What can you do with an expired domain? 🤔
Black hat? White hat? I-don't-care-about-hats, I've got bills to pay? A look at 3 sites that are built on expired domains with varying intents, though all successful
Expired domains have seemingly come back into fashion in the last few years - I wouldn’t say the prices have sky-rocketed, but they’re definitely more expensive to purchase now with multiple brokers and high-flying affiliates making things increasingly competitive.
Though the best domains often cost in excess of $1000, you can still snag a few good ones beneath this price that can give you an advantage against the competition. But what can you do with an expired domain?
Well, three things that I’m seeing a lot of is use for foreign adult/gambling pages, using them for mergers into current sites, and re-building the site into an affiliate or display ad website. Here’s a few examples.
Npowerenergyfund - Full Churn & Burn
Quick vent: Some fucker keeps buying all the domains I want to build churn & burn gambling sites on them in Indonesian 😂
If you’ve been in SEO for a while then you’ve likely heard that foreign SEO is a lot easier than trying to rank in English speaking countries, and you can get away with more shady “black hat” tactics. This is definitely the case in South East Asian countries where the language is drastically different to English.
Long story short, I was outbid for plutorocks.com earlier this year for $2k-ish - I planned to redirect it to my astronomy site.
You can see their traffic spike in March after they put their gambling page up on the domain;
Now, Ahrefs pisses me off with some of its features, but it’s still the only tool that I genuinely need on a day-to-day basis.
One good thing they have in the Organic Keywords 2.0 report is the ability to see what keywords the site was ranking for in previous months/years.
Using this is one of the best ways to analyse an expired domain to see the previous keywords it was ranking for & their relevancy to your niche - for English sites anyway, as we can see from this example that it clearly doesn’t matter in some other languages 😂
So, if we look back to the date of the spike in traffic, we can see here that when they put their gambling page up the site ranked position #1 for “agen slot terpercaya”, which using Google’s potentially unreliable translation, equates to “trusted slot agent”.
If we then put that term into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, we can see all the other expired domains that have been repurposed for Indonesian gambling.
It’s not just this domain, a lot of expired domains end up getting used for this kind of thing - I was outbid for fintechcity.com for a few $k, and npowerenergytrust.com for £3.8k in the last month or so too. Both turned into gambling pages.
I’m definitely not one to be the morality police, but this is about as shady as it gets, especially when you consider gambling is illegal in Indonesia 🥴
Either way, I only included these domains to show you what you can do with an expired domain. There are people out there that do use them for some more extreme “black hat” stuff; but that’s not all you can do with them.
iVisa - Mergers
Merging two sites into one is a quick way to potentially boost your authority - but do you have to limit it to just one merged domain?
Not according to iVisa, who have over time merged more than a dozen different domains into their site.
We can easily see the domains they’ve merged into the site by going to Pages > Best By Links, where we can see the pages on the site that have the most referring domains.
It’s pretty easy to see what they’ve been doing - picking up expired domains of airlines that have eventually gone bust, creating a page on their site about that airlines history, and then redirecting the whole domain to that one post. Check out https://www.ivisa.com/visa-blog/estonian-air.ee-history for an example of the historical landing page they’re creating.
This one is borderline dodgy for me. On one hand, the site is not that bad and most of the redirects are at least relevant - plus the content of the redirect does tell the user what’s happened to the airline, so it could be deemed useful.
However, I’m not sure that Google would see it that way, and it’s definitely a more risky strategy to use - especially as if you look a little deeper, some of the merged sites are pretty irrelevant to visas/flights.
Personally I only merge one, max two, domains into a site - mainly because if you redirect 8 expired domains to yours then it’s going to be a massive red flag to most potential buyers when/if you want to flip your site at some point.
I’m currently testing this out with *****, which I’ve already merged two domains into pretty successfully. I picked up ***** and ***** via GoDaddy auctions and merged them into the site. Take a look in Ahrefs if you want to dig deeper.
Though it’s not drastically affected the traffic (though it has helped), it pushed a lot of bigger keywords closer to the first page. If you’re interested in how to do this kind of stuff then comment or message me and I’ll write it up in a later newsletter.
So, the merger technique definitely works really well, and if you already have a site up, then it could be worth considering. For most people though, finding a good expired domain and building your own affiliate site on top will likely be the best option.
WePC - A great example
If you have ambitious aspirations of a 7-figure exit then you should probably be looking at building something like WePC.
It’s at a level where it’s really outgrown the original expired domain that was bought back in 2018 for $3500, and even if you took away those original links, it’d still be killing it.
Would it have grown to the same level eventually even if it was with a fresh domain? Probably, but it likely would’ve taken a lot longer to get there & would’ve required a lot more outreach at the beginning, and potentially some cash spent on PR to gain those bigger links.
The site used to be about a dual project between ASUS and Intel - we can tell this by looking through the history using the Wayback machine.
We can also check any Nameserver changes using https://completedns.com/dns-history/ to see when the Nameservers changed and to what - this is a good way to tell the history of the domain in a little more detail.
I like this one a lot because it’s;
Literally the exact same niche now as it was before
Could easily have been purchased for the brand name as much as the links
Turned into a real brand with hands on reviews and a face behind it, by experts/enthusiasts
The “same niche as before” thing is a pretty big deal for me, and nowadays I’m only picking up domains in the same niche & building out sites that are, at the very least, related to the previous content.
That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t rank a site with a domain that’s completely irrelevant, but;
There’s just so many domains expiring each day that it doesn’t logically make sense to do so unless it’s a churn and burn project and/or it’s a really obscure niche that domains never really come up for auction. For general tech, travel etc then there’s usually one or two good domains each week expiring that are available via auction sites.
Aside from Google recently saying that “expired domains don’t work”, their previous stance has been that they look for domains that have been used with “unrelated sneaky purposes” - like redirects & sites that have nothing to do with the original site.
Ideally I’d rather have a site that’s just dropped - the sooner the better - but there can still be advantages of going for an expired domain that has been down for a while. This site is doing well into the 6-figure mark each month & has made the transition from affiliate website to a real brand 👏
This is just an example overview of the things that you can use an expired domain for - this doesn’t touch on those that may stay have traffic or a ton of organic keywords still ranking, as they’re a little rarer to get hold of. I’ll be going deeper into domains, affiliate & other areas in later newsletters.
Any questions, suggestions, criticisms or things you disagree with then feel free to message me or comment 😀 thanks, have a good week & a decent Christmas!