Today, in SEO there are more than a few reasons why buying expired domains is a good idea.
The problem is that a lot of people are going about it all wrong, more than that though people are still going through vendors who are charging a nice 600%Â markup on some domains that they bagged for $10.00 and then sold you for $60.00.
Unfair? You bet your ass it is.
Iâ€™m going to level up the playing field for you a bit, and go into some depth about how to go about finding an expired domain for yourself, the right wayâ€¦
Let’s Get Started
First of all youâ€™re going to need to understand that finding expired domains is both relatively easy and extremely difficult. Do you know how many peopleÂ are out there doing this every hour of the day?
The big boys in this particular niche of our industry are employing VAâ€™s, Multiple VPSâ€™s and a whole host of software thatâ€™s custom built just for theirÂ purposes, that would make yourÂ Scrapebox VPS, shit its pants.
The upside is that thereâ€™s billions of websites out there, some slip through the cracks and more importantly than thisâ€¦ These guys scaling their operationsÂ to insane degrees arenâ€™t too concerned with experimenting.
Iâ€™ve done my fair share of experimenting with this method and there are just three key tools that youâ€™re going to need.
- Majestic SEO (or similar site explorer e.g. Ahrefs, OpenSiteExplorer)
- Xenu Link Sleuth
Silly image jokes aside.
What’s the First Step?
First off we need to find an authority site within our field,Â let’s say we’re in the fitness niche and we’ll be going after one of the biggest sites in that niche – BodyBuilding.com
In many cases though, youâ€™ll know the big competitors in your niche by heartâ€¦ If not, simply start dropping keywords into Google and using advanced operators is a pretty important part of this.
An example of advanced operators:
If you wanted sites from only a .co.uk domain then you could simply do site:.co.uk + â€œfitnessâ€
Be creative, the point is that this part of the process is really about getting as many of these domains as you can and Iâ€™d say shoot for about 100 ofÂ them.
We can now move onto the fun part, which is having Xenu take these base URLs to harvest thousands of URLs and potential domains.
Download and then Open up Xenu Link Sleuth and head into â€˜options > preferencesâ€™ –
Follow the settings above, and youâ€™ll be pretty golden. Trust me, going above 2 levels in-depth is going to bring back extremely non-relevant results andÂ will take the best part of a couple of days to scan, this is coming from someone with a 1gbps VPS.
Now, go to â€˜File > Check URLâ€™ and simply tick â€˜Check External Linksâ€™ –
This will ensure that Xenu goes out to other pages that those sites are linking to, during the scan.
Once the scan is finished, â€˜export to tab separated fileâ€™ and then open the .txt and copy and paste the contents, into Excel.
The next few steps really are painfully simple, and I expect you to know the hard work comes later, during the analysis phases.
First of all you want to go and do a filter on the â€˜statusâ€™ column and unselect all, then reselect â€˜no such hostâ€™. These are the domains that arenâ€™tÂ hosted, which means they may possibly be available.
You do get a lot of false positives in Xenu though and thatâ€™s why the process doesnâ€™t stop here for ascertaining IF the domain is truly available, or not.
So just grab those domains from excel and head to this site –
Then paste those in. Whatâ€™s niceÂ about this hidden gem of a website is that it will not only strip all of the www. and http:// from your URL which is important when we come to checkÂ availability. What I like about it as well, is that you have the options to remove subdomains, this is useful because youâ€™ll usually get a shit-tonne of blogspot â€˜domainsâ€™ (it is actually a TLD lol) and obviously we canâ€™t really register these unless weâ€™re looking to create a nice web 2.0 networkâ€¦ but that’s a different tutorial, for a different time. Itâ€™s really up to you, but I remove the sub-domains. It also removes any duplicates which is always a nice bonus, although you can easily do this in Excel as well.
What we need to do now is simply check if the domains are actually available, donâ€™t be disappointed when over half of them actually arenâ€™tâ€¦ Thatâ€™s one ofÂ the problems with relying on Xenuâ€™s â€˜no such hostâ€™ parameter, because itâ€™s just too broad in itâ€™s own meaning.
Thereâ€™s a few ways to do thisâ€¦
– SEO Tools for Excel
This works fairly well, but Iâ€™m running an expensive PC with the best internet connection (A good CPU on a VPS is expensive) I can get here and this still takes me hours to scan a thousandÂ domains which is something I want to be doing in under 5 minutes really. It also gives you just as many false positives as Xenu, which when you consider howÂ long it takes to do, makes it pretty worthless.
Thereâ€™s other registrars out there that let you bulk check, this is probably the easiest one and by easiest I mean itâ€™s still a pain in the ass, because itÂ canâ€™t read half the domains you put in there so it takes off the domain name and gives you back a list as long as your arm of sites that you didnâ€™t evenÂ want to know about in the first place. You also need to extract these manually, which is a no-no for those of us who believe in automation as being theÂ path to success.
