If your plan, like me, is to make money online, there are many ways to do so. You could fill out surveys, you can become a freelance writer or an affiliate marketer… Or you could be an online “domain real estate investor” and make money with expired or online domains.
Domains, “dot coms” or others, are like pieces of land. You can buy them built (with a blog or other type of content on it) or brand new. You can build or rebuild on them. You can start fresh or build over the foundations let there by someone else. You can flip them, you can sell them or abandon them.
Once you buy a “dot com”, you become the owner of a “virtual piece of land”.
If you have targeted traffic, if your piece of land is “well located”, if it ranks high in Google for profitable keywords, then it’s probably worth a lot! Great domains can sell for billions (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Ebay etc…). Other great domains can sell for millions and good domains can be sold for several thousands or tens of thousands dollars. It all depends of the income they can generate… exactly like a rental property.
Here are some potentially interesting domains for sale at the auction right now. They all contain the keyword “finance”.
My blog here makes 20$ a month consistently. That’s not a lot. But, 20$ a month every month for the years to come is worth something somehow. With all the content on it, I could probably sell it for a good amount of money. But I won’t. A blog who consistently generates thousands of dollars per month can be sold for several thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars…
This means that a blog can become a business. Imagine how much money DividendMantra is worth?! Jason Fieber has built himself a great small business.
The purpose of this post is to explain you how to find, buy and how to make money with expired domains. Just a warning, I don’t claim to be an expert. This is pretty new for me but I’ve learned a lot already so I decided to share the knowledge with you guys.
Why buy an expired domain
I guess that you now already have a better view… If a domain is a piece of virtual real estate with potential income, then it could be worth it to buy one because you would buy potential passive income.
There are millions of bloggers out there reaching out in their community, building links and content, trying to become popular or to make money. Some do, most don’t. Some could do a lot of money but they don’t even know that they are sitting on a goldmine… and they don’t know how to monetize it.
Most bloggers eventually let their blog expire because it’s not fun anymore, because they want to spend their time at doing something else or for whatever other reasons.
They leave, but their work stay. The backlinks stay, the authority of their blog stays, their ability to rank in Google for keywords stays and most of their content stays too (but it is still protected by copyrights even though some people steal it from the web archive – at least that’s what I believe but I’m not a copyright expert).
Armed with that knowledge I guess that you understand that it’s a shame to let all that work die for nothing… and a lot of smart people out there have understood that a long time ago.
Go take a look at Godaddy auctions. Once a domain expires, it can be sold there for thousands… and if no one offers anything for it, it can slip in the cracks and become available for 10$ for anyone willing to register it. The authority and the backlinks are still pointing to the domain…. which means that you can build a new site on it and get instant authority, instant traffic and this will also help you to rank more easily in Google for targeted keywords.
But, there are risks involved. The domain could be de-indexed, it can lose its authority and it can lose its backlinks too… But if it doesn’t, you get a net advantage over buying a brand new dot com and starting from zero.
I’ll explain the metrics in more depth later in the post, but to give you an idea, it took me a year to get a Google page rank of 0 out of 10… wow lol a page authority of 32/100 and a domain authority of 23/100 with 50 different domains linking to my blog. My blog is not a very authoritative blog at all but I do get a decent amount of consistent traffic with these metrics and I can rank for a couple of keywords in Google. The higher the better for these metrics.
Last week, I bought a domain with a Google page rank of 3/10, 172 different domains linking to it, a page authority of 39/100 and a domain authority of 28/100 for approximately 175$ Canadians. I probably paid too much but hey it can take years to create that kind of metrics by yourself naturally. It already made me about 7$ in ads income with 3 posts and 3 regular ads on it in about 5 days.
This website was a blog and I won’t resuscitate its content because I didn’t pay for the content and I think it would be disrespectful to use it. It can be found on the web archive though. But I paid for the authority of the site and I’ll build on it and create new content. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep most of the links and of the authority. Maybe I won’t… it’s part of the game. To be honest I’ve already lost 13 links because of a stupid mistake I made. I have activated the Jetpack plugin and my new posts were sent to the list of the previous owner… Jetpack seems to keep the list on its server… Weird… I guess some of those realized that I wasn’t the same person and deleted their backlink… who knows!
When you try your hands at making money in a new venture, you’ll make mistake. And, like with investing in the stock market, mistakes can be costly! If I lose all the backlinks, I’ll end up with a worthless domain. If I keep them, I can generate money almost without doing anything else than owning the asset and do some maintenance.
