If you watch the expired domain auctions like I do, then you see a wide range of domains expiring on a regular basis.

Expired domain SEO strategiesSome of the expiring domains are nothing to write home about, while others are like finding a needle in a haystack.

So, what’s the difference between the two types of expired domains, you ask?

And in addition, how should you go about finding and buying expired domains of great value in terms of SEO and being competitively priced?

Perform thorough due diligence when buying an expired domain

When stumbling upon that suspected needle of an expired domain and it is reasonably priced, don’t rush to be the highest bidder just because you find qualifying monthly global and local search volume for the expired domain.

Take your time and perform a fine-tooth comb investigation of the expired domain before bidding.

Take time to understand the expired domain’s linking profile, past owners, full history of use, and whether or not the expired domain has been algorithmic or manually penalized.

When rushing in great excitement to buy your one-of-a-kind expired domain find and not performing extensive due diligence of any sort, you could be setting yourself up for a costly surprise.

Real-life expired domain SEO journey

Not too long ago, I found myself bidding, winning and buying a gem of an expired domain for a niche that I knew well.

At the time, I knew this domain would rank very well considering it was three heavily used keywords with exact match search volume of over 1,000 searches per month.

As a matter of fact, when I saw the expired domain, I started prepping the website design and content.

Wrong thing to do, but I had already made up in my mind the domain was worth it.

After all, the expired domain had been owned by the same owner for 5 years.

Fast forward a few weeks later after having the domain transferred into my account and having created a uniquely designed WordPress website with fresh content using the expired domain.

One of the first things I typically do with any new niche website is to setup Bing and Google Webmaster tools and Google Analytics.

I do this immediately in hopes of having the website indexed ASAP.

Exhausting everything known to man to rank while ignoring the all signs of expired domain danger

Not having the new website using the expired domain indexed in Google should have been my first warning sign that something was wrong the domain.

I checked everything from the .htaccess file to validating html code of the WordPress template as well as trying a variety of other themes to changing web hosting providers and numerous web hosting plans.

And still no website indexed after all of that and nearly 2-3 months of a multitude of endless troubleshooting.

But not easily discouraged, I pressed forward with publishing more content.

I started out scheduling 2-3 posts a week and targeting a large number of keywords, mostly long tail keywords.

I figured I could jump start indexing in Google using social media accounts and getting others to post legitimate links referencing the content.

Still no sign of the website being indexed, even using the “site:yourwebsite.com” search in Google.

But I press forward with even more content.

Now six months into the project and a trove of niche content, I finally surrendered and was at a lost as to why the expired domain was not ranking.

There was nothing in Google Webmaster Tools that would indicate the domain or website had been algorithmically or manually penalized at any point.

Stumped by this website and all the effort, time and money put into it, I moved onto my next idea.

However, I did not decommission the website because I figured I would come back to it at some point.

Why honest, white-hat SEO should the only SEO used

Now fast forward seven months later.

I had the surprise of my life this week when one of the niche website using the expired domain finally started showing in Google search results and receiving traffic for multiple keywords.

Finally, all my hard work had paid off, but how?

Well, long story short, the expired domain appeared to have been severely penalize in Google to the point of not being indexed.

Now, of course, I probably would have known this by performing an in-depth review of the expired domain’s history using the Wayback Machine.

However, what tipped me that the domain had been severely penalized was a combination of a multitude of 404 errors in Google Webmaster Tools in conjunction to the Wayback Machine.

Google Webmaster Tools really shed light on the matter because it displayed what look to be nothing but spammy content links to spammy content used by the previous owner.

In total, the domain must have been de-indexed and penalized for a little over a year.

And here I was pouring my blood, sweat, tears and everything else into an expired domain that was not going to rank until the penalty timed out.

Lesson learned although I should not have had to learn it had I been more cautious and less giddy about finding such a gem of an expired domain.

What a lesson to learn, but it’s all good now that traffic is up and Google AdSense is increasing into the double digits on a daily after a little over a year has passed since buying the expired domain and launching the website.

I’ve had to fire up my content writers, and get the content marketing strategy back into high gear.

And in the mean time, I now must clear out all of the 404 errors in Google Webmasters Tools.

Should I rehabilitate an expired domain or register a new domain?

In closing, if your domain, whether new or expired, is not showing up in Google search results using “site:yourwebsite.com”, then chances are that your gem of an expired domain is considered a rock in the deep abyss of Google’s SEO ocean.

Don’t lose hope in the expired domain’s ability to be used to develop a website that receives favorable search rankings across major search engines.

It is possible to rank an expired domain, even those that have been used for nothing more than churn and burn websites.

To rehabilitate a severely penalized or de-indexed expired domain, you’ll have to put in the effort, time, and money to SEO your domain using white-hat SEO strategies or choose another domain.

But if you’re like me and you take your chances in purchasing expired domains without heavy due diligence, then we can’t murmur or complain when our bets crap on expired domains crap out.

We must do our time for someone else’s deceptive SEO crime, but do realize that good fortune can follow with an honest SEO effort.

Listen, it may take you twice as long to rehabilitate an expired domain, but the long-term rewards will far outweigh the time, effort and money invested in the expired domain.

Have you ever had an expired domain experience that was wildly successful or a horrific failure?


Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.