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2 PBN HQ Review – Buying Expired Domains

PBN HQ Reivew

How Did I Get To This Review

When I first started out in the SEO world, expired domains were all I could think about.  Obsessing over the highest metrics and the best strategies to get them.  As time has passed, I have become less concerned about finding that ‘holy grail’ expired domain and more concerned about actually getting PBNs built, ranking sites and making money.  Don’t get me wrong, metrics DEFINITELY matter and there is a minimum you want to keep but at the end of the day a site with 1 or 2 SUPER high quality links isn’t going to rank as well as a site with 10-20 DESCENT quality links.  That is opinion, that is fact.  So I set out to find the easiest and quickest way to find my expired domains.  I have dealt with brokers, Facebook groups, scraping myself and everything you could imagine.  Scraping myself was great and I had a lot of success with it.  The biggest problem I had was manually checking every domain for backlink profiles and spam.  I know I know everyone says get a VA but that is sometimes easier said than done.  When you hire a VA you have to have stuff for them to do and you also have to be able to train them.  This is something that a lot of folks starting out in ‘SEO’ don’t have the time, money or knowledge to do.  I then came across a software called Domain Ronin.  It is an expired web scrapper created by the guys who run PBN HQ.  This thing was AWESOME and I loved using it…but that is a review for another time.  So back to buying domains.  I was approached by the guys at PBN HQ to do a review of their marketplace.  Since the idea of the website is ‘studying’ SEO I thought this would be a perfect thing to do.  So here it is!

What Is The PBN HQ Marketplace

PBN-HQ-5

So as I said above, the guys at PBN HQ are the creators of Domain Ronin.  It makes sense that since they created a scraper they would have a pretty big portfolio of expired domains.  This is where their marketplace comes in.  They use their own scraping software to do all the expired domain name scrapping for you.  Using their scrapping software, they metric and spam check all the domains that they find.  Then then manually review each site to make sure that they did not miss any spammy backlinks.  While doing this they also pull the topical categories from Majestic and also what the last site in Archive.org was before it expired.  This gives you a great idea if the site is going to fix your niche.  The offer quite a few niches that they categorize their domains into:

Autos & Vehicles

As you can see they have pretty much every niche covered!  PBN HQ has an extremely easy to use interface so that you can navigate, search, sort and filter through all of their domains (which was a little over 800 domains at the time of this review).  Every day they add more and will email you a list of the new domains they have found.  As these are domains that anyone can freely register, they ‘mask out’ the domain name with the number of characters in the domain and then give you the ending TLD (.com, .net, .org, etc).  Each domain costs between $10 and $20 with a nice discount when purchasing 5 or more and even nicer after purchasing 10 or more.

Finding Expired Domains Through The Marketplace

Registering Your Account

First you will need to register an account before you can access the marketplace.  I first questioned why they made you do this but realized they want your email address so that they can keep you updated on the domains that they add daily.  They add quite a few domains daily and I have found their once a day email (this can be turned off if you choose) to be very helpful and non intrusive in my day!

Navigating The Marketplace

PBN HQ Review

Once you are in the market place it is super easy to navigate.  Every column is filterable and sortable.  Lets go over the columns right now.

ID

The ID column is just PBN HQs unique id for the domain.

URL

This is the URL of the domain you will be buying.  This URL is masked out with ‘xxxx’ for all the characters.  The reason they do this is because the URL you are buying they do not own.  It is free to register to anyone that knows that URL.  Since this is the case they mask the URL or you wouldn’t have to buy it from them…you could just go register it.  This url is, however, masked with the appropriate number of characters so you can see how long the domain name is.  In addition it does not mask out hyphens so that you can see how many hyphens are in the domain name.

TF/CF/DA/PA/LRD

This should be pretty self explanatory but the marketplace pulls all the Majestic and Moz stats without you having to have an account.  LRD is the number of referring domain the strong version of the domain name has.  If you want to filter on any of these columns you will use the ‘greater than’ sign (>) and a number.  So if you only want to see domains that are >15 TF or >20 PA then that is what you will use to filter.

Languages

The languages field shows you the language that site was written in original site.  If you want to filter this column for certain languages then you will type the language in the column.  Example ‘en’ is for only english language sites.

Topics

The topics column shows you what the Majestic topical category is for the existing referring domains to that URL. You can enter any search term into this filter and PBN HQ will show only the domains with that term in the topical categories for the domain.

