One strategy that I often use when creating affiliate websites is to first start off by finding an expired domain. If you’re not familiar with expired domains, basically it’s just a domain that for whatever reason someone has decided not to renew.
By starting off with an expired domain, we are putting our search engine rankings on the fast track since the domain we will be building on will already have an established link profile. Generally brand new domains take much longer to rank for keywords as Google doesn’t give them much credit, so even for low competition keywords you could be looking at around 5-6 months before your rankings come in.
With an expired domain most of the time we can cut months off this process, so it’s a great place to start when creating an affiliate website.
Now typically this strategy is not for websites I intend to keep very long, though if done right the rankings can last for years. However in the back of my mind since we will be aggressively link building, I go in with the understanding that a possible Google update in the near future could wipe me out. I think this is how you should approach it too.
Where To Find Expired Domains
I typically buy all of my domains from GoDaddy Auctions, I think that’s a good place to start. There are other places you can buy expired domains, but GoDaddy is going to be where I recommend.
Also I typically purchase domains via the “Closeouts” section (Buy It Now). I don’t like to sit around bidding on domains, though if that’s the road you want to go down by all means have at it. However for this article we are going to be focused on domains we can buy ASAP after we do our backlink analysis.
Keywords This Strategy Is Good For
Generally for this strategy we are going to be targeting low to mid SEO competition keywords. For high competition keywords I recommend building a “real website” that actually has tons of content and working on it over the long haul, but that’s not what we will be doing here.
A general ball park figure for search volume I like is anywhere between 3,600 to 18,000 per month seems to be the sweet spot for this strategy. Again if you want to go higher that’s up to you, but with these affiliate websites I’m not trying to target super competitive keywords because I don’t really like putting a lot of time and effort into these sites.
Basics I’m Looking For In A Expired Domain
When it comes to finding the right expired domain, here are the factors that I’m looking for:
Generally I don’t like paying more than $100 for an expired domain. In fact you should be able to pick up great domains for just the sale price plus the renewal fee which will often put you in the $25-30 range.
I don’t like investing too much on an expired domain because there are some unknowns. For example we don’t know if the website has been previously penalized, how our SEO campaign will go, and also if what we promote will even sell. So that’s why we keep it cheap, and if it ends up being a dud you can just toss it and move on.
Domain Is Still Indexed
Obviously we need to do a quick check that the domain isn’t de-indexed. A simple “site:domain.com” check in Google will show you if it’s still in the index. If it is, you’re good to go.
When it comes to domain age, obviously the older the better as Google just likes older websites.
For me I’m looking for a domain that is at least 3 years old, though I like to see at least 5-7 years. If it’s under 3 years old, it better have a damn good SEO backlink profile (pretty rare).
To check your domain age you can use a tool like this one at smallseotools.com. Just copy and paste your expired domain you’re thinking about buying and see what it spits out.
Domain Name Itself
Generally when I’m looking for an expired domain, I don’t want anything to sound spammy or out of place.
For example I don’t want to pick up something like “BestNFLJerseys.com” or “FreeUggBoots.com” because chances are these domains are spammed to death and probably penalized already.
I also don’t want to pick up something that’s going to be weird if someone does a manual review or looks odd in the SERPs. For example if I plan on promoting diet pills, I don’t want a domain like “mikesbostonpub.com” (name of a bar) or “NewEnglandBedAndBreakfast.com” (name of hotel etc).
For me the ideal expired domain names are people, abbreviations, or keywords closely related to what you’re selling. For example BenRichards.com (name), Abico.com (abbreviation I’ll make up something new for), and GetFitNews.com (I could promote health products here) are all acceptable domain names to me. These are all domain names that can be re-branded for what I’m selling.
SEO Profile I’m Looking For In A Expired Domain
So now that we got some of the basics down in the previous section, now we have to do some basic backlink analysis.
To do this you are going to need some sort of software to do the analysis, and for me I use Majestic. Other popular choices are Moz and Ahrefs, but for the purposes of this article I will be using Majestic.
Again all of these and other software that does backlink analysis all spit out the things I’m outlining below, so it doesn’t really matter which you pick.
Anyway so lets go over briefly what I’m looking for in terms of SEO profile for an expired domain I’m thinking of purchasing.
So I found an expired domain for $30 called “myscarygames.com” and I’m going to use this as an example to illustrate my thought process. This domain may be great for promoting some sort of video game affiliate product or even something like Amazon Associates. Anyway let’s dive right in.
