Admit it, once you read free in the title, you were intrigued. And why wouldn’t you be? In the world of SEO, not many things can be done cheaply, be it money-wise or time-wise.
In our guide for renewing .hr domains, we’re gonna provide you with exactly that – a possibility to renew and redirect a domain for an insubstantial amount of money. As you already know, the 301-redirect link building strategy is based on buying and redirecting expired domains to another (presumably yours) website.
Those expiring domains can be pretty pricey though. However, with some time and basic research, you can find and redirect a quality .hr domain for free. Even though .hr domains are (primarily) oriented on the Croatian market, they can still have a strong backlink profile, which can boost your website once redirection is implemented.
The process itself is pretty straightforward, and the majority of time is spent on finding the expired .hr domain which suits your niche. Ready to do this? Let’s dive into it!
So who is responsible for issuing .hr domains?
First things first, all national domains in Croatia are managed by CARNET (Croatian Academic and Research Network). CARNET, in partnership with domene.hr website, gives every person performing independent business activity registered in Croatia the right to one free .hr domain.
Businesses that can invoke this right are:
- Companies, associations, or other organizations
- Owners of a trade or craft
- Self-employed workers
The process of getting the free .hr domain is pretty simple and includes providing basic information like business name and Tax Number (OIB). CARNET however has a rule that the domain has to include the name of the company, association, or craft. In some cases, domain owners might have to provide additional info to CARNET, but in most cases, the registration is done within 24 hours, at domene.hr. The free domain is valid for one year, after which the owner has to renew it (again free of charge).
Purchasing domains on other registrars
National TLDs can also be obtained at other domain registrars, most of them Croatian. However, these registrars offer these domains for a specific price. Therefore, if you ever see that the .hr domain is being offered for a specific price, you’re on the wrong path.
To renew an expired .hr domain, you want to stick to the domene.hr website, the official website for registering and renewing free .hr domains.
Okay, now how do I renew the expired .hr domain?
So now you know what .hr domains are, and where do company owners get them for free. The interesting part comes next – where to find an expired .hr domain, and how to renew it.
First, you have to find an expired .hr domain
There are several tools available for finding expired domains. We definitely recommend using Spamzilla or ExpiredDomains.net, as they have filters that can help you find the domain most suitable for redirecting. Of course, you are looking for domains ending in .hr.
It is important to find a domain that is closely related to your niche. Google will value its backlinks more than if they were coming from a website focused on different industries.
These expired .hr domains are inactive. That means that you can’t access them and see what the website was all about. In this case, the Internet Archive comes in handy. Just type in the expired domain name, and check out what the website looked like in the past. These snapshots will help you decide if the website is related to your industry.
The best way to complete this first step is to create a list of potentially interesting .hr domains, based on their niche, domain age, and other relevant factors explained in our guide to finding expired domains.
Next up – run a domain site audit
Okay, so you have the list of domains, but are you sure they don’t bring spam or bad backlinks with them? Maybe they have a bunch of PBN websites pointing to them? Those are the factors you should avoid.
That is why it’s essential to run a domain scan and see the overall “health” of an expired .hr domain. To do that, use a premium tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush, and make sure to check the metrics like Domain Authority, the number of referring domains, dofollow links, and other.
Now it’s time to find a previous domain owner
In order to renew an expired .hr domain, you need to know who the previous owner was. Basically, you are looking for the Tax Number (OIB in Croatian) of the company, craft, or the business individual who owned the expired domain.
OIB is the unique 11-digit number given to each person, as well as company, in Croatia. The easiest way to find this number is by typing in “[Company name] OIB” in Google. You can also use the fininfo.hr to find the OIB.
But what if you don’t know the company name, or you are unsure if it’s correct? Once again, the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive comes to the rescue! The information about the company, like the company name, address, and phone number are usually placed on the About Us page, or in the footer of the website. You can use the Internet Archive to find this information, which will then lead you to the necessary OIB number.
