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Should You Build a Niche Site on an Expired Domain – Case Study Results

I firmly believe that SEO tricks, shortcuts and voo-doo can-not be relied on to build a solid online business… But, a healthy dose of creative SEO strategies that produce reliable results are great tools to deploy.

This post shows the initial results of a quick test I did building niche site either…

  1. on a relevant powerful expired domain
  2. on a fresh brandable domain but 301 redirecting a relevant powerful expired domain to the new domain

 

The Question

A logical question when it comes to expired domains is…

Can I shortcut the path to a profitable website using an expired domain to build a money site on and with the existing real links rank my new content more quickly than I would on a new domain?

Test Strategy

In order to test out this strategy I decided to build several sites on expired domains while also picking up several domains with the intent of 301 redirecting them to a brandable URL.

This test has spanned 8 months and the sites were also measured against a control group of sites I did not use expired domains to either build the site on or 301 redirect.

 

Results

#SitesExpired Domain StratregyMonetization MethodRelevance(1 low - 5 high)Results(1 failure 5 smash success)
1Specialty SCUBA diving equipment301 redirectEBay and Amazon53
2Outdoor HobbyExpired Domain BuildAmazon42
3Scholarship (1)301 redirectLead Gen34
4Scholarship (2)Expired Domain BuildLead Gen33
5Hobby Craft NicheExpired Domain BuildAmazon41

Basically there were 3 websites that were successful and 2 complete failures.

Both failures were built directly on an expired domain while sites that were 301 redirected did not have any failures.

The results are simplified in the table above as a measure of success but it is clear for me that building a money site on an expired domain is a risky proposition while 301 redirecting a really solid relevant domain seems to be a great way to give a site an initial boost.

Other Comments…

Speed of Ranking – All sites that were successful had a great initial start compared to the control group. With all the talk about the sandbox(not fully convinced myself yet) this seems to be a good way to get some initial rankings…

Launch to 40's in 1 week

Launch to 40’s in 1 week

Money Site on Non Relevant Domain Did Work – What was interesting with the one moderately successful money site built on an expired domain was that it was the least relevant of all the test sites.

Complete and Utter Failure of 1 Site – Site 5 should have been a success…it was a great domain, no spam, still indexed, extremely relevant and easily monetized niche….however it just doesn’t seem to want to budge. Ranking in the 80’s and sometimes dropping out completely. The content on the site is 10 articles of 1000 words very similar to the other sites. For some reason this site is just not liked by Google at all!

 

My Site Building Procedure…

Based on this test my new plan for building out my new sites has continued to evolve but surprisingly the basic plan is still very similar to what I used to in 2012 to build out my student loan site which continues to earn a couple thousand dollars per month…

  1. Problem and Niche Identification
  2. Keyword Research
  3. Buy Money Site Domain
  4. Create Quality Content
  5. Build Authority Website
  6. Buy Expired Domain and 301 Redirect
  7. Monetize Site With Targeted CPA Offers
  8. Build Niche Relevant Private Blog Network
  9. Promote With Blog Commenting
  10. Promote With Guest Posting
  11. Create Niche Dominating Round Up Post
  12. Add Some High Powered Links

If someone were to follow the 12 steps outlined above I am confident they would have a successful website on their hands!

Looking for niche relevant expired domains? Have my team find you niche relevant, powerful and free of spam expired domains – Get Domains Here

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

33 comments
Ferzy says September 2, 2014

Interesting case study Jon. I have tried building niche sites on expired domains and i did not have greater success than building on a brand new domain. Which was surprising seeing how useful expired domains seem to be for PBN networks, you would have guessed they would be able to give you a much bigger boost than inconclusive results.

Reply
    Tyler Bailey says September 6, 2014

    I’ve had a few sucesses/failures on building niches sites on expired domains. As you would expect most of the success occured when I kept the relevancy of the site as close as possible to the original sites content/backlink profile. Did you completely revamp the niche of the original site or was it similar?

    Reply
Matt S says September 2, 2014

Hi Jon,
Couple questions for you:
Did you linkbuild these sites at all? If so, for the money site on an unrelated expired domain, did you linkbuild to change backlink anchor text to match the new content? Last, were these high metric domains to start out?

