Finding an expired domain is not difficult. You just open ExpiredDomains.net, type in your keyword and you will mostly see thousands or even hundreds of thousands of expired and deleted domains. But how should you evaluate an expired domain name?
How to Evaluate an Expired Domain Name
If you find a domain name or an “expired domain name” that is up for sale somewhere (such as Godaddy’s domain name auctions, Namejet, or another domain auction), then you really need to do your homework before you buy the domain name or even think of bidding on it. Domain names can be very pricey nowadays, well into the thousands of dollars, or even more than that. Search Engine Optimization Value of a domain name is different than what you might actually pay for a domain name. SEO Value includes the links and anything else that might help that domain name rank better in the search engines.
Here is how to evaluate an expired domain name for “SEO Value”. Once you have found an expired domain that you’re considering, there are several things you can do that will give you an indication of whether or not you should purchase it or not:
- Look at the backlinks pointing to that expired domain name. You need to look at all of the links, especially links to internal pages and subdomains. Many people make a mistake and only look at the links to the home page of a domain name–oftentimes there are more links to the domain’s other pages. Use a tool such as SEO SpyGlass or Ahrefs to look at all of the backlinks. Years ago, Yahoo! used to give use that link data. Yahoo! doesn’t give this data to us anymore, you’ll have to use a tool to look at the accurate link data.
- Manually look at the links. You have to manually go look to see if links are still there. Oftentimes it might show that a link is there but when you actually go look then the link may have been removed or the link is to another domain name.
- Look at the links to see if they’re all from one domain. If a domain name has 30,000 links from one forum (maybe a footer link, which doesn’t count), then that’s not as good as 30,000 links from 1000 different domain names. Look at the links to determine if they’re all from a few sites or if they’re from lots of different websites. Determine if those links will go away at some point or if they’re likely to stick around for a while. If you end up buying the domain name, will other site owners linking to that domain name remove the links to you?
- Look to see if the domain name is still indexed in Google. Search for the domain name (put the domain name with extension into the search box, not the URL box). The first result should be the domain you’re looking for. If it’s not, then investigate it further to see if there’s an issue (perhaps it fully dropped?) If the domain name does not show up, search for the domain name in “quotes” (e.g., “domain.com”). This will show you where the domain name is mentioned on other sites, indicating that there may be some links.
- Look at the old archive.org versions of the site. If the archive.org versions redirect to another domain name then you don’t really want to buy the domain name. If the old site had off-topic content on it you do not want it (domain about horses but it used to have real estate content on it?).
- Determine what you want to do with the domain name. If you are going to use the domain name and put content on it, then great; if the domain name has “on topic” links then that may help your search engine rankings in the future. Other indications of SEO Value of the domain (other than links in general) would be the TLD of the link (.edu, .gov, etc.) whereas .gov links tend to hang around for a while and may be more trusted than other types of links, a Yahoo! Directory and Business.com and DMOZ.org listing may also indicate some value of the domain.
- Put a value on the links. Every link has potential value. What would it cost you to purchase the links on an annual basis? Every link (even bad ones) would probably have a value of at least $3 to $5 each. If there are 1000 links from lots of domain names then consider the fact that it really could be worth $3000 or more. Yahoo! Directory and Business.com listings cost $299 per year (when they were offering that option). Some links (.edu, .gov) are priceless and you cannot purchase them.
What’s the bottom line? When you consider purchasing an older domain name or any domain name that has already been “used” or one that has already had a website on it, you really need to be careful. Look at its history. Make sure it doesn’t have any links that you wouldn’t be proud of. There is a lot more on this subject that is detailed here, where you can learn all the details on how to find an expired domain with great metrics.