• Episode  48
  • Derek Gehl


A lot of people don’t know about the amazing benefits that can come with registering an expired domain. You can score backlinks, authority, and domain age–but only if you know how (or are extremely lucky.) In this Ask Derek episode, we talk about the pros AND the cons to purchasing expired domains, and I tell you how to capitalize on a domain’s momentum and avoid getting nicked by a negative domain history.

Transcript of: How Expired Domains Can Fast Track Your Google Rankings

Welcome to the Project Ignite podcast, a podcast designed to skip the hype, skip the BS, and give you real, actionable tips to grow your business and income online.This is a video podcast, so if you’re listening to this video on Project Ignite or on YouTube, you can also find it on iTunes for iPhone listeners and on Soundcloud for Android users, and vice versa.

In today’s edition of Ask Derek, I want to talk about expired domains. I’ve had this question a few times over the past few months:

  • What are the benefits of having an expired domain?
  • When I’m setting up my website, should I be trying to grab an expired domain?

What I want to do is explain what I’m talking about when I say expired domains.

Expired domains are domains that you’re grabbing just as they’re expiring, before they’re released back into the wild. You’re snapping them up just as they expire.

There are some pros and cons to this. Effectively, expired domains refers to registering a domain that someone else previously owned just as it expires, or buying it just before it expires. There’s different ways to do that.

What are the pros and cons of expired domain names?

PROS of Expired Domains

First of all, the pros.

When you’re starting a new website, one of the factors that will influence your ranking straight out of the gate is your domain age. When you register a brand new domain name that’s never been registered before and has been available for a long time, your domain age will be zero.

Alternatively, if someone has a domain that they’ve been sitting on for ten years, that will increase the domain age. That’s a factor that Google looks at. When you grab an expired domain, you immediately get that increased domain age for however long it was registered for. This will help you rank faster.

Google has a bit of a sandbox. They try to figure out what your website is about, what it’s worth. You’re trying to gain that momentum. When you grab an expired domain, you can skip the sandbox because you have that domain age.

The second pro is backlinks! If you snap up a domain that belonged to someone who was trying to establish a well-ranking website, you’ll also be able to capitalize on all of the backlinks wound up in the internal link structure. You grab those links in and redirect the pages to something more relevant using 301s. What you can do is effectively grab the link juice that was coming to that website. So now you have the domain age, and you have the backlinks to power you.

You’ll find at domain auctions, domains with really great link profiles will sell for hundreds of dollars rather than 20 dollars, because people know that those domains will rank so much faster.

There’s a lot of SEO benefits to grabbing that expired domain.
expired domains
If you grab a domain with high authority backlinks, it can also generate traffic. You do need to ask yourself–is this traffic targeted? Does this traffic want what I’m offering, or are they just trying to find the website that was here before me?

If it’s not targeted, then maybe that’s not as huge. But if it’s in a very similar niche, you could wind up with some immediate targeted traffic.

This is why when people go out and build a personal blog network to construct their own backlinks, they will buy expired domains because effectively they’re already buying authority, so they don’t have to work as hard to build it from scratch.
how to buy expired domains
There you go. There are some serious pros to buying expired domains, and you can manage a serious bump in your rankings in Google.

CONS of Expired Domains

However, there are definitely cons as well. I don’t want you to watch this video, run off to GoDaddy’s auction, and buy the first domain that you see. There are other things to take into consideration.

For example, the history of the domain. Some domains have a bad history. They were sites in markets that were penalized by Google, or sandboxed.

I have a quick story for you. A few years ago, I co-hosted Yanik Silver’s Underground Online seminar with him. When we were building it up, we went out to find a domain to build the project under. We went out and found a domain called UndergroundX.com. We thought we had this great, badass domain.

We registered it, and set up the site, and then we started to get people saying to us, “I’m trying to access your website from my office and I can’t get to it.” Something kind of twigged in my head and I went back to archive.org to find out what that domain used to be.

Turns out, it was a porn site! A lot of the corporate filters that block adult sites were blocking our site because it used to be a porn website.

So you have to go back and check the history of the domain to make sure that there’s nothing negative attached to it, because you can’t shake that very easily.

So before you spend good money on it, make sure to take care of that.

You also need to be very conscious of penalties. Over the past decade, it’s been super common for people to grab domains, blast it with crappy stuff, get penalized, and then abandon the domain.

All of a sudden, that domain comes up for auction, but it has a really bad link profile with penalties against it. The easiest way to check for this is by looking for the Google page ranking or the MOS ranking for that domain.

Before I ever buy an expired domain, I go over to Majestic SEO. I type in the domain name using their free service and I’ll find its trust flow and backlinks in Majestic’s database. If I see it has a ton of backlinks in there, but it’s got a zero page ranking and it’s been around for a long time, there’s a good chance it has a penalty against it.

If you look at the citation flow and the trust flow in Majestic SEO, you’ll quickly see if they’re good or bad links. You need to make sure that you’re not grabbing a domain that Google has already penalized, because you don’t want to be responsible for trying to clean that up.

If it’s been penalized, you’ve lost all of the pros we discussed, plus it’s more work to clean up the negativity attached to the domain.

The last con is mistaken expiry. I know there’s people out there that might see this as a pro, but at the end of the day, people let domains expire accidentally. If you snap it up, could you potentially blackmail them and try to sell it back? Yeah, you could. Is that the right thing to do? Absolutely not. Most people are small businesses. You don’t want to grab a domain for another small business that was never meant to expire.

I’ll tell you another story. I live in British Columbia, and my wife Coralynn grew up in a tiny town in the interior of BC called Barrier. Two weeks ago, we were reading the newspaper, and the Barrier Chamber of Commerce accidentally let their domain expire. That’s a high authority domain! It belonged to the city.

Well that domain got snapped up by a network of adult websites. Now, when you go to the Barrier Chamber of Commerce website, it’s an adult website. There, again, they’re using the backlinks and domain age to get traffic. That is so ridiculous.

So don’t go out and snap up a domain that’s going to hurt another small business. They’re going to want it back.

The moral of that story is that the city reached out to this network that owned the domain and asked to buy it back, and now this network is trying to extort the City of Barrier for $9,000 to get that domain back. That, in my books, is not cool.

Don’t grab those domains. Don’t extort. What you’re looking for are good quality expired domains that belonged to people who have purposefully let the domains expire. Your goal is to grab those domains and continue the momentum they’ve created and to start getting that ranked in Google.

There you go! That was a crash course in expired domains. This has been another episode of the Project Ignite podcast: Ask Derek edition.

If you like what you hear, leave us a review, or share us with your friends. I’ll see you in the next episode.

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  1. I built an expired domain and brought over my money articles with 301 redirects. They went from rank #1 in google back to 6-12 spots. How long does it take google to push the serp authority to this new expired domain? Which actually has a higher DA then the original site.

    Best regards,

  2. Hi Derek, love your article here and a great video explanation. What I wanted to know was is it better to purchase an expired domain with a couple back links that has 2 registrars and 2 drops I checked the wayback machine and it has very thin content and the name is not ideal its too long and it contains the word (reviewer) which is not what I want but, its a 10 year old site. Will that be enough to give me a head start in the search engines or should I look for a site with a better name? Because with the niche I’m in, any other site I look at will have less links because thats how I have it set up on expireddomains.net so that it shows websites with most links to lowest.

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