The Expired Domains Aftermarket has become a competitive market to try and earn a profit.
So many drop catchers and domain vendors are fighting for the best domain that becomes available every day.
Are you utilising the power of expired domains in your SEO strategy?
Dropped Vs Non-Dropped
Over the years there has always been a hot debate on expired domains, dropped domains and non-dropped domains.
For SEOs the main reason these arguments occur is because of two reasons:
- Sourcing domains to build out PBNs with
- Sourcing domains with existing links for new money-making affiliate sites
The links above jump you to sections of this article specifically talking about the benefits of both techniques and what you are missing if not implementing these strategies in your digital marketing efforts.
Why This Even Matters?
The conversation on expired domains vs non-dropped matters a lot because could be the difference between failing with your PBN network or your new affiliate site where you are spending a lot of resources on not working.
Need to not worry too much though because I will explain why both of these are actually great for your efforts.
The truth of this discussion is that both work well and the biggest winners are:
- If you take action with either dropped or non-dropped you will win at the end (the failures are the ones who do not get started)
- Buying domains with existing links or traffic will 100% save you time (and time is the most important life asset we all have)
Now let’s get started and I will extract some conversations from over the years from the biggest domain vendors and SEOs discussing this topic.
Lack of Understanding
Not all domains are the same. There is no one size fits all in this industry.
Saying domains with no drop history always perform while dropped domains are bad is really not the way to tackle the industry of aftermarket SEO domains. This mainly derives from people’s LACK OF UNDERSTANDING the life-cycle of a domain properly.
At the same time, saying ALL dropped domains do perform is also NOT quite accurate. Neither all aged domains, nor all dropped domains perform. The truth is some aged domains will perform and SOME dropped domains will also perform. SOME, not all.
Things work slightly differently. There’s a golden middle which successful SEOs are able to tap into.
Dropped Domains DO Work
Here is an extract from a facebook post which sparked a lot of engagement:
We have been doing experiments with Dropped and Non-Dropped domains.
Dropped domains work as good as non-drop domains.
The main difference is dropped domains are available at a cheaper price when compared to non-drop domains.
Now, this statement is partly true above but no two websites perform the same and you need to understand google random ranking factor to know this.
High quality, brandable, non-trademarked, strong (SEO wise) domains in the top niches like finance/gambling or health niche, domains that have a very high chance of performing really well in the SERPs aren’t necessarily ‘cheap’ just because of their DROP status.
My point is that associating ‘DROPPED’ with ‘CHEAP’ is WRONG. I would say it’s better to say less brandable, less powerful, potentially trademarked DROPPED domains are cheaper. Cheaper, but not extremely cheap.
I asked Alex Drew his thoughts on the costs for aged domains vs dropped domains and here is what he said:
“Now there may be a tendency to inflate the price of aged domains during auctions just because of the misinformation existing in the SEO community, but since we run an aftermarket SEO domains company ourselves (ODYS GLOBAL) and do this 24/7 for more than 10 years now, we’ve noticed that the difference in price for AWESOME, both dropped and non-dropped domains (considering all the important factors like relevancy, brand, non-trademark, short, plenty of REFDs, etc, are similar) is not that big, almost non-existent at times. In fact, in some cases a quality dropped domain can sell for much more during an auction event than an aged one. It’s really not correct to say dropped domains are cheaper.
Lower end dropped and non-dropped domains may be cheaper, but this is due to the risks associated with these, and I’ll mention these again: names that aren’t that brandable, year in name, potential trademark, risk of the domain being taken away due to the founder being still live, less powerful, less natural/organic links, so forth and so on.
Some of these lower-end ones are found and registered bit later, via scraping or using automated software and APIs. But we are talking about lower end domains. We call them leftovers and these are obviously cheaper since folks register them for $8-9 USD via DynaDot or NameSilo or any other cheap registrars out there.
That’s where it can be cheaper. But cheaper just because of the lower end key health/performance criteria, not cheap because they are dropped.
