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A domain journey….

A coupl1045090_669215376438026_108900541_ne of years ago when my partner and I got into the expired domains business we initially bought a domain which we started to build our business around. The domain in question was called www.digyourdomain.com , it was cute we had some fun with the logo and branding playing off the “dig” part of the name, with a little JCB digger in the title.

The domain had positives and negatives about it, the biggest positive was that it was a .com TLD and however cheesy the marketing was we could build a brand around it. The main negative was that a three word domain is always going to be a mouthful, not to mention easy to mistype and maybe even forgettable… Another major drawback to this domain was it really had no history and the SERPS were poor, if my memory serves me correctly we were down on page 12 on all major search engine results, for our targeted keyword expired domains. All of this was despite rich content being added on a daily basis.

Languishing down on page 12 we had some decisions to make, my partner was keen to find an exact match domain to our targeted keyword and find a domain which had some existing traffic, whilst I on the other hand liked our cheesy domain name and wanted to stick with it for longer. It is worth mentioning that at the time maintaining a database with expired domains was really just a hobby for both of us and we really were not actively working on any SE0 techniques. In the end as this really was my partner’s baby at the time, he won the battle of wills and we bought a new domain name – www.expired-domains.co.

Within days the digger was gone, the digyourdomain traffic was redirected to our shiny new website. My partner insisted the .co was the new .com (until he changed his mind later on!) I on the other hand was ambivalent to this aspect of the domain. I see many non .com domains doing well these days, including ironically my own, but my belief is this is because of sheer hard work and nothing to do with the extension. In the beginning the biggest problem I had with the domain was the hyphen, you go to retype it, you forget the damn hyphen, bam you give up and go to a competitor. The hyphen is a problem always has been, always will be simple as.

The good thing about the domain was it was an EMD or for those who don’t know what that means an exact match domain. Everything I was told, read and researched informed me that Google once loved these and after the first release of Panda had downgraded their affection to liked a lot, remember we are talking 2012/2013 here. So what happened – well we got better at what we did, the data was richer, the functionality was vastly improved so yes we slowly started to move up the SERP, until we hit what appeared to be our ceiling PAGE 5!

Page 5 turned into a place of nightmares for us, so near but so far, even more frustrating was the horrible outdated content that was ranking above us. Google, Google you boast about your awesome algorithms filtering out bad non relevant content, so why do blog entries from 5 years ago that were barely relevant to our targeted keyword back then let alone now rank so much higher than our website, where the content was literally being refreshed daily! Did I mention I was frustrated!!

Being annoyed at Google gets you nowhere though, you just have to suck it up and learn how to play the game better, which is exactly what I did. Yes our content was being refreshed daily but it was data, data about domains and upon reflection I realized we werent really hitting any of our target keywords with our content, so I started blogging and I blogged hard. Pretty quickly we started to see results, in less than 3 months we jumped 2 pages in the SERP and within 6 months we were a permanent fixture on page 2. Once people started seeing we were out there the traffic to our site increased and we had a steady and healthy stream of repeat customers – now that is what I call success.

Fast forward another six months and we are doing pretty darn well, we consistently appear in the middle of page 1 and we have a wonderful set of loyal customers that we see day after day. So what is my biggest problem with my domain now www.expired-domains.co well when we were down on page 5, amongst crappy non relevant blogs being an EMD was not a bad thing at all, our website jumped out at you, it was ovbious that  we were highly applicable to the keyword and I am sure those few adventurous domainers out there willing to go to page 5 to find new domains landed on our site because of the name.

This becomes a whole different story when you are lucky enough to get to page 1, being an EMD rather than having a brand definitely has its downsides…. I never thought I would say this but having a domain the same as your keyword can put your customers off. With many competitors having similar names it is perceived your service/ data is not original and is even stale and I firmly believe we get skipped over by potential visitors for this reason.

Another aspect I did not consider was as your business grows your services expand, through blogging and working on Search Optimization for my website, I have become well versed in SEO techniques and online and social media marketing, to such an extent I feel that I am in a position to add this as a service to clients to assist in online marketing strategies for their own respective businesses. The ideal and smart thing to do if we had a brand would be to umbrella this under our existing service – “Find a domain through us and we will help to make that domain work for you” or something like that…. Without a brand though adding additional services and marketing as standalone enterprise is near impossible.

