I recently did an article that exposed my SEO secret on how I rank my easy to rank keywords but what about the harder keywords?
Well it’s simple, you need more link juice and despite what people say Private Blog Networks are still the way to do.
I don’t have a PBN yet but after reading this I’m starting one right now.
This isn’t my article, I’ve been given the opportunity to post it because a friend of mine doesn’t have time to use it on his own blog.
He’s too busy ranking sites in Google like some sort of SEO demon. The guy who wrote this article is one of the only few who actually knows what he’s doing.
I’ve used him to rank sites when I don’t have time to do it myself and I can tell you now he’s an absolute machine when it comes to ranking. Outstanding results.
What is a Private Blog Network (PBN)
A PBN is a list of sites (blogs) that either you or another person own.
The sole purpose of these blogs are to provide backlinks and send link juice causing a ranking increase in the search engine results page (serps). These techniques are seen as blackhat in the eyes of Google.
Truth be told, this technique has been around for quite some time, and I personally have been using this method since I got started.
I want to get hosting out of the way before we get started finding the domains. Hosting is the number one reason you see blog networks getting de-indexed and PBNs dieing.
Let me ask you a question.
Does it look suspicious when one host has hundreds of sites all sending a link to a domain with similar anchor text? If you are in this situation and your blog network was banned, then who is to blame?
I know all the techniques for hosting a blog network so I sat down and thought about what would leave the least amount of a footprint. I know I could use Cloudflare to change the IP addresses or I could use the infamous SEO hosting and have different C-Class IPs.
What if I just had each site on it’s very own hosting? Having each site on it’s own hosting is the best option to choose from. I have different IPs and different WHOIS on lookup. Nothing can place the sites together because they never interact. Granted they are sending the same links but so do millions of sites across the internet.
Where Do I Get Hosts From?
Well for starters all my sites in my blog network are paid yearly. I only pay $5-$10 per site per year. I’m not sure people understand truly how cheap that is. That may even be cheaper than purchasing hosting and renting dedicated IP addresses every single month.
For starters I visit Web Hosting Talk and their shared offers frequently. There you will find new hosts looking for clients with insane deals on hosting.
I also search on Google for “$5 per year hosting” and things similar in nature. When it comes down to it though, I just want each site on it’s very own hosting, no matter what. The fact that I am paying yearly also saves me tons of money.
So when it comes to hosting for your PBN, the best option is to find shared hosting offers and have each site on separate hosting.
Finding Domains For Your Private Blog Network
I will not be going over the same techniques that people seem to think work. Truth be told finding expired and dropped domains used for building a private blog network aren’t the same anymore.
People don’t seem to want to adapt, seeing as SEOs and bloggers want to share the same “hidden” techniques for finding expired domains.
I won’t speak for others, but I know personally that I do not have time to sit down and manually check expireddomains.net or scan through Godaddy auctions. I have been in the SEO industry for a long time and automation is my key to success.
I want all tasks like scraping domains, PR checking, etc to be streamlined so I have time for stuff that actually matters.
One of my go-tos for finding expired domains for my PBN is Domain Hunter Gatherer.
This software is absolutely insane when it comes to finding both expired web 2.0 sites as well as expired domains. The best part about it is you can scrape domains in your niche in order to get a backlink funnel from your favorite sites.
Just a quick for instance, say you’re in the technology niche and you found a domain with links from sites like Mashable, Gizmodo, and Techcrunch. Could you imagine how much link juice would flow right to your site? Tons.
Let’s Talk Relevancy
I absolutely hate this word. I also hate following trends in this world. That’s how you get slapped by Google. How are you supposed to outrank the competition when you are doing the same thing as the competition.
I was talking to a friend about this the other day. He was getting started and was talking to me about relevancy on his sites. He also had mentioned he bought a PR 3 domain for the name. Let me give you a quick example of how my mind works.
Say this site has backlinks for dogs but it can be rebranded as a technology domain. This type of thing happens all the time.
Now, why would it matter if I bought domains from my blog network and I was simply rebranding them as blogs, for the name. Why would relevancy matter if this is the case.
If I operated a site about dogs and my main product was dog collars why would it matter if the PBN site I used had links from Mashable, Gizmodo, WSJ, etc. I’m here to tell you that the link juice is going to flow regardless.
