A lot of SEO’s have enjoyed success buying high PR expired domains and using them for backlinks. The primary reason for this is that you can buy an aged site with an established backlink profile and immediately have a presence on the web.
Even with all the algorithm updates that Google has made in the past year, if you proceed with caution, this technique can be used effectively. You cannot just purchase a variety of domains and then quickly 301 redirect them to your money site. However, if you take the time to reconstruct the domain with content that is relevant to its niche, and update the site on a regular basis, you should be able to obtain some valuable links from it. If you purchase a number of these expired domains for link building purposes, you really need to use care so that you don’t create a ‘footprint’ that Google can detect. You should host them on varying hosts, in varying locations around the world and using different name servers and make sure you hide your ownership details.
Finding Expired Domains
There are numerous sites that run auctions for expired domains. Domain Tools, Network Solutions, Snap Names, and Drop Day are some of the more popular auction sites. GoDaddy Auctions also has a huge number of expired domains that they auction off on a regular basis.
With these domain auction sites, you are normally able to specify details related to a domain you wish to purchase, such as the PR, age, number of backlinks, DMOZ listing, Google Directory, and more. However, the competition can be rather fierce for high PR domains that are indexed in Google have a good link profile, and that don’t have any negative publicity associated with them.
Investigating Domains You Are Considering Purchasing
Check the Validity of the Domain’s PR
You can enter the domain name into a site like rankchecker.com and it will tell you if the PR of the site in question is valid, along with some other useful information on the site like its age, Alexa rank, link popularity, directory listings, registrar, and WHOIS information.
Check for 301 Redirects to Your Site
You can check to see if there are 301 redirects to your site using Link Research Tools or other tools. If you discover that there are 301 redirects pointing to the domain in question you should use caution. First, the PR and link juice of the site you are purchasing may be due to these redirects, which when removed, may make the PR of your domain drop considerably. In addition, spammy 301 redirects to your domain may destroy its value in the eyes of Google.
Check The Backlink Profile Of The Domain
You can use tools provided by Majestic SEO or other tools to examine the backlink profile of the domain you are considering purchasing. If the backlink profile consists mainly of spam, then perhaps you should steer clear of it. However, if the links are mainly from high quality relevant sites, the domain may be worth further consideration.
Check The History Of The Site
Go to archive.org and use their Wayback Machine to see what has been happening with this site over the years. See if the site was used for a different purpose in the past, if so, steer clear of it. The Wayback Machine will provide you with snapshots of the site at different points in time, so you can determine how it has progressed. In addition, look up the site in Alexa.com to determine how much traffic the site has obtained over the years, and other pertinent details about the site.
Determine If The Brand Has Negative Publicity
Do some investigating to determine if the domain has any negative publicity associated with its brand. Perform searches on the brand and see what pops up. If there are numerous derogatory comments associated with the brands that come up, you may want to steer clear of it.
Try To Determine If This Domain Was In A Link Network
Google has devalued many sites that were part of link networks. In fact, they have even de-indexed numerous large link networks in the past. Try to determine if the domain you are considering was part of a link network by examining other sites that have the same owner. If you think the domain was part of a link network, or link farm, it’s probably wise to steer clear of it.
How Are Expired Domains Used?
There are those who simply insert a 301 redirect from these domains to their primary site or even to secondary sites to provide them with more link juice. However, the value associated with this method will decline over time as the link juice from this domain slowly atrophies.
Quite often these sites can be resurrected and additional content added so that they can be used as a stand-alone asset and monetised with Adsense or other types of advertisements.
Although Google is not fond of the concept, many people still create private blog networks from these domains and use them for effective backlinks to money sites. If this is done with great care, to avoid creating a detectable ‘footprint’, this method is still effective.
In order to try to insulate their sites from the wrath of Google, many internet marketers and SEO’s use a tiered or layered system of link building. In this instance expired domains are used to link to the second or even third tier of sites so that link juice will eventually flow to the money site, indirectly. This will often provide some level of protection to the money site, should Google detect these links as link spam.
Positive Traits of Expired Domain
Here are some positive aspects of domains that are worth your consideration:
If your domain has some high quality links pointing to it from authority sites, that is a very positive sign. The more, the better. A domain with these types of links is more likely to retain its PR and link juice for an extended time period.
If this domain still receives a decent amount of traffic and if it has regular contributors, that is a very good sign. You can build the site out further and retain this audience, which will further increase the value of the site and its usefulness for link building.
In general, domains with higher PageRank are more costly and provide more valuable links than those with low PR. Use a tool such as Rankchecker.com to verify that the PR of your domain is legitimate. In addition, check the backlink profile of this domain. It could be that the PR of the domain is primarily due to one high PR authority site that is linking to it. If this link goes away, it is likely that the PR of your domain will also tank. Be wary of domains that have a PR that is based on one or two links.
Older domains are generally more valuable and provide better link juice than newer domains. The domain you purchase should be at least three years old. Older is better, in this instance.
Internal Pages with PR
If the domain has internal pages that also have PR that is 2 or more, that is a good sign. However, this can be a bit difficult to determine if the domain has already expired.
Expired Domain Red Flags
- Fake PR – Use Rankchecker.com
- Domain is not indexed by Google
- PR is based on only one or two links from authority sites
- Spammy comments and trackbacks on the posts of the site
Is It A Good Idea to Purchase Expired Domains for Link Building?
If you make judicious use of these domains, the links from them can be quite valuable. However, great care must be taken to avoid leaving a ‘footprint’ and thus avoid the wrath of Google.
In addition, there are some techniques that aren’t a great idea for the long-term, but they do provide short-term benefits, so they are still used.
Ultimately, the answer to this question depends upon what you are going to use this domain for, how much effort and time you are going to devote to building out this domain, and how much risk you are willing to incur.
Cameron Francis is a director at eTraffic Web Marketing, a fastest growing SEO company in Australia. He is a passionate online marketer that helps build business marketing campaigns. He likes to share his knowledge on link building strategies and SEO strategies.