SEO is a big deal for anyone who’s looking to rank on search engines and gain traffic. So, it comes to no surprise that some site owners want to take the fast lane. How about you?
If there was one method to shortcut your SEO success, are you willing to risk it?
The practice of buying expired domains is not a new thing.
These expired domains were previously owned by people who decided not to renew them for various reasons – something you need to think about before you get yourself one.
In fact, this practice is one huge black hat or grey hat SEO technique used to rank better on search.
Different companies and solopreneurs use expired domains for different purposes. It’s either they want to forward the domains to their main websites or make them their primary websites.
They were able to achieve varying results with these domains. Some have achieved massive success, while others didn’t.
However, we’re here to talk about why getting an expired domain for your online business is worthwhile.
The Benefits of Buying Expired Domains
Expired domains give you a competitive advantage over competitors in the same niche. Not so sure why you should consider expired domains? I’ll show you how these domains can help boost your SEO.
1. Helps you target the right traffic
One advantage of buying an expired domain is that it lets you capitalize on an existing traffic. A lot of old websites already have the kind of traffic your business needs.
As you already know, online businesses don’t succeed without traffic. If you don’t attract visitors to your website, you don’t generate any revenue. It’s as simple as that.
Buying a brand new website allows you to work with a clean slate. However, it won’t be long before site owners realize that growing huge traffic takes months (even years) to accomplish.
You need to do several things in order to attract a constant stream of visitors, especially the right ones. These techniques include creating great content, optimizing for the right keywords, and guest posting on other sites.
You can wait for your new website’s traffic to grow or you can use an expired domain with the traffic you already need. If you want to streamline the process, you choose the latter.
2. Google considers domain age when ranking a website
Domain age is one of the aspects that Google considers when it chooses to ranks sites. There are two reasons behind this:
First, the older a domain, the more established it is. Second, spammy websites don’t really last that long. Spammers often jump from domain name to another. However, never assume that this is always the case.
In general, sites that are up for a long time carry more weight than newer ones. Quality is one factor. No site owner will want to put a website that publishes high-quality content and uses the best SEO practices to waste sooner.
3. Established backlink profile
If you buy an expired domain that was owned by someone who was seriously looking to rank high, chances are, that domain already has a backlink profile with authority links.
Even the best SEOs know that finding and building high-quality links can take forever. A marketer’s hard work goes from content creation to promotion. Other leverage paid strategies to streamline results.
Those looking to thrive online build backlinks anyway because they’re worth it. Google confirms this. Based on their ranking signals in 2017, backlinks remain to be a solid indicator of authority.
Buying expired domains basically minimizes your workload with link building. You can continue the previous domain owner’s efforts. That would be simpler instead of starting from scratch.
4. Established PageRank
PageRank (PR) is Google’s system of ranking web pages.
The higher the PageRank, the higher a page’s position in search. Google assesses the importance of a page based on factors such as the number and quality of its backlinks.
Again, working on your PageRank takes time. In fact, a study by Ahrefs revealed that top ranking pages (belonging to the top 10) are at least 2 years old.
On the other hand, only 5% of newly published web pages made it to Google’s top 10.
Common Pitfalls of Expired Domains
Buying expired domains is not a walk in the park. Some expired domains actually do your SEO more harm than good. Consider the following so you can be more careful in finding one that meets your needs.
1. Associated penalties
Some domains have a poor history. Google de-indexes or blacklists websites associated with activities in the past such as the following:
- Publishing duplicate content
- Keyword stuffing
- The overuse of anchor text
- Manipulating rankings using deceptive SEO methods
- Your site used to be a porn site
- Your site has been hacked
- Your site received a flood of malicious backlinks
Also, expired domains with a poor history do not have quality traffic. Many site owners assume that just because traffic is high means it’s good.
When you dig deeper, you might discover that the domain is mostly being accessed by spambots. Definitely not the kind of traffic you desire!
These are just some of the reasons sites can get penalized. Before you invest in a domain for SEO purposes, make sure that it doesn’t have a bad history.
Obviously, it would cost you more time (and a lot of headaches) to deal with the penalty that came with the domain.
2. Bidding wars (A waste of time and money)
When you’re trying to find a very attractive domain name, expect other people to bid too soon.
This drives up the price of the domain – way above what it’s really worth. But because you want the domain badly for SEO, you have no choice but to pay for it.
People can place their bid on a domain days to hours before the auction ends. However, bidders can prevent exorbitant prices by bidding minutes towards the end of the auction.
A word of advice: Don’t get carried away by your emotions in these auctions. If you do, you might end up paying thousands of dollars for something that’s not worth your while.
