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SEO 14 min read September 17, 2020

How You Can Use Expired Domains For SEO

How You Can​ Use Expired Domains For SEO​
Josh Bruce
Josh Bruce
SEO Specialist at BFI
Using expired domains is a great way to improve your backlink profile and your SEO. Building links is hard work, and using expired domains is a very effective way to help gain high-quality backlinks and increase your website's authority. This guide shows you the different ways you can use expired domains for SEO and how to choose and purchase a good quality expired domain that will help you get the best SEO value.
There are three main ways you can use an expired domain to improve your SEO. You can 301 redirect the domain, steal the domain's links, or set up a private blog network.

Read on to find more about what these are and how they can help you, then we'll show you how to choose your expired domain.
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301 redirects
A 301 redirect is simply a piece of code used to direct one web page to another. It tells your browser that the page was moved permanently to the new location.
As of 2016, 100% of PageRank was transferred across in a 301 redirect. So, if you redirect one website to another, you will pass on all the link juice from the expired domain.

The important thing to remember is that you should not just redirect any expired domain to your new website or you could trigger a Google penalty. Make sure the redirects are from similar pages that mirror your new website.
The most frequently used way of setting up a 301 redirect is by adding code to your website's .htaccess file.

There are different codes you can add depending on your server configuration and which pages you want to redirect the users to.
Below is an example code that works to redirect your old domain to a new domain.

Note: Replace olddomain.com and newdomain.com with your actual domain names.
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^olddomain.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.olddomain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://newdomain.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]
You need to be careful when modifying your .htaccess file. Just one incorrect character can cause your whole website to break. Speak to your hosting provider or web developer before making any changes.
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Stealing broken links
One of the best ways to use expired domains for your SEO is to use broken link building. This white hat method of gaining backlinks to your website can take a lot of time due to outreach, but requires the least monetary investment.

First, you need to identify an expired domain in your niche that has a range of high-quality backlinks to steal broken links.

Next, you need to reach out to the websites that link to the expired domain and inform them of the broken link. Then offer them an alternative resource to link to on your site to replace the broken link.

The email should look something like this:
Hello ____

I'm just getting in touch because I noticed one of the links in your blog articles is broken.

The link is in this article: www.domain.com/article-name

The broken link is: www.expireddomain.com/broken-link

It looks like the website has expired and the article has been deleted.

If it helps, we've also written a great article on the same topic that could act as a replacement link:

www.site.com/replacement-link

Hopefully this helps!

Thanks,
Your Name
If you're lucky, they'll replace the broken link with a link to your site in reward for pointing out the broken link.

Try to contact the person who posted the article to get the highest response rate.
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Building PBNs
A Private Blog Network is a network of websites set up to build links to other websites to improve their ranking positions in Google.

PBNs are often set up with the same content from the expired domain with new blog articles attached, which link to your money website(s).

To set up a PBN, register your expired domain and set it up as an online blog. When you set up your website, it's crucial that it looks like a genuine blog and not one that is privately owned to create links.

There is more cost associated with setting up a PBN because you need to host the website, develop the website, and add content. The benefit is that you don't have to pay for rental links, and you can even sell links on your own PBN.
When you create a private blog, your blog posts will usually be hosted on your homepage because this has the highest Page Authority and will pass the most link juice to your site.

For maximum relevance, you should use a domain that is related to your site.
Setting up a private blog network is against Google's guidelines and could cause your private blog and site to hit a penalty. If you set one up, you need to understand a risk associated with this and make sure you hide any evidence that could uncover your expired domain as a private blog.
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How to choose an expired domain
Now you know how you can use your expired domain; you'll need to understand what makes a good-quality expired domain. There are many expired domains out there, but the truth is that most of them won't be suitable for your website and won't improve your SEO.

These are the things you should look at when choosing your expired domain.
Domain metrics
One of the well-established SEO metrics is Domain Authority (DA). It is a parameter used to assess how well a website will rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Domain Authority is ranked on a scale of 0-100. A new site will start with a DA of 0. There is a similar metric called Domain Rating (DR). Like DA, the scoring is done from 0-100. The higher the score, the better the site.

Serpstat has its own internal parameter, which is known as Serpstat Domain Rank. Like the others, SDR is scored on a scale of 0-100. It depends on the number of sites linking to the analyzed domain and the number of sites linking to these referring sites. Thus, all sites in the index connected with the analyzed domain are taken into account.
Referring domains
To more thoroughly understand a domain's power, you need to examine the referring domains' quantity and quality manually. Referring domains are the number of websites that link to the expired domain.

Ideally, you want your referring domains to supply dofollow links from websites with a high domain rating, with traffic in a relevant niche. If you have more than 20 of these links, you have a domain with a decent amount of power.

In Serpstat Referring Domains report you can see the list of domains that have external links leading to the analyzed domain.
If the referring domains are from spammy websites or all nofollow links, I will not purchase this domain.
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Personal advice
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Niche relevancy
Choose a domain that is related to your niche. If you choose a completely unrelated domain, it will pass less value to your website and could get it penalized.

If you're building a PBN, one approach is to adapt an unrelated niche to something similar to your niche.

For example, if your site is in the travel niche and you see the domain 'RevolutionBikes.com' which used to be a local bike shop, set up a blog about travelling around on a bike trying to inspire people.

Ideally, you will already purchase an expired domain in the same niche that you can either redirect, use as a PBN or steal their links.
Domain history
Once you've found a niche-relevant domain with the right metrics, the final thing you need to check is whether the domain has previously been used as a spam website.

If you purchase a spam domain, you could find that it's challenging to get indexed due to penalties that have been historically applied to it.

Search your domain name in WayBack Machine and examine the history of the website. Click on different years to view screenshots of the website on other dates.

Check to see if the website was previously used as a link farm or spammy website. If you can see that the domain expired and way set up again as a dodgy looking domain before expiring, it was likely deindexed. If the website was ever used as a spam domain, do not register it.
Where to find expired domains
Two main types of domains you can buy are dropped vs non-dropped domains.

Dropped domain – the domain has fully expired and is available to be purchased from any domain registrar. These can take months to recover their SEO value.

Non-dropped domain – these have expired but are retained by the registrar. These maintain their domain age and have more SEO value.

There are many websites where you can buy expired domains. These are some of the best and most popular:

GoDaddy Auctions – a wide range of non-dropped domains.
PBNHQ – a collection of PBN and premium domains.
PureQualityDomains – dropped PBN domains.
HammerHeadDomains – A monthly subscription reveals new domains to purchase daily.
Conclusion
These are the best ways you can use expired domains for SEO. Once you've identified and vetted your expired domain, you'll be faced with deciding how to use it, depending on your best. The easiest approach is to 301 the domain, but you could potentially create a better asset by setting up a PBN or stealing the expired domain's links.

Hopefully, you now have the confidence to leveraging expired domains to increase your backlink profile and grow your traffic. Thanks for reading!
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