Like URL to Domain this is another hidden gem, despite what it says â€˜on the tinâ€™ it doesnâ€™t actually provide you with whois data. Instead you can add inÂ thousands of domains and it will check them one by one. Iâ€™ve found this to be more accurate than the two methods above. The limitation here is that thereâ€™sÂ no way to export the results and youâ€™ll be stuck doing it manually.
– http://tools.blackhat.community/bulk-domain-checkÂ (Best Option!)
Shameless plug here, but this tool that was created for the upcoming forum and black hat seo tool-suite is by far the fastest and most accurate availableÂ to you. For non members you can do 500 domains at a time and members can do 1000. What makes this really great aside from the accuracy and speed is thatÂ you can export all the available domains into a .txt file on new lines. It ticks all the boxes for me and I suggest you use it!
Ok, Let’s Check Some Stats!
Now we should have a list of available domains, finally right? The process takes some time to get to this stage but weâ€™re finally there!
Now weâ€™re delving into the analysis phase, weâ€™re like a bunch of old prospectors and weâ€™re panning for gold. Thereâ€™s a lot of fools gold out there thoughÂ and so Iâ€™ll show you how to avoid picking up the wrong kind of domain for your SEO purposes.
This is where Majestic comes in handy and Iâ€™ll explain why very brieflyâ€¦
TrustFlow is a far superior metric to judge a sites authority, quality and likelihood to rank than Page Authority (by Mozâ€™s OpenSiteExplorer) the TF metricÂ is built around a very clever matrix that can judge the contextual relevance of a site linking to another. It does this by grouping known sites togetherÂ into a particular category or categories and over time itâ€™s built up an extremely complex, and deep database of categories for each site.
PageAuthority just doesnâ€™t do it this way, they may have there own way of judging contextual links, but the problem is that theyâ€™re not built solely aroundÂ this kind of process, whereas Majestic is.
In SEO there is no guarantees in any form, even the information you read is mostly full of unfounded claims. One thing I think we all can agree on thoughÂ is that Google really are moving toward looking for relevance more and more. The contextual relationships that TrustFlow create is a much better judge ofÂ this than PageAuthority.
I often see sites with a PageAuthority in the 30s and a TrustFlow below 15 which is pretty low. This just goes to show how much better Majestic is atÂ distinguishing the quality of a link in terms of its relevance to your site.
In the realms of spamming itâ€™s easy to get a site to rank for a period of time, but eventually Google slaps you because the links are either in badÂ neighborhoods, or theyâ€™re very obviously an attempt to manipulate the SERPs as they know the links lack relevance.
If youâ€™re looking to build a PBN with your expired domains, and I mean a truly private blog network then going with TrustFlow should be your main concern.
Thereâ€™s a lot more you need to look at in Majestic though, and one of these considerations is CitationFlow. Now I wonâ€™t go massively into detail about CFÂ as itâ€™s just not that important, what we do want to look at it for though is if itâ€™s higher than the TF.
If CitationFlow is higher than TrustFlow itâ€™s usually indicative of spamming and other low quality SEO practises. Iâ€™m not trying to knock those, as Iâ€™veÂ done them myself and depending on your situation they workâ€¦ Quite clearly though, if youâ€™re looking for a domain and want it to be valuable in your blogÂ network, as a .301 etc you need a quality domain to start off with.
So just bear that particular piece of information in mind, at the moment despite how easy it is to game DomainAuthority (OpenSiteExplorer) itâ€™s a betterÂ metric to go on than CF.
So weâ€™re looking at TF, CF, PA & DA – but, the two that matter and the ones that serious buyers look for if you plan on selling a domain is TF and DA.
You can register a free account with OpenSiteExplorer to check these metrics, but for your main site explorer if you want to be in the â€˜domaining gameâ€™ hasÂ got to be Majestic SEO.
The next thing we will generally look at is the anchor text, obviously you want to look out for very obvious signs of SEO activity as well as looking toÂ see if the domain has been, for lack of a better word â€˜soiledâ€™ with Chinese or Russian anchor text.
An obvious sign that the domain was once used by an SEO and then subsequently dropped due to a penalty or something similar is when you have a high volumeÂ of exact match anchor text. A good site should contain mostly branded and generic anchor text, thatâ€™s what you need to look out for as a good sign.
As for our Chinese anchors, this can often be a sign of a negative SEO attack among other things. It doesnâ€™t mean the site was attacked, but obviously ifÂ you see that as well as anything like â€˜buy viagraâ€™ in there then youâ€™d be better off leaving it behind.
These are just common sense practises that you will learn to do without thinking about it the more you do it.
