In the digital age, SEO has become an essential part of any successful website strategy. One way to improve your site’s rank on Google is by purchasing a domain that has been around for a while.
Known as “aged domains,” these sites (not all of them) may already come highly ranked on Google and can help you boost your website’s visibility.
What Is An Aged Domain?
An aged domain is a domain that has been around for quite some time but has been dropped or expired with the previous owner not renewing it, and another type where the aged domain didn’t drop, but it’s put as pre-release on auction services slightly before deletion/dropping.
This type of aged domain is called non-dropped, where the domain is not re-registered, but just changed the owner.
They provide an advantage in SEO because of the history and trust that comes with them, unlike newly created ones also called “empty domains”.
Entrepreneurs can gain a competitive advantage by using aged domains or purchasing aged domains to use as their own.
This post will give you the reasons why aged domains are far better than purchasing a brand new domain.
But first, I want to share in more detail some of the key benefits it has to your SEO strategy when trying to rank your niche authority site.
What Are The SEO Benefits Of An Aged Domain?
Aged or expired domains come with varying degrees of domain history.
To understand the benefits they offer to a website’s SEO strategy, let’s take a look at exactly what factors search engines look for:
1. Domain Age Is A Ranking Factor
Since Google’s Penguin update, domain age has become an important ranking factor.
With a higher age, the site can be seen as more trusted by search engines and ranked higher than a brand new website.
Older domains also often have a higher PageRank than fresh domains which can help boost your rank in Google search engine rankings further.
2. They Have A Pre-existing Backlink Profile
Additionally, one of the benefits of building on an older domain is that it may already have lots of powerful links pointing to it that can often be very to replicate. High quality backlinks like HARO are pretty difficult (and expensive!) to build. If you are getting an aged domain with similar links, you are saving tons of money, time, and resources on building links.
If you can find aged domains with at least a few solid linking root domains, this is far more interesting than one with 0 or a large number of low-quality backlinks.
3. They Already Have Domain Authority
Another benefit of using an aged domain is that it may come with a high domain authority which demonstrates trust from Google.
Many sites that rank high on Google have been created years and even decades ago.
One of the reasons that an aged domain typically comes with a high domain authority is because it’s been around for a long time.
This in turn means that people have interacted with and trusted the site for a while which can then translate to increased trust from Google.
The longer that you’re on the web, the more links your website may accumulate and the higher your domain authority will be.
But just because an aged domain comes with high domain authority doesn’t mean it’ll rank well for every search term for which you might be trying to rank. It’s also about making sure there is topical relevance.
4. Google May Still Be Indexing Them
It’s also possible that a site’s pages could still be indexed by other search engines, giving the aged domain some pre-existing page authority.
If you can find aged domains like this, it may be possible to buy them and then either direct links back to your site (via 301 redirects) or replace the pages with fresh content that is topically relevant for an instant boost in search engine rankings.
Key takeaway: All of the reasons above combined means you can get a substantial head start on launching a niche site and avoid the so-called Google “Sandbox“.
A brand new site can experience the “Sandbox” period for around 6-9 months (depending on how competitive the niche is) before seeing any kind of results.
How Do I Know If A Domain Is Aged?
A good aged domain can be any number of years.
Domain age has no specific time requirement; it’s simply determined by how long ago it was registered by the domain registrar.
A simple lookup on WHOIS and Wayback machine should tell you.
What Is Considered A Good Domain Authority Score?
When finding aged domains, it’s important you’re evaluating several key SEO metrics.
For example, you want to make sure they have a good organic link profile.
A domain authority score from Moz is one measure of this – it helps indicate the aged domain’s potential for success in search engine rankings.
Moz’s Domain Authority metric ranges from 0-100 with 100 being the best possible score.
This will give an initial idea of a domain name’s previous ranking power.
Other tools like Ahrefs’ domain rank is also a good measure.
However, another key indicator is the number of high-quality links pointed to it.
Where To Buy Aged Domains?
You can bid on aged domains at domain auctions.
One drawback is that auction bidding wars are common, which may end up costing you more than the aged domain’s worth in fees and commissions if your offer isn’t accepted.
But when it comes to buying expired domains, here are a few recommendations:
1. Snap Names
SnapNames allows you to buy an expired domain through auction, backorders, or make an offer. You can also monitor the domain and make a bidding offer.
The SnapNames’ Domain Marketplace is the most efficient way to secure domains through auctions as well as target domains with a search-and-buy feature.
Dropcatch is a domain name auction site that focuses specifically on aged domains. With over 22,000 domains listed for auction from various sources, you have a high chance of finding an aged domain name on this website.
To find high-quality aged domains on Dropcatch, you can search through the Aged Domains list, which includes domains that have been registered for over 7 years and still haven’t been re-registered.
