Last month I attended a small, not incredibly popular SEO conference in Vegas. It’s not one of “the big ones” because a number of the speakers were “black hats”, hackers, and other oft considered “unsavory” folk.
One of the talks that stuck with me was a guy who talked about his strategies for buying expired domains and building private blog networks. And he provided me a takeaway I’d like to share with you.
This post is about private blog networks. Buying expired domains with certain criteria, in order to build links to your sites. It’s a “black hat” technique. Google doesn’t like it. But it does still work.
It works, yet I came away from this talk not wanting to build any new private blog sites for linking… maybe not ever again.
So this guy was in the online casino niche. He started his talk by saying (and I paraphrase), “I’m happy to share this information with you… if you want to try and compete with me, good luck to you”.
His company was investing incredible sums of money in scraping/analysis software, to scan millions of expired domain names and find the best of the best hidden gems.
But it’s not just him who does this. He gave listeners an insight into to the world of professional domaining, and professional “black hatting”. People… teams… businesses who sit and scan and all day long just pick the cream of the crop of the best expired domain names that exist…
So the dregs are left for the rest of us.
He basically said that when average Joe, you or I, go to look for an expired domain, what you’re already looking at, are the leftovers; Domains that professionals already saw, and didn’t want. (usually for a good reason that your simple analysis couldn’t have alerted you to).
It was a crazy experience being in this talk.
The first 30 of 60 minutes I was writing notes furiously.
I was noting down all the criteria he had for assessing the validity of domains. All his parameters, all the warning signs, and all the publicly available tools and filters he recommended for getting to the best of the leftovers. I’ve been doing SEO for 10 years. I’ve used expired domains for probably 6 of them, and compared to this guy, I knew almost nothing.
At that 30 minute point, I stopped.
I realized: The amount of time and money it’s going to take me to get these kinds of links from expired domains these days… it’s not worth it anymore.
It’s not worth it when I operate in niches where it’s not that hard to get quality links in more white hat ways.
That was the big takeaway.
This guy is in Online Casinos! It’s like a top 5 ultimate competitive niche of the internet. OF COURSE he needs to develop incredible PBN strategies.
He’s not likely to get press… guest posts… blog comments… resource links… citations… infographics…
And on the list goes.
I do content sites. I can get all of those links and countless others, without great cost, and with zero risk! No hardcore security protocols for my network, no deindexing management, no additional site management, nothing.
I can get a contextual link on a DA 40+ domain, that’ll end up with plenty of Trust Flow and Citation Flow from the links that site owner will get to that post… and all it takes is a quality article and some emails contacting them.
A PBN link builder might never find a domain like that… and even if they did, they’ll pay hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to acquire it… they then have to pay someone to build a quality site on it, before getting they’re link… and even then they always have the risk of it one day being deindexed.
Am I sort of making sense here?
The point was reinforced by a speaker I’d heard the previous day.
This guy was a really well respected SEO. Really smart, very technical. And had some enormous clients.
He was saying how he does link building for his clients on a “per link” basis, so he only gets paid when he gets a link. That’s made him pretty good at getting links, and from only white hat sources that a corporate team would be happy with.
He’d gone a pretty long way in SEO and he openly admitted that he was looking forward to attending the other guy’s talk (the PBN guy) the following day, because he knows nothing about getting links with expired domains.
Here’s What I’m Saying & Not Saying
I’m not saying “stop using your PBNs”. If you’ve got private blog links up and running, and they’re working for you, great. Like this guy said, links from trusted expired domains still carry tonnes of weight, and work incredibly well.
If you’re in the kind of niche that makes it hard to get links in other ways… it may well be worthwhile to invest in a PBN of your own. But get help. Research more than you think is necessary, and ignore the people who try to tell you how easy it is, “if only you buy their service”. There are a lot of people who claim to have that set of skills and a tiny number who actually do.
I am saying if you’re in the kind of niche where you can get links more naturally… (meaning you can create legitimate reasons for quality sites to link to you) you will probably never need to dive down the PBN rabbit hole… and you can be extremely successful and profitable anyway.
I hope this gives you as much food for thought as it did for me.