3. Tough competition
Does your expired domain of choice stand a chance against its niche competitors? Assess the competition of the domain. If it belongs to a competitive niche, you may want to consider moving on to another domain.
It matters to check the competition. You will have a difficult time ranking if your domain is optimizing for the toughest keywords.
Pick a domain that concentrates on low-competition keywords. These are long-tail keywords with a good monthly search volume and are simpler to rank for. Such domain will play a huge role in the success of your business. A high ROI, to be more specific.
Important Factors to Check Before Buying Expired Domains
Aspiring site owners should exercise due diligence prior to purchasing expired domains. Remember that domains are not created equal. Avoid grabbing sites based solely on one aspect (such as traffic or price alone).
It’s an ideal practice to dig deeper. Here, I’m about to show you how to vet expired domain names. Domains that truly boost your SEO share certain qualities. Evaluate them using the strategies below:
1. Domain History
The past matters on the internet.
To discover what an expired domain looked like and understand its previous activity, use Internet Archive. It’s a free, amazing cookie storing service that crawls back to trace an expired domain’s history.
Simply enter the domain into Internet Archive’s search box. It’ll show you a timeline of the domain from the year it started up to present:
Click on a year and the tool will show you screenshots of that year. You should be able to view the domain’s pieces of content and links. Was the site used for porn or spam? Did it look like it was hacked?
2. Domain Authority and Page Authority
Moz has developed metrics to help site owners assess their site’s SEO performance. Important metrics you should check are your Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA).
Domain Authority score predicts the likelihood of an entire domain rank on search results. On the other hand, Page Authority predicts the ranking potential of an individual web page. Both DA and PA are scored on a scale of 1-100.
Moz analyzes DA and PA-based on factors such as the quality of content, number and quality of backlinks, and more. You can easily check these metrics using the Moz SEO Toolbar.
3. Backlink Profile
Use Ahrefs to uncover an expired domain’s complete backlink profile. Checking this on a domain lets you know the quality of its backlinks. You’ll also want to focus on the anchor text that’s used. Excessive use of an exact match anchor text is a definite sign of spam.
I personally prefer Ahrefs (and other marketers do too) to evaluate a backlink profile because of its massive database. This allows the tool to analyze your domain with accuracy. It’ll also check the domain for the following:
- IP addresses of the links your domain has
- The growth of your backlinks over time
- Do-follow and no-follow links
- Site issues
- Inbound and outbound links
Its ability to check every backlink an expired domain has in detail ensures that you avoid negative SEO.
4. Organic Traffic
Identify any problems in the traffic of an expired domain using Google Analytics. Google Analytics will help you see whether the domain is getting real traffic or bot traffic (from spiders or robots).
In the Google Analytics dashboard, notice any sudden spike in website traffic. If there isn’t any special event on occasion within that timeframe, that is a probable sign of bot traffic.
Here are other signs that tell that an expired domain is overrun by bot traffic:
- Bot traffic does not have a referrer. It will always show up as Direct traffic
- Bots will always show up as New Visitors
- High bounce rate that’s almost always near 100%
- Average page views is always 1 per session
Again, it pays to check the authenticity of a domain’s traffic. Don’t get carried away by numbers.
5. Page Speed
The time it takes for a web page to load impacts user experience and SEO.
When a site loads fast, visitors and customers will be able to complete their online transactions. In 2010, Google announced that it was going to account speed as a new ranking factor.
Many factors influence your page speed such excessive use of plugins, ads, content management system, coding languages, and images.
Google PageSpeed Insights will measure your domain’s performance on desktop and mobile. At the same time, it will suggest possible optimizations for faster speed.
How to Buy an Expired Domain Name
The process of buying expired domains is different from registering a new one. Domains that expire and are not renewed by their owners are put up for auction.
Domain name registrars have their auction partners. GoDaddy is a popular auction partner. But first, you need to know the domain name registrar by conducting a WHOIS lookup. Knowing the registrar first will help you identify its auction house partner.
When the expired domain is released for auction, participate in the bidding. Again, it’s best to bid a few minutes prior to the end of the auction. You don’t want a domain that’s way too expensive (unless its SEO metrics are worth the price).
There are also domains that do not go through the auctioning process. For these, use a back-ordering service instead. Backordering or drop catching a domain means acquiring it when it is up for registration.
Getting a domain previously owned by someone has huge SEO benefits. If you’re planning to seriously monetize your site, an expired domain’s existing backlinks, traffic, and other metrics will help you climb to the top of search in less time.
To ensure that the domain you purchase gets you the best results, proceed with extreme caution. Whether you use the expired domain as your brand new site, 301 redirect it, or to start a PBN, vet it using the methods I outlined.