You should go based off relevancy when reaching out to webmasters or finding forums involved with your niche. Not a private blog network where you control the links, the theme, and the overall site.
I could understand to an extent with relevancy but to say a site with authority links from tech blogs can’t pass link juice to a dog website is absurd.
Evaluating the Domains
This part is crucial when it comes to finding domains and deciding which ones to add to your network.
- Things I Focus On:
DA/PA – To an extent
TF/CF – Nothing below 10 trust flow is in my network.
PR – Yes and no.
Waybackmachine – Important.
Anchor text – Important
Backlinks – Very important.
My Steps on Analyzing Domains
As you can probably see I don’t follow trends and I never will. The main thing I look for when finding domains are the links. If the domain has links from authority sites, it is going to pass link juice, pretty simple.
Metric based analysis is in my opinion, ways for people to make money off of unsuspecting users. Just for example, PR is no longer publicly updated and say I have a site with a PR 3 but no links. I have never been able to push ranks with just a metric.
If that same site has say 200 links from WSJ, it is going to pack a serious punch. Sorting through the domains is probably the most troublesome task.
Your first step should be to scrape a domain or keyword. You can use DHG or another tool, or have fun finding domains on Expired Domains.
After I scrape domains I will check the links immediately.
After a scrape with DHG for 24 hours I can manage to find around 500 or so expired domains. Yes, I manually go through them all. When you are looking at the links on Ahrefs you need to make sure you pay attention to things like Anchor text ratio.
You want sites with a clean link profile, things like branded anchor text, URL, generic, author, etc. We want to avoid any signs of web spam and artificial links.
You need to pay attention to certain domain extensions like “.ie” or “.gs” or “.io.” Certain domains you can’t register like .ie, you need to fill out paperwork, and certain registration fees like .gs or .io.
Also note that I don’t care what the extension is. People say they like to stick to TLDs like your .com’s and .net’s. Again, I’ve got news for you, new extensions like .tv, .io, etc are relevant and exist, they also diversify your PBN.
Back on track, after looking at links and seeing ones I like. I will check them with Majestic Trust flow. This is really one of my only indicators for weeding out sites that may not be strong enough to push ranks for me. I like to have my trust flow AT LEAST 10.
This is one of the only metrics we can’t really affect with spam, where as PA and DA can. Once I have checked those I will go to WayBackMachine and see what the site was used for in the past.
We are looking for sites that were failed startups or lazy bloggers.
This step is important because we don’t want sites that have been previously used for link building techniques like ours.
Lastly, if all signs point to registration I will check the PA, DA, and PR.
Again these are pretty much throw away stats for me. If the site is brandable or has PR I may even register just to sell it to someone who believes in old metrics as a sign of power.
I say domain authority and page authority are throw away stats because they can be influenced by automated software like GSA.
If I were to throw a bit of spam directly at my money site then Moz would tell me it has more PA and DA. Through our previous link checking we know that the links and anchor text demonstrate no signs of this, providing a genuine measure of authority.
I Have Domains, What Now?
Alright, so you have the domains, and don’t know how to set them up. This step seems to be overlooked, a lot.
I have yet to see a tutorial on “How to setup a Private Blog Network” or “What does a PBN site look like?” Besides actually having the domain and proper hosting this is again a very important step.
I mentioned footprints in this post. Now, this may seem like a HUGE footprint but most if not all my sites use WordPress. I know what you may be thinking, “I’ve read it is best to diversify and use different content management systems.”
While this is true, think about how many sites actually use WordPress on the internet.
Just a quick Google search tells us that 74,652,825 sites use WordPress, from a statistical stand point that is 18.9% of websites.
I’m not sure how exactly having around 10-100 sites using WordPress would be seen as a footprint. If we had 100 sites that used WordPress that would account for 0.0000134% of WordPress sites.
To help minimize footprints my sites have unique themes, plugins, and pages.
Some noteworthy plugins you should consider:
The List can keep going. You want things to appear as natural as possible. You may even consider designing a logo for your site
If you don’t decide to use any of those, you WILL need a way to 301 the 404 error pages to your homepage.
If you don’t do this none of the link juice will flow because the links are getting 404’d because they no longer exist since you now own the site. You can either download and install a plugin to 301 the 404 or you can do this in your .htaccess.
Your best bet is to redirect the 404 to your homepage where your links are placed.
