With all of the craziness going on in Google updates, I wanted to share some information about expired domains. For quite some time, people have been purchasing expired domains and ranking them for various keywords. Not too long ago, you could rank a general expired domain for almost any keyword, regardless of what the site used to be about.
Then, Google changed something, which made it nearly impossible to rank general expired domains for topics that weren't closely related to the former site's content. For example, it would be nearly impossible to rank a site that was about traffic courts for a keyword like "best weight loss diet".
I'm not sure of the exact date, but I believe sometime last year Google has flipped another switch and changed things yet again. Recently, I purchased two expired domains from Godaddy auctions. Both of these domains were former ice cream businesses.
Both sites had decent DA, PA, TF and CF metrics. DA was 25 for one site and 29 for the other. The sites had good enough metrics to be used in a powerful link network. All of the backlinks to each site contained the site's brand name, which was the business name, which included the words 'ice cream'. I attempted to build out a site on each of these domains targeting affiliate commissions from Amazon.
I had to wait about a week before the domains were released from the auctions. Once released, I immediately setup a 5-page wordpress site on each domain. All unique content targeting buyer keywords, like I would with a normal affiliate site. I let the sites site for about three weeks to see where Google would rank them naturally, without sending any links to them.
Even with the targeted content and natural links already pointing at the site, Google refused to rank the sites anywhere. Finally, Google started ranking the sites between pages 10 to 30 -- or 100 to 300 in the SERPs. Take a look at the recent RankTrack data for both sites.
I just realized I didn't load the search volume for the keywords shown in the pictures. It's about anywhere from 50 to 3,400 exact local monthly searches. The pictures shown were taken about a month after I sent 30 high PR links to each of the sites. You can see absolutely no movement.
Here is an image showing one of the keywords, which gets 170 exact monthly searches:
You would think that the domain should be able to rank by itself for such low volume keywords. However, Google is acting like it has something against the site. It's like it wants to rank it -- but something is stopping it.
Both of the sites were PR 3 with absolutely no spam or previous penalties. This is a very small test sample, but based on this sample alone, considering both of the sites are laser-targeted to the topic I tried to rebuild them with, I would conclude that Google has adding some type of filter that doesn't let domains that have expired rank for new topics. Or if they do, it's very hit and miss.
The affect of 30 high PR links, which should've skyrocketed these aged, relevant domains to the top positions for the keywords I targeted with them were completely null. To make things interesting, I sent the same links to a site that is on the exact same topic that I tried to rebuild the expired domains on. The difference is that, unlike the expired domains, the other site I sent links to has been targeting the keywords since inception.
In other words, it has just been sitting with one page of content targeting the keywords for about 9 months. Look at the results just TWO DAYS after I sent links to this site...
Look at this picture showing one keyword for the site that has been targeting the desired keywords since birth:
The links sent to this site gave it about 15 new #1 positions from positions 10+ almost overnight. What can we conclude from this data? I believe that Google might rank re-purposed expired domains, but based on this data, I think it would actually be FAR BETTER to start a brand new, fresh domain on your target keywords.
Something interesting that I found was that expired domains that were re-purposed BEFORE Google implemented this new change seem to still be ranking for whatever keywords they were made to target, so it's as if Google has grandfathered in any expired domains that were re-purposed and ranked before the 'filter' was added.
I would say from a ROI perspective, it makes far more sense to just start on a brand new domain. However, the exception would be if you had the chance to purchase an aged, indexed domain that hasn't expired and is already targeting your keywords, which I think would be a very rare find anyway.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you been able to rank re-purposed, relevant or irrelevant expired domains within the last 5-6 months? If so, how did it go? Keep in mind, I'm talking about recently launched and re-purposed expired domains, as I believe other re-purposed domains have been 'grandfathered' into the SERPs.