When live demonstrations of the power of Expired Domains leaked and got out in the SEO community at large, it resulted in a mad frenzy none other than like the gold rush, as SEOs who understood their power - started cashing in for the first time in many years after Google had struck with Panda, Penguin and RankBrain.
Getting the right Expired Domains for your Private Blog Network is still a goldmine for achieving some amazing SEO rankings.
There's a ton of different ways in which you can acquire domains, and Expired Domains is just one of them. You can build your PBN with domains that you acquire through various methods, such as...
Of all the methods of acquiring domains purely for SEO rankings - Expired Domains are the cheapest of the options given their price compared to their effectiveness. Finding the right Expired Domains and then setting them up properly - can help give you some amazing SEO link juice down to your money sites, helping them rank easily.
There are a variety of tools and methods that you can use for "mining" Expired Domains. Over the years, I have perfected a couple of methods that work very well, and I'd love to share them with you.
So, let get started...
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As a very first step you need to identify the niche in which you want to find the expired domain. For example, if you have a client who has Legal site in the Law niche, then we can look for expired domains of lawyers.
These domains could have expired recently or a long time ago.
The date of expiry of a domain that has expired is not really that important, as is its backlinks profile. This is because the domain has expired (and gone into "dropped" status at the registrar and therefore its any authority in the eyes of Google - due to its age is nullified.
However, some people will argue that the older the date of initial registration of the expired domain the better it is for acquiring. This is because they're trying to sell you on the age instead of the link juice power coming into the domain. Beware of scams like this.
While looking at an expired domain - we should NOT be looking at their age, but rather we need to look for a ton of other factors that determine the power of the expired domain.
We will get to these analytical factors later, and the purpose of this section is to learn ow to efficiently find these domains in the first place.
While there are many specialized tools available for finding these expired domains that are specific to a niche, the tools themselves are worthless if you don’t know how to use them best and many of them won’t really find domain with much meat.
Of course, you will need to manually analyze the expired domains in detail once you mine them, so if you do want to save a lot of effort in the analysis stage - you need to ensure that you mine the correct domains in the first place!
Finding 200 expired domains does not mean a thing, if you find a couple of good ones after your analysis - as compared to if you find 20 expired domains from which you find a handful of good expired domains.
That's because, you’ve essentially manually analyzed 1/10th the number of expired domains that you shortlisted and found twice as many potential domains to register. That has saved you a TON of time and effort.
That is why identifying the right expired domains early on in the "domain mining phase" is so very essential.
And, it’s not easy by any means, but if you really use some of the sniper techniques and tools that I will show you… you are well on your way to find some gems in quick time while others are hunting for food in the wrong places!
There’s a ton of tools and methods to find expired domains... Web based tools, Desktop Tools, Marketplaces, Private Database Lists, Open Database Lists which list all Domains dropping by time, Facebook Groups, Forums etc.
What we really want is a tool that can find niche specific domains. The more sniper and narrow the approach – the better it is for finding powerful niche domains for our SEO.
Note: Expired Domains can have relevance (that is they are niche specific) or power (that is they are not from the same niche as your money site but they have some good authority backlinks coming to them.
Some of the tools and sites allow you to do wildcard searches for keywords that exist within the domain name (which essentially allows you to find niche specific domains), while others just bring up expired domains based on a ton of various filters and factors, while others monitor freshly expiring domains with their metrics (which mean that the powerful ones go into an auction or the domain is generally not in your niche), or some live crawler tools that you run on your PC or VPS (remote windows machine), and then there are some backend crawlers that do the crawling for you based on their backend infrastructure and the keywords or seeds sites that you put in.
You can also use some of the site analysis tools like Ahrefs etc. to find potential expired domains with links from the top sites.
You need to understand the primary methods and strategies that we will use in order to understand what is happening exactly in each of them - since this is such an important phase of the whole process.
