SEO and Expired Domains: Is It Worth It?

Posted on: Nisan 8, 2010

By: Joe Balestrino – Mr SEO
So you want to start a business, sell a product or have the next big dot Com idea, huh? Well, undoubtedly, you will need a domain. Wouldn’t an expired domain name give you a head start? Think about it…the site attached to the domain already has a page rank and backlinks. Maybe the site is listed in Dmoz or several other directories and search engines. By purchasing an expired domain, you wouldn’t have to worry about Google’s age factor for new sites. It would likely save you a whole lot of time and money, right? Wrong. Like most things in life, nothing is that easy.

Expired domains are viewed by many as a way for a new domain owner to capitalize on a the previous site’s page rank and traffic. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case.

Once a site expires, it loses its page rank, meaning all existing links are no longer counted towards the site. That’s right…you start fresh. You’ll have to re-establish PR. Dmoz has even mentioned that they will pull a site’s listing once it expires. Of course, depending on the popularity of the name in terms of it’s relation to search traffic, you’ll probably get more traffic than if the site was new. The site already has established links that bring in traffic, they just won’t count toward your page rank…ever. But honestly, that’s really the only benefit you get, unless you are lucky enough to buy a domain whose name you can benefit from because of a direct relation to your products or services. The chances of that happening are pretty slim. Think about it…if someone owned a successful site with a successful name, would it be expired and available? This is why even the best attempts at garnering an expired domain usually only result in a loose association by name at best. If you want to sell computers, you won’t find “computers.com”. You might find “discountcomputerperipheralsupply.net”, but that’s not exactly memorable, is it?

There are many SEO gurus who advocate buying expired domains. I don’t necessarily disagree as long as you know what the benefits will and won’t be. Google has stated that expired domains will lose their PR and backlinks. I have even heard of instances where attempts to re-establish PR after purchasing the expired domain and registering it have failed. In fact, more than a few people have had problems with Google failing to recognize backlinks set up after the domain is re-established.

So, is there any safe way to get a jump on the SERP’s? Well, if possible, you’d want to purchase a domain before it expires. This way, there is no chance of losing the backlinks and PR. Still, if it holds a site with a high PR and good backlinks or is simply a popular phrase or term, it’s likely going to cost you a lot more than the registration fee on a domain. The cost could be justified, however, in some instances.

In my research, I couldn’t find one instance where Google or any other search engine had a problem with a transfer of ownership regarding domains. This basically entails buying a business with the location, not just an empty store with a sign. Of course, someone could own a domain with no site on it, but then pre-existing PR and backlinks wouldn’t be a factor. You would simply be buying a name. For domains with successful sites already established, it’s a good way to get a head start if the price is right. If you can afford it and find someone willing to sell, this is one way to avoid the loss of any pre-existing PR and backlinks. Of course, we are talking about domain purchase in the context of small business. If you bought “Sears.com” in 1990 and you don’t own the company, it wasn’t because your last name is Sears.

Back to expired domains…

If you do decide to buy an expired domain, keep one thing in mind. The site already has backlinks, anchor text and other off site SEO factors. There are two considerations you will need to make before you plunk down your cash:

1. Are you buying the domain because the domain name is related or because the previous site had high traffic? If the site you are planning is unrelated, you won’t benefit from the traffic (provided there is any) or off site SEO work.

2. Make sure you know what you are getting into when you buy an expired domain. Any “black hat” methods, links to bad neighbors, paid links and other unethical practices can affect you.

If all else fails or your search for a related expired domain bears no fruit, start from scratch. You will be able to develop your site knowing that the success or failure of it can’t be attributed to someone else’s efforts. In other words, you will know if your SEO methods are effective for the particular business you are in and not a result of traffic already established by the previous owner. I have written many articles that can help you boost your pagerank and get indexed faster. Sometimes, it’s better to start fresh than go through the headache of searching for the right expired domain.

* If you use this article the bio must be kept in place and all links must be active!

Joe is an SEO expert. His SEO/SEM firm has helped many companies increase there organic placement. . He also writers articles and creates a weekly podcast on SEO.

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