On this episode I talk with Kevin Graham from Bulk Buy Hosting a Private Blog Network (PBN) hosting service.
- How Kevin started in internet marketing putting banner advertising on sites – when he was 13!
- Also had sites in the coupon niche doing well from adsense.
- Then moved to building amazon affiliate sites in the same vein as the authority sites from Niche Site Project 2 and had a decent exit on empire flippers selling a site for $190k 15 months after launching. Around 50 indexed pages with 20 money pages targeting best and review keywords plus around twice as many informative pages bolstering out the site, powered by around 25-30 PBN links.
- Kevin’s strategy is to buy aged expired domains and rebuild the site with 3-5 initial articles (brand new content rather than scraping the previous content that was there which could get a copyright slap) and then adding additional articles that link to money sites.
- Kevin sources expiring domains from Godaddy Auctions spending between $50-$100 a domain plus $25 of content to go on initially to rebuild plus $10 to a VA to take the content and actually rebuild the wordpress site
- There are arguments that it’s cheaper to build links in a white hat way through blogger outreach however these don’t take into account the fact that PBN sites are linking to multiple money sites, up to 10 from any one PBN site.
- Post site sales they continue to own the PBNs and they lease the links to the new buyer as a monthly rental
- How PBNs in theory have lower multiples due to the higher risk nature of PBNs however the ongoing maintenance cost of the PBNs is factored into the price anyway as is in the P&L.
Legality of PBNs
- There is an argument that any time you’re building a backlink, if you had some influence on it or control over that sits outside the google webmaster guidelines. However to get a link to a brand new website is incredibly hard vs when more established.
- Just like your PBNs, you want each money site on it’s own hosting and IP
- Building up a side project site that is easier to get links to is a way to send link equity back to your money site – Kevin has built out free services such as a randon plugin picker as well as botchecker.org which blocks outbound links from PBNs (checks the user agents to see if is Moz or ahrefs and then returns a 403 error if so to prevent it from scraping the content and link profile – explained in this blog post. As it blocks the outbound links to money sites it stops people from reverse engineering the backlink profile.
- Kevin’s process of vetting or spam checking a domain is to start look at screenshots.com to see if the site used to be part of a PBN. If it passes that he will look at wayback machine and then look at the historical backlink profile on majestic.
- After the $190k exit, Kevin had another exit last year of $145k (guest post on empire explaining how) and is selling a 3rd site on empire soon and is now building 2 to 3 sites a month (!) and trying to sell one a year in the $150k-$200k range as there is a large buyer pool there.
- Kevin has about 50 sites in his portfolio at the moment. For new sites Kevin puts content up, builds a few links and if it produces income he doubles down and builds more links and content.
When to sell
- Kevin sells the winners – sites that consistently make between $5k and $10k/m and have a bit of age, i.e. 18 to 24 months old and have further room and expansion for the new buyer. Which is fine as when have portfolio of 40-50 sites you don’t have the time to focus building out further.
- Kevin is going to continue riding this online asset building train as long as the long and mid tail keywords remain profitable, happy to be working 5-6 hours a day buying new PBN domains at the auctions along with finishing touches of new sites passed from his VA.
- Talk about benefits of static html sites vs wordpress (which he uses for all his sites) however a properly tuned and cached wordpress install you should be able to achieve load times of under one second. Case closed for me!
- With wordpress themes Kevin uses a small number of theme developers that his VA knows how to tweak
- Kevin subscribes to the tin foil hat SEO view of not using Google products on his sites such as Analytics or Gmail, instead choosing clicky.com which is a lot easier to track outbound clicks to amazon than GA and report it as a goal.
- Main monetization of all of Kevin’s sites is Amazon associates – has tried also putting adsense on but it competes for clicks with AMZN. Has also experiences with other products and shopping carts (i.e. clickbank) that pay higher commissions, but the trust factor and conversions that Amazon generates (due to having all the credit cards on file and amazon prime delivery options) blows this away.
Hosting the PBNs
- Bulk Buy Hosting was built on an internal need of managing a high number of PBN sites for themselves and then offered it publicly. At the moment Kevin is looking at building other software solutions that solves other internal problems to his target market. New tool coming through is to manage multiple domain registrars (such as GoDaddy) as well as the hosting.