Although I don’t usually like expired goods, I have been thinking a lot lately how to find expired domains to drive search traffic and build domain authority and make more money.
This is where the old saying “one person’s trash, another person’s treasure” applies.
You can still make use of those deleted or expired domains even if someone else doesn’t want them anymore.
What are the Expired Domains
Before I get into the details of how to find expired domains, and what you can do to them, let me first explain what happens to domains when they expire.
It is not uncommon for website owners to forget to set their domain name up to auto-renew via the domain registration dashboard.
Businesses also face financial challenges all the time. Therefore, they don’t have to pay an annual fee for maintaining their website domain.
Most domain registrars offer a grace period between 7 and 30 days during which domains can be reactivated. Business can then resume as normal by paying the registration fee.
If that does not happen, the domain will expire.
The domain registrar will then list the domain name on auction sites.
The auction usually lasts between 10 and 15 days. After that, the winner is the new owner of the domain. If nobody bids, the domain “drops”.
After the auction, dropped domains will not be available for sale for several weeks. They are then returned to the pool of domains that you can buy for $10 at any registrar.
It is interesting to note that most domains have backlinks pointing to them.
These links can have a huge impact on your search engine rankings. They are also worth much more than what you would pay for the domain if they were sold by a broker.
Let’s now ask a very important question: How does Google view expired domains?
The search engine giant is quite unsure about them, to be honest.
Last time this topic was raised was November 2020, when John Mueller hosted a webmasters Q&A in which a user inquired if Google would reset an expired domain’s backlinks.
Mueller stated that there are many ways expired domains could change hands. It’s very difficult for Google not to take action to reset the link pointing at an expiring domain without triggering lots of false positives by people who pick up these domains for legitimate purposes.
He mentioned that Google could help you figure out the purpose of the domain and take appropriate action.
It is likely that this means it won’t pass any link juice from an expired domain’s profile.
I have learned from my past experiences and read between the lines to see that there is still a way to increase your search engine rankings and traffic. You can do this by finding expired domains that relate to what you do.
What can you do with expired domains?
1. Create a site on an expired domain
This is the easiest way to use expired domains if you don’t already have a website. This is what we did for Bomisch.com which was bought by Alpha Investors.
The site was domain-authorized at 17. However, it had quality backlinks (dofollow) from sites such as:
- Apartment Therapy
- Country Living
This gave the site a solid foundation of quality and relevant authority links in the home improvement niche. The site ranked well for highly sexy keywords like “how to install an urinal” or “how big is the bathroom”.
It would have been months to optimize and build links for a new site, but Bomisch ranked it for similar keywords within weeks.
To this day, I still see new content growing much faster than sites that were created on new domains.
2. Create a private blog network
You can also use expired domains to create private blogs networks (PBNs)
Although I don’t like this approach, it’s possible to use it.
Many people love the idea of creating a small network of blogs to increase page authority for any content that is important.
It’s a lot like all those Dear Sir emails trying to sell you sites that look like trash. Most of these sites are old domains.
You don’t share websites when you create them yourself. Google is less likely to penalize you than if you buy spam links from George.
3. Redirect expired domain names to your site
An expired domain can be redirected to an authority site.
It sounds great in principle. This is definitely less straightforward than building a PBN. There are numerous examples of sites that were bought and then redirected to their original owners.
Healthline, for example, purchased Authority Nutrition and used the content from the website to launch its nutrition category. This now accounts for 25% of Healthline’s overall traffic.
(N.B. (N.B. )
The Wirecutter was also purchased by The New York Times for $30 Million and redirects to nytimes.com.
Both cases showed that traffic exceeded expectations and crossed the line in both cases.
These examples were successful in my experience because the content was also transmitted.
You shouldn’t buy an expired domain in the hope of making a dirty wildcard redirect. This is not a good idea. Although you may increase your domain authority, direct traffic gains are minimal.
This approach is best if you are able to pull the content using a tool such as Wayback Machine, upload it to your site, then redirect each page one by one.
How to find expired domains that are worth buying
It doesn’t necessarily mean that an expired domain has a lot of quality links, but it is worth your hard-earned money.
These are the three main criteria I use to determine if a domain is a good investment before buying it.
1. Does the expired domain relate to my current site?
Relevance is more important than everything. Relevance is the best thing.
DR 15 Relevant site over a domain authority 15 over an unrelated one with a DA 40 any day of week. Ask yourself this question: How similar is the old site to the one you are about to build?
John Muller’s words have shown that if the domain is not too close to your home, you may get less value from it.
