Buying expired domain names can be a great way to give your website a boost in search engine rankings. An expired domain is a domain name that has already been registered previously, but was not renewed by the original owner and has expired. These domains typically have existing authority and trust signals passed down from the previous website. By purchasing and repurposing an expired domain, you can leverage these trust signals for your new website and gain an SEO advantage.
In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about using expired domains for SEO. We will discuss what makes a good expired domain purchase, where to find available expired domains, how to evaluate potential domains, tips for buying and repurposing expired domains, and risks to be aware of. By the end, you will understand the ins and outs of leveraging expired domains as part of an effective SEO strategy.
Benefits of Buying Expired Domains for SEO
There are several key reasons why purchasing an expired domain can be beneficial for SEO:
- Existing backlink profile: Aged domains may have existing backlinks from other websites, which can pass authority and ranking signals to your site. This can give you a boost in rankings, especially if the backlinks are from relevant sites.
- Trust and authority: Expired domains have a history of usage, which can lend more trust and authority in search engine algorithms. Older domains are seen as more reputable.
- Instant metrics: Metrics like domain/page authority, trust flow, citation flow may already be established for expired domains. This can help search engines determine relevancy faster.
- Keyword relevancy: Previously used domain names may contain keywords related to your industry or content focus. Exact match domains can send strong signals about relevancy.
- Link juice retention: Some expired domains retain a portion of their existing link juice even after the domain expires and ownership changes. This link equity can be passed to your new site.
The overall benefit is that buying an expired, aged domain can give your new website a boost in credibility and authority, which translates into higher rankings and more organic traffic. When done right, it’s an effective web publishing strategy.
Where to Find Expired Domain Names
So where exactly can you find good expired domains available for purchase? Here are some recommended places to search:
- Expired domain marketplaces: There are various expired domain marketplaces like GoDaddy Auctions, Domain Name Jet, ExpiredDomains.net that allow domainers to buy and sell expired domains. These provide detailed metrics like backlink profiles, traffic history, keyword relevancy to evaluate domains.
- Domain registrars: Major domain registrars like GoDaddy, Namecheap, etc. have their own expired domains listings from registered names not renewed past the expiration date. You can find gems among their expired domains on sale.
- Whois data: Tools like WhoIs.net allow you to search the entire Whois database of domain registration records and filter for expired/deleting domains. You can discover domains deleted but not yet on sale.
- Domain name brokers: There are brokers like DomainAgents.com or MediaOptions.com that negotiate purchases of high value, premium expired domains on behalf of buyers. Useful for securing coveted domains.
- Web archives: Checking archives of old websites on sources like the Wayback Machine can uncover domains that used to have good metrics and may soon be expired/deleted.
- SEO tools: SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Majestic, etc. provide listings of expired domains based on criteria like quality score, backlinks, and keyword relevance.
Cast a wide net across these options to evaluate domains and uncover the best gems. Look broadly, but verify any promising finds carefully before purchasing.
How to Evaluate Expired Domains
The key to success with expired domains for SEO is evaluating the quality of the domains thoroughly before purchase. Some factors to analyze:
- Backlink profile: Use a backlink analysis tool to examine quality/quantity of existing backlinks, including from what sites and their authority scores. More aged, authoritative backlinks are ideal. Watch for toxic links from spammy or shady sites.
- Prior metrics: Check Domain Authority, Page Authority, Trust Flow, Citation Flow. Domains with higher scores have stronger trust signals. But verify the scores were earned organically, not via spam tactics.
- Traffic history: Examine the domain’s organic search traffic history if possible. Steady/growing traffic indicates strong interest from search engines. Spiky or declining traffic could signal problems.
- Keyword relevance: Does the domain name and backlink anchor text include your target keywords? Exact match domains can convey strong authority for those keywords.
- Penalties: Use Google Search Console and analytics tools to check if the domain suffered past penalties. Avoid domains penalized for spam or blackhat tactics.
- Current registration: Is the domain already re-registered, parked, or used? This signals competition to acquire it.
