Understanding Expired Domains and How to Use Them

by PB4 Editor | Oct 8, 2020 | SEO

Expired domains are a great option to give yourself a head start if launching a new website is in your plans or are only looking for a way of boosting the rankings of an existing one.

If you are not aware of how to use or benefit from an expired domain, in this article, we will cover several ways to take advantage of the attributes that come with quality expired domains.

What is an Expired Domain?

An expired domain is a domain that has not been renewed by its owner, thus becoming available for purchase due to the contract with the registrar ending on expiration.

Therefore, these domains can be registered again by a new owner, who can then take advantage of all the work that has been done to power them up in the search engines.

Ultimately, a domain is an asset like any other and depending on how the domain was treated while it was in use, its value will be lower or higher.

Why Buy and Use an Expired Domain?

When you consider buying something other people don’t seem to want anymore, asking why you should buy it is a legitimate question.

Indeed, if an expired domain is so great, why did the previous owner abandon it, and how it can be of value to me?

The reasons for domain abandonment can vary, but most of the time, it all boils down to people or companies taking on projects that fail for different circumstances, and while those specific endeavors may have not been successful, very often a significant investment is made along the way in order to prop up the business idea that was initially behind the purchase and use of the now expiring domain.

Part of this investment usually comes in the form of links and authority built into the domain, all of which will remains attached to it at the time of expiration, ready to be enjoyed by a new owner who can repurpose that investment to get a return.

Imagine for a second that a startup producing electric bicycles invests a few hundred thousand or even a few million dollars launching their product, and, in the process, they buy a domain, set up a website, and start selling online. To that end, they spend a ton of money in SEO, social media, and other promotion strategies to get some visibility, resulting in the confection of a strong link profile and authority for their domain.

Fast forward, the company goes under due to bad management, and the domain is not renewed, yet, it has been left with hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of powerful links pointing to it, and with enough authority to rank for competitive keywords.

A new owner comes in, buys the domain at expiration, and completely shifts the business model around it by replacing the original purpose of the domain with an affiliate website to promote electric bicycles of all brands.

The new owner will be able to quickly start ranking his/her affiliate website thanks to the link profile already built into the domain, and likely generate traffic as well as profits within a matter of weeks or months, all by investing a small amount in the purchase of the domain and setting up a new website and content on it, instead of having to buy a brand new domain and invest thousands of dollars powering it up in order to start seeing some kind of results.

This is a perfect example of one man’s garbage can be another man’s treasure, because while the previous owner might see the domain as worthless due to the failure of the business venture originally built around it, a new owner can take it with all its potential to use it as a platform to kickstart a new idea and hit the ground running.

Of course, for all this to happen, you have to be looking at a quality expired domain, because the hard truth is that most of the time a domain will be abandoned to expiration with no actual value due to a weak or spammy link profile.

So, to sum it up, using quality expired domains has these benefits:

  • Leverage the domain’s exiting backlinks and authority
  • Enjoy the traffic already flowing to the domain
  • Save time and money while getting results faster

Therefore, provided that you find an expired domain with solid metrics, getting one will enable you to get a head start in any project you are looking to take on while saving a very significant amount of time and money in terms of SEO work.

How Can You Use an Expired Domain?

An expired domain can be used in different ways, but these are some of the most common ones:

  • You can build a new authority site

The idea, in this case, is pretty straightforward, and it involves setting up a new website with fresh content on a particular niche in order to quickly gain traction in the search engines, start ranking and monetizing the resulting organic traffic based on any of the different business models available to turn that traffic into revenue.

One of the keys to ranking in the search engines and pulling targeted traffic from them is the presence of backlinks pointing to your website, so if you get a domain with a good number of quality links already built into it, ranking for your desired keywords will be a lot easier and cheaper.

I know this because I myself have used expired domains in the past, and I have seen how massive of a difference it can make in terms of SEO, and how a new website can be ranking and generating traffic in a matter of weeks instead or months, by simply taking advantage of the expired domain’s attributes.

Indeed, if you were to start your new website on a brand-new domain, you would have to begin the process of building backlinks to it from scratch, which in this day and age of high competition environment will surely set you back several thousand dollars and force you to wait for months or even years to reach a dominant position in your niche, that is if you ever do.

On the other hand, if you build your website using an expired domain, your expense will be limited to the price of acquisition of the domain, which can be surprisingly low if you know where to look.

Of course, keep in mind that in order for an expired domain to actually help your new authority website rank in the search engines, it has to be a quality domain, meaning that it needs to be supported by a strong link profile, something we will be explaining in more detail over the next few lines.

  • You can build a PBN or private blog network

Although private blog networks fall into the less conservative SEO strategies, they still can deliver some amazing results if built and used correctly.

Part of the recipe for success in building PBNs includes using quality expired domains in order to power up the network and enable it to have a positive impact on your rankings.

As in with an authority website, the sites in a PBN need to be nurtured with backlinks built to them, which can be costly if you are building a network of several dozen sites, but if instead, you take advantage of quality expired domains featuring an already healthy and powerful link profile, then you are likely to save a ton of money while increasing your chances of getting the results you want.

