I think that this article is long overdue with all the recent "updates". I admit that I am quite agitated lately. I am quite level-headed and I can't stand when people blindly believe in hogwash and are unable to use their heads. For this I apologize, but well... unless I get banned, I am afraid you will have to live with me. Disclaimer: Some of the stuff in this article is subjective, most of it is not. Disclaimer 2: I am ill and my head spins, so it was painful to write. Hope the English isn't too... Engrish. 1. Google Niche Relevancy Backlink Reset Update There was quite a significant panic caused by some random video with stuff made-up-on-run. The video was made by a guy who once claimed that linkbuilding does not work at all. In this video he claimed that newly registered domains get their links reset if the new website is not within the same niche. According to the same video, this is something that has been live for quite some time. So why the sudden panic? Non-niche relevant PBNs have been working perfectly fine and they will continue to do so. However, there are some pros and cons to this. Let's take a look: Cons of Non-Niche Relevant PBN: - You will not receive as strong boost as you would with a niche relevant domain. - You may not pass a manual review. - You might get flagged more easily if the domain is way too off the niche. Pros of Non-Niche Relevant PBN: - Lower price - You can actually find some domains to use if you are in competitive niche - Stronger domains With this in mind, yes, it is true that niche relevant domains provide a better boost. Weaker niche-relevant domains will provide the same boost as stronger non-niche relevant domains. However, is that difference so significant? In my experience it isn’t. It’s definitely not worth chasing the niche relevant domains whatever the cost. If your money site is about weight loss and the PBN domain name is churchofstgeorge.com, then yeah, this might be a problem with manual review. But, considering that maybe 1 out of 50 domains that I have seen would pass a manual review, you really don't have to be afraid. You won't make it anyway (kidding..). Unless you are investing a lot of time and money by building super amazing PBN sites meant to last for many years, then the last thing you should be concerned about is niche relevancy. It's also true that we don’t know what Google's algorithm for flagging potential PBN domains contains. Having completely off-niche PBNs may not be the best idea, but this is really just a theory. Also, there are certain niches where you can only dream of getting a decent clean domain. Lately this list has been growing. Health is becoming impossible. Fitness, beauty, home improvement, parenting, finances etc., are all basically impossible. Even if you go to auctions (more about this in a minute) you will be super lucky to get one for a normal price. Conclusion Let's stop over-thinking niche relevancy for a minute. What’s the best solution in this regard? Use whatever brandable domain with decent metrics you can get your hands on. I call these domains to be "Repurposable". If you have a domain named "JohnStones.com" and it was in the arts niche, you can easily bend it to fit any niche you want by making a blog out of it. Health? Sure - Hello, I am John Stones and I can lift a whole stone with my dick. Parenting? Sure - Hello, my name is John Stones and I have 8 sons and 5 daughters, because I have trouble keeping my dick in the pants. Financing? Yeah - Hello, I am John Stones and I will rip the money out of your dead hands with our amazing loans. It looks perfectly natural and I can assure you that no link resets or any other crap will happen. You have a strong domain, nicely crafted to your desired niche. If you did everything correctly (meaning you didn’t cut any corners), then you will have a much higher chance of passing a manual review. 2. Expectations from Scraped Expired Domains Many people still live in 2013 and believe that getting a strong RD200+ TF20+ and whatnot domain is not a problem. A few days back I had a request for DA30-50 domain. The budget was $20. So yes, it doesn't work like that anymore. You need to be aware that there are thousands of people scraping domains 24/7. The number of domains on the Internet is limited. Those of you who have been scraping for a year or two see the difference in how many domains you can get nowadays and how many you could get 2 years back. The difference is night and day. I go through insane amounts of domains every month. My stock basically reflects what's available online. If you are scraping, you can't expect extremely-high quality anymore. Expecting a clean TF10+ RD30+ domain? Forget it. Even RD20+ is becoming a pain in the ass. With the amount of people scraping and the popularity of the PBNs, you can't expect miracles or you will end up disappointed. I am putting a huge emphasis on this, you HAVE TO, lower your standards. If you are new to this PBN stuff, then there are few things I would like to tell you: - If you are thinking to yourself - "But, I found a RD100+ just last week and it's awesome, you are full of shit!" - I will give you $20 straight away if that domain is clean. You registered some spammed domain which will get raped down the road. More about that later. - I understand you are new and are excited about the amazing domains you are going to get, and how you are going to rank for your "easy competition" keywords. But the reality is that you have to lower your standards and expectations. Try to scrape a bit yourself and