One of the biggest expenses in building and operating a Private Blog Network is the domain name registrations. It’s also one of the footprints that people want to manage while building a PBN, and some people want to mimic a realistic distribution of registrars in their PBN domain portfolio.
Once you build a large enough network, the domain name renewal bills add up quickly, so it’s important to find the registrars with the cheapest domain name registrations and renewals to include in the mix of registrars that you have your domains with.
This is why we’ve prepared this guide for you, to help you find the best value registrars for your domains.
Where to Get the Cheapest Domain Registrations
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(Discount Domain Club $119.88/yr)
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Where Should I Register and Keep My PBN Domains?
If you want to mimic what’s natural, then keeping most or all of your domains registered with GoDaddy would be the answer, based on the data from RegistrarOwl‘s monthly presentation of the registration data from ICANN. They’re by far the largest registrar, with almost 62 million domains under management in December 2019. If you’re using fake registrant data in the Whois records, the GoDaddy Discount Domain Program pays for itself after the 13th domain that you register/renew each year with them.
If you want some diversity in the registrars that you have your domains with, then adding a few other registrars from the Top 15 on RegistrarOwl might make sense. Number two on the list, Tucows sells domains through resellers and their own retail brand, Hover. Coming in at a close third is Namecheap. The only other registrar in the top 15 that you’d probably want to deal with is NameSilo.
If you want the best price on domains, you’ll need to go to some of the smaller registrars that we’ve covered in the table above, like Dynadot, Epik, Porkbun and Sav. Keep reading for a mini review of all of the registrars that we mentioned in the table.
Registration, Transfer, Change and Renewal Footprints
If you want to register a number of expired domains, then we’d suggest spreading them out over a period of time rather than registering them all on the same day/week to avoid footprints related to the Creation Date for the domain.
The same goes for transfers – better to avoid any potential footprints of transferring all of your domains on one day from one registrar to another, instead do those registrar changes slowly over time. With a transfer, the Creation Date remains the same, but the Registrar ID is swapped, and that also triggers the “Updated Date” to become today’s date when it completes the transfer into the new registrar.
Changing the name servers on a large number of your domains on the same day could create a mini footprint with the “Updated Date” in Whois.
Finally, manually renewing all of your domains on the same day can also create a potential footprint with the “Updated Date” being set on the day that you renewed the domain. You can avoid this by enabling Auto Renew on your domains and letting the registrar automatically renew them just before they expire.
Reviews of Domain Name Registrars
NameSilo often comes out the best value for money for most of the TLDs that they support, especially when you factor in their Free Whois Privacy and great value on renewal of domains as well – apart from promotional prices, NameSilo’s registration and renewal prices are the same, so you’re never shocked with “bait and switch”pricing.
They’ve recently passed the 3 million domains mark, which puts them in the top 15 domain registrars in the world by volume. Regardless of the size of your domain portfolio, it could be worthwhile joining their “Domain Discount Program”. By preloading your account with funds, you’re able to purchase all of your domains at a discount, and that discount increases as the size of your portfolio with NameSilo grows – ie over 100 domains, over 500 domains. NameSilo has a great API that allows you to do most account functions easily.
You can also save $1 on your first domain registration using coupon code BBH when you register your first domain with NameSilo.
Sav is a new player to the domain registration space, having recently acquired NameKing’s registrar credentials and customers. They don’t have a lot of domains under management at the moment, but their pricing is really attractive – $8.38 per year for .com renewals is very cheap, and includes Whois Privacy. The team behind Sav are working to add a bunch of new features and actively developing their service, so expect to see rapid changes and improvements to the site’s layout and design over time. Sav’s API is not fully developed at the moment, which may limit their usefulness to some PBN owners who like to manage all of their domains via API.
They do, however have a dropcatching/backorder service for a number of TLDs at no additional cost to their regular registration prices.
The reason that they don’t have #1 spot in our table is because NameSilo has more domains under management, so it would make more sense to have a larger portion of your domains with NameSilo than Sav.
Epik was founded in 2009, and is known as the “Swiss Bank of Domains”. They have great pricing, free Whois Privacy and a modern interface to manage your domains. Their live chat team is pretty responsive, and their CEO, Rob Monster, responds to emails constantly including feature requests that are escalated up from their front line support team. The Epik API is fully featured and great for automating your account management.
One of the interesting services they offer is “Lifetime Domain Registrations”, where for a fixed fee, they’ll renew the domain out to 10 years, and continue to add 1 year of renewal each year after that, so you’ll never lose that important domain.
