Maintaining a private blog network is a lot of work. It takes countless hours, and dollars, spent finding high-quality expired domains, buying expired domains, building out the designs, ensuring quality content, mixing up themes, designs, social profiles, plugins, worrying about security, managing your PBN and more. However, without the best private blog network hosting, it is all in vain.
9 months ago, we moved a large number of sites to a hosting company called IP NetworX. While it was all rainbows and unicorns at first (their interface is one of the best!), this ended up being a horrible decision.
In this post I’ll share our experience with IP NetworX, why we moved all our sites, and where and how to host your private blog network safely.
Our Terrible Experience with IP NetworX for PBN Hosting
1. Private blog network hosting should have good support and IP NetworX did not.
It doesn’t matter where you host your private blog network – you’re going to have problems. Simply stated, hosting and WordPress is complex and they both can be buggy… especially during the transition period. Totally understandable.
Good hosting companies have top-notch support that’s easy-to-use, have knowledgeable techs and get problems fixed promptly. Customer retention is a HUGE priority in hosting.
This wasn’t the case with IP NetworX. After complaining that we were sick and tired of these problems and were going to move our sites to different hosting, the response was, “As you wish”.
Many times, I was contacted by Ole (the owner of IP NetworX) directly via Facebook. It’s sort of seemed like personal service at first which was different, but I’m not always on Facebook and we don’t always handle every matter directly so contacting me personally was just kind of odd.
Not to mention there wasn’t a record of support tickets in the system that I could reference later if needed…. just a long Facebook chat, which is sort of coming in handy now.
Additionally, nearly every support ticket we opened was unresolved. The only resolution provided in nearly every case was “We’ve added more bandwidth to the account or more server space”, as if this was a service to us instead of resolving whatever problem existed, which was usually hacking. I’ll touch on that more in a moment.
In the end, we opened more support tickets than I have ever had to do with any other hosting company.
We did our best to communicate problems, keep the conversation timely and alive, be available when there were problems and make things work. In the end, it was just too time consuming to bother with.
2. PBN hosting shouldn’t get hacked all of the time and ours did.
Our sites were hacked pretty much constantly while on IP NetworX hosting. It was always one site or another, and some were hacked multiple times.
When we had finally reached our wits end and said we’d be leaving at our earliest convenience, the finger was pointed at us for not keeping plugins and themes updated. Fair enough. We don’t always update all plugins and some sites are quite behind.
However, more than once the cPanel was hacked, completely unrelated to WordPress. Didn’t Ole just say that this was their fault? Not ours? We’ve never had a cPanel hacked on any other hosting. Apparently it’s impossible!
One notable cPanel hack was apparently impossible according to IP NetworX. Ole contacted us which was nice, but via Facebook again, which is weird. Apparently, our site was sending a million porn emails a day via our domain.
We had received a legal notice indicating that the server was going to be shut down and possible legal action would be taken. Did you even know IP NetworX servers supported mail? They don’t. Well apparently they do, sort of…
In the end the entire installation was deleted. Thankfully we had a backup of the site available. But what if we didn’t? Seriously. The entire site would have been history. Whats that worth? In this case, that blog actually is a revenue source and earns a few hundred dollars a month. Just because it’s a PBN doesn’t mean it’s useless and worthless.
3. IP NetworX frequently changed the IP addresses on multiple sites.
We use a few different tools to monitor up-time with our private blog network such as Black Hat Community and MainWP. It’s more like just good business practice. Our PBN is more like owning and running full websites. Many of them have organic traffic and run like real websites. Up-time is important not just because our links disappear, but the sites earn their keep.
Randomly the sites would go down without notice. We’d look into it, open a support ticket and find out the IP address had changed. Why? They say nothing changed on their end. Rubbish!
Our records disagreed. The site had been working fine for months. We’d update the info on the registrar to the new IP address indicated in the control panel and the site was live again. This happened numerous times. Total lost revenue? Unknown. Frustration? Mounting!
What are we doing now for private blog network hosting?
1. We’ve moved our PBNs off of IP NetworX to our other hosting companies.
We’ve moved the sites off IP NetworX to other LARGE hosting providers we trust and have had sites with for over a year. We’ve had no hacking, have experienced only great support, and is one-tenth the cost of IP NetworX ($0.25/site instead of $2.00/site).
