SEO BROTHERS BLOG
Private Blog Network Hosting: PBN Hosting Guide
I recently shared some thoughts on the use of private blog networks for improving rankings and organic search engine optimization. PBN hosting was a big part of that post. The spark-notes version of that post is:
1. PBNs still work great, despite a lot of press otherwise.
2. There are different types of private blog networks depending on what they are being used for.
3. There are multiple footprints that a PBN leaves that you need to be very carful of.
4. Hosting is one of those footprints and risks associated with creating PBNs, that we’ll address here.
Let’s dive into the meat of it:
This post is going to focus on the hosting of private blog networks often referred to as PBN hosting or SEO hosting. There are many ways to host your private networks each with their own risks and benefits.
Having spent over a decade running and managing a managed web hosting company I have a very intimate knowledge and understanding of IP addresses, hosting environments, and how they apply to hosting both private networks and money sites.
UPDATE! As many of you might know, we recently partnered with Easy Blog Network to help get you instant access to the best PBN hosting solution out there (continue reading to see why that’s the case).
However, EBN is going to be raising its prices on September 1, 2016 so as a result we are offering two things:
- Instant access to EBN. No more wait lists if you sign up from SEO Brothers.
- Locked in price and bonus incentive. Act now before September 1, 2016 and not only will you have your current price locked in forever, but I am offering a free 20-minutes SEO consultation call. Ask me anything about any of your web properties, PBNs, etc. and I’ll help by providing actionable takeaways.
So, what are you waiting for? Click through below and watch the 5 minute video – it’s well worth it. Once you’ve signed up just send me an email from my contact form and we’ll setup a time for our 20 minute chat.
Factors to Consider When Choosing PBN Hosting
Don’t rush into deciding on the perfect PBN hosting solution before you take the time to really understand your specific situation and your private network. There are a few factors to consider before making a decision.
The size of your network
How many websites are going to be in your network? 5? 10? 100? 1000? Each of these sizes will need a different plan of attack when it comes to hosting a private blog network. For five sites you might be able to easily pick up 5 affordable shared hosting plans but when you are dealing with 100+ websites things get a bit more tricky to manage and creativity will need to come into play.
The type of network you’re building
We discussed the different types of PBNs in the general PBN guide here.
Figure out if you are going to build a large general network, a smaller and more focused network on a specific industry or if you’re building it exclusively for a particular client. Can you pass the hosting expense to your client or build it into the cost of your service? If you can perhaps multiple shared accounts is the way to go as you won’t have to carry the expense yourself.
Your plan for the network
Are you going to hang on to this network forever? Is it just built to rank and rent or rank and sell a website? If you lose your network overnight do you have a client that will pay to rebuild it or will it come out of your own pocket? Is this network going to be at your core business and a crucial part of your service offering or will it be a nice value added service to some of your clients?
These questions will influence how you move forward with your hosting. Obviously you want to be as safe as possible with your hosting, but I understand that affordability is a big part of it too.
Potential Footprints From Hosting
Almost all types of hosting have footprints associated with them with the exception of very few. The major footprints include:
IP Address Ownership
When you whois your IP address you can see what organization uses it. If you host with a company that owns all of their IP addresses that’s a footprint that you leave. While some companies can sub-assign IP addresses to different organizations you’ll be able to see who owns them specifically within the whois.
Many public pbn hosting solutions run into this problem as they usually host all their account on one machine with IPs all owned by the same organization.
IP Address Sharing
Are there other websites hosted on your IP address? If so are they all other PBN and SEO websites or are there a mix of real legit websites? The advantage of shared hosting is that the IP addresses are usually shared with hundreds of other legitimate websites from around the web. Especially if you’re hosting with a GoDaddy or BlueHost size web hosting company.
If you have a dedicated IP address with only your PBN sites on them, that’s okay, just make sure that as you scale you aren’t adding more sites on the same IP that point to the same money sites.
IP Address Diversification
An IP address is often described as: AAA-BBB-CCC-DDD. It is more beneficial if additional inbound links come from IP addresses where the ‘CCC’ are different numbers. There is marginal added benefit from additional links if they are on the same ‘CCC’ block IP address.
The whole point of PBN hosting is to get your websites hosted on different C class IPs, however, it’s also important that you mix in different B and A classes. If all your IP addresses looked like this:
and so on, that is an obvious footprint.
Be sure that your hosting solution mixes up the ranges and networks that your IP addresses are from.
SOA records are the deadly killer of PBNs. An SOA record stands for the Start of Authority record and it indicates information about the server you are hosted on and usually also the email address associated with your control panel account.
I’ve had websites burnt before due to what I believe was duplicate email addresses in an SOA record.
You can check the SOA record by performing an SOA Lookup here.
Most SEO hosting companies give you a particular set of name servers per server. If all your websites are hosted on the same server (and therefore all using the same name servers) this is a red flag. Mixing in custom name servers created from your domain (while deleting all the NS records within your DNS record) is a good way to get around this sometime. But not all name servers are ns1./ns2.yourdomain.com either so that also leaves a footprint.
Using public name servers from big hosting companies on their shared hosting plans is one of the best ways around this (you can hopefully see the common theme here so far).
Different Types of Hosting & Associated Risks
Now that we’ve identified some of the main footprints you can start to see why it’s important to think about your hosting solution before diving in – especially if you are investing a considerable amount of money – which I know most of you are.
There are several different options for pbn hosting that you can consider. Each comes with its own level of difficulty and management which is usually negatively correlated with its level of risk.
We are currently running a special with Easy Blog Networks – the most trusted PBN hosting company. They are raising their prices on September 1, 2016 so if you sign up before then not only will you lock in your price forever, but I’m offering a free 20-minute consultation call. Just send me an email after you sign up and we’ll schedule a time.