They have about 500k domains under management in December 2019, and were recently named NamePros registrar of the year for 2020.
Porkbun is based in Portland, Oregon and is owned by Top Level Design, the company that operates the .design, .ink, .wiki and .gay TLDs. As a result, they often have great deals and promos on the TLDs that they own and operate, as well as great everyday prices on the big three gTLDs – .com, .net and .org – including free Whois Privacy.
Their domain management interface is modern and clean, however the do not have an API at this point.
Dynadot was founded in 2002, and is well known among the SEO/PBN community as one of the places to get dropped domains from. Their renewal prices are pretty low, and they get lower if you spend over $5,000 per year with them or prepay that into your account balance. The only concern that I have about using them comes from this article from Matt Diggity, where he references an experiment by Yashar Ghaffarloo to transfer domains away from dropcatch domain registrars. While Dynadot isn’t mentioned in that list, I’d potentially avoid it if you’re paranoid, as a large portion of their domains are from dropcatching.
They do, however, have about 2 million domains under registration on their main ICANN credential (Dynadot LLC, registrar #472), so a solid place to put some domains if you’re looking for registrar diversity.
NameBright are mostly known for being the partner registrar for DropCatch.com, so any domains caught on the approximately 1500 domain registrar credentials that they have (eg DropCatch.com 586 LLC) are managed through NameBright.
Their pricing is exceptionally good, being the only registrar who is willing to offer true cost-price registrations for .com at $8.03 per year (which is the VeriSign fee plus 18c ICANN fee), however they charge $2.95 per year for Whois Privacy after the first year.
In addition, while domains that you register/transfer to them will show up on their main ICANN registrar credential (TurnCommerce, Inc. DBA NameBright.com, registrar #1441), there is still the strong risk of the bad registrar neighborhood discovered by Yashar and mentioned in Matt’s post that I linked to from the Dynadot review.
InternetBS is a popular registrar with PBN owners and SEOs, because of their low pricing. A couple of things things to note about them though:
1. They only have ~346,000 domains under management as of December 2019 according to RegistrarOwl‘s report from ICANN stats
2. Renewal prices are higher than first year prices
I’d probably recommend using other registrars in this list, and only adding InternetBS to your portfolio if you really wanted more registrar diversity.
Having been around since 2001, Namecheap are probably the oldest registrar on our list. They started out using a reseller account from Enom, and have grown into becoming their own fully accredited ICANN registrar. During 2017, they began moving all of their domains off of Enom’s credentials and onto their own and have become the third largest registrar with about 9 million domains under management, behind Tucows which you can register through Hover who also have about 9 million domains and GoDaddy who have a whopping 62 million domains under management.
Namecheap offers reasonably good value for money on domain registrations if you hunt down the monthly coupon codes on their web site, or once you have over 50 domains in your account, you can reach out to their support team and get placed on their “Gold” pricing tier which is slightly cheaper than the coupon pricing. Even once you achieve that tier though, their overall prices are generally still more expensive than Namesilo.
As the retail brand for Tucows, Hover gives you access to the second largest registrar and a great spot for some registrar diversity while maintaining connection with the most popular registrars.
Their prices are a bit higher than Namecheap or any of the other cheaper registrars on the list, but they do include free Whois Privacy and if you’re looking to keep your PBN domain portfolio in line with the top 3 most popular registrars for all domains, then you should put some of your domains on Hover.
No list of domain registrars would be complete without GoDaddy. As the far and away largest registrar with 62 million domains under management as of December 2019, this is the place that the majority (if not all) of your domains should be if you want your portfolio of PBN domains to mimic the registrar patterns of the broader internet.
If you have over 13 domains, signing up for the Discount Domain Program ($119.88 per year) gets you access to cut price domain registrations and renewals, which puts GoDaddy at the cheapest end of the domain registrars listed above. However, they do charge $9.95 per year for their Whois Privacy service, which they call “Domains by Proxy”, so you might want to use Fake Whois Data on at least some of your domains if you’re looking to keep the cost down. Just note that doing that is in contravention of the ICANN policies and could put your domain registrations at risk.
What About Pricing for Other TLDs?
If you want to see the latest up-to-date prices for any registrar including promotions and sales that they may be running and compare prices across all TLDs rather than just the most popular few that we’ve listed here, then I’d suggest checking out Domcomp.
It’s a great resource and is updated daily with the latest prices pulled direct from the registrars. You can search for the cheapest registrar for registering, transferring or renewing most popular TLDs.