In order to renew a domain, the Tax Number of the company has to be valid and active. If the previous company ceased to operate, and its Tax Number is inactive, you won’t be able to renew the expired domain. Therefore, the company has to have an “Active” status in the Fininfo report.
Renew a domain at domene.hr
You’ve got the OIB number from the previous owner? Great! Now head to the domene.hr homepage and do the following:
- Enter the URL of the expired .hr domain
- You will be presented with the screen saying the domain is not registered
- Follow the link on the screen to get to the registration page
- Enter the necessary information
- User Type – in most cases this would be a Legal entity
- Tax Number – is the 11-digit OIB number
- Email – the email you’d like to receive the confirmation to activate the domain
Final step – confirm the domain renewal
The only thing left to do is to confirm the domain renewal. You will receive an email shortly after finishing the previous step. The email is valid one hour after submitting the information in the previous step.
The received email contains the authorization link leading to the form where you’ll have to confirm the domain renewal. Make sure that all information in the form (business name, address, and of course the email) is correct.
It’s important to set up the DNS records to point to a hosting provider (more on it below). But don’t worry, you can come back to this step even after saving the other information on the page. In case you need to update anything, just go to the MY DOMAIN page at domene.hr.
After reviewing the information, just confirm the renewal by clicking the “Save and renew the domain” button.
That’s it! You’ve successfully renewed an expired .hr domain free of charge! Keep in mind that renewal is valid for only one year. If you plan on using the domain in the long-term, you will need to renew it each year.
Okay, so how do I redirect my new .hr domain?
Redirecting the .hr domain is somewhat different from redirecting other TLDs. Usually, the redirect can be done via the registrar where the domain is purchased. However, in our case, it is necessary to purchase the hosting package for your new domain and set up the redirect there.
CARNET has a deal with selected hosting providers in Croatia. There are about 20 of them at the moment, so you have plenty to choose from. Our recommendation is Totohost, as they have reliable customer support, and pretty affordable hosting packages.
Since your only goal is to create a 301 redirect, you can choose the basic plan, which will cost you about 20€ per year. You don’t need any additional features, as the hosting will serve for redirection purposes only. If you’ve set up the DNS records in the previous step, then just log in to your Totohost profile and set up the 301 redirect from your new domain to your current website.
You can choose to redirect the newly acquired domain to point to your homepage, product page, or some other location you find appropriate.
What happens if the previous owner tries to renew his domain?
Every .hr domain owner receives email reminders 30 days prior to the domain expiration. If the owner doesn’t renew the domain on time, it becomes inactive.
The crucial part is this: if you manage to renew the .hr domain, and in the process, you update the email address of the domain owner (which now would be you), then the previous owner won’t be able to access the MY DOMAIN area and renew his former domain.
Is this domain renewal technique legal?
From Google’s point of view, everything is legit and legal. Google doesn’t care who the domain owner is, as long as you don’t do anything suspicious with it.
On the other hand, there might be some legal disputes if the previous domain owner thinks “that the domain user has registered the domain and/or that he uses it contrary to the principle of good faith and fair dealing.”
But think about it from this angle: the previous owner registered his free domain. He has an obligation to renew it each year in order to keep it alive. One month before the expiration, the owner receives DAILY email reminders to renew his/hers domain.
After a month of reminders, the owner still doesn’t do it! How much time and encouragement do you think he/she deserves? We think one month is more than enough. Moreover, the basic arbitration fee the previous owner has to pay in advance to argue the ownership is about 350€. That alone might be enough for them to not engage in a dispute.
Renewing .hr domains (almost) for free is definitely something to look into if you’re trying to generate quality backlinks to your website.
Despite the fact that Croatian domains are focused on the smaller market, with detailed research you can still find fitting domains worthy of redirection. The whole process of finding, renewing, and redirecting a domain can be done in a few hours. All you have to do is be persistent and find a domain that will lift your own website with its backlinks.