If you find a really high TF domain and a lower CF, but the site only has less than say 100 referring domains then the domain isnâ€™t going to be as powerfulÂ or as valuable as one with 500. Itâ€™s easy to lose links, imagine losing a link thatâ€™s giving a site the majority of its powerâ€¦ All of a sudden youâ€™re leftÂ with a useless domain. So keep that in mind when checking this stuff out.
We now want to check the entire link profile of the site, relying on TF/CF and the anchor text alone isnâ€™t a safe enough bet. Personally I like to switchÂ to the referring domains tab as a good gauge of what domains are linking to the site.
As you can see you get the data from those domains and using the TF/CF tip from earlier, you can get an idea of what might constitute a good link or a badÂ link. We also want to look for the Primary Topic Trust Flow column to give us back links from an area somewhat contextually related to the domain weâ€™reÂ looking at. When you see a site like list-of-domains.org coming up as Arts / Photography itâ€™s because theyâ€™ve got such a shoddy link profile that MajesticÂ canâ€™t even figure out what the hell they are! Making it a potentially bad link if youâ€™re going in ultra safemode for your domain purchasing.
If the domain passes all of these tests you perform then you might yet be onto a winner.
The next thing to look at is how many times the domain has dropped, and what previous incarnations of the site look likeâ€¦ Weâ€™re looking for anything hereÂ that screams of an SEO using the site because we donâ€™t want this to be a potential footprint that the domains being used badly.
I know it seems ridiculous, and I think it is, but thereâ€™s enough of an argument to say if Google will check it, then so shall we. As for why Google checksÂ it, itâ€™s obvious and Iâ€™m not saying itâ€™s right because a legitimate business could register any domain at any time and fall victim to this type of site.Â Then again it just makes the argument all the more for why businesses should be hiring SEOâ€™s.
So there are two places we go to do this and the first I like to use is; http://whoisrequest.org/history/
Not forgetting checking how the sites once looked in the past, again look out for Chinese characters hereâ€¦ http://archive.org/web/ – the wayback machine.
Ideally you donâ€™t want the site to have a lot of drops, or registrationsâ€¦ Sometimes it really canâ€™t be helped though and youâ€™ll decide to register a siteÂ with a whole lot of drops anyway. Itâ€™s not the end of the world, ideally youâ€™d like minimal changesâ€¦ Sometimes the older a site is, the more itâ€™s changedÂ hands and thatâ€™s the bummer about finding aged domains, because they really are useful in the sense that an aged domain, with aged links is much moreÂ powerful than a new domain with new links or even an aged domain with new links.
In the wayback machine itâ€™s just a case of making sure there havenâ€™t been a lot of different designs, nothing obviously used by an SEO, no redirects andÂ this kind of stuff. Itâ€™s worth checking out a few captures from every year, maybe once a quarter and see if the site passes.
It doesnâ€™t matter if the site looks like the dogs dinner, itâ€™s just about what was on that site and what it was being used for at various points in time.
The very last thing we really need to go over is registering domains and this can be fun depending on how paranoid you like to be about just how much theÂ eye in the sky; Google, knows about our activities.
You should have a few different registrars:
and more of the like.
My go-to is NameCheap though and believe it or not, I handle a fair few of my domains through this account. I use a different registrant name/address forÂ each and switch between paying with PayPal and paying with my Credit Card.
Not using a pre-paid credit card, not using multiple registrant accounts per domainâ€¦ Just changing things up. Technically, itâ€™s not good practise to do soÂ and if they found out it was fake, theyâ€™d remove ownership of the domainâ€¦ But, you just go register it again so thereâ€™s not really a big deal there!
Iâ€™ve never had a problem doing it this way though, not in any sense of the word and honestly it saves me so much time. When you mix your domains betweenÂ different personas and enabling privacy on some as well itâ€™s really a good way to do your business.
Never put all your eggs in one basket though and thatâ€™s why I use NameSilo and CrazyDomains as well.
You can probably tell, when it comes to this part of the process I donâ€™t always feel like I need to have a thousand registrar accounts, but I still play itÂ as safe as possible without turning managing domains and registering them into a full-time job.
Registering domains is as much about common-sense as it is anything elseâ€¦ Getting the process right, being a little creative in the beginning andÂ developing a system later on will allow you to find domains and buy them for the cost of a registration rather than they hyper-inflated prices you seeÂ elsewhere.
Itâ€™ll save you money, make you a better SEO as youâ€™ll understand way more about the process and help you rank your sites long-term through enabling you toÂ build a PBN as well as having plenty of domains for .301s in case you want to use them for that as well.
As I said thereâ€™s almost an unfathomable amount of domains out there on the web, and thereâ€™s hundreds of thousands dropping every day.
Get your slice of the pie!
Thanks For Reading –
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