Expired, premium and aged domains are part of a pretty hot market.
Today, I’ll explain what this is all about, the differences between all three, and why any of it is essential for SEO.
As you know, once registered, domain names have to be renewed annually, like the lease on a property. And here’s where things start to get interesting.
What Happens When a Domain Name Expires?
Unlike what most people think, you don’t own a domain – you continue to claim its ownership as long as it’s being paid for.
ICANN Top Level Domains
For ICANN Top Level domains, owners are entitled to receive multiple notices before expiration.
The notices mainly inform the owner about essential details regarding fees, expiration notices, and redemption procedures.
Upon failure to renew the domain registration, for whatever reason, the domain name goes through a process that eventually sees it return to the market. But until then, different registrars have their own set of procedures and requirements depending on domain name extensions, which might differ once the expiration date has passed.
Either way, for ICANN Top-Level domains, you may expect a timeline similar to the following:
1: Expiration Grace Period
The initial notifications can come anytime within 30, 60, or 90 days before the expiration date, accompanied by an invitation to renew within this period.
Subsequently, most registrars will give you a 30-day grace period to claim ownership of your domain after the expiration date. Within the first part of this timeline, you might still be allowed to renew your domain name at the standard renewal price. However, the registrar may park the domain name. Consequently, your email/website will stop working.
Every registrar may do something different in the final days of the 30 days expiration period and beyond. Some registrars may allow you to manually renew your deactivated domain from your account with a redemption fee, which may vary for different registrars.
It’s important to note that some registrars do not guarantee a grace period for the renewal of top-level domains. In those cases, once a domain expires, they may dispose of it according to the registration agreement.
So, it’s always wise to check for a registrar’s domain expiration policy before purchase.
Furthermore, some domain names are auto-renew only, which means they can not be manually renewed, and once expired, they can not be recovered.
2: Redemption Period
After the expiration of the grace period, the domain reaches the redemption period. The redemption period (also known as the redemption grace period) comes after the registrar issues a delete request to the registry.
Only the previous owner can recover the domain through the previous registrar.
This redemption period may have different names for different top-level domains (i.e., for the .org TLD, it is “Pending Delete – Restorable”).
In addition, most of the time, registrars will include a mandatory fee on top of the standard renewal price for domains in the redemption status. Therefore, the owner will have to pay the standard renewal fee plus a redemption fee to renew the domain.
3: Deletion Period
Suppose, for any reason; the domain owner fails to renew ownership within the redemption period. In that case, the domain is then labeled with a “Pending Delete” tag for a 5-day time frame after the redemption period.
At this time, the domain enters the possession of the registry and can not be recovered.
Once the registry deletes the domain, it becomes available for anyone to purchase as a new domain on a first-come-first-served basis, including the previous owner.
Non-ICANN Top Level Domains
The time frames (mentioned above) only apply to ICANN top-level domains. Domains outside ICANN regulations (i.e. .uk and .io) may not follow these rules.
In other words, they may or may not provide a grace or redemption period, and if they do, the timelines may differ.
Other top-level domains like ccTLDs have special renewal rules and are usually auto-renewed before they expire.
When a domain enters the grace and redemption periods, it is closed off to the public. The owner is usually still able to reclaim it, so you won’t be able to purchase it. However, when the domain enters the deletion period, the owner can no longer acquire it (not directly anyway), and most registrars will put it up for auction.
During the auction, owners may still place a bid on the domain to claim its ownership once again. Eventually, if the auction ends without any bids on the domain or the owner hasn’t renewed it, it may be removed and returned to the registry.
Once that happens, you can no longer bid on or renew the domain name, but you might still be able to register it again after the registry releases it.
However, none of this is what we’re interested in. What we’re interested in is how expired domains can improve SEO. To explain this, we ought to take a step back to domain auctions where once expired, the domain is sold to the highest bidder.
Purchasing Expired Domains
Purchasing expired domains isn’t necessarily new, and this has certainly found a lot of favor in the eyes of some people.
Different people buy expired domains for different reasons. Some of the main reasons are brand-ability or the SEO value some domains possess.
The Challenges of Domain Hunting at Auctions
The chances of acquiring a valid domain from a registrar’s auction are very slim. There are, of course, several reasons for that:
1: Lack of Domain Information
There are generally no strict rules on how much information domain owners should include about the domains they want to sell.
