SEO 13 min read April 11, 2017

Expired Domains' Search: How to Find Drops And Identify Potential Drops

10 Black Hat SEO Techniques to Kill Your Search Engine Visibility

Dmitriy Mazuryan
SEO Specialist
at Netpeak Group
Anyone who is engaged in website promotion knows that using expired domains is often better than launching a site / blog / new satellites on a new domain.

In this article, I'll share the method of searching for future drops and identifying the freshly registered domains of the competitors. The guide is based on Serpstat's data.

What are expired domains, private blog networks and satellites?

Expired domain is a domain name that has been used in the past, but is no longer being used.

Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of many smaller websites, each focused around one specific subject (i.e. niche websites), all ultimately linking back to a single large primary website.

Satellites are small 5-10 pages websites devoted to a particular topic. Unlike PBNs, the main goal of satellite website is to bring more traffic to the primary site, but at the same time its quality is a lot worse.

Experts create the whole network of sites, links of which help in promoting major projects. In this regard, good drops are better than new domains because they have a history, could have backlinks and even the trust of search engines.

Searching for domains

One of the most common ways of searching for drops is using the services such as ExpiredDomains.net and GoDaddy. But if you want to find a really good drop, it's not always that simple.

The method #1: the easiest one

The easiest method is to filter domains by adding certain words on Expired Domains and then to filter the results by the number of incoming links on MajesticSeo.
Each of these domains should be checked on the content of web archive, common metrics like Moz Domain Authority, Ahrefs Domain Ranking, SM * Trust. Then you need to check backlinks, here Serpstat's backlink analysis tool might come in handy.

Use SimilarWeb to check the domain's traffic history and Serpstat to see the visibility. At the API Serpstat there is a domain_history function, which displays the whole history of domain indicators in service.

Let's take insurance35.com domain as an example. At the time of writing this article it was free, here's a screenshot of the Google Domains to confirm this:
Serpstat doesn't see this domain in the search because the domain's been already departed from SERP. But the domain_history report shows that the site was ranked by 40 phrases in July. That's how it looks like if you go to: http://api.serpstat.com/v3/domain_history?query=insurance35.com&se=g_us&token={YOUR TOKEN}
Drops that were shown in the search results are great. There are high chances that your sites on these domains will be also shown in SERP and will give traffic. Such drops are significantly better than domains with a large number of backlinks and high rates at Moz Domain Rank, Sepstat Visibility, TrustFlow and so on because the search engines already trust them.

The method #2: SERP studying

SERP studying allows to find drops that haven't been dropped out of the search yet and sites that may get free in the nearest future. You need to unload all domains from top (top 10, top 20 ... top-100, everyone defines for himself) and then using Whois Domain check the date the lease ends. One request within a niche is not enough because even slightly modified keyword will return different search results.

Let's take a narrow niche «Michael Kors crossbody bags». There are 95 unique domains for the keyword «michael kors crossbody bag» in Google US top 100. 98 are for the phrase «Michael kors crossbody bags», where 36 weren't shown in the first set. And in «black michael kors crossbody bag» another 39 new domains were added.
In total for three similar phrases in the top 100 there are 170 unique domains. You'll waste much time on picking up these phrases and geting domains from SERP manually. Serpstat can simplify this process.

For Michael Kors Crossbody Bags there are 106 keywords found in Serpstat Google US database. For each phrase you should take the top and copy domains.
You need to get WHOIS data and define the creation and expiration dates for all obtained domains. There are plenty of services and software to do this.
Netpeak Checker — is an easy-to-use tool that provides such data.

The method #3: SERP studying via API Serpstat

To make the process even easier I wrote a small script that pulls out domains and determines their creation and expiration dates using the data from API Serpstat.

How does it work? Through commands domain_keywords, url_keywords and keywords the phrases for the desired niche are taken from the Serpstat's base. Then through the method keyword_top domains from the top 100 are defined by the phrase and the total number of unique domains is formed. With the help of a phpWhois library the whois for all domains of this set is analyzed and it is defined whether it is registered, if yes, its creation and expiration dates are also defined.

