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Expired Domains With Traffic – Case Study

Ranking content in Google and generating valuable traffic is hard…but it is my favorite way to grow almost any business. It just takes too long… unless you start with an “unfair” competitive advantage of an expired domain that already has traffic!

This post talks about a few experiments I have been running over the last year with expired domains, low competition keywords and efficiently produced content. 

TLDR

Buy an expired domain focusing more on the traffic the site used to get and less on the backlink metrics or name then target super low competition relevant keywords with efficiently produced content.

Video Showing How…

Results…

Here are the detailed steps and the metrics that were targeted along with a tutorial on how to find expired domains with traffic. 

ONE – Acquire Expired Domain – Focusing on Historical Traffic! 

There are lots of great articles online that talk about how to find a great SEO Domain. 

However, my preference (when building a money site) is not to look exclusively at backlinks but more importantly look at how the site was performing in Google. 

Backlink metrics are generally a proxy for estimating how much authority we think a site has in the eyes of Google. By looking at how much traffic a site was getting from Google it is a much better data point on understanding how Google will view the site. 

Why this makes sense… when you are buying a domain at auction you are competing with domainers and SEO’s. If you can value something that the people you are competing with don’t value (IE traffic) then you can find opportunities to pickup relatively inexpensive/less in-demand domains that will perform beautifully for your intent (getting traffic). 

Here is the domain that was picked up and the very low domain metrics it had…

Image:

But it showed that Google did give it love before the domain has been left for dead…

How to Find Expired Domains with Traffic

Use a tool like SpamZilla to search all domains available filtering for ahrefs metrics DR > 9 and SEMRush traffic > 10 (as just an initial filter). From these filters you will get a list of all domains that have at least some decent backlinks and traffic. From there do a deeper dive on any URLs that seem interesting in SEMRush, Ahrefs and Archive.org. 

  1. Open this tool I use
  2. Search for Domain
    • DR > 9
    • Traffic > 10
  3. Check SEMRush
    • Ideally looking for a stable traffic trend that may have only recently declined. Confirm the decline lines up with timing on when the domain was taken offline according to Archive.org
    • Make sure the traffic does not have a significant amount of branded traffic
  4. Check ahrefs
    • Looking for “real” and “relevant” backlinks
  5. Check Archive.org
    • Make sure the domain was not recently redirected
  6. Buy at Auction
    • I like to put in my best last final bid at 5:05 and walk away

Here is a video tutorial on how I like to search, find and buy expired domains that I know will get traffic…

TWO – Target Low Competition Keywords (don’t focus on volume)

Lately, my go-to Keyword Research tool has been SEMRush… it allows me to start with either a competitor’s site or my own site (in this case what was the site historically ranking for) and then pull on a thread to uncover a nice cluster of keywords. 

To measure competition I like to look at 2 main metrics… 

  1. Keyword Difficulty as shown by SEMRush (or any keyword research tool) – Ideally < 60
  2. The Keyword Golden Ratio popularized by Doug Cunnington used in conjunction with KD really helps identify some low hanging fruit

I did not care much about the search volume… as long as there is some then I was happy to target it.   

THREE – Efficiently Create Content

Longform very high-quality content is 100% required to compete for competitive keywords. However, if you are going after very low competition keywords then optimizing the length of the content to efficiently produce content that will rank is key. 

Tools like MarketMuse or SurferySEO are great for using data to identify the length of the content that you should be targeting. 

Here is a post I created looking at the various correlation SEO tools and determining which was the most effective. The table below shows the results from a case study last year looking at the improvements content upgrades had in search traffic improvements. 

Is this Repeatable?

This site was part of a larger test where I am building a network of ecommerce/affiliate sites using this methodology. 

Here is the results of one phase of that test (excluding this site)…

Each of these sites were purchased for somewhere under $200/domain and had a small initial set of articles published on them. 

Although this case study had a very low DR the larger test showed that 100% of the top 9 sites had a DR over 9 while only 1 of the bottom 6 had a DR greater than 9. As a result I am definitely focusing this strategy on domains that now meet the first filter criteria of…

  • Shows historical traffic
  • DR > 9

Overall I hope this case study showed the power of starting a site on an expired domain while targeting super low competition keywords. 

If you have any questions please drop them in the comments below…

About the Author Jon

I am a 36 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

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