Archive Categories

This is the category, from above, that PBN HQ uses to group  the ‘type’ of domain the original site was.  This helps you to know what niche the site was originally in.  Take a look at the list of categories above.  Enter any of these in the filter field and you will only see domains in that category. 

Archive Date

This is when the domain name was originally registered.

Updated Date

Since these domains are free to register for anyone that has the domain name, PBN HQ automatically checks to make sure that the domain is still available so you are purchasing a domain name that is no longer available to register.  If this does happen to be the case, PBN HQ will replace the domain at no extra charge.

Price

How much it will cost you to buy the URL from the marketplace.  Please note that you still have to register the domain with your preferred registrar to use the domain name.  You are just buying the ‘name’ to register from PBN HQ.

Add To Cart

Use this button to add the domain to your cart for purchase.  When adding 5 or more domains to your cart you will receive a 10% discount, 10 or more and receive a 20% discount.

Purchasing Your Domains

Once you have added the domains you want to purchase to your cart, you will need to load your PBN HQ account with money.  You can do this before hand or you can do it at checkout.  They allow you to load your account very easily through Paypal. If you have a Paypal account setup you can have your account loaded in a matter of minutes.  After your account is loaded with the appropriate funds, then finishing your purchase is a breeze.

Managing Your Purchased Domains

While evaluating the marketplace, after purchasing my domains I was presented with a very bland interface with very little informative data.  Basically I just had the domain names and an integration button to link my domains to Easy Blog Networks.  I really wasn’t please with this at all, so I emailed the guys over at PBN HQ with some suggestions and they had their developer implement my suggestions in less than 24 hours.  Now when you view the ‘Domains’ section of your account you are presented with the same interface as the main navigation interface.  You can see your topical categories, TF/CF/DA/PA metrics, the date you purchased the domain from PBN HQ and much more relevant information.  They also add the ‘strong version’ of your domain to this section so that you know if you need to be using the ‘www’ version or the ‘root’ version.

Easy Blog Networks Integration

So after purchasing your domains, PBN HQ has a built in integration with Easy Blog Networks.  This is a pretty slick integration and you can 1-click to send your domain you purchased at PBN HQ over to EBN and it will setup your hosting, WordPress and manage the IP classes so as to not create a footprint.  This is really nice feature that is not required to use but makes life a lot easier.

Tools PBN HQ Provides

Included for free, PBN HQ allows you to create Wayback snapshot downloads.  This is useful if you want to just take a ‘snapshot’ of the original website and upload.  This cuts down on development time tremendously but as Matt Diggity has noted in his case study Wayback Installations vs WordPress Rebuilds, this is not always the best method.

PBN HQ has also given you a domain availability bulk checker to check if a list of domains are available to register or not.  Maybe someone posted in the forums or FB groups a list of domains and you don’t want to check if they are available manually.  This is a good way to do it.

Snapshot Generator will help speed up your spam checking by creating historic snapshots (two per year) of the domains you submit.  This allows you to quickly eyeball a domains history.

Final Thoughts

So I think deciding whether to use the marketplace are not really comes down to one thing.  Do you have time to scrape your own domains?  Scraping your own domains is a very time consuming process.  So if you are wanting domains that are high quality, spam checked and guaranteed to index (or they will be replaced) then the marketplace is for you.  If you think you want to try your hand at scraping domains then I would STRONGLY suggest Domain Ronin as the best scraper I have ever used.  I will have a review on Domain Ronin written shortly.

If you are interested in giving the marketplace a try please consider using my affiliate link here.

5 do your own hosting

Host Your Own PBN Network For $1/site

Host Your Own PBN Network For $1 / Site

do your own hosting

***Full Disclaimer*** 

We are in the SEO affiliate business. This article has affiliate links used within it to, be honest, try and make me a little money for my effort of putting this tutorial together.  This is the way I do it and is no way biased towards any affiliates.  If you like this method and decide to use it I would appreciate you considering using the affiliate links. ​

The Problem

When I started getting into SEO one of the first big questions to answer was how to host my PBNs and who to host them with. I tried everything under the sun from the big EIG networks (ie Hostgator, Bluehost, etc), Easy Blog Networks and many other options. At the end of the day:

  1. I didn’t want to host all my domains with one provider (even Easy Blog Networks) that would have all my information
  2. Hosting with multiple providers proved to be a real pain in the ass
  3. VPS hosting was too complicated with PHP version, NGNIX setup and WordPress installs and other words I couldn’t understand
  4. I needed the solution to be affordable and sustainable