Of course you can simply purchase expired domains from some of the brokers out there – but I would not advise this, as firstly you could get scammed and secondly you could be forking out a ton of money. If you understand how they're found - you will understand what metrics to look out for, if you do decide to purchase them from a domain reseller.
Also, once you become an expert, you can list your own found domain gems for sale at high prices!
Also, once you become an expert, you can list your own found domain gems for sale at high prices!
Lets now go over the logic and understanding of what we are trying to achieve.
When we’re looking for an expired domain, we’re essentially looking for domains that have a healthy profile of live inbound links from other domains that are also healthy and have authority.
We also need to ensure that the expired domain itself does not have any spam content on it in the past, and it had real content.
So, these are the primary factors that we want essentially, in an expired domain...
Now that I have explained essentially the different systems that exists to find expired domains, I will talk about the tools and methods that I use that I have found to be most effective.
The others are just a distraction and basically lack something that is essential in finding good niche expired domains.
So, lets pan back a bit and go back a few years and see what the web looked like back in around 1998 when things were just bubbling up and Google was just coming around and was using only the PageRank factor to rank sites.
Essentially, there were many sites linking to one another using simple resource lists.
There were people who would run resource and review pages that linked to the top sites in the same niche that their website was about. People would fanatically maintain resources of lists of best sites (link lists) in their niche.
There were also people and big news sites that would write articles about other amazing sites in their niche (just like today).
Then after a few years the blogging phenomena exploded. With the advent of Web2.0 and social media it became easier to write and publish content and link to one another.
With the birth of Web2.0 anyone could publish content online without having to setup their own site and get hosting, by just setting up their profile on social media content sites and blogging on them.
Forums in every niche were abuzz with chatter and links to top sites or new sites in the niche. And, we need to take advantage of this era.
Again, here’s the type of site we’re trying to mine...
An Expired Domain that has multiple other top sites linking to it in the same niche... back several years in the past. And, these links are not spam links and the domain itself never had spam content.
So here’s what we need to do to find this type of site (I’ll get to the tools and detailed process in a bit).
Our first step is to identify sites that were ranking high in Google several years in the past for top keywords in our niche.
Once we have the list of these top ranking sites for that time period, we need to crawl each of these sites that are still alive and check each of their live backlinks.
We’re doing this to find backlinks that are essentially still alive, but whilst crawling they don’t reach the destination site because the destination site is down for some reason. (The error code for this is “12007” or “no such host”). This means the domain name is not hosted on any IP address currently, and the site could not be found. We'll get into where we use this in a bit.
As a next step, we then take the entire list of these domains that are offline and check which of them are Expired Domains available for registration.
Once we filter out the domains that are available for registration we start analyzing each of them manually to see the potential each of them have to pass down link juice power.
In our analysis we check the backlink profile, the strength of the top backlinks, the historical content on the domain, how many times it was dropped in the past, certain metrics from tools such as majestic like TF and CF and make sure it meets our set criteria.
We then shortlist the domains that meet our criteria, and proceed to the final step.
Once we've identified the expired domain, we proceed with domain registration as quickly as we can (because finding gems is not easy, and someone else could snap it up if we delay the registration process).
Here’s my method of finding Expired Domains in ANY Niche. Its very important to remember that finding good Expired Domains starts with having a good seed list of sites in that niche.
You will be able to find expired domains easily with a good seed list. Without a good seed list, you are basically going to waste a lot of time and resources.
What is a Seed List?
A seed list is a set of domains that are ranking well with good metrics – and that have outbound links pointing to an expired domain in the same niche that is available for registration!
Here’s the tools I use to find expired domains in any niche that I choose.
I basically use…
You should typically run these on a remote Windows VPS box to get fastest results and speed. To get a detailed walk through with a step by step explanation I will release some of my videos shortly of how I go about doing this.
For the next section of my post, I assume you know how to operate Scrapebox at a basic level. If not, you can check out some great Scrapebox tutorials on Youtube here.
So, here's how I go about my method to find a seed list of expired domains in my niche that I can then put into the analysis stage.
