Expired Domains: Everything You Might Want to Know

This is a text version of Expired Domains video with Kalin Karakehayov. You can view the full episode on YouTube or go on a read it here. Click to see an article on the previous video in the series with Mads Singers.

Kalin has more than 10 years of experience in both the domain and SEO industries and runs a 70 people company Edoms.com catching buying and selling domain names. It’s mostly known in the SEO industry for SEO.domains – the Edom’s brand that sells domains with history and links. In total, Edoms owns 60 000 domains about half of which are SEO ones, the other half have value for the name itself or because of non-organic traffic. Kalin is most active on Facebook and specifically in the Proper SEO group and in Affiliate SEO Mastermind. So if you ask any questions about the domains he’ll answer there. You can also add him on Facebook and ask personally. Some of the questions are also answered at SEO.domains blog.

Can Expired Domains Be Used for Negative SEO?

We only tried it once as a test and the effect was positive for the website. It went up not down even though with a lot of exact match anchor links. Thus, it very much depends on the power of the website using it and some other factors. In this particular case, when they tried to terminate a webpage it turned out that it had an exact copy in the website. It was like an internal duplicate. That page got terminated. But then we made something like an administrative canonical to the other copy and the copy went up. So the penalty of the one we terminated didn’t get to the copy just the links. And it got up a lot.

I think that negative SEO is very hard to do because of the big randomness that’s in the Google algorithm. Something just works as intended. Something doesn’t work as intended. The best way to do SEO is to just have a lot of options, have a lot of websites trying to rank them all.

If you’re trying to de-rank them with negative SEO you’ll find out that some will go up, some go down I think. Of course most bad links Google just ignores but in some cases for no apparent reason they will just hold the good ones especially with more powerful websites. So I’d be very careful with negative SEO no matter how bad the links look, they may add diversity or something weird might happen. But of course it can be tested presumably not against your best friends. But really I don’t think that it’s an easy thing to do or that you should focus your efforts on negative SEO as a whole.

Domains Pricing Scale

Of course the cheapest thing you can get is an  available domain for 5 or 10 dollars.

In this case, you’ll probably be using it as a PBN. But then you have to invest at least 30 to 50 dollars in a website: content, installing WordPress, about 1 or 2 dollars for hosting. And then it turns out that you invest much more in the website. So you cover up just to get the link juice to your main website then on the actual domain for the link juice.

You invest 10 dollars for the domain and 50 dollars for the website hosting and content. It’s like ratio five to one for your cover up compared to the real value. I think that the cheapest investment that there should be for an expired domain, it’s usually about 30-50 dollars. Of course if you find a free available to register domain for 10 dollars it’s great. But just the market makes sure that there are not so many good domains available for 10 dollars. This is why we don’t have a service that searches for available domains. We did have one in the past. Actually this was our start such a service. But then we killed it and now we just sell domains that we already own.

Better domains that we sell are starting from 30 dollars. And for 100 – 200 dollars, it’s a good choice for a PBN. If you buy a domain for 150 then your website costs 50. That’s your cover up. You invested 150 in the domain so you have a good ratio for actual domain with link juice that you invested in and your cover-up, your PBN.

It’s debatable if it’s worth paying 500 dollars for domain to be used for PBN. But some companies do. Mostly industries that have a lot of money like gambling or big CBD websites. Where now there’s not so much competition so you can rank because it’s new and it’s obviously very profitable. Big rich companies would often buy domains for 1,000, 2,000 dollars to make a PBN if the domain is relevant.

They usually like relevancy and it’s very hard to find the gambling or CBD domain that’s expired and is clean, doesn’t have any spam. A legit gambling website very rarely gets abandoned.

Our most expensive domain that we have sold was around 30,000 for SEO purposes. It’s to be used for 301 redirect or directly for the money site.

Expired Domains Pricing Dynamics

The prices have increased a lot. Our prices have increased, maybe doubled in the last two years, but only in the new domains. We rarely increase prices for our old domains. A lot of our buyers look at the new domains. But we have so many domains that I don’t think anyone has got through them all because they are now almost 20,000.

