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7 Tips on Buying Expired Domain Names at Auction


How to buy an expired domain

Buying expired domain names can place your online business on the fast track to success. Once purchased, you can use them to funnel link juice to one of your existing websites, or you can attempt to resell them for a profit. With tens of thousands of domain names expiring each day, though, you might be wondering which ones you should buy. Using these seven tips, you'll have an easier time securing high-quality expired domain names at auction.

1. Look for Aged Domain Names

Whether you use NameJet, GoDaddy Auctions, Dynadot, SnapNames, or any other auction house, you should look for aged domain names. Older domain names are typically more valuable, for SEO, at least than newer domain names. If a domain name has been registered for three years, for example, search engines will assume it has a stable online presence, so they'll give it priority in the search results over domain names registered for a shorter length of time.

You can keep the original WHOIS creation date of an expired domain name by purchasing it before it drops. Don't bid on expired domain names labeled as "pending delete" or "deleted." Once an expired domain name has reached either status, it's considered dropped and, therefore, its WHOS creation date will reset when you buy it.

2. Analyze Inbound Links

You should also analyze the number of inbound links an expired domain has before bidding on it. It's not uncommon for expired domain names to have hundreds or thousands of inbound links. Some even have over 1 million inbound links.

Search engines use inbound links, also known as backlinks, as a ranking signal. If a domain has a lot of inbound links, it will rank higher and with greater ease in the search results than a domain with few or no inbound links. Analyze the total number of inbound links, as well as the number of referring domains from those links, when buying expired domain names at auction. You can dig even deeper into the SEO value of an expired domain name's inbound links by checking their Page Authority (PA). All of this information can help you choose the right expired domain name on which to bid.

3. Check for a Reserve

Some auction houses, including NameJet, allow registrars to set a reserve on their expired domain names. Like with eBay, the reserve on an expired domain name auction is the minimum price the seller is willing to accept for it. If the highest bid is lower than the reserve price, the seller keeps the domain name.

You can't see the exact reserve for expired domain names at auction. Rather, auction houses display a reserve range, such as $1,001 to $2,500. Unless you bid higher than the reserve, you won't be able to buy the expired domain name, in which case it will appear as "Reserve Not Met" on the auction house's website. You can still bid on an expired domain name with a high reserve, but it's better to focus on expired domain names that either don't have a reserve or have a reserve that's within your budget.

4. Don't Bid on Trademarked Domain Names

Unless you're willing to engage in a lengthy legal battle that may or may end in your favor, you shouldn't bid on expired domain names containing a trademarked word or phrase. While domain names aren't copyright protected, they are trademarked protected. If an expired domain name contains another business's trademark, like words or phrases uses to represent a business or its products or services, you could be forced to forfeit the domain name or pay the business restitution.

Before bidding on an expired domain name, search Google for the words and phrases it contains to see if they are used by another business. It's not the auction house's responsibility to check and see whether an expired domain name is trademarked. If an expired domain name contains a trademark, buying it as a waste of money.

5. Place Bids Near the End of Auctions

For the best deals on expired domain names, wait until the auction is about to end to place a bid. Most auctions last for seven to 10 days. If you bid aggressively during the first few days a domain name is listed on an auction house, other bidders may jump in as well, thus inflating the domain name's price.

6. Assess Traffic

Depending on which auction house you use, you may be able to view the traffic of expired domain names at auction. On GoDaddy Auctions, clicking the "Traffic" tab will sort the available expired domain names by the estimated number of monthly visits the domain name receives. If an auction house doesn't reveal the estimated traffic of its expired domain names, you can use Alexa Rank at alexa.com/siteinfo to gain a better understanding of an expired domain name's traffic.

Why does traffic matter? If you buy an expired domain name that attracts hundreds of unique visitors each month, you can set up a basic 301 redirect to redirect those visitors to one of your existing websites. Alternatively, you can redevelop the expired domain name with a new website to take advantage of its traffic.

7. Secure Overlooked Domain Names With a Single Bid

Over 10,000 domain names expire each day. Normally, the most valuable expired domain names have the highest number of bids. However, you can still acquire many valuable expired domain names with just a single bid.

If you're the sole bidder, you'll win the domain name for your specified bid amount. Just remember to place a bid shortly before the auction ends. If the auction ends without any bids, the expired domain name will drop, either moving to a separate closeout listing system or back into the pool of publicly accessible domain names.

The process of selecting and bidding on expired domain names at auction can seem confusing at first. Each auction house has its own interface and rules. After familiarizing yourself with a specific auction house, though, you can quickly search for and big on high-quality expired domain names.

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