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  • Expired Domains: How To Find (And Use) Expired Domains For SEO

    Expired Domains: How To Find (And Use) Expired Domains For SEO

    As of July 2021, there are a total of 153,210 expired domain on the internet.

    Most people don’t realize that these are one of the most effective yet untapped ways to boost SEO performance.

    A good backlink profile is essential to build credibility for your website, and expired domain can help you do it faster.

    Since it is not easy to build backlinks, a well-established and quality domain can give your website a higher value out of the gate.

    But, there are downsides to acquiring expired domain’s, especially if you do it wrong.

    Why Acquire Expired Domains

    Many don’t think about the potential benefit of buying expired domain’s for SEO purposes.

    But, if it is done right, acquiring defunct or existing (but not currently live) domains CAN boost your SEO results (if done correctly).

    Here are a few reasons to acquire an expired domain:

    • You may like the brand-ability, seeking to rebrand your website to the new URL
    • The domain may have some exact match domain value that you could glean from it
    • The domain may have existing links (and perhaps organic traffic) that you might be able to leverage by:
      • Setting up a new site and a new business with this domain
      • Adding this domain as a powerful piece in a large private blog network strategy 
      • Setting up 301 redirects from the expired site to a site you already own

    Below is detailed information about why you might buying expired domain’s names and how your SEO team can use them for your benefit.

    Expired Domain Overview

    Expired Domains Statistics

    What are expired domain’s all about?

    They’re the URLs of defunct websites. Over its life, a website may collect many links from other sites. If the website isn’t in business anymore or the domain gets canceled, you can buy the domain and also acquire its links.

    Many business owners purchase expired domain names so they can redirect traffic and get ‘link juice’ that will theoretically lead to better search rankings.

    If you’re careful, you can use an expired domain for SEO, but don’t think that you can only do that to get SEO results. You’ll need to have a comprehensive SEO strategy that includes linking, content, video, social media, keyword optimization, and more, in addition to buying old domain names.

    One of the key things to leveraging theme domains is choosing the correct website for the redirect. It should be, before the site owner removed it, like the target page.

    This means users who click the link and come to the new site need to feel the value that they would have had if they had gone to the old site. You should ensure that their user experience is at least as good as on the old site, and hopefully better.

    Why You Should Consider Acquiring Expired Domains

    When you purchase the correct expired domain, you may get an edge over some of the site owners in your space. Here are some of the benefits, if you do it right:

    You Can Target Specific Traffic That Relates To You

    When you purchase an expired URL, you can collect some of that traffic for your site. Many old websites may have the traffic that you need for your current site.

    As most of us know, successful websites need traffic to thrive. If you don’t get enough visitors, you won’t make money.

    If you start a new website, you can start from scratch, which has benefits. But you’ll figure out that growing your traffic can take months and even years.

    To build your following, you need to do many things right:

    Doing all these things is always critical, but you may be able to speed things up by buying old or expiring domains names.

    If the domain is an exact match domain, there is additional benefit, particularly if the expired exact match domain has quality links.

    (Active) Domain & Page Age Matters To Google

    Domain Age Matters To Google

    The age of the old active URL and the backlinks pointing to it are ranking factors. I

    Old websites are usually more established and credible than new ones. Many sites with a lot of spam come out every day, and most don’t last.

    Usually, sites that have been up for years have a higher level of credibility.

    Backlinks Already Exist

    If you buy an old domain names from someone who was trying to get a high rank, you probably have a domain that has a lot of good links. Most of us in this industry know that it can take years to develop quality backlinks.

    One way to thrive with your site is to have excellent backlinks, and Google tells us that quality backlinks indicate a higher level of authority.

    If you buy the right older domains, you will not have to do as much work building links.

    You can build on the old owner’s effort and that is less time than starting from the beginning.

    However, only when there is a strong link profile for the expired domain will this approach get quality backlinks.

    Existing PageRank, Domain Authority and Domain Rating

    When you have a high PageRank (Google, but now defunct), Domain Authority (Moz) or Domain Rating (Ahrefs), it typically means Google will treat your site with more authority and rank you higher for specific search terms.

    The search engine figures out how important a page is based on many things, including how good the backlinks are.