In our old domains, there are some domains that are really decently priced and haven’t lost many of their links. Others have lost some of their links so the price is okay for the market. But there are some old ones that are actually quite good in our list. The new ones we price a bit higher but this is the market dynamics. We get the domains through our own catching. By backorder and at auctions.

The auction prices have also grown at least twice in the last two years. So our costs are rising. But also what is rising is the reward that the buyers can get because we mostly sell to affiliates, also there’s some lead generation or directly to businesses who do SEO or to agencies. But it’s mostly affiliates. And everything that is related to SEO is growing. More people use the internet to start, more people search on Google, more people shop online or order services online especially after the pandemic. And there are more and better affiliate programs so a bigger choice, so you can get bigger commissions. And if one affiliate program decides to slash their commissions like Amazon then you have more and more alternatives. And generally I think there’s never been a better time to be an affiliate SEO, also to be an agency. Because there are so many businesses shifting their focus towards online. And SEO is just growing. I think 10-20% a year, growing as an industry so there’s more and more money to be made.

People sometimes forget that domains that expire are not part of the SEO industry. They’re just expiring domains. Their owners did never think that after the domains expire they will be used for some SEO thing. They’re just normal websites. The amount of domains that expire is finite and is not growing by much because it’s some function of the past. And it’s a finite resource and rising demand so the price is rising. It’s natural. Supply and demand.

SEO Domains Share of the Market

Our share is very different depending on the TLD.

CCTLD country domains are easier to catch. But for .com network we have to be in auctions so it’s not only more expensive but also requires more effort. Otherwise, if we were to catch the domains ourselves it’s only binary evaluation: we want it, we don’t want it. For 5 dollars for example in UK. But in .com we have to spend much more time evaluating so we bid the exact amount that we’re actually willing to pay and not too much and not too little. Because then we don’t win the auction. Of course we don’t win most auctions. 10-20%.

In .com, our market share is small, maybe 5-10% of the domains we want we get, but it’s rising. In country markets like UK, is one of our best. We have about 40% there. And in some small countries, we get 100% of the domains that drop, the good ones. But these are small markets, countries that have about 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 domains registered.

For example the UK has 10 million and .com network is 150 million total. These are the domains that we can get.

Selling is another thing. We’re not so good at selling. That’s why we have so many domains available which is actually a good thing for our buyers. We catch more than we sell. And the difference makes these 20,000 domains that we have accumulated so far. But we have also sold 15,000 in the past. So we’re not that bad at selling. It’s just we’re catching a lot.

And our competition, they have a much easier task. They have let’s say a 1,000, 2,000 domains to sell. And basically the same buyers. They have an easier job selling because they can choose domains that their buyers want, they can be selective while we cannot afford to be selective.

Best Use for an Expired Domain

There are several good paths that can be taken.

Restore an Old Website from Web Archive

One thing that is a good choice will be to restore the old website. We actually are starting later this year link network from restored websites from the archive. For the start will be with the UK domains but then we also start .com and others.

  1. We take domains, not too weak not too powerful. Let’s say DA20.
  2. We restore the website. We have quite good technology that is based on Archivarix to restore the website.
  3. Then we clean them for potentially dangerous data like bank accounts and stuff that you don’t want to get into legal trouble about.

And then you have a very natural website for Google. It doesn’t look like a PBN at all. It really looks like an old website: ugly narrow design from 10 years ago, not responsive and all of that. But it doesn’t look like PBN at all.

Even a Google editor that comes to check the website will have a very hard time figuring out that this is the restored domain that is selling links. Because the names will be restored and banners and it will be all very natural looking.

We’ll be opening this link rental service and I think that anyone who wants to make a good long-term investment, it’s a good idea to buy domains, restore your website which is very cheap. And then you have static websites that you can put on the most cheap shittiest hosting out there and they will still work.

And you can use Cloudflare to mask your IPs. You don’t need SEO hosting, anything like this for diversity. Cloudflare I think now hosts more than 10 million websites so you’ll be very hidden.

Sell Links and Build Links to Your Own Properties

And you can just make money selling links and also link your own projects in a relevant way. If you have a big old website with hundreds of articles of content then you find relevant ways to link many of your projects. This is one of the things I can suggest. Another thing I can suggest is just make a super low cost gambling PBN that doesn’t have to do anything with the old website. Let’s say your old website was a language school but you make it about betting or casino, you don’t care. And if you can make it on some exotic language, which is a big gambling market that it’s very hard to find links like Swedish or Norwegian or Finnish.