Thanks for another great post,

Matt

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    Jon says September 2, 2014

    1. Yes, I do use linkbuilding for the sites. I tried to keep the case study consistent with primarily several high powered PBN links to the money site
    2. Regarding the anchor text I stuck with my 1/3 – 1/3 – 1/3 rule (general, URL, Phrase)

    Reply
Frank says September 2, 2014

Hi Jon,
I really enjoy all your quality posts on this site. Iwas wondering. Have you experimented with unrelevant expired domains with new content as well? Meaning you registerd an expired domain with lots of backlinks (but no relevance) and you build a new website on this domain with relevant content and link to your money site.. Will that work?

Kind regards,
Frank

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    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Hi Frank…that is essentially what site 4 above was. It was successful with relevant content on a domain that was not directly relevant.

    Reply
Jake says September 2, 2014

Interesting lessons Jon. I got burned once, buying an expired domain and building a niche site on it, basically because I completely ignored looking at the domains history (which was dodgy, to put it in a diplomatic manner). Figures from majesticseo and the likes looked good, but reality was different – Google completely disregarded the site. Since then, I have been creating sites buying clean domains…

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    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Good stuff Jake, that is pretty much the conclusion I came to. The benefit is not worth the risk.

    Reply
ivan says September 2, 2014

John, a quick question. What’s your strategy when doing a 301 to the new domain? Do you build up the expired domain a bit (a few articles) and then 301 it, or do you just buy the domain and 301 it without any content?

Also, at what time do you biy and 301 the domain exactly? As soon as the website on a new domain is finished, or some time later? Thanks!

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    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Hi Ivan, I have no content on the domain I am 301 redirecting. But I try and match up the heavily backlinked pages with new ones on the site that will be relevant.

    Reply
Chris says September 2, 2014

Wow! That’s actually not good to hear. I am just starting with new project based on expired domain
and I would like to rank it quite quick. All because I heard that good expired domain is better for base site.

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    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Chris…I think my results are showing that it isn’t definite…you will get a boost or it will be a complete dud. Maybe you will have a winner on your hands or maybe not. You can always change course and do the build on a clean domain and 301 redirect the expired domain.

    Reply
Josh Shogren says September 2, 2014

The results for this study suprised me because I have used expired domains on all of my money sites and they have always been able to rank very well. I don’t think that a 5 site case study is enough data to fully come to a conclusion on whether or not building your site on expired domains or 301 redirects is beneficial. There are a lot of deciding factors when it comes down to an expired domain being able to rank. Nonetheless cool case study and some interesting results!

Reply
    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Hey Josh…I definitely agree that a 5 site case study is not very definitive!

    It shows some general trends but nothing conclusive.

    Your results sound intriguing…you have never experienced a dud? How many sites have you built on an expired domain?

    Reply
Joe says September 2, 2014

Interesting post. So far my strategy has been to purchase expired domains and relaunch the site with the original content using archive.org. I then add a link to the money site after a week or so.

I then build backlinks to the expired site (now operational again, thanks to archive.org) using various sources. The thinking being I can pull the expired domain site should I encounter any penalties without an impact on the money site. I try and find 10 expired domains relevant to the money site. The 10 sites are all on different vps providers, unique class c addresses, different registrars, hosted in different parts of the world. This takes quite a lot of effort and it seems that from your post a better strategy would be to focus on good quality expired domains, relevant to my niche and then 301 redirect them. Which method is best?

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Tyler says September 2, 2014

For a while in one of my niches, there was this one guy who was ranking really well for competitive keywords with an inner page of an expired domains. But he was also an internet marketer, so he taught the strategy and niche to his students…who all copied him. So for a while we just had a bunch of inner pages on superpower expired domains ranking.

This study is missing something…information on the expired domains. They are so fickle that it could have largely affected the results of your study and it’s impossible for us to say. But it is a good glimpse into it and I am going to try 301ing…I guess I just always associated it with penguin recovery and never thought about doing it with non-penalized domains lol.

Thanks for the post

Reply
    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Hi Tyler, the expired domains all were similar to the metrics outlined here…

    https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/custom-list/

    Interesting to hear the inner page example discussed…maybe worth me looking more into it.

    Reply
scott r masse says September 2, 2014

Jon let’s discuss how I can implement this with my Sprinter project and the subsequent PBN you will build and manage….should be a fun process. Especially since I have cash behind me!

