Setting up your expired domain as part of your private blog network
1 vote, 5.00 avg. tacos (84% score)

Although PBNs still work, they now have a history of being targeted by Google and therefore may not be the safest option. This is why we now focus on creating online businesses that are independent of SEO traffic.

Update May 2013:   The linkbuilding style no longer works so I’ve updated it with the current style I use.  I’ve kept the old style crossed out for posterity’s sake.

So you’ve found a nice standard or premium domain.  Congrats!  Now it’s time to turn it into an efficient yet sustainable linking machine



After buying the domain, you first step is to set it up on a new C-Class IP.  I recommend switching up a bunch of shared hosts for this.  The best value I’ve found so far for IPs, is IXWebhosting (aff link).  They have 15 Ips for $8/mo., but there is a trick as to how you get unique IPs.  They rotate through tons of IPs each week, and they give you IPs as you configure each site.  So if you want unique C-class Ips you will need to stagger the setup of your sites – I do mine every couple weeks or so, but likely you could do it more quickly than that.   It’s by far the best deal that I have found.

I also use Bluehost (aff. link) and Justhost (aff. link) because of their 1 click WP install.  I use a few SEO Hosts, but am hesitant to recommend them here as it would be pretty simple for Google to just devalue links from their IPs.  That’s why I think using popular shared hosts is a good idea.


Update: Here’s a little tip to help you setup you expired domains faster.


Now some people may wonder about whether it’s really important to have a unique IP.  It is.  Each additional link from a single IP pointing to the same root domain  has increasingly diminished returns.   However, depending on the size of your network, and how much you want to silo it, you could setup multiple sites on the same IP, as long as 1 IP only links to 1 site.  So decide on your strategy.


If you have 50 sites do you want them on 50 Ips, so that each of your micro niche sites is receiving 50 links from 50 unique domains and 50 unique Ips?


Or do you want 2 groups of 25 sites on 25 Ips?  Then your sites are firewalled a bit more, if you worried about Google slapping you, or your competitors spying on you.


Or go for 5 groups on 10 Ips if you are really quite paranoid.  It’s up to you.  Just remember, the less Ips, the less it costs to host, but the less potential you have for ranking for true money keywords.


Theme your site

Once your site is up and WP is installed,it’s time to transform the site.  I like to turn sites into user generated News sites whenever possible.  If the site used to be a blog about cats, I’d turn it into a news site written by evil cats.  Ok that’s a bit extreme, but it would be fun to write…  Anyway this is really just adding an about widget to the page, and doing up a custom banner and tag-line.  This is the  fun part.


Sometimes the domain just can’t be turned into a news site.  Maybe the domain name is about cheap violins or something.  In this case I’d keep the site related to it’s former niche, and maybe add a spin to it so that it is also related to a niche I have sites in.  So if I have a lot of sites on classes or schools, I’d turn it into a violin academy.   If you’re creative enough you can almost always go the news route though, maybe make it a blog written by a down and out violinist university student.


I don’t re-use content from, and don’t pretend to be the former entity.   At least not for my PBN….  you are likely to eventually get a cease and desist for copyright issues, and if you’re selling links or otherwise relying on the links you just can’t take that risk.   If it’s just for link brokers though….



How I linkbuit back in 2011-2012

Update:  I’m keeping this for posterity’s sake.  This does not work, but it’s good to keep it up to show that it does not work anymore.

I always link build in groups of 15-25 related sites.     By that I mean buy up a batch of 15-25 domains that are more or less related, or are relatable by a common element.  If you played “which of the following sites doesn’t belong in this group”, you’d be hard-pressed to pick one.   The article will be a news-style article that is related in topic to the 15-25 sites.     The first step here is creating an anchor sheet for these sites.


What’s an anchor sheet you ask? This is an example anchor sheet which shows 10 sites that would be in the same niche (it would have 25 rows were it 25 sites).   This example also assumes that each site will be linkbuilt from 20 different domains.   EMD is exact match keyword, PM is phrase match, Brand is it’s not an EMD, but rather, then the anchor would be Blue Widgets HQ.  If it is an EMD then this would just use the URL.     It shows your staffer how to link to each site.   No matter how many sites I am linking to or from,  I try to keep exact match anchors under 15% of the total anchors, and URL/brand anchors around 30-35%, with the rest being taken up by atleast 10 phrase match anchors and some generic anchors (click here, names,etc).


Once a link has been inserted into an article, it gets highlighted on this list and never re-used.  So each article would have 1 link from each row in the spreadsheet.