Using SEOQuake is another great tool. Depending on the theme you chose and how you decided to place things on the homepage you want the only internal links to be the ones you choose. Theme makers and WordPress love to sneak in links to their site.
We want to remove these links. Typically you will find them in the footer where you give credit to the theme maker. Or you keep the meta tags on which give WordPress a link.
You can edit your theme via editor in the drop down menu. WordPress is similar in that they can hide links in the footer and in the meta.
We want complete control over the link juice and who gets it. These sneaky theme creators and WordPress aren’t entitled to our outbound links.
Hiding Your Blog Network
Our goal with hiding our blog network is to hide it from competitors. Tons of people utilize services like Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs. By using these services competitors can find our sites and even negative SEO them.
We want to avoid this at all costs and hide our strategy. We want to block any and all bad spyders and link crawlers that we can before we drop any links.
My favorite way to block Spyders and Crawlers on my PBN is .htaccess. The reason I like to block spyders and crawlers in .htaccess is because nobody can see it.
Nobody other than me and my host have access to files on my server like my .htaccess file.
That’s also the reason I don’t manually target bots in my robots file. The only person we want to have access to our service is Google. We want them to index our site and have Googlebot be able to crawl.
I am quite paranoid when it comes to Google spying on me. I only use Internet Explorer to login and post articles to my network. I NEVER use webmaster tools on my sites either. I only allow them to crawl, and that’s it.
I also use notable tools like Spyder Spanker. Chances are if you have found this tutorial then you have heard of Spyder Spanker. There are good and bad when it comes to plugins.
One thing I don’t like is there is no way of knowing if Google has a way to assess whether or not a site has a certain plugin based on the code.
Spyder Spanker is easy to use and you don’t need to access your hosting via FTP to do it. You just install the plugin, copy and paste your serial, and edit the robots section with the specified bot’s on their website.
Again just to diversify, my sites that I wouldn’t consider gold I don’t even bother blocking bots. Someone may discover a site and try to negative seo it or report it. If the site becomes penalized, I remove the links, delete WordPress, and let the site die. Simple as that.
I write all the articles on my network. I don’t care how readable your highly spun article is. In an age where content is king I want unique articles in regards to context and readability.
These sites in your blog network are your tier 1. Meaning they are going straight to your money site. If the article doesn’t read well and isn’t unique then what stops Google from looking at it.
Any link that goes directly to your site should be of the utmost quality.
The length of the articles should be in the range of 300-500 words. You may even add in filler content that is more bulky of 1,000 words.
Now I know what you are thinking. If you have hundreds of sites is it practical to sit down and write them? Well, yes, and no.
I use software known as Dragon Speak. If you haven’t downloaded this or tried it out, essentially what it does is type what you speak. This way I am not limited by how fast I can type.
With this, I’m able to produce ten, 300 word articles in less than an hour. If I were to sit down and try to write those it would take me a couple of hours.
I’m also not a big fan of hitting a site with large amounts of authority. I would rather drip feed the PBN posts at around a post a day or even less. That also means you can just write(speak) the articles as you need them.
A Quick Overview
In this post we went over finding hosting for your private blog network and how to find them. The best method to use is to have each site on it’s own hosting.
You can find cheap shared hosting on Web Hosting Talk and only pay $5-$10 yearly.
We went over why Domain Hunter Gatherer (DHG) is a resourceful tool and why you should consider adding it to your arsenal. If you are still manually checking ExpiredDomains and Godaddy Auctions then you are wasting your time and effort.
You need to stop living in the stone-age of SEO. Think about how many SEOs are doing the same exact thing. Break away from the pack and start revolutionizing the way you go about finding expired and dropped domains for your private blog network.
How can you go wrong with a free 7 day trial?
I went over how to setup your sites and why you should use WordPress. You need to diversify the pages, plugins, and ways you hide your network. Again, hiding your network is important so competitors can’t find it.. We talked about .htaccess as well as Spyder Spanker.
Lastly we talked about the content on our sites and why it is important to have the best quality content on our network.
Spun content should stay where it belongs on tier 2 and 3. We want unique articles that are also readable. I talked about ways to produce several articles with Dragon Speak and why you should look into using it.
Hopefully this tutorial sheds some light on the world of Private Blog Networks and how they operate. This site will never experience any sort of link building in this way for obvious reasons. This domain however was found through means similar to DHG and private software on my VPS. I liked the name and decided to use it.
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