Hosting companies we use and recommend:
- Reseller Club Reseller hosting
- Austin, TX USA Data Center
- Host Gator reseller hosting
- Houston, TX and Provo, UT USA Data centers
- (60% off with coupon code COUNTDOWN)
- GreenGeek reseller hosting
- Chicago, IL and Phoenix, AZ USA Data Centers
- Namecheap reseller hosting
- Atlanta, GA + Phoenix, AZ + Dallas, TX USA Data Centers
- Hostnine reseller hosting
- US, UK, AU and Asia Datacenters
Though we liked the IP NetworX interface, the whole thing overall wasn’t a good experience… an experience we wouldn’t want to wish on anyone else.
We’d like to think we’re not complete idiots when it comes to website management and are likely above the average when it comes to running a private blog network. That said, if we couldn’t make IP NetworX a success, then it’s your gamble if you think you can do better.
We do want to apologize to anyone whom we referred to IP NetworX and who has had a bad experience. We’re doing our best to find reputable services and keeping our toolbox clean of bad companies. IP NetworX got the boot.
If you’ve had a bad experience with a company on our list please send us a short message so we can see if it justifies removing them from our list. If your experience has been only good with a software or hosting company, don’t hesitate to shout out in the comments below!
2. Install a security plugin on your PBN sites such as Wordfence.
Even before moving from IP NetworX to better pbn hosting, we start implementing more security. One step was to install the Wordfence plugin to combat invalid login attempts, hacking and other security breaches.
Installing Wordfence has helped a lot as several of our sites have had several attacks which we’ve been able to address immediately and block the IPs.
We recommend using some sort of security plugin on your WordPress sites that can monitor them and notify you of problems. We have a few we recommend in our list of best seo tools.
3. Mixing up IP addresses and name servers to diversify your private blog network.
There has been a lot of squawk about using cheap website hosting and CDN services like Cloudflare and Incapsula. This is one thing we’re doing with our sites that is helping to diversify the footprints and improve security.
We’ll do a post in the future giving our review of the different CDN services you should be using to help reduce hacking, improve up-time and diversify footprints.
4. Getting permanent, high-quality links through high-DA link rentals or outreach.
If you missed one of the messages in this blog post, I’ll say it again: managing a large PBN is a lot of work! Not only do you need to spend time finding expired domains, buying expired domains from auction, spend money on designers to make them look “real”, spend money on quality hand written articles, spend a fortune in hosting and deal with a number of different hacking and hosting issues! It’s a major commitment. That means it’s not a good fit for everyone. So then what?
One of our new methods of getting backlinks is by renting high-DA links. These aren’t always easy to find and aren’t always cheap (in fact, some are quite expensive but cost is relative if it helps you ran you site and therefor, make money) but it’s a once and done deal. You rank fast, if it doesn’t give your site a push, you pull the plug. No sweat and risk.
I wish someone would have told me how to find quality link rentals early in my SEO career. I would have wasted far less money and time building a PBN and more time ranking. I’d have built a much stronger PBN by taking my time instead of rushing hoping and needing to improve rankings to cover the expense.
Ranking a website through owning a large PBN isn’t the only way to go. You can also buy back links on our highest quality sites. If you’re not getting the ranking you need from your own PBN or are new to SEO and thinking about building a PBN and would rather get faster rankings with less risk then give link rental a look. It’s a good tool to have in your toolbox!
Go the extra mile and get high quality links through strategic outreach. If you’re able to get a “white hat” link through outreach (Alyssa got a DA 60+ backlink on a relevant site / article for $25 one-time a few months ago by simply being creative), the site is almost guaranteed to be up all of the time. You don’t even have monthly overhead for the link!
We still love the fast push we can give sites with a few links from our network, but there’s some really good satisfaction in getting a permanent link on a good quality site with good traffic. In fact on some of our blogs much of our traffic comes from other blogs, not even the search engines. Now that’s forward thinking.
Wrapping it Up
We know that everyone is always looking for the best seo tools and we’re hoping that by sharing our experience, we will help you find just that. We’re always looking for the best seo tools and adding them to our seo toolbox. Any that repeatedly fall short are removed promptly.
We hope that by sharing our terrible experience with IP NetworX that you can learn from it and make better decisions when choosing private blog network hosting.
Interested in coaching or some guidance with pbns, link building or SEO in general? Consider hiring us for one-on-one SEO coaching or consider a SEO website audit to get action items to improve rankings and conversions right away.
Do you have a favorite website hosting company? Give them a shout out in the comments below and tell us why you love them!