you will see how hopeless it's getting. - Please, do your due diligence and before you purchase the domains. Check them thoroughly. Archive.org is not enough. I am sure that on paper, TF10 looks worse than TF15, but your priority should be cleanliness. I will explain this in a minute. - Unless you have a budget of couple of thousand dollars at least, don't bother with PBNs at all. You will only burn your money. - You are a bit late to the party. A couple years too late, but you can still pull it off. Never give up. - Don't do 301 redirects. Don't start threads about them. Thank you. - NEVER cut corners or you will get banged. And there are dozens of other things, but let's keep it shorter... ish. Conclusion Don't expect miracles from scraped domains. Everybody is scraping and the amount of domains available online is limited. Lower your standards and try to work with what's out there. Otherwise you have already failed. 3. Auction Domains Those of you who have been buying domains from auctions for some time already know that if you want to build a 30+ site network from auction domains, that does not suck and is niche relevant, then you should prepare at least $8000. Prices in auctions were ridiculous a few months ago, but you could still snatch a good domain for a decent price. In the past 2 weeks, this situation has changed rapidly. It's catastrophic. Shit hit the fan. Zombie apocalypse. We are all dead. That kind of situation. I tend to bid on around 200 domains a week. I am bidding quite high, but not overdoing it. How many domains have I won in the past week? I believe it was 3. I don't want to share the particular domain names here, in case some of them are "ours", but let's take a look. I edited the names slightly for the safety purposes: Momshaven.com - RD225, TF25 (root), brandable, winning price - $2000 Meffcup.org - RD 393, TF15 (root), brandable-ish, but .org, winning price - $435 Optimizetheworld.com - RD483, TF25 (root), not really brandable, winning price - $611 Pocomute.com - RD179, TF19 (root), absolutely crap profile, nothing amazing, not brandable, winning price - $1136 Ok, these were more of a high end, so high price is... so-so justifiable (no it's not). Let's take a look at some domains with metrics for mortals: Allramp.com - RD82, TF11 (root), nothing amazing at all, winning price - $207 Ancamansion.com - RD79, TF12 (root), nothing amazing again, winning price - $187 Menzenbrew.com - RD97, TF9 (root), nothing special, winning price - $205 And these are just the domains that got sold in the the past 2 - 3 days. Only a few weeks back, these prices would be 20% lower. And also, add extra $15 - 20 there for registration purposes and privacy and all. Bottom line is, that auctions are becoming ridiculous. The prices there will keep growing and growing and growing. If you want niche relevant domain with strong metrics and expect to find it on auctions, then I have to disappoint you. Even if you find a decent clean and niche relevant domain there, which can take weeks and even months, you may have to overpay it 2 - 3x to get it. And I have pretty hard time to justify it in my head. Conclusion Auction domains are becoming affordable for people with budget only. The question however remains... what should people who don't have BRUTAL budget and want better quality and niche relevancy supposed to do? Well... lower their standards. You have two options. You either spend shittons on auctions or you get satisfied with lower quality scraped domains. There is no "in between" here. With every domain you purchase through auctions, you also have to pay for fees and registration, so if you want "just" RD30+ TF15+ domain, then you will still significantly overpay it. Sure, here and there you might get lucky and win a nice domain for cheap, but if you want to do this often, there's no chance. In the next year or two, this situation will only get worse. The entire PBN game is slowly becoming a game for the people with budgets only. Newbies who will register here on BHW in 2019 will have a hard time building any PBN at all. People will have to lower their standards. They have already started doing it, but they are actually cutting corners they should not. Instead of lowering their RD/TF/authority link standards, they go for spammy domains. More in the next chapter. 4. Cleanliness Above All Some people here may disagree, but cleanliness of the domain is the most important factor when going after expired domain. Everything else, every metric, every link, every family member, every cat, every dog, EVERYTHING comes after that. A few day ago there were a couple of "Ehmagerd my PBNs are not getting indexed!" threads. Why? Because 95% of people here cannot do domain history and cleanliness check properly. Not even big sellers. I've seen some "how to check domain history properly" guides online and even some from the reputable domain sellers here and I wanted to throw up. Absolutely insufficient. If you think that checking archive.org is enough, then you are in for a very bad surprise. I will bet $100 that people who are crying all over the forum about their domains not getting indexed, are trying to index penalized domains. I am absolutely confident and adamant about this. Few of them actually sent me their domains and guess what? They had a terrible history. A week ago, within 24 hours, I got 4 PMs from people asking me to check their domains. ALL of them had viagra anchors. It took 5 seconds to check that in Majestic. Checking anchors is absolutely the most fundamental thing you should