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How to find high quality, used domains and recover their link juice
SEOs are nothing if not creative. Though Google frowns on using Private Blog Networks to build links to your Money sites, PBNs still work. Just don’t get caught using them.
Instead of wasting hours of your life trying to find high quality domains for your PBN, automate it. This guide is a lifesaver for helping SEOs quickly find thousands of used domains for sale, easily finding their Power*Trust, and testing their value for your PBN.
Plus, Rick even includes his DTOXTUNE™ code so you're only testing the right things. The hard work is practically done for you!
Enjoy & Learn
Christoph C. Cemper
Disclaimer: the methods discussed in here by Rick are not white-hat and not recommended if you want to play it safe. Or in other words - you risk a penalty if Google catches you - either manual or algorithmic. You have been warned - BTW are you practicing Link Risk Management with our Superhero account yet?
Table of contents
- Why use old domains?
- Where to get old domains?
- The Buying Strategy
- The Content Strategy
- Make a list of as many viable domains as possible that may be within your budget
- Using Register Compass
- Register Compass Export Settings
- Exporting the results from Register Compass
- Using the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) to find the strongest domains
- Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) Results
- Using Link Detox to check the health of the domains
- Link Detox Settings
- Link Detox Results
- Buying Tips
- Do your research before you buy
- Using your new domain
- Link Juice Recovery with your new PBN domain
The most common TLA (Three Letter Acronym) you will hear mentioned amongst SEOs today is PBN. This is a Private Blog Network that SEOs own to enable them to manipulate Google's algorithm and rank their money sites higher. The blogs usually link to their money sites in a clever and fairly random way. This practice violates Google's guidelines, as do most SEO strategies, but when the technique is used carefully many people are getting away with it and reaping the benefits.
PBNs are nothing new, but owners are now much more careful about how they go about it. The one thing that has changed in the last eight years or so is the style of the network that works best. In 2006 we were all quite happy to have 1000+ .info sites full of auto generated spam (usually from Traffic Equalizer), all with anchor text money links pointing to our money sites. Some people even monetized these junk sites with Adsense and Google didn't notice! I know someone who bought a rather nice £500,000 house in Kent, England with just Adsense money. Today, the style is to use a mixture of powerful domains on different platforms to try and look as natural as possible. As an LRT Xpert I can now spot these from a mile away, but Google is still struggling to detect them automatically, so everyone is now looking for high quality domain names.
Recently I was very kindly invited to join a rather elite private SEO forum where there was a real emphasis on building your own PBNs. One of the most important thing about PBNs is buying a aged or expired domain name. I was surprised how many guys in the forum were still hooked on Google Page Rank when choosing domain names. The phrases 'PR6' and 'PR7' create so much excitement it's unreal. My research whilst writing this has shown some correlation between Page Rank and overall quality, but really, Page Rank is mostly just meaningless. The owner of the forum was more into the MajesticSEO Trust Flow and Citation Flow which makes more sense than the outdated Google Page Rank. I'm not a Majestic man at all, so for this reason I decided to come up with my LinkResearchTools version using the metrics that I trust.
Disclaimer: Although I cannot deny that PBNs really do work, I do not suggest that you use PBNs for SEO. They are a violation of Google's guidelines and could cause you problems. Be responsible for your own actions. However, if you do decide to use this technique to buy used domain names, I promise to show you how to get the best ones.
Why use old domains?
In the case of PBNs, we aren't too bothered about representing our brand, product or whatever, what we want is some links that we don't have to build. The way to do this is to get an old domain that the owner doesn't want anymore. This site is going to be one that already has backlinks - very good backlinks. If we can beg, steal or borrow the content of that site, even better.
Where to get old domains?
My favourite places to get them from are:
- https://auctions.godaddy.com - the biggest choice
- http://www.namejet.com - tends to have some gold hidden there 🙂
- https://www.123-reg.co.uk/domain-names/expiring-domains.shtml - the only place I have found decent .co.uk domains
There are plenty of other places, but because of the sheer volume I have generally had the best results from GoDaddy Auctions.
The Buying Strategy
- Make a list of as many viable domains as possible that may be within your budget
- Use the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) to find the strongest domains
- Use Link Detox® to check the health of the domains
- If all is well, BUY THEM!