So, in my opinion, dropped domains aren’t cheaper. Scraped/drop left-overs might be cheaper. But the high end, premium dropped domains aren’t. Just a few days ago a dropped cannabis domain powered by over 2k excellent referring domains sold for more than 25k USD. And that wasn’t just due to the name.”
I respect Alex Drew the most in the expired domain aftermarket because his wealth of knowledge is second to none.
A common question is how do you analyse the backlink profiles of these dropped domains and how do you consider them good or bad?
The same like as you would analyse of the non-drop domains.
- Make sure most links are contextual and naturally made and avoid domains having too many forums or comment links
- Check anchors if they are not suspicious or spammy
- Check archive.org to avoid Chinese or PBN Wayback histories
- Check “site:domain.com” operator on Google for any spammy indexed pages
Avoid if you find any above.
I use ahrefs anchors and links checking.
Look at ViewScreenshots.com and archive.org for Wayback history.
How to Find Expired Domain Names With Traffic
You need to carefully check the expired domains as sometimes I also buy the bad ones accidentally.
Expired domains aftermarket is a competitive industry nowadays with so many looking to drop catch domains or buy from auctions.
Dropped domains can work similar to non-drop history domains as long as the links are strong and relevant.
Also, there’s no difference in pricing because any expired domain first goes to auction and if not get sold then move to drop list (available for normal registration price) but in the case if a domain has strong links then it will be picked up from auction directly, no matter if it has drop history or not.
Many people get success with dropped domains and if anyone wants to read more about expired domains then you can do from here.
Deindexed by Google
Having a website deindexed by Google does not always mean the site is bad.
The most common reason would be, the domain was spammed and that’s why google de-indexed it. In this instance then yes the deindexation is google has given that domain a penalty which is bad.
The deindexation could be a signal that domain was not live for some years and google decided to remove the site for temporarily from the SERPs.
It doesn’t hurt the website though.
Best Place to Buy Pre-Owned Domains
There are two main criteria which contribute to increasing your chances of building and ranking a successful site on a pre-owned domain (please notice I use the term ‘pre-owned’ and NOT dropped/aged since I consider the terminology pretty obsolete).
Sure thing it can be used by beginners to differentiate between the status of a domain, but sometimes you risk skipping a real GEM with a super high chance of SERP performance just because you’ve tagged it as dropped.
Ask The Experts
So, to get back to my original thought, the two criteria are:
- Your ability to assess the real value/power of a domain (in terms of relevancy, quality and quantity of links)
- Your site-building frequency: i.e. testing the waters and building sites over and over again. There’s a little bit or RANDOMNESS here that you can TAME by rinsing and repeating the process since you never really know WHY Google will approve of the chemistry between a certain chosen domain and the content plan deployed on it.
Hundreds if not thousands of internet marketers back-order quality dropped domains every single day and fight for them at auctions. Lower end, less powerful ones aren’t back-ordered since these don’t even deserve the original $69/$79 bid lol.
At the end of the day, Google operates in mysterious ways and you never know, sometimes you can bring a site to 300k unique visitors a month with a $100 USD domain.
Domain Life Cycle
Here is some information to shed some light on the life-cycle of a domain and explain why the drop of a domain from the registry, as an event, is not really a bad thing per se, especially if one has the experience and knows how to pick the right ones properly.
“Remember everyone has eyes but only a few are able to SEE”
However, instead of going into technicalities of the drop event and upload fancy screenshots with arrows pointing to the timeline dates, etc, please allow me to share an example of a dropped (pre-owned) domain with an extremely high chance of performing really well in the SERPs when building a brand new affiliate website on it.
There are a ton of registrars out there.