Ok so we don’t have a true brand but what we do have now is a successful website, that is different in many many ways to our competitors. Our service is entirely free, no subscription necessary and our interface is completely unique and 100% mobile friendly. We are constantly working on updates to the site and have a vision for our business that will keep us on page 1 for a long time to come. Our aim is to be number 1, I think we will get there and maybe just maybe i will stop whining to my partner about branding then! Come see us we have millions of domains expired-domains.co

 

 

 

The social anti social dilema….

With the eCorporate-Share-Buttons-The-Anti-Social-Mediaxplosion of the social media scene in the last decade, it could be argued that owning a domain tied to your name and maintaining it as a personal record, a trend that did gather  momentum some time ago is no longer required. If you don’t like Facebook, there’s always Google Plus, and then there’s Twitter, Tumblr, Linkedin and of course because everyone loves a pinup – Pinterest and the list goes on. You can bet your bottom dollar that for many small businesses their Facebook page contains more relevant, uptodate information than anything on their websites. In the age where blogging and reposting of other blogs garners followers, friends and retweets, the question is how substantiate is this – do they really equate to loyalty and cash? And if this is indeed the case – what are the trade off’s?

The value of conversation and sharing in general is enormous, and these services offer great convenience, in many cases we are already using these services in a personal capacity, so its like while we are here lets do a bit of business at the same time, coupled with convenience plus teams of people who handle issues like security, not to mention visibility for users the lure of social media giants is magnetic, yet we all need to remember who’s in charge at these social media sites and BTW its not us….

Cynically it could be argued that we are all just visitors or even pawns – suppliers of content that those same social media giants use to go on and make money and lots of it at that.. Throughout time we have seen the risks of putting our proverbial eggs in these corporate baskets and again and again, we have witnessed that nothing is “free” when it comes to such things. Whether it’s using the data we generate to make money, outright invasions of privacy, or the real possibility that the service might (and sometimes does) disappear at the whim of the owner.

With all that said and at the risk of sounding far too Right Wing for my own good, if we understand the deal with the devil we are taking and understand who really is in control then the relationship can become far more symbiotic and lucrative for both parties. Ideally with the massive audience Social Media platforms enjoy these should be used as springboards to drive people and ultimately traffic to your own website. And as most of us know targeted traffic from whatever source will always do well in the big search engine result pages.

Buying a domain to create a website to run a parallel strategy alongside your social media campaigns  is easy, and cheap. Here at expired domains we see thousands of domains that expire every day that can be picked up for less than $100, some even cheaper. If you are just starting out in business and haven’t built out your brand yet a great place to start with a domain is your name, unless you have an extremely uncommon last name, you’ll be unlikely to find it available. But you may well be able to get your FirsnameLastname.com address – and even if you can’t you can use other domain suffixes or find a name that is still useful. Remember, most people find websites via searches, so don’t worry if you can’t get your exact name.

Let’s say you’ve gotten your domain name. How do you create your presence? Most registrars will help you create placeholder sites – a page or two that you can edit. My advice is to do something better: start a blog. One of the easiest ways is to get a WordPress.com account, and use its agile blogging tools. The company has demonstrated a powerful commitment to the open web by also offering its software, open source, for others to download, use and modify. For a reasonable fee, you can have WordPress point your blog to your own domain.

You can also install your own blogging software. This gives you more flexibility, and takes a bit more expertise, but many low-cost hosting companies – the internet providers that provide (typically shared) servers that power your domain – will set up blogs for you, it really is as easy as that. Last but not least there are even people like me out there who actually like blogging about a multitude of different subjects and are willing to write blogs for your websites and social media campaigns for small fees – the SEO rewards I promise far exceed the cost. If you are interested in our blogging service please contact me clare@expired-domains.co.


As always before I go as I love shamefully plugging  my own website – don’t forget to check out the best free domain tool out there expired domains.

Butterfingers – or successfully catching a dropped domain…?

butterfingerThe dog days of summer have arrived and with the days getting longer and the summer vacations closing in, watching the kids play catch and baseball reminds me of that age old debate..is it really possible for you to catch your own domain? Or without the help of those big catchers out there like pool.com and snapnames will the curse of butterfingers bestows us all…

 

Firstly for those who are not aware a lightning quick overview of the domain expiration process..

