Expired domains are domains that have previously been registered but are no longer in use.
Buying expired domains is an easy shortcut to giving your brand’s online presence an advantage over other businesses starting out with brand new domains.
In this guide, we’ll walk through all you need to know, where to find and buy domains after they expire, and pitfalls to look out for.
What Happens When a Domain Expires?
When the current registrant of a domain does not renew their payment, the domain expires and after a grace period becomes available on the market for any interested to take ownership of it.
Many people don’t renew their domains simply because they are no longer interested in maintaining their websites, because they forgot, or because they just don’t want to invest anymore.
The grace period
When a domain name expires, many domain registrars give a grace period which can span a few weeks to a year that allows the current registrant to renew their ownership of the domain even after the expiry date at a slightly higher price.
If the grace period expires and the domain is not renewed, the domain then undergoes a deletion process where the details of the registrant are erased and the domain is made publicly available for a new purchase.
Benefits of Buying Expired Domain Names
- Redirecting to Your Main Site—You can use 301 redirects to point an expired domain to your current website. , this method automatically redirects visitors to your site, boosting traffic, rankings, domain authority, and potentially increasing conversions.
- Domain Relevancy—Similar services or content ease the conversion of the domain’s existing traffic to your business and help avoid Google penalties for irrelevant link associations.
- Selling Backlinks—Expired domains with high traffic can be valuable for selling backlinks disguised as ‘sponsored posts’. This can enhance the buyer’s domain authority but should align closely with your niche to maintain authenticity.
- Using as a PBN (Private Blog Network)—Though risky and not recommended due to potential Google penalties, a PBN involves using multiple owned websites for linking back to your main site. If done with genuine content and relevant linking, it can aid in SEO but carries significant risks.
Risks and Pitfalls of Buying Expired Domain Names
- Google Penalties—Risk of inheriting penalties from the domain’s previous use, especially if it was involved in black-hat SEO practices.
- Legal Issues—Potential legal challenges if the domain name infringes on trademarks or copyrights.
- Mismatched Niche—Irrelevance to your current business niche, leading to ineffective traffic.
How To Buy Expired Domains With Traffic in 5 Steps
Expired domains can be good news if you find the right one, but on the flip side, not knowing the history of an expired domain you are buying can be more harmful than good.
Here’s a breakdown of all you need to do:
Step 1: Find Expired Domains
Simply going on a registrar website or the WHOIS directory to type a domain you are interested in is not the most efficient way to find a potential domain name.
There are platforms and services that deal specifically with expired domains. Let’s check out some of them:
Domain Auction Sites
Domain auction sites are websites where expired or about-to-expire domain names are put up for auction to the highest bidder. Domain auction sites are some of the best places to find domains as sellers come to a single place and you can find a vast library of regularly-updated domain names.
As it turns out, some of the best domain auction sites are also well-known domain registrars including GoDaddy and Namecheap. Some other very popular domain auction sites include Sedo, Flippa, and NamePros.
Another great thing about domain auction sites is that you can buy many other digital assets including full websites, apps, and stores on them.
Domain Backorder Services
Domain backorder services have become a big trend in the web asset industry. Basically, placing a domain backorder is like an automatic preorder on a domain you are interested in that will execute immediately after the domain becomes available.
Instead of having to manually monitor the status of a domain name, it is automatically registered to you once it expires.
Many domain registrars offer domain backorder services and are the most convenient way to acquire nearly-expired domains. Once a high-value domain expires, there’s a risk that another party is waiting to snatch it right up. So setting a domain backorder in place gives you the best chance to secure the domain.
Domain Scraping Tools
Domain scraping tools can also mean tools used to extract data from websites, are popular among marketers trying to gather leads and contacts of executives at companies they have an interest in.
But in this case, domain scraping tools are tools that can scan the web for available domains based on the search criteria you set.
They automate the process of scouring through the list of thousands of domains that expire every day and make it easy to find a good match with your needs.
Using a domain expiry checker
If there is a particular domain you have your eyes set on, using a domain expiry checker is one of the easiest ways to find out information on the said domain like its expiry date, current registrant info, its availability etc. These tools make it easy to find up-to-date information on a domain so you can plan your takeover just in time.
Step 2: Check the Value of an Expired Domain Before Purchasing
Assessing the value of an expired domain can help you get the best value for your money and avoid the risk of a low-quality domain.
