Expiring domains that already have an excellent backlink structure can kickstart your website and rankings. I have written this article to help you understand how to leverage them for your benefit.
How does a domain expire?
After an owner decides to cancel a domain (or simply forgets to renew it) the domain will expire and go back to the open market. Initially, the domain will be up for auction for seven days. Here the bidder with the highest bid wins. If nobody places a bid, the domain will vanish and again be available for everyone.
How do I benefit from expired domains?
Expired domains, if chosen right, can have quite some benefits for you:
- They are already aged: search engines react favorably to older domains
- They usually have existing authority
- They usually have existing backlinks
- The might even have existing organic traffic
This is your chance – buying an expired domain with an existing backlink profile allows you to pick up the lovely and already existing “SEO juice”.
I see three main reasons, when you would buy them:
- you want to start a project from scratch
- you want to support an existing website
- you want to flip the domain
If you want to start a new website from scratch
Starting with an expired domain that already has a good and relevant (!) backlink profile effectively gives you a kickstart.
If you instead would choose to start with an entirely new domain, you would have to build new content and backlinks, and domain age authority would only come with time.
In short, if you can, try to start with an expired domain profile that has a good backlink profile.
If you want to support an existing website
You could build out the domain as a mini-website that has the only purpose of then linking to your main website or blog.
Alternatively, you could also skip ahead without building a new mini-site and forwarding the entire domain (with a 301 redirect) to your main domain.
However, I would carefully evaluate whether the domain has been used in a similar niche to yours. Simply forward the entire traffic can alternatively disappoint forwarded users and make them leave your website really quickly. You want to avoid that!
If you want to flip the domain
Another reason could be to buy the domain simply for the purpose of selling it again.
Theoretically, you could flip the domain immediately (e.g. via Flippa.com). However you could also spend some time on increase the SEO value first (e.g. by building more backlinks to it). Later you can then resell the domain for a higher price.
Where and how to find expired domains?
The internet is a lovely place when it comes to tools that make your work easier.
The ones below automatically list expired domains automatically and also enrich the basic domain data with data from 3rd parties (e.g. Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush, Majestic).
So while you could do all of this manually, the tools below save you a lot of time.
- ExpiredDomains.net: go check it out yourself
- SpamZilla.io: quite powerful with the paid plan
- DomCop.com: expensive, but used by a lot of pros in the niche
I decided to work with ExpiredDomains.net for now. It seems to be the older, more popular tool (which does not necessarily mean it’s the best, but well).
I have experimented with SpamZilla for a while and like it (their Ahrefs integration is great), but I felt that ExpiredDomains.net serves my needs (nearly) as good – while being for free.
In addition, I am using my own Google Sheet to analyze expiring domains. Reach out to me if you want to learn more about how I do it.
Things to consider when buying an expired domain
Buying a domain only because you feel it is a good deal does not make sense.
Not all domains are created equal, and some are just not worth investing in. So spend your time doing the necessary research.
How old is the domain?
You want a domain with relevant history. A new domain that was registered for only 1-2 years does most likely not serve that purpose.
Has the domain been banned before?
You may find good domains, but they are to no use to you if Google has already banned them from the search engine.
What was the website used for?
Use the Wayback Machine by Archive.org, enter your domain and click on “Browse History” to see what the website was used for and to ensure that it was relevant to the niche you are thinking about.
Also, was the site’s quality high? If it looks shady, don’t buy it.
Are the existing backlinks of high quality?
Use a backlink checker (such as Ahref’s) to analyse the existing backlinks. Are they of high value? Or do they look spammy and are of low-quality?
Does the domain still rank for certain keywords and have traffic?
If so, that’s a great sign for you to kickstart the domain, respectively your project right away. But make sure those keywords and the traffic matches your offer. Otherwise, you disappoint those people, which is not great.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an expired domain?
An expired domain is simply a regular domain that was previously registered but not renewed before the expiration date of the domain. After an auction period, expired domains can be re-registered by anyone.
HOW DO I FIND OUT WHEN A DOMAIN EXPIRES?
You could either manually check who.is data or use one of the tools mentioned above to learn more about the domain (e.g. when it was registered, when it switched owners).
How to value a domain name?
That is not so easy to answer. So I have taken the time to write an entire article on it. Click here to understand how to value a domain name.
WHO OWNS A DOMAIN?
Unfortunately, and thanks to changes around data privacy this is not so easy to find out any more. Some registrars (i.e. GoDaddy) offer to forward your requests to the domain owner, but finding out the owner info on your own is tough.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR DOMAIN EXPIRES?
If a domain expires it will immediately become inactive. This means the server or any services connected to your domain stop working. Also, the domain can no longer be updated but only reactivated from within the domain account at the registrar.
Then the domain becomes an expired domain and the domain registrar will start to allow bidding for the domain. If nobody bids the domain will then become publicly available again.
WHAT IS THE GRACE PERIOD FOR DOMAIN RENEWAL?
A domain renewal ‘grace period’ is the time period that one can renew the domain after it had become expired. This time period can differ per provider, but most providers will offer a 40-day grace period.
That’s why I always set any valuable domain in my portfolio on auto-renew so that I not automatically lose them!
WHY SHOULD I BUY AN EXPIRED DOMAIN NAME?
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