As my first step - I am looking to run Scrapebox to find all the top results for a particular keyword in a date range in the past, that are mostly pages that contain a list of links or are resource pages.
There are 3 components to our search query string here, that we need to define…
Let’s review each of these in detail...
Lets stick with broad keywords / phrases for now. Finding the Broad Keywords / phrases in your niche is pretty easy. Take your top keywords in your niche.
So, for example if I were in legal niche and I was looking for lawyer / legal / law websites I could start with some broad keywords that are high search terms with good volume and then later on narrow down in my subsequent search efforts using scrapebox.
So, lets suppose I have chosen the following keywords from my niche –
Defining a Date Range
Now, I will need to define a date range to get historical search results back from google via Scrapebox scrape and search. This may look complex but it is pretty easy.
Eventually, we need a date range because we want to use Scrapebox to give us search results from Google during that date range.
As an example… the date range I want to use for now can be say top results from 1997 to 2005.
If I was to use the regular Google Search string then this can be input in the search URL at the end of the URL parameter like this..
As an example… for 2013-2014 we will use...
However, there is a better and easier method…
For that we simply use Google search parameter “daterange:”
The format for daterange search in Google is …
The xxx and yyy and seven digit numbers that are called “Julian Dates”. This is just a simple conversion of our regular day to day calendar that we use (called Gregorian calendar).
So we need to convert our regular Calendar years (which are called Gregorian calendar dates) into something called a Julian date number.
Then, we simply take the dates (the range), and insert it into our google search parameter called “daterange:”as above.
To help us do the conversion, we need a Julian date converter.
So, as a next step go to any of these pages which have a Julian Date Converter.
> Julian Date Calculator (simpler and preferred by me)
Here’s an Example…
As an example, I enter 1997 January 1st and choose to convert from Gregorian (we use this day to day) to Julian (we need this for the Google search via scrapebox) and I get the number before the decimal space only.
So in this case I grab – 2450449
This is my start date.
Next I want the end date for the daterange: operator in Google. So I enter 2000 and again convert from Gregorian to Julian.
I get… 2451544
So my Google daterange: parameter looks like this…
OK, so now that I have my 2 date ranges, that will go into my google search string and my keywords, I now need a set of phrases that will return mostly pages with list of links.
Pages that are links, resource pages, directories etc.
This is simple and you can simply use these keywords to include in your search. They will help you find only mostly resource pages, which is what we need to find.
As search with the date range, resource type and our primary keywords will give you pages of entire sets of resource links collected by sites that were ranking well in Google.
The keywords that will thus go into our search criteria for various combinations are - links, resources, websites, partners, list, directory, blogs.
You can add a different set of such keywords depending on what types of pages you are looking to find. However, this is a pretty good set and will help you get most of your hunting done.
Combining the above 3 parameters to form our Search Query for Google
So now, that we have our 3 search parameters all done and ready, lets see some example search queries in google with all the above parameters…
law links daterange:2450449-2451544
law resources daterange:2450449-2451544
legal blogs daterange:2450449-2451544
If you like, you can enter this into Google to see an example of the type of sites that show up on the top of the SERPs.
As a next step we simply need to automate a scrape that combines all the parameters above into a mass scrape that grabs 100 results at a time for us.
If you need to get more aggressive you could scrape only say the top 20. This will effectively give you lesser sites but the link juice that is being powered through these sites to the potential expired domains will be very high as these sites are ranking on the top of the SERPs and thus we are only catching sites that are getting link juice from high powered pages.
Naturally, these sites would be fewer in number but would be sites with potentially more juice flowing into them and then out to the expired domain.
The downside of using fewer SERP results is that you may end up getting a smaller list of seed sites that you put into the crawler.
So, now that we have a list of sites, we need to start crawling them one by one and finding the OBLs that return a “host not found” result. These will be our potential targets expired domains to purchase.
So as a next we take these SERP results (pages) and feed them into a crawler as a seed list to crawl and find for us the OBLs that return “host not found” message.
