If you’re thinking of a great domain name for your new website, chances are good that someone else has thought of it before. Clients come to us at Blitz thinking that they have a unique domain name only to find that it’s already been registered. The result is that lots of folks are turning to the expired domain name market to increase their chances of finding the perfect name.
The expired names market is kind of like the used car market but for domain names. But just like with used cars, there are key things you should look for when registering domain names that have expired.
Here are some useful tips when registering expired domain names:
1. Check the Domain’s Reputation
With millions of domain names expiring every day, you’ll most likely have no idea what the previous owner was doing with a particular domain name. Some domains may have been involved in mail spamming or other activities that would cause them to be blocked by security networks like Barracuda. You are going to want to ensure that any domain you register has not been used for any of these purposes.
Use Barracuda’s IP/Domain look-up tool to see if your desired domain name was previously listed in any kind of block list.
You can also check a domain’s reputation by simply doing a Google search to make sure no one has posted negative reviews about the domain’s previous content which might affect your future plans.
2. Check Back Links, Existing Traffic and MozRank
Back links are simply links that still point to your expired domain name even though the previous website is no longer there. Having existing back links on an expired domain is a lucky break that will help your initial efforts in getting your domain to rank highly on search engines.
A MozRank is Moz.com’s ranking of a domain’s authority based on its reputation and links leading to the domain. The better your domain’s MozRank the better your website’s content will rank in search queries for relevant terms.
Use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to see what your domain’s MozRank and number of back links look like.
Use Alexa’s traffic rank tool to see if your expired domain name is still getting any traffic. The LOWER your Alexa rank the better your traffic is. If your desired domain ranks below 5,000,000 there is a good chance it’s still getting some lingering visits.
3. See What Type of Content Was Hosted on the Domain Previously
If you intend to use the domain name to host a website that has similar content to the previously hosted website (if there was one) then you stand a good chance of retaining any lingering users who might revisit the domain in the future. This will make your efforts at attracting traffic a little easier.
How do you see old versions of websites previously hosted on your desired domain name? Use this neat tool from archive.org called the Wayback Machine.
Just type in your domain name and you will get historical snapshots on how the content of your domain name looked over the years. If your expired domain name does not return results in the Wayback Machine it’s possible that no website was ever established on this particular domain.
4. When was the Domain First Registered?
There are pros and cons when it comes to domain age. An older domain that has a birth year further in the past would normally have more authority on search engines. However, an expiring domain name that has built a long history of spamming is a no no. Look for an expired domain with a good reputation that was first registered more than 5 years ago.
Use any good Whois tool online to find the birth year of your domain name. We recommend using Whois.sc
5. Check for Existing PageRank
Google’s PageRank for domains is becoming less and less of a ranking consideration but it’s still a good indication of how well you domain might rank in Google search results. Certainly, you should avoid any domain that has a PageRank of -1 as this means the domain has a poor reputation.
7. Don’t Focus too Much on Keywords
Don’t get sucked into the keyword hype: i.e. trying to find a domain that will make-you-money-online-with-an-exact-keyphrase.com. Google’s EMD update (short for exact match domains) dialed down the importance of exact match key phrases in domain names. This means domain names which exactly match the phrases in a search query will not rank as high as they use to. Google is now in love with branded domain names so you should try to register a domain name that is as unique, brandable and pronounceable as possible.
6. Do all the Usual Domain Name Registration Checks
After checking all the above factors, at the end of the day you are still registering a domain name. This means that all the usual marketing checks for domains should still be made. Your domain should be:
- As short as possible
- Register a .com for most cases but if you are targeting a specific geographic region consider using cc TLD’s like .us or .ca. Use .org for non-profits etc.
- Always make sure your domain name will appeal to your niche
Best Websites for Registering Expired Domain Names
Here are the top websites we’ve found for registering expired and expiring domain names on the internet:
- Expireddomains.net: Helpful list of domain names uploaded each day at the same time
- Justdropped.com: Pre-order expiring domain names
- Namejet.com: get an extensive list of expiring domain names up to 5 days before they expire!