For the purposes of this strategy, expired domains are domain names that are available to register, now, but were formerly owned by someone else, AND hosted a website. If you are concerned with SEO, search engine rankings, and internet marketing, here are some tips for getting the perfect expired domain name.
So, let’s get started.
Expired Domain Name – Buy the Perfect Expired Domain Name
Let’s assume that you know that one strategy used for fast (and hopefully high) rankings, in the search engines, is to buy high PR domain names and build them into websites relevant to your money site. This is the strategy that will be covered here.
You can buy expired domain names from any registrar, because its expiration means it is available to register. But, to find them, I recommend expireddomains.net (this is not an affiliate link, I just like their service, free, and no tricks on registration as of May 30, 2014).
What Answers Must You Know About Expired Domain Names?
There are millions of expired domain names on any given day (it’s amazing how much activity there is). To find a good one, you need to answer a few questions about the domain name.
What is the PageRank (PR)?
What is its backlinks profile?
Is it a healthy domain name (with its former website)? Or, has it been banned from any search engines?
Website Page Rank
There are a lot of technicians that know how to fake the page rank of a website. This is to trick the unsuspecting website/domain buyer into paying more than what it is worth. It has gotten so bad and predictable, that expireddomains.net actually gives estimates on whether the page rank for a domain name is genuine or fake. Now, that is a sorry situation, if you are looking for a good expired domain name.
Another tool to check for fake page rank is http://www.rankchecker.com/pagerank-checker.
Fake Page Rank
One of the more devious ways to fake page rank is using a 301 redirect. This is an old trick that has worked in the past on Google. It appears Google has caught on to a lot of the strategies involving this trick and punished websites for using it, by dropping them down in the listings. But, it has worked on page rank (but not necessarily search engine rankings), in the past.
301 redirects have a legitimate use. But, like so many things on the web, the 301 redirect has been abused for so many different purposes. Just be aware of how it can be used to trick you into buying an expired domain name that has little to no value in the search engines.
Scamming Domain Name Buyers
One common strategy, to increase page rank for a website, is to immediately boost the quantity (and sometimes quality) of the links pointing to it. One way to do this is with a 301 redirect.
Take an existing domain name and website that is recognized by Google. Of course, this must be a domain name and website that you control.
Change the HTTP headers, on this domain name, to do a 301 redirect.
Point the 301 redirect to the target website.
Once Google updates, the target website, in theory, now takes the page rank of the existing website, which set the 301 redirect.
For example, suppose some trickster bought an expired domain with traffic, with a history and some backlinks. It has no page rank, but it is not banned either. The trickster takes one of their own websites, let’s say a PR4 and points it to the website with no page rank. Now, the PR nothing website becomes a PR4 website!
The trickster advertises a new PR4 website for sale. The prospect does their own check and sees the “FAKE” PR4 on some page rank checker website. In fact, several page rank checker websites all report the same “FAKE” PR4. Now that the prospect is convinced it is a PR4 website, they buy it. Once the website is turned over to the prospect, the trickster removes the 301 redirect on the old website and its page rank is restored to PR4. This cancels the page rank to the website the trickster just sold, which reverts to PR nothing.
Now, the trickster can just do the same thing all over again, to yet another unsuspecting domain name buyer.
To check if a domain name has been the target of a 301 redirect, try http://www.ragepank.com/redirect-check.
The backlinks profile is the quantity and quality of the backlinks, but mostly its the quality. Quality is determined by…
whether the backlink has anchor text that is keyword targeted to the website where it is linking; and,
- where the backlink originates
In the case of Google, it penalizes websites if all their links come from certain websites. These disreputable websites pointing to a website, indicates the target website may not be trustworthy (you are known by the company you keep). While a few links may not be a problem, if the majority are coming from these bad neighborhoods, it can cause a lot of problems for a domain name to rank in Google. That may be one reason why a website that appears to have lots and lots of backlinks, is now sitting in the expired domain names list.
The good neighborhoods can sometimes be negated if the backlink comes from a forum or the comments section of a post. Google seems to have trouble making this distinction, but check to make sure that the expired domain name that interests you, has backlinks within the context of the website, and not user-submitted SPAM at the bottom.
- the IP address of the backlinks
If the backlinks are all coming from a few IP addresses and all located in the same geographical area, and from just a handful of websites, that is generally not good. This is an obvious sign of a SPAM website, unless they are all authority websites, like the government or military, or a school.
Another situation where a tight area of websites is okay, is if they are all related to the target website, and the linking websites are not penalized. These are called good neighborhoods in Google. Any website that has lots of links from bad neighborhoods (recognized by Google as being untrustworthy) is not a good thing. And, these are also identified by their IP addresses.
I kind of like this website for backlink analysis. It’s http://en.seokicks.de/backlinks.
3rd-Party Measures To Consider
Check the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) of the expired domain name. A number above 40 is good. But be aware that these can be faked. Use these numbers more as support, rather than the deciding factor.
To find out DA and PA, check www.opensiteexporer.org.
When it comes to Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF), anything above 10 is good enough for me. Once again, these can be faked. From observations, it appears that Trust Flow is the hardest to fake. But, do not use these numbers to make the final decision. They should only be used to support it, not make the final decision.
Quantity of Links
Check the number of backlinks to the domain name. Over time Google appears to have diminished the importance of the backlink count (unless those backlinks are from authority websites, in which case the likelihood of it expiring is not high). Nevertheless, it is important to know how many backlinks an expired domain name has and where they originate.
My rule of thumb is 100 backlinks for PR2, 200 for PR3, 1000 for PR4, 7-8,000 for PR5. These are just general guidelines. There may be a perfect PR4 with only 80 backlinks. That is no reason not to take it. These are just guidelines, used for initial impressions, not for a final buying decision.
Check whether the domain name is better as website.com or www.website.com.
The backlinks may be pointing to one and not the other. And, if they are pointing to both, try to figure out where the most powerful links are pointing (www. or not www.) and build the website on that domain name.
Be sure the top 30-50 backlinks are at least PR 1.
Almost There! – Healthy Expired Domain Names
Avoid penalized domain names at all costs. It’s like throwing money away, if you are looking to use it to rank in the search engines. So, it is a MUST to check to see if the domain name has been BANISHED by Google, first and foremost.
Go to Google, and enter the domain name, with the TLD extension (e.g. www.someexpiredomainname.com).
If it doesn’t appear, it may or may not be banned. But, if it does appear, more than likely… CONGRATULATIONS, you have found a healthy expired domain name!
Final Thoughts on Expired Domain Names
Check the WayBack Machine to see what history the domain name has. A website with no history, but lots of backlinks, is a sign of a SPAM-infested website. It is a big red, warning flag to avoid buying this expired domain name.
Another use for the WayBack Machine, is that if you decide to rebuild the website, to try and restore its rankings in Google, you can see what the pages looked like. This can come in really handy if you want to use the expired domain name to either sell links, or direct to your money website.