The Solution

I just needed something that was easy to use, setup and maintain. While Easy Blog Networks was the best solution I found out there it didn't solve bullet point #1.   I thought to myself that if Easy Blog Networks can do it for other people then surely there is a solution out there for me to do it for myself.  After doing a fair amount of research I came across Serverpilot.io.  Serverpilot is a platform that allows you to manage Digital OceanLinode servers and more with one click installs of WordPress, PHP, NGINX and all the other big technical terms that are required to run your own WordPress site.  Sounds great right but what about the cost?  Well I am here to make you happy by telling you that Serverpilot.io is FREE.  That is right FREE.  The base level, which is all you need does not cost a thing. 

The Setup

Getting started was quite simple.  First you need to have an account with Serverpilot and Digital Ocean.  By signing up through my link you will receive a $10 Digital Ocean credit (good for 2 months of free hosting for 5 sites).  After you have your accounts created then we are ready to get started.

Creating Your First Server

The first thing you will need to do is login to your Digital Ocean account and create your first server. Digital Ocean calls these servers 'droplets' and they are so easy to setup I think my kids could do it. 

  1. ​Click on Create Droplet
  2. Choose an image: You will need to select Ubuntu (the current latest version is 14.04)
  3. Choose a size: I choose the $5/mo size which I have not problems running 5 sites on at a time
  4. Choose a datacenter region: Here you will want to choose a region close to where you site will be located.  If you are in the US then I alternate between all the regions.
  5. Choose a hostname: Give your server an identifiable name. For me I like to choose PBN-x or Money-x to be able to identify what type of server the sites on it will be and replace x with the id of the server (1, 2, 3...a, b, c).
  6. Finally choose Create

After you have created your droplet, Digital Ocean will prepare your server.  This usually takes less than 60 seconds and you will be up and running.  Now this is important.  Digital Ocean will then email you your login credentials.  I suggest not having your email be a Gmail account for obvious reasons.  In the email you will receive a password for the 'root' user.  Keep this safe somewhere and delete the email.  You DO NOT want anyone to gain root access to the servers that are hosting your PBN and money sites.  You also will want to jot down the ip address of the server for the next step.

Setup Your Server with Serverpilot

Ok now the fun part begins.  Log into Serverpilot and the first thing we will do is Connect a Server.  Wait...I thought we just created a new server with Digital Ocean you ask?  That is correct.  Serverpilot is not going to actually create you a new server.  It will connect to and provision the server that you created in Digital Ocean.  So log into Serverpilot and have your root password and server ip address ready.

  1. Click on +Connect Server
  2. In the IP Address field enter your Digital Ocean's server IP
  3. In the Root Password field enter the password you were emailed for the root user
  4. In the SFTP field enter a password for the serverpilot user that will be created for your Digital Ocean server.  Make sure to store this wherever you choose to store your root password so you will have SFTP access to the Digital Ocean server if you ever need it.  If you have questions about this, what it is or why you would need it just ask me in the comments section below
  5. Click Connect to ServerPilot

Ok so this part can sometimes take a while.  I have had it work as quickly as 60 seconds and sometimes it has taken several minutes.  What is going on now is that Serverpilot is setting up the Digital Ocean droplet with all the provisions for it to be able to control the droplet.  You will see a progress bar during this process that may or may not move consistently.  Be patient.  If all else fails (it has happened to me once) then delete your Digital Ocean droplet and start over from scratch. 

Creating Your First Site

Ok now we that have a Digital Ocean droplet that is provision for Serverpilot to control, it is time to create our first site.  Serverpilot calls sites 'apps' (why I don't know but whatever).  In Serverpilot you will want to navigate to the 'apps' section.  Once there we will create our first site by:

  1. Click on + Create App
  2. In the Name field give the site a name (I just use the URL without  the TLD)
  3. In the Domain field enter your URL (www.example.com replacing example.com with your URL)
  4. Click the WordPress checkbox
  5. In the Title field enter the Title for your WordPress site (don't worry you can change this later in WordPress if you get it wrong)
  6. In the User field enter a username for the admin account (you may not want to make this just 'admin' for security reasons)
  7. In the Password field enter a good strong password for your admin user account (be sure to store this password with the others)
  8. In the Email field enter an email address for the admin account being created.  Make sure to change this up across sites.  You don't want all your sites to be [email protected] but technically that is a footprint
  9. In the Runtime selection choose PHP 7
  10. In the Server dropdown choose the server we just created.  Note that as you add more servers in Digital Ocean and connect them to Serverpilot you will have more options to choose from here.  I try and keep as many 'like niche' domains as separate as possible.
  11. In the System User field 'serverpilot' will be your only selection available unless you are paying for an account.  This is not a problem.
  12. Finally click Create App

