Free PBN Hosting – CloudFlare Alternative

One problem that many SEO’s often publicise is the lack of quality yet low cost hosting providers for PBN sites.

CloudFlare has become increasingly popular, but there is limitations to how much of your network you can safely host with them.

I’ll clarify that for all the people that have asked, yes, there are limits to how many sites you should host with CloudFlare. I personally would not have more than 25% of my network with them (even that is stretching it).

So, I was pretty happy to recently find a CloudFlare alternative that is also completely free to use.

It’s called Incapsula.

incapsula-website-security-and-acceleration

And it works practically the same as CloudFlare in terms of the setup process.

It definitely is not as popular as CloudFlare, but it is used by some large companies including Moz, Wix, and Trello. Meaning you won’t be sharing IP’s with only spammy sites and other PBN’s.

As with CloudFlare and why I am referring to this as an alternative, is because it also has a reverse proxy feature. This means that it completely masks your webhosting IP, and instead only shows a Incapsula IP, depending on the location of the visitor.

With that said, let me show you how to set it up with your sites…

How to setup Incapsula

The setup process is practically the same for Incapsula as it is for CloudFlare.

First, visit Incapsula.com and click the green “Pricing & Sign Up” button at the top right of the page:

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At this point it’ll look like it costs money, but if you scroll down you’ll find the free package, then you just click the sign up button.

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Now you do the standard sign up stuff as shown below. As you can see, I can’t even spell my own name, lol. As with CloudFlare, the email address is irrelevant, they do not verify it works.

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Next you add the website you want to setup Incapsula with, again, this looks like a copy of CloudFlare.

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It will scan the DNS records and try to grab the IP that it is currently pointed to. This does not matter at all to us because we setup Incapsula before pointing it at our hosting. Click Continue when it is complete.

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Now you’ll be given 2 A records and a CNAME to set in your DNS records. If you are not making a change of your DNS records immediately, make sure to keep a note of this info.

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Based on the information above, if you go to NameCheap (as an example), click onto your domain then onto ‘All Host Records’, you can access and modify your DNS records.

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If the ‘All Host Records’ link is not there, you will need to do this first:

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This is what the Host Records / DNS records page looks like below. I’ve pre-filled in the information provided by Incapsula so you can see how it works.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 22.15.05

After this you click save changes on NameCheap, and “I completed the DNS changes” on Incapsula.

What is cool about this is that there is no MX records leak, unlike CloudFlare where you have to deliberately delete the MX records. This is because you manage the DNS records with your registrar, not hosting provider.

This will mean you won’t be able to receive emails at this domain though, unless you setup forwarding with your domain provider, or use an email platform – remember using the same one all the time will be a footprint.

Next we need to make sure it is pointing at the correct host, since we are setting up Incapsula BEFORE pointing it at our hosting provider.

From the dashboard, once logged in, click the site URL in the “Website” column.

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And then click Settings in the top right corner:

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Now enter the IP address from the webhost, we covered how to find it in cPanel in the CloudFlare post. Click the save button…

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… and you’re done. Incapsula is installed and ready to go.

You’ll know it is working if your site is loading, and if it shows a little Incapsula logo on the lower right side of your website.

Frequently Asked Questions

By FAQ, I mean questions I presume people will ask, lol. If common questions come up in the comments, I’ll update it to reflect this.

Do I need to create a new account for each PBN site?

No. Turns out they provide unique DNS records for every website, regardless of whether they are in the same account. With that said, to be safe I wouldn’t have too many sites on a single account, you wouldn’t want to lose it.

Do I need to use a valid email address in registration?

No, they do ask you to verify it but it does not seem to matter. HOWEVER – as you do not need one account for each website, it makes sense to verify the email, at least that way you have a backup to access it, should you forget the password, and it may save you in the future in case they do something with accounts that don’t have verified emails.

Should I use this for 25% of my network too?