  • You can do 301 Redirects

This is an SEO technique that is not as effective as it used to be, but it can still render some good results provided that you do not go overdo it.

This method involves getting an expired domain with excellent links already built into it and setting up a 301 redirect pointing to the website you wish to rank. The idea is to have some of that link juice flow from the expired domain to the target website, thus pushing up its rankings in the search engines.

This should be done cautiously, given that Google and other search engines have caught up to the use and abuse of this strategy, so if you intend to use 301 redirects, make sure to limit them to a few (and always use quality) expired domains that feature a healthy link profile.

  • You can resell them for profit

Quality expired domains are big business, and as in any business that moves a lot of people and money, there are opportunities to buy cheap and sell dear.

Indeed, you can find cheap quality expired domains at marketplaces such as the one run by Authority Outreach, where a domain with powerful metrics can go for as low as $100, and then if you check out prices of similar assets at other venues such as Spamzilla, which contains a list of auction domains from GoDaddy and others, you will see they often sell for double or triple the price, sometimes even more.

So, one simple business model you can build around quality expired domains is to buy a few of them cheap and then sell them for a higher price at auction sites and keep the difference.

What Makes a Quality Expired Domain?

As mentioned above, not all expired domains will enable you to actually gain results, and this is because not every expired domain comes with the right attributes to make it a valuable asset.

In this section of the article, we will discuss what elements you should be looking at in order to determine whether you are in front of a quality domain or not.

In this regard, you must be aware that there are several metrics that can help you build a picture of the health and ranking potential of an expired domain:

  • High Trust Flow or TF

Trust Flow is a metric that was developed by an SEO company called Majestic, and it is designed to measure how trustworthy a website is in terms of its quality. Majestic’s algorithm analyzes the weight and quality of all the websites linking to your domain, thus the more quality backlinks pointing to your domain, the higher its score.

In addition to the number of quality backlinks, Majestic seems to pay attention to the traffic flowing to the domain, which generally means that a good TF score can translate into a higher potential for organic traffic.

  • High ahrefs Domain Rating or DR

Domain Rank is a metric you find when evaluating a domain on ahrefs analysis tool, and it will give you the estimated strength of the link profile associated with that domain compared to the others in ahrefs database on a 100-point scale.

As with Majestic’s TF metric, a higher DR score is a positive sign and an indication of greater strength in the domain’s link profile.

Having a solid DR will usually translate in higher chances of ranking on Google and other search engines, although it alone does not guarantee that you will dominate your niche, as other metrics are also crucial in order to estimate a domain’s potential to rank in the search engines.

  • High Moz Domain Authority or DA

Domain Authority is a proprietary metric of Moz, and its goal is to estimate the potential of a website to position itself in the search engines.

This metric takes into consideration numerous factors, including the number and quality of backlinks pointing to the domain, and having a high DA is also a good indication of a potentially positive result in terms of SEO.

When looking at the DA of a domain, it is important to determine where you stand against competitors in your niche by looking at their score.

  • A Good Number of ahrefs Referring Domains or RD

Several SEO analytics companies provide a metric to determine the number of referring domains to a particular website, however, I have found that ahrefs is the most reliable one.

This piece of data is essential because, in combination with the other metrics we are looking at, it can provide you with a good idea of how solid the link profile of the expired domain is.

Indeed, when a domain has high metrics, but only a few referring domains the risk of getting impacted by the drop of one or more links coming from them can be very significant and prejudicial.

However, a high number of RDs will act as a protection of sorts by diluting the effect of losing one or more links coming from a referrer. As you may guess then, this value is better when it is higher.

  • A Good Number ahrefs Backlinks
This again is an aspect of a domain’s profile that is measured by several SEO analytics companies; however, I also find ahrefs metric in this regard to be more reliable.

In this case, we are looking to learn how many backlinks are pointing to the domain. A higher number in this metric can also be a positive at the time of deciding whether the link profile of the expired domain you a looking to get is solid or not.

While the number of RDs is a more important metric, a high ahrefs backlinks can help build up strength to a domain’s overall power, depending of course, on the quality of those links. But as in the case of RDs, a high number in this metric will shield the domain against the effects of dropped or removed backlinks in the future, which makes for a stronger link profile in the long run.

Lastly, and this has nothing to do with metrics coming out of SEO analytics tools, but plain old inspection: look at the backlinks pointing to the expired domain, in other words, go over all the referring sites to check for spammy links coming from Russian, Chinese or other countries, which may compromise the health of the domain.

In Conclusion

An expired domain is an actual asset just like any other, which can be valued based on different factors and its potential to deliver a financial impact on your project.

If you find a domain with solid metrics, thus indicating the presence of a solid link profile on it, then you have a winner and possibly the trampoline you need to propel your project to the first page of Google and other search engines faster.

On top of that you will be saving several thousands of dollars’ worth of SEO work, so make sure you consider the option of an expired domain before pulling the trigger on a brand-new domain.