The Content Strategy
- Beg, Borrow or Steal all the content if you can
- Find the missing pages and recover the link juice
- Rewrite content to improve traffic and rankings
So that is the plan, let's get started.
Make a list of as many viable domains as possible that may be within your budget
Using Register Compass
There is a quick and efficient way to do this with a service called Register Compass, this isn’t free but costs about $37/month or cheaper if you pay for it quarterly and cheapest if you buy it yearly. There is also a 30 day money back guarantee if you can get all your work done with less than 25 searches. Register Compass gets updated all the time so each day there are thousands of new domain names that are available and there is some real gold in there.
You can play with Register Compass as much as you like if you have a certain penchant for say .com and .org TLDs. But generally I normally set it something like this:
So I’m looking to get a lot of domains in the search results. As I am going to test all these with LinkResearchTools I am not worried about filtering them too much. However you can just add your personal preferences. Here I chose:
- Auction Registrars =All
- Auction Type = Buy Now
- Buy Now Price < 200
- Expires in the next 7 days
- Citation Flow > 1
- Trust Flow > 1
If you want to check out more of the filters and what you can do with this, you can find quite a few videos on YouTube including this official one by Register Compass:
The aim here is to not get too hung up on the standard metrics that everyone else is using, but to just generate a massive list of domain names. From this we will filter out the junk with LinkResearchTools and find the gold nuggets.
Register Compass Export Settings
Before we go any further, we want to change the Export Settings in Register Compass. By default it only exports 1000 domains (you are allowed to export up to 500,000/month) - but really we want as many as possible in one go. So I set this to the maximum which is 25,000. I also set the format to .xls rather than .csv which I just find easier when handling large amounts of data. You change this under your account settings:
Exporting the results from Register Compass
OK so now we can go to the results page which typically looks like this:
The results page shows three sets of results separately: Expiring Domains, Expired Domains and Auction Domains. You can see from the image that you can also filter each column by any metric you choose. I don't think you should stick to any hard and fast rules here, you just want to get a big list - something like 10,000 to 50,000 domains. You can now export all the domains using the export icon in the top left hand corner.
Each spreadsheet will look like this with all your domains in the first column:
Now comes the fun part.
Using the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) to find the strongest domains
We are going to use the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) to find the domains with a high Power*Trust. By default it will analyse 2000 URLS but you can use the 5x multplier to do 10,000 at a time. But as Register Compass will only have the domain listed as e.g. domain.com we might not be getting the full picture so we also want to test the www.domain.com version too. This is a feature built into the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool). What we need to do is to select 5000 domains at a time from our spreadsheets and lists and paste them into the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool):
The Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) has the Sample and Detail Analysis modes, Quick is fine so select that. In fact if you are looking at auctions finishing in the next few hours you don't want to be hanging about for your Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) reports to finish. Luckily the Quick mode lives up to its name. When doing this kind of thing I normally have about 6-10 Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) reports running simultaneously.
Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) Results
This is where you start to see the gold. What we are going to now is extract the domains with the higher Power*Trust and then we will check them with Link Detox. If you are wondering why we didn't put them all into Link Detox straightaway, it's simply because there are so many! Link Detox would need lots of credits and would take a long time to run, so we are doing some pre-filtering first.
This is starting to get juicy now! Here we can see that the majority of the domains we are looking at are probably junk, with Power*Trust=0. At the other end of the histogram is where we are going to find our nuggets. In this example there are:
- 73 domains with a Power*Trust of 13-21
- 9 domains with a Power*Trust of 22-35
- 2 domains with a Power*Trust of 36-59 (Wow!)
Now it is simply a matter of exporting the good results from the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) reports and creating a .csv file that we can import into Link Detox.
In the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool) table I selected the results that have a Power*Trust > 10 and then exported each table as a .csv file. The resulting spreadsheet will look like this:
You might want to keep these spreadsheets like this for your own reference, but for importing into Link Detox you only need the column with the URLs in and the first entry needs to be URL, like this:
You need to do this for every one of your JUICE reports.