PBNs in Exotic Languages

Exotic languages have a lot of demand for links, if there’s a big gambling industry like in Sweden or Finland. And the big gambling companies have already bought links from everywhere and they have budgets and they have to spend them somewhere. They want to buy more and more links.

Norwegian PBN Case

We did an experiment a few years ago and on some domains that didn’t use to be about sports and didn’t use to be in Norwegian or even in English, they were from Argentina to Albania to Kazakhstan – all possible countries.

We took advantage of the fact that one of our colleagues used to live in Norway and had basic understanding of Norwegian. We built some gambling blocks in Norwegian. Three articles in Norwegian. Domain from another country and link buyers found founders without us making any outreach effort and came to buy links.

One article with the links is 60 Euro in Norway. You can sell as many as you want. Some of these blogs have now sold over 50 articles. For 60 Euro.

The initial investment in this website is 60 Euro. So it’s a very good way to make money with very low effort because the buyers are so eager to find anything new in this language. Is super hard. Norway is not a big country. There are not so many sports betting blogs to buy links from. If you add to this and then for sure there will be link buyers.

Have Many Sites and Do Lots of Things and Some Will Work

And of course you can link your own betting affiliate website or whatever. So it’s best of both. You both sell links and do affiliate. I think this is a very good use for an expired domain. Also the restore thing. And well it depends on your niche your strategy. If you’re in more spammy niches. Let’s say payday loans, adult, then you can do all kinds of great stuff. You can do redirect, you can do a lot of links, powerful homepage links.

Link Selling Is One of the Best Ways to Make Money

Basically, there are proven paths to earn money mostly by link selling. Because link selling is one of the best possible things to earn money. You made a website. You don’t really need much traffic. They’re not all linked, buyers want traffic especially if you’re in a high demand niche. So you just rent links or sell guest posts. You get all the money upfront, no obligations whatsoever, said that your site is indexed in Google.

This is a very good road for just making money. And if you want to rank stuff then and just rank stuff. I’m not really such a high pro in SEO as many people think so I don’t like ranking stuff. There are much easier ways to make money, like selling domains or links. But of course ranking stuff is more fun, more challenging.

How to Find Cheap Expired Domains

There’s expireddomains.net which is a very good website, completely free. There are also some I believe quite cheap tools on the market like Spamzilla that can be used to just search among the available domains. And for sure you can find domains.

The problem you hit is that the .com, .net, .org zones are public. So every domain that has ever been registered is now in thousands of databases. And people go through these all day long. They scrape big websites like BBC and whitehouse.gov and all of these.

There’s no need to scrape them. If you just have paid Ahrefs then you can see all outgoing links from say BBC. So you don’t need to actually crawl the website. You can just download and then check the domains for availability. But then you have a huge list of domains that don’t resolve. So you must just check them for availability and for .com. But so many people have done it already that there won’t be much left. So the only thing you’ll find is banned domains used for PBNs or other gray or blackhat stuff.

The natural filter is very much against you because you’ll be competing against thousands of people doing the same thing. And everything good is already taken and just that stuff is left behind. But the kind of bad stuff that you won’t easily see that it’s bad probably.

Country Domains Are Easier to Find

CCTLDs are much better. In country extensions you can find domains that are still available, that are decent, say similar to the ones we sell for 50 dollars. But you have to really really invest a lot of time and effort.

First, checking domains for availability is not so easy. There are many countries like say France, Spain, Portugal and others that have domains that have no whois but they are not available actually. For example, anything in France that has the name of a city or stupid policy things that make the domains blocked on live .com. So when you do whois you just end up with a bunch of domains that seem available but cannot be registered.

You have to do a registrar APIs but then some of these sometimes return false positives. So you have to check those too to see if they’re actually available in the other registrar. This will be a huge operation that will bring some results. But the question is is it really worth the time. And again this is although it’s not .com network so not thousands of people have done it. But maybe hundreds.

The question is will it be worth the time. For sure there will be some results. But if you have a lot of spare time it’s okay because then you’ll also improve your understanding of how the domain industry works.