As a result, some sellers may put little or no information at all, which means that you’ll have to do your due diligence to find out stuff like the domain’s rating, authority, and so on.
This may require the use of some paid tools, not to mention the skills and the acumen to know what to look for and what domains to avoid.
2: Unjustified Pricing
Some domain owners may place their domain names for sale at considerably high prices because of inaccurate estimations of their true value. The fact that the highest bidder decides auctions doesn’t help the price either, as the price could be further inflated.
As a result, some of these domains may not be worth the price, but some are. So if you don’t do adequate background research, you could end up with a domain with an overblown price.
3: Penalized by Search Engine
As previously mentioned, domain auction websites do not require sellers to upload much information about what they are selling. So you might be buying a domain that is banned by the Google search engine.
If that’s the case, you may have trouble ranking in the SERPs without additional involvement. You can find out this information from Isbanned.com before making any purchases.
However, if you still want the domain, you may try sending an email directly to Google to appeal to lift the ban.
4: Spammy Backlinks
The importance and benefits of backlinks, especially those from authority sources, are well known even by SEO beginners. So, getting a domain name with a high number of backlinks may at first seem like a huge plus.
However, this requires manual checks to ensure that they simply aren’t torrents of fraudulent, spammy backlinks.
You can verify this information on Ahrefs with a premium account. And, as a general rule, if a domain auction website has loads of anchor texts and backlinks in various languages, you may want to avoid it.
With due diligence and utilizing the available online tools, you can probably verify most of this information and find key metrics yourself.
If you are new to buying expired domains, it’s probably best to leave the due diligence to the experts and look for a marketplace for aftermarket domains.
Expired domains are plentiful, usually in the millions.
However, when it comes to narrowing down to a manageable list of domains that are brandable, free from spam, and managed to acquire a certain amount of authority over a topic of interest, you are down to a handful of options.
Odys Global – Aged Domains Marketplace
Aged domains marketplaces such as Odys Global come in. Odys prides itself in acquiring only premium, high-quality domains that meet certain criteria. Their in-house experts scour domain auctions to pick out the best ones to buy.
What is an Aged Domain?
An aged domain is a domain name with a live website history, typically for several years.
Because of its previous use, the domain has accumulated valuable brand mentions and an online reputation, part of which can be used by the new domain owner, provided they understand and have control over its benefits.
What is the difference between Aged Domains vs Expired Domains vs Premium Domains?
An expired domain is simply a domain that, for whatever reason, wasn’t renewed, while an Aged domain is a domain that, over the years, has accumulated a considerable amount of brand mentions and online reputation, which can be passed onto a new domain.
In other words, an expired domain isn’t aged by default. For an expired domain to be aged, it has to have a history associated with it (i.e. its age, the online reputation, and authoritativeness of an aged domain).
How about premium domains? Well, premium domains get their name from being highly brandable.
A premium domain can be a new domain, but it can also be an aged domain. Hence premium aged domains are domains that, apart from their authority, also can be brandable.
Disclaimer: You can get $100 if you create an Odys account using my affiliate link and I might earn a commission if you make a purchase.
Benefits of Using Aged Domains vs Expired or New Domains
Aged domains have several benefits over new domains or expired domains, especially for niche content websites:
1: No auctions
Most expired domains of any significant value are acquired in an instant at auctions, but it doesn’t help that the highest bidder raises the price continuously until it settles at the highest bid.
Aged domains in the Odys marketplace are sold strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis. In other words, once you pay – you get the domain, and you don’t need to engage in a bidding war over it.
2: The domains are vetted
As already mentioned, domain auction websites don’t require sellers to post much information about their domains, so you have to do a substantial amount of background checks yourself.
Odys handles all the tedious background work needed to ensure you have a vetted domain.
Odys domains go through a rigorous check on the domains’ history and key metrics like Ahrefs DR, Moz’s DA, and Majestic’s TF. The platform also provides information on market insights, niche potential, and monetization angles.
However, the main benefit lies in the pre-vetting of domains for potential penalties from the Google Search Engine and trademark infringement.
