Pros and Cons of Wayback Machine Downloads and Restores

20151221 Internet Archive Wayback MachineIn my role as the founder of Bulk Buy Hosting and LaunchCDN, I get to speak with a lot of SEOs who build Private Blog Networks, and they each have their own opinion on Wayback Machine restores.

Pros of Wayback Restores

Some SEOs like the idea of being able to cheaply and easily spin up the site that was there before.

The low cost and time investment of doing a Wayback restore is also appealing, as they can be downloaded at no cost using the Free Wayback Downloader on PBN HQ. Open those files in a HTML editor, add in a sentence or two to place your link, upload the files to your hosting account and you’re done.

Another great benefit of doing a HTML-based Wayback restore is that there’s no WordPress install there to keep up to date, or worry about which plugins might be insecure, like ThemeGrill’s Demo Importer or Elementor Pro were recently found to be. Things like WordPress brute force attacks and plugin exploits can wipe out all of your hard work on your PBN, which is why keeping your own backups at all times is essential.

By returning the old site design, you can easily get a “link insertion” style backlink from that restored site, which might be harder to spot during a quick human review of the former restaurant’s web site that is now part of your PBN.

Both Bulk Buy Hosting and LaunchCDN allow you to host static HTML sites, so it’s easy to get started with Wayback restores on either service.

Cons of Wayback Restores

There are other SEOs (like myself) who avoid using Wayback restores in order to avoid hassles with the former domain owner.

If you restore the old site and then insert links to your affiliate sites, some former domain owners will lodge DMCA takedown notices with the hosting provider to get that site taken offline.

A DMCA takedown notice is a request to remove copyright infringing materials from a web site, using protections provided to web hosting companies under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which was introduced in 1998.

As most of our hosting providers are based in the US, they’re required to comply with the DMCA and they pass on those DMCA notices to us, for us to address with our customers.

There’s also the risk of duplicate content if the company has simply moved all of their content to a new domain and let their old one lapse.

And if you’ve ever struggled to find a way to do a link insertion on a former restaurant’s web site to your affiliate site on podcasting microphones, then trying to do it by link insertion can be a lot tougher than if the site has been reborn as a food lover who is blogging about his desire to start a podcast and researching the microphone that he might buy.

Testing Wayback Restores

But, enough about the pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the results of some tests on the effectiveness of Wayback restores.

Matt Diggity’s testing in 2016 suggested that new WordPress PBN site builds (like the ones we have offer at PBN Builds) outperformed Wayback restores. This is probably because of the built in “Pings” that WordPress sends to search engines via Pingomatic, whenever a new post is published or updated, that notify the crawlers to come back.

In a more recent post from June 2018 where Matt shared the results of 11 more PBN tests he has conducted, he noted that when reusing the old homepage text on a new WordPress site build, a higher percentage of his PBNs passed his link toxicity test process.

While Matt hasn’t shared any test results publicly, it would stand to reason that a full WordPress rebuild of the old PBN would also be more likely to pass, as it has all of the WordPress features plus the old homepage content.

How to do Wayback Restores for your PBNs

There are four options here:

  1. Use the Free Wayback Downloader on PBN HQ. Browse the Wayback Machine or use PBN HQ’s Archive Snapshots tool to find the most complete looking recent version of the site, and request a download of that site. Use a HTML editor to insert your link, and then upload it to a new site hosted on Bulk Buy Hosting or LaunchCDN.
  2. Use Wayback Downloader‘s service to create a custom WordPress theme and rebuild an old site from Archive.org’s Wayback Machine. They’ll scape the old site and content and build it into a WordPress site for you, ready to edit and insert new blog posts or your links.
  3. Build a new WordPress site (or have our PBN Builds service build it for you) and simply copy/paste the text from the most recent Archive.org snapshot of the home page, to a blog post on a new WordPress site, making sure the full content of that post appears on the homepage of the newly rebuilt PBN.
  4. Use Archivarix (recommended by Simon from Pangolia). Free, open source tool to download a site from Wayback Archive and easily edit it. This will work on Bulk Buy Hosting at the moment, and we can make it work on LaunchCDN if there is sufficient demand.

Conclusion

While Wayback restores can result in more DMCA notices from frustrated former site owners, Matt Diggity’s testing suggests that reusing that old site content does result in a higher pass rate and more successful PBNs.

I think that his method of scraping the old homepage text into a post that appears on the home page of a new WordPress site build is the best option, as that post can eventually be removed after a while of your new site and as soon as that post is gone, it removes the risk of the old owner submitting a DMCA infringement notice to your web host.

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