Some technical things about whois and APIs and registrars. But if you’re busy or any alternative worth a lot of money that’s surely not the role that I could recommend.

How to Choose a Domain

There are two main challenges.

The filtering challenge and the choosing challenge.

Filtering Challenge

The filtering challenge is you start with a large pool of domains. Let’s say you’re looking at all available domains in the world that were registered before. It’s something like 200 million. And in this 200 million, I don’t count, let’s say domains registered in 2004 with zero backlinks. So 200 million is just domains either registered sooner or having at least a single backlink. Otherwise it will be like 500 million.

Where do you start with 200 million domains? You have to check the link count. So you’re looking at a lot of Majestic credits or you know Ahrefs would be super expensive for this. Majestic is much cheaper but still maybe 10,000 for majestic checks. Ten thousand dollars. So this is not a good place to start.

You can start buying domains that have a backlink presumably from a good website like BBC. The problem is that already a lot of people have started there. So you either have to find a not so famous website to start with and still have paid Ahrefs so you can get out the links or crawl yourself. But you’ll probably get blocked or something. Or you need to be a developer to do this properly.

Then you can start looking for domains that are available but again if any good domain expired in the last years, probably in most extensions: all com network, all in co.uk, all domains in France, Spain, Italy. Not all German domains for example.

But domains in most countries that expire enter a drop list that is not as public as .com but still quite public. So they publish it in some local backorder website and then if the domain was any good even if it was not backordered someone caught it on their own for cheaper. So not a lot of good domains that expired recently and are available are good. Again we have the same thing as .com that you have big listing, nothing good in there and even worse. Things that look good but are not good actually.

For example domains that have good links but used to be a PBN and have a spam penalty. They won’t index. Which is the main thing you actually have to worry about.

Problems With Checking Indexing in Rank Trackers

And also one of the best things that we have internally in our company is an index checker that works for large quantities of domains. For example 10,000 domains we would in a day or more check easily for index.

But you don’t have such a service somewhere available and not for cheap for sure. Because Google really really really doesn’t like when you check for index.

For example if you are a rank tracker you can do a lot of checks for just where websites rank. But if you do site:something then you get blocked much more quickly.

Because then you look like a bot. That’s exactly what you’re doing actually. It’s not a normal search. So rank trackers wouldn’t really like their IPs to be used for index checking. And you have to either build your own solution. I don’t know maybe there are some solutions but they will be more expensive query based on than the rank trackers.

Then you need index checks for sure because index check is very good. Because if you see the domain is indexed you don’t have to be so diligent in checking the history because it’s indexed you know.

Even if it was a PBN if Google didn’t deindex it then it’s not that bad. Of course it’s best if it had clean history all along. But it’s much better to be indexed. If it didn’t have a clean history then not to be indexed obviously. If it’s not indexed it’s a signal that maybe it has pure spam penalty. Those can be lifted but of course it’s an effort and we have cases when they come back without doing anything bad the second time. Just come back on their own. So it’s not good if you take a domain and it has a pure spam penalty for being a PBN in almost all cases in the past.

For choosing among the available domains, the filtering challenge is the big one.

Choosing Challenge

After you get through the filtering challenge, you get to domains that have some links. Then you just look at the domain one by one. And it doesn’t have a lot of links because it’s available. It’s in the low tier so then it’s easy if it has a small quantity of links but the good ones. Then let’s say it has 15 referring domains but all of them are big media. Then it’s perfect and people missed it because their filters were set to referring domains 20+ or something when they filtered. And then this is actually the only good domain that you can find available these days this type of domain. Small quantity of links but all of them good ones.

But the filtering challenge is really a problem. Where do you start for searching in the pool of available domains? If you look at auctions or let’s say our inventory or some other place that has like 10,000 domains which you can buy for a buy-now price then the filtering challenge is not that big. Because first, we are and some of the other suppliers they supply the metrics and also their price ranges too. We have fixed prices for example. And it really helps if you’re looking for a cheap and expensive domain. You know exactly where to look on our list. So filtering challenge is not so big but then if a domain has a 100-200-300 referring domains then you have to spend more time looking through the individual links to see if this is the domain you want. If you’re looking at more expensive domains, if you are paying 100-200 dollars for domain then you have to evaluate much more carefully.

What to Look for When You Evaluate a More Expensive Domain?

Well the most important thing is all the links have to be natural. And then there’s some trade-off between trustworthy links and powerful links.

Links from big media like BBC are great for trust but not so great for power because they are buried very deep in the websites where they come from. So not a lot of link juice will come.

But links from let’s say government websites or NGOs or other smaller but still powerful websites which would link to you from their homepage or close to the homepage. Because they’re smaller, they’re not media websites. They bring good link juice.

Also universities and everything from the education sector bring more link juice. It’s good for your network, your PBN to have both. Something that brings trust and something that brings link juice.

How Kalin Evaluates Domains

I can show how I evaluate domains. See it here: https://youtu.be/KJcSVMgPS80?t=1892

I mean it doesn’t have any AI machine learning or anything fancy. But what it does have is that it gets all the data you can get about a domain. Data from Ahrefs, Majestic, MOZ. And it fits it into a single screen so you can make the choice without looking at a thousand different places.

This is our domain evaluating software. We have groups with different types of domains. Let’s say we choose a group Kazakhstan domains that has not dropped yet. And that we would want to backorder good ones. So it’s kz backorder. We select the group and now we have different domains. And we see different metrics from Majestic, Ahrefs, MOZ, Alexa, Majestic referring domains, citation flow, trust flow, index yes/no, Ahrefs DR. And if the domains are not that good you can just look at these. And if you click in appraiser only the ones that have a higher metrics, but if the domains are better, you can just look one by one.

And so it really is the only way that we can work to evaluate all the domains that drop in all this entire world. Because about 250,000 domains drop each day. And our goal is to look at every single domain. First we filter by metrics using Majestic referring domains and DA. And then every domain that has decent enough metrics we go through the system. We have 15 people who evaluate domains full time using this software. I think about 5,000 domains they evaluate in this system.

Then we can catch them or place backorders or bid on them at auctions. And everything we do to supply domains.

Registrars

Worst Registrars

What I don’t like is not specifically Namecheap but big registrars. The bigger the registrar the worse is the quality of the service. And it’s natural. It’s just economics. Imagine if you have a small registrar. Let’s say the registrar manages 50,000 domains or 100,000, then you as a client, especially if you’re an SEO so you have let’s say 10, 50, 100 domains.

Best Registrars

You’re a valuable client. You get good support. You get personalized stuff sometimes. And you are just valued. You get better prices and any small registrar will be happy to have you. But if you go to Godaddy or Namecheap or Tucows or Enom or any of the larger registrars, the ones that have more than 5 million domains. I think the biggest one that is good is Namesilo followed by Dynadot. These are the big ones that are good.

Worst VS Best Registrars

But you may see the difference. Dynadot and Namesilo make most of their money selling domains while Godaddy, Namecheap make most of their money selling other services, hosting mostly. But also website builders, SSLs, all kinds of things that you can upsell after you sell the domain. The thing is that this is the natural progression of a registrar. If it’s a registrar it was started by someone who understands domain names, the domain industry. And at the beginning it’s a good service.

If you remember even Godaddy in the past was a much better service with better prices. It had coupons for everything. You could get domains below the market price and still renew for cheap with coupons. This was like 10 years ago. After this what happens is the company gets sold or gets investors and so it’s no longer run like for fun but it’s run for money. And the people that come after acquisitions, merging, IPOs and all of this, are people who really want to make the maximum for shareholders.

They say okay, we hire the support from the cheapest guys in India and people without any experience and then we focus just on upselling stuff. We want to sell hosting and everything so okay let’s make the support phone only like it’s in Godaddy.

Because on the phone you can sell more stuff. And the quality of the actual service deteriorates so they can sell more with less expense. And this is what happens with any big domain registrar. It’s just inevitable. The ones that have not gotten bad yet are Namesilo, Dynadot, Internet BS is also good. These are ones that even if they change hands they are still more or less run by the same people. So the quality is still good. But if they change hands or get an investments like IPO or acquisition and get run by different people then it’s all going bad for the end customer.

Worst Hosting

This is why also all these hosting companies that are owned by Endurance. I don’t remember the exact name but I think Hostgator, Bluehost. All of those are for sure not the hosting companies you want. Because it’s just about making money there, not the best customer experience.