Dropcatch allows you to filter by TLD, keyword, and renewal status. It also allows you to sort the list of aged domains based on price.
Dropcatch’s website will give you a good idea of how much the domain name is. But for the most part, existing domains go through an auction process that makes buying expired domains relatively simple.
3. GoDaddy Auctions
On GoDaddy Auctions, you can find a wide variety of domains for sale. To buy an expired domain from this site:
- Search the domain you want in the search bar.
- Click on ‘Buy Now’ to make your offer.
- Accepted offers are binding and non-cancellable, so make sure it’s the right domain before making your offer.
- You’ll be contacted by the seller and given a deposit instruction to complete the purchase.
- Once you’ve paid the seller, they will transfer the domain to your registrar.
Domains on GoDaddy Auctions are sold via an auction process, with competing offers accepted from the highest bidder until the time runs out or there’s a single successful offer.
For example, if I was willing to pay $300 for an expired domain called “SEOFury.com” and the next highest bidder was willing to pay $280, then that means I would buy SEOFury for $300. To bid on domains on this platform, you’ll need a GoDaddy account.
Namejet is also a domain name auction site. You can find aged domains with this website as well, including domains that are over 7 years old.
Namejet, like Dropcatch and GoDaddy Auctions, will require you to set up an account and pay a small fee on top of the domain price.
In terms of pricing, your cheapest option would be to bid on the domain rather than make a cash offer. It’s also worth noting that any successful bids made on NameJet require you to wire a deposit into the seller’s bank account.
In other words, you’ll need a verified NameJet account with funds deposited in your trading account, which will then be withdrawn and wired to the seller when the sale is complete.
5. SEDO Auctions
Sedo Auctions is another place where you can buy expired domains (or domains that expired the day before).
Like GoDaddy Auctions, expired domains on Sedo are sold via an auction process with competing offers accepted from the highest bidder until the time runs out or there’s a single successful offer.
For example, if I was willing to pay $300 for an expired domain.
While many sellers often sell domains off-platform, SEDO fails to update listings. This can lead to buyers wasting time and asking for refunds.
What Are The Risks With Aged Domains?
Like with any strategy, having just any aged or expired domains doesn’t necessarily guarantee SEO success. It’s important to understand the various risks associated. Here are just some to be aware of when searching:
1. Google May Have Penalized Them
Think about it. There are few reasons why a domain can expire, one of them being that it might have been slapped with a manual penalty.
Building a new website on an expired domain that has previously been penalized will almost guarantee this strategy won’t work.
Key takeaway: Make sure you diligently check if an expired or aged domain has been thrown into the Google lion pit.
If I want to find out if a domain has been penalized by Google, I need to search for the domain in Google’s database of banned domains and see if it’s listed there. There are various methods to this which we will cover in another guide.
2. Not All Backlink Profiles Are Good
Backlinks are a key ranking signal for search engines. You should be wary of any backlink profile that is anything but pristine. If the expired domain has a bad backlink profile (i.e. domains with unnatural links), it could limit your ability to rank in search results. Backlinks that originate from spammy websites are likely to harm your ranking potential.
Key takeaway: If you buy an expired domain, make sure the domain has plenty of high authority links pointing to it with exact match anchor text.
3. Previously Used As A Private Blog Network (PBN)
PBNs are blackhat in nature when it comes to link building. If there are links with spammy anchor text, this may indicate that the site was used as a PBN by the previous owner.
So making sure an expired domain hasn’t been used for such purposes will reduce your risk of potential issues.
Key takeaway: If you buy an expired domain, make sure the links pointing to it are all relevant and rank naturally. Spend time checking the backlinks of a potential domain with Ahrefs for example.
4. Lack Of Topical Relevance
Google is well aware of people using aged domains as part of their SEO strategy. New sites built on aged domains may experience a decline during Google updates if they haven’t been implemented correctly.
That’s not to say Google will punish you for using one. After all, there are many legitimate reasons for using expired domains like reviving an old site or when a company has rebranded to a new domain and are looking to transfer over all of that link juice.
Key takeaway: Make sure your keyword usage is on point and you’re publishing content that closely matches the topics that were previously covered by the expired domain. As long as you do this, the risk of getting hit by Google will be minimised.
Things To Look For When Evaluating Aged Domains?
