You’ve spent a lot of time and money finding the right domains, setting them up, and getting all the content on them. The last thing you want is for a simple mistake to cause google to deindex your domain so it loses all it’s ranking power forever!
Don’t neglect basic PBN hosting safety as it can make or break all your ranking efforts. That’s why we need to take a second to cover PBN safety basics to make sure we’re both on the same page before I tell you what hosting solutions I recommend.
Basic PBN Safety in 2016 (How to Avoid Deindexing)
Big picture, you’re trying to make it look like each of your PBN domains are owned and operated by separate unique people or companies who are not collaborating.
When many SEOs hear this they think about unique wordpress themes, plugins, or other design related solutions. While I’m not telling you to neglect that completely, since there are over 250 million domain names in use you should spend more energy on how Google’s computers see your PBNs than how humans see them.
Here’s how we know Google’s algorithms are targeting PBNs to devalue them, or deindex them completely.
Unique C-class IP addresses
Make sure your PBN blogs have different A, B or C class IP addresses. IP addresses look like A.B.C.D (ex. 127.192.1.27). If only the last number, or D-class, is different between different PBN blogs then they will not pass extra ranking power to your money site or client site, and you will also start to accumulate risk of deindexation.
Even if you have unique IP addresses for each domain, if all your domains have exactly the same nameserver than that’s a big footprint to google that all your domains are associated. It’s probably not a big deal for a few of your domains to share the same nameservers – especially if they’re nameservers of popular hosting companies that thousands of other legitimate domains use – but avoid too many, or too high a percentage of your domains all on the same nameserver.
Unique SOA email addresses
One hosting company may provide you with multiple IP addresses (hostnine.com reseller account used to be a popular option) and possibly even unique nameservers, but if all your PBN domains have the same SOA email address that’s another big footprint to google that all your domains are associated.
SOA stands for Start of Authority and it’s a public record associated with the dns and routing protocols to your domain name. You can look up SOA records for individual domains at http://mxtoolbox.com/SuperTool.aspx?action=soa
Like nameservers, it’s OK for a few domains to share SOA records, but if all your domains share SOA records, that could be a big footprint. Also, legitimate SOA email addresses provided by big hosting companies have hundreds or thousands of domains associated with them but personal SOA email addresses that only have PBN domains associated with them are a risk.
Spammy IP addresses or hosts
Starting with the infamous 2014 PBN deindexing where many SEOs renounced PBNs, Google appears to have started targeting hosts and IP addresses that have a high density of PBNs or spam sites.
An illuminating study from Matt Diggity revealed that many popular PBN hosting options, particularly cheap $1-3 hosts, have a high percentage of deindexed domains hosted on them. Furthermore, his case study showed a correlation between the percent deindexed domains on an IP address and the likelihood of his own domains being indexed. Although I haven’t done the extensive research that Matt did, I’ve seen the same thing on my PBN.
In Matt’s words, “It’s pretty clear that what happens in many cases is. First, an IP address passes a certain algorithmic threshold and gets marked as a hotspot for bad domains. Then all of the domains on that IP address are flagged for manual review. Finally a manual review team inspects each domain individually and de-indexes them in batches.”
IP addresses and hosts with less than 30% of the domains deindexed seem to be relatively safe, but greater than about 30% of domains deindexed presents a high risk.
Disclaimer: We’re talking about hosting here, not setup, so this is by no means an exhaustive list of PBN safety concerns. Neither I (Josh Kelly) nor Hammerhead Domains takes responsibility for any deindexation caused by using these tactics. As with most SEO tactics, it’s your responsibility to test things for yourself.
Hosting Solutions for 2016
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into some different solutions.
Cheap $1-3 hosts
This has been one of my go-to solutions for the past few years. They’re relatively easy to find and you can usually get a good deal or recurring coupon to keep the costs low. They (mostly) provide unique IP addresses, nameservers, and SOA email addresses.
One major drawback is management time and uptime issues. When your PBN grows past about 30 domains, you’re constantly dealing with issues on these small hosts from slow or non-existent support, random extensive downtime, to even having them suddenly go out of business.
Despite these annoyances I used them until recently. But with the new information about the high deindexed percentage, I’m avoiding them now.
The Verdict: Now with new revelations about the high spam density of many cheap hosts IP addresses, I’m avoiding them completely.
Name Brand Shared Hosting from Reputable Providers
Hosting your PBN with name brand hosting companies like hostgator, bluehost, and A Small Orange, and many others is the solution that Matt recommends and there are many advantages to it. You no longer have to deal with uptime issues or crappy support as most name brand hosting have excellent uptime and support.
