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How to Buy an Expired Domain

Are expired domains worth the hassle? Weigh the benefits and drawbacks before you buy expired domains.

Whether you are a freelance graphic designer or run a well-established brick-and-mortar store, having a website can help you grow your business. A business website can establish credibility, generate leads, and convert those who are interested into paying customers, but how do you give it the boost it needs to really take off?

If you are looking to jumpstart a new website or direct some traffic to an existing one, buying an expired domain should be on your radar. A quality expired domain comes with a variety of perks that can improve your website’s SEO. It may have an old domain history, a unique domain name, a lot of backlinks, or a high amount of existing traffic.

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Well, how do you buy an expired domain? More importantly, how do you find a quality expired domain to help you rank higher on search engines?

This blog post will take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of buying expired domains and take you step-by-step through the domain auction process, from choosing the right auction house to back-ordering or bidding to secure the domain name.

What is an expiring domain?

An expired or expiring domain is a previously registered domain that has not been renewed by its owner.

A domain, or the address of your website on the internet, however, is never really owned. Rather, it is rented to you for a certain amount of time. When you stop paying that rent, whether deliberately or by accident, it expires and gets put up for re-registration on different marketplaces depending on its domain name registrar. A domain can expire for many reasons, from payment methods not going through to its owner moving on to a new project.

Why would someone want to buy an expiring domain?

An expired domain is valuable for many reasons, but overall, its biggest use is in terms of SEO.

For example, an expired domain with great backlinks, such as backlinks from major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and other credible sources, can easily be revamped into a website with domain authority.

Rather than starting from scratch, you will have the expired domain’s existing SEO value, including its domain history, backlink profile, and existing authority, at your disposal. With an expiring domain, you can easily slingshot your website to the top of the search results and become an authority in your industry.

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You can also redirect the traffic from an expired domain to an existing website using a 301 redirect. With a 301 redirect, which communicates to search engines that content has moved permanently, the quality backlinks of the old website are passed on to your website, increasing its authority and visibility.

Another use for dropped domains is setting up a private blog network (PBN). By purchasing multiple expired domains with authority and turning them into unrelated sites that link to your website, you can manipulate the search results in your favor. However, keep in mind that this practice is considered a black-hat SEO tactic as it technically violates Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Even if you don’t need to create authority sites or links to your website, expired domain names can be bought and sold for a profit. Domain investors engage in domain flipping by purchasing expired sites and then increasing their SEO value to sell them at a higher price, which can be very profitable.

Benefits of buying expired domain names

A valuable dropped domain will have the below qualities:

  • Brandability: The domain may have a professional or recognizable name that you can use to bolster your own brand.
  • Established backlinks: Good backlinks means higher credibility and more traffic.
  • Mature domain age: Older domains have been in search engine indexes for longer, which benefits their search rankings.
  • Quality content: Check to see if the domain has good content using the Wayback Machine. Previous good content may leave a good impression on search engines.
  • Page authority and domain authority: A website with page and domain authority will rank higher on search engines like Google.
  • High monthly traffic: A popular domain will help you target an existing audience.

These qualities will make it easier for you to create an authoritative site, redirect traffic to your own website, and sell the domain for a higher price.

Drawbacks of using expired domains

Finding good expired domains can be tricky, and there are many pitfalls you need to be aware of. Here are some drawbacks to watch out for:

  • Poor history: If the domain name you are buying has incurred a penalty in the past due to webmaster guideline violations, it may be de-indexed or even blacklisted.
  • Bad site quality: Sites with a lot of duplicated content, security breaches, and spam backlinks will rank poorly on SERPs.
  • High cost: Expired domains tend to cost more than new domains because of their domain age and backlink profile. As they are typically sold through auctions, a bidding war can significantly increase their price.
  • Trademark issues: Some brands use domain names that contain trademarked terms. You might not be able to use a trademarked domain name even if you purchased it.

Buying an expired domain: step-by-step

Step 1: Understand the domain expiration timeline

If you want to buy expired domains, you must first understand how a domain expires. The expiration timeline differs depending on the domain registrar, but for most domains, the first 30 days after the expiration date is considered a grace period. During this time, the website will no longer be on the net, but it can still typically be renewed for the standard price or a slightly higher price.

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Usually, the ownership of the domain is forfeited after 30 days, and anyone who has shown interest in the domain name will be invited to place a backorder. If there are no backorders, the domain is then entered into an auction for seven days, with the domain going to the highest bidder.

If a domain is not sold during the auction process, it will enter the pending delete periods for about five days. After this period, it will likely be re-entered into its original registry, where it can be registered at the normal price.

Step 2: Determine where your desired domain name is listed

The next step is to determine where your desired domain name is listed. If you have a domain you want in mind, you should first check which registrar it is listed with using a WHOIS lookup. Knowing which registrar it is listed with will help you find which auction partner you need to go to in order to place a bid. Most registrars have a specific auction house they work with. Some major domain auction houses include:

  • GoDaddy
  • FreshDrop
  • Flippa
  • Sedo
  • SnapNames

If you don't know which domain names you want, you can find domains through websites that feature recently dropped domain names as well.

Step 3: Place a backorder or bid on the domain name

After finding the perfect domain, it’s time to secure it using a backorder or by bidding on it through an auction.

A backorder allows you to put a reservation on a domain name, so when it expires, you can snag it before anyone else. To place a backorder, you need to sign up with the auction house that is selling the domain you want.

However, placing a backorder does not guarantee that you will be able to register the domain name as it may go into auction. Some domains are also not available for backorder, depending on their domain extension, backorder policy, quality, and other factors.

How to place bids on domains will differ depending on which auction house you are using, but there are a few terms that can help you in the bidding process.

Maximum bid

A maximum bid is the most amount of money a bidder is willing to spend to win the auction. When two bidders place the same maximum bid, usually the one who places the bid first will have the winning bid.

Proxy bidding

After you enter your maximum bid, auction platforms usually have a proxy bidding service that will slowly bid the smallest amount necessary for you to become the highest bidder.

Bid sniping

Bid sniping is when a bidder places a bid on the auction at the last minute, so even if another bidder is willing to pay more, they won't have time to do it. Some auction platforms prohibit this practice by automatically extending the auction time when a bid is placed.

Grow your business with expired domains

Knowing how to utilize a high-quality expired domain can help you gain a larger audience with ease. Buy an expired domain and use Mailchimp’s tools and resources to create a search engine optimized authority site or redirect traffic to your existing website.

Mailchimp’s free, easy-to-use website builder can help you create a beautiful website in less than an hour, offering built-in forms, behavioral targeting, and mobile optimization.

Browse Mailchimp’s Marketing Library with articles on CRM, ecommerce, and email marketing. Start increasing your website traffic and convert visitors into customers using expired domains by reading up on website migration.

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