Consider Domain Metrics
- Domain Authority—The domain authority is a metric that measures how likely a domain is to rank in search engine result pages. A domain authority score of 40-50 is considered average, 50-60 is considered great, and above 60 is considered excellent.
- Domain Rating—Domain rating is a metric developed by Ahrefs that measures the quality of a domain’s backlink profile and social shares. The more healthy backlinks a domain has, the higher the domain rating. The domain rating is also measured on a scale of 1-100.
- Page Authority—Page authority makes the most sense if you are buying a domain along with the whole website. The page authority is similar to the domain authority only in that it measures the ranking-ability of a single web page which will usually be a pillar page.
- Trust Flow—The trust flow of a domain or website measures its popularity and trustworthiness on the web-based on the number and quality of other websites and web pages linked to it. Search engines perceive web pages with more backlinks as more influential in their niches.
Evaluate Backlinks and Anchor Text
Domains and web pages with great content can get to the first page of Google and other search engine result pages.
However, to rank in the top 5 positions (where 79% of all the clicks go) a domain has to have a lot of high-quality backlinks.
Backlinks are links that point to a domain or web page from another webpage using anchor text. The link coming from the source domain is called an outbound link while the link coming into the destination domain is called an inbound link.
Check for Potential Penalties or Issues
When issued a Google penalty, a website will usually experience a rapid decrease in traffic and lose its high rankings.
One of the most prominent black-hat SEO practices is buying backlinks. A bad backlink profile can negatively affect your website severely so it is important to vet a domain backlink profile before buying it.
Check the Overall Potential and Relevance
You should also evaluate the overall potential and relevance of a domain before you purchase it. The domain’s history and age are some of the most important pointers for its potential to rank.
You want to go for a domain that has not had a bad rep with Google. Also, older domains are less likely to be flagged when you start your backlinking strategy than newer ones.
A domain that has had a lot of traffic in the past is going to be easier to rank. You also want to make sure that the domain has not had any history with spam and wasn’t owned by a suspicious individual.
Step 3: Bid on Expired Domains
Domain auction sites work just like regular auction sites for any other product you buy online. The current owner or registrant lists the domain name up for sale and sets a deadline or expiry date for the auction.
Some important tips for bidding to note include you doing your due diligence as we discussed earlier to make sure the domain name you choose is best for you.
Also, if the domain name you want is in high demand, you should be prepared to be outbid and ready to pay a higher price if you really want it.
Some foul practices to watch out for include sniping where participants wait until the very end of the auction and put a slightly higher price than the last bid just before the auction expires. However, many auction sites have a deadline extension tool to lengthen the auction expiry time to curb sniping.
Step 4: Negotiate With Domain Owners
Auctions can get very pricey and if many people are bidding, you may end up spending more than the domain is actually worth. It may be a good idea to contact owners of domains that have expired or are about to expire in order to negotiate directly.
If a domain owner hasn’t listed their domains on an auction site yet then you should be ready to make a great offer if the domain is really valuable to you. Make one good enough, and they may be willing to sell it to you right away without needing to list it at all.
Step 5: Transfer Ownership of the Expired Domain
After purchasing a domain, it isn’t yours just yet – not in the eyes of the domain system anyway. To officially become the owner of a domain and have your details registered to it, you will need to transfer the domain. If you bought the domain on an auction organized with a registrar whose services you currently use, then the details may be automatically changed with no extra input on your end.
However, domain transfers are very common with new purchases. If you want to transfer your new domain out to a different registrar or you are migrating to a new hosting provider to better align with your plans for the needs of the business.
Learn more about trasfering a domain name:
- How to Transfer a Domain from GoDaddy: Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Transfer a Domain to GoDaddy: Step-by-Step Guide
- Transferring Domain from GoDaddy to Hostinger in 5 Easy Steps
Domains are an essential part of every online brand – whether you are an individual or an established business. And expired domains can be a very convenient way to catapult your website ahead of the competition and increase your chances of ranking high in search results.
However, while buying expired domains can do you a whole of good, they can also be incredibly risky. With all we discussed in this piece, you’d know what to look out for so you can choose a premium domain name and avoid any potential issues.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Discover ways to buy dropped domain names
- Learn how to host multiple domains on one server
- Transfer the domain to your preferred platform
- Use a 301 redirect to point the domain’s traffic to your own or…
- Move the domain to your hosting provider