Adobe Discount Banner

How to Find Expired Domains: The Ultimate Guide

How to Find Expired Domains: The Ultimate Guide

Have you ever heard of an “expired domain”? It’s a website address that someone else used to own but let it expire. When this happens, the website becomes available for anyone to buy. So, if you’re wondering why you want someone else’s expired things, let me tell you – some are absolute GOLD! These are usually websites that already have a bunch of backlinks and traffic from their previous life. Not to mention, they also have some authority in the online world. Snap one up, and BAM! You’ve got yourself an instant asset.

But where do all these golden rocks come from? Don’t worry, I’m about to show you where to look. Just grab your pen and paper as we go diving into…

What Are Expired Domains?

What Are Expired Domains

Before we get started, let's make sure to understand the basics. An expired domain is just a domain name registered at one time or another but is let expire after the registration period ends.

Similar to how your favourite local restaurant shuts down, all of its history and brand recognition is no longer enough for it to continue. However, in this scenario, the location isn't physical; it is an entire online real estate.

Once a domain expires, it goes into a “pending delete” limbo before it finally becomes available again in the pool of domains people can register to use. During this transition, you and other savvier prospects can take the opportunity and snatch it up before others do.

Why Bother With Expired Domains?

Great question! There are a few key reasons why expired domains can be such a hot commodity:

Link Trust and Authority

One of the main perks to acquiring an expired domain that’s been around a while is its link history. Over time, the domain will have built up countless backlinks from other reputable sites.

When you take an expired domain with impressive high-quality links, you’ve got a serious leg-up in the SEO game. All those existing links give your new site a powerful SEO boost, helping it rank higher in Google search results immediately.

Instant Credibility

It is highly valuable to snag an expired domain that was once a well-known brand within its industry. While the brand may be past its prime, simply having been recognisable and trusted before will work wonders when trying to relaunch.

👉 Read More:  Mastering the 7Ps of Marketing for Business Success

Existing Traffic Potential

Building on the point above about brands, traffic is another critical consideration. If the expired domain you acquire was once a popular site, it may still receive some residual search traffic. So, while small in numbers, there’s already an audience out there familiar with the old version of your site and keen to explore this new one.

How to Find Expired Domains: The Juicy Strategies

Find Expired Domains On Godaddy

Enough with the whys and wherefores — I know you're just itching to get your hands on some quality expired domains! Here are my favourite tactics for unearthing those gems:

Use Expired Domain Listing Services

This is the most prominent and popular approach for finding expired domains at scale. Many online services keep a running list of domains that have recently expired or will expire soon.

Some top dogs in the expired domains listing world include:

  • ExpiredDomains.net
  • GoDaddy Auctions
  • NameBio
  • Pool.com

Most of these have handy search filters to help you zero in on valuable domains in your niche and bidding systems if you need to go head-to-head with other prospectors.

Check Out Domain Registrar Drop Lists

Every big domain registrar releases their own “drop lists” of freshly expired domains that are available for re-registration. You can often snap up quality names for standard registration fees through these lists.

Some registrars with popular drop lists include:

  • NameSilo
  • NameJet
  • Dynadot
  • SnapNames

Pro Tip: Use monitoring services like Drop.cat or NameUnique to simultaneously track upcoming drop lists from multiple registrars.

Leverage Niche-Focused Blogs & Forums

For a more targeted approach to domain prospecting, try following blogs and forums dedicated to your specific niche or industry. Users on these platforms will frequently share or list expired domains that could be relevant to the community.

Here are a few examples of where to hunt:

  • Industry subreddits with domain listing threads
  • Niche Facebook groups
  • Domain investing forums like NamePros
  • Blogs that curate expired/deleted domains (like OnlyInactiveDomains for adult niches)

The great thing about these niche sources is that they filter out a lot of the junk for you. The downside is more competition from others in your field.

Evaluating Expired Domains: How to Spot the Gems

Backlinks On Ahrefs

So, you think you’ve encountered some worthy expired domains – what’s next? Now, it’s time to dive deeper and gauge each domain's value and potential payoff. 