Now that we’ve covered the risks associated, let’s take a deeper dive into the most important process of sourcing aged or expired domains – due diligence. Follow these crucial steps and use them as your simple checklist:
- Domain registration length (i.e. the domain age) by running a WHOIS lookup
- What the previous site’s architecture was like (ideally look for sites with SEO-credible permalink structures) using Archive.org’s Wayback machine
- Look back historically on the previous site’s ranking using SEO tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush
- Using the SEO tools mentioned above, identify the domains authority scores, trust flow, and citation flows
- Evaluate the old site’s keyword usage (i.e. look for certain keywords targeting your specific niche)
- Look for strong page authority you can leverage further with internal links
- Evaluate the backlink profile (i.e. look at the quality of sites linking back to the same domain)
- Determine whether the domain has gone through any manual Google penalties
- Is the domain brandable?
Key takeaway: The aim of the game is to identify brandable premium aged domains that tick all of the boxes. In other words, closely scrutinize each expired domain using the criteria listed above until you find a handful that you feel confident enough to leverage.
How Much Do Expired Or Aged Domains Cost?
This is the million-dollar question. Expired or aged domains tend to cost anything between $5 and thousands of dollars – sometimes even dozens of thousands of dollars!
It depends on the domain’s history, popularity, quality, and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
Due to its competitive nature, expired domains are sometimes sold via auctions.
Auctions can be a great source of domains for many reasons, but the downside is that you have to bid against other people who are willing to pay higher than your maximum offer.
The highest price I’ve personally seen paid for an expired domain was $4,000.
When asked why he was willing to pay such a high price, the buyer said it was because the domain had a high domain authority (a measure of importance) compared to other expired domains in the same niche.
Key takeaway: Think carefully about how much you’re willing to pay for an expired or aged domain before buying it. The amount you should be willing to pay will depend on several factors, such as the domain’s age and popularity.
Best Places We Recommend To Find Aged Domains For Niche Sites?
There are plenty of places where you can buy expired domains. Some examples are:
1. ODYS Global
ODYS Global is a vetted marketplace consisting of premium quality expired domains with SEO juice by providing affiliate marketers with the best aged domains on the market.
2. SERP Domains
A direct competitor of ODYS, SERP Domains is another useful pre-vetted marketplace that is popular with affiliate marketers.
Except they also include detailed reports on each of the aged domains they curate saving you time searching for one that fits your criteria.
3. Alpha Investors: a DFY SEO agency (Recommended)
Going one step further than private marketplaces, Alpha Investors specializes in helping entrepreneurs launch their niche authority sites on aged domains.
They do this by combining the aged domain research with our niche and keyword research which we then bundle with a full build-out of an entire content site with over 100,000 words of highly relevant SEO-driven content.
How To Leverage Aged Domains
There are three ways you can leverage aged domains that we recommend:
- Build out a topically relevant content site on it the aged domain, or;
- Use 301 redirects to pass link juice from an aged domain to a new domain
- Migrate a site from a new domain to an Aged Domain
Let’s go through all three options and what jobs need to be done to achieve results.
1. How To Build A Niche Site On Aged Domains
- Find a niche
- Keyword research
- Search for Aged Domains
- Plan your content strategy
- Set up hosting & content management system (i.e. WordPress)
- Set up Google Search Console
- Write, edit & publish informational content
- Monitor your site’s SEO performance and regularly check search engine results pages
- Publish commercial content & start monetizing
2. How To Migrate From An Aged Domain To Fresh Domain
- Search for Aged Domains in Your Niche
- Check backlinks and detect pages they are pointing to
- Add aged domain to your hosting service
- Install WordPress on an aged domain
- Set up 301 Redirects of related content from old site to new site using .htaccess
- Set up 301 Redirects of branded anchor texts from the old site to the homepage
- Don’t forget to set up HTTP/HTTPS and ‘www’ redirect if necessary
- Set up Google Analytics and Search Console
- Once redirect is in place, make sure to test if it’s working
Wait until everything settles, and regularly monitor your site’s SEO performance with Search Console and Google Analytics and enjoy improved site ranks and organic traffic.
3. How To Migrate A Site From A Fresh Domain To An Aged Domain
- Install content management system (i.e. WordPress) on the aged domain
- Set up the aged domain on Google Search Console
- Backup the website on the fresh domain using a migration plugin
- Upload the backup into the aged domain
- Setup .htaccess wildcard 301 redirect
- Migrate the site in Google Search Console
- Install a redirection plugin in the aged domain
- Redirect specific pages with backlinks from the aged domain to existing articles within the site
Well, there you have it – Time to say goodbye to new domains!
Aged domains can provide a good opportunity for new website owners to rank their websites on Google’s search results. However, you must take into account the risks associated with using an aged domain before embarking on this path.
This article has outlined things to look out for with a simple set of due diligence tips as well as three ways to leverage aged domains in your SEO strategy: building out a niche affiliate site, migrating from a fresh domain and leveraging 301 expired domain redirects.
Which approach are you going to use? Let us know! We’re always happy to help business owners understand how they should go about executing their marketing strategies so that they get better results than ever before.