Managing Your Local Domains

And it goes the same with managing your local domains, your CCTLDs.

Never go to the biggest registrar in the country. If you want French domains don’t go to OVH, go just to any other registrar. If you want Italian domains don’t go to registrar .it or the other big Italian ones. If you are in the UK don’t go to 123reg. Anywhere in Europe don’t go to 101 that are now IONOS. So just avoid the big ones and if you avoid the big ones you’ll find out that actually managing domains can be a nice process and not an annoying one. Because of course there will always be problems.

Especially CCTLDs is a bit harder to manage, not so standardized and working in a predictable way like .com. There will always be surprises. But if you have the right registrars then even if the registry surprises you in a nasty way, let’s say in Spain, in Italy and a few other countries. When you try to set your name servers you have to have a valid DNS zone which means that for non-technical people you have to edit already your domain is an add-on domain Cpanel or whatever you use. So valid DNS zone is created because the registry checks the name servers and if they don’t respond with the right answers saying that this domain is actually here then you can’t change your name servers at all. The change just fails.

There are such surprises with CCTLDs but these things come from the registry. The whole extensions work this way. If you are in the right registrar they will explain to you okay it’s failing because of this and this.

For example NETIM one of the best registrars for country domains he has a zone check where you can check if your zone is valid before you change your name servers. To see if the change will actually go through. If the registrar is good things are much much better.

Choosing the Right Registrar

So the registrar is actually a very key choice if you manage a PBN. And anything with a large number of domains, any operation. If you choose the right registrar then things are good. If not then it can be very annoying and time consuming to fix your problems.

And the problem with the registrars is that for example Netim one of our favorite registrars has a ridiculously old and ugly website. So if you’re choosing by the professional looking website you will never choose them. Really it’s I think about asking for recommendations and very important think it not to stick to the registrar that your company uses.

What to Look Out for When Choosing a Registrar When You Work Inhouse

If you’re an inhouse SEO it’s very important that very often the registrar that is used by very big companies, there are three options and all three of them are bad.

  1. You can use brand protection registrar.
    Very bad technically because they are almost always founded by lawyers, not by technical people so not a great experience usually.
  2. You can use the first registrar they start using when the company was founded let’s say 20 years ago.
    So then you’re using a very old registrar. Old registrars are usually not the best registrars in our experience. The more recently it was founded, in most cases not all, the better the service. Because it was founded on better technical foundation. It’s very hard to migrate to another system when you’re older registrar. So the older you are the more old and outdated technical backend you use.
  3. And the 3d option that’s also bad is that the registrar is just someone who has the personal connection with the founder.
    Let’s say it’s a friend or something. But even this friendship won’t save the company from having a very bad technical experience if the technical foundation on the registrar is bad. I know a lot of our clients are big gambling companies in Malta or other places, but mostly in Malta.

They all work with the most ridiculous registrars. Registrars whom you’d never recommend like EuroDNS or Instra. Some really really bad registrars that you should never use in your right mind if you want a good flawless experience.

But because of one of the three reasons I described these registrars I used. If you have a bad experience with your registrar you just switch it. Domains are easy to transfer. This is not hosting or something else that it’s harder to move or can have an impact on Google and just registrars can be switched.

We are now using about 300 registrars. Some of these are our own accreditations, maybe about a 100. But we use 200 registrars. And we have at least 50 that we have already ditched because of finding a better one.

But in many countries you just have to use the local ones. If you want a good experience in Kazakhstan, if you want to be a registrar in Kazakhstan you have to be a Kazakhstan company. So except maybe some brand protection that is super motivated to have all domains of companies like Google and so on under their direct control, unless you are one of those, you would not go through the effort of registering a Kazakhstan company to get a registrar. You would be actually using a Kazakhstan company and reselling their services.

Better Buy Directly & Avoid Resellers

And the number one rule for choosing where to buy domains is always buy directly from a registrar. If you buy from someone that resells from a registrar, so take domain from the registrar and then sells it to you. A reseller as it’s called in the domain world.

Then you’re getting two problems and they are both big.

