The process of search engine optimisation (SEO) has changed dramatically over the last decade. From the very first Panda update in September 2011, through to Penguin and Hummingbird, the requirements for ranking a website are almost unrecognisable to what they were 3 years ago.
Acquiring aged or expired domains is a strategy that many marketers and online businesses have used to increase their search engine rankings, syphon traffic and to sell for high margins. But what is it about aged domains that makes them so valuable? Why is the competition so fierce when it comes to bidding on aged domains through a tool like GoDaddy auctions?
Aged domains are assets that website owners can exploit to power up search engine rankings while generating mass targeted traffic to their websites.
In this post, I'll cover some of the reasons acquiring aged and expired domains have become increasingly popular and ways marketers can use these for their own financial advantage.
What Are Aged Domains?
First, what exactly is an aged or expired domain? And how is it different than a regular domain?
When annual domain registration fees are due but are not paid on time by the domain owner, the domain becomes available for registration. Because these domains have existed as websites before, they have acquired authority in the eyes of the search engines as trusted web properties. Additionally, some have acquired many backlinks and bookmarks.
On the contrary, a regular domain usually is brand new, without history, without backlinks and without bookmarks. This means it has 0 inherent SEO advantages.
This is why aged domains are so valuable: because they have history, backlinks and in many cases, have are trusted a lot more by the search engines than a new domain. Because they are trusted, they rank higher.
Why are aged domains so valuable?
Aged domains are valued by SEO professionals, business owners and online marketers because they can be used to dramatically improve traffic and the search engine rankings of a website. This means that these domains can be resold for high profits to a buyer wishing to boost their search engine rankings.
But be careful, there are a number of things that you need to be careful of when researching aged domains to make sure your investment pays handsome dividends.
Why marketers are snapping up aged domains?
While there are dozens of ways marketers can benefit from buying expired domains, here are the top reasons.
1. Residual Traffic
The main reason people purchase aged domains is because many aged domains provide you with residual traffic. In other words, traffic that results from those backlinks and bookmarks that are pointing to the domain already as a result of the previous owner's link building.
By registering an aged domain, you can redirect the residual traffic back to your website, which will help generate more unique visits, which can almost instantly increase traffic to your website.
But I hear you say, isn't the main purpose for search engine rankings? No. The reason you want higher search engine rankings is to get more traffic. This, when correctly utilized, can be significantly more powerful than using the aged domain for backlink purposes only.
As an example, let's say Matt C owns an online pet store in Sydney, Australia. He notices that the website petstore.com.au has expired. He checks the backlinks and notices a number of forums speak highly of the website and a number of these posts contain a link to his website. Why should Matt buy this domain? Because Matt can set up a redirect to his website, meaning everyone who visits petstore.com.au will instead be redirected to his website. Free, instant targeted traffic to his website just by purchasing the domain and setting up a redirect? Traffic generation does not get much easier than this.
Of course, Matt doesn't have to set up a redirect, he can use this domain in other ways, which we'll cover below.
2. Create a secondary website
Many expired domains target specifically the market that you’re targeting, or a sub-niche. By registering one or more of these domains, you get the opportunity to build sub-niche websites that add value to visitors, creating backlinks to your website where appropriate.
How can you find out if the domain is closely related to your niche? While the domain itself will usually give a clue, the best way to make sure it is related is to use the Way Back Machine to look up the domain's history:
In the above example you can see the history of the Google.com domain. Simply clicking on any date with a blue circle will show you what the website looked like on that day.
Checking this, we can see the niche the domain was in, hence if this domain is an opportunity worth pursuing. Once you have confirmed the domain is related, you can then purchase the domain and start using it as a second tier website.
What can you do with a second tier website? It allows you to experiment with other types of content that you would rather have on a separate site to your main site.
A forum using vBulletin
A viral content website
An online store
An affiliate blog site
... And 100s of other ideas.
Creating a second web property is one I personally have used aged domains to boost the authority of the primary domain in addition to capturing a wider audience that may not have been interested in the main website.
3. Directory Listings
Another benefit of purchasing aged domains is directory listings. Getting your website listed in directories such as Yahoo! & DMOZ can take weeks, months or even years to even be reviewed. Upon review, if your website is of sufficient quality, it will be included in the directory's index.
One of the biggest advantages of purchasing an aged domain is that the domain may already be listed in the directory, saving you months of wasted time.
Additionally, some directories also require you to pay a small (~$300USD) for being listed in their directory.
Being included in the directory means additional traffic to your website and can potentially save time submitting and then waiting for the directory listing for your site to be approved.
4. High Page Rank, Domain Authority, Page Authority and Trust Flow
Many aged domains have enviable SEO stats that mean it is significantly easier to rank the same piece of content on the aged domain than on a new domain.
How is this so? Because the aged domain is older, has backlinks and is trusted by the search engines. On the contrary, a new domain is brand new. It has no history. Google doesn't know if this site should even be included in its search results. So naturally, the older, trusted site will usually experience higher rankings.
Some of the major stats that you should be aware of when purchasing an aged domain include:
However, it should be noted that the only domain I personally would purchase would be a well rounded domain that is high in all of these metrics. When purchasing domains, be careful of domains that are high in one metric and are 0 in other metrics, such as a domain with low trust flow but high Domain Authority (DA). This often means there is something fishy about that domain, including potentially fake, or artificially inflated metrics. For example, the owner may have used an automated tool to artificially inflate the stats (and hence the value) of the domain.
These measures take months and years for a website to gain. You can build a new domain from scratch ... Or you can save yourself a lot of time and purchase an already trusted domain.
5. Setting up A Private Blog Network
What are private blog networks (PBN's)? PBN's are a network of websites that are being used to inflate the search engine rankings of another website. This is a highly effective strategy that people have been using for years to boost their website Google rankings and generate large amounts of traffic to their websites with higher search engine rankings.
6. Selling Aged Domains for Profit
My personal favourite way to make money with aged domains.
By now we can all agree that aged domains are incredibly more valuable than a new domain. Such value can be sold to the right buyer for profit.
While there are a number of tools that can help you choose the right price for the domain (List of evaluating tools here), be aware that people are prepared to pay a premium for aged domains when the buyer receives a meaningful benefit from the domain. For example, if the domain gives them targeted traffic by setting up a redirect, this is of huge benefit to the seller.
When selling aged domains it's critical you're fully up to speed with the domain and you are not selling a buyer a bad domain. This is why you should always bedoing your full due diligence on a domain prior to purchasing. This includes checking the SEO metrics, the domain history, backlinks, social profiles, online reviews, PR drop tool and so forth. Without this, you're potentially selling a domain that could do the buyer more harm than good.
On the flip side, by making sure you are following these guidelines, it is a path that can be highly lucrative for both you and your clients.
Choose your aged or expired domains with care. While this is a booming and highly lucrative industry, some may have a bad history, or even specific penalties that may do more harm to your website than good. Use website intelligence tools like Ahrefs & Majestic to research your domain to accurately evaluate the value of the domain.
While some marketers have been making a killing off aged domains for years, there is still plenty of domains and benefits to be made by pursuing this opportunity. Whether you are looking to use aged domains for more traffic, SEO purposes, to create a second tier website, or to sell for profit, aged domains will always hold intrinsic value that can be used to generate income online.
Your thoughts? Let's talk in the comments below: