PBN Hosting is arguably the most important part of your network and is the single most important factor when it comes to deindexing according to our research. It is also the part of the process where many SEOs go wrong.
The aim of this article is to explain different ways of hosting a private blog network, how to lower costs and to stay safe for years to come.
Before we dig into this topic, we need to cover some outdated solutions that will get your network deindexed.
Cheap is your number one enemy. Good hosts cost a lot of money and there is no way around that. There are ways to lower the cost by grouping and clustering your PBN but in general, be prepared to pay if you want to stay safe.
Hosting Solutions to Avoid
Let's quickly cover some solutions that are plain bad for you or not good enough as a long term solution.
A few years back the easiest way was to grab seo hosting, purchase 200 IPs at few dozen cents per domain and go wild. You have an easy way to add new sites and everything is under one dashboard. Google took its time and finally caught up with this strategy making it obsolete nowadays.
VPS Hosting + Rocket IPs/Cloudflare
This was one of the most popular ways to host a large PBN (100+ sites) for less than $100. This strategy involves buying a VPS (Virtual Private Server) much like you do for a money site and use a CDN, CloudFlare, Rocket IPs or other ways to mask your true IP.
Rocket IPs quickly turned belly up much like other SEO hosts and having 100% of your network on CF is a footprint on its own.
You can still use it on a smaller percent of your network to diversify and eliminate footprints. CloudFlare is not bad for you (a lot of money sites use it), but don't count on it to mask your IP.
I loved these guys for a long time. You could host dozens of websites and get a different IP most of the time. Over the years, H9 gradually got worse, and they are no longer viable as a hosting solution. IPs are ridden with PBNs and their support is non-existent.
Let's move on and cover what's working nowadays
You pretty much have two options here, either go with shared/reseller cPanel hosting on Premium hosting companies or with Cloud based hosting solutions.
Cloud Based PBN Hosting Solutions
Cloud servers have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Many companies like Digital Ocean and Vultr allow you to deploy droplets or instances (Small virtual servers) with unique IPs for each of them. You can also choose multiple locations to diversify your network further.
Cloud hosting companies have a lot of clean IPs and host millions of real and reputable businesses, which means that your network will be in good "neighborhood."
Most of them provide root access and one-click WordPress install scripts. What they do not offer is support (In most cases they are non-managed services). So if your site goes down, you are left on your own.
Hosting your sites on cloud servers is a viable option, but you need to be a bit more careful with clustering, security and server size (to avoid crashes and footprints).
Here are some setups and services that use cloud servers.
Self-Managed Cloud Server Setup
Price: around $5 per droplet/instance (512mb ram)
Setup Difficulty: Medium
In this case, you need to make an account with each company, deposit funds and deploy the instances (droplets, mini servers) and sites with their one click install scripts.
· Easily deploy new servers and instances (More IPs)
· Quite cheap if you cluster your network
· Good "Neighborhood"
· Multiple Locations and Datacenters
· Very Fast Load time for your sites
· Reliable servers
· Requires Basic Linux Knowledge
· No support
· IP sharing can become a problem at larger scale
· Hard to Manage
Here are some good Cloud Server Companies:
- Digital Ocean - Fantastic cloud server provider with multiple locations and clean IPs. I use them for money sites as well. ( This link link will give you a $10 bonus credit which is 2 months of free hosting. ) Disclaimer: The link is my affiliate link, you can sign up without it but you don't get the $10 bonus.
- Vultr - Another good hosting much like Digital Ocean. I use them frequently for money sites too. (Same as with digital ocean, but Vultr gives you $20 worth of credit, thats 4 months of free hosting on one server.)
- Linode - I have not used them as much as Digital Ocean and Vultr but they are still very good.
- Windows Azure - Azure has a huge number of clean IPs, they can get a bit costly so use them only when you use all locations in DO, Vultr and Linode.
- Amazon AWS - Amazon Web Services is widely known for their quality and clean IPs.
Easy Blog Networks
Price: $1.8 (200+ sites) - $3.5 (10 sites)
Setup Difficulty: Easy
Easy Blog Networks is a service/software that allows you to host large networks on cloud servers with their intuitive and easy to use dashboard.
You can separate your networks in groups (clusters) and they guarantee that the IPs will not overlap in a single group.
EBN counters pretty much all cons from self-managed setup and makes it incredibly easy to add and manage your network. It will cost a bit more than using self-managed network since you are paying $X /per site hosted instead of per server, but in the long run, it can save a lot of headaches.
What I love about EBN is that they are proactive when it comes to finding footprints and they research and test even the smallest footprints to make a bulletproof solution. Make sure to read their blog section for additional info on footprints and how to avoid them.
