Buying Expired Domains? Make Sure To Do Your Research

Buying expired domain names is a great way to pick up some good deals on domains that could make great development or resale candidates. Many of the top investors buy expired domains every month and have been for years, people like Frank Schilling, Michael Berkens, and many more. The problem is, many new investors see other people bidding on an expired domain and instantly assume its a great deal.

Like any investment strategy doing your research is absolutely critical, otherwise you could end-up spending a nice chunk of change on a big pile of junk. The key to buying expired domains that make real investments is research. However by research I don’t just mean search volume and CPC, I mean really digging deeper to understand what you’re buying.

Here are some tips for doing the due diligence you should be doing every time you’re evaluating an expired domain purchase:

  1. Who owned the domain before you and what did they do with it? It is absolutely critical to understand the history of a domain name you’re buying, just because it was registered in 1998, doesn’t mean it has a clean history. If the previous owner used the domain to run a scam business, or to spam millions of people, you may be inheriting their problems. The best way to research the history of the a domain is to use DomainTools and look at the WHOIS history.
  2. Does the domain name violate any Trademarks? Before you buy any domain, expired or not, you should make sure it does not violate an trademarks. This takes under a minute and is completely free, simply go to USTPO.gov and see if there are any active trademarks on any of the words or phrases in the domain, if there are, stay far far away.
  3. Do the keywords in the domain get any search volume? Whether you’re planning on developing or selling a domain search volume is an important factor to take into account. If nobody is searching for the keywords in your domain, what makes you think it would make a great development candidate, and heck, why would anyone want to buy it?
  4. How competitive is the niche? This applies more to development than anything but it’s still important to consider no matter what you plan to do with the domain. Do a Google search for the keywords in the domain and see who comes up. If it’s all Google Adsense or Google Local followed by major brands you probably don’t stand a chance to get on the coveted page one. If you can’t this means a savvy buyer also knows they can’t so it might not be as great of a purchase as you’d think.
  5. What is the TLD of the domain? If you’re not buying a .COM you should make sure you understand the market you’re buying in. Just because you saw a great .IT sale the other day doesn’t mean that every .IT name you buy is going to be worth a fortune. Be very careful when buying outside of .COM and make sure you look at past sales and have an idea of what the value might be. Tools like Estibot can help you get a ballpark figure for what the keywords might be worth and how that changes based on TLD.

As always I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share your own tips for buying expired domains or comment on any of the tips I’ve listed above. Comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Can Aslan May 17, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Very helpful article Mr. Linton.But I don’t trust domain appraisal tools as they often provide absurd results.If the expired domain is .org, and .com and .net versions are taken but don’t have a website built on them, .org can become the ideal option.

    Reply
    • Morgan May 17, 2012, 12:37 pm

      @Can – thanks for your comment and positive feedback. I think appraisal tools are a great way to get a good estimate. No appraisal is 100% accurate but it can help you better understand the price range your domain could fall within.

      Reply
  • Michael May 17, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Hey Morgan,

    Thanks again for another informative post on aquiring the RIGHT kind of dropping domains. You pretty much nailed it with your 5 bullet points. I also like to check Alexa and see if it has traffic/links/etc. It’s also free. I guess DomainTools may do that, I need to get an account there. Theres lots of domaining services out there, but if I start signing up for all of them, I’ll be staring at $500 per mo. minimum for all these services. I’m not quite at that level just YET. 2013 is going to be the year for me! I’ve planted many seeds.
    It also doesn’t hurt to verify the domain hasn’t been de-indexed or anything like that. I have had a terrible experience recently with a certain company where it looks like a lot of my solid names were de-indexed and responsibility has not been taken on their part as far as Im concerned, which is sad. They had no problem taking my hard earned $ for development! Total crap! Like any investment people- do your DUE DILLIGENCE!

    Reply
  • Mark May 17, 2012, 1:00 pm

    Hi Morgan:

    Do you have any thoughts or experience on domain names that have a DEAD trademark?