No. CloudFlare is a very popular service, allowing you to get away with using it a lot in your network. I may be mistaken, but Incapsula does not seem to be nearly as big, therefore I personally won’t be using it for more than 5% of my network.

Creating systems to have VA’s do this for you

If you have one client, you should not be wasting your own time doing this. Unless you’re creating training on how to do it of course 😉

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I’ve gone ahead and created a spreadsheet that my VA can fill in when setting up Incapsula for our websites, and to save you all of 2 minutes it took to create it, you can download it here:

Download The Incapsula Worksheet

You’ll also get email updates about the blog, our PBN re-indexing guide, access to our Facebook mastermind group, and a few other goodies exclusive to Lion Zeal VIP members.

(Existing Lion Zeal VIP’s – check the email you received for this post)

How can we help you next?

That concludes this post, probably the shortest one yet on the blog – but a cool hosting solution for you to use.

In the next training I’d like to collaborate with Armando again to bring you something cool, but first we need to know…

What is your current biggest problem with growing your SEO business?

Leave your answer in the comments below and we’ll try to cover it for you in the next post.

Daryl

About Daryl Rosser

Daryl runs a six figure SEO business primarily focusing on local clients. He's extremely analytical, and his favourite ranking strategy is using PBN's.

38 Responses to “Free PBN Hosting – CloudFlare Alternative”

  • Zak  March 5, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Thanks, Daryl – great tip! I had heard about Incapsula but hadn’t thought about putting it into action yet. This post will help me do that 🙂

    I have a quick question: what do you think about the idea of a “cluster behind a cluster”? Meaning, having a second network (powering e.g. my affiliate money site/s), of which one or two powerful PBNs also point to PBNs in a “tier 1 cluster” (powering e.g. a client money site) in order to power them up?

    So there would only be one or two points of connection between the clusters, via a few backlinks in the client-facing set of PBNs.

    I have a super powerful domain I can’t decide whether to use for my client site or my affiliate site (same niche), so was was wanting to use for both, but still whiele keeping the clusters fairly separate! Much less risky than keeping all in the same cluster, right?

    • Daryl Rosser  March 6, 2015 at 6:12 am

      Thanks Zak!

      It really depends on how safe you want to be. Obviously there is significantly less footprints from this than how people normally do it, basically linking any PBN’s to any site. Though there is still a minor footprint if someone or Google wanted to pull it apart. Though how likely is that to actually happen? Some times we are over cautious in SEO.

      I can’t tell you what to do here – it’s your choice, I personally don’t have any links between the clusters, but I understand why you would want to.

  • Chris Wong  March 5, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    My current biggest frustration with growing my SEO business is client getting 🙂

    • Daryl Rosser  March 6, 2015 at 6:08 am

      Specifics Chris 😛

      What are you specifically struggling with in terms of client getting?

      Generating leads? Delivering a proposal / closing those leads?

  • Eric  March 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    My current biggest frustration with growing my SEO business is to acquire new leads by social media. I only see results with Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin don’t seem to do it while I can target my audience pretty good in my opinion. Perhaps you could cover an in-depth article how to acquire leads on the different social media channels. Just my idea:)

    • Daryl Rosser  March 7, 2015 at 4:21 am

      If you can get results with Facebook, why are you not putting your focus there and scaling it? These other social media mediums work of course, but if you are actually getting results from Facebook then why waste your effort – just scale what works?

      Also have you read the recent SEO client getting funnels post?

  • Zak  March 6, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks, Daryl – good advice as always 🙂

  • Cary Blackburn  March 7, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Fantastic! I’ve been using Cloudflare and wondered if there was an alternative.

    I do have a few questions though, if you are saying to try to keep things at a natural percentage (such as using a cloud service like this) shouldn’t we be using a natural percentage for domain privacy as well? Do you use a mixture of domain privacy and fake names when registering your PBN domains?

    • Daryl Rosser  March 7, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Thanks Cary!

