Almost everyone has heard of the importance of site speed, even the average blogger with lackluster technical skills. In a previous article we did a comparison between two domains and found speed was the likely signal pushing one site above another in mobile searches.
Google wants to provide sites that users will actually use. You may have the absolute best content but if it takes over 3 seconds to load your page its a big problem for ranking.
CDNs are great resources to speed up your page speed load times. Think of it like this … if you’re a pharmacy and you have one location for the whole world people are going to have to travel great distances for your products. But if you open a pharmacy in every state people can just go to the nearest location to get all of your webpages and no one has to travel that far. This is a CDN a Content Delivery Network.
The expense of having 50 servers in 50 states is likely too much for most websites. A CDN steps in and provides the infrastructure for us to share with others.
Here are a few common questions site owners ask in regard to CDNs:
We’re going to go over what a CDN is and thoroughly explain the important role this technology plays in the modern web.
We’ll also briefly touch base on the differences between your web server and a CDN before placing our focus on who does and does not need this technology implemented on their website.
Here’s the technical definition of a CDN, or at least a paraphrased version of it. A CDN, which stands for Content Delivery Network, is a global network of servers that deliver content to visitors of a website based on where that visitor is located.
You need to understand how regular web hosting works in order to understand this definition as well as the importance of it. In a typical web hosting environment, all of the traffic running to your website gets sent to your host’s web server, the one you installed your site on and the one that holds its data.
This often results in a slower website for all visitors as that single server struggles to stay afloat among the surge of traffic it receives on a regular basis. It can even leave your site vulnerable to DDoS attacks. Why is this bad? Here are a few quick facts to help you understand the importance of having your site run as quickly and reliably as possible:
This, obviously, leads us to our next question.
The most obvious and most important benefit of a CDN is an increase in site speed for all users of your website no matter where they’re located in the world. When you implement a CDN on your website, you’re distributing access to it to what are known as “proxy servers” located all around the world.
If you use a CDN, your Australian user would be able to load that static content from a server that’s closest to them, maybe even in the same country depending on the CDN service you decide to go with. This will allow them to load the page in a much quicker manner.
The origin server is located toward the south of North America in the illustration above while the replicated web-server clusters are located in six continents around the world. You can see how the “user” icons demonstrate how users are served static content from the replicated web servers closest to them instead.
The impact? Some sites report seeing a decrease of more than 50% in the amount of time it takes for their site to load after implementing a CDN. [Source: KeyCDN]
If you’re still having a tough time figuring out how this technology makes your website faster, think of it like a highway:
Without those additional lanes, all of the cars on the road need to use the main lane. This will eventually result in a traffic jam as more and more cars fill the lane. Traffic will start to slow before the flow stops altogether after the lane becomes too congested.
If you open those additional lanes, cars will be able to distribute themselves among them rather than relying on a single lane. This will allow them to move at a much quicker pace, and they’ll get to their destination a lot faster than they would have if they were all using the same lane.
In other words, having your users load static content from a server that’s closest to where they’re located will allow each and every one of them to load your website much quicker than they’d be able to if they were all loading that content from the same server.
I’ve seen this site swing 20 to 30 places in it rankings…and you can over take better content with a faster site if the other site is slow.
Check out some CDNs for your site…
We can review some of these in another post soon.
Creating a PBN or Private Blog Network is likely more difficult that just focusing on your content and the value it offers visitors. In this post we’ll examine what you need to have on the site and how it should be structured.
In previous posts we’ve discussed:
Because every organic real site has one. If you decide before you create the site what it is and who made it then you’ll be able to create a site that will serve your PBN well. I’ve made site’s as if it were a school assignment in music and communication, or I’ve built a medical conference site that happened years ago but continues to update it’s site with follow up articles. I’ve built news magazine sites that promise to focus on local news that matters. Each site has an intended audience and justifies its existence.
Be creative and shake up the site’s purpose, play with the name. One site I had was aidusa.website I built a site seeking international aid for the USA because of the state of politics and our national debt. I noted our poverty levels, healthcare challenges and violence on the streets. It kinda made some sense after you look at it. That site could easily then harbor a backlink for a charity, healthcare site, legal site or a news site.
If you own one site and its this site your building you’re going to update it at least every month right? Its something you’re passionate about and you’ll find the regular updates will attract regular visits from search engines. This doesn’t scale well when we think about 10 sites or 100 sites … 1000 sites. You’ll need to read up on our Auto Blogging ideas in another article that we posted a while back.
Avoid … just don’t … place a link in the header or the footer or the sidebar of the site to another site. Your main “real” site doesn’t do that I bet. Why would this site? Keep money links to your target site in content. Define your site with anchor text that is relevant to the keywords you are pursuing.
I know what your favorite word is … or at least statistically speaking I do. It is your name. Humans love to talk about themselves and they like to take credit for something they’ve done. Websites aren’t much different.
So it looks odd when a site gives no information about the person or group behind it. The About Us section is important and just like on your money site or the important site … you need a means to contact the owner. A simple contact form or link to a twitter account is needed here. You don’t have to create email accounts on all the sites but you would be smart to create an email forwarder for the domain to one central account.
Your money site has the ability for people to share content on social media. It likely has 5, 6 maybe more social media accounts tied to it. Your PBN site likely should have something too. Use IFTTT or Buffer.com to automate the social media presence but make sure there is one.
Make a customized logo for each site.
Dont setup a Google Analytics or Search Engine property on the same account that you use for your main account.