do when going after a domain. Another thing that happens quite often is that a client comes with an unrealistic request. You would expect stuff like, for example now, wedding niche domains, TF15+ DA15+, to be available. That sounds doable, right? Well the problem is, it isn't. I will talk about how useless DA is later, but for now, let's do the maths. I scrape 3 million unique domains a month. Out of that, I get 1000 clean TF10+ RD9+ domains. Out of those, maybe 100 are TF15+. Out of those, maybe 30 have DA15+. And out of those, how many are in the wedding niche? Maybe one. Do you understand now? It's either niche relevancy, or the metrics or $200 for fairly average domain on auctions. Please, read the last sentence few more times. Got it? Good. What people tend to do, is ignoring the asian history or former PBN history of the domain or even anchors altogether, because "OMFGGGG SO METRICS MUCH JUICE!" and "Well it's still indexed, so what do I care if it has PBN history!" - Wrong. I can't prove this, but I have multiple people reporting me, that the domains with bad history didn't work for them much. These domains may very well be flagged and whatever you put on them may get under a manual review later on. Their strength might be diminished as well. Of course, I have no way to prove it, but I am fairly confident that those domains are simply not okay and you should avoid them like plague. Domains that have spammy anchors and backlinks can get penalized even down the road, so DO NOT even think about those. Bottom line, the next time I hear "Look how amazing domains I found, wooow, high TF, high RD and clean!", I will make the world end. I swear. What you found is all but clean, I can assure you. Conclusion Don't be greedy and learn how to do your domain checks correctly. Your domains will get indexed no problem and they will stay indexed for a time to come. DO NOT even try going after spammy domains or domains with a bad history because of their good metrics. Learn this once and for all and we won't have any "OMFG GOOGLEZ UPDATEZ SEO DEADZ MFG MFG!111!!" threads here. Thank you for understanding. You bank account will thank you too. 5. Metrics Some people here follow metrics like a religion. Like 45 year old virgins in a cinema watching 50 Shades Darker. Is that good? Not really, no. I will be partially discussing it also in the section 8. Let's break down the metrics and how useful they really are: RD - Referring Domains - This is the most important of them all. Fact is, that it isn't even a metric. It's a fact. The domain has a certain amount of referring domains and there are no algorithms to determine it. The higher the RD, the stronger the domain in most cases. You should primarily focus on this TF - Trust Flow - Trust flow is a fairly useful metric. It can be manipulated, sure, especially with the domains with low RD. Finding domain with RD2 and TF40 is not really a problem. Why? Because one link can push the domain sky high TF wise. You should always use TF in combination with RD. The higher the RD is, the more reliable TF becomes. So with domains with RD below 5, yeh... it's super unreliable. DA/PA - Domain/page authority - Toy metrics. Direct connection between the number of backlinks and DA is so pathetic I want to cry. RD3 DA15 domain? Not a problem. All it takes is one sitewide link, so that the domain has 5000 backlinks and all of the sudden, it has high DA. What's the point of this metric? None. Should you rely on it? No. CF - Citation Flow - This is another Majestic metric. It's fairly useless. It basically shows how spammy the links of the domain are. I haven't checked this metric in 2 years or so. Why? Because when you can check the backlinks by hand and the domain history as well, you can easily figure their spamminess out for yourself. Plus it's heavily unreliable so checking it only diminishes the selection of the domains you can work with. Also, if you see someone selling PBN links or domains and advertising "High TF and CF", then please, ignore that service. The seller apparently has no idea what he is selling and the quality of the service will be, in most cases... sad. CF/TF Ratio - Useless for the reasons stated above. Ahrefs Metrics - Heavily unreliable. If you really want to focus on some third party metric heavily, then focus on TF. Cclass IP/RD Ratio - This is thing that many people here skip and they shouldn't. If you have 50 referring domains and only 10 different C class IPs, then that means that 41 of those domains are hosted on pretty much the same hosting. Is this okay? Hell no! The minimum ratio to go for is 0.6. At least that's my rule of thumb. Another thing that I would like to mention is the amount of filters people use to "determine" the "quality" of the domain. If someone goes for TF15+ DA15+ RD15+, UR40+, niche relevant, brandable, only .com, and so on, your selection of the domains you can work with is nonexistent. So the less filters you have, the better for you. Conclusion Metrics serve as a primary filter and you shouldn't follow them religiously. There are domains with high metrics which look good on the paper, but in the reality, they suck. See the example in the chapter 8. Does that mean that you need to go after authority links only? No. Just always check properly what you are buying or what you have bought. Manually. Not by looking at metrics. And don't overdo it with filters either! 