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SEO 11 min read February 27, 2018

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 that has been registered, but isn't renewed after the contract ends.

Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of authoritative websites owned by a single person. The main goal of such network is to promote the main website(s).

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.

Dropped domains not only have a history but also still rank for some keywords, related to the one you've entered. Website owners create the whole network of sites and use them to build links to their money websites to promote them.

Searching for expired 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.

Method #1: the easiest one

The easiest method is to filter domains by adding certain words on Expired Domains and then filter the results by the number of incoming links on MajesticSeo.
Then pass to analyzing domains you got. Check the content of web archive, common metrics like Moz Domain Authority, Ahrefs Domain Rating. Then 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. To see the historical data on a domain's number of keywords and visibility use domain_history report of Serpstat API.

Let's take insurance35.com domain as an example. When I was working on this post this domain was free, here's a screenshot of the Google Domains to confirm this:
Serpstat doesn't see this domain in the search results because the domain's been already departed from the SERP. But the domain_history report shows that the site was ranked by 40 phrases in July 2016. 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 what you need as there are high chances that your sites on these domains will be also shown in SERP and bring traffic. Such drops are significantly better than domains with a large number of backlinks and high Moz Domain Rank, Sepstat Visibility, TrustRank rates and so on because search engines already trust them.

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 export 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.
For michael kors crossbody bag keyword, Whois Domain finds 95 unique domains in Google US top 100. While for the same keyword in plural (michael kors crossbody bags) 98 domains are shown, 36 of which weren't shown in the first set. By searching for black michael kors crossbody bag we get another 39 new domains.
In total for three almost similar keywords 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. Click on the keywords from the list one-by-one and export the top-ranked domains.
Now 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.

Method #3: SERP studying via API Serpstat

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

How does it work?

Step 1. Finds X number of keywords related to your target keyword with parameters you set. The script uses domain_keywords, url_keywords and keywords Serpstat API reports.
Step 2. Creates a list of all domains found in top-100 for each keyword from step one. This step is based on keyword_top API report.
Step 3. Runs the list of domains through phpWhois library to find which of these domains have been dropped by owner.

How to use my script? You need to fill in several gaps to run the script. That's how it looks:
  • Input is a keyword, domain or page you want to get data for.
  • Input Type – here you select the input type.
  • Search region – choose the local search engine. For example, for Google Australia you need to write g_au. Check this page for all regional databases Serpstat has.
  • Search limits – the maximum number of keywords that will be analyzed.
  • Pagination size – the parameter is required because keywords, url_keywords and domain_keywords reports have a limit of 1000 keywords. 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 volume of analyzing keywords. It's better to keep the search volume low, domains that rank for keywords with high search volumes are rarely dropped.
  • API token – here you need to paste your API token. Go to your profile page to get it.
  • Function – here is the list of functions to choose from:
o Find drops via WHOIS – you get a list of unique domains with the Whois data.
o Get list of domains – no additional data here, you may copy this list and use 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's take a closer look at Find drops via WHOIS function. Fill in all required fields and click on Banzai. After 5-15 minutes you'll see something like this:
Let's take a closer look at the columns of the gained report:

  • Domain — the domain name.
  • 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 the analyzed keyword.
  • Total keys — the number of keywords 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". Use "get list of domains" to copy them and use with other software that takes out Whois data.

For the keyword g shock the script found 2 drops: flygshock.com and
gshocksolar.com.
Check these domains through name.com to make sure that both domains are free and you can register them right now.
Both these domains are ranked for some keywords, flygshock.com (25 keywords) and gshocksolar.com (49 keywords). Moreover, flygshock.com has 2 backlinks. If I was running a g shock store, I would think of buying these domain names as satellites.
Using this script 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 niches.

How to find potential drops?

Drops are cool. But 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 can grab the domain that might become 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 the site is ranked for.
  • Traffic, organic traffic rate and regions via Similarweb.
  • The number of backlinks and anchor list.
  • Domain indicators: Ahrefs DR, SM * Trust, Moz DA and Serpstat Page and Trust Rank.
In case if this domain isn't renewed, register it. There is a little chance to grab such domains but don't give up. The main advantage of potential drops is that after the operative recovery they almost immediately start bringing you at least some traffic.

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

Sharing the script

As the tradition requires, I'm sharing my scripts with you. Here is an online version:
Note, that online version is placed on a common web hosting and whois parsing doesn't always work properly. That's why it's better to download the source code and install on your server or virtual one. Here it is:
Found an error? Select it and press Ctrl + Enter to tell us

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