Using Link Detox® to check the health of the domains
At this point many people would have pulled out their credit cards and bought a load of domains. They might get lucky, but a domain with a high Power*Trust may still have its problems. For this reason we are going to use Link Detox in the 'Review Mode' to check the health of the links. In Review Mode it will check the potential health of a link from these domains. If you have a certain domain in mind that you will be building links to, it would make more sense to use the 'What If' mode. The 'What If' mode checks the potential links against your existing links and will give a more accurate picture.
Because the domains we are looking at may not be fully functioning sites there are some Link Detox Rules that I don't really want to take into account. I can now do this with the new DTOXTUNE dashboard which you can find here
This is how I have edited my setting which I have called 'Domain Auctions':
I haven't totally perfected this yet, but hopefully you will get the idea. The point is that many of these domains may now be on parked domains or some sort of default landing page. For example in the case of GoDaddy expired Domains they will all have the same GoDaddy page saying that the domain is for sale. For this reason many of the rules to do with same IPs, Link Networks etc are not applicable. Domains having the same registrant are irrelevant too. I have also included the SUSP10 rule so that we are not taking into account any negative link velocity trends. It makes sense that domains that are being sold are not getting new links.
If you want to use my DTOXTUNE Code you are more than welcome, it is –
If you are able to improve it, please let me know, I'd love to hear your suggestions.
Comment from Christoph: Very smart use of our DTOXTUNE feature Rick! I would personally recommend to keep the SUSP10 rule for very negative Link Velocity Trend in there at least a bit weaker than default. The reason is that it will then show Expired Domains with higher risk where new link building has basically stopped. The downside of this is, that the overall number of good results might not be enough for your goal.
If auctions are your thing then the same rules as Ebay apply: Work undercover until the last moment and then jump in with an offer of as much as you can afford. You can automate this sniping technique, although I suspect it is very much against the GoDaddy Terms and Conditions. I’m currently testing some software that seems to be able to do this rather well, if you are interested just contact me.
Do your research before you buy
Just because you have found a super powerful healthy domain doesn’t mean that it is the best place to drive links to your niche from. If you are not in the porn industry you don’t want links from sites that have been associated with porn. Similarly if you run a gardening company in rural England, you don’t want links from a Chinese MP3 site. You should run some further backlink reports, such as QBL, BPL or even Link Detox on the domain that you intend to buy. In this way you can check what sort of links they have and if they are going to be relevant to your niche.
Using your new domain
I’m not going to tell you how to build a PBN, there are plenty of other people doing this who know more than I do (possibly). One thing you could do is try to beg, borrow or steal as much of the old web site as possible. There is a very neat, free, open source program available from http://www.httrack.com/ that you can use for this. The reason you should do this initially is because you don’t want to lose any of the links you have already. So if sites are linking to anywhere other than your home page, you need to make sure you have a page there. If you don’t intend to put a page there you can use a redirect instead. Fortunately LinkResearchTools has a fantastic tool for finding those missing pages.
Until Google manage to find a way of easily finding PBNs I can see the use of PBNs becoming more popular. Maybe Google will consider things like ‘Last change of owner’ as a metric when judging the quality of a link? Maybe they do this already? Perhaps that is what Penguin 3.0 is going to be all about. As I said before I am not suggesting this as the new ‘White Hat SEO Technique’, but I do think there will be many people doing it wrong. The majority will still be looking at PR, Citation Flow, Trust Flow and Domain Age as their metrics for buying a used domain. Without considering possible penalties that domains may have, this could be suicide for your money site. If you want help building a PBN as safely as possible, I can offer advice, but there will be no guarantees against Google’s next algorithm update. I’m waiting for your call.
This case study was written by Rick Lomas, Owner at Indexicon, and proud user of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.
A word from Christoph C. Cemper
PBNs can be dangerous if you're not careful. If you're thinking of creating a PBN, I highly recommend talking to Rick first. We need every advantage we can get, and PBNs with high quality domains can be very useful to help improve your clients' visibility.
Rick did a great job showing us how we can save time while doing excellent work. Therefore, I’m very happy to publish his research on our site.
Our goal is to provide our user community and clients with quality service and knowledge. Our Certified LRT Professionals and Xperts are key to achieving this goal.
I look forward to his future work, and personally recommend working with Rick Lomas whenever you get the opportunity!
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