Learn more about what expired domains are, how they are used, and why they provide so much value.
What are Expired Domains?
An expired domain is a domain name that reaches its expiration date before being renewed. During the domain expiry process, the domain eventually becomes available for someone else to register. A person or business can purchase this name and use it for their own purposes, often at a fraction of the full retail price.
How Does a Domain Expire?
When the domain expiration date passes, the owner cannot use the domain name for a website or email address. The only option a registrant has if this occurs is to transfer the domain to a new registrar. When doing so, they must pay for the domain’s renewal at the new registrar.
If the owner of the domain doesn’t take this step, the domain name sits idle for a period. It then enters the redemption grace period (RGP). During this period, the owner can renew the domain name but will pay a higher price when doing so.
If they don’t renew at this higher price, the registrar begins deleting the domain name. This process typically takes 30 days, and the registrant can renew the name during this period.
However, the registrant also identifies the name as one that is expiring. Individuals searching for an expired domain will see this information and may watch to see what happens with the name in the coming weeks and months.
When the grace period ends, the registrar switches the expiring tag to one that says pending delete. This lets people know the name will enter the domain name pool in five days. When it reaches the pool, anyone can purchase it.
Investors and hopeful owners might claim this domain name long before it reaches the pool. How can they do so?
The Market for Expired Domains
Today, a secondary market exists for domain names that are expiring or have already expired. People looking for a specific domain name frequent this market to see if the desired name will become available soon. In fact, there are many ways to buy an expired or expiring domain.
One way expired domains are acquired is through backordering. A domain backorder is a commitment to purchase a domain name before it becomes available to register. While someone could try to register the domain the moment it becomes available, the advent of backordering services made this action obsolete.
Many services exist to allow individuals to backorder a domain name quickly and in bulk. By using programs to register domains automatically, backordering gives domain buyers the best chance of being first to register an expired domain.
When two or more people backorder the same domain, the name is sent to an expiring domain auction. When this happens, the domain registrar establishes an auction so interested parties can bid on the name. The highest bidder wins the domain name and pays the auction price along with registration fees.
Expired domain auctions have grown in popularity over recent years. As more bidders enter the market, prices for expired domains tend to increase, resulting in a much more competitive auction.
What Makes Expired Domains Valuable?
High-quality domain names become harder to acquire everyday, but for a legitimate reason. Expired domains provide many benefits to those who utilize them.
Expiring domains provide significant SEO value, having often been developed at one point in the past. This allows the domain name to acquire backlinks and rank in search engines, which provides value to those operating in the same industry. Search engines are more likely to include these types of domains in its rankings, as well as domains that have been actively registered for years.
For example, a business may close and not renew its domain name. The new owner of the domain benefits from the brand history and domain age. Depending on how the domain is used, it could be used for a new website or redirected to another.
However, not all expiring domains have SEO value. While a domain could seem highly valuable, it may come with downsides. This can include being used for spam in the past or coming with low quality backlinks.
Many sites have existing backlinks when they reach the expired domain name pool. The number and quality of these links play a role in the value of the domain name. Some buyers know they can benefit from a quality link profile, and participate in competitive auctions to get them.
Potential buyers consider the existing backlink profile to be one of the most important element when purchasing an expired domain. Since these sites generally receive backlinks organically, the link profile communicates to search engines that the domain is trustworthy.
When a domain name receives a significant amount of traffic, it gives the new owner an advantage when utilizing it. This traffic can be used to earn money from lead generation, affiliate marketing, or domain parking.
Search engines are usually the reason these domains still have traffic, due to still showing in rankings. Purchasing an expired domain name that draws in visitors can benefit the new owner by speeding up the process of ranking for keywords.
If the visitor types the domain name directly (otherwise known as type in traffic), this also benefits the new owner. Type-in traffic allows domain name owners to earn traffic simply for how convenient it is for users to reach your website.
Finding Expired Domains
Individuals looking for expired domains find they have countless resources available to them. These include:
- Expiring auctions
- Alert services
How to Use Expired Domain Names
Expired domain names allow a person to purchase an aged domain name with additional benefits. This allows them to have an edge in the search engine rankings from day one. How might the new owner utilize their domain?
Niche sites operate to earn money in a given niche. Be it a blog, review site, or marketplace, niche sites can earn revenue by converting their traffic. Having an expired domain name with a solid history and an excellent backlink profile gives the domain a better chance of ranking for related keywords.
In fact, the owner might find this backlink profile is enough to help them build a top site in their niche. This is called an authority site, where the website aims to convert traffic in a broad niche using multiple streams of income. By utilizing strong SEO qualities, the site can be grown and expanded by relying on the trust provided by the domain brand.
The owner of an expired domain name may indirectly use it to benefit to their primary site. By 301 redirecting the domain to another site, the existing relevant backlinks pass authority and relevance along. Plus, any traffic going to the expired domain will be passed to the new site. However, it can be complicated and tedious to set up 301 redirects, depending on the number of URLs.
Private Blog Networks
Some domain owners choose to build a private blog network. This is when a site owner buys a domain with existing backlinks and links it to a network of other sites within the same I.P. address.
This is done in order to create inflated domain authority across the network of websites, however this is viewed negatively by search algorithms in the long term. Search engines penalizes those sites that contain spun or copied content, or otherwise provide no value to its search results.
Recovering a Site
Using sites like Archive.org, the previous website for an expired domain can be recreated and republished. While this practice comes with risks, it allows the new owner to repurpose the old website in order to utilize its remaining SEO value.
Some investors choose to purchase an expired domain name in the hopes it will increase in value. When the name does so, the investor puts it up for sale and makes a profit. However, the investor must know which names will probably increase in value and which to avoid. Working with a domain broker can make this process much simpler.
Final Thoughts on Expired Domains
Individuals must be selective when choosing expired domain names to purchase. If the site has a questionable backlink profile or spammy history, then its benefits are greatly limited. Although it will take longer to find outstanding expired domain names to purchase, the value it holds is worth the wait.
It’s also important to consider the content of the previous site. Using Archive.org, see if the domain was used in a particular niche, in a quality way and not for spammy reasons.
Finally, check the Google index status. Type the expired domain name into the search engine and see if results appear. When the site appears in the search engine, it is easier to discern how the well the domain is being used.