Evaluating these factors will give you a sense of whether purchasing the expired domain is worth the time and cost. High quality domains with strong metrics are out there.
Tips for Buying Expired Domains
Here are some key tips to follow when buying expired domains:
- Check multiple metrics sources: Cross-compare domain metrics across different tools to get a consensus on quality and value. Each tool has slightly different data.
- Understand legal obligations: Review names, trademarks, prior content carefully to avoid any legal issues or risks from the domain’s history.
- Use escrow services for high value domains: Opt for domain escrow services like Escrow.com for expensive domains, for safer transfers of ownership.
- Don’t forget registration costs: Factor in registration, auction bidding fees, and transfer costs before buying domains. Hidden costs can add up.
- Act fast if domains are available: Move quickly if you find an ideal available domain, before competitors try to register it. Timing and speed matter.
- Develop website immediately: Point your new domain to an ‘Under Construction’ page/site right away, to show search engines it’s active and avoid it being re-parked.
- 301 redirect prior links: Set up 301 redirects from an old domain’s pages to relevant pages on your site, so link juice flows properly.
With patience and savvy buying tactics, you can secure high quality, SEO-friendly expired domains that will strengthen your web presence and search visibility.
Repurposing and Rebranding Expired Domains
Once you have purchased an expired domain, you need to repurpose it for your new website and content. Here are some tips:
- Choose a relevant domain: Pick an expired domain name suited for your brand, products, or content theme. Don’t drastically repurpose a domain.
- Point domain to your host: Update the domain’s DNS records to point to your hosting account or content management system.
- 301 redirect old pages: Redirect old URLs to relevant new pages one by one via 301 redirects to pass link juice.
- Update nameservers: Change the domain’s nameserver records to use your hosting provider’s nameservers.
- Change Registrant info: Update the Whois records Registrant Contact info to show your ownership.
- Create fresh content: Publish high-quality, original new content on the domain. Don’t plagiarize old content.
- Disavow toxic links: If the domain has spammy backlinks, use Google Disavow tool to detach from bad links.
- Build new links: Start building legitimate, relevant backlinks to your domain to augment the existing link profile.
- Monitor progress: Check search performance in Google Analytics and Search Console to gauge if your efforts are succeeding.
With strategic repurposing and rebranding, you can overwrite the history of an expired domain and make it clearly your own legitimate site.
Risks to Avoid When Buying Expired Domains
While expired domains can provide big SEO benefits, there are also potential risks to be aware of:
- Past penalties: If the domain incurred past spam penalties, your site may be guilty by association. Thoroughly vet domains.
- Domain drops: A registry may delete and drop a domain that hasn’t renewed even before expiry, so you lose your bid.
- Re-registration: Popular expired domains get quickly re-registered, so you have to move fast to acquire it.
- Holders: Some registrars place expired domains on hold status, blocking them from sale, which creates uncertainty.
- Legal issues: Previous domain history like trademarks, legal disputes, or harmful content could open up liability.
- Domainer networks: Some expired domains belong to domainer portfolios and may never be allowed to expire and drop.
- Parked pages: Dropped domains are often re-parked with paid ads that bring little SEO value until you develop it.
- Link equity loss: Despite 301 redirects, some link equity and metrics may be permanently lost when a domain changes ownership.
While the risks are manageable, you should proceed cautiously and evaluate domains carefully before buying. Proper due diligence will help avoid major issues down the line.
Buying an expired domain can be a cost-effective tactic to build SEO strength and fast-track your way to higher organic search visibility. With ample research and evaluation of metrics and backlink profiles, you can find high-quality domains that lend credibility and trust to your website. Avoid previous spam tactics or legally questionable history, and focus on organically developing the domain with fresh content, legitimate links, and redirects that pass equity to your site.
Used strategically, expired domains still offer plenty of SEO potential. But always thoroughly vet domains and move quickly on your purchases. With the right domain purchase for your brand and diligent repurposing efforts, you can leverage the power of aged domains to amplify your search engine presence.