How to buy and develop expired domains for SEO purposes
5 or 6 years ago, Page Rank was everything to those of us in SEO. Now it’s a much more varied, fractured landscape in terms of what metric dictates the authority of a given website.
Life and business were a lot simpler back then. But much more of a crapshoot because the domain research tools available weren’t nearly as sophisticated as they are now.
Which is why, looking back at my first ever expired domain purchase, I was darn lucky at how well it worked out.
Let me tell you the story of the $3,000 expired domain I purchased 6 years ago, and how it makes me that much money nearly every month now.
I won’t hold back anything either.
I’ve done blackhat things. I’ve tried to manipulate Google at nearly every turn. And in truth, only 2 things that I physically did with the expired domain made any difference on it’s revenue in the long run.
One of the things that make it relatively easy for me to justify the expense of any expired domain is that I don’t have to spend any extra money or time on writing content for it.
I’m a trained journalist, with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Utah Valley University.
But even if I wasn’t proficient at writing (as I suspect most of you aren’t), I would still be able to get really good content for nearly free.
I have an ace up my sleeve.
My dad, author of such monumental books as ‘Clump of Trump: 100 verses on the Commander-in-Cheap’ writes content for me. At rock bottom prices. (Dad, if you’re reading this, just ignore that last part, it’s just for shock value.)
But I also use another invaluable tool for getting fully free, unique content: Archive.org
There are a few things that make archive.org worthless sometimes though.
1) If other people have the same idea and scrape content from the expired domain and publish the content live before you, then you’re screwed. You can check that via many different tools; one I like is this content checker.
2) If the previous domain owner still owns the copyright on the content, then you’re also screwed. This is pretty hard to check though, so I don’t really worry about it too much.
All of this is to say, content is king when developing expired domains for monetization purposes.
Adding 100 percent unique, quality content to the site on a daily basis is fully 50 percent of the reason why my first site HarcourtHealth has a very healthy amount of organic, direct, and social traffic today.
After installing a really basic magazine theme, and publishing as many unique articles I could find from archive.org (preserving the url structure as well) I literally did nothing else with the site for the first 6 months I had it.
However, finding the site in the first place was the other 50 percent of the equation.
Here’s how I did it.
Remember, back when I bought this site Page Rank still ruled supreme. I used an expired domain tool (which is now defunct since page rank extinguished) that is similar to others you may be familiar with: ExpiredDomains.io, expireddomains.net, etc. There are lots of them. I currently use a combination of many tools; which I will save for another post.
The tool only pulled info from the Godaddy expired domain auction listings; that’s honestly the only place I check for expired domains still today.
I could see how many links the site had, what the page rank was, the estimated traffic, and that’s about it. I didn’t even think to check if there was a copyright on the name back then either. Of course I also checked out the content in archive.org; it was all unique and not published elsewhere.
I felt like I had hit the jackpot.
I had a buddy front me the $3000 (I was still working my first job at SEO.com at this point and had little cash on hand). I offered to split the profit with him 50/50 if it ever made a profit. Luckily, he let me buy him out a year afterwards since the profits were only $200 per month at that point.
Having taught myself how to setup a wordpress site and get hosting, the next things I focused on were selling sponsored posts to health companies. Fortunately, I had a lot of contacts from SEO.com that happily donated money for editorial fees to pay for my time to write and publish articles on the site that linked back to theirs.
Content, via editorial and sponsored posts, make up about 80% of the revenue. I also monetized the traffic coming in via Adsense.
That’s how I was monetizing the site up until about 3 months ago, when I switched from Adsense over to a new ad network technology called Ezoic. Since making that switch, my revenue from display ads has since doubled. With no extra traffic or effort on my part.
Some naysayers in the SEO community will find it hard to believe that big bad Google didn’t reset the authority on my site after it had been expired.
Others will say my explanation is too simple; there’s got to be more to it than that.
On both points, there is ample proof in my favor.
Use any tool you want to check the organic traffic, I dare you.
Also, check the archive.org history of the domain. There was a long period of time where it was on auction and had no content whatsoever.
I believe that I was lucky with that domain for a few reasons. But now, after having duplicated that same pattern on over a dozen expired domains now, I would have to say it’s not luck anymore.
I do occasionally buy expired domains outside of Godaddy, via one individual company that doesn’t list their domains publicly. I also even less frequently buy fully developed, monetized sites on one of the most popular website flipping marketplaces online.
No matter what though, my monetization strategy never varies. Content, and display ads 100 percent.