Note that I’m just finishing up an update that has my CMS auto-creating this sheet for my linkbuilders.  It auto-creates based on the PM matches of the domain name that occur within my rather substantial scrape of GAKT.


How do you cram up to 25 links into 1 article?

I am fine with putting 25 links into an article as long as they are sprinkled in, and not dumped in one place.   I sprinkle them in author bios, within content (when relevant), within images (anchors are alt text in this case, usually URL based like “Image courtesy of URL”), and within falsified yet well thought out comments on the page from guests (anchor is name of guest).  Here’s an example.


How I linkbuild in 2013

2013 is all about quality and relevance.  I make sure I post only posts that are relevant to the site, and within the posts the links must be relevant to the target url.  Because anchor text holds less power, the topic (mainly title tag) of the post is what gives the most weight for a page.  Therefore if I want to help a site rank for “data centers” I cannot have a post about something completely unrelated and just have the anchor text there.  The post has to be about data centers.  If my site is a New Zealand based news site, maybe I’ll make up some editorial piece in the technology section about some Kiwi data center startup.  It doesn’t matter that it’s fictitious (which also makes it a hell of a lot more fun to write), it can’t really be proven wrong.


Do you post links on Homepages?

I don’t publish links on homepages, and I show excerpts of the posts on the homepage.  This ensures that a single expired domain can linkbuild an unlimited number of sites, and also maximizes TBPR.  After about 30 posts, I switch over to categories, and make sure they are included in the top level navigation of the blog to maximize link juice.    You could also make a percentage of all links no-follow, to make the profile more natural-looking.


That’s it!

Setting up your expired domain as part of your private blog network
1 vote, 5.00 avg. tacos (84% score)
  1. This is perfect timing Hayden! Thanks again… I’ve just finished setting up wordpress on my first 23 expired domains and started linking to my first batch of 15 sites on them. (The reason it’s not 30 is because I am waiting for those random IP addresses from IXwebhosting to roll over to the next C-class lol)

    I had a question in my mind before I just read this post and i think you’ve answered it indirectly, but if you dont mind could you please confirm that I understand your process correctly?

    Am I right in thinking that you use the same 15 or 25 sites on each article every time resulting in each of those 15-25 sites having the exact same backlinks as each other? Or do you mix it up in some way?

    My first batch is of 15 sites, but im only linking to a random 10 of them in each article. I dont know how much it will help reduce my footprint (probably not a lot!) but is this something you would bother with?


    • I do link to every single one (though with different anchors as indicated in the anchors spreadsheet). I feel if G wants to follow a footprint they will do just that, and me obfuscating a small portion of it won’t make much of a difference.

  2. Interesting, so all posts on the homepage are excerpts? In a perfect world, you recommend an entirely separate hosing account for each site. There are so many “$1 per month” hosting companies out there that it can be done fairly cheaply. Just have to stay organized.

  3. So when you register these domains do you register them under your name or do you have entities that you use? I believe that Google is a registrar so they have access to all those records.

    • I think Hayden has discussed this point before. Google is capable of seeing everything you do, its just whether they can be bothered. Hayden expects to get hit by google, but he will just change his strategy slightly. He said to try and avoid being paranoid about such things, just adapt when changes occur.

  4. Thank for the post Hayden! Lot’s of stuff to implement. two questions…

    In more competitive niches do you ever do have links off the homepage? I have some client sites that need a boost.

    Do text links have to be sold on the PR homepage?

    • I don’t do homepage links. I think post links are stronger now anyway. Yes text links are sold on homepages since those always have the highest PR. But any page with PR3 or higher can sell text links.

      • Hi Hayden, love the sharing of info on this blog.

        When referring to “homepage links” and “post links are stringer”, do you mean that you do not link build to the homepage URL directly but rather to the individual posts?

  5. Thanks Hayden, Brilliant post. just a question i like to ask. When do u see the Page Rank of the expired domain come back or say visible on the toolbar. As most of these domain shows N/A on the PR toolbar when u just purchase.

  6. Hey Hayden, How do you determine how many links a site will receive? In terms of # of blog network vs. web 2.0 links? Do you do the same # for every initial setup?

    For the web 2.0 links, how are you placing links since probably can’t get away with ~20 links per page? This probably gets more expensive per link.

    • Based on the competition of the SERPs as shown in my keyword research vids. Web 2.0 at this point is really an old part of my strategy, I generally now just ignore blogspots because of the limitations in posting, but still post on some of the other freehosts that don’t have the limitations.

