Link-building efforts are one of the cornerstones of a successful SEO campaign, with Private Blog Networks (PBNs) being one of the most effective link-building tactics.
To build a strong PBN, you need to find and buy quality expired domains. Below, I have broken down everything you need to know to do so so that you can build the best possible PBN for backlinks.
What is a PBN domain?
The quality and quantity of a website’s backlinks are some of the main factors search engines, like Google, use to rank websites in search results. This has led to the practice of using PBNs (networks of websites that provide links to a primary website, usually called the “money site”) in search engine optimization efforts.
PBN domains are old or expired websites that already have good domain authority (because of existing backlinks going to them) that you can buy and use in your Private Blog Network to link to your main website. These quality expired domains then give your money site strong link juice and boost its content and domain authority as a result.
How to find quality domains
Good PBN domains will cost you $100-250, and you’ll usually find them on auctions, such as on GoDaddy auctions for expired domains. If you’re lucky, you might find a good closeout domain below $100.
Choosing the right domains for a PBN is a skill, and it takes time to develop a good sense for when a domain is worth the money. Many factors, such as prior backlinks, the topic of existing content on the site, and the age of the domain, all impact the domain’s potential for value in a PBN.
Note: When you’re using GoDaddy to purchase used domains, make sure you remove the WhoIs organization and address data so you don’t leave a footprint on your PBN domains.
Although GoDaddy is the largest platform that auctions private blog domains you can use for your website network, other platforms also auction off domains.
One of these other domain platforms is DropCatch. As the name implies, you can buy domains that are being dropped (not renewed) by the owner). Anyone can bid in the domain auction, which makes it very similar to GoDaddy’s expired domain auctions.
SnapNames and NameJet are owned by Web.com and have the same inventory, so there is no need to use both domain platforms.
The best websites to find and buy PBN domains
Because so many domains are being auctioned on these platforms, you will need some help sorting through the listed domains to identify which domain names you should buy.
There are two options: buying domains from brokers or finding them with domain scraping and analysis tools. If you have a big budget, then brokers are a good option, but in most cases finding your own domains and researching them with tools will be better.
The tools will show you important SEO metrics about the listed domains so that you can filter out the spammy domains and find the good domains that you will want to purchase.
SEO Domain Finder
SEO Domain Finder is our own tool that launched in June 2023. It combines all the great elements of other tools and packages them in the best user interface that’s by far the easiest to use. You get access to SEO metrics, backlinks, Web Archive screenshots, and a ton of other domain information to help you find quality PBN domains.
SpamZilla previews all important metrics for domain backlinks and easily links to Ahrefs, Web Archive, and other services necessary for related research.
SpamZilla is also great at automating spam-checking and does a lot of the leg work for you. Note that SpamZilla has both a paid and free option, with the free option providing a limited number of domains for you to review.
DomCop is another popular tool you can use to find PBN domains. DomCop’s biggest attraction is the sheer number of metrics it will show you about the domains you check, which can be navigated easily with in-built filters.
However, DomCop does come to have some shortcomings. Even though it offers three different price options, it is still one of the more expensive domain tools on the market.
ExpiredDomains is a great free tool you can use to find PBN Domains. They have great analytics and can provide a similar experience to their expensive domain competitors.
However, you might struggle to filter the domains as easily as you would on other tools. Regardless, it’s a great place to start if you are reluctant to pay for a domain tool.
Domain Hunter Gatherer
Lastly, you could try out Domain Hunter Gatherer. This domain tool has a free plan as well as two paid plans that come with additional features.
But, with the free plan, you can check major auction sites for domains and compare the domains you find to identify the right ones to purchase. It allows you to view over 35 metrics for the expired domains.
How to research and review a PBN domain before purchase
If you’re in the market to buy expired domains, you need to do your research first to make sure you’re buying quality domains to add to your Private Blog Network. To do this, you need a good SEO tool.
Ahrefs is one of the best tools available to research domains, backlinks, and content. There are alternatives, like Semrush, Moz or Majestic, but Ahrefs has arguably the best tool for researching websites and their associated domains. It will show you various metrics about the site so that you can decide whether it would be suitable for your PBN or not.
Here is what to look at before you purchase domains:
When you load the website in Ahrefs, it’ll show you its title in the Overview. Very often, a spammy title will show up as one of the last things Ahrefs scraped before expiry. Make sure to scrap those domains immediately.
After you paste the link to the expired domain in Ahrefs’ search bar, you will be shown a Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR) for a website at the top of the page. This helps you understand the domain authority of the website and whether it would be a beneficial addition to your Private Blog Network. The higher the authority of the domain, the better addition of the domain will be to your network.
The SEO metrics should be around 10-20 Ahrefs Domain Rating and 10+ referring domains. Anything lower than that usually means a domain might not be worth the investment. On the flip side, go too much above that, and you’ll often be spending $1000+ for buying a single PBN domain.
Have a look at the website’s backlinks. Are the links coming from legit websites? Or are they generic “top websites list”? You mostly buy the links, so make sure you know exactly where they’re coming from.
Some backlinks will likely be dead as the domain is expired, but you want to check that the live ones are coming from real websites.
It’s also a good idea to take a look at the website’s outgoing links. Did it link to weird websites? You’re looking for signs that the previous owner already used it as their own PBN domain. Avoid buying the domain if a website is riddled with dead and weird outgoing links.
Recognizing unnatural linking practices takes some intuition. There are ways to automate this process, but it pays to be methodical and check these manually to ensure you’re not wasting money on a domain that has been recognized as spam.
Check the Web Archive to get an idea of when last the website was live. I try to find domains that have been live in the last 12-18 months. If you find something and the last time it was a live website was 2016, I recommend scrapping the domain.
PBN hosting with Easy Blog Networks
It’s safe to say that search engines are not the biggest fans of PBNs, as they often give you an unfair boost in search results. And search engines generally dislike it when a single owner has the ability to affect search results for a query or set of queries.
Luckily, good PBN hosting will allow you to build your blog network without your activity looking unnatural.
We offer a PBN hosting service that does just that. Your blogs will be hosted at different addresses, in different data centers, and by different companies. This makes your PBN appear completely natural to Google.
Conclusion on Domains and Using Them For PBNs
The world of SEO can get incredibly complicated. However, it is well worth the time and energy it takes to understand the details, especially when investing in domains.
An online presence can make or break a modern business, and it has never been more important for your company’s website to rank high in the search engine results pages.
Building a PBN is one of the most popular and effective tactics you can use to improve your website’s rank in search results through link-building.
To run a successful PBN, it is essential that you find and buy the best possible expired domains, and the above tips will help you do that.