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.
Get Started with PBN Hosting Right Now (Step-by-Step)
TL;DR…. If you’re serious about PBNs, I highly recommend reading this whole article. It gets into the nitty-gritty of what you should know about PBN hosting. But if you just want to get started right now, here’s a quick step-by-step that should keep you safe:
- Sign up for Hammerhead Domains (it’s free) and grab 5-10 PBN domains so you can start improving your rankings ASAP. Make sure you spam check them before you register them so you don’t end up bad domains.
- Grab a 5 or 10 domain account with Easy Blog Networks, Bulk Buy Hosting, or LaunchCDN. Or if you’re going to build a lot of separate networks, sign up for shared hosting accounts from Premium Hosts. See below of more details on all these options.
- Deploy your domains as new WordPress sites with tools provided by Easy Blog Networks or Bulk Buy Hosting. It’s literally just a few clicks with the software they provide.
- Add a nice theme, some decent unique content, images, etc… to each site. Throw in links to your money site(s). And BOOM! You should see your rankings start to improve within 5-10 days.
Rinse and repeat. It doesn’t actually have to get much more complicated then that. There are thousands of people ranking with almost that exact same formula.
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty so you can understand what’s really going on behind the scenes with PBN hosting and make smart business decisions…
Basic PBN Safety in 2017 (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 2017
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into some different solutions.
Cheap $1-3 hosts
This was 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.
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.
Here are my favorite name brand hosting providers:
- Hostgator – $11.95/month. 30% off first order with coupon rmn30.
- Bluehost – $10.99/month. 34% off first order with our link.
- A Small Orange – $5/month. %15 off first order with coupon ASO15.
- TMD Hosting – $6.85/month. %7 off first order with coupon learnwithme7.
- GoDaddy – $10.99/month. First order from $1/month with our link.
- GreenGeeks – $9.95/month. Up to 60% off first order with coupon take60off.
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 ranges from $3.50 to $1.70/domain per month depending how many domains you’re hosting, 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.
In a recent independent study of 6000 domains by PBN Fox, EBN was found to have a deindexation rate of just 4.4% second only to Name Brand Shared Hosting which had a deindexation rate of 3.5%. So despite some of my hesitance, what they’re doing certainly seems to be working right now.
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 Graham’s hosting solution Bulk Buy Hosting is quickly becoming one of the most popular solutions available. They’re focused almost exclusively on keeping your PBN safe and hidden.
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 for a smaller network, starting at $3/domain per month and going down to $1.80/domain for their biggest plan.
I think they’re probably the safest cheap hosting solution with easy, central management. (Although their new sister company LaunchCDN might be even safer…) 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.
LaunchCDN: Host Sites on Content Delivery Networks *NEW*
LaunchCDN is a new 2017 offering from Kevin Graham of Bulk Buy Hosting, this solution works a little differently then the other options, but I believe it’s just as safe. And it’s a little cheaper than the other options.
Here’s how it works….
Millions of websites, including Upwork, Medium and Fiverr for example, are accessed through content delivery networks (CDNs) instead of directly through a hosting provider. When you navigate to a website that uses a CDN, you’re downloading files from the CDN provider’s server, not the host’s server.
Google accesses the site in the same way — through the CDN provider, not the hosting company. So to Google, your PBN site will blend in with all the millions of other sites hosted on CDNs.
Usually it would be a bit complicated to use CDNs effectively for your PBNs, but LaunchCDN makes it super easy. They keep each of your sites on a slightly different setup for you, so you can host dozens or even hundreds of sites safely with them without creating a footprint. Yet your sites will share Nameservers, IP addresses, SOA records and even MX records (for email) with thousands of legitimate sites, helping you blend into the crowd.
Plans starts at $2.70/domain and go down to $1.72/domain for the largest plans.
I definitely recommend LaunchCDN. It’s both safe and cost effective. Kevin and his team have become true experts in modern PBN hosting, and you can trust them to keep your sites safe, even as new technology emerges and the Google landscape changes. It’s a good starter solution if you’re just hosting a few sites. And it’s also the cheapest one to get started with, at just $2.70/domain. Or even better, add it to add to your hosting plan if you already have some sites using a different type of hosting.
Final Verdicts: Which Solution to Choose
So should you get EBN, Bulk Buy or LaunchCDN? 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’s 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.
If I was starting from scratch, here’s what I would do:
- Host your first 10 domains with LaunchCDN
- Host your next 10 domains with EBN
- Host your next 10 domains with Bulk Buy Hosting
- Repeat steps 1-3 until your working on at least 10 separate networks (this could be just 10 unique money sites or client sites, if each site has it’s own PBN network)
- Once you have enough networks to make Brand Name Hosting economical, start hosting new PBNs on Brand Name hosts. You’ll need to host at least 10 domains per host to make it worthwhile, but you will start to save money with economies of scale. I put as many as 40 or 50 PBNs on each host, so I’ll usually pay around $.25/month per domain.
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.