Have a seperate IP address or use a different host company for your various sites. Register your domain names on several registrar sites and use their nameservers or Cloudflare. It’s fine to build a template site with plugins and pages ready to be migrated onto a new domain and setup but make sure you vary them. Different themes, plugins, structure … experiment here and there, don’t install Yoast on everyone, use something different.
In the end patterns are what break us, or forgetting what we’d do if this was our only site. Be organic….and have a backstory.
First and foremost the most important aspect of your Private Blog Network is randomness. Consider what pattern or foot print your PBN might have and avoid that commonality.
Patterns and commonality to avoid in building a Private Blog Network
First off you need private domain registration, if not private then you’ll need people and addresses from all over. If you always use Godaddy you’re going to have to try out others to avoid a pattern. Incidentally if you always use Godaddy you’re getting ripped off as they will charge you for privacy and many others don’t. Some popular Name Registrars are 1and1.com namesilo.com namecheap.com cosmotown.com each of these can save you a considerable amount over Godaddy considering they offer free private registration and using more than one breaks a pattern.
Each time you add a new site to your PBN you need to approach it from the beginning as if you’re playing a character in a story who has never made a website before, when I say that I mean if you know you have a site on Host A and you like that host you’re making decisions based on previous sites and are more likely to create a pattern. Forget Host A how would you find a host for the first time? Google popular web hosts and pick a cheap new partner.
One thing that’s really beneficial about building PBNs that is more helpful to you in the long run is the forced exploration. After you’ve built ten sites on ten hosts using ten registrars and ten WordPress themes you’ll be able to write three top ten lists and rank the best of the 720 combinations that were available to you. It’s a lot of practice and as you’re avoiding patterns and repetition you’ll find yourself stepping out of your norm.
Speed of a web host is important normally but not necessarily when your building a PBN. While you want your primary or money site to load in under 3 seconds its perfectly fine if your PBN site loads in 7 seconds and that opens the door to all manner of generic no name web hosts. Your primary goal with multiple web hosts is to utilize a different IP address.
Considering the complexity that can quickly arise when seeking randomness of your sites.
The only two big issues with this model …
What site is down? Oh….well which domain registrar did I use? Am I using their nameservers, someone else’s? Where did I point that to be hosted? Sure these aren’t that annoying to answer with a 10 site network, but try answering it when you’ve built and scaled up to 200 sites using 7 registrars, 20 name servers, 150 different IPs … it becomes unmanageable as you find yourself searching for your site more than you are building new sites, and why are you having to search? Maintaining a site is essential, as updates roll out to WordPress, plugins get updated and hackers exploit new vulnerabilities. If you log into every site you own and spend 5 minutes on each site your 200 domain name network will take 16 hours … or two days a week and consider that you only spend 5 minutes on a site, you likely didn’t fix any issues and took no breaks! It’s time to consider an apprentice or spreadsheets that fully document every aspect of your network, or both.
Somewhere around 100 domains I figured out I needed to approach this like an enterprise would and have actual uptime monitoring allowing me to see the state of the network easily. UptimeRobot allows you to set up 50 monitors on a free account.
In the real world 94% Uptime is horrible. Consider that in the last 30 days I had a recorded 104765 minutes sites were down in this sample of sites. I had issues with a server getting attacked by someone using 1700 servers causing a DOS attack. Why? Anyone’s guess … usually its a game to them and they aren’t paying for those 1700 servers but they’re other people’s hacked resources being used to grow their network.
You may be interested in MainWP or InfiniteWP … Godaddy provides Godaddy Pro. You need to be mindful that these only work when they work and will they give away a signature pattern? Likely they can create an easier management solution but easier is dangerous.
As you scale up from 10 to 20 to 50 sites your going to wake up one day and realize youre spending hundreds of dollars a month on infrastructure and all of your time will now be consumed with maintaining your network. Adding someone to help you is going to increase costs and take your time to train them in being effective at maintaining the network. Be careful who you bring in to help you, friends are obvious choices but when they get upset about something unrelated to the network they could leave you high and dry. Worse yet, they are the most likely to teach you a lesson by bailing on you for a couple weeks. Trust the people who are in it for the money … pay them more than they can get at a retail job to build loyalty to your mission. They need not be technical people but they need to understand that if a site is down, Google can’t index it and that backlink is missing now. They need to be able to follow a logical progression and understand the parts that are in play to help you maintain the site.
The obvious answer to addressing costs is to bundle services and make sure you’re utilizing resources in the most effective manner but that is accomplished by making patterns. You can’t find cost savings by giving away your sites.
Cloudflare allows some consolidation while masking the pattern
Cloudflare offers the ability to hide among the masses. Who is Cloudflare? They stand in front of your server and take the brunt of the internets crap. Upwork.com, Medium.com, Themeforest.net, Chaturbate.com are among the names using Cloudflare.com services. Some estimates suggest that Cloudflare is about 8% of the entire internet. Thats huge! At one point they found themselves protecting the Israeli government’s network as well as the PLOs.
Using Cloudflare is hiding in plain sight and free. I recommend it but in a mixture capacity still have some sites out side of their network just to avoid any one bottleneck, it would seem odd if 100& of the sites linking to a domain are using Cloudflare….remember they are 8% and while the largest chunk of the internet they aren’t the internet.
This article has focused mainly on external and infrastructure concerns of building a PBN. This is really a third of topic and in the coming weeks I’ll include two more posts that address on site content issues of building a PBN and site design considerations for a network of sites.