Since I have a bit of experience with this I thought I'd share some of my methods that you can use to build an effective, safe blog network.
This Is an Effective Blog Network
In general you should build a blog network full of real, legit-looking sites. This means that the sites in your network should have:
- Custom logos
- Quality content
- Google+ verified authors
- Twitter, Facebook and G+ accounts (with hootsuite drips)
- Outbound links to authority sites
Step #1: Finding Domains
Expired domains are the lifeblood of your network. I've tried just about everything under the sun but I've found that these 3 options get you the most bang for your buck:
ExpiredDomains.net: An incredible (free!) resource for finding dropped domains. Although 99% of dropped domains aren't worth much there are the occasional gems that come through that you can register for $10. Dropday.com is also a solid option for finding dropped domains.
GoDaddy Auctions: Pricey but worth it. I actually use ExpiredDomains.net to look at GD Auctions. That way I can see the PR, inbound links, site age etc.
SnapNames: This is for domains that are in "pending delete" status (about to drop). If you find a gem that hasn't dropped yet you can reserve it using snapnames and get it for about $70. It's not uncommon to get PR4s with .gov and .edu links for $70-$100 using snapnames and namejet.
Step #2: Hosting
Obviously you don't want super-duper dedicated server hosting. It's not worth the expense.
I use cheap hosting. Don't go for TOO cheap hosting or else the sites often mess up and support is awful. I-Page, JustHost and FatCow are reliable hosts with 1-click Wordpress installs.
I host each of my sites on a separate host to minimize footprints.
Step #3: Content
Because I want each site to look real, I always post at least 10 articles on each site (and sometimes up to 25).
It's really, REALLY important that the sites in your network are super-niche relevant. I'm talking they have your target keyword in their homepage title and/or description tag. This makes your money site link MUCH more powerful.
I also interlink, add images and videos, and post robust about us and contact us pages. These are the little things that separate a blog network site from a real site.
To keep things fresh once and a while I'll post a new article. But I don't think you need to update all the time (in my experience it doesn't make a difference).
Step #4: Branding
The more branded your site is, the better. That means you should include your site's name in the title tag and occasionally mention your site name in your content (ie."Here at the Warrior Forum...").
Again, this is something that makes your site look like it's NOT part of a blog network.
Step #5: Diversity
You don't have to go crazy about diversity...but I recommend it.
Remember: you're going to put putting a lot of time and $$$ into this network. You don't want to wake up one morning and see it all gone.
Here's a list of things that I diversify:
- Hosts (see above)
- Domain registrars
- Private vs. public whois
- Wordpress timezone setttings
- Permalink structure
- Homepage (static homepage, sticky post etc.)
- CMSs (Joomla, Drupal Wordpress)
- Analytics (Clicky, StatCounter etc).