I bought this domain for its ability to rank more easily in Google for targeted keywords. I will build useful content for internet users and I hope to get clicks on my ads in return in order to “get paid” for my “work”. That’s why I bought that domain in the first place.
But, I can also link to one of my other site in a related niche. They authority of this site will boost the authority of my other site. A backlink boosts the “value” of a site and help it rank for keywords in search engines. So, this expired domain will serve me for those two purposes.
How to find expired domains
It’s not easy and it can become quite time consuming. It’s like digging to find gold. The guy who sells the shovels will make more money than you without a lot of work but if you find a diamond in the rock you can leverage you business and boost your income too.
The easiest and most expensive way
The easiest way to find an expired domain is to screen the domains with online tools such as the www.expireddomains.net screener. He’s the guy selling the shovels to the gold diggers. This guy must make tons of money. He lets you screen through expired domains and when one interests you, you can click on it to be directed to one of his affiliate networks, usually Godaddy. If you buy the domain, he gets a cut!
Anyhow, this tool is pretty good and can save you a lot of time. It will give you the most useful metrics (they are not always up to date though) and you can customize your search criteria to filter the dust in the search of a diamond.
Simply type a keyword, press “search” and get all the expired domains containing your keyword. If you want to filter them out with more strict criteria, just go below the search bar and click on “filter”. You’ll get hundreds of filters. I usually choose :
no fake PR
PR > 2
Number of backlinks : minimum 1
PA > 25
Another screen thag you could perform to make sure to find available domains is to filter with these options :
– only available domains
– number of backlinks : 100
– only new last seven days
One hundred backlinks to a static front page should be far then enough to rank for a low to medium competition long tail keyword based on what I’ve learned from many SEO experts. But, I didn’t test it yet…
Another tool to let your perform similar tasks is the Moonsy tool. They will provide you with all the domains that will expire within 72 hours with tons of metrics to filter them. Simply click on the desired metric and the table will sort the data. I like to use the MOZ DA (domain authority). The higher = the better! Look at “laptopinvestor.com”. Its current price is 10$, it has a Google pagerank of 2, a Moz rank of 4.8 which is pretty good, a domain authority of 42, 3260 backlinks… It’s too good to be true… And it is in fact too good to be true. The links all look spammy after a simple check. I’ll show you how to do it later.
Once you have found an interesting domain, you can register it from your favorite provider if it’s expired. It should cost you something like 10$ for a year and I highly suggest you pay to protect your identity which usually costs another 10$ for the year. Or, if it’s for sale at the Godaddy auctions, you can register with Godaddy (7$ per year) and place your bid. Some are buy it now!
You might be lucky and get an inexpensive quality domain that way, but you’ll need a lot of luck. That’s how I bought my first expired domain. I tried to buy others at the auction, but the price was flying too high for me so I was outbided. There is a lot of competition for great expired domains… but that’s a way to do it.
If you don’t value you time – here’s the inexpensive method
You can decide to do it the hard way and I honestly tried this method for hours and hours until my girlfriend almost killed me. That’s when I have decided to pay for an expired domain at the auction lol Seriously, a divorce would cost me more than 175$!
I suspect that this method is outdated and that brighter guys than me with super computers are scavenging the web with highly customized spiders in the search of diamonds in the rock. Doing it manually is kind of a loss of time but I’ll show you how to do it and you might be luckier than me at trying this method by yourself.
First, you’ll need to think about the niche you want to target. Because, it’s always better to buy an expired domain in the niche you want to be. You could definitely register a domain such as “www.homemadepizza.com” talk about dividend growth investing but if the link are unrelated to the subject and if the “dot com” is unrelated to the subject, you won’t rank as well in the search engines. Find a domain related to your niche.
Second, you’ll need to make a list of about 100 url in your niche. Choose the most authoritative website and get their blog roll url, resources page url, links page url and paste them one url per line into notepad.
For example, in the dividend growth niche, you could include my blogroll page, dividendmantra’s blogroll page, DivHut’s blogroll page and so on…
Then, you’ll need Xenu link Sleuth. You can download it here.
Xenu link sleuth is basically a spider. It will follow the links and follow the link of the links and the links of the links of the links and will then make a report.
Your goal is to find broken links. Broken links might be expired domains and if authoritative websites still link to it then these domains keep the authority given by the links!!!
You’ll be interested in domains being reported with the error “no such host”. These are unregistered domains.
Once Xenu is done with the search (it might take hours), you can export the results in CSV format and import them into Excel to filter them out.
Just keep the “no such host” domains, clean the url to only keep the root (take off the http:// and everything after the “.com”) and go to namecheap to bulk check your list to make sure they are available.
Keep only available ones for further verification.
What to look for – the important metrics to rank
If you want your keyword to rank in Google, you’ll need a website with a good “authority”. There are many metrics that you can verify and none of them is enough alone to make a decision. It is always better to verify several metrics and see strength everywhere.
You can use this free tool to quickly verify the metrics : check page rank.
I’ll share with you my favorite metrics. I’m not an SEO expert, so remember that I’m just an amateur trying to figuring out how to make money on the web. Don’t spend your hard-earned money only based on my explanations.
PR – Google Page Rank
My comprehension is that this metric is overrated. But, most SEO experts on the web seem to say that they prefer to get a high PR website anyway over a low PR website. A PR of 3 or more is usually a good enough website to consider.
PA – Moz page authority
Again, the higher the better. When looking at your keyword competition, you should always check the metrics of the first ten results in Google. if your website has higher metrics, it should usually be able to beat them and eventually rank in the first place.
I usually seek for expired domains with a PA of at least 25 but anything above 35 or 40 is better.
DA – Moz domain authority
Same as the page authority metric, the higher the better. But, based on my understandings, PA authority is more important than Domain authority. Domain authority will help you rank but it won’t have the same impact. I’m sorry if I don’t explain it clearly, I’m honestly not quite sure about how important this metric is but usually, anything over 25 is to be considered.
The number of backlinks is important, but the quality is much more important. If you get backlinks from .edu or .gov websites, your authority might jump a lot higher than if you get 100 backlinks from 2.0 websites.
Make sure to look at the number but also at the quality and check for spammy websites. Any backlinks pointing to “ugg boots” and “cheap luis vuitton bags” are to be avoided. Any chinese spammy website links should be avoided too.
Remember the “laptopinvestor.com” expired domain that we found with great metrics? A quick check on the Moz open site explorer tool revealed that :
The metrics are great, a domain authority of 42, a page authority of 52, tons of links, but look at the links… You see the chinese writing and the spammy link anchor text “ray ban outlet”?
This is a website to avoid. It will be penalized by search engine for spammy link profile. So that’s why it’s for sale at 10$ only. A true website with that kind of metrics should have sold for several hundreds and maybe more.
The final check is to go to the web archive and check what the website looked like before it expired. If you see Chinese writing or poorly designed affiliate marketer’s template, avoid to buy the domain. A great domain should have hosted a true website made by a blogger or by an organization or a company.
What to do with your expired domain?
You found a great domain for 10$! Wow lucky you! You could try to flip it for profit at the auction. Register a Godaddy account and list it for sale. Or, build a website on it and sell it on Flippa.
Many people around the world are making a living that way. It can be very profitable.
Create a PBN
A PBN is a private blog network. People creating PBNs are usually internet affiliate marketer. They buy high PR websites and use them to link to their “money site”. Remember that getting a link from an authoritative website automatically boosts your own ranking. Now imagine if you could own 20 high PR websites and link to your money site. You’d get 20 quality backlink to boost your ranking in the search engine and increase your traffic.
You could also sell backlinks!
Note that these techniques are considered like “black hat SEO” by search engine owners because they are made to cheat and trick the search engines into thinking that your site is more popular than it really is.
Search engines do not encourage people to build backlinks by themselves. Backlinks should become naturally…
But cheaters often make a lot of money… Until they get banned.
Some are using these expired domains to pass their authority to their money site. Instead of building a site on the expired domain, they simply redirect the traffic to their money site with a 301 redirect. It seems that the authority is automatically passed to the money site. (I called money site websites made to be monetized by either ads or affiliate links)
My favorite : build on someone else’s work
A blogger has put a lot of time and efforts to build an audience and quality posts but don’t feel like blogging anymore. He let his website die… Why not grab it and build on it. The audience is already there and you can provide useful information to entertain them! Do it! It’s better than starting from zero… because if you already did, you know that it’s tough to preach in the desert for months and months… only to see 1 or 2 person bounce on your site every now and then…
You can transform that new website into a money site and monetize it with affiliate links or ads. It’s up to you.
Other useful posts on the subject :
Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net