Serprise agency

301 Link Building Examples

What better proof of the effectiveness of expired domain link building than seeing it in a real-life example? The following analysis includes case studies of several websites, all of which used 301 redirects to increase their own SEO strength.

Although we are not able to disclose the business names or the URLs of expired domains, you’ll still be able to see how different redirection approaches produce different results. A small piece of advice for anyone getting on the expired domains bandwagon – don’t expect results to come overnight. In some cases, the effect of the redirect can be seen only after a longer period of time.

Case Study #1 – Car Resale

Our first example is the one from the car dealership industry. The purpose of the website is to provide users with an online platform where they can list their vehicles for sale. There is an option to purchase vehicles, too. The domain was registered in 2017 and the previous snapshots from the Internet Archive say there was no reselling of the domain. Also, the content and the purpose of the website were always focused on the car resale niche. 

However, the most intriguing part about this domain is the keywords it ranks for. The best performing keyword is by far “wir kaufen dein auto” (we buy your car), with 170.000 search volume. That query alone brings thousands of users each month. Other highly-ranked and highly-searched keywords include “auto verkaufen” (car sales) and “autoankauf” (car purchase), totaling the volume at about 20.000. The website is also ranking high for numerous keyword variations and long-tail keywords.

So, how is it possible that the website using expired domains as part of its link building strategy ranks in the top 3-5 places for keywords generating over 200.000 searches each month?  

Well if you’ve wondered about the effectiveness of expired domains, then here is your proof. This website managed to rank almost at the top of the SERP for competitive transactional keywords, by using expired domains link building. 

The metrics

The owner started implementing 301 redirects sometime in November 2020. This is a brief overview of the domain before the redirect:

  • Domain Rating: 18
  • Referring Pages: 913
  • Referring Domains: 73

And here are all the metrics pulled from the Ahrefs, just before the 301 redirection:

ahrefs metrics

And this is the status of the domain when it comes to organic searches and keywords at the time:

ahrefs organic traffic

And this is how the domain metrics look like now:

ahrefs stats

Overall, the DA increased by 105 percent, as did the referring pages (190 percent), and referring domains (1084 percent). When examining the profile and the strength of referring domains, even if we ignore the ones with low DA, and seemingly no traffic, we’re still left with a respectable number of domains redirecting to the website. 

Some backlinks came organically, but the influence of the 301 redirects is visible. As Google gave more authority to the domain, it’s likely that other websites just started linking back to it.

How was the redirect implemented

The website owner took the easiest approach when it came to redirecting expired domains. Basically, the redirect was done exclusively on a domain level, meaning no specific pages were redirected, but entire domains. While this is showing to be a successful approach, it is still riskier than rebuilding and then redirecting specific pages.

Apart from the homepage, the owner decided to “push” redirects to a specific page that has user testimonials and a CTA button for requesting a quote.

To make matters worse (or better), the owner redirected numerous domains that are not in the same niche as his website. The domains covering all sorts of industries, from football to CBD oil, were redirected. The results? Pretty good, we would say, as the redirection clearly helped strengthen the authority of the website, consequently generating more organic traffic.

Case Study #2 – Prefab Houses Sale

The second example of the 301 redirect strategy is a website specialized in selling prefabricated houses. Registered in July 2020, the website also had only one owner who purchased it “cleanly”; i.e. the domain was not parked or expired in the past.

The industry of prefabricated houses is on the rise, but is significantly trimmer than the car dealership, especially when focused on a smaller market, like in this example.

The metrics

The 301 redirecting started in Octoober 2021. Here is a brief overview of the domain metrics before the redirect:

  • Domain Rating: 2
  • Referring Pages: 2365
  • Referring Domains: 31

And here are all the metrics pulled from the Ahrefs, just before the redirection:

Expired domain example metrics

This is how the domain metrics look like now:

301 redirect metrics

  • Domain Rating: 2.1 (+5%)
  • Reffering Pages: 2446 (+3.42%)
  • Reffering Domains: 39 (+25%)

How was the redirect implemented

As it currently stands, the owner bought several expired domains (all in the real estate industry), and then redirected them to his own website. The expired domains had a similar Domain Rating as the owner’s website, which is also telling something. Some SEO experts don’t want to start with redirecting high domain rating websites, so not to bring the unnecessary attention from Google. 

What is more, the domain is brand new, so it could be suspicious if it suddenly started getting backlinks from high authority websites. The 301 redirect was added in October 2021, and the results became visible soon thereafter.

Case Study #3 – Bedding industry

Another example of successfully redirecting expired domains comes from our client in the mattress/bed industry. A quick overview of the website – registered in 2020, not parked or expired before that, with fresh content added on a weekly basis.

The main purpose of the website is selling beds, mattresses and the belonging accessories. Moreover, the users can inform about various topics in the bedding industry, from practical guides to purchase advices. 

For this purpose, we redirected only one domain (the entire domain, not its specific pages) to our client’s homepage. However, the expired domain was strongly niche-related, which turned out to be a major factor. After the 301 redirect, our client started ranking for the “luxury bed company” keyword, which generates around 8100 monthly searches.

The metrics

Here are the Ahrefs metrics before the redirect took place. Note that the impact of the redirect was more visible on the keyword-level (luxury bed company), rather than on a domain-level.

  • Domain Rating: 2
  • Reffering Domains: 11


Organic traffic from 301 redirects

And this is how our client performed for the said keyword in the past three months:

Google Search Console report

Search Console queries

How was the redirect implemented

As mentioned before, the redirect was done on a domain-level, straightforward to the homepage. We’ve redirected both www and non-www versions of the expired domain, which had a Domain Rating of 14, and 8 referring domains pointing back to it.

So far, the redirection impact is definitely seen in the rise of rankings for specific keywords, but we expect it to pull up the website in its entirety.

What happens after the removal of 301 redirects?

In order to confirm the thesis that 301 redirects work, we decided to remove all redirects for one of our domains. Will this affect the acquired authority of the domain? How long will it take for Google to realize that a domain no longer has that many backlinks? 

From our experience, when setting up 301 redirects, Google (and SEO tools like Ahrefs) can take quite some time to register the redirection at all. In one of our other side projects, we’ve set up several 301 redirects to a website, and even after 2 months, the redirect is not yet visible either in Google Search Console or in Ahrefs. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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