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Expired domains are also known as “dropped domains” which is undoubtedly familiar to most online marketers and SEOs.

They are nothing more than domains which have been registered by a private person, a company or an organization and which have not been renewed by the end of the contractually agreed term (usually at least one year) or have even been deliberately canceled and therefore re-released for domain registration.

In most cases, domains are not only registered for the minimum term of one year but are in the care of the respective domain owner for several years or decades – and it is precisely this fact that makes the expired domains interesting in the first place!

The reasons why a domain expired are different. The project run under the domain name has been discontinued; the company has filed for bankruptcy at which point the domain portfolio was dissolved – and so on, there are many scenarios you can imagine.

Why are Expired Domains Interesting to SEOs?

There are many reasons for the high demand for expired domains. The most important is the benefit of the off-page optimization of the website because they are already SEO-optimized.

High-DA authority and topic/niche relevant links such as nytimes.com, forbes.com, huffpost.com plus .edu, and .gov backlinks make expired domains extremely powerful as the SEO method.

Stay Away from Newly Registered Domains

If you do SEO, do not even think to work with anything else than aged domains.

Well, if you have ever run the website, you know how much time and effort it takes to optimize a newly registered domain in the first place.

That does not occur overnight, but only over the years. While the domain is getting on the age, fresh content is updated regularly, and backlinks are set, the awareness of the domain and its authority are increasing. Only then such domain becomes interesting for SEOs if it expires.

What Makes Expired Domains Great for SEO?

Referring Domains (RD)

The referring domains (RD) of expired domains is by far the most important reason why expires are so much in demand. The higher the number of inbound backlinks from different domains, the more SEO valuable and qualitative the domain will be.

Ahrefs referring domains RD

You should also pay attention to referring IPs of the domain, i.e., how many different IP addresses refer to the domain.

Each domain is hosted on a specific server, which in turn has an individual and unique IP address. However, it can often happen that you come across an expired domain with a high number of backlinks, which will mostly come from the same referring domain. In that case, the RD is very low.

Domain Age

One of the most important factors that make expired domains great for SEO is also the domain age. But you should know the difference between the registration date of a domain (Whois) and the domain age listed in Archive.org (first discovered by a crawler).

Much more important here is the domain age according to Archive.org because this suggests that Google has already indexed the domain.

domain age by archive org

However, before buying an expired domain, you should compare the two data. Very often they are different.

For example, the domain age is 1996, and the Whois creation date is 2013. It means that the domain has already been deleted and re-registered several times.

If this is the case, you must check the backlink profile and the history meticulously, because the domain could have been used for spamming.

NOTE: The drop type of an expired domain does not affect the SEO value!

Backlink Profile

What should also be thoroughly inspected before purchasing an expired domain is the existing backlink profile.

In other words, type and quality of the backlinks, e.g., whether they are:

  • image links
  • contextual links
  • dofollow
  • nofollow
  • blogroll
  • or footer links.

As always, it’s the diversity that makes the difference! Ultimately, expired domains are usually registered with the hope/expectation that the backlinks will last as long as possible.

backlinks ahrefs

If, for example, a domain has footer and blogroll links predominantly, it is better to keep your fingers off them, as backlinks are likely to be removed from the website in short to medium term.

The same applies to nofollow links. If an expired has many nofollow links, you should take a closer look at the backlinks. It is often an indication that there’s a lot of comment spam and the domain has been “burned” as a result.

Anchor Text

The anchor text profile of a domain is sometimes the best way to classify an expired as SEO valuable or not.

The quickest way to determine whether an expired domain was in the hands of spammers or not is to check anchor text. No matter if the domain has many powerful backlinks, they won’t be of any SEO value if the domain contains anchor like “viagra,” “cialis” or any other spammy anchor. And even if it’s still Google indexed!

anchor text

KEEP IN MIND: Not always Chinese, Japanese or Arabic symbols mean they are spam anchor text. A large number of expired domains have such anchors, and they are often related to the topic of the website. You can always use Google translate and translate anchor/s into the English language.

Permalink Structure & Linked Pages

Besides all the mentioned you should always take a look at the original permalink structure of an expired domain you buy. An organically grown domain usually has not only backlinks to the homepage but also deep links to inner pages.

If you want to revive an expired domain (to scrape the original website content from archive.org), you should be aware that you have to rebuild the existing permalink structure too to recover the entire link juice power, authority, etc.

Of course, there are other solutions, too, so that you can make redirects to the homepage or newly created inner pages for an expired with, e.g., especially abstract permalink structures.

The popular SEO method is when you redirect the entire domain to the money site via 301 redirect. The redirection is undoubtedly an excellent solution, but it has nothing to do with sustainability anymore if not done correctly. You must know how to pull the most of the 301 redirects.

READ MOREHow to 301 Redirect a Domain Name?

The URL/permalink structure of an expired domain is entirely irrelevant, as long as no backlinks point to it. So if there are still live links to a specific inner page, you should ideally recreate it so that the links do not lead to a 404 page, which in turn will hurt the ranking.

Redirecting all 404s to the homepage is popular when it comes to PBN building. But again, diversity is what makes the difference and gives you a far better chance to manipulate the Google search engine successfully.

Domain Rating (DR)

We all know that domain rating (Ahrefs’s DR) says nothing about the actual strength of a domain. A few years ago such metrics (also Majestic’s TF and MOZ’s DA) were still given a high weighting in the valuation, but in the meantime and finally, people became more aware that those third-party metrics are only “cosmetics” and can by no means be manipulated to increase the SEO value of a domain.

ahrefs domain rating DR

In general, it is only one of many factors that are related to the quality of expired domains.

Content (Topic & Language)

Nothing is easier than find out what’s the original language and content of an expired domain. A quick look at archive.org is enough (usually).

In the best case, a large part of the original content can be found and thus restored, but if the domain is not archived, at least the anchor or link texts indicate the original language.

Server Location

If you are willing to make an effort to determine the server location of an expired domain if you care about geotargeting, you can track it down quickly.

You can find out the IP history at http://whois.domaintools.com/.

Organic Traffic

And the cherry on top, THE organic traffic. Expired domains with high organic traffic are what SEOs prefer most. Organic traffic even more contributes to the SEO value of an expired domain. If you see that the expired domain is still receiving hits, it also means that it still ranks for the specific number of organic keywords in the Google search engine.

organic traffic

And finally, we can only say that the search engine optimization is just good as long as it’s not recognized as such by the eyes of Google. It means that as long as the Google algorithm or the webspam team are not aware that the SERPs have been actively manipulated, you’ll be just fine.

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