3: Provides a head start over new domains by avoiding the Google “Sandbox”
An aged domain with links from authoritative, trustworthy, and relevant sources with indexed pages will often provide a good head start over a new domain with no links built around it.
A brand new domain is prone to experience the “Google sandbox” effect for around six months, where it has a limited number of impressions on the first page of Google search results.
An aged domain can skip this “so-called” sandbox period and sometimes grow to several thousand pageviews in a few short months. This happens because Google may perceive the domain to be an existing website acquired by a new owner rather than a brand new website.
4: Already has links from reputable sources which are difficult to replicate
The most valuable aspects of aged domains aren’t hidden in plain sight. Firstly, it already has an established authority for a niche-relevant website, including links from highly authoritative publishers such as major magazines or news websites.
The quality and quantity of links could cost many thousands of dollars to replicate, if at all possible.
As a generic example, if you were to hire a link-building service to build backlinks at an average $100 per linking domain, it would cost $10,000 to replicate an aged domain with 100 linking root domains.
However, on the ODYS marketplace, you can find aged domains with over 100 linking root domains for around $1,000, with coverage from sources nearly impossible to replicate.
Potential Issues with Aged Domains
1: The website was previously used as a PBN or associated with SPAM
To verify if a domain has been previously used as a PBN, you may check the Ahrefs Outgoing Links Anchors report to see if any outgoing links are using spammy anchor text.
If the website contains outbound links with spammy commercial anchor text, this may indicate that the website was used as a PBN by a previous owner.
A commonly used tactic among PBN builders is to acquire expired domains with a strong backlink profile and then change the links to point to commercial pages (on some occasions, they try to make the website appear as before they acquired it).
2: There are hidden low-quality links
Ahrefs provides an accurate picture of aged domains’ link profiles, including low quality and spammy links that can hurt a website’s growth potential. If there is a high percentage of links from low-quality blogs with thin or duplicate content, this may be a sign of a low-quality or unnatural link profile that can hurt your SEO.
This issue can be overcome by submitting a link disavow file of low-quality links to the Google search engine. Google search engine generally tries to ignore link spam because it is often out of your control. For this reason, consider avoiding aged domains with excessive low-quality backlinks.
3: A manual penalty was applied by Google
A domain may have received a manual penalty from Google, limiting organic traffic and making it difficult for the website to grow. Several signs that there may be a manual penalty on the domain are:
- The domain’s link profile has an excessive amount of inbound or outbound links that can be viewed as SPAM.
- The historic organic traffic looks very low in Ahrefs.
- There are no pages indexed in Google.
In theory, if you acquire a website that received a manual penalty, you can submit a reconsideration request and let Google know that you just acquired the website and have fixed the issues.
However, a recommendation would be to stay away from these websites, as it may take a long time to recover from a manual penalty. Not to mention that manual penalties diminish the purpose of aged domains altogether.
4: Risk of a Google update
A substantial number of websites sold on marketplaces such as Flippa and Motion Invest were built using aged domains. You can see the growth or decline of their traffic over time with tools like Ahrefs. In some cases, websites may have suffered a steep decline in traffic during a major Google update.
Google is well aware of people using aged domains for SEO purposes. However, Google’s John Mueller says that:
“they are cautious about punishing websites because there may be legitimate reasons for using an expired domain such as reviving an old website or transferring a website to a new owner”.
According to John Mueller, Google looks for instances when “people are trying to abuse the system by picking up domains that are completely unrelated to what they’ve been working on”.
As long as you are publishing content closely related to topics covered in the past, the risk of getting hit by Google is relatively low since Google tries not to punish websites for legitimate uses of expired domains.
Due Diligence Tips when Buying an Aged Domain
When buying an aged domain, it’s good to follow these due diligence steps:
1. Check the domain age
You can use a Whois Lookup service such as Who.is to find the domain’s creation date.
Alternatively, you can check for the earliest recorded snapshot on Archive.org, indicating when the domain started publishing content.
2. Check website history
The most reliable way to learn about the history of a website is to view multiple snapshots in time from Archive.org. However, you must keep in mind that a website can look unchanged, even if it has been turned into a PBN website.
In cases where there is a period of time with no snapshots, it is likely that the website was not live during that period, resulting in many of the pages dropping out of the Google index.