      Absolutely. I mix up my registrars and whois information also.

  • Andre Campbell  March 12, 2015 at 10:00 am

    I’ve tried Incapsula, but found it complicated in comparison with Cloudflare. So thanks for the straight forward tutorial on getting a domain setup!

    • Daryl Rosser  March 12, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Thanks Andre!

  • Andrade  March 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Great tips here in my country this would be a course that many charge expensive to have.

    • Daryl Rosser  March 20, 2015 at 4:00 am

      Glad to here Andrade!

  • Jeff  March 20, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Great site, man! So much awesome info – thank you.

    I just received the welcome email with the spreadsheets and such. I was wondering though: The hosting list you included – are these safe to put a PBN site on? Or, are these STILL safe to put one on? They seem to be the dollar-type hosts and I just want to make sure these are valid choices for hosting one of my PBN sites.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    Jeff

    • Daryl Rosser  March 20, 2015 at 3:59 am

      Thanks Jeff!

      Everyone has different opinions on the whole cheap/dollar hosts idea. I’ve personally not really had issues with them, though it is always better to have it on bigger hosts (less potential footprint).

      Some people have been reporting hosts saying never put your PBN sites on this host because their site got de-indexed, I look mine up that has been with the same host for 6 months+ and it’s fine.

  • Jeff  March 24, 2015 at 12:15 am

    Thanks for the response! Another question or two has come to mind since I first read your posts:

    1) Is it advisable to host the WPMain parent site on its own, unique server and IP, different from any of the other PBN sites or does it not matter?

    2) I keep getting conflicting info for this one:
    2.a – Should each PBN site be listed with Google Webmaster Tools, each under a different
    Google account?
    2.b – Should a brand new PBN site be loaded with one page of content (a post that shows
    on the home page as well as the multiple other ‘make it look real’ pages) and then
    submitted to G Webmaster Tools via sitemap for crawling OR should you load it up with
    4 or 5 posts and then submit it OR do you just not bother submitting it at all?

    Whew – that’s it for now.

    Again, thanks for your help and for the obvious time and care that you put into your blog.

    • Daryl Rosser  March 24, 2015 at 9:07 am

      You should host your MainWP parent site on a different server/IP, for no reason other than, it can mess up sometimes when it is on the exact same one.

      I don’t submit PBN sites to Webmaster Tools. They will naturally index if they are good domains, so it’s a waste of time.

      Just approved a few people on the waiting list for the group, don’t remember if I saw your name, but if you applied you should have been approved now 🙂

  • Jeff  March 24, 2015 at 12:32 am

    PS – I’d love to join you and the others in the Facebook group. Sent a request…

  • Jeff  March 25, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Awesome – Thanks again!

  • John  May 17, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    This is what I’ve been looking to get into the supplement my over indulgence in using cloud flare. I have well over 60% of my networks on CF thanks again for this guide!

    • Daryl Rosser  May 18, 2015 at 4:48 am

      Awesome, glad to hear!

  • Dennis  May 26, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Greetings from the Pacific Northwest!

    Awesome information Daryl! I am so glad I came across your site! I just signed up for the newsletter and requested access to the mastermind group. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Your information is spot on and very timely.

    I am looking forward to your next post.

    Dennis
    Olympia, WA

    • Daryl Rosser  May 26, 2015 at 5:43 am

      That’s awesome, Dennis. I just approved you for the group, see you in there!

  • Sebastian Popa  June 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks Daryl. This will come very handy as I was just looking for cloud hosting providers to extend my PBN 🙂
    Cloudfare is great..hope Incapsula will be the same.

    • Daryl Rosser  June 2, 2015 at 4:27 am

      Awesome. Incapsula is decent, not nearly as great as CloudFlare, nor as popular (so don’t use it as much as CloudFlare), but it works well for some of your PBN.

