Hey everyone, this is Mukul, and today, we’ll talk about using expired domains to get more rankings by doing a 301 redirect.
I’ve personally tried and tested this on my own websites and have achieved good growth on 3 out of 4 experiments I did.
This strategy mainly works in 2 scenarios:
- Scenario 1: You buy a great expired domain and 301 it to your money site in hopes of getting more rankings and benefiting from the authority the expired domain has.
- Scenario 2: You 301 a penalized website to a new domain in order to recover it from an algorithm update.
Now, let’s talk in detail about both of these strategies individually.
Scenario 1: 301 an expired domain to money site to gain rankings
Here, you buy a good expired domain that has a clean history, some traffic, or some keywords ranking for it, and is indexed on Google.
Then, you go and restore the website, put some content up on the site, and wait for some initial rankings.
After you get some traction on the site, you 301 the domain to your money site. This can be approached in multiple ways.
- You can 301 domain to domain (example: bestlaptops.com to tech.com)
- You can 301 from the domain to a page on your money site (example: bestlaptops.com to tech.com/bestlaptops)
Both strategies are okay as there’s always a risk associated with this strategy no matter how you execute it.
The second one though, looks more legit as you create a page called ‘Acquiring BestLaptops.com’ and then link out to pages you want to pass the most link equity and authority to from that acquiring page. This makes it look way natural to Google when you do a 301 as it looks like a company acquisition which is very normal in the startup and business world and Google can’t really penalize you for doing that.
Scenario 2: 301 to a new domain to recover penalty
There have been a lot of cases where popular websites who used to get a lot of traffic have tried this and in the end, the traffic always falls back and the algo penalty kind of follows from domain to domain. This is largely not recommended. I’ve tried this on two of my own sites and while it does recover your site for a week or month, it falls back pretty soon. I would not recommend this strategy at all.
What kind of results does the strategy bring in?
Personally, I tried it on a website in the sports niche and it worked wonders.
Here’s one of the reviews I did back in 2020 for one of the 301s I did on a sports niche site. If you look closely at GSC, you see an arrow pointing right. It’s a sign of a 301 happening right there.
I wish I could reveal the URLs and sites but I’ve sold majority sites that I’ve grown using this method and out of respect of the buyer, I can’t reveal the URLs.
How to find the ‘perfect’ expired domain for this strategy?
There are a bunch of ways you can find expired domains for this strategy actually. My favorite is GoDaddy Auctions. A lot of big agencies buy directly from GoDaddy Auctions and altho the bids these days sometimes go crazy high, you can surely still get a good deal if you’re consistent.
This is one of the domains I recently bought for $300 from GoDaddy auctions, restored old content with the exact same URL structure, same niche and left it to age. These are the results:
What’s crazy is that I have put 0 effort into content and haven’t done any SEO at all and it still ranks very well.
Going back to the topic, the best way to quickly find good expired domains from GoDaddy Auctions or for that matter, any other auctions is use expireddomains.net. It is a time saver.
You can find domains from almost any auction marketplace out there. You can find recently dropped domains, pending to-drop domains, domains listed on marketplaces, and domains in auctions.
Using basic filters, you can get awesome expired domains to bid on right off the bat with this tool, here’s a quick look:
I’ll create a separate video on this topic alone soon. Stay tuned for that!
Now that you know where you can find these domains, let’s see what you need to make sure of before you buy them or in other words,
How to Vet Expired Domains
- Step 1: Verify the domain’s indexation. Go to Google and type ‘site:yourdomain.com’ to see if it’s indexed. If it’s not indexed, it can potentially have a manual penalty. Also, there are a lot of domains available these days which have a clean history and are indexed. Just don’t bother with the ones not indexed.
- Step 2: Investigate the domain’s past. Use Archive.org to ensure it hasn’t been involved in any black-hat SEO practices. Some sites have a history of being used as a PBN, or a shady site, or have been 301’d in the past. If it’s any of these three, just skip it.
- Step 3: Look for any trademark issues. Use websites like trademarkia.com or the U.S. govt website to find any trademark/copyright issues.
- Step 4: Examine the link and anchor profile. Use Ahrefs to check the live links to the domain. The domain should have clean, high authority, live backlinks. If there are little to no backlinks, there’s not really a point to buy and 301 it as it won’t have much effect, if at all.
Now let’s hop on to the process where you set up the 301. There are multiple ways to approach it.
Before the 301, I assume you have done these steps:
Used cheap hosting (shared hosting works here) so you’ve used cheap hosting, recovered domain pages, let them age for 1-3 months and now your domain is well indexed on Google with some keywords ranking in the top 100 at least.
- Step 1: Duplicate and match your money site pages with expired domains’ pages. Make sure you have a similar URL structure or at least, done a page level 301. This means you 301 every page on your expired domain to a similar page on your money site. Example: bestlaptops.com/for-scientists will 301 to tech.com/best-laptops-for-scientists and the same goes for other pages. The domain bestlaptops though will be 301’d to tech.com or tech.com/bestlaptops depending on which path you choose.
- Step 2: Redirect your domain. With everything set, you can now 301 your expired domain. I suggest doing this via .htaccess to avoid chain issues. You can although do it from cPanel itself. Cloudflare is another quick and easy method to do so. I’ll do a tutorial on this soon.
Does this strategy work?
Now, you might be wondering, does this strategy actually work? The answer is yes but with a twist. The success of this strategy largely depends on the quality of the expired domain and how well you execute the steps we’ve discussed. We’ll spend some time discussing real-life examples and case studies where this strategy has worked.”
How often does this strategy work?
It’s not guaranteed success every time. SEO is a complex field, and what works for one site may not work for another. However, if done correctly, this strategy can significantly boost your site’s rankings. For me, it has worked 3 out of 4 times. I would only assume that it would get a bit harder to get significant traction as SEO keeps on getting harder year by year.
If you are redirecting a real business or a real site with good traffic then the results would obviously be nicer and it’d be a bit safer as well.
With that said, this was all for the video.
The 301 redirect is now live. You should see initial results within 8-12 weeks. If your rankings don’t improve or drop, you can consider converting the 301 into a PBN or just dropping it altogether. Again, there are risks involved in every step but it’s the path you chose and it may come at a cost.
That’s all for today’s tutorial. If you have any queries or want to share your experiences with this strategy, please comment below.