Once someone decides to discontinue a website, there are still several months before the domain registration expires. As there is no site, just a parked domain, the indexed pages of the site start to disappear from the search engines. Affiliates remove their links and the broken links can get taken down with time.
All domain names that have not been renewed before their expiry date are expired. They are called “expired domains.” You can look up the expiry date and other data in the Whois record.
After the registration expiry date the domain name will enter the so-called renewal grace period. At this point the original owner still has the right renew the domain name without additional fees. The length of this period varies depending on the registrar.
Once the renewal grace period ends, the expired domain name will be under registrar hold. During this time, which can be 30 to 45 days, the domain can still be renewed by the original owner by paying a redemption fee (around $100, depending on the registrar).
While under registrar hold, the registrar tries to sell the domain name in an open auction to the highest bidder. If sold, the winner must still wait till the end of the registrar hold period before taking ownership. If the original owner renews the domain name during this period, the auction winner is refunded their money and the original owner regains possession. Otherwise the domain name is transferred to the auction winner.
Some registrars, like GoDaddy, auction only their own expired domain names. Other registrars have an agreement to pool their expired domain names and make them available for purchase on a separate website, like SnapNames and NameJet, where expired domain names from multiple registrars are sold at auction.
If the domain name is not renewed by the original owner, and it is not bought at auction, some registrars attempt to sell it in a “closeout sale”. A closeout sale offers the expired domain names at a discounted Buy It Now price (plus the regular domain name registration fee). If you buy a domain name in a registrar closeout sale, the registrar hold period is still applicable, and the original owner still has a chance to renew.
If the registrar’s grace period expires and the domain name has still not been renewed, it is placed under the status of PENDINGDELETE. The domain name will remain under this status for five days, during which time it cannot be restored.
On the sixth day the domain name is deleted or “dropped” from the registry. The moment it’s deleted from the registry, it becomes available for registration by the general public. Most registries typically delete their domain names once a day. Thus we have “Deleted Domain Names”.
Technically it is possible to manually register an expired domain name the moment it is deleted, however at that point most of the domain names that have value are already gone and there is only a small percentage remaining. Professional backorderers have a lot more resources than regular people, therefore it’s worth looking at domain you can get through backordering services. If you need a complete guide on how you can buy expired/deleted domains and how this is beneficial to you, you can download the guide here.