    If you are able to pick up a expired site like losangelesattorney.com and it already has links, it will have a higher likelihood of site’s ranking quickly when the site is relaunched than if the site were newly registered or even if it had been registered but never had links.

    Click here to check your website’s domain authority (DA) now.

    Setting Up a Private Blog Network

    We have discussed private blog networks or PBNs at length before.

    Private blogs networks are not something we encourage, but they represent the quintessential form of black hat SEO.

    Passing Authority with 301 Redirects

    While this strategy worked well in a bygone era, Google.search engines has axed it using domain resets after expiration.

    But I have seen examples where it still works and works, well.

    There can still be value to this strategy, but buyer beware as it’s also very gray or black hat.

    While it can help, it can also hurt if not done correctly.

    It is more advised to do this with active sites that have quality content that ranks for great keywords as that content can be redirected.

    Redirecting an old link to a new page where there is no content overlap can actually send that page into the Google Sandbox (at least for a time).

    What Are 301 Redirects

    When you buy an expired domain, you can use a 301 redirect to your main website to transfer a part of the old domain’s authority and link juice to your site.

    If the domain you bought has existing traffic, that will further help your site.

    Domain Flipping

    Another reason why people use expired domain is for domain flipping which allows people to sell them for a profit. Once you buy an expired domain through domain auctions, you have to improve its SEO value for a better selling value.

    You can build more backlinks to your domain because its age is crucial in increasing its value. As a result, you can resell the domain later for a much better price.

    Valuing Expired Domains

    An expired domain gives you an SEO head start, so you don’t need to build a site on a new domain unless it is for branding purposes. With its backlink profile, most of the expired domain’s value comes from it.

    When valuing a domain names, your main point of concern should be the cost it takes to replicate its backlink profile. This includes its financial cost and the time it will take to build the same backlink profile.

    Finding Expired Domains

    Several methods can help you find expiring domains names fast:

    1. Domain Auction

    GoDaddy Domain Auction

    There are various marketplaces where you can look for expired domain’s by simply putting in your keywords. Such sites have listings with important metrics like Majestic statistics and Moz.

    Expired Domain auctions hunt websites harvest listings from other auction sites to present a list that contains the best domains related to your niche.

    2. Reverse Domains

    With this method, you can enter the domain names in the software and find all its backlinks. Then, you can scan these and find the best-expired domains. This is an excellent approach to find domains with your preferred keywords and links from your competitors.

    3. Web2.0 Accounts

    Blogging and Web2.0 accounts usually have a good amount of social shares and backlinks. To find the best web2.0 accounts easily, look for backlinks to ensure you spend time on the domains you prefer.

    Such accounts are mostly spam-free and good to increase the PBNs’ power.

    4. Brandable Domains

    If you don’t like expired domain names you have, you can look for related names that have recently expired by looking for brand names. In addition, you can filter out domains that you don’t need to find higher quality domains easily.

    5. Website Hunt

    You can hunt through websites by crawling them and finding relevant expired domains. Some links point to the site, which you can use for hunting. For instance, you can look for expired domains relevant to a website using its address.

    6. Niche-Specific Hunt

    Hunting websites help you find niche-specific expired domains. You can also specify niche relevant domains and use various controls to discover unlimited premium domains for a specific niche that you can get at a low cost.

    7. Keywords Hunt

    With this approach, you have to enter only a few niche-relevant keywords into the software to find expired domain names from websites with a current ranking for these keywords.

    Qualifying Expired Domains: What To What Out For

    Here are a few things that you must examine to qualify an expired domain:

    1. Domain History

    Find Domain History Using DomainTools

    When you find a relevant domain, you should check its history first to qualify it. Use internet archive sites to determine the past use of a domain. It is best if its previous use was relevant and original.

    For instance, a web design company should have the latest website version as a web design company.

    Alternatively, look for domains that were used as blog networks or are repurposed for another use. Repurposed domains include signs like topics not in line with the original or the domain’s foreign language.

    Generally, blog networks are easily identifiable because of generic websites, irrelevant outbound links, and content ranging from different topics.

    It can be difficult to identify well-built private blogs, and you must look for domain owner irregularities or overall changes in internet archive websites. However, do not disregard some domain instantly if it was used in a blog network.

    Remember, you can always use the White Hat Alternative for private blog networks (PBNs). While a domain can be termed as toxic for its previous use, it doesn’t reflect the backlinks for that domain also being toxic. As a result, you can extract links from the toxic domain and leverage its previous position in a blog for your outreach.

    2. Google Index Domain

    It is essential to confirm that a domain has a Google index if you look for expiring domains in an auction sites. Those domains that have already expired will not be indexed and will only be reindexed by Google or search engines once they become live again. This will happen only if a domain has good quality and wasn’t used for wrong objectives.

    3. Clean Link Profile

    Take a look at the site’s backlinks through a full backlink audit and look for things that indicate spam.

    SEO Spam

    For example, if you see backlinks to sites with no page authority, this is probably spam. Another thing to watch for is an irrelevant backlink or links to Russian websites.

    The last thing you want to do is buy a domain that is full of spammy links that not only don’t help, but hurt you! The days are over when you could buy a lot of quality links; Google is very careful to make sure that the links you have are quality and if they aren’t, your rank takes a hit.

    A quality website with 10 high-quality backlink is much better for your rank than one with 10,000 sites that are considered spam.

    When you are shopping, you can usually see on the site how strong the expired domain name’s authority is; look for a score from Moz DA or Ahrefs DR.

    Also, note that buying expired domains name that helps you can cost a lot. There are some expired domain name companies that hold bids and you can be going against people who want the domain more than you do.

    One of my favorite examples of a rebrand using an existing, valuable (but not expired domain) is the tale of Nuts.com rebrand from NutsOnline.com.

    One of the best ways to review a link profile is through the determination of a quality link with the following qualities:

    1. The Link Is From An Actual Site

    An actual website has user engagement, voice, and real traffic. If nothing else, use your judgment, but make sure that you deal with links from a real site to build relevancy and credibility and avoid spam.

    2. The Link Is From A Relevant Domain

    If you want to acquire links effectively, you have to get backlinks from suitable domains. Sometimes, however, relevancy isn’t everything. For instance, you can come across an expired domain that was previously an SEO company, but you find that the New York Times provides a backlink for it after review.

    While New York Times isn’t relevant to SEO, it is a credible, authoritative, and respected information source. As a result, authority and credibility trump the irrelevancy.

    3. An Authoritative Link Domain

    An expired domain with several backlinks from different non-authoritative websites is not a quality choice for you to purchase. By non-authoritative, we mean linking domains not having a good amount of backlinks themselves.

    This shows that expired domains have low page authority and trust, which depicts a weak opportunity for quality domain purchasers.

    4. The Anchor Text Is Appropriate

    A link profile is considered good if there are a few keyword-rich anchors in it. However, these anchors must make sense.

    For instance, an SEO company’s link profile analysis can show you a link from a blog site that uses an anchor text like “replica Prada sunglasses to link to the targeted domain’s homepage.

    However, you should quickly figure out that this anchor text is not relevant for the SEO Company’s domain. Furthermore, it is essential to use a domain that hasn’t been overused from an SEO perspective, and most of the anchor text profiles must not be optimized for that domain.

    5. The Backlinks Are Sticky

    You have to ensure that the existing backlinks will stick; that is, there are minimal chances of getting removed.

    For instance, a dated article has a high stickiness. However, backlinks on a website’s footer can be easily removed.

    6. Was the Site Engaged in Email Spam?

    Many old domains were used to send spam. If you buy one, it will probably affect your site’s rank in a bad way. You can check a site such as Wayback Machine to find out if a site once had spammy pages.

    Some things that suggest spam include duplicated content, unsafe content, keyword stuffing, and hacked content.


    Some webmasters and SEOs are always looking for a quick and easy ways to the top of the search engines.

    While domain name acquisitions can be a legitimate means of speeding up your time to rank, get ranked quickly schemes don’t generally work anymore.

    You need to take the effort to build your site’s authority and links.

    You can help a bit by purchasing an expired domain name if you do it right.

    But instead of trying to shortcut your online success, we suggest working with a knowledgeable SEO agency  or link building services company to improve your chances of winning in digital marketing.

    Contact us today to get started!

    Chief Revenue Officer at SEO Company
    Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization) - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing leading, building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams. When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.

    Over the years he's written for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.
    Timothy Carter