Below are the most important factors I take into account when scoping out an expired domain:

Backlink Profile

As stated earlier, the backlink profile on an expired domain is its most crucial feature. To examine this, copy the domain URL into tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush or MOZ's Link Explorer.

What to look for here is:

  • High total backlink numbers (even just a few thousand will do)
  • Many backlinks from authoritative sources with high Domain Ratings/Authority 
  • A variety of dofollow and nofollow links
  • Only a few spammy or low-quality link sources

You want to ensure that the domain was once legit and has some serious link juice behind it.

Domain History & Age

A domain's backstory can uncover a lot about its potential value. Using Archive.org's Wayback Machine – snapshots reveal how the domain looked and functioned in the past.

👉 Read More:  The Social Media Digital Signage Revolution

Red flags include:

  • The domain was previously owned by a spammer or a terrible site
  • Long periods of dormancy or an empty former site
  • Frequent changes or temporary redirects

The ideal scenario would be evidence that proves that the domain formerly hosted a legitimate website with high traffic for many years. The older, the better (in general).

Domain Type & Extensions

Although .com usually takes the crown in most cases, don’t entirely dismiss other extensions such as .net, .org or even newer nTLD extensions. Notwithstanding, avoid anything too spammy or obscure that could limit your marketing reach.

Also, look for valuable “keyword-rich” domains with search terms relevant to your niche. These could give you an added boost if these keywords still carry weight in volume.

Existing Website Traffic

If the expired domain you're evaluating used to host a reasonably popular and active website, there’s a chance a remnant of its old traffic could stick around. To understand this, tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, SimilarWeb, or Ubersuggest can be used to estimate a site's traffic.

Other Domain Appraisal Steps

Beyond analysing backlinks, history, and traffic, here are some other crucial checks to make:

  • Trademark Search: Make sure the domain doesn't violate any active trademarks
  • Hand-Review Backlinks: Spot-check high-authority backlinks to ensure they're not spammy
  • Search Engine Check: Do some searches on the domain to gauge its current brand visibility
  • Penalty Check: See if the domain was ever hit by a Google penalty using tools like Mozscape

Buying Expired Domains: The Auction Process

Once you’ve found the perfect expired domain, it’s time to buy it. Here’s what that process looks like:

If the domain drops at a standard registrar and no one else tries to grab it right at that second, the simplest scenario is re-registering it. This can be done fast using several tools.

For more premium domains with clear money-making potential, you’ll usually go through an auction or bidding system run by the expired domain listing service.

Here are some tips for these auctions:

  1. Set a budget ahead of time and stick to it – don’t get caught in frenzies.
  2. Consider the actual value of the domain based on your due diligence.
  3. Use an auction sniping service to place bids at the last possible second.

Developing an Expired Domain After Purchase

Revenue From Parked Domains

Getting a fantastic expired domain is only the first half of a long, drawn-out battle. The next thing you've got to do is rebuild that sucker (and turn it into something even better than before). Here’s how you can bring your online asset back to life.

Nail Down Your Content Strategy

Before anything else, you need to know precisely what kind of site you’re trying to create. Are you aiming to build an affiliate site in a specific niche? Or how about an e-commerce store? A blog or information hub, maybe?

Your content strategy will affect everything from site structure and navigation to the links pointing back at it. It’s the blueprint for your foundation.

Set Up Hosting & Parked Domain

Once you know what direction you’re going in, it’s time for some technical setup. You’ve got to get your expired domain’s DNS properly configured and hosted somewhere. I’d recommend starting with a reliable hosting service like SiteGround to start on the right foot.

👉 Read More:  Guide to SaaS SEO and Mobile App Optimisation

Pro Tip — If you’re not ready to fully build out the site, most hosting services will let you “park” the domain with a basic holding page until then.

Rebuild & Optimise The Site

All right now comes the fun part! Use whatever CMS or website builder floats your boat and start constructing this thing according to your previously created content strategy. Be sure to:

  • Optimise standard On-page SEO elements like title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, etc.
  • Internally link old URIs and articles where relevant
  • Speed optimise code and multimedia
  • Implement proper sitemaps and canonical tags

Remember — You don’t have to go big immediately; if anything, it’s probably best if you start small anyway because any progress is better than no progress.