This message is returned for links going to domains that don’t resolve to an IP address. And that can happen if the hosting is not setup, if the domain is down or if the domain is expired.
And, this last option is what we are looking for.
We can find if the domain is expired by simply running Scrapebox Domain Check Extension to check the whois or Namechex tool.
So lets go back to the step of feeding our SERP results of top pages returned with links. We need to have each of these SERP pages crawled by a crawler.
Below are some desktop crawlers that I recommend...
You can find it here. Its great but has some limitations specifically in giving you metrics for each domain your find, and automating certain other crawl tasks. However, for the price there is no better tool IF you know how to use it for your requirement.
I highly recommend it as it will also check the DA for you and you can choose to only find high DA domains. You can also set it to crawl out to 2 levels. It also has the additional feature of checking the domain availability,
You may also use Domain Hunter Gatherer, that is recently becoming very popular.
We need to check which domains are available for registration from the full list of domains that returned the value “host not found” in crawl above using Xenu.
Once you have a list of expired domains, you need to now manually analyze each of them to see which are of high quality and will be worth purchasing for your PBN.
Make sure you filter out the TLDs you don’t need and that are not going to be available for you to register anyways.
For example you need to filter out all .edu domains and also domains with country specific extensions like .co.uk or .co.sg that require you to be a citizen of those countries in order to register them.
On the other hand you may choose to only keep .com .org and .net domains for your analysis – and that way everything else gets filtered out.
Personally, I tend to use only .org sites, as they generally are spam free and have better incoming link juice power and a cleaner backlink profile on the whole. I am in no way saying that other TLDs are not good, all I am saying is that your “hit rate” in finding gems tends to be higher with .org – but remember having only .org can be a huge footprint, so make sure you diversify!
You can use your seed lists to recursively find more expired domains. This is HUGE. It will allow you to uncover even more gems in your niche - fast!
Once you find an expired domain in your niche from your initial seed list – but you don’t register it because it had spammy content on it or if it does not meet your quality metrics, you can still use it to back-crawl and find more potential other expired domains in the same niche!
To do this, you simply download this expired domains entire backlink profile and use this backlink profile as your new seed list to again look for broken OBLs on these new seed sites.
The reasoning here, is that – if backlinks still exists on other sites for the initial Expired Domain you found – then those backlinks exist because the site on which they are has not been updated and managed well. Therefore, that site may still contains outbound links to other sites in the same niche that are also Expired Domains.
The chances are very high they will point to other expired domains – because they did point to one expired domain (the one you did not like) – and so these sites are probably not updated frequently and may be pointing to other gems in your niche.
And, to do this you can simply use a web crawler tool or a free desktop tool like Xenu to crawl all of the OBLs on each of these backlink pages and see if any of the OBLs return “no such host” so that you effectively start to mine more expired domains within this niche web of backlinks.
Once you get more expired domains this way, you can apply the logic once again to them, and this way you can keep hopping and going back recursively this way to uncover more and more expired domains. You get the point.
Here is an illustration of how this method looks if visualized...
This is a crucial step, and will help you save a ton of time and resources.
Up until now, we have only been able to identify available expired domains in the niche. Once you have your list of domains that your crawler identified and from which you have filtered out unwanted TLDs from - you then need to analyze each domain, in order to pick out the gems.
In the manual checking phase (that follows) - you have to take each domain individually and check its metrics using tools like Ahrefs, Majestic and Moz.
However, we want to be able to make sure that we minimize our effort in the manual checking phase – as that is the most tedious and the most critical part of the process.
The key here is that, we really don’t want to be wasting our time to manually check poor domains in the first place.
There are a few options for you to do this quickly and effectively and it will help you narrow down your list of options by automatically weeding out the domains with low quality metrics.
However, keep in mind that you may lose some decent domains while doing this. But, I find its worth doing this step as otherwise you have to check way too many domains that have poor metrics in the first place and that wastes a lot of time. Its not worth the trouble going through a list of 1000 domains, when really you could get almost the same end result of “potentials” by automatically filtering out 900 domains and just checking the top 100.
