Expired domains are the names of websites that haven’t been renewed by the site administrator or owner. In creating a website for your brand, you must choose a unique name that represents your company and register it so that only you can use it. This step is crucial in making sure that web users can visit your site while giving it an exclusive IP address for the benefit of the machines behind search engines and other digital tools.
Things You Should Be Aware Of
You must remember that purchasing a domain means leasing it for a limited period. The duration can be as short as one year to as long as ten years. Most of the time, administrators auto-renew their contracts so that they won’t have to worry about exceeding the expiry date.
There are instances, though, when a domain’s contract isn’t renewed, and it’s left to expire. One reason could be that the web project failed, and the owner is planning to create a new one. Regardless of the cause of expiration, you can take advantage of this by buying these websites for your own site’s SEO efforts.
Expired domains have an existing backlink profile, which can prove to be beneficial for your website. This type of site is also valuable if the domain has the specific keyword that you’re looking to associate with your brand right on the URL.
You should be careful when purchasing sites like these since they may do your SEO more harm than good. Here are some tips to help you spot good expired domains:
1. Find Reliable Sources
You need to find a reliable provider that makes it easy to boost your own site’s ranking through expired domains. Look for platforms that detect spam on expired websites so that you won’t have to worry about purchasing one with spammy links since this can hurt your SEO efforts when you associate it with your site. Click here to learn more about this feature.
You can also conduct your own research on an expired domain provider’s offering to ensure that you don’t end up with a spammy website. There are lots of free third-party spam detection tools online so that you can verify their claims.
After finding a reliable source, you can search for potential websites that you can purchase. Typically, you must bid on expired domains against others who want to buy as well.
To give you a clearer picture of what happens when domains expire, check out the different levels in the expiration process:
- Expiration Alerts – The website administrator receives email notifications that their domain name registration is about to expire. The alerts are usually sent a couple of days before expiration.
- Renewal Grace Period – If the owner doesn’t renew their contract before the expiration date, the domain will be put on a Renewal Grace Period for thirty days. Within this time, the administrator still has a chance to renew their registration without paying for additional costs. In the meantime, the URL will direct users to a parking page, which notifies them that the domain has expired. Services related to the website will also be unavailable.
- Registrar Hold – After approximately a month, the status of the domain will be put on Registrar Hold. It entails another thirty days where the owner is given a chance to renew their contract with the provider. During this time, they’ll be asked to pay redemption and renewal fees.
- Registrar Auction – The Registrar Auction happens while the website is on the Registrar Hold status. Here, the provider will sell the domain name to people who want to purchase expired domains. The highest bidder will get the chance to use the site’s name and wait for another thirty days to take over officially. If the original owner decides to renew at this time, though, the bidder will be refunded, and the former resumes control of the website.
- Closeout Sale – If, for instance, the expired domain isn’t sold during the auction. The provider can conduct a closeout sale where you can purchase the site name at a lower price. If you’re on a budget, you can peruse the domain names on sale. However, you should be wary since most of the websites that remain unsold after bidding may have issues with spam and other black hat SEO tactics.
- Redemption Period – If the domain still hasn’t been bought during the auction or sale, it goes through a Redemption Period where it’s placed back to the registry. Under this status, no one can change or delete its content for another thirty days. The site owner can still renew their contract to restore the website and email features.
- General Registration – Lastly, after the grace period ends, the domain’s status will be set to pending deletion, and its contents will eventually be erased. After this process, the site name is made available again for general registration. This means that the domain name can have a clean slate, and people can use it as new.
2. Research on the Site’s Reputation
You must investigate the reputations of potential domains before you push through with the purchase. It’s a relatively straightforward process. You just have to do a quick Google search on the domain name to evaluate its standing with search engines and human users.
A lot of factors are involved in optimizing your website for SEO. There’s the site speed, domain authority, security certifications, and XML sitemap, among others. With this, you have to ensure that potential domains are SEO-friendly so you won’t have to put in more work for it to rank.
Look for tools online that allow you to check the type of website that was associated with the domain. You can also dig deeper and find out the IP addresses of sites that were previously connected to a domain. This way, you ensure that you won’t encounter a problem in the future when you link from the expired website to your main site.
3. Check Its Backlink Profile
Backlinks are the primary reason why people purchase expired domains. These are the links from external sources that direct web users to your website. Google sees each backlink as a vote of confidence on a particular site’s content, which earns them a point for relevance on specific keywords. Most businesses buy expired domains to serve as a backlink source.