Anchor Text Profile
When picking out an expired domain, the anchor text profile will tell us a lot about what the previous site was. So when checking myscarygames.com on Majestic, we get the anchor text distribution below:
Obviously first the anchor text profile must be free of spam. So anything like “Buy Viagra” or “Replica Watches” etc. automatically disqualifies the domain for me as it’s likely a previous affiliate has spammed it to death and now the domain has some kind of penalty on it. We can see that this isn’t the case here with myscarygames.com.
Chinese anchor texts also disqualifies the domain for me too as these are also heavily spammed and likely worthless domains as well, again we do not see that here either.
The ideal anchor text profile is going to be mostly the raw URL and domain name (ie myscarygames.com, www.myscarygames.com, and “My Scary Games” etc) mixed with a ton of other non keyword rich anchor texts (ie. visit site, read here, more info etc). I don’t want to see a lot of the same anchor text over and over again or any repeating pattern of any sort.
In our example, we see that the majority of the anchor texts come from “Empty Anchor Text” (usually means an image) and “myscarygames.com”, along with a bunch of non keyword rich anchor texts.
So from an anchor text distribution standpoint, I do like this domain as it doesn’t seem to be heavily spammed. I like to see a lot of URLs as anchor texts as well as the brand name, so for our purposes in regards to anchor text distribution this domain is good to go.
Basically we want to find an anchor text profile with a ton of variation, because when we do our own link building, we won’t be using much variation and only complimenting what is already there.
For example if I was targeting a keyword like “best video games 2021”, I could slip in 25-30 links with that exact anchor text from a private blog network or some other paid link source and it wouldn’t throw off the anchor text distribution since it’s already varied so much.
If I had to ballpark it, I typically like expired domains that have at least links from 500 different referring domains. I want the links to be spread across many domains rather than just drawing strength from a few good domains. With regards to myscarygames.com we get the below:
So again we see here that we hit our requirement as this domain has 3410 referring domains as analyzed by Majestic.
Again we want our links to be spread out across a variety of domains, not just from a few domains.
While having a few strong links from normal websites may be ok, the problem is there’s a good chance your expired domain affiliate website will start losing links over time once some of the websites linking to the domain realizes the old website is no longer there.
So I don’t want to buy an expired domain that draws all it’s seo strength from a handful of sites just in case in the future those links get removed, thus killing all the SEO juice which defeats the purpose of what we are trying to accomplish.
Moz Rank & Majestic Trust Flow Metrics
When it comes to assessing the quality of the backlinks of an expired domain, the two popular tools I like out there are Moz and Majestic. I myself personally use Majestic, but I recommend Moz as well, and there are free tools out there that can help you check the raw metrics we are looking for.
For me for Majestic generally I like to see a “Trust Flow” metric of at least 7 or 8 (higher the better). For Moz I like to see a Moz Rank of at least 2, again higher the better. For a free Moz Rank checker tool you can find one here. For a free Majestic Trust Flow checker you can find one here.
Again referring to the previous picture, we see that the Trust Flow for myscarygames.com is a 10, so again it has hit our threshold.
If you are planning to get serious into SEO, I do recommend that you subscribe to one of these backlink analysis services (Majestic, Moz, Ahrefs etc). You’ll need it for a lot of things you do in the world of SEO, so definitely consider it if it is in your budget.
Using Register Compass
So briefly before we come to an end, I just want to recommend a tool that I use to help me find expired domains. It’s kind of a pain to go through GoDaddy Auctions one domain at a time and running a backlink analysis for each, so I use a tool called Register Compass that helps me to filter these domains by settings I set. Here’s a screenshot below:
So as you can enter all your search parameters and it will filter through GoDaddy Auctions and a few other places to bring up only the domains that meet your criteria. Then once you have that list of domains you can dive in and do the backlink analysis until you find ones that satisfy your criteria.
Register Compass I believe is $37/mo, so just something to consider. If you’re interested you can check out register compass and see if it’s right for you.
So hopefully after reading this article you get a better idea of how to find a great expired domain for your affiliate websites. Again we aren’t looking for “super domains” as we aren’t really trying to spend a lot of money, we are really just looking for expired domains that will give us a head start in the Google ranking game.
Obviously if you want to spend more money on stronger domains that’s completely up to you. However for most low to medium competition keywords what I outlined above should be fine. Creating a website on an expired domain and then adding some private blog network links or other kinds of paid links is a powerful strategy that should get you ranking ASAP.
So try it out and see how it goes, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how your affiliate websites do.