  1. Expiration: The domain name expires as scheduled. On this day, it stops resolving to wherever the site was hosted. You can check the date when a domain expires using ‘whois <domain name>’ on a linux or OSX machine; you’re looking for something like “Record expires on 01-Oct-2016.” At this stage, the domain is just starting the expiration process and it’s possible for the domain owner to reclaim it.
  2. On Hold: The domain has expired, but it has not yet been released for resale and it still held by your registrar. Depending on the policy of your registrar, you might be able to make a quick payment to renew the domain name at this point. This period can last a couple of days.
  3. Redemption Period: Most registrars will hold onto your domain and let you buy it back for up to 30 days following expiration, for a fee.
  4. Pending Delete. At this stage, the domain is being reverted back into the pool to be resold. If this was your domain, you’ve lost it. Deletion status lasts 5 days.
  5. Deleted. At this stage, the domain has been deleted and anyone can buy it. First come, first serve.

And so who are the main players?

Pool.com

Pool.com really created the current model where buyers only pay if they acquire the drop with out any upfront fees. Now days this is pretty much the standard across the board. The minimum bid price for pool.com is $60. Multiple people may place bids on the same name. The system will not tell you if anyone else is bidding against you until Pool.com acquires the drop. Then, if multiple people placed bids the domain name goes to a closed eBay style auction.

SnapNames

SnapNames use to be the exclusive auction site for Network Solutions domains. The site is still going strong after that partnership ended. The minimum bid with SnapNames is $79, and you do not need to pay unless you win the auction. In fact, you don’t even need to provide SnapNames with payment information until after you win. If SnapNames catches the drop then it goes into a 3-day auction between only those who placed a bid on the domain name prior to the drop. The auction is run as a typical eBay style auction where you can place multiple bids, set a maximum bid, etc. If no one else is interested in the domain then you’ll automatically win the auction at the minimum bid.

Namejet

NameJet is the newest company to the market, being formed when the partnership between Network Solutions and SnapNames ended. NameJet is the exclusive aftermarket auction site for Network Solutions, eNom, and Bulk Register. If the domain you are interested in currently registered with one of these registrars then NameJet is the only site you need to deal with.

The minimum bid price starts at $69 and as normal you do not have to pay unless you win the auction. They offer both public auctions where anyone can place a bid, or private auctions where only those placed a bid before the drop can participate.

GoDaddy

With their system you first purchase a “DomainAlert Pro Backordering” slot for $20.99. This slot can be used again and again until a backorder is successful. Once you’ve purchased that slot you can select which domain name you want to place a backorder on. One thing to note is that they only allow one back order per domain name. If GoDaddy catches the drop then you’ll receive the domain right away. Since they only allow one back order per domain there is no post-drop auction like the other services.

 

Players in place, you have chosen your poison so what happens next..?

If the domain is some crazy gibberish domain name, it’s possible that nobody will try to buy that domain and you can pick it up at your convenience. If it’s something really marketable like “summer.com,” you can bet your bottom dollar there will be hundreds of people trying to grab that domain the moment it is deleted.

As we all know there is  a whole industry simply  focused on grabbing expiring domains as soon as they are deleted. Sites like the ones mentioned above will let you “backorder” a name and then use specific software to catch the domain the split second it becomes available and yes they are very efficient at what they do but once they get hold of an expired domain, they launch an auction to try to sell it to the highest bidder. They create a market for that domain if they get it.

Which of course many will argue creates a conflict of interest you tell them what domain you want, they have a system to grab it once it’s available, then they run around marketing that domain to as many bidders as possible.  In a nutshell simply by using such a service to backorder a domain creates interest in the domain and alerts them that it’s worth buying it. You might even be worse off using such a service because you suddenly are bidding against a bunch of people who otherwise would have no idea the domain existed or was for sale.

There is a large population of domain buyers who bid on just about every ok-looking domain which ends up at auction on the domain catching sites, for this reason more and more people are turning to the option of trying to grab these domains themselves

David v Goliath

If you choose to try this option here are a few pointers to get you started..

  1. Do not backorder the domain anywhere! Do nothing to reveal your interest in the domain to registrars.
  2. Using whois <domain> find out what day the domain expires.
  3. Set a calendar reminder to check the status of the domain 30 days after that date.
  4. You should see the domain change to “Pending Delete” status. Set your calendar reminder to 5 days after the time when the Pending Delete Status began.
  5. At that time, do a whois. Is there a domain record? No? It’s yours! Go buy it on your favorite registrar. If it’s still pending delete, keep checking. It could become available at any time. This is best accomplished using a shell script so you don’t have to keep checking by hand.

And what if one of the domain catching services grabs the domain before you? You can still bid on it at this point. (the auction will appear on their web site in a few days and you’ll see the domain record update)

Slippery things…

The domain expiration process is confusing, convoluted, and congested.. With little to no regulation the current system allows each individual registrar because they can create exclusive partnerships with auction services.