· Large amount of IPs from reputable cloud hosting companies
· Easily deploy dozens of sites
· Easy and Intuitive UI and Dashboard
· Good performance
· Index, Metrics and Uptime Monitors
· No root access / FTP
· WordPress Only
Hosting your PBN on Premium cPanel Hosting
Many people prefer cPanel hosting due to its familiar and easy to use interface over cloud servers. And its a good setup. You can host multiple sites on each server, eliminate most footprints out of the box and blend in with other real websites.
There is a slight difference between shared and reseller hosting.
Price: Varies ($5-15 per month per server)
Setup difficulty: Medium
Hosting on shared servers has the advantage of hiding “in plain sight” among several thousands or even millions of real business websites and blogs.
The key here is not to use $1-2 hosts. Instead, use premium and “reputable” companies and try to mimic the real world distribution. I’m using quotes here because I pretty much think that hosting companies like Godaddy are a complete cr*p and I only use them for hosting a PBN. Still, Godaddy, Hostgator and similar companies account for half the Internet so we can't ignore that.
With each shared server you buy, you will get a different IP and in some cases a different data center and geographical location depending on the provider. You do not get root access, but you still get cPanel which is enough for most users.
Price: Varies ($25-30 per month per server)
Using Reseller hosting instead of shared is another option yet more expensive. You still get the same deal in most cases (shared IPs, cpanel etc.) but there are some pros to this.
The main advantage of reseller vs. shared is that you get more resources for each server. You also get WHM access for more control and easier management. Most people with networks of 100-200 sites can go with shared hosting and manage everything in excel sheets.
Some hosting companies such as Siteground and Godaddy do not have a classic reseller hosting (Where you get an improved shared hosting and WHM access). Instead, they sell their shared plan with a bulk discount. Just something to have in mind if you go this route.
How many servers can you buy with each company?
You can buy multiple servers/plans with each company to get more IPs. Now, if the hosting provider is popular (such as Godaddy and Hostgator) you can buy more servers with them without leaving a footprint.
For example, you can buy 5 servers at GD or HG for every server at DreamHost or Siteground.
Things to have in mind when choosing a hosting company
- Renewal price - A lot of hosting companies offer large discounts for your first buy. Watch out for hidden fees and renewal price
- cPanel - Make sure that they have cPanel or equivalent unless you want to spend 10 minutes per site manually installing WP.
- Multiple domains - Watch out for this. Some plans are cheap for a reason. They only allow you to host a single site. Make sure that you grab a higher plan with unlimited domains.
- WordPress support - No point if you can't install WP with one click
- Shared IP - In 99% of cases, shared hosting plans give you a shared IP as well. You don't want a dedicated IP that's for sure.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of cPanel hosting setup.
· Easy to use, familiar cPanel interface
· Different IPs and Datacenters
· Hosted on huge servers among thousands of other sites
· Can accommodate many sites on a single IP
· A management nightmare
· Expensive (if you do not host multiple sites on the same IP)
· Poor performance (Sites usually load much slower than on cloud servers)
· Some companies have rather poor support
We use Premium cPanel hosting for our networks, and that's the same setup we use for our PBN Fox services.
This is what Matt Diggity recommends in his post about hosting and we use a similar distribution with addition of some other companies.
Here is the list of some solid premium hosting companies.
- Bluehost (a solid host for PBNs, definitely not for money sites)
- Siteground (Good choice for PBNs and Money sites)
- DreamHost (Similar to Bluehost, you can grab several of these for multiple IPs)
- Hostwinds (Solid choice and not that expensive)
- Godaddy (Use GD only for hosting PBNs and take good care not to connect your credit card or PayPal to them, they will steal from you with no remorse.)
- Hostgator (EIG Hosting, and as such it should be avoided. But since we are hiding in plain sight, you can use it for your blog network sites.)
- Arvixe (Pretty much the same as Hostgator)
- A Small Orange (Decent host and you can take several servers there)
- Green Geeks (Surprisingly good servers)
The 5000 PBN Sites Study
Our project manager, Vlade, conducted a research based on almost 5000 sites hosted across multiple hosting solutions. In the following diagram you can see the number of sites hosted vs sites deindexed on different hosting solutions.
As you can see, cloud server setup, Easy blog networks and Premium cPanel servers are much better and have the lowest deindex rate based on this study.
The research itself was based on more than just hosting, including the amount of content, website design, "who is" records and other footprints. He is writing a full case study and it's scheduled for late November.
Conclusion – What is the best Private Blog Network Hosting Solution?
In the end, it boils down to your preference. Cloud and cPanel setups are harder to manage than Easy Blog Networks, but you can host more sites on a single IP making it cheaper if you cluster your networks.
On the other hand, the ease of management makes EBN an excellent choice for anyone starting out or even advanced users who don't want to mess with spreadsheets and missing renewal dates for 50 separate servers.
Your Turn - What's your preferred hosting strategy?
Feel free to share your opinion, strategy and results here 🙂
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