Domains are incredibly important to successful websites. Therefore, expiring domains can cause a massive amount of trouble for site owners. By the same token, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, there is great potential to save or even make money from expiring domains.
First, a little bit of background. When you first launch your new website, you’ll have to purchase a domain to stake your claim on the World Wide Web, and this costs money.
In addition, if you already have a domain you will have to maintain it—regardless of your domain’s function, it will expire at some point, forcing you to renew it.
Fortunately, there is a great way to save money by purchasing expired domains. Millions of domains expire every year when their owners either can’t or won’t renew them.
Instead of those domain names chiselling themselves in internet stone forever, they are auctioned off and recycled, often for a cheaper price than what buying a new one would cost. Follow a few simple guidelines and you’ll be able to reap the benefits of purchasing expired domains.
Why You Should Buy Expired Domains
There are two reasons to buy expired domains: time and money.
While purchasing a new domain will allow you to start from scratch, you can actually save a lot of time in the long run by buying the right domain. Domains that already exist already have Page Rankings. If the expired domain you’re looking to buy has a high Page Rank value, you might save yourself a ton of marketing effort.
Here’s how a high PageRank can impact your organic traffic:
A company that buys such a domain will not have to work so hard on website promotion or building backlinks. Getting a great expired domain is like buying a bicycle with its parts already assembled. In addition, you can save yourself some search engine penalties since all your pre-existing backlinks won’t be on a fresh domain.
And of course, expired domains can save you money. Prices vary greatly from site to site, but many fantastic domains can be purchased for only a few dollars. Combined with pre-existing work done to the domain, this is a fantastic deal.
Finding Expired Domain Names
You can see millions of domains that have completely expired by searching at ExpiredDomains or FreshDrop. ExpiredDomains supplies free accounts, while FreshDrop only provides two months of access at no cost. However, FreshDrop features a few search filters that ExpiredDomains doesn’t offer.
The expired domains listed on these websites are no longer claimed by the registrant or registrar.
You’re free to purchase them on any domain registration service if it supports the relevant top level domain. They cost just as much as domains that no one has ever used. You can also access additional discounts by searching for discount codes.
You’ll find that many of the domains hold little appeal.
They’re too long and contain several hyphens or numbers. Others have been tainted by marketers who tried to artificially boost their search rankings for a high-value loan, prescription drug or gambling keywords.
People abandon some domains due to complete failure. Perhaps search engines blacklisted them for using manipulative tactics or no one wanted to type their lengthy, unmemorable names. On the other hand, valuable domains may expire because the owners didn’t know how to promote them or decided to focus on different priorities.
You’ll need to conduct research to separate the good from the bad. Expired domains are not always a lost cause.
Fortunately, the above-mentioned websites will let you refine your search in many ways. You can specify the desired PageRank, look for domains above a certain age or leave out addresses that contain numbers and hyphens. Some investors prioritise the shorter TLDs like .com and .org.
You may also search by the number of characters in a name. While you’re unlikely to find an expired domain with only a few letters, it makes sense to restrict your searches to names with less than 25 characters. They’re much easier to type, remember and advertise.
Some investors will buy domains regardless of the subject or industry.
After all, it’s fairly easy to set up a list of relevant pay-per-click links that suit almost any niche. A potentially beneficial alternative is to search for keywords regarding your areas of expertise. This will make it easier to recognise desirable domains and create quality content for them.
There are many different steps you can take to evaluate expired domains. You’ll benefit from looking at their registration histories, inbound links, Google PageRank and other attributes. The expired domain search engines enable you to quickly and conveniently gather most of this information in one place.
Let’s look at some of the metrics to look for when buying expired or expiring domains.
Metrics to Look for
When buying expired or deleted domains, there are certain metrics you should be looking for to get the best bang for your buck, including:
- Page Rank,
- Citation Flow,
- Trust flow,
Buying an expired or deleted domain with a solid Page Rank is obviously in your best interest. The older the domain the more likely it is to have a decent page rank. However, the way to determine the age of an expired domain can be tricky.
Sometimes domains have been registered but had no websites created, meaning the date of registration may not matter to some search engines. These will not be worth any more than a brand new domain.
Citation Flow and Trust Flow
Citation Flow is a metric between 0 and 100 that predicts the value of the domain based on the back links to it. This is used to compare the backlink data between different domains. Backlink data is very useful in determining value.
Trust Flow measures the trustworthiness of the domain along the same scale The higher the number, the more trustworthy the domain. This is another crucial metric for determining value.
Evaluating the Link Profile
ExpiredDomains.net gives members the ability to search by “backlinks” or “domain pop.” Backlinks refer to the total number of links to a domain on all webpages, including multiple links on the same website.
Take the time to carefully assess a domain’s link profile. You can accomplish this using information from ExpiredDomains or Moz.com’s Open Site Explorer tool. In addition to data on backlinks and anchor text, you can view a handy “spam score” for each website.
Assess the inbound links and their text to see if they seem natural and relevant.
A domain proves far more desirable if it has backlinks that other websites voluntarily created without attempting to manipulate search rankings. The links should appear on related webpages and have relevant anchor text that describes the target URLs accurately.
Beware of domains that people promoted with off-topic comments or forum posts. Also, watch out for links from:
- Reciprocal link pages,
- Low-quality directories,
- Websites that were hacked,
- Keyword-stuffed pages.
Keep away from any expired domain names that spammers or hackers may have previously owned. For instance, you should exercise caution if you notice most inbound links have the same anchor text. Someone might have artificially created them in an attempt to rank well for a specific search keyword phrase.
Explore the History of Expired Domains
The Wayback Machine provides a way to see what a website looked like before its domain expired. This can help you find out if it engaged in disreputable activities, such as distributing viruses, pornography, pirated material or spam.
Neglecting to background-check the expired domains that interest you before you invest in them might very well be a big mistake. You could be penalised for a previous owner’s actions. For example, internet filters might block access to your website or reject every email message you send.
The age of a domain is important as well. Search engines often favour older names and give greater visibility to their pages. These names also tend to fetch higher prices at auction. Furthermore, an “aged” domain is more likely to retain inbound links on well-established web pages that rarely change.
Don’t rely on a single website or a few statistics to fully assess a domain. Remember that people can manipulate traffic ratings, PageRank numbers and link counts in various ways. A simple Google search for the domain may be enlightening, especially if you surround the name with quotation marks. Here are a few other things to check:
- Alexa traffic rankings,
- Reviews of the previous owners,
- Ratings from anti-virus companies,
- Domain-based email blacklists.
Both ExpiredDomains and FreshDrop let users search for domains that have been listed on DMOZ. This is an established web directory with high-quality listings.
If you hunt for expired domains regularly, don’t waste time looking at names you saw yesterday.
ExpiredDomains.net gives users the option to only view addresses that became available less than 24 hours ago. To make the most of this feature and establish a productive routine, try to check for names each day at the same time.
Common Pitfalls to Avoid
Everyone makes mistakes, and it can be easy to make them when you’re new to buying expired and deleted and domains. Pay attention to these common pitfalls:
- Violating trademarks,
- Buying a domain which was used for a scam,
- Bad backlink profiles.
Don’t feel foolish if you’ve made one of these mistakes before. They’re common for a reason. The best you can do to avoid making mistakes when buying an expired or deleted domain is to do your research. Being thorough in your research will pay off handsomely.
Registrar Auctions and Back Orders
Another type of expiring domain can be found on individual domain registrars’ websites. When customers of companies like NameCheap, Name.com or Go Daddy let their domains expire, these registrars put them up for sale.
Different firms use fixed prices or auctions. You can search their websites and look for high-quality affordable domains.
- The domain’s expiration date arrives,
- Its owner has a final chance to renew it,
- This grace period lasts about five weeks,
- Next, the registrar tries to sell it,
- If no one buys it, it fully expires.
The process varies from one registrar to the next. For instance, Network Solutions gives everyone a chance to back-order expiring domains within five weeks after the expiration date. Customers pay a fixed fee for back-ordered names. However, an auction occurs if multiple users request the same domain.
Auctions don’t always provide an economical solution. Some investors bid hundreds or thousands of dollars on appealing website addresses. Domains with popular TLDs often sell at high prices merely because they’re less than five letters long, even if the word or acronym lacks meaning.
Websites like DomainHole and DomainTools can watch domain names for you. These free services use email to tell you when the status of the desired domain changes. For example, you would receive a message when a name expires and the registrar puts it up for sale.
Act Quickly When Purchasing Expired Domains
If no one buys expiring domains names, most registration services let them fully expire. You can find them as deleted domains and claim them at little expense. However, keep in mind that other people may also be waiting for them to become available. You’ll need to act very quickly if the desired domain has any value.
Investors regularly use automated means to acquire expired website addresses immediately. They charge fees to instantly register newly expired domains. Use caution; some of these services have received strongly negative reviews from users.
As you seek and evaluate various domains, be sure to exercise patience. For instance, it’s been claimed that only 7-12% of all names that expire mean anything to more than one person.
When you identify an expired domain with a favourable link profile and no disreputable activities in its past, you can go ahead and register or bid on it. Don’t get discouraged if other investors thwart your initial attempt. After you successfully acquire your first domain, you may preserve its rankings and inbound links by uploading some basic content as soon as possible.