You need to fill in several gaps to make script collect the necessary data. That's how it looks like:
  • Input is a phrase, a domain or a page for which the script will get phrases from Serpstat base.
  • Input Type - here you select the input type the script will run with. It depends on what function of API Serpstat will be used.
  • Search region is a search engine for which the analysis will be carried out. For example, for the US Google you need to set the g_us. The entire list of available search engines can be found here.
  • Search limits - the maximum number of phrases from the organic issue, which will participate in the analysis.
  • Pagination Size - the parameter required for pagination when working with API Serpstat, because keywords, url_keywords and domain_keywords functions may give a maximum of 1000 phrases. If you have a key limit of less than 1000, then it's better to use the same page size as the search limit.
  • Max volume is a max frequency of phrases from both databases, which will participate in the analysis. If you want only LV keywords, you can set 20. For example, to search for blogs and satellites I set the maximum frequency of not more than 80.
  • API token — here you need to enter a key for the API. It can be found on your profile page.
  • Function — this script implements a number of functions:
o Find drops via WHOIS — unique domains table based on the Whois data.
o Get list of domains. You may just copy this list and work with it as you want.
o Find relevant forums slightly improved search engine of topical forums http://mz.kiev.ua/tools/serpstat-get-forum-threads...

Let me draw your attention to the function "Find drops via WHOIS". Input all parameters and click on a single red button. After 5-15 minutes the following table will be displayed:
This table has several columns that I will focus on in more detail:

  • Domain — the domain name within the analyzed niche.
  • Created — the creation date. "Dead" for drops.
  • Expires — the expiration date. "Dead" for drops.
  • Keyword — the first keyword for which this domain was found.
  • Position — the domain's position in SERP for this keyword.
  • Total keys — the number of keywords for which the domain was found in the top 100.
Pay attention. The phpWhois library was created 5 years ago that's why it doesn't always pull the domain out of Whois. In this case you'll see "none". 10-30% of domains have "none". Using the "get list of domains" you can copy them to other software that takes out Whois.

For the keyword "cheap car insurance" there are 3 drops: carinsurancefloridacheap.com, lowcostautoinsuranceflorida.com and cheapfloridacarinsurance.net.
If you check through name.com, all three domains are really free and you can register them even right now.
The best variant of this trio is «lowcostautoinsuranceflorida.com». Despite the fact that only 3 pages refer to this domain, it is ranked for more than 40 keywords in US Google.
This method is useful because Serpstat has very large base for lots of regions. You can find good drops even in very narrow niches. You can also improve your PBN and satellites and reach the tops in the most competitive spheres.

How to find potential drops?

Drops are cool. But because of the long downtime they may lose all their advantages. You can't predict whether it would work. That's why potential drops are better. Using the above-described method you may grab the domain that can get free in several months. I recommend you to set a reminder at a specific date and try to quickly register desired domains then recover and come up with a strategy for further development.

Using csv-file which appears after the analysis is finished, you can sort the obtained data by the expiration date in any spreadsheet editor:
These potential drops should be checked for:

  • Keywords from Serpstat by which the site and its positions are ranked.
  • Traffic,search traffic rate and regions via Similarweb.
  • The numeric values of references and anchor list. You may do this via Serpstat.
  • Domain indicators: Ahrefs DR, SM * Trust, Moz DA and Majestic TF / CF.
In case if this domain won't be prolonged, register it. Remember that picture may change badly so that double-check everything before registering. There is a little chance to intercept such domains but sometimes it turns out. Their main advantage is that after the operative recovery they almost immediately begin to give at least some traffic. It turns out even to get in the top 10 for very good MVs.

Tip: I advise you not to drool on the domains that were registered more than five years ago. It's 99% probability that they will be extended or bought by more skilled experts.

SERP's analysis

You should pay attention to sites domains of which have been registered recently (less than a year ago). If they are found by this script, then they are somehow ranked. Let's look at a "g-shock" niche in US Google SERP.
Let's take militarywatchguru.com. It was registered in June 2016, i.e, only 4 months ago. There is no history in web archive, whois.domaintools.com also says nothing about the past of whois domain. There is every reason to believe that no one used this domain until this summer. Now let's take a look at its achievements in Serpstat.
As you can see, the domain was registered only 4 months ago but it already has good positions. The main thing is that using Serpstat in this way you can identify successful examples of effective promotion, the studying of which may reveal new "chips" and increase the chances to reach the top with your projects.

P.S.

As the tradition requires, I'm sharing my scripts with you.
Online version on a common web hosting and whois parsing works half the time that's why I recommend to download the source code and install on your server or virtual one. It will be much more reliable.

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