Lately I've noticed a lot of questions in Q&A centering on purchasing expired domains. A lot of our members have expressed interest in buying old domains for a variety of prices (some are cheap, some are going for upwards of $50k) and want some advice on what to do with the domains once they've been purchased. I'm no domainer, nor am I an expert in such a business tactic, but I generally recommend one of three different options for an expired domain (and would love to hear more if you've got any).
The third option is the one that's the most time consuming but also has its benefits. It's like having a successful restaurant and buying another restaurant and operating them simultaneously. They're not the exact same restaurant, but both are popular in their own right and make you money. The same goes for Option #3. You could update the content on the old domain and sell the same products that you're selling on your current site. If you can get both sites to rank alongside each other in the SERPs, you're increasing your conversion chances and sales potential.
However, I'd argue that most people in the business really struggle as they don't understand what makes a good domain name and what's a bad domain name. While I do not work in this field full-time, I can say that I can make a living of it, but it's probably because I don't ask for absurd prices (e.g. randomword247.com domain name for $8000 is just unrealistic and won't happen) and therefore can sell domains easier.
Buying a trademarked domain name could get you into a lot of hot water. Best case scenario is for the trademark holder to force you into handing the domain over and call it a day. Worst case scenario is you get into a legal battle and end up spending an arm and a leg. This is why it might be a good idea to use the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) website to check for trademarks if you’re unsure about a domain name.
Those trading domains for commercial purposes are generally on the prowl for lucrative domain endings. There are essentially two different ways traders go about making money off of domain names. One method entails purchasing already established names for a low price and selling them for a profit later once their value has increased. Another strategy involves buying and registering a domain that is thought to possess a high sales potential. Many domain traders use backorder services. These services automatically register a domain when one becomes available or is deleted (what are known as expired domains).
Many people think of domain buying and selling to be one of the easiest methods of making quick money. Perhaps, you may have heard of someone buying a domain name for under $3000 and then selling it for $25,000. A quick $22,000 profit! Such stories can be very motivating! And that sort of money does exchange hands (Go through 10 of the biggest domain name sales of all time!). But these deals don’t come as easy as they seem! Ask anyone who flips domains for a living and he/she’ll tell you the amount of hard work and skill that goes into it.
The easiest way to see that is to go to HREFs and look at the anchor text. It reveals right away whether or not the site has been spammed. You also want to see if it’s been SEO’d too much. Right? In this case, it’s not because it has a brand name here and some natural keywords, but if the number one anchor text was like, cell phone management system and then the next one was like cheap cell phone management system, you’d know that the anchor text was manipulated and probably overly SEO’d. So, what you want as a site that has a natural link profile.
The backlink profile of a recently-available domain is a double-edged sword. While some expired domains have been well cared for by their previous owners and have high-quality links from reputable websites, some contain quite questionable backlinks. The worst case scenario is that the domain was merely used as a link farm to strengthen a major project in a satellite domain network and has already been penalized by some search engines.
Referring domains for anchor phrases usually reveals similar information. What you really want to look out for is whether or not the site has been picked up by a spammer in the past. A lot of times these expired domains were dropped, picked up by a website owner who then tried to rank it for keywords like Viagra, Cialis and whatever. You obviously don’t want that kind of domain.
The term flipping implies a sale that is done in a flip, or in a quick and sudden manner. You cannot be considered a domain flipper if all you do is just list your domain names and wait for years for them to sell. At its core, domain flipping is about spotting the right opportunities at the right time, involving strategic buying and selling of websites for profit.
Review Web Archive’s versions of the website: Examine the website’s history and how it looked like using the Web Archive. What was it about? What did it offer? This is useful for a variety of different reasons. It could inspire you as to who a good potential buyer might be (by analyzing the website’s content), and it could also signal some red flags in case the domain was being used for anything shady.
Namejet is a domain clearing house (at least that is my term for it). What happens is that people let their domain names expire everyday. Some people just don’t need their domain anymore, some people forget to renew it, some people die, I mean there can be hundreds of reasons why a domain will not be renewed. What the domain registrars want to do is cash in on the domain that someone forgot to renew, so they offer that domain to Namejet to auction it to the general public. Think of it like a storage unit, someone doesn’t make their payment and the storage company hires an auctioneer to come and auction the storage unit to the general public. Namejet is doing this but for domain names. The bid for each domain starts at $69. What I LOVE about Namejet is the process… they let you search through the domains that are coming up for auction 30 days in advance. Whoever places a $69 bid on a domain will be entered into an auction when the 30 days runs out with everyone else who placed a bid. If you are the only bidder than you get the domain for $69. If there are 10 other bidders than there is a closed auction, meaning only you 10 guys can bid now against each other in a 3 day auction with the highest bidder taking the domain when the clock strikes zero. I love this because let’s say there is a great domain and it flies under the radar. If it goes to auction with only 3 or 5 or 7 bidders my chances of winning this domain at a very low price are great. I’ve won domains for $100 which I was able to flip for $2,000. I won a domain for $2,500 which I flipped within 4 months for $7,500. I won a domain for $1,000 which I’ve turned down $5,000 offers on because I think I can get $10,000 for it. The key is to not overpay in order to leave yourself plenty of room to turn a profit when you flip the domain.
Great article on what to look for when buying expired domains! I’ve looked at the domain and page authority of expired domains but haven’t checked if they are blocked by Google like you’ve listed. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet to purchase one (probably good that I didn’t since I didn’t do all my homework) but this will make it easier to finally go. Thanks for the great info!
This is in response to a question a fellow Moz community member once asked in Q&A, and we thought that it deserved its own article. Buying up expired domains, or purchasing keyword-driven domains is becoming more popular amongst the internet "get rich quick" crowd. The big question is: Can you make a profit by buying and selling domain names? If you get the right one, sure. If you plan on repeating the process over and over, probably not.
Once you get to this point you know there have been DMAS listed. They have a number of domains linking to them and according to the way back machine which is WBY, you can see their site age. So, if you want to go with an older site you can see right here whether or not this is a site that you might be interested in, but before pulling the trigger you do want to check two things.
Where do I start? So I heard about bitcoin and I know it’s all the craze nowadays. Let’s start from there. I’ll hop on Google Trends and type in “bitcoin”. Google Trends basically tracks the popularity of search queries over time, it’s often a goldmine for discovering currently exploding or soon-to-explode topics/terms..etc. So here’s what it looks like: