I bought an expired domain. And in my opinion, quite a powerful domain.
I’m excited about this, so much so that I am building a case study around this expired domain and my plans with it going forward.
This case study will document the roadmap I am going to follow, from domain analysis and purchase, to recreating and growing a new website.
By doing this I am forcing myself to follow through, while also providing an educational resource for readers who have never bought an expired domain before.
So let’s dive in!
CASE STUDY PART I
The first part of this case study will walk you through the domain analysis and what my plans are once the domain has been transferred to my account.
I literally bought this expired domain just a couple of days ago (March 2019) via GoDaddy domain auctions. I’ve paid, and I am now waiting for the domain to be transferred to me.
At this point, I have absolutely no idea whether the purchase of this expired domain will actually get me any successful results. But that’s what makes this project exciting!
Analysis of the Expired Domain
Let’s have a closer look at what this domain is about and how powerful it once was.
According to GoDaddy and DomainTools, the domain was first registered in February 16, 2009, which means the domain is more than 10 years old.
Here’s a screenshot of the GoDaddy domain auctions sales page:
As you can see, I purchased this expired domain for $172 USD. In my opinion, this is a bargain, and I’m going to explain why.
If you know me, then you will also know than I am not a fan of the Moz DA scoring system at all. But it’s still a good tool to use when analyzing an expired domain, along with other tools.
This is the Moz DA overview of this expired domain:
Moz thinks it has a DA of 33, but what’s much more interesting is the amount of backlinks pointing to the domain. Moz has found 4.6K inbound links coming from 1.1K domains. These are really good numbers.
You can also see that it is not ranking for any keywords. This is because the site has been offline for quite some time now, but most of the backlinks are still there.
If we drill down further into the backlinks, it gets even better. Here’s an overview of the top 10 linking domains ordered by DA:
There are some seriously real gems in there. Daily Motion, Buzzfeed, wikihow, eHow, Reference, American Express, Livestrong, the list goes on.
Very powerful domains indeed.
Another great tool to use when analyzing domains is Ahrefs. Not only is Ahrefs one of the best keyword research tools out there, it is also a very good backlink tracker.
This is what Ahrefs has to say about my expired domain:
Ahrefs gives it a DR of 28, which is comparable to what Moz thinks about the authority of this domain in DA numbers.
Here is an overview of the domains linking to this expired domain, ordered by DR:
Again, some very juicy sites in that list. I’ve checked some of the links and they are legitimate links, not just random blog comments.
When digging a little deeper into this, I can’t see any major red flags. There’s not a lot of spammy backlinks, nothing that worries me.
When a site is not live anymore but you want to see what the site once looked like, you can use a tool called Wayback Machine.
If you’re not familiar with Wayback Machine, it’s a huge digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. It was launched in 2001 by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco.
I use this tool to help determine how legit the site was when it was still live. It allows me to see if the content was of good quality, how much content there was, if there were a lot of comments from readers, etc.
For this domain, I am confident to say that the site (a blog) was totally legit. The content was of good quality and there was quite a lot of engagement with readers.
I also looked up the name of the owner of the blog and it seems that this person has simply moved on and started other business ventures.
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What Am I Going to Do with It?
All things considered, this expired domain looks like a really good purchase. It has a strong and natural-looking backlink profile with no red flags and it was once home to a credible blog.
But what am I now supposed to do with this domain? There are a few options I am considering:
1. Flip It
The easiest option is to put the domain for sale as soon as I am the registered owner.
I honestly think I bought this domain for a bargain price. Considering its backlink profile and clean history, I think this domain is worth at least $2K.
However, at this stage, this is not my preferred option. While it’s nice to get that cash with minimal effort, I prefer to go for a long-term solution because I think this domain has a lot of potential.
2. Create a Brand New Website
I could also decide to set up a brand new WordPress blog on the domain. Install an awesome theme such as GeneratePress with great UX and site speed, and start publishing new content, written by me or by a ghost writer.
This is of course a huge amount of effort and for that reason this is not my preferred option. This would only make sense if I was already planning to start a new website, in which case this expired domain would give me a nice head start.
But I wasn’t planning on starting a new website at all, certainly not one in the niche the abandoned blog was in.
3. Recreate the Site with Archived Content
Another option is to simply recreate the site with the content that is archived on Wayback Machine.
The blog that once lived on the domain had over 200 URLs. I could literally grab all that content from the archives and republish it on a brand new website.
Is this ethical? Well, yes and no. Sure, someone else has written that content, not me. But the previous owner has consciously decided to abandon the domain, the website and the content that once lived on the website.
I have now invested money in that domain, and if that old content was abandoned, why not republish it?
4. Redirect the Domain to One of My Sites
The last option that I am seriously considering is redirecting the domain to one of the websites in my portfolio.
The blog that was once hosted on the domain is in the same niche as one of my sites is. What a coincidence!
So I could simply implement a 301 redirect from this expired domain to my site and, in theory, pass on the authority and backlink juice. This sounds simple, but it isn’t.
A full 301 domain redirect is what people do when they rebrand a website. If done properly, a rebrand always works and traffic to the new site should always go back to normal levels.
However, if I were to do a 301 redirect to my existing site, that’s of course not really a rebrand. And I don’t know how the search engines would respond to it.
CASE STUDY PART II
I will write part II of this expired domain challenge probably in a few months time when I have interesting updates to share.
At this stage, I am leaning towards implementing option 3 or option 4. But I would love to hear your thoughts too, so feel free to comment or email me with your input.