ones work for you, and always know that you can contact the hosting company and ask any questions that you may have. They are usually very helpful (again, avoid HostWinds) and will provide answers to any questions you may have if they are legitimate.
Watch out for slow ticket replies, terrible English in support staff, bad reviews online and IP ranges (discussed above) when purchasing.
You spent money on your PBN, and hosting is just one of the things that you’re going to need to have your PBN up and running. There is no alternative to spending money (please don’t use a free host, don’t get me started - it ruins your site speed, ads everywhere and the IP ranges are used by spammers for redirects and links) on your hosting, so if you cut one corner, don’t cut another and think it’ll be fine.
Now, onto the last method of hiding your IP. This method is purchasing one hosting package with unlimited sites (more or equal to the amount of sites in your PBN, if you use this method, make sure to plan ahead for any future sites that you may have). You then add your sites onto the host and then use content delivery networks (CDNs) such as CloudFlare, Incapsula (paid) and HighWinds (not to be mistaken for HostWinds, HighWinds is good, but not free) and receive a unique IP for each.
To reduce footprints, please try to transfer your domains onto your CDN (I like to use CloudFlare, since it’s the easiest, the DNS propagation is quick and your site will be up and running quickly) as quickly as possible so Google doesn’t crawl and fetch information on your domains before you add them and associate them as one group of sites (same nameservers, IP, etc). Your CloudFlare nameservers will be the same, but there are tens of thousands of other sites using those nameservers, so you should be fine on that point (this is not the case with SEO hosts, which give you a DNS like clientb484mlz.seohosting.tld) and not need to worry about it. Another issue with CloudFlare is having to pay $20 a month for SSL (if your site has SSL), as I mentioned above, to make your PBN seem more natural, adding SSL on some sites will help. If you’re using CloudFlare, I would assume that you are on a budget and not tons of extra money to spend on the extra things like that, so I’d avoid SSL if you’re using this method.
The only issue that I have with CloudFlare is the IPs. You are only given two A class IPs (this is the maximum I was able to get, even with testing of new accounts on my own computer, VPS and my other computer) and the C class IPs are usually the same. You you will get two unique “ranges” (as I like to call them), aaa.bbb.ccc.ddd is one range. So you will receive something like this:
No matter how many sites you have, you will be placed on either range A or B, and be assigned a (sometimes) unique D class IP. This isn’t usually the safest approach, but there are lots of other sites hosted on those IPs, so you should be fine in that aspect.
These are a list of the IP ranges that CloudFlare has, I asked support to assign me different unique A/B/C class IPs, but they said that it is random and refused to.
(I didn’t blur out the IPs for a reason, I have moved away from CloudFlare for a little over two months to the shared hosting method after the idea of the IP ranges and having no control over changing them.)
That should do it for hosting. A tip for hosting, though. If you’re using the CDN or SEO hosting methods, make sure to have different whois.
(I have seen some people do this and spoof the privacy protection because they were cheap )
(I’m not quite sure if it’s allowed by the registrar, but they seemed to have no problem)
Name: Domain Registrant
Address: 123 Main Lane
Email: [email protected]
I would fill my information when registering as this:
First Name: Domain
Last Name: Registrant
Email: [email protected]
Make sure to change the unique identifiers, such as the email.
I think it’s easier to use a registrar that gives free privacy protection (NameCheap does this) and not have to worry about faking information (keep it diverse by using different registrars, though).
To conclude this section, I am currently using some CDNs (CloudFlare, not with the IPs above, Incapsula and CDN.net - which is pay as you go, but I don’t get much traffic on my PBN sites, so it’s very very very low in cost) and some shared hosts for my PBN, but mainly shared hosts as my PBN has several hundred domains and only the ones I’ve spent $500+ are put into a unique host (not a cheap one) and a CDN.
To manage your PBN, you can use obviously use our tool CloudPBN but you can also do all of the below manually.
We recommend that you use different themes, using WordPress is completely fine, as that itself is almost no footprint at all.
If you’re going to use spun content, at least have good sources of the spun content and don’t go to Wikipedia, copy the whole page and put it in some free spinner.
Never share your domains with anyone, the amount of times I’ve seen people brag about their PBNs and then complain why it’s deindexed is surprising.
This is important, nobody pays attention to it. To make your PBN powerful, you need to have full posts shown on the homepage of the site, not just the excerpt that says read more. If the link in not in the first xx characters (this depends on the theme) of most themes, it will not be included on the homepage and only on an inner page. You want to make sure that it is a full post on the homepage that shows so that you get the link on there as well. You can use themes that show full posts (experiment with a few, preview them and keep a list) or just use this information if you want to do it manually.
You can use plugins such as Spyder Spanker to block crawlers, but all that does is edit your htaccess file. You can do that yourself, and it can be much more efficient. I don’t trust plugins to do it myself.
# Block All Bad Bots
User-agent: Xenu’s Link Sleuth 1.1c
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*rogerbot.* naughty
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*mj12bot.* naughty
SetEnvIfNoCase User-Agent .*ahrefsbot.* naughty
Allow from all
Deny from env=naughty
Like everything else, this isn’t foolproof and doesn’t work all of the time. Make sure that you are taking all necessary precautions to keep your sites safe.
All of the information above comes from personal experience and running hundreds of sites for my private blog network.
If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment and our team will be happy to answer it below. We are always happy to see comments, and happy to answer any questions you may have. We all started somewhere :)
To your success,
The DripApps Team