Most people interested in websites and online marketing already know how to buy a domain. It isn’t hard, nor generally expensive.
The thing is, new domains are not ranked and they take a lot of work to get into a half way decent position in the search engine results pages.
As well as that, finding the perfect domain name is getting increasingly difficult, especially if you want to stick with the holy trinity or .com, .org and .net domains.
Second Hand with the New Car Smell
That’s where expired domains come into play.
An expired domain is a domain that someone bought, maybe even built a website on, but has for one reason or another let it lapse.
These types of domains are usually the same price as normal domains as they have been released back into the wild.
The important thing is that these domains have a history, mostly bad or ok, but some of them hit the sweet spot and have a good history and maybe even some solid backlinks.
With a domain like that your new site can get an initial boost.
Of course, that boost alone doesn’t enable you to sit back, you still need to work on ranking the site!
What Benefit Does an Expired Domain Bring?
Most often marketers used expired domains in things like Private Blog Networks or as a 301 redirect, both being designed to help improve the rankings of your core money site.
That being said, if the domain is good enough you can even build a full blown money site on top of it.
How to Find Expired Domains
To find an expired domain you will need to use some online services.
One of the most popular of these is called expireddomains.net.
This site lists millions of “deleted” domains. A deleted domain is basically just an expired domain that has either not been through auction or went through auction without being purchased.
As well as that it also lists expired domains that can be placed on backorder with the domain registrars, in order to try and nab the domain.
There are of course other sites out there that can help you find expired domains, such as freshdrop.com and domcop.com.
Not always what it seems…
If you have ever bought a second hand car, you know that you really need to check it out. After all it might look all shiny and new on the surface, but be a death trap inside.
The same goes for domains: making sure you do your due diligence before purchasing will make sure that you don’t purchase a dud.
Nothing could be worse than spending time and money on a site built on an expired domain, whose history ranges from Viagra pills, through payday loans services to something in Chinese that you think is about horses. This is especially so when your site is about none of those things.
Inheriting this baggage of potentially harmful backlinks is a big no no.
Luckily there are some tools that you can use to examine the domains under a microscope to make sure you get a decent domain.
If it sounds spammmy…
The first thing to check involves a free tool that everyone can access: your common sense.
If the domain looks or sounds spammy, then it is most likely full of spam. Do yourself a favour and save your time and just skip past any domains that fail the “eyeball test”.
Google: Your new best friend!
Some days I wake up and expect Google to have brewed me a coffee and made me eggs, that’s how many useful services they have.
In relation to expired domains, the only service you need to use is the Google Search itself. You just need to be smart about it.
If you do a search for ‘site:domain.com’ this will bring up a list of all the pages that Google has indexed.
Casanhelp.com is the expired domain used in these examples.
Indexed and looking like it is spam free (well as far as my Spanish allows me to check).
This will tell you two things:
- The domain got indexed!
- A brief look through the search results can help you spot any potential spammy content.
The next search to do is simply for the domain itself, so ‘domain.com’. This search will give you a broader search that can help you get ab idea about the reputation that the site had: whether people have been complaining about spam from it for instance.
Way, way, waaaay back!
The internet is an ephemeral place: sites pop up and disappear all the time.
Luckily some people have decided to try and archive as much of the internet as possible (no small task!) and you can use this to your advantage when researching an expired domain.
The Way Back Machine provided by the Internet Archive enables you to drop in a domain and see how it has changed over the years.
Casanhelp.com via the Way Back Machine
You get to see an actual cached copy of the site so you can really see what they have been doing and you can check for dodgy links, poor anchor text and you can even examine the code for hidden spam links etc.
It’s far from perfect, and often with broken links and images, but it does provide an almost tangible way to check out that domain.
Pain in the backlink
Finally, one of the most important aspects that needs to be checked is the backlink profile.
This needs to be looked at for a double edged reason: to make sure the backlink profile is decent and not full of spam.
At the end of the day, this is what will determine if the domain is to be crossed off the list, added to the PBN list as a potential or bought as a main authority or money site.
It’s best to use two services when doing this: Majestic.com and Ahrefs.com. By using both you will get a wider picture of the state of the backlinks.
It’s a good idea though, not to get too hung up on metrics like Page Rank or Trust Flow as these can be faked. Instead, look at the quality of the back links and judge for yourself.
The Bottom Line
Expired domains are very useful in that they can provide a huge boost to an existing or new website.
They do need to be chosen with care though, so make sure that you do your research before buying one.