Quick Answers #3 – Old/Expired Domains

This question just in from Till

Hi Eli,

is an old domain just worth if it has quite a lot backlinks or is an old domain also worth if it’s just in the index of search engines, but has almost no backlinks (0-20).

Regards

Till

Great question. It captured my attention because theres always a lot of talk in the SQUIRT forum about expired domains. Several members of the community are talking about how they’re building their SEO Empires with snagged expired domains. I kind of cringe when I hear that not because expired domains are bad, but because I personally have no idea about the history of the domain. Frankly it could sway either way. The practice of using expired domains could be good or bad. The problem I have with it is the unpredictability, which I’ll get to in a moment. For now I assume the people know what they’re doing when they buy the domain and are making wise decisions. Much like buying a used car always do your research and find out the background of what you’re buying. The inherent problem is, the odds are stacked against you. If it was a good domain with value someone would of kept it. Yet, mistakes are made and there are some definite gems out there and if you aren’t on the field you can’t score. So while I think buying up expired domains for SEO reasons is a good thing if you know what you’re doing I am hypocritical in the fact that I don’t do it myself. The main reason is due to a question I have myself.

This question just in from Eli

Hi handsome!About 8 months ago I had several domains expire on me and never managed to pull them out. They were good domains with links, never banned or penalized and were part of several different projects. I reregistered them quickly and managed to get them back. I had no real purpose for them so I added them to a common platform site network I was working on with several other new domains. All the sites had the same structure and went through the same promotion, but for some reason the expired domains took nearly 3 weeks longer to get indexed than the brand new domains. 8 months later they still seem to perform about the same as the other sites, but I’m curious with all their previous backlinks and such why did those exact domains take longer than the others to get reindexed. Any ideas of why that was?

I still don’t know. I don’t have the attention span long enough to buy some control domains and wait a year to expire them out and hope I manage to get them back in order to do any tests and figure it out. Anyone else experienced this by chance?

Either way I see buying expired domains for SEO reasons as having the following benefits.1. Established inbound links2. Aged inbound links

Other than that your still starting from scratch. So my philosophy is, unless the domain is a gem, such as either a good name or it having phenomenal unique backlinks (ie lots of links or saturation like you mentioned) than its easier and more predictable to just work with new domains. Not to mention it saves a bit of headaches and time, and even sometimes money. Which brings me back to the predictability thing. I sometimes get questions from people about a particular basement or foundation site that was an expired domain like it suddenly dropped in ranking, or it got banned, or it lost a bunch of pages in the index. Anything out of the ordinary.

BTW I’d like to take this moment to remind everyone that in case you never noticed, every year right before Christmas sites tend to drop in saturation levels in Google. Its probably due to the upcoming updates that usually happen in January, I don’t know. Either way it seems to happen every year near the beginning of December.

So in cases like this you can look at stuff and maybe find a problem, or you can just write it off as the search engines being weird, but when your dealing with a new site on an previous registered domain you get that extra variable. Is the problem caused by a problem with the site, search engines being weird, or the history of the domain causing problems? It makes the job of diagnosing problems and learning from mistakes that much harder. For me personally, I’m still going to be doing this in 5 years so theres no point in forcing unneeded shortcuts on myself. All my domains will eventually become old, all my domains will eventually get link age. I just let time do its thing and in the mean time work on new exciting projects. <- its a good life

Which nearly answers the question about old domains. Old domains aren’t something I think people should stress about. Every single site I build, while I’m building it, I’m wishing the domain was old. Hell when I’m buying the domains I wish they were old. Yet in a year none of it matters and nothing has changed. I’ll still be wishing the domains I am buying now were older like the domains I bought last year and the year before that. It’s like playing Sim City, it doesn’t matter if you have it on fast mode or slow the strategy is still the same. Because the beautiful thing about age factors are, they are done for you

PS. Please read my Follow up post to SEO Empire if you haven’t already. It talks a lot about shortcuts and how to speed up the process of rankings, which I think is where time is best spent. The more experience you have with that the less you have to worry about domain age.

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