#3 - Expired domain analysis, Case Study update & more
A quick look at a potential domain, its pros and cons & what you should consider when analysing
Another newsletter looking @ expired domains - sincere apologies if you couldn’t care less about them, I promise to branch out into other areas at some point (like growing website traffic and actually using your domain to make money 😂) but for now..
Analysing the perfect expired domain: What to look for
Finding the perfect domain isn’t easy.
Here’s a quick look at one that’s currently up for auction @ GoDaddy Auctions (I think it’s like $4 for a year membership there, probs the best place to start for a beginner as they have the largest inventory of expiring domains) & what you may want to look out for.
Okay, we’re going to look at a kitchen/food domain. There are a few reasons why this one stands out to me as having potential.
The main thing we’re looking for here is high authority and niche relevant backlinks pointed at the domain itself - but, that’s not the only thing we have to consider.
At a brief glance in Ahrefs it seems good - US keywords ranking, natural traffic growth and declines, increasing organic keywords over time, okay DR (Domain Rating) are all good signs - just remember that DR and all these other metrics can be very easily manipulated.
A DR 30 domain can very easily be a better choice than a DR 50 domain (for both expired domains and guest posts to your website) - people only really use DR as a quick reference as there’s no other way to sum up a domain’s authority in a second or two.
As a rule, when I’m looking for expired domains I use Spamzilla & set the parameters to DR >20, TF >10, Referring Domains >100 and Organic Keywords >10 still ranking. All this does is eliminate the weaker domains; you’ll still be left with spammed ones to sort through.
We really need to look at the backlinks themselves to see whether a domain is worth it or not. So, head over to the Referring Domains tab to see the backlinks in greater detail.
Verdict on the backlinks are.. they’re okay. Not amazing or even great, but you’d likely get a solid advantage over some competitors with links from goodhousekeeping.com, delish.com and a few more.
It’s not all about DR90+ links though - DR40 + 50 links can be great if they’re niche relevant - so scroll through them and see what other links the domain has.
It’s also worth checking out the anchor texts used, and double check that everything seems natural (no spammy anchors). Look at which backlinks are redirected at which pages, and whether that can make sense for your plans.
After looking at the links in Ahrefs, head over to the Wayback Machine and check out the history of the domain and what content has been posted there.
It’s a good idea to check each year in the domains history to see if there’s been any major changes. The goal is really to find something genuine and natural hosted on the domain previously - no spam, no dodgy casino content etc.
Whilst doing this, I usually use https://completedns.com/dns-history/ at the same time to see if there’s been any Nameserver changes or whether the domain has dropped before.
With this one, we can clearly see from the lack of Nameserver changes that the domain hasn’t changed hands at all, and hasn’t been picked up before & uses as a PBN or for spam. Great!
So, we’ve checked the site in Ahrefs, the Wayback Machine, Complete DNS. What else is there to think about?
Trademarks - Not a big one for this style of blog as it’s very unlikely they’d have registered a trademark, but it is possible, especially with domains of actual businesses and companies.
The actual person behind it - Who’s the author, and who owned the site previously? This is definitely something that you’ll need to take into account (I’ll go into why in a second!).
This is just a brief look at some things to consider when vetting an expired domain. In summary, the good aspects of this domain are;
The website has literally just gone down, meaning if you were to put it back up again straight away, the traffic would come back much quicker (if not immediately). The longer the site has been down for, the longer it’ll take for any old traffic to come back. I like getting sites that have just gone down and have keywords ranking.
Clean history and has only had one owner since first being registered, and hasn’t been dropped before.
There’s a lot of pages that are still indexed in Google, which is always a good sign and something to look for when you’re searching for a good expired domain.
The parts of the domain I don’t like as much are;
It’s not that powerful; personally I’d rather pay a bit more and get a domain with better backlinks and more power. But, it’s still got some solid links in there and would likely be a good basis for an affiliate site.
Looking at Ahrefs “Best By Links” tab shows us that the referring domains are scattered across a lot of different pages and URLs. For simplicity’s sake, I like most of them pointed at the homepage and maybe a few inner pages.
I’m not a massive fan of buying domains that were previously personal blogs; I prefer to buy them from businesses that have closed down. You’d want to do a bit more research about the previous owner (look at their socials) - legally the domain name would be yours, but what if she’d accidentally let it expire and wanted the domain back? Are you cold-hearted enough to essentially tell them “finders keepers”? Personally I’m not, and don’t want that kind of hassle. So, if it’s been abandoned for years prior to going down like this one, then you’re probably fine. But if it’s one that looks like its accidentally been allowed to expire, I might avoid it. Just something to think about.