6. Expired Domains as Money Sites I've been using this technique for years and for some reason, it got super popular lately. I get tons of requests for RD10+ domains to be used as a money site, in a particular niche, brandable and what not. So first of all... RD10 domain won't help you much if you want to build a money site on it. RD10 is simply not enough of a boost. No buts, no anything, it's not enough. Chances of having a domain in a particular niche with decent, money site worth, metrics and clean are often close to zero. Last time when I was searching the auctions for a money site domain, it took 2 months until a good enough domain appeared. And it was only 50RD which I have overpaid 3 times, because I was desperate. So for a decent money site, get ready to pay... a lot. Conclusion Don't expect Internet to provide an infinite number of domains you can pick from. It's not like that anymore and it will be much much worse in the future. 7. 301 Redirects I swear there is a thread about 301 redirects every single day, so I decided to talk about it in this article as well. Many newcomers expect taking one super average RD10+ domain or some spammed 100RD+ domain, 301 redirecting it from registrar and ranking #1 overnight. Sorry guys, you are a few years late to the party and you won't get more bang for your buck than you deserve. Does 301 redirecting still work? Yes. Will it work for you? In 95% of the cases no. Why? Well.. First of all, you need a strong domain with shittons of referring domains. This is a must, otherwise, the effect will be non-existent. Domain must be super niche relevant, because anchors get transferred to the target domain. So niche relevancy is a must as well. After that, you have to build the site, let it age, target keywords, possibly even build links and let it rank at least somewhere. And THEN you can redirect it. All of this however does not mean crap, because even then, you may not see any ranking changes at all. 301 is not what it used to be and you will always be better off building a PBN site out of the domain. So please, stop trying to be smart and don't expect to rank your hack/crack domains with a redirect of a RD10 domains. It won't happen. Conclusion. Just. Don't. 8. Seller Quality All of what's written in this part is not exactly subjective. If the domain is spammed, then it's spammed, there's nothing subjective about it. All in all, this is how half of the expired domain sellers operate. There are a few great guys, even here on the BHW, who sell domains and they do their job right. You know who you are. But for the rest... well. I swear. Every time client comes to me and says "I bought domains from this and that seller" I ask whether I could see them. 90% of the time, these domains are shit. Just today one client showed me 2 domains. They were both TF15+ DA15+, which of course, looks amazing on the paper, but when I checked them, one was RD4 and the other was RD17 with 16 of those nofollow + it had a bad history. So yeh, everyone, please, be wary of what you are buying. Just because domains have amazing metrics and are within your niche, doesn't mean they will benefit you in any way. Always check what you are buying. Learn how to check the domains, learn how they should look and don't go after metrics blindly. We will avoid all those "My domain is not getting indexed" and similar threads. Use your head and don't expect marketplace sellers to be super honest people. Most of them are, but some know they sell crap and they will continue selling it as long as you continue buying it. Sure, there are some who think they sell good stuff, yet sell crap. I do not know which one is worse now. And I am not even going to talk about some PBN link sellers here. Situation is as it is and I hope we will avoid flamewar about this particular chapter here. Let's be civilized. Conclusion Use your head. Learn how to check domains properly. LEARN about the tool you are using. 9. Prognosis So the prognosis for the next year or two is bleak. Prices on auctions will go higher, the amount of usable scraped domains will get lower and lower and people will start cutting corners even more. PBNs will be still an awesome SEO tool and one of the most viable tools out there, but they will only be affordable for people who have sufficient budget. People will start cutting corners even more, buying stuff from people who promise amazing metrics, yet sell snake oil in the form of domains with bad history and anchors, or scraping them themselves. People will start ignoring bad history of domains altogether and will get punished for that along the way. Google will keep trying to catch up with PBNs and the shit ones will get rooted out. Not sure how the marketplace will look like, but the public networks won't be as popular as they were a year or two ago. For obvious reasons. All in all, we are in for some changes and those of you who still cut corners are in for a nasty surprise. Only those who do their job thoroughly and are super careful and work with only safe and quality stuff will manage to survive. All the churn and burn and short term projects will become less and less profitable and well... there will be less competition for those who know their stuff. 10. Bottom Line I hope you have learned something new and I really hope this article will change mindset of at least some people. This is how the reality is and we should all start adapting to it. The domain market isn't Amazon. You can't just waltz in and expect to find millions of domains fitting your needs. There is competition. There are hundreds and thousands of competitors. The market is fierce and the demand is growing. Have realistic expectations and adapt.