Now that we have entered in all of the information Serverpilot will do its magic.  It will install all the software needed to run WordPress, it will configure NGNIX to point all example.com traffic to the appropriate site on the Digital Ocean server and it will do all of this in a couple of minutes.

Setting Up DNS

Ok so now to the part that took me a bit of time to figure out.  What to do with DNS.  What is DNS you ask?

According to Google, Domain Name Servers (DNS) are the Internet's equivalent of a phone book. They maintain a directory of domain names and translate them to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. This is necessary because, although domain names are easy for people to remember, computers or machines, access websites based on IP addresses.

Uh...Ok so what does that mean.  Basically it means that when someone enters my domain name to go to my site, I want my domain registrar to point it to my Digital Ocean servers at the 'app' Serverpilot created for us.  If your link comes up from a Google search and someone clicks on it then the DNS settings tell the 'internet' how to get to the web server that is hosting that link (your Digital Ocean server).

So how do you actually setup your DNS?  It is actually quite simple.  Let's say that you use NameCheap to register the domain name (www.ilovedogs.com).  In NameCheap there is a place to manage the DNS records for www.ilovedogs.com.  Just change the DNS entry to point to your Digital Ocean IP address and the rest will be taken care of for you.  Note that changes to DNS entries may take several hours before you start seeing the results take effect.

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What About Footprints - Mix It Up With Cloudflare

Ok so this is a pretty obvious question.  I have seen it numerous times on the forums and groups.  We have to be on different 'c' block ip addresses yada yada yada.  While this is ABSOLUTELY correct that you have to be aware of your IP address, by using Digital Ocean I have yet to see the same IP address repeated and the servers all have different A, B, and C classes.  Another option for covering your footprints is Cloudflare or similar services.  Cloudflare basically acts as a buffer for your DNS entries.  Lets say that you had 3 Digital Ocean servers all with the same A, B and C IP blocks.  You would use Cloudflare to mask the IP addresses of your servers.  How would you do this?  It is pretty simple.   

  1. You will first create a Cloudflare account.
  2. Next you will add your site to Cloudflare
  3. You will then update your domain's DNS (remember you do this at NameCheap in our example) to point to Cloudflare's IP name servers (xxx.cloudflare.com).  Cloudflare will walk you through this and tell you DNS entries to create.
  4. Once you have added the DNS entries to point to Cloudflare then you have Cloudflare redirect all the traffic to your Digital Ocean IP address.  

So ultimately your Cloudflare solution looks like this:

how-does-cloudflare-work

Now Cloudflare in and of itself can be a footprint.  I like to mix my domains up to have some point to the naked website (Digital Ocean IP) and the other point to Cloudflare.  Cloudflare has over 2 million domains using it so while it might be a footprint you will be hidden amongst all the other websites out there using it too.  You can also mix it up by using more than just Digital Ocean servers.  Above I gave you links and images to Linode, Rackspace and AWS as well.  This would further broaden your IP network and give you more of what Easy Blog Networks has setup.

You may notice in the image above the 'Attacker' person.  An added benefit to using Cloudflare is that they protect you from attackers that use techniques like DDoS attacks to shut down your site.

Future Updates

While writing this setup I came across Cloud Ways.  While similar to Serverpilot it appears to do quite a bit more and for the same price of FREE.  I will build out a few of my PBNs in the coming weeks on the Cloud Ways platform and update the post with my thoughts.  Be sure to sign up for my mailing list, below, if you don't want to miss out on this update.

How Do I Get To $1 / Site

So by now you might be asking yourself about the headline $1/site.  This is very simple.  I choose the $5/month Digital Ocean droplet and host 5 sites per droplet.  If my math serves me correctly then the total monthly cost per site comes out to exactly $1.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this article was written to help you host your own domain networks.  I use this personally and it has worked flawlessly.  I hope that this is helpful for you as well.  If you have any questions the please don't hesitate to ask.  Please make sure to sign up for my mailing list for future articles and how to's.