Reply
    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Sounds good Scott…check your email 🙂

    Reply
Josh Escusa says September 2, 2014

Good insight and great test. I’ve been doing some tests of my own with expired domains that are non-relevant. About 1/3 of them began ranking for some terms immediately without any links. After adding links they bounced up and down the search engines, and trends point to them moving up. The other 2/3 are jumping around and acting a lot like brand new domains.

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    Jon says September 2, 2014

    Interesting results…keep me posted on your findings and we can share notes.

    Reply
cornell says September 3, 2014

Interesting case study, ive built a site on an expired domain that was completely irrelevant to my niche. And its on page 3 for a competitive niche, i had no problem getting it to page 3 but i cant seem to get past that point so thus far im liking expired domains. I just recently bought a few more, (one of which i will be using for a money site), but this time all the site and the backlinks are relevant to the niche im looking to get into so i will see how that goes.

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Robert M. says September 4, 2014

Hi Jon,
Thanks for another awesome article!
I’m starting now to experiment with redirection using domains from different C Block IP address. I would be glad to know your opinion on redirecting domains from same IP address vs from different IP address.
Thank you
Robert M.

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Dominic Wells says September 5, 2014

Great case study Jon. I’ve been thinking of doing something similar where I build 2 sites in the exact same niche at the same time (obviously using different content), one on an expired domain and one on a clean, and comparing results.

It seems like that wouldn’t be conclusive enough though, so maybe I’d need to do it on 3 or more different niches to get better results!

Anyway, I have a question regarding the 301s. If you have say 2-3 expired domains that are relevant to your money site (fresh domain) is there any benefit to doing a 301 on all of them? Or maybe 301 one of them and use the other 2 as PBN sites?

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Chris says September 24, 2014

From my experience expired domains have been highly successful. I’ve managed to grab a few high DA domains on the drop, put up a small 5 page site and get rankings within days. One domain in particular that I caught on the drop used to be an official tourism website for a major aussie destination. Put up the site and within the week I was ranking second for the location and receiving over 100 visits a day.

The hard bit is catching these domains and as more and more people become aware of the benefits of expired domains it gets harder and harder. You can either run the analysis yourself for .com domains or use one of many tools, if you go for a less mature market like Australia then you probably have a better chance of grabbing a bargain. I use dropalert.com.au for .com.au domains and have caught about 20 in the past few weeks. Careful! Expired domains gets addictive!!

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Rob Atkinson says September 29, 2014

Jon,
Is the expired domain that you 301’d (non-relevant one that you said was moderately successful) still doing well after the PBN/expired domain shake up over the past couple of weeks?

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Nidhi Samuel says October 15, 2014

Jon, I am a beginner in SEO industry and just joined my first job. I am really enjoying the challenges & opportunities in this domain and expecting good future too. I read your article and the case study is really interesting. But my question is, is this process future updates safe? Don’t you think that private blog networks are kind of gray-hat SEO techniques? Even Google recently said the same thing. 301 redirects too seem to be a bit skeptical. These strategies might have worked till date but my question is aren’t those gray-hat and risky for a long-term business/blogging?

Nidhi

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lee le says December 18, 2014

I think it is good when using a expired domain a bit relevant to your niche and then using PBN and 301 redirect from another expired domain is a best way to grab your site to the top of SEM. But the difficult think that you have to find the relevant expired domain

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Nate says December 28, 2014

There seems to be a pretty wide array of experiences on this. Over the last couple years, I’ve built well over a dozen sites on expired domains. Some were relevant, others weren’t relevant at all. During that time, I had one dud where the site wouldn’t get indexed that I picked up with a crawler. None of the drops I picked up at auction turned out to be duds.

Over the last year I noticed that expired domains where the sites have been de-indexed for awhile have the “sandbox” effect like a new site (this wasn’t the case before that), but you can still piggy back on the existing age with domains that have been freshly dropped where pages are still indexed in Google.

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Dewald Swart says March 23, 2015

Where can I find expired domains that are good as well as relevant to our business?

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Jas says April 2, 2015

I am starting this SEO strategy. I tested with redirecting 2 niche relevant expired domain to the money site, but I notice ranking went down. So my new strategy is rebuild the expired domains and after getting some Google trust, then redirecting them to the money site. Let see how this works.

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Milwaukee Oral Surgeons says April 12, 2017

Thanks for the tips. Working on our new domain right now

Reply
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