This could potentially make it more challenging to regain previous traffic levels. So ideally, you’d want a website that has been live for the longest time possible, without interruptions.
3. Check the type of backlinks pointing to the domain
Ideally, most links will be natural links from relevant and highly authoritative news websites. It may be considered a bonus if most of the backlinks point to the homepage because you can direct the link equity more quickly to your top pages and not have to spend as much time recreating old pages for 301 redirects.
Guest post author bio links are less valuable because they are easier to reproduce, and Google does not consider these links as highly as natural links within the body of an article.
If there are a lot of irrelevant links, they can be discounted because they do not help improve topical authority.
Links that look like they were purchased can be an issue because Google may detect this and apply a manual penalty for violating Google Webmaster Guidelines. So the bottom line is that you should look for a strong backlink profile, free from unnaturally built backlinks.
4. Verify the domain’s topical relevance within your niche
The topics covered on the website in the past should be closely related to the niche you plan to publish content about.
Although examples of niche websites built on a completely unrelated aged domain are not uncommon in places like Motion Invest or Flippa, the takeaway is building a niche website on an unrelated aged domain is a recipe for disaster.
5. Check for trademarks
Conducting a proper trademark search is especially important for acquiring expired domains because, as it often might be the case, the business has been part of an online or brick-and-mortar business in the past.
To perform checks, the first step is to search for the domain name in Google to see if anything similar appears in the search results. Next, go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ‘s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) website.
Enter the brand name, including similar-sounding names, as well as common alternative spellings to see if any matches raise a red flag. Doing a quick search can identify any potential trademark issues, but this is not a replacement for a professional trademark attorney.
6. Check the number of indexed pages
When a website goes offline for an extended period, the indexed pages will subsequently fall out of Google search’s index as Google isn’t in the business of sending searchers to dead pages.
However, a few pages may remain in the index if the website went down recently or if a bare-bones version of the website was put up by a service like Odys Global. If there are a lot of pages remaining in the Google index, this is a positive sign that the search engine still trusts the website.
If, however, you enter a site: search into Google, and no pages appear in the index, that could indicate an issue with the domain such as a manual link penalty or complete removal from Google for violating Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Get a Premium Aged Domain with Relevant Backlinks and Strong Branding
You’ll get a head start on your authority and trust with niche and topic relevant backlinks.
Odys has already vetted the domain for you so you can focus on content and growing your site.
They have done-for-you content options and great filters so you can find a domain in your niche.
You can get $100 if you create an Odys account using my affiliate link.
Odys Global – Review
Odys stands for “Our Domains, Your SEO.” I work with Odys often and have referred a lot of people to Odys.
I’ve heard about great results from Odys Domains, some of which are listed below.
There are domains in dozens of niches. So no matter your niche, you should check to see what’s available.
Odys makes it easy to narrow down your search with filtering and searching.
It’s easy to check if your niche is available by filtering for your niche. Or searching with the global search function.
You can filter by:
- Industry (Basically, the niche.)
- Language (English, Spanish, German, etc…)
- Top Level Domain (TLD) (.com, .net, .org, etc…)
- Monthly Traffic
- Character Length
- SEO Value (Domain Age, Referring Domains, Featured On, etc…)
After filtering and browsing, I’ll often search with keywords or niches to see what is available. Sometimes other domains will pop up that I filtered out initially. That might be related to the TLD or SEO Metrics or even the Industry.
The customer service is top notch and highly available. The goal of most companies is to have repeat customers and a great way to encourage that is to have a great customer experience.
Price and Value
Price is subjective based on what you are able to do with the domain. But I can say there are domains that are under $1,000 USD and others that are several thousand dollars.
If you already have a site with traffic and plan on redirecting an aged domain to your site, you might get a huge amount of value very quickly in the form of more traffic and earnings. So if you’re able to make a strategic aged domain purchase, then the price might represent a great ROI and value.
Case Studies of Successful and Unsuccessful websites on Aged Domains
Here are 3 recent case studies using aged domains:
$2200 per month in 8 months – Aged Domain Short Cut
Aged Expired Domain Short Cut Case Study (Adam Smith)
How to SKIP the SANDBOX for Authority Sites (Shawna Newman)