Expired Domain Name Diamonds in the Rough...
by Bjorn Snorrason,
IM Group Iceland
22th November 2004
Pursuing a dream can be time consuming and costly. Your dream can come to an end with one bad investment. Expired domain names are no different.
Around 40% of registered domain names are deleted each year and about 25,000 domain names are deleted each day. Most of these expiring domain names still have people visiting. This visiting traffic is valuable in dollars and cents.
Elliot Noss, President and CEO, Tucows Inc. one of the largest Internet domain name registration companies states that 2-5% of expiring names have a value reasonably in excess of what each would cost to renew it and at least one name per month, often more, sells for over $10,000.
The market of reselling pre-owned domains that have expired now generates about $60 million a year in revenue.
Most expiring domain names were once developed and marketed by their previous owner, and some are still listed in the Yahoo!, Dmoz and IMDB.com directories.
Domain owners generally fail to renew because they:
- Were too busy to develop the site,
- Couldn't afford to maintain it any longer,
- Went out of business,
- Lost interest (this is usually the main reason),
- Simply forgot to renew and therefore the domain is now free for re-registration.
Such expired domain names can have a high re-sale value, but they are a lot like a used vehicle. You have to be careful to find the Diamonds in the Rough. You need to look under the hood to understand why the previous owner let it go.
There are many ways to profit from existing traffic to these newly expired websites. Most popular are:
- Affiliate/Pay per Click programs such as Sedo.com; a domain still receiving traffic can generate from 2 cents to $50 per visitor depending on the quality of the traffic.
- Redirecting the expired traffic to your existing website you can receive a potential paying customer.
- Developing Expired Websites further and selling or using them to launch your own immediately profitable site.
- Resell Expired Domains on eBay; already hundreds if not thousands of dollars have been paid for a domain with high link popularity, and/or that is still listed in Yahoo!, Dmoz or IMDB.com.
- Restorations of existing official sites using archive.org with a tip jar for donations from grateful visitors; see http://www.thetv.org for example.
There are two types of traffic; expired traffic from links on other websites and directories such as Yahoo!, Dmoz IMDB.com and Looksmart and targetted traffic from search engines such as Google, Overture and MSN.
Finding a domain that is fit for use to make the owner money is not as easy as it seems. You will need help to avoid making expensive mistakes. Luckily there are several sites that offer the tools you need to find a domain worth grabbing.
One such service is ExYahoo.com which makes finding and evaluating such soon to expire and expired domain names easier. It gives a detailed link popularity report with each expired domain it finds for members listed in the major directories such as Yahoo!, Dmoz, IMDB.com as well as secondary niche directories such as Looksmart. (Google bases some of its results on Dmoz listed domains.)
You can instantly know how many links are pointing towards the domain, the directory positioning, Alexa.com rating, Google.com PageRank and a direct link to the Internet Archive Wayback machine at www.archive.org to see what was displayed at the domain in the years before it expired.
A live link to this information at http://www.LinkFight.com is also included.
Research is needed to understand if a domain is worth registering and never believe claims without doing a little research on the domain before you decide to buy. Links pointing to a domain are not necessarily enough for you to get enough traffic to even pay for the registration cost of it.
The value of a domain is not solely about the quantity of links pointing to it (although that is a good indication) it is quality of the links as well that counts. Where the domains are positioned in directories or on other sites also matters.
The Wayback machine (Internet Archive) is a good way of understanding the reputation of the domain you are considering to register as it shows you the previous site at the domain name (sometimes going back several years) and from there you will see if there is any risk of the domain name having a bad reputation, or that you will receive a lot of spam because the domain name has been posted on the Internet for several years with the usual email addresses there at the domain having been harvested by the spam bots.
Of course if the domain owner never had a site up there but the domain name is memorable as a type-in then you will have neither of these problems.
DON'T FORGET THAT THE SEARCH ENGINES REJECT "LINK FARM" SPAM DOMAINS
Search engines hate spam. It infects their search results and annoys searchers and turns them away from the search engine.
The search engines have taken aggressive steps to identify link farm sites and punish them. In some cases the offenders are punished with the Internet equivalent of the death penalty; their domain name is permanently banned from the search engines.
If this has happened before or now to a domain you recently registered you may as well drop the domain if you are after targetted traffic from search engines (many of such domains are permanently black listed) as the domain becomes worthless for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
(If the previous site had a robots.txt blocking the previous version of the site - see http://www.thetv.org/robots.txt for an example:
Then you may need to resubmit the domain to Alexa to have it crawled again by the archive.org Wayback machine:
If a site you are considering buying has been blocked in archive.org that might be a red flag that it is a previously blacklisted domain.)
Many domains are available for sale by auction on places such as eBay, Sedo.com and Pool.com as well as direct from the registrars before they drop using services such as NameWinner.com or Pool.com's OLS (Open Listing Service).
Even if there are many apparent backlinks, and some expired traffic and it looks like a good domain to be used as the primary domain for your business, avoid blacklisted link farm type domains. They will not show up in the major search engines no matter what you try to do.
So, always do research on a domain name before you decide to buy otherwise the dream of having the perfect domain soon turns into a nightmare!
Unfortunately, there's little that can be done about it as when Google for example (the biggest source for targetted traffic) bans a domain name as a spam site that is it. When Google bans a domain name for spam many to date consider it to be a permanent ban.
So if you are looking for search engine traffic (targeted traffic) blacklisted domains are not for you although the domain could be useful for its expired traffic from the back links on the sites even if that will not get you the exposure in search engines and thus the click throughs for targetted traffic from people searching.
So take your time when you're buying a domain name listed for sale and do research!
There are ways to decide if domain name is potentially on one of those black lists:
- Who is the previous owner? (Has he only one, few or thousands of domains like UltSearch?)
Owners that have thousands of domain names are likely either speculators like UltSearch who only sell when the traffic becomes too low to justify the hosting of the domain and registration fee, or spammers who routinely get the domain blacklisted through link farm schemes.
Do research using Internet Archive archive.org (Wayback Machine).
Do a search on Google using search terms like "domain.com spam" or "domain.com scam" or similar and see what pops up. You might find some complaints about the domain in forums.
A blacklisted domain may be worth the registration fee if you like the name itself but generally sites held by domain speculators such as "Yun Ye" of UltSearch that they then let drop after a year or two are let drop for a reason.
So, never let your Internet business get ruined by not checking the facts about the expired domain you are about to register or buy from its existing owner!
On behalf of the www.exyahoo.com expired domain name service
IM Group, Iceland
domains and expired traffic from the Land of Fire and Ice
Copyright 2004 Bjorn Snorrason. This work is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/