Most importantly though, you’re sharing an IP address, nameserver, SOA and hosting brand name with tons of legitimate personal and small business sites. So you shouldn’t become a target of google based on any of those algorithmic factors.
Many SEOs have avoided this option because of its high cost. Most legitimate hosts cost $5-10/month, so you could easily rack up a $200-300/month bill while you’re still waiting for ranking results. As your PBN gets bigger, you can start to host multiple domains on the same host, as long as they’re pointing to different client sites or money sites, which will reduce the overall costs, but even so, costs should not be overlooked here.
Also the lack of a central dashboard or management point gives this solution more overhead than some custom tailored solutions below.
The Verdict: Probably the safest solution if you can afford it, and especially if you have a big PBN (50-100+ domains). For smaller PBNs, or easier management see the options below.
Easy Blog Networks
My friend Dejan’s hosting company Easy Blog Networks (EBN) has an innovative solution to these issues as well as adding a lot of extra features which make PBN hosting much, much easier. I’ve been using EBN for some of my sites the past few months and I’m really impressed with what they’ve done.
They provide a central dashboard to manage all your sites, instant wordpress deployment at the click of a button and stat tracking to keep track of your important authority stats like Moz Da, and Majestic Trust. They also constantly developing new features to make your life easier and your PBN safer.
To avoid footprints, they use a number of different VPS providers (like amazon web services, linode, rackspace, and more) to spread your domains out over different IPs, nameservers, and SOA email addresses. The IPs are all recycled from previous VPS customers and are unlikely to be previously marked as spam.
Pricing starts at $3.5/domain (although it actually can get cheaper with multiple separate networks), so it’s a much cheaper solution than separate popular hosts.
The main drawback of EBN is that PBN domains are almost the only domains on their IP addresses. They mitigate this risk by removing any sites which get deindexed, so the percent of deindexed domains should remain at, or close to, zero. But despite this mitigation, I think this presents some risk. According to Dejan, there are some personal blogs, as well as customer money sites on their IPs as well, so it’s not just PBN domains.
The Verdict: Probably the easiest solution to PBN hosting at an extremely competitive price. You’ll have to evaluate the risk factors for yourself, but I’d definitely recommend using EBN for at least some of your domains. But I’m also biased because I use it, Dejan is a friend, and I’m an affiliate 😉.
Bulk Buy Hosting
My friend Kevin’s PBN hosting solution Bulk Buy Hosting is a new kid on the block for PBN hosting, and their aggressive goal is to make the safest PBN hosting solution yet.
Like EBN, they provide a central dashboard for to manage your sites and deal with support issues, which takes a lot of the overhead costs out compared to separate shared hosting accounts. But instead of hosting domains only on IP addresses shared with other PBNs, they provide you access to name brand hosts like Bluehost and A Small Orange through reseller accounts.
Many of their reseller accounts are on shared IP addresses with hundreds of other legitimate sites, and their nameservers and SOA emails are shared with hundreds of thousands of websites on these popular name brand hosts.
Like EBN, they also remove deindexed sites from their servers regularly to keep the percentage of deindexed sites on their IP addresses lower.
Pricing-wise they’re the cheapest solution on this list, starting at $1.70/month per domain.
The Verdict: I think they’re poised to be the safest cheap hosting solution with easy, central management. They combine much of the convenience that EBN is known for with a lot of the safety that you’d get from using only name brand hosts. You have to evaluate the risk factors for yourself, but I’d definitely recommend using Bulk Buy Hosting for at least some of your PBN sites. But I’m biased because Kevin is a friend and I’m an affiliate 😉.
Final Verdicts: Which Solution to Choose
So should you get EBN or Bulk Buy? Or do it yourself with popular name brand hosts?
Well, I’d actually recommend you do some of each. I know, I know, you want me to just choose one tell you that’s the best and you’re good to go. But I actually think it’s much smarter to use multiple hosts. Let me explain.
This is a game of risk management, and just like managing risk in an investment portfolio, one well-proven strategy is to diversify. Even if one hosting solution really does look like the best thing since sliced bread right now, you don’t want to end up like the folks that invested only in Bernie Madoff fund and ended up completely broke when it turned out to be a ponsy scheme.
My own PBN is spread out between a lot of different hosts and hosting solutions, and that’s what I’d recommend for you to do too.
With access to great PBN domains for only the price of registration from Hammerhead Domains, you’ll find you need lots of different hosting solutions to manage all your new ranking power. Don’t get caught by analysis paralysis, and not take any action. Get started with one solution today, and next month, put a few domains up on the next solution.