Let’s face it. SEO can be hard, and there are so many people begging website owners for links that it’s becoming more and more difficult to get quality links that way.
This is what brings us to the topic we will be discussing in this post: Expired domains. Simply put, many domains with great SEO value expire every day, and you can purchase them and use them to get quality links for your own website.
We have explained everything in great detail in this guide to help you start utilizing this highly effective way of doing SEO for your website.
What is an Expired Domain?
Every domain has to be renewed annually. If the domain owner fails to renew it, the domain will expire and after a certain period, it will be available to be registered for others.
People and companies let domains expire for a variety of reasons. Maybe their business failed. Their company went bankrupt. The previous owner passed away. And so on.
Most people hardly know that the domain that’s useless to them now could be valuable for someone else.
This gives an opportunity to SEOs to buy these expired domain names and use them to power up their main website or use them in other ways to create an online business out of them.
Different Factors to Look For
Not all expired domains are good to be used for SEO purposes. In fact, most of them are just worthless, at least SEO-wise, as they do not have any backlinks.
There are certain important factors you must consider when looking for a good expired domain that has the potential to boost the SEO of your main site, also known as a money site among the SEO community.
Backlinks – Quality, Not Quantity!
Backlinks are the biggest factor influencing the quality of an expired domain, and they are what that pass link juice to your main site that you want to improve in the search rankings.
But it’s not only about the quantity. An expired domain with, say, only 36 quality backlinks may be much better than one with 1245 backlinks. It’s because what matters is the quality of the backlinks.
If the backlinks are mostly “comment” backlinks that anyone can get by commenting on the same websites linking to that domain, then it’s pretty much a useless expired domain. On the other hand, if the backlinks come from real posts on good sites that are hard to get, then you may have found a good expired domain.
The niche relevancy of the expired domain is another very important factor. If you’re looking to power up the SEO of your travel site, you ideally wouldn’t want to buy an expired domain with a history of legal content.
You would want to buy something at least somewhat relevant to the niche of your money site. In fact, as long as possible, you should stick to the same niche or field that your money site is in.
So if you have a travel site, your first choice would only be expired domains that used to be in the travel niche, and not something like the health niche even if you can somehow link them naturally.
You can find what the website used to be on the Wayback Machine here.
While you need to check the history of the expired domain to find important information about its niche, you also need to check the domain’s “SEO” history. When we say SEO history, we mean checking whether it has been used by someone in the SEO industry before.
Most times, an expired domain that has already been used by an SEO before will become useless, and in some cases may even be toxic to the SEO of your money site.
This is because SEOs that let their expired domains expire tend to do churn and burn SEO, meaning that they try to get as much benefit out of it as possible in a short period of time, without caring about maintaining its SEO power for a long time.
This often results in Google marking that domain as spam or penalizing it, basically not letting it pass any link juice to any domain it links to. Furthermore, in some cases, getting a link from a penalized domain may result in getting your main website penalized as well in Google.
To check whether an expired domain has been abused by an SEO before, put the domain into the Wayback machine and check how the website used to look over different periods of time.
If you find that once the expired domain used to be a proper niche site, and at one point suddenly turned into a random blog post site talking about all the topics under the sun and linking out to random websites, then it was likely used and exploited by an SEO and should be avoided like the plague.
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Where Are the Links Pointing?
Another important factor that’s often overlooked is what pages of the expired domains its backlinks are pointing to. In other words, if most of them are pointing to the homepage most of its link juice is intact.
But if its backlinks are all scattered to different dead pages then it may get a little difficult to get the most SEO benefit out of it. Sometimes, SEOs recreate the specific pages that have got the most backlinks, but if they are scattered among too many pages, it may turn out to be too much work to do and make it hard for you to get the most amount of link juice from it.
You would ideally want most of the backlinks – or at least its best backlinks – pointing either to the homepage or a couple pages at the most.
Using Metrics to Filter Out Useless, Poor Domains
Thousands of domains expire every day. It’s humanly impossible to manually check them all for their SEO power or if it’s going to be worth registering them for their SEO juice.
However, there are different domain rating services you can use to filter out most domains and only focus on the ones that are worth your times.
The Majestic’s TF (Trust Flow) and Ahref’s DR (Domain Rating) are some of the most reliable metrics, while the Moz’s DA (Domain Authority) is one of the most popular metrics too although it can sometimes be misleading and it’s important to note that all of them can be manipulated. So, heads up!
How to Best Use Expired Domains for SEO?
Now that you know pretty much everything you need to know about finding the right expired domains for SEO, let’s explain how to best use these domains. Even the best expired domains with great link juice that you pay top dollar for in auctions would perform poorly if you don’t set it up right or use it the way you should be using.
301 redirection is basically forwarding the expired domain to your money site domain. So for example, if your expired domain is goodseodomain.com and your money site is seoagency.com, setting up a 301 redirection would mean that all pages, including the homepage of goodseodomain.com, would now automatically forward to seoagency.com.
Let’s quickly walk you through the pros and cons of this method.