Problem number one is you don’t know if they chose a good registrar at all. You buy the domain but you don’t know where it’s going to actually be registered. It just goes into some random place. So you don’t really know if the registrar that they work for is good.

Often if you go to a country and decide where to get the domains from. In your registrar, the first factor is price, not quality of service. So you’re gonna receive a lot of domains, you want them cheap. So you don’t know actually if the registrar will be a good one, if they’re gonna solve problems.

And the next, other big problem is that any time, any problem arises you don’t have a direct connection to the registrar.

Imagine a problem arises in the registry, the mothership. Then you have to write to your reseller. The reseller will have to write to the registrar, report on the problem. Then the registrar would often need to ask the registry what is the problem. Let’s say a dispute or an abuse complaint. And then also just the side note abuse complaints are quite common. If you restore the archive content by old the owners. In this case, you want to really know about those. Then the registrar reaches the registry to ask what’s going on. Then the registry answers but maybe doesn’t answer or something or doesn’t answer fast. And no one is there to really follow up or something. Just things stay bad.

And let’s say the registry answers to the registrar, and then the registrar has to write to your reseller again. And then the reseller writes to you and let’s say the problem is not solved in one go. Then you have to repeat all of those again. Imagine how slow everything becomes when you don’t have direct access.

Redirects Done Wisely

I think that there’s still good perspective for redirects but now you have to be very careful about how you make them. I’ve seen redirects deliver amazing results . Although in the last two updates: in May and December redirects in general got hit. But you just have to remember that redirects before were an extremely strong strategy. So Google had to do something.

What Used to Work Well With 301 Redirects

HTML Sitemap

When you do a 301 redirect there are a few things you can do. Something that used to work very well in the past was redirecting the domain to your HTML sitemap, so you could spread the juice. And if it’s your HTML sitemap you don’t want to rank it. So even if it gets hit by some filter then you don’t really care.

Problem for Google

The good thing with redirect is that Google is always stuck in this. They want to to really stop SEOs from doing their off page stuff and ranking websites. And if they spend this budget on Adwords it will be even greater. But they want to really persuade them not to do it and the clear way to do it is with penalties. Okay you do something very aggressive off page, you get a penalty. But on the other hand if they do it this way all the time then negative SEO will become very strong. Because okay you get penalty for redirecting on domain without preparation and without any effort to really conceive that it’s an SEO redirect.

If this were the case then you could just redirect: buy a bunch of domains redirect each one to your competitors. And you just terminate them all. And that’s it. Game over.

You are number one.

So this is not the way it can work actually. The way it can work for Google is just to have either anything have a neutral effect or anything have a random effect. If you make everything to have a neutral effect it’s a bit harder to actually work because then there are genuine redirects and general links out there. You just cannot devalue everything. You have to have positive value to some. But if you have positive value to some and you don’t know actually which redirect is legit and which link is legit and which is just bought by SEOs. Then you also need to penalize in some cases.

Random Effect Theory

But if you penalize in a predictable way then you get the negative SEO problem. So we will solve this by introducing a random element. So they just roll a dice. Yeah that’s actually how I imagine it works. They just roll a dice for each domain and say, okay this domain gets penalized for redirects, this domain doesn’t get penalized for redirects or bad links or something. Anything too aggressive. I have seen someone buy from us 40 domains and redirect them all in half an hour.

And the result was actually great but it was a very big website. Very big e-commerce. It was just a business owner stumbling upon our service and deciding that he wants his e-commerce to rank in Hong Kong.

For some reason it was a multi-country ecommerce. After we sent our newsletter he sent an order for all our Hong Kong domains. There were 40. He paid them immediately and a few hours later after the transfer finished they were all directed to his website already. But this was two and a half years ago or something. It wasn’t so recent.

I don’t recommend doing anything like this today even if you’re a large website. But I was curious to see what was going on and he had quite a bit of spike of his organic traffic especially from Hong Kong. So it worked. But today you should be much more delicate with these things.

Ways to Redirect

There are ways to do redirects.

Canonical Before Redirect

Something that used to work very well before the December update is that you can put your money website content on the domain that you will redirect.