  • Alan  October 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    You still using Incapsula? Came across this post on Facebook and wondered if its correct?

    ” I know the clever guys that created Domain Reanimator stopped using Incapsula on their networks because it was leaking IP’s, I also heard that Rocked IP’s hops through OVH datacenters and has IP footprints. Both from very credible sources but haven’t tested, just be careful.”

    Great blog by the way. Keep it up man

  • Alex  October 19, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Hi mate, I am getting:

    Incapsula is unable to read DNS records for sitename.com.
    Please, try again later or contact support for assistance.

    Anything wrong?

  • Mark  November 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for the useful info mate.
    I have a small newbie doubt on this topic. Now, Can I host multiple domains in a single host with Incapsula masking and use them all for a single money site? Please explain the risks of that money site hosted with all the PBN sites in that same host & with another different hosing?

    Thanks
    Mark

    • Daryl Rosser  November 29, 2015 at 10:12 am

      You can, but account for the fact that not many sites are using Incapsula. So if you have 10 sites linking to your money site all on Incapsula, it’s a weird footprint. You should put your money site on different hosting to your PBN site, you don’t want them to be associated with each other. As far as anyone else is concerned, you do not own both the money site and the PBN sites.

  • Vic  January 4, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    When you mix up your registrars are you just using 1 account per registrar with diff WHOIS per domain or 1 domain per account on a registrar? Ik a guy @ 2k PBNs who does it on a 1 domain per account basis for the sake of taking all precautions but it seems incredibly tedious so I wanted to hear from someone else with this sort of experience 🙂

    Also, which registrars do you generally use?

    • Daryl Rosser  February 1, 2016 at 3:47 am

      I have multiple accounts at each registrar, but not even close to 1 domain per account – too much management hassle. Ultimately, Google can’t see which account it is in, only the registrar can, so I wouldn’t worry about this.

      Most of the top registars: Namecheap, GoDaddy, Name.com, Dynadot, Internet.bs, and a bunch more…

  • John  October 15, 2016 at 2:04 am

    In the one section towards the end you say:

    ‘Now enter the IP address from the webhost, we covered how to find it in cPanel in the CloudFlare post. Click the save button…’

    I thought Incapsula was the ‘webhost’. Do we use another server to actually host the files, or does Incapsula take care of that for us?

    Just a bit confused.

    • Daryl Rosser  October 16, 2016 at 2:37 am

      Incapsula, like CloudFlare, is a reverse proxy / CDN. The reason for the title, is that you can have 1 hosting provider, and stick multiple sites on it. Rather than having to buy a new host for every single site, which is standard for PBNs.

  • Nils  January 3, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Hey Daryl,

    thanks for your well written article… I am using Incapsula now for some months without a single deindexation… Recently I checked some IPs and found out, that when your ping your Incapsula protected domain you get the first IP they told you for the A-Record, but with the second ping on the same domain it shows the second Incapsula IP. So its always like a rotation.

    When I have like 10 Incapsula covered Domains in the same PBN for one moneysite, should I check that all of the 20 IPs Incapsula gave me are in different C-Class networks? I am not sure which IP Google would see with their Algo… I guess both in the end.

    Thanks for your help and your opinion on that,
    Nils

    • Daryl Rosser  January 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Incapsula will rotate IPs when you ping it, depending on the location and things like that. Wouldn’t worry about it. Google and everyone else already know that your site is using Incapsula, we’re not trying to hide that. Though obviously that means don’t use it on too much of your network.

  • Patrick  March 6, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Hey Daryl,

    great article thank you very much!

    Everything is set and it works, but Incapsula doesnt hide the nameservers, right?

    Best regards

    • Daryl Rosser  March 8, 2017 at 10:04 am

      Right. But they’ll usually just be provided by your registrar, which isn’t really a footprint. Especially if you mix up your registrar of choice.

  • Mark  April 1, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    If your hosting provider supports SSL, Incapsula’s free version will not work.