Ever wondered how all these startups get to buy expired domains with good backlinks? I will show you how to do that, without using any paid tools. Whether you're looking for an expired domain for your startup, SEO portfolio or to create a PBN (which I don't endorse), I got your back.
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What Happens To Expired Domains?
If you fail to pay for your expiring domain name, it will go into grace period. It's a time which usually lasts about two to four weeks, depending on the registrar, when you still can pay for the domain to get it back. After that, the domain enters the redemption grace period. It's a 30-day period when you can still get your domain back, but you will have to pay an additional fee to ICANN.
After that period, the domain is dropped entirely, and anyone can claim it for a regular registration fee. That's where services which monitor expired domains come into play.
I've been asked, "How long after a domain expires can I register it?". The simple answer is - usually after about 6 to 8 weeks, once the previous owner stops paying for it.
What's The Best Tool For Finding Recently Expired Domains?
For years my go-to expired domains tool has been ExpiredDomains.net. It's a 100% free tool that stores and analyzes a huge database of dropped domains, daily. There are no limits or quotas and they are never asking for any payments. Our website is not affiliated with them in any way and this article is not an ad. The owner makes a few bucks every time you register a domain through their affiliate links.At the time of writing this article, the site has a database of 1795922 (that's almost two million!) .com domains available for registration right now. The only thing you need to do is to create a free account on the site, so you can save your searches and access their full database and filtering. I've been using them for years and never got a single spam email.
How To Filter Out Bad Domain Names And Find Gold
It's actually very easy. Once you create a free account and verify it, go into the deleted domains section. It shows all TLDs combined of domains dropped in the last 7 days. If you go into a particular section like deleted .com, you will we able to see older dropped domain names too.
Once you're in, you need to filter through millions of domains. I usually filter down to 50 to a 100 domains and then go through them manually using an external SEO tool like Ahrefs or Serpstat.
In the filter section, I usually use the following settings to filter signal from noise:
- only available Domains
- no Adult Names
- ACR -- min 5
- only gTLDs
- Citation Flow -- min 10
- Trust Flow -- min 15
- IP Pop -- min 3
- Ext BL -- min 10
After applying I went from 1175558 to 98 domains. Majestic trust flow filtering is especially useful, as it filters out all these sites that have mostly spammy backlinks, pharma, and adult sites.
Bonus tip: you can filter domains based on if they have links coming from Wikipedia (section Adwords & SEO in the filters.)
Evaluating Expired Domains
Let's take a look at one of the domains I've chosen -- BeardedMagnum.com. The first thing I always do is go to Serpstat and Ahrefs and check if the domain reputation data aligns with Majestic data from expireddomains.net database. Now, if you don't have access to premium SEO tools, there are lots of freemium opportunities on the market. As far as I know, Majestic, Serpstat, and Moz allow for a few domain lookups with a free account and there are others.
After that, I will check how many referring domains are there and how legit they look. Expired domains tend to lose backlinks over time, so I rarely register domains with less than 10 incoming referring domains.
The next step is checking anchors to see if they are not spammy. I'm looking for anchors that a human being would create.
My last step is going to archive.org to check what content was hosted on that website, was it legit and if it aligns with my plans for that particular domain name.
The domain had pretty good metrics for a reg-fee pick. It looks like at first it was a private blog, which then has been revived and turned into a low-key PBN. Finally, I decided not to register this one.
What's Next? What Can You Do With Expired Domains?
There are two reasons I hunt for expired domains. The first one is I'm always trying to keep a strong portfolio of around a dozen brandable domains in different niches for startups that I work on. Starting out with a nice gTLD with several solid backlinks sets you off on an easier first few months with Google -- your website will be treated much better in comparison to having a fresh domain name.
The second reason is SEO. Dropped, valuable domains can be sold, used for 301 redirects to get the SEO juice or used for PBNs. I will go over these topics in my next write-up.
What's your experience with buying expired domains?
Let us know in the comments!