  7. Hey Hayden,

    Thanks for the post. Can you elaborate a bit more how to transfer expired domain into a news site/blog? Do you outsource the articles or scrape from other sites? Let us say if you setup one single news site and outsource the writing with 30 news articles (300~400 words), that may cost $1k per site.


    • I write the articles as I link build. If I’ve only link built one tag, then each site will only have 1 article. Once I’ve link built 10 tags, each site has 10 articles. They grow organically, and I don’t pay for more articles than I need.

  8. Just wondered, how important is the PR of the site you buying, for example I have found a domain with a PA45 DA50 MozTrust 5.8 and its from 2004. Is this classed as a Premium domain or is it i9mportant about the PR?

  9. Good solid article that raises a question.

    You recommend IX Webhosting but they only offer C Class hosting so I would not really call them a SEO host.

    The IPs will be from same c-class whereas I would say true SEO hosting offer separate locations, A, B and C-classes for each IP.

    If you use 15 Ips from same c-class would it not leave a huge footprint for big G??

  10. Hi Hayden

    Have you got an infographic or diagram to simplify how you link your blog network together and how you then link to your niche sites from your blog network for clarification?

  11. Hey Jack,

    he is talking about leaving links at his own site.
    So the links will be do-follow.
    Variate in anchors in order to prevent Google slap.
    You can also ad some no-follow links to make the profile more natural.

    • Thanks Rolf,
      I understood the comments were going to live on his own site, was just curious if he made them dofollow. Thanks for the clarification.

  12. When you say “link built one tag” do you just mean created 1 post for the set of themed money sites? Do you not theme your network–every site posts about any topic?

    You create categories only when there are 30+ posts to redistribute juice. Since each site linkbuilds “unlimited” sites, do all links that get pushed further down eventually lower the money site ranks? Even if the post is on a PR5 domain, it will eventually lower to PR3,2,1,0 even?

    • Link built one tag, would be 1 post linked to y number of money sites on x number of expired domains. I do theme my network, and also create news sites.

      The PR of the linking page will eventually drop by a point if the post gets moved to a category page (after 30 posts). But… PR DOES NOT MATTER FOR RANKING! I cannot stress this enough. The domain authority in this case is what matters, and when posts eventually get moved to category pages I never see drops in ranking.

      In terms of maintaining PR for the sake of text links or flipping, if you care about artificially inflating TBPR for this, then there are much better ways to do it.

      • A couple of questions

        I still don’t quite get what you mean when you say PR doesn’t matter for ranking. Are you saying that the direct PR of a money site page you are trying to rank doesnt matter, just the PR of the pages linking to it?

        I assume you don’t care about unique ip addresses for your money sites except maybe to firewall groups of them, as your shared AdSense account would defeat any isolation attempts. Do you use multiple AdSense accounts? I’m guessing it would be kosher to do this through multiple companies.

        Thanks in advance

  13. Hayden – This blog is an absolute mine of information. Thanks for taking the time to do this for us.

    Sorry for my totally noob question below, but I am new at this :)

    If I buy a dropped domain and it was themed towards auto racing and then I develop and theme it around tech/computer…. am I committing a cardinal sin?

    What I mean is, I’m guessing that the old backlink values or authority will be discounted by google and the domain will be like starting out like new?

    Thanks in advance for your time.

    • That’s a good question. I’ve done some tests and they worked out alright. I will be doing some more tests this month as indicated by my post on July goals, and I will be documenting the results. The safer long-term option would be to develop the site towards auto though. Or you could stretch it and make it some blog that is the insight of a professional racer or something, which could allow for other types of linking too.

  14. What if we wanted to find the domains and then resell just the domains and not bother with building the sites?

    Do we still need to get something up right away or can we just register a bunch of domains without building sites right away and/or build the sites at a later date but just go ahead and snatch up the domains we find?

    Hope that makes sense.

    • You still need to launch the site and add a piece of content to get it indexed again and get some TBPR. But you don’t have to worry about unique IP.

      • Thanks for the clarification. I really appreciate it.

        One final question/scenario

        If I sell the domain will it be ok to transfer it to a new webhost or must the new owner take over the existing hosting account.

        Would hate to open a hosting account for every single domain. I guess my question is what is the best way to handle the transfer of ownership in regards to the content of the site without losing the PR(I’ve transferred domain ownership before not just a whole site with hosting)

  15. Question: Do you have a 404 plugin you recommend? I have tried 9 and none of them work. Or maybe something is screwed up.

  16. Hi, Hayden thanks for taking the time to write such valuable information. I know these methods are for well established people with experience but how well can I implement this to say…blogspot sites? I know there wont be any domain purchasing involved, nor use of search tools, but assuming I can build no more than say 50 sites within blogspot to keep it low, how would you recommend the use of linking them together based on similar subjects and information using high quality structures and posts as you explained in this post? Thanks a lot man.

  17. Hi, Hayden
    I wanted to ask you a question.
    Can i build the network with free hosting that support wordpress.
    For me it is too expensive to keep a network with the cost of hostng.
    But doing some research online I saw that there are free hosts that support wordpress. (eg 000WebHostTop, Dreamhost Apps, ByetHost)
    Thanks in advance and I hope I can build up my network.

  18. Question on IXWebHosting. Do you have the shared plan that gives 15 ip addresses or do you have the VPS?

    I ask, because when I talked to IXWebHosting they said that the shared plans can’t have any additional IP addresses. They said the VPS ones give more at $1/per per month, but I wasn’t sure whether just having multiple shared hosting plans with them would just be a headache.

  19. Hello all. I’m not into building Adsense sites at the moment but physical products. My goal is to build 1 site/month. I like the slow yet consistent approach and my budget allows me $150/month for outsourcing.

    I’m only seeking lower competition keywords at the present so I don’t need a lot of back links, just a very light. Since I’m not building a boat load

  20. Hello all. I’m not into building Adsense sites at the moment but physical products. My goal is to build 1-2 sites/month. I like the slow yet consistent approach and my budget allows me $150/month for outsourcing. I’m building Amazon affiliate type sites and I’m not in a big rush. After a year I’ll have at least 12 niche Amazon sites on the market producing an income.

    I’m only seeking lower/medium competition keywords at the present so I don’t need a lot of back links, just a very light. Most are in the mid to upper 40’s APA.

    Since I’m not building a boat load of sites in a short period of time I don’t need a network like the ones others are pursuing. I would prefer the more premium domains because I would want a more premium back link profile. But standards might be ok.

    Question or the group is if you were in a situation like myself in building Amazon niche sites at a much slower approach how would you acquire expired domains and how many would you need foreseeing that you would have at least 12 sites in a year?

    I’m thinking it might be worth just purchasing a very small network of higher PR expired domains with permanent back links?



  21. Well in the same box you used powered by blogspot just do the same with tumblr or put in there.

    Works well for me.

  22. hello hayden,

    i click on your affiliate site on ixwebhosting because it is very cheap

    but when i search on google, but it look like there are many negative review on this hosting.. so i did not continue registering.


  23. Is EVERY PBN (Private Blog Network) website you set up on its own IP? Or do you have various “groups” of PBN sites, some with the same IP, but never with these same IPs linking to a single money site?

    • I guess I just don’t understand how each PBN site could have its own C Class IP without using some SEO type hosts. It would be so unwieldy to manage.

  24. Managing all of the different hosts takes some time but with a spreadsheet of them all its easy to login to them and update posts etc. The pain is getting all of the different hosts in the first place.

    There are tools out there that will automatically post to your blogs etc so keeping them updated with content is easy

  25. how are you guys registering your blogs? If you find 25 expired and available blogs do you register them all under different accounts?

  26. Hayden, a couple of questions:

    1. Do you put dates on your posts? And if so, do you try to put past dates (in accordance with the domain age) or only current dates?

    2. If this is a PBN domain used only to link to a couple of money sites, is it okay to post only 2 or 3 articles on the domain (1 link on each article)? Or do I need to put more content so not to have a ‘thin content’ site?

    Thanks again :)

  27. Hi Hayden,

    Do you think date of purchase from the expired domains can leave a footprint for google to track a PBN

    In my case i found 20 expired domains related to my niche and bought them all on the same day. In the end they will all be linking out to my moneysite. What do you think?

  28. Nice post and there’s a lot of good information here. However, one thing I was puzzled about was where you say, “If you have 50 sites do you want them on 50 Ips, so that each of your micro niche sites is receiving 50 links from 50 unique domains and 50 unique Ips?”
    You then go on to say if you use 25 ips you are “firewalled a bit more”, and you end that paragraph by saying that you could host the 50 sites on 10 ips if “you are really quite paranoid”.
    Isn’t it better to have the domains hosted on 50 unique domains?

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