  1. Make the content exactly the same, including the homepage.
  2. And then make a canonical from the domain that you will redirect to the money side.
  3. And then look at your Google Search Console and see if the links to the domain that you’re gonna redirect are going to show.
  4. And if they start showing then Google is okay with the canonical.
  5. And if it’s okay with the canonical then Google will be okay with the redirect.
  6. And then you redirect.

This is very smart because of course you cannot be penalized for a canonical. So then you make a check and if Google is fine then you redirect. This really worked wonders until December. But I still think that it can still work maybe with some tweaks.

This is the best redirect strategy I have seen.

Acquisition Technique

Before this one, a common strategy was to redirect to a subpage that you acquired the domain. You buy a strong expired domain and then you build a web page and say we acquired xyz.com or whatever the domain name is.

And you redirect to this page and then from this page you link your other pages with internal links. And I have heard that this works. But the only case that I have actually seen done with a very strong domain, a DR79 domain, extremely strong, and it didn’t work. The takeaways from this are:

  1. The domain can be immensely strong and the redirect can still not work. So it doesn’t matter how strong the domain that you redirect is. If it doesn’t get footholds and just doesn’t.
  2. The 2nd thing is that there are some things that even if you use a sensible strategy about the redirect, that can break it.

For this case, I think the problem was either there was no topical match at all. It was a very powerful domain but not relevant at all. Or the problem was that most of the links of the redirected domain were not pointing to the homepage. In this case, it’s not good because if you redirect all the links to the homepage of the new of the old websites or whatever, it’s not good for Google obviously. A very bad signal. Not natural at all to do this. Or otherwise you just waste the power of the links that don’t point to the homepage. So for redirect obviously the best domains are the ones that have most links pointing to the homepage.

Church to Casino Redirect

Generally, casino is a very spammy niche. It’s similar to payday loans, adult and other niches where everyone does it very greyhat. So Google just has given up so to speak on trying to enforce their whitehat guidelines on niches where as an affiliate you can make millions a month.

Obviously when it’s that competitive no one listens to Google about how things should be done. Casino has maybe things a bit loose on the controls by Google about what works and what not.

I’m sure that still there’s a lot of randomness and the key to do it is to have many websites and do many different things and some will work for sure. You won’t get zero out of it. But if you have one website, you know, unlucky, you can get zero. Because it’s the roll of the dice at some level with Google. If you do it greyhat of course. If you do it whitehead, still a roll of the dice but not so much.

The more blackhat you do it the more random it is. And still there are some people who are using GSA and other very outdated blackhat stuff and getting results. How? It’s just because they’re doing it on a lot of websites and some get the dice right.

Future with SEO.domains

In the future we are as I said, we are starting a link rental network from expired domains with the wayback restore. We’ll have an affiliate, a better website. And we recently made a study of clients and tried to figure out how to improve our service. And the things we’ll try to is try to make our service more instant. So you pay and get the domain immediately. And because sometimes transfers are slow especially with some more complicated CCTLDs. Now we hired more support people and we’ll try to really improve on the delivery time. Right now it’s about within 24 hours but we will try to cut down to a few hours or even minutes if the TLDs are easier. Have a better support, have live chat, have a website where you can subscribe.

Let’s say you’re in the health niche and don’t do anything else and you want only health domains, then you can subscribe and get to email just starting health domains for example. This will be an improvement because a big problem with us is that the list is too big. So if you have 20,000 domains it’s hard to sort and filter for anything you need.

At SEO.domains, we have a system where you can filter but still it will be much easier if you can just tell what kind of domains you need and just get the new ones from this according to this filter delivered directly to your email.

And a lot of improvements are coming.

Also affiliate program. We are looking for resellers. We have already paid more than 60,000 dollars to resellers without having an affiliate program. So I guess it’s not that bad for our resellers. Actually one of our resellers got such a big client on board that he will have to register his company, he will have to get VAT registered in Bulgaria because the commissions will push his turnover above the limit for not being VAT registered.

So we have some resellers that are quite successful and there are a lot of domain buyers out there, we cannot reach them all. So if anyone wants to be a reseller really they should reach out to us. And even though we don’t have an affiliate program that works automatically yet, but we will in a month or so. But even without the problem, even just make one intro to one client which buys domains for a hundred thousand, because we do have some such buyers and we pay 15%. So this is quite good potential commissions.

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