Execute Link Building Campaigns

Having those inherited links is excellent, but you should still actively try to build new ones. Some white-hat link-building tactics worth investing your time in include:

Promote Via Other Channels

Links are important, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle regarding growing your traffic. You should also run paid ads through channels like Google Ads and social media advertising.

Don’t forget to milk that expired domain’s brand recognition as much as possible!

Advanced Expired Domain Strategies & Use Cases

As your expired domain mastery deepens, you can experiment with more advanced acquisition and monetisation models. A few lucrative plays include:

The Renovate & Resell Approach

Why keep expired domains you acquire when you can fix and flip them up for a profit? This “renovate and resell” method is like house flipping for online properties.

All you do is:

  1. Find undervalued expired domains with high potential
  2. Build them out into legitimate, optimised sites
  3. Re-sell them once their value increases
  4. Resourceful investors have been known to buy domain assets for $100, spruce them up over a few months, and resell them for $5,000 or more!

Expired Domain Portfolio Building

Rather than constantly buying and reselling individual domains, some investors slowly build a portfolio of high-quality assets over time. The goal is to create a stable of 10-20 (or more) powerful expired domains in complementary niches.

From there, you could either resell the entire portfolio or hold it as a long-term revenue stream via ads, affiliates, sponsored campaigns, etc.

Dropping Expired Domains into an Existing Site Network

If you already run a network of websites within a particular niche, acquiring a premium expired domain can be an easy hack to breathe new life (and SEO power!) into your setup. You'd need to 301 redirect that fresh domain's link equity into your existing site network.

Final Thoughts on Expired Domains

There you have it, folks — a comprehensive guide to prospecting, evaluating, acquiring, and profiting from expired domains! Exploring this underrated corner of the online business world has been quite the journey.

Remember that expired domains can be lucrative goldmines to stumble upon, but they aren't get-rich-quick shortcuts by any means. The most successful prospectors are the ones who put in diligent research, consider all the angles, and take their time during the acquisition and development phases.

👉 Read More:  Brand Pillars: Build a Strong Foundation

Be smart about it; an expired domain could one day become your little corner of the internet! Now, get out there and start hunting.

Expired Domain FAQs

How much do expired domains typically cost?

Pricing can vary wildly depending on a given expired domain's perceived value and demand. While some decent finds may just cost standard domain registration fees (under $20), premium domains with high appraisal scores routinely sell for $1,000 – $10,000 or more at auction.

Are there any risks to buying expired domains?

The primary risk is inadvertently acquiring a domain previously employed for malicious activities like spamming, hacking, or distributing malware. Doing full due diligence on an expired domain's history can mitigate this.

How long is an expired domain listed before being unavailable again?

This varies between registrars, but the standard grace period is 30–45 days after the official expiration date. However, some domains resurface years later, depending on the circumstances.

Can more than one person bid on or buy an expired domain?

Yes — whenever an in-demand expired domain gets re-listed at a registrar or domain marketplace, it will likely attract multiple bidders or buyers trying to claim it through an auction system.

Are backlinks the only valuable factor about expired domains?

No, factors like domain age, existing traffic levels, keyword relevance, and previous branding can contribute significantly to an expired domain's value proposition. But backlinks tend to be priority #1.

How do I check if an expired domain was penalised by Google?

Tools like Mozscape and some features in Ahrefs can help identify domains previously penalised or devalued within Google's algorithm for spammy or manipulative behaviour.

What are some red flags to watch for when evaluating expired domains?

Major red flags include a history of ownership by spammy/low-quality sites, extended dormant periods, lots of disavowed or toxic backlinks, heavy reliance on mechanics like redirects, and a concentrated backlink profile (few diverse sources).

Photo of author

Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

Need help Building your Brand?

Let’s talk about your logo, branding or web development project today! Get in touch for a free quote.

Leave a Comment

Trusted by Businesses Worldwide to Create Impactful and Memorable Brands

At Inkbot Design, we understand the importance of brand identity in today's competitive marketplace. With our team of experienced designers and marketing professionals, we are dedicated to creating custom solutions that elevate your brand and leave a lasting impression on your target audience.