While Google has put up more rigid measures on the SEO benefits of expired domains, some of their link juice can still trickle into your website and help your rankings. Moreover, the effects of expired domains are dual purpose because they can boost users’ perception and awareness of your brand, especially when your business is introduced to potential customers through these sites.
One crucial thing to watch out for is if the expired domain has a fake backlink profile. This can do more harm than good to your website.
If you can, check each backlink one by one and assess them using these steps:
- Verify the Link – To confirm the existence of a backlink, you must open the web page that’s the backlink source of a domain and scour through its HTML source code for the backlink. If it doesn’t show up on the code, then the citation and, ultimately, the domain isn’t valuable for your site’s SEO.
- View Its Rel Attribute – Another way to determine if the expired domain can leak some link juice to your website is by checking its backlink’s Rel Attribute. This step also entails checking the HTML code of the web page in question and verifying if the link has a “rel=nofollow” attribute, which means that the backlink won’t contribute to the page’s rank in search results.
- Check Its Placement – You should take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If the backlink is surrounded by other hyperlinks, similar to a blog roll, then search engines may consider this as spam and won’t really help your site’s SEO efforts. On the other hand, if the link is placed in the right context, the backlink source is likely to be genuine and can boost your rank when you take over.
- Count the Number of Outbound Links – Similar to placement, you must also check how many outbound links are coming from a single web page. If the page is full of outgoing links, there’s a high possibility that the expired domain served as a link farm, which Google considers as a black hat SEO tactic.
- Determine the Page Rank – You can find free tools online to check the page rank (PR) of the backlink source. PR is one of Google’s criteria for evaluating the importance and relevance of websites for specific keywords. You must determine this factor for expired domains so that you’ll get more value for your purchase.
- Consider the Website Category – Google wants to provide relevant, accurate, and timely information to its users, which is why the search engine looks at the relevance of a website as well as its backlinks. As much as possible, purchase expired domains that are related or, at least, have a connection in your industry. For instance, it wouldn’t make sense to buy the domain name of mypreciouscats.com if your business is about selling construction equipment.
4. Be on the Lookout for Malicious Codes and Malware
Aside from spammy links, you should also be on the lookout for malicious codes and malware that may be present in the webpage or, worse, automatically download or steal information from visitors. Harmful content such as this makes the website vulnerable to hacking and phishing attacks.
You don’t want your brand to be associated with this type of website, so you should use tools to scan every technical element of the expired domain. Often, malicious codes and malware aren’t deliberately placed on the site but are injected into it by cybercriminals.
In one case, an expired domain was bought by someone with malicious intent and used the site’s plugin to redirect visitors to pages with annoying pop-up ads. Moreover, the innocent-looking plugin steals passwords and other sensitive information from web visitors, which is then sent to the current website administrator.
You should be wary of this type of malicious activity from expired domains that you’re planning to purchase. Most of the time, cybercriminals discard these websites because they’ve been busted. However, it can damage the reputation of unsuspecting buyers who are looking to send backlinks to their sites.
5. Review the Content
As mentioned above, Google prioritizes relevance and aims to deliver only the most relevant websites to users’ queries. This is why you should only purchase expired domains that are in the same niche or category as your brand.
Moreover, you should also review the content of an expired domain to assess its relevance to your business. This is also an excellent way to spot potential web pages where you can place your backlinks to ensure relevance and context.
It goes without saying that you should check for grammatical and typographical errors in the content since it can affect your site’s reputation. This is more for the benefit of your readers rather than keeping up with Google’s metrics.
6. Use Google Trends
Google Trends is a valuable tool for spotting expired domains. Let’s face it; it can be overwhelming to think about outrunning and outbidding other buyers for a particular website name.
The platform provides crucial data that can help you decide whether an expired domain will become a significant investment. It has a feature called “Interest Over Time,” which allows you to study the potential of a website to trend and gain more clicks in the future.
The figure shows the highest possible user interest that it can gain according to its performance history. The bigger the number in the Interest Over Time feature, the more users can view your backlink when the expired domain trends again.
Expired domains can be a viable SEO strategy for businesses, especially for building their backlink profiles. Nonetheless, you must be careful and meticulous about purchasing this type of website because of the harm that it may bring to your primary site. Follow the tips above to find good expired domains that can offer significant benefits to your digital marketing efforts.