- Ability to pass on the most link juice as all pages and, therefore, the backlinks of the expired domain would forward to your money site
- It can give a major boost to the rankings of your website
- If the expired domain you have redirected was in the same niche and had good rankings, then your money site may be able to gain some of the expired domain’s rankings too for certain related keywords
- If you have bought an expensive powerful expired domain, you can get the most benefit out of it by 301 redirecting it to your money site
- You can only redirect so many expired domains; overdoing it may get you in trouble
- You may not always be able to redirect the expired domain to your site’s homepage, depending on how the expired domain’s site used to be
- Similarly, you may not be able to redirect the entire domain in every case, in some cases you will have to set up specific pages of the domain and redirect them to your site accordingly
301 redirection is considered to be the best way to use an expired domain only when you have a really powerful expired domain that’s in the same niche as your money site. You can redirect it to the homepage of your site, although that practice is now believed to be a little risky.
Some webmasters prefer redirecting it to something like their website’s about us page, and linking to their important money pages and homepage from the about us page. This is a safer approach and helps things look more natural.
Talking about looking natural, redirecting a bunch of expired domains to your money site is going to look far from natural. That’s why we recommend using this method with only a couple of domains at most, the ones which are the most powerful and relevant to your money site.
Starting your money site on one such powerful expired domain is a good idea too as that helps you get a head-start in the search engines.
Using as a PBN
A PBN is a Private Blog Network. What it basically means is that you build a network of your own websites set up on expired domains with the sole purpose of powering up the SEO of your money site.
This has been an age-old method for improving the search rankings for a website, and if done right, it works beautifully well. However, the biggest downside associated with it is that if done in a wrong or bad way, it may get your money site penalized in the long run.
That said, using good, clean and niche relevant expired domains as PBNs can work wonders for the rankings for your money site.
The process of choosing the right expired domains to use as PBNs would remain the same that we explained above. However, the way you set them up would be completely different than how you would use them for 301 redirects.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you should set up these sites to look like real websites, and not just something intended to improve the rankings of your money site.
Once the setup is done, start putting up quality posts about different important topics in your niche, without linking to your money site. You can link to some authority sites like Wikipedia during this period though.
Monitor how the site behaves in the search engines for a few weeks. Does it index properly? Do all the posts you’re putting up are indexing as well? Are they ranking for some easy but relevant keywords among the top 10 pages of Google?
Checking for these things will help you get a much better insight about the quality and SEO power of your expired domains. Needless to say, if any of these sites do not index on Google, then simply abandon them and do not link to your money site from those domains.
To check whether they are indexing in Google, simply search for “site:domainname.com” in Google.
After a bunch of such posts and several weeks, you can put up a post from where you link to your money site. Make sure you do it naturally and maintain a healthy keyword anchor diversity while linking to your money site from these expired domain sites.
By keyword anchor, we mean the text you use in the post to link to your money site. Make sure they are all at least slightly different.
If you link to your money site using the same keyword anchor text, then it’s going to look unnatural and may get you in trouble. In my opinion, it’s best to use branded anchors or something general such as “click here” or “read more”.
Repurposing the Expired Domains
This is a more unique approach to using expired domains for SEO. Instead of 301 redirecting them to your money site or setting them up as a new site and using as PBNs, you can set them up to be exactly the same as how they used to be before.
There are several websites that allow you to download the HTML website files from the Wayback machine so that you can use them to recreate the websites from the expired domains.
If you want to recreate them in WordPress, however, you will need to mess around with the code or hire a WordPress developer to help you with it. There are lots of gigs on Fiverr that can help you do that.
Once you have recreated the old websites, you can put some additional text on the website in a natural link that allows you to link to your money site.
How and Where to Find for Good Expired Domains?
Now that you have learned the entire process of choosing the right expired domains to the different ways of setting them up, let us also tell you a bit about how to go about finding them.
There are some software in the market that let you crawl the world-wide-web and find domains that have expired and available to register. You can also set your own filters with metrics to find only the type of domains you want and filter out the rest.
However, this can be a very time-consuming process and would involve a lot of additional work making sure the domain is clean and good to use for SEO. This is simply because rarely would you find a good domain that becomes available to register for the normal registration price. If you do, it could likely be a domain that has been exploited by an SEO before and is now worthless.
Even the clean expired domains available for normal registration price aren’t too effective. So how do you get really good expired domains that are likely to be clean and powerful while not having used by an SEO before?
Well, the simple answer is domain name auctions. This is because good expiring domains with many quality backlinks are rarely let to expire.
When they near deletion, they end up in the domain name auctions and many SEOs bid aggressively to win them.
Here are some of the top places to find quality SEO expired domains:
Similarly, a good way to find the type of expired domains you want and also where they are being option is ExpiredDomains.net.
Upon registering and logging in, you need to click on the Pending Domains option, and then click on Show Filter at the top left as highlighted in the image below.
You can then set a variety of filters to find the type of domains you need that are yet to expire.
You can then click on their End Date to find out where they are being auctioned and bid on them.
Here is a good video of how to find expired domains using paid tools Ahrefs and Scrapebox.
Another way is to look for the domain brokers that use custom-built tools to catch a domain seconds after it expires.
That’s it, folks! This was a straight-to-the-point guide to using expired domains to boost your website’s rankings in search engines.
We are sure you would be able to use it as a great reference and build an SEO process out of it.