    I assume that a domain name would be ok for development or resale if the tradmark is no longer active.

    Just curious if you have run across this.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    Reply
  • Richard Saperstein May 17, 2012, 1:48 pm

    Good article but it leaves out a lot of other areas that are important as well. Personally I don’t focus on those elements. I have my own set of rules I follow which allow me to grab domains that no one is even considering.

    Keep up the great work.

    Reply
  • steve May 17, 2012, 5:12 pm

    I still say the best thing you can do for your wallet is to buy a domain you can develop.
    I mean a real website not a mini page. Yes you will need to be original and creative but a great domain should be developed. That is why you want to check Google keyword tool to see how many exact matches it gets. Don’t check the broad matches, that won’t help. Once you get enough traffic you can put up Adense or contact companies to buy advertising and make more money that way. It is what we are doing, http://www.wordunscrambler.com , but we are always making it better. You won’t need to worry about renewing 1000 domains every year.

    Reply
  • Mohammed Sameeruddin May 17, 2012, 11:16 pm

    Morgan, Many thanx for the post.
    Some other things that to be considered are
    1) Past sales report for those keywords in the domain names to get an idea of the current demand for the domain name. We can have a look at namebio.com or dnsaleprice.com for doing this
    2) Google trends. To get an idea as how a particular keyword is performing in Google from past couple of years.
    3) Google insights to study the insights
    4) Does the domain name fits into one of the category below :
    a) Information
    b) Product
    c) service
    These are some extra notes that I would like to add.Thank you once again for the best posts you are posting.

    Reply
  • Artem May 18, 2012, 7:32 am

    Hi Morgan,

    Thanks for you tips. They are to the point, but I have some doubts about the forth one. While I completely agree that building an amateurish site in the saturated market can lead you nowhere due to the lack of budget required to compete with the prominent companies, won’t a savvy buyer (I’m speaking about an end user here) consider buying a strong name in the competitive niche as well?

    I always thought that it’s better to split names into two groups – ones for development and ones for selling to end-users. The first ones should have strong enough search stats, monetizing options and a chance to rank high with a reasonable effort; the second ones should have strong competition in search engines and a number of relevant advertisers for their exact match keyword. This is an open list of course, there are a number of other factors to consider before buying a name (including you tips as well), but these ones define two categories of buying candidates from my point of view. Could you please share opinion on this?

    Reply
  • Thomas May 19, 2012, 10:50 pm

    Hi Morgan,

    Thanks for your insights into buying expired domains. I have been buying expired domains with traffic since Jan this year and have some hit and misses. I make my buying decisions based on the CPC, search volume and adwords competition.

    My strategy is to spot expired domains which have keywords already ranking in Google page 1. I bought the domain and redevelop into a full website based on the content from archive.org, then I put some adsense ads and start to get some cash flowing in.

    With enough cash flow a month, I may considered selling the website on flippa and then repeat the process again. Do you think this is a sustainable business model?

    Reply
  • Dom Aina January 31, 2013, 5:20 am

    Excellent tips. I’m eyeing on some aged domains at DomainKa.com and I’ll use your guide. It’ll be fun finding domains that will work for my site too.

    Reply
  • Doma Ining February 20, 2013, 2:01 am

    Excellent tips. I’m just starting with domains. I’ll definitely employ some of the methods to get me started. I’ve visited DomainKa.com and found lots of aged domains for sale. Great work!

    Reply
  • suhan nepal March 23, 2013, 5:31 am

    great read. As i am a bit newbie in the domain market it was to good to know more about these things

    Reply
  • davidrakison78 July 24, 2015, 1:25 am

    Really useful information on building PBN.
    But sometimes I don’t have the time to do all this. I think it’s best to try to do it yourself as little as you can and outsource it to a PBN building service like http://alfazz.com/perfect-pbn/

    Reply
  • word unscrambler July 8, 2020, 12:34 am

    nice! thank you for sharing

    Reply

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