And did you know that a random Web Design Agency from let’s say… Glasgow, can also become a registrar and offer domain registration services to its clients
Unlike other big registrars like NameCheap for example, (registrars that hold millions of domains for their clients, therefore, might need a good monetization strategy for their expiring inventory) the small/boutique Glasgow agency doesn’t consider domain registration their main business model so they don’t pay much attention to monetizing expiring domains during their redemption grace period. They simply don’t care. They focus on building sites and getting more clients, selling more web design and web development services.
Examples Why Domains Expire?
Now let’s assume 5 years ago they built a really cool fancy site on a .org domain for a local non-profit which due to solid marketing and awareness gained a lot of attention from both local and worldwide media resulting in over 3000 unique and marvellous referring domains. Say they also offered that non-profit the option to register and manage the domain for them. Say the domain was a really cool short brandable one like GFAEP.org (Glasgow Fights Against Environment Pollution or something…).
Now 5 years later, the non-profit decided to close its doors due to the lack of financing. They also couldn’t afford to pay the boutique web design company to keep updating their site. They couldn’t even afford to renew their domain. Now the Glasgow agency lost a client, lost some monthly revenue and moves on.
And guess what? Since domaining is not their main business model they will let GFAEP.org expire and eventually drop. And you won’t see this domain at auctions like GoDaddy or NameJet (popular for their non-dropped/aged inventory) simply because they didn’t focus on the monetization of their expiring domains. They simply don’t care. They never had a deal/contract with the big aftermarket auction houses in the first place.
So, in the end, a domain like GFAEP.org (which is an example domain, not a real one, at least I didn’t bother checking) might go through its life-cycle without even having the chance for someone to back-order it and acquire while the original registration date is still there (grace redemption period).
This domain will inevitably drop from the registry after going through grace, redemption grace and ultimately the 5 days pending delete phase. There is nothing anyone can do with it, EXCEPT…. DROP-CATCHING it as a dropped domain the very next second it drops from the registry and becomes available to register again.
Understanding How it Works
But drop-catching is a 1-millisecond event and is won by companies that have the most number/volume of registrars and are able to perform hundreds of thousands of registration attempts at once. Simple mortals like you and me don’t stand a chance to compete with them.
Now the moment they catch a domain like GFAEP.org due to you and me placing a back-order with them, we are already dealing with a dropped domain.
So it’s dropped, right?
But does that mean that it’s bad?
- 5 years+ history
- Over 3000 strong, organic, natural unique referring domains
- Existing rankings
- Existing traffic
- No abuse whatsoever
- Excellent short brandable domain with no trademark
Now ladies and gents, the above domain stands an enormous chance of performing really well in SERPs when someone with enough creativity realizes it can be used for building gardening or even alternative power/energy affiliate site on it.
Again, if you’re able to understand how things work you won’t be misled again by the dropped/non-dropped rhetoric since at the end of the day that’s a pretty superficial way of assessing the quality and potential performance of a really good domain.
And there are plenty of examples like the GFAEP.org imaginary domain in my story above. There are hundreds if not thousands of unknown registrars belonging to real businesses, boutique agencies, hosting companies, etc – all enterprises that don’t have DOMAINING or even more, monetization of their expiring domains as a priority in their day to day operations. They simply let the domains drop when a client stops paying.
Test Test Test
We can take 5 domains in the same niche, both dropped and non-dropped and deploy the exact same 100k words content plan and there is really no guarantee which one we’ll perform. But at least 1 or 2 will.
And if all both dropped and non-dropped domains are cherry-picked and healthy, you never know, sometimes a dropped domain can outperform an aged one.
It happens quite often, especially if one does his due diligence homework and is able to understand other domain health and performance-related factors BEYOND the whois registration date (think rankings/traffic/branding/etc).
But again, there’s a little bit of randomness here which is OK considering the way Google operates and its policy of permanently confusing webmasters and SEO, but this randomness can be tamed by:
- Acquiring domains from people that know what they are doing and have experience selecting true GEMS
- Understanding the life cycle of a domain as well as plenty other criteria that contribute to the health and performance assessment of a domain (not just the fact that it dropped or not)
- Frequency of building these websites. Some folks will build a site on a dropped domain and due to bad performance say it doesn’t work while others will do the opposite with an aged/non-dropped domain and claim a similar thing. That my friend is nothing more than confirmation BIAS and has nothing to do with real scientific results that come from testing.