That’s a quick overview on what to consider when looking at an expired domain - if I’ve missed anything out, please let me know. I always forget something.
If you want to practice finding domains without using expensive tools then, well you’ll definitely need Ahrefs - there’s no way around it, Semrush’s link analysis sucks & Ahrefs is still king. You can use the Ahrefs 7 days for $7 free trial, or potentially looking into using a group buy if your morals allow you to.
Wayback and Complete DNS are free. Instead of getting Spamzilla or Domcop (the two big expired domain finders), I’d say just get a GoDaddy Auctions membership for $4 a year, look under Popular Searches and set to Expiring. Then, sort the results by those that have the most bids on them.
As mentioned GoDaddy has the biggest inventory of expiring domains, and 99% of the good domains will get 10+ bids on them. That means you can sift through the first 5 or so pages in the list to see if there’s anything in your niche or not. It takes a little time but it’s the best way if you don’t want to cut costs.
Okay! I’ve also had a few specific questions the past few weeks & thought it best to answer them here too.
How do I check if a site has domains redirected to it?
Whether you’re doing due diligence before buying a site, or you just want to know whether one of your competitors is using expired domains to beat you in the SERPs, it’s useful to know how to find them.
Coincidentally, after last weeks restaurant domain newsletter, a new one literally got listed there the next day 😂 check out cuisinevault.com, currently for sale @ Investors Club.
The site itself looks fine - not great, but not the worst site I’ve seen in recent times. Traffic & growth is strong, and it’s mainly targeting super low competition keywords.
But, you really need to look at little deeper @ the Referring Domains of a website if you want to analyse a domain properly.
Quickly flicking over to the Referring Domains tab in Ahrefs and looking at the links individually shows us they’ve just been picking up domains and redirecting them into inner pages on the site.
We can see that the URL 3p4shop.com redirects to https://www.cuisinevault.com/best-electric-potato-peeler/, which is currently jumping between #1/#2 for “best electric potato peeler” in the US. You can split these out in Ahrefs under Referring Domains, then More Filters, and then select Redirects.
This clearly works as a strategy, but I’d be dubious about buying any site with multiple redirected domains. You already know my opinion on these sites & whether they’ll eventually get destroyed by Google - answer starts with Y and ends with ES.
Anyway, that’s the easiest way to see if a website has sites merged into it - just by checking Referring Domains in Ahrefs (harder if Ahrefsbot is blocked!).
Do expired domains always work?
I can honestly, hand on heart, say that I’ve never had an expired domain “not work” - but as you’ve seen above, I am looking for something very specific.
However, I have heard and read a lot of stories over the years about folks wasting their money on expired domains that never “came back to life” or ended up as fruitless redirects.
So, I would urge you to tread carefully when using them, and not to invest all your budget into getting the perfect domain - they’re just a piece of a much larger puzzle.
Where’s your case study, did you screw it up?
Talking of failed expired domains, I’m also in the process of redirecting an expired domain to a fresh site - something I’ve not done before, as usually I merge one expired domain with another expired domain; not into a new site.
This is the larger case study I’ve been working on, & overall have spent around $12k on content now. So, it’s a relatively risky move, and the domain for the redirect cost me just over $1000;
It’s exactly the same niche, and it has links from nytimes.com, pcmag.com, techcrunch.com, engadget.com & a whole host of others too. It’s a partial match domain (e.g. travelkid.com for travel), and it even has the main keyword/topic in the domain name too.
I put the old website up, then simply wait a few months to let it fully index and rank first for its brand name. I then redirected the domain on 9th December and I’ve seen almost nothing yet, just a little bump - though that could easily just be growth that would’ve happened anyway.
Could this be my first failed expired domain? 😱 Probably. But either way, I’ll let you know how it goes over the next few months and whether it “worked” or not (it can take a while).
(I stopped with the Case Study as I initially intended it to be a pure “white hat” attempt at ranking, but those intentions didn’t last very long 🥴 plus, after getting a ton of duplicate content submitted by a writer to wade through, my enthusiasm for this project has dipped a little/lot.)
I’ve also had a few more people DM me asking;
How to set up old sites from the Wayback Machine
How to merge an old domain into your site
Where to find domains
These questions are a little more in depth - I’ll try and touch on them in future newsletters. Feel free to DM me any other queries you have, no matter how simple or complex they may seem.
Thanks; remember to zip it up and zip it out (if you don’t know what that’s from then you’re probably too young to be reading this newsletter).