It is not uncommon to get huge lists of say 1000+ domains, 90% of which have poor metrics that we will not be interested in the first place.
All said, it will be very tedious for us to manually check all the 1000 domains and manually filter out the bad ones.
So, we need a shortcut system to go bulk check all the domains and filter out domains with poor metrics based on certain criteria we set for certain properties of the domains. This could be TrustFlow, CitationFlow, Domain Authority, Number of Backlinks etc.
Again, we want to avoid having to manually check these criteria using tools like Majestic, Ahrefs and Moz – when we can use an automated bulk checking tool to mass check all this data and import it into an excel sheet, where we can then simply filter out the domains that don’t meet our minimum set levels.
It would be a waste of time and effort to manually check say 900 domains out of 1000, when we can use a system to exclude them from the manual quality analysis, in the first place.
So, what we really want is a way to get some key critical metrics for all these domains using a bulk domain metrics checking tool (that I will list below) that gives us these metrics.
Once we have the metrics we can simply exclude and filter out the domains that don’t meet our set criteria.
By doing this we’ve saved ourselves a ton of time and effort as we skip low quality domains (usually 90% of the list) using an automated process.
So, the trick and shortcut here is to get an automated check done on each of these domains for some critical metrics.
You can then simply apply certain filters in excel and filter out the domains that don’t meet your criteria… such as those with CF/TF ratio more than 1.5 and/or TF less than 10.
Again – we are using a bulk checking tools to give us certain metrics, to quickly check metrics like the TF, CF, CF/TF ratio, DA, PR and number of backlinks – so that we can simply weed out domains that don’t meet certain set criteria – quickly using a spreadsheet filter. I’ll talk about some of these criteria in the accompanying videos.
To wrap up, what we are essentially doing is getting some of the critical metrics for all domains using a bulk checking tool and importing the data into excel, and then simply use excel filters to setup filters that are important to us and that set the criteria for filtering out domains which we don’t want to waste time analyzing in our manual domain analysis phase that follows next.
If you want to check Domain Metrics in bulk on the cheap you can use...
+ Link Profile Scanner of GSA (now discontinued - but was a gem while it was there)
Domain Hunter Gatherer and a few other tools may also display some neat metrics right into their dashboards, but they come with monthly subscription cost and API costs.
Now that you have your list of potential expired domains list, you need to do a manual analysis of each of them.
You are basically looking at the potential of each of the domains to rank sites in the niche based on certain metrics and checks (that we will talk about shortly).
This is a crucial step and needs a lot of practice. Initially it will be slow and you may find it takes a lot of time, but as you work more and more in this area, you will develop a good eye to weed out the spammy low quality domains from the potentially good domains in shorter time frames.
The more you practice the better you get and the faster you get at it. I’ve literally spent hours at this and because I am use to it, I can do it much faster than someone who is new at it.
To do this step, you will need a couple of tools to help you (sorry, there is no other way around it).
If you can’t afford these tools, look around and ask your friends in the SEO community. You absolutely need these tools to do a good domain link profile analysis. Without this you really cannot examine a domain to see how healthy it is.
Here’s is the process and the tools you need to analyze expired domains. I have also written about this in a section of my other post on Expired Domains here.
You will need preferably all 3 of these but if you can’t afford that, then just Majestic will be fine. With these tools you will be checking the backlinks of each expired domain and how healthy they are.
You will need to manually check and ask yourself things like –
· What are the metrics for the best / topmost links… PageRank, TF, DA?
· How real and genuine are these top pages with good metrics that are linking to the domain?
· What kind of backlinks does the domain have?
· Are they mostly spam backlinks or do they look like genuine high quality / decent links?
· Are they mostly blog comments?
· Are they Dofollow or Nofollow?
· How many are still alive or are most of them deleted?
· How fast were the links built?