2. What are the Backlinks to the Expired Domain’s Strength?
It is clear that the backlink profile of an expired domain is crucial. However, assessing authority requires more analysis than a surface-level one. Don’t trust metrics such as domain authority and domain rating. Spam links can be used to create these metrics that will not improve your search engine performance.
No, what you’re looking for is relevant links on high-domain-authority sites within the industry you’re trying to enter. It would be extremely difficult to obtain these links in another way.
Bomisch.com’s link to Apartment Therapy caught my attention because I knew I wouldn’t be able get that link through guest posting.
3. Is the domain expired subject to spam or Google Penalties
You don’t want to purchase a domain name that is seemingly invincible but has lots of penalties against it.
These penalties can be used to reroute the domain to your existing site or to create a new website from it.
It’s very easy to see if expired domains (or expiring domains) have penalties. Just look at the organic search history in any SEO tool. If there is a significant drop in traffic that has not been recovered, I would avoid the domain.
Where to buy expired domains
You now know the advantages of buying expired domain names and what to look out for. Let’s now discuss whereto purchase expired domain names.
What tools are available to help you find expired domains that have the potential to improve your website traffic and ranking?
Three Top Marketplaces for Domain Buyers –
You can find an expired domain in the first and easiest place: the auction sites of domain registrars, which are the most popular and largest.
It might surprise you to find out that these domains require you to pay an entry fee. It’s quite affordable at $5/year and you can still browse expired domain lists as a member.
This means that you only need to sign-up when you plan to buy expired domains.
But there is a problem. GoDaddy’s auction interface makes it difficult to find domains that will boost your search engine performance.
It only gives you the domain name, bids, web traffic number, estimated value, current price, and an estimated value.
This is my only recommendation. SEOs are known to find the most valuable domains and will fight for them like a pack.
If you sort by bids you will find the most valuable domains (but not necessarily the best deals).
If you plan to use GoDaddy for expired domains, expect to spend a lot time copying and pasting random websites into Ahrefs.
Dropl makes it much easier for potential website owners to purchase expired domains. Dropl allows you to search domains on multiple marketplaces. It also has filtering tools that make it easy for you to find the right domain for your needs.
Dropl is more robust than simply searching GoDaddy for expired domains. Dropl is a great option if you are short on time, but still want to be a successful domain hunter-gatherer. It costs $37 per month. You will be impressed by the filtering options. Filtering options include:
- Majestic metrics include Trust Flow and Citation Flow
- Ahrefs metrics including Domain Rating, Linking Root Domains, traffic, etc.
- Moz metrics
- SEMrush metrics
- The auction will end
- Domain language
- Dropl proprietary metrics that detect spam. They check for spam and show how long the domain has been stored. Also, they indicate when domains were dropped.
It does not just perform this function for expired domains on Godaddy, but also on smaller domain auctions such as Snapnames, NameJet and Dynadot.
This is my preferred way to pick up domains that have expired. I set my filters to include:
- Sites with a Ahrefs Domain Rating 25+
- Domains in English:.com and.net
- Dropl spam score 25 domains
Then, I just browse through the results to see if there is anything that catches my attention.
It’s amazing that you can access any domain without leaving Dropl. You can access:
- You can view the site’s Wayback Machine history for a glimpse of what it was like in its former state
- Backlinks and anchor text
- If it has been redirected
- Ahrefs metrics
- Drop history
- If the site is still included in the Google index.
- Google’s current rankings for certain keywords and language history.
This is usually enough to determine if the site is worth further investigation. It’s still possible to add it to Ahrefs if it is. Ahrefs allows you to look at domains’ linking sites and see where they point.
3. Premium Marketplaces
Want to see a list of high-domain-authority sites to build a new authority site on, but don’t fancy doing all the legwork yourself? Premium marketplaces such as ODYS or Juice Market can help you.
These sites don’t give domain names away for free. Many domains I have seen on premium marketplaces are selling for $4,000 to $6,000, even though they have similar metrics to domains I bought from GoDaddy for $500 to $1,000.
If you are comfortable with that, you should check out one of these marketplaces. Both marketplaces are managed by trustworthy companies that won’t steal your cash and are capable of finding expired domains to be used in your business.
ODYS also offers a lot of metrics that will help you understand your costs. ODYS can even do branding and build you a website if you are willing to pay.
Conclusion: Is it worth buying an expired domain?
My experience shows that sites built on old domains are more successful than those built on new domains.
Even though their branding can be worse than a new website, I recommend that you start your site with an old domain.
It should be used for a period of time. Then, redirect it to another domain and notify Google via Search Console about the address changes.
If you do this correctly, your rankings will transfer over to the new domain. You’ll also get a faster start than if it was a brand-new domain.