Once you’ve bought your domains, configured and hosted them you need to fill them with content to justify their existence. Here are a few of the options:
If you’re looking for a high quality private blog network then forking out for real content is not a terrible idea. You’ll need to write in moderation to avoid costs getting out of control. Yet with online writing so cheap it’s not impossible to knock out 10-20 mini sites to support an important money site.
Your options here range in cost and quality. Hiring an apprentice or starving university student could be as cheap or cheaper than outsourcing. But keeping it in-house gives you more control over content quality.
Online there are many brokerages where you can find writers, including:
All three of these brokerages make it easy and fast to order content in bulk. It’s not award winning but it is real content written by humans, and in most cases reads as such. Prices start as low as $0.008 per word, but you may want to pay a higher rate if your goal is quality content.
- Upwork – a massive marketplace of freelancers, from coders to writers and designers. It’s possible to both cheap workers and qualified copywriters who can write to a high standard
- Fiverr – Don’t expect miracles, but you can buy articles for $5 a piece here. Bear in mind Fiverr’s commission is 20% - can you find these workers elsewhere?
- OnlineJobs.ph – a specialist recruitment site for Phillipino workers. It’s possible to get native English speakers to write for you for as little as $300 a month. But bear in mind the English standards will be somewhat different from a UK or US speaker
Is it worth it?
One thing to keep in mind when paying for articles is whether it makes economic sense. If you are in a lucrative niche that is heavily policed you may find it is worthwhile to spend on quality content for every pumper site.
The difficulty is when you can’t afford to have good content written at scale. Either you don’t have the resources upfront, or the money isn’t there in the niche.
It’s obvious you can’t pay peanuts and expect Shakespeare, but some 'bulk' articles read almost as badly as spun content.
If it looks like a duck, and talks like a duck, is that ‘quality content’ going to save your skin in a manual review?
Or is it just wasted money where you would have the same risk at lower cost from spinning content with automated tools?
Restoring from Archive.org's Wayback machine
It’s clear Google is now taking active steps to identify and discount the effects of private blog networks. This is likely an expensive process. Beyond obvious footprints, the best way to test for a ‘good site gone bad’ is by analysing major changes in a website’s structure. These include
- A change of ownership, followed by:
- A change in design
- A change of content
- A change of topic (eg pets to insurance)
- A change of url structure (such as multiple 404s or 301s)
On their own each may not constitute a strong signal a site has gone ‘bad’. Combined they could be dynamite.
It is probably an expensive process to calculate so many factors across the hundreds of thousands of domains that expire daily. So we think the most likely time to get a site deindexed is right after you’ve bought it.
This is why many advanced SEOs are looking at ways to reduce the signals. This could be as simple as restoring the old site’s structure, so a page like '/category/why-chihuahuas-make-horrible-pets' still exists when the site is revisited by Google.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by restoring a backup of the site from Archive.org’s Wayback Machine. There are a number of tools that offer this service for a fee like Wayback Downloader, but you can do it for free with us.
These tools automatically download the entire contents of a site from an archived backup. This means your newly launched PBN can look practically identical from the old website.
This is great from a footprint point of view, but potentially troublesome for two reasons. Copyright infringement and the time it takes to administer.
We’d recommend only restoring sites whose contents you have the right to. A domain’s expiry does not constitute the expiry of copyright, which in most jurisdictions lasts for 80 years or more. Use your head! IANAL etc.
The second issue is more practical. We're used to blasting out pages of content at a time with our links already embedded. In comparison, managing tens or hundreds of archive.org sites presents a challenge.
Often the easiest way to update a site and add links is usually to FTP in and edit the HTML files directly. Time consuming, impractical – but potentially worth it if it means your links look and stay natural.
On PBN.Hosting we have built our service with these challenges in mind. We have an HTML editor baked in for editing across multiple domains - no need to juggle FTP passwords. We've also come up with some secret sauce for turning an old site into a new blog.
Content remixing and spinning
By far the most common content creation method SEOs use to build out their blog networks is remixing. This means scraping, mashing and spinning other articles together to create semi-readable new articles.
This is strictly robot food – don’t expect to pass a manual review with content used on this basis. But it is clear that it is certainly enough to confuse Google’s content algorithms. This ensures your links are indexed and suggests the linking page matches your topic.
That being said, there is spun content and spun content. A hand crafted manual spin can produce highly readable content. This means tasking a VA with rewriting each paragraph and sentence by hand before carefully selecting synonyms to swap in a sentence.
Judicious use of software tools can produce ‘tier one’ content. By turning the level of mashing and spinning down you can end up with something that may just about pass a sniff test, if not deeper introspection.
Mastering spinning tools is beyond the scope of this article, but our favourite tools over the years are:
For content creation
- SEO Content Machine, which is capable of mashing and remixing articles by hand or in a completely automated way. It’s possible to get fairly decent results with the semi-manual spinning options. The automated article generators are usually best saved for tier two links or beyond.
- WordAI, an advanced natural language processing spinner. Rather than simply trying to swap words for synonyms, Word AI tries to understand the context of the sentence. This can create more natural spins. It’s possible to take a single article as your source and produce natural sounding, reasonably unique content. You can also use it in conjunction with a content mixer for even less chance of duplicate content issues.
- SpinRewriter. Though less advanced than WordAI, Spinrewriter is an excellent choice for those with a tighter budget. We’ve been happy using SpinRewriter for many of our links. While the quality is a little lower than WordAI, in most situations this hasn’t been a concern to us.
Our final suggestion for content generation for your blog network is one of our favourites. It’s not an automated process, but is easy and fast to produce. It also hits a number of goals in making your sites look natural.
Content curation is the process of collecting together great articles on a particular topic. To make it work you must add some analysis, introduction or independent thought.
This could be as simple as a ‘roundup’ post of the week’s news, or a collection of the best photo retouching tutorials.
Under fair use you can selectively quote a paragraph from the articles you link to, but you must ensure you are also adding content of your own.
Why is this such a powerful technique?
- By combining your own writing with carefully chosen quotes from the articles you link to, you can create a 1,000 word article. Yet you only need write 150-200 words yourself, saving both time and content costs.
- By selecting the best examples on the web to link to you are ensuring your blog network is linking out to authoritative sites within the niche. This is a core goal if you wish to avoid being slapped for only linking to low quality affiliate sites
- By linking to your own site alongside other high quality sites you associate your site with greatness.
- By mixing your links in alongside other high quality links it is harder to claim the link to your site is self-serving. It is harder to identify which of the links on the page is a ‘paid’ or ‘unnatural’ link
All in all we think it’s a winner. Lower content costs, lower risk and a higher quality link through association with other internet greats. What’s not to like?
Note: It is possible to mimic content curation using a mix of RSS feeds and RankWyz’ Content Mill feature.
We’ve played with it, and while it’s OK for low-quality projects it is hard to create anything that looks like it was built by a human. It does still help with linking to topical authorities.