A better and possibly more fairer way  would be to set up a single waiting list or auction style system allowing a more leveled and open playing field. With all that said we are stuck with the current system for the foreseeable future so going back to my original question do butter fingers prevail every time when trying to catch your own domain? Well If you’re trying to grab something that isn’t typically useful, universally marketable, easily recognizable and a less popular TLD, maybe…  Remember keep a low profile and stalk your chosen domain through the expiration lifecycle and swoop in when it becomes available, but please dont be too disappointed if this strategy does not work – remember there are many vultures out there!

Expired Domains

Keep stalking, keep catching and visit our site every day to find some incredible domain names! – Expired Domains.

 

Flip or Flop expired domain style

Is there anytflipflop111hing more difficult than choosing a great domain for your website? All kinds of things need to be considered, branding, pronunciation, SEO so on so on…. The bottom line though is domains can be worth a lot of money, with famous names like Hotels.com and Business.com selling for $11 million and $7.5 million respectively and the list of domains selling for a $1 million + grows every year. This is all very well and good though for the domain investors with that kind of cash kicking around but how can us mere mortals buy and sell domains and make a profit?

With the explosion of the domain broker role in the last decade finding multi-million dollar domain names is incredibly tough, but never fear it is  still very possible to profit from flipping domains for hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars each, and heres a quick snapshot of how to do just that!

Keep it close to home..

Over the last decade, local search engine optimization has grown from a tiny market into a huge industry. From pizza delivery restaurants to dentists, almost every local business wants to be the first result for its target search keywords.

One of the best ways to climb the search engine rankings is with a domain name that includes your target keywords. For example, Wellington PizzaDelivery.com should rank near the top of the results for keywords like “Wellington pizza delivery.”

Use expired domains to search for local domains that could be of value to businesses in your city. Once you’ve found a winner, buy it and contact several local businesses that you think would be interested in owning it.

With a persuasive sales email, you’ll rarely struggle to find a local business owner that’s interested in acquiring a strategically valuable domain name. With the right focus on sales, this domain flipping strategy can be incredibly profitable.

 

Buy expired domains

Ok so as we have discussed in previous blogs there’s more to SEO than just the keyword relevancy of your domain. Domains that have now expired are attractive to buyers as they were previously used for other websites and often have hundreds of backlinks and a reasonably high PageRank. Though the PageRank algorithm has not been updated in nearly two years to many this is still seen as a key metric in assessing the value of a domain.

There is a whole community of domain investors interested in building links to their own websites or rebuilding the domain to attract search engine traffic. In general these are short term flip techniques, think a minor refurbishment before they are sold on. It is good to note expired or dropped domains with a PageRank of five or more are particularly valuable and you can find them at expired domains on a daily basis.

Specialize

It often helps to have expert knowledge when you’re searching for domains. If you understand a niche very well – whether it’s fishing or small business advice – make use of your knowledge and search for domains for sale within your niche.

With an expert’s perspective, you’re bound to discover domains being sold on most registrars and auction websites for significantly less than they’re worth. If you’re an expert, you’ll also find it easier to contact potential buyers in your niche.

From interior decorating to automotive repair, every niche has opportunities for a smart domain investor to profit. Put your expert knowledge to use and scout your favorite niche for good domain investing opportunities.

Be prepared to do a major refurbishment….

I am sure we have all seen the Real estate show, where they buy houses, sometimes the remediation is quick and cheap but often the projects are large and take longer for the house to reach its full value potential. Domains are really no different, sometimes, a domain is worth far more with it comes with an established website instead of on its own. Building a website on your investment domains has several benefits: it proves its SEO value, shows its potential, and makes it more appealing for potential buyers.

If you spot a domain that you think could generate traffic from search engines with minimal additional SEO, don’t be afraid to build a simple WordPress website. If you can find the right buyer, having a website can double (or triple) a domain’s value.

Don’t be afraid to play the waiting game

Some domain flips can be completed in days. You register the domain, search using Google and online business directories to find customers, and sell the domain to an interested buyer within a few days.

Not all domain sales go this smoothly, however, and some may require you to hold a domain for weeks, months, or even years before it’s time to sell. This is particularly true for domains that have huge value to a small, niche audience.

Don’t be afraid to take a long-term strategy to domain flipping and hold domains for years at a time. Remember, it’s better to sell your domains at a huge profit in months than it is to sell them at a modest profit in mere days.