Classic SEO Web Hosting
Class SEO hosting looks like this:
Quite literally, as this was pulled from SEOhosting.com. The idea here is that you get one control panel login that can manage different accounts across multiple C-class IP addresses.
- Easy to get started. One sign up, one place to pay, and all domains under one provider.
- Technical support from one company. If something goes wrong it’s the same person you need to contact.
- Identical SOA records for every domain by default
- Manual setup of every domain within cPanel/WHM + WordPress
- IP Addresses are shared among other private blog networks
- Almost always the same B-Class IP address and usually consecutive C-Classes
- Can be quite expensive. Ranging from $10 to $3 per IP address depending on type and volume.
I understand that this is an attractive choice – it used to be my go to a number of years ago. But times have changed and this is just too easy of a footprint for Google to find. It’s not worth the effort.
Dedicated or VPS Hosting with IPs
This options is a little different than SEO web hosting but you can usually also get this service from those companies as well. Essentially this is setting up a VPS or dedicated server with a large web host and then ordering additional IP addresses on multiple C-classes.
- You manage the server (can be a Con).
- All domains in one control panel
- Usually easy to get extra IPs (although justification is getting more difficult)
- Can be expensive to setup and manage a VPS or dedicated server.
- Additional costs for WHM/cPanel.
- All IP Addresses are owned by the same company.
- IP Addresses are usually on the same B-class.
Overall not a bad solution, but the set and manage of this makes it unattractive to most people. It’s possible to diversify a little bit across providers but then you’re getting into managing multiple servers.
Reseller Hosting with IPs
This solution is a great way to add some diversity into your PBN hosting without being too expensive.
- Lower cost than dedicated servers.
- Can request multiple IPs without much trouble.
- One company contact and one company to pay.
- Very well priced for both the hosting and the IPs
- IP addresses are sometimes shared with legit websites.
- IP addresses are all owned by the same company.
- Need to make specific requests for IP addresses on different C-class.
- Sometimes can be difficult to manage depending on control panel.
This may be difficult to manage at scale and certainly still has its footprints (even more so if you stick with the popular SEO “reseller hosting” options out there (HostNine is a good example of that)).
Reverse Proxy Solutions
These are fairly new to the PBN hosting scene. These are providers that can mask your server IP and name servers, such as CloudFlare. The idea here isn’t that your website is hosted on CloudFlare’s servers, because it’s not, but you use their DNS protection service (for free) and that lets you hide the real server IP.
- Can host multiple websites on the same IP and still add diversification.
- Because CloudFlare hosts so many website, this can support 10-20% of your network.
- Easy setup, no management once it’s setup.
- New account needs to be created for each domain.
- DNS records need to be changed for each domain.
- A potential footprint if used for too much of your network.
If you’re setting up a small network – 5-10 websites for a local business as an example – you may be able to get away with using CloudFlare for 50+% of your network. This will substantially decrease the amount you need to spend on hosting.
Multiple Shared Hosting Accounts
This is the best option if you want to reduce your footprints, but not necessarily if you want to keep your sanity.
- No footprints. This is what they refer to as hiding in plain sight.
- Usually different A-class and at least different B-class IP addresses between accounts.
- IP Addresses are shared with legitimate websites.
- Awesome to setup and manage with multiple accounts at multiple hosting providers (I hope you enjoy spreadsheets).
- Can often lose domains due to web hosts going off-line or closing (especially if you choose discounted hosting providers).
- Manual setup and installation of everything so make sure you get accounts with decent control panels.
While this option is the best for reducing your footprint it is literally a pain in the ass to manage. Ordering multiple hosting accounts, managing payments (are they recurring or do you need to pay them every month), installing WordPress on multiple platforms and control panels, and everything else that goes with this type of hosting can be daunting. That said, if you’re serious about PBN hosting and your network and you do not want to see it go, you’ll need either this hosting method or the one we recommend below.
Our Recommended PBN Hosting Solution
There aren’t a lot of great PBN hosting solutions out there on the market. Trying to balance IP diversification and ownership, avoiding footprints, management and setup of the domains, it’s all a big hassle. If you’ve tried to do it on your own you know what I’m talking about.
However, there is one company who is actually doing this very well – Easy Blog Networks. They have been in business since 2014 I believe, but really only fine-tuned their service within the last 6 months. We were planning to launch our own PBN hosting solution to best serve the industry but after chatting with Dejan and testing out EBN again a few months ago I was blown away by what they offer now.
Here are the two main reasons to get started with EBN right now:
- 1. If you check out their site, you’ll see they operate on a wait-list (if you’ve ever tried to scale a hosting company the right way you’ll understand why). Fortunately for you, I’ve managed to convince Dejan (owner of EBN) to give SEO Brother readers direct access to sign up. No waiting!
- 2. Easy Blog Network is going to be raising their price on September 1, 2016. If you get in now you will lock in your price forever (and I’ll throw in an incentive below!)
So what are you waiting for? Click through below and watch the 5 minute video – it’s well worth it.
We are offering a little incentive! So as I mentioned, Dejan said that Easy Blog Networks is going to have to raise their price on September 1, 2016 (and for good reason). If you get in and sign up before September 1st, not only will you lock in your rate, but I will give you a free 20 minute SEO consultation on any web property you have. Pick my brain for 20 minutes and get actionable advice. All you need to do is email me on our contact form here on the site once you’ve signed up and we can arrange a call.
Trust me, there isn’t a better PBN web hosting solution out there, and I’ve spent my fair share of time looking.
As always, if you need anything, leave a comment below or send us an email.