Private Blog Networks
Before we get started on private blog networks there is a stigma behind PBNs being black hat and illegal to carry out (which is a load of garbage).
Here is a quote of someone explaining what private blog networks are and then I will explain the set up slightly different: “A PBN is a network of websites used to build links (and therefore pass authority) to a money website for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings. PBNs usually provide little to no long-term value to the websites they are linking to.”
So this quote above in my personal opinion is completely incorrect and summarising a whole industry to how a small number of marketers use PBNs.
There are many ways to skin a cat and in SEO you will find many online entrepreneurs very successful and all having different approaches to their strategies. Here is my take on PBNs:
“A PBN is a network of sites you have built over years that have a strong link profile and drive traffic. These PBNs have several monetary ways of earning money from ads, lead generation, affiliate commission and reputation management. When suitable and relevant they can also backlink to other properties you might own online, which is perfectly normal because who would not shout about their other assets in the real world”
Whether white hat SEOs think this is a blackhat SEO tactic, grey hat or whatever colour hat you want to call this – then the real digital entrepreneurs do not tarnish with any colour hat and use their knowledge on what is working to drive more traffic, revenue and test the marketplace.
Money Making Websites
The whole world has gone crazy for recurring revenue and earning passive income.
The digital nomads of the world post photos of the laptop lifestyle and how you can earn commission while drinking mojitos on the beach.
All sounds too good to be true right?
Well actually let me enlighten you on a few tips on how to scale money-making websites:
- Buy a domain with an existing powerful backlink profile
- Scale your content on that website
- Build links to the main money pages
- Run audits to improve regularly
- Rinse and Repeat the above but DELEGATE THE WORK
If you follow these five steps correctly you really cannot go wrong and this is why we live in such an amazing time I call THE DIGITAL ERA.
Making Money Online
All of the money-making websites to earn a passive income has to start somewhere.
I challenge you to go and get yourself a money-making website and if you do then if struggling on any part of the journey then hit me up in the comments below and I will happily guide you on what I feel your strategy is lacking.
The Secret of Getting AHEAD, Is Getting STARTED
If you do not think your SEO skills are good enough then purchase a cheaper domain from the marketplace and you can test on this site to experience what works and what does not.
If you’re not utilising the power of the expired domains aftermarket in your digital marketing strategy you really need to question yourself why?
The main reasons above show why the expired domains aftermarket could save you so much time and money long term.
Domains do not get renewed every single minute and these have huge potential with authoritative backlinks right from the start on your new ventures.
The whole online industry is underpriced at present and it is like purchasing houses before a property boom – get yourself on the website property ladder today.
The expired domains aftermarket is a place you should be looking at daily to find those hidden gems.
Both dropped and non-dropped domains have a high chance of performing really well if you have the ability to hand-pick them based on health and potential performance criteria BEYOND the drop date.
Those that participate in auctions daily, those that invest in a ton of domains and build a lot of sites, those that actually do SEO and know how to rank SITES, those that live and breathe the SEO aftermarket industry do know that quality NAMES powered by excellent SEO are never really ridiculously cheap.
With the right domainers to buy from and good experience in the trade of SEO you can make some serious money buying both aged domains and expired domains.
I know many people within the SEO community who have achieved amazing results acquiring both and hope this educates you more on the domaining sector.
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The full list shows the various SEO strategies to help your online marketing knowledge grow fast in October 2022.
I’m a full-blown Search Engine Optimization specialist earning the majority of my income from SEO-focused endeavours, including affiliate marketing, lead generation, as well as SEO services. Love travelling the world networking while working on my laptop. Life is a perception of your own reality. You have no excuses and should be making memories every single day.