If you browse any popular SEO or digital marketing forum, you’ll notice 2 “clans” when it comes to expired domains. There is one group that swears that they don’t work. They claim that it’s no different from registering a brand-new domain.
Then you have the other group that says that expired domains absolutely work for them thanks to the “existing authority” they have. Something else the people in this group have in common is that they almost never talk too much about how they actually make it work for them…
But you’re in luck, 'cause that’s what we do here – we tell you how the pros do it!
Before we start, let’s get a couple of things out of the way:
- It won’t work if the expired domain has already been blacklisted by Google from before; it’s got to be clean.
- For it to be worth it, the domain needs to have authority backlinks already. That’s the whole point.
Google treats the registration of an expired domain exactly like a brand-new domain name, and it will give it zero authority and will disregard all pre-existing backlinks.
We can hear the confusion. But hear us out.
This is the line that divides those 2 groups of marketers we were talking about earlier. This first group stops here. They don’t know how to make it work from here. The second group knows the secret, and in a few minutes, you will be part of that group!
The secret: You have to trick Google into thinking that this domain is still the old website (with its content and all). And THEN Google will recognize its pre-existing authority and backlinks!
You’ll have to do this with every expired domain you register if you want to reap all benefits that someone else worked hard for. But you’ll have to put in some work as well, at least initially.
In a nutshell, there are 5 steps:
- Research using the Wayback Machine Content restoration
- Submission to Google Search Console
- Re-indexing old backlinks
- This one requires the least work but the strongest willpower: Wait.
Step 1: Research using the Wayback Machine
This tool is a gold mine. You can use it to check if the expired domain is actually valuable. Has it been hijacked before? Has it been spammed? Was it used (or misused) as part of a private blog network? If yes, you want to stay away from all of that. If not, then find the main pages and good content.
Step 2: Restore content
Re-create the website with the same exact structure: same URLs & same titles. Then copy and paste the old content to the new pages. WordPress makes it easy to get this done relatively quickly, but feel free to use any CMS you’re comfortable with. The important thing here is structure and content.
You can also hire a virtual assistant to do it for you. The current minimum rate for a VA on Upwork.com is $3.00 per hour, but you can find lower rates on Internet marketing forums.
Alternatively, if you search for “Wayback machine downloader”, you will find several services that will give you a package of files that you need to re-create the website (HTML, CSS, JS, images, etc). I’m seeing prices starting from $11 currently.
Step 3: Submission to Google Search Console
You may want to use a new Google account for this, just to keep things separate from your personal/work account. Then add your website and submit a sitemap as well.
Step 4: Re-indexing old backlinks
You have to get Google to again crawl the authority web pages that contain a link to your domain or other pages. The way to do that? Posting links on social media (like Twitter) and using link indexing services. A search for “index links”, “link indexer” and “speed links indexer” returns with both free and paid services.
Note: You are not posting links to your expired domain. You are posting links to pages that link to your domain.
This may be boring, but it’s necessary.
If you find redirect loops or links that you cannot reproduce on the new site for some reason, use .htaccess to create a 301 redirect. The code below should work (but please, check with your host if it doesn’t!).
Redirect 301 /oldpage /newpage
Redirect 301 /oldpage2 /newpage2
Step 5: Wait
You’ve done your part. Now you need to give Google time to do its thing. You cannot speed this part up (if you want fast results, steps 1 - 4 are where you need to be efficient).
Knowing when it’s happening
There are 2 ways to know when your hard work (and that of the former owner) has paid off.
- You’ll see the authority backlinks in Google Search Console.
- Some of your content will be ranked amongst the Top 20 in Google Search results.
And THIS is when you can repurpose the website to turn it into something you want.
Keeping the link juice
There will be content and pages that you will want to get rid of because it’s simply not relevant or useful to your new website. For those pages, make sure to redirect each page to your homepage using a 301 redirect (via .htaccess) so that you keep the existing link juice.
If there is relevant or useful content, simply add links to your money sites on those pages.
Changing the niche
Ideally, you want to stay in the same niche. It’s easier when the expired domain is more about general topics.
However, changing niches (while retaining the juice you get from authority links) is not impossible, but it has to be a gradual process, and it cannot be rushed. In the beginning, it’s advisable to refrain from posting any CPA or affiliate links at all. Keep posting new content, and see how Google responds. Do you see the new content ranking? If yes, get some quality backlinks to the new content and homepage (links coming from authority pages from the new niche). Don’t overdo it. If a few months have passed and Google is still treating your website right, THEN you can start posting affiliate links or CPA offers. Continue adding new content and quality links, and this time, make some bank too!
To wrap it up
As you can see, this is not exactly a “get rich quick” scheme. It takes work, as with most things that give actual results. But in the end, you get a nice website that has authority backing it up, and that can make you money with.