All in all you need to ensure that the backlinks to the Expired Domain look like real natural backlinks and not backlinks created by SEOs. While looking at Majestic make sure the ratio of CF/TF is less than around 1.10 – basically that the TrustFlow(TF) is higher than the CitationFlow(CF).
If the Trust Flow is not higher, then the importance of having a very good healthy link profile increases. Also, the TF should be more than around 10 to 15, however this is not a fixed criteria if you find a site that has amazing backlinks in your niche and the links do not look like spam links.
Remember TF-CF is a Majestic metric and that is only a guide to get you started in a quick analysis. If for example the CF is 5 times the TF it’s a quick indicator that the backlinks are mostly of low quality spam links, and you can quickly analyze and scan a few of the backlinks and reconfirm this and then just move on to analyzing the next domain without wasting much time.
But, on the other hand if the TF is low but the links look decent – you may still want the site if its in your niche and you may still want to have a quick look at the backlinks quality.
You will get a hang of things, once you watch the videos and once you analyze more and more domains. Its an acquired skill!
You need to browse WayBackMachine to see how the content on the site was structured in the past. You want to make sure that the site was clean and not some spam, porn or pharma site. It is very common for someone else to acquire the site as an expired domain, spam the crap out of it and then drop it when it got penalized.
You want to avoid purchasing domains like that. So, even though the domains initial archive snapshots may look good, the snapshots in later time periods may be spammy. Make sure you check that.
Also make sure the site was not simply a 301 site. If you cant get snapshots from WayBackMachine, you can try Screenshots.com for basic screenshots of the site.
Its best that you look at my course videos to understand how to do this in detail through live examples.
To get a single feed of WayBackMachine stored pages in one go so your analysis speeds up you can use the nifty little web tool, Web Archive Bulk Viewer
You could outsource parts of this process to a VA. By parts I mean only the basic stuff so that they can simply weed out the spammy domains so you save a ton of time checking for spam.
However, checking for quality backlinks profile cannot be outsourced and should not be – as that is something you will have to do yourself, or you may risk losing some good gems since the VA will not be experienced.
In order to execute this step, you simply need to make a video guide (or share my videos of this section) with your VA and assist them in going through a checklist to weed out spam domains.
To help you I have made a checklist for VAs and you can find it in this post as a separate spreadsheet. The key here is that they simply need to answer a few check marked questions as part of their analysis for each site. Nothing more need to be done by them. The more grey areas you have, the more potential domains you could lose.
In my experience I have found that .ORG domains are usually less spammy and more genuine. The ratio of hits to misses is much higher when you only analyze .org domains.
This does not mean you should leave out .com and .net as you don’t want your PBN to only have .org domain extensions… and our backlinks only coming from .org but this is an important aspect to keep in mind.
If you’re having a good day and want to move fast and feel positive about large number of domains you add to your short list of domains, then simply examine .org expired domains and you will get a much higher hit rate of positives!
In my next post I will cover how you can snap up Auction Domains that have the most powerful SEO ranking abilities today. These are way more powerful than expired domains when it comes to using them for PBNs, but they cost a lot more. However, there are some super stealth tricks you can use to get them cheap. I don't know of any other SEO that has revealed the system, because it works so well! Make sure you sign up if you want to be notified when I publish the post.
Finding Expired domains is a very critical part of building your PBN sites. Get this wrong, and you would be wasting a ton of time and money. Once you understand the process, it becomes easy for you to execute or even assign it to a VA or your assistant.
Over to you... I hope you enjoyed the post - please leave a comment below and tell me the best parts of this post or simply ask me any questions and i'll respond as quickly as I can.
" Do, or do not. There is no try." - So that's my favorite quote (for now at least). I dabble in all things tech, although I work a lot with SEO, Internet Marketing, eCommerce, eLearning, SAAS... yada yada yada the list goes on. If you like what you read, just sign up. You never know what secrets of the universe I reveal when I'm down a couple of spicy woks.