Buy Expired Domains For SEO in 2020 [Top 5 tips & tricks]
I have been buying expired domains from 2012. I have probably purchased around 900 expired domains in all, so I have "some experience" in buying good ones. That is not to say that I have not been burned before. In fact, in the first few years, I ended up buying some real crap domains. As time went by and I got a little wiser, it became a lot easier to find and buy them. I hope this short guide will help you not make the same mistakes I made, and get the best of my 6 years of experience in a 10-minute read.
1. Checking history will save you many tears (and dollars)
IM peeps have been using expired domains for SEO from at least 2010. Some claim it started as early as when Google started :) but you can safely say that over the last 8 years many an expired domain has been used for a PBN. Due to this, it is very likely that the amazing expired domain with the super-high TF/DR metrics and thousands of referring domains that you just found, has been used by someone else, and possibly more than one SEO.
It is therefore critical that you check the history of the expired domain using the Wayback Archive before you buy it. More often than not, the reason you found this domain is that some other SEO used it, abused it and then let it go. The best case scenario is that the domain's link equity has been reset to 0. The worst case scenario is that it has been penalized and by using it, you might get a few Googlers to check your money-site a little more thoroughly.
When looking at the history make sure that the language or the topic of the website do not suddenly change. If this was an English language website that suddenly turned into a German one (or Chinese), then you know something is wrong. Similarly, a website about open source software cannot suddenly turn into a website about pet food. Don't let the metrics and the backlinks suck you in like the sounds of the siren. Look away, Sailor. Look away!
2. Garnish all metrics with a pinch of salt
We love metrics! Yes. We do. Metrics take the complexity of the backlink equity profile of a domain and turn it into simple numbers that go from 0 to 100. So much easier to compare two websites based on a single easy number, than to have to look at each of their backlinks and spend time checking them out and evaluating them.
I know - I fell for this more times than I would like to admit. Bought the amazing domain with a Trust Flow of 35 and a thousand referring domains for a few hundred dollars, that I would never see again.
Say it aloud with me - "Metrics are only for filtering. Not for Buying".
I use metrics only to help me filter down from the large number of domains that expire every day to a smaller pool. Once I have a pool of 50 to 100 domains, each of them with some minimum metrics, I then look at the backlinks for all of them. Once these have been filtered, I try not looking at the metrics at all.
Everyone needs to figure out for themselves what minimum set of metrics they use. I list mine below just to give you an idea. But please don't copy it blindly. You need to understand what each metric means and decide based on your specific situation.
Majestic Trust Flow > 15
Ahrefs Domain Rating > 10
Majestic TF/CF ratio > 0.8
Moz Spam Score < 6
Majestic Topical Category = (industry that I want to rank in)
3. Topical continuity is critical
When you start with PBNs you dream of buying 100 awesome expired domains in the niche that you want to rank in. You then do find 100 awesome expired domains, but they are all in different niches. You then break one of the biggest rules in PBN buildings and buy domains in different niches and start building websites of the same niche for them. Boom - just wasted a few thousand dollars.
When the topic of a website changes, it automatically loses all the old link equity. So let's say a website about sports, suddenly turns into a website about finance. As soon as this happens Google resets the domain's link metrics to 0. You, therefore, must remember to never-ever-ever change the topic of the website.
You can be creative with this. Say you are in the finance niche and found a sports domain that has amazeballs backlinks. Simply create an article on the sports website about a prominent sports figure (LeBron James Woohoo) giving advice about finance to young people. Trust me - Finding ways to merge two opposite niches is a lot easier to do than it seems at first.
4. Why PBN and not money-site?
Initially, I started buying expired domains just for my PBN. But over time I have found that expired domains work much better for my money-sites. You no longer need to spend time in the Google Sandbox (Yes - that is a real thing) and the existing backlinks making ranking a little too easy. Of course I only use premium expired domains (domains with great backlinks purchased from auctions) that cost many thousand dollars. But they usually pay themselves off in less than a few days.
If you don't have a money-site yet - please don't register a fresh domain for it. Go for an expired one. Once you go "expired" you never go back. (Sorry. I know that sounds rather dark)
5. Don't use a VA. Use a broker.
I buy on the average around $10,000 worth of expired domains every month. You probably think I have a team of VAs (Virtual Assistants) helping me find and buy the best expired domains and so it will come as a shock that I don't outsource this task. When I tell this to people in the industry, they often say things like "why are you wasting your time", "you need to outsource", yadda yadda. And I get it - I understand where they are coming from. The only way to scale any business is to have other people do all the work. I used to think the same about buying expired domains. Now I don't.
I have found that you cannot trust a VA to do a good enough job when it comes to buying expired domains. Any VA who is really good at this should be running his own IM empire. I did try outsourcing this task to people a few years back - but every time I found that I had a re-check every single domain and that the VAs were glossing over the real beauties out there.
So now, I do all the expired domains finding myself using the best software out there. If you don't have the time or don't want to put in the time, go buy the domains from a broker. You might end up spending a little more (hey - brokers have to eat too!) but you will be much better off for it. This is a painful task that takes me two hours every day of intense concentration. Seriously - if you don't want to do this - go buy your domains from a broker you trust.
If however, you want to take the matters into your hands and want to find and buy the expired domains yourself, then I have three recommendations for Software that you need to use
1. DomCop - DomCop has more metrics than anyone else, and their software works the best. They are not the cheapest of the lot, but when you are spending thousands of domains every month, you shouldn't be worried about spending a few hundred on the tool that makes it all possible. They have metrics from Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz, Estibot, SimilarWeb, SEMrush, Alexa, WhoIs and more. I don't see any other software out there that has as many metrics as DomCop does.
Another thing I like about DomCop is that they are a one-tool shop for everything related to buying expired domains. They have a section for expiring auctions, another section for expired domains and they also have the domain crawler feature, here you can crawl existing websites with massive authority and find really good domains through broken links. I've been using them for the last 4 years and cannot recommend them enough.
2. ExpiredDomains.io - I found this free tool just a few weeks back. While they don't have as many domains or as many metrics as DomCop has, they make a really good software to start finding and buying expired domains. If you are just starting out and don't have the budget, definitely check this free tool out. They have Majestic and Moz metrics, so while it is not as extensive as DomCop, it's not too bad.
3. ExpiredDomains.net - This tool has been there for many years now and has a very decent number of domains. Unfortunately, it looks like the software was built for domainers and not SEOs. They only have Majestic metrics (No Ahrefs or Moz) and most of the searches are based on finding domains to flip and not for PBNs. It is free however, and works pretty well. I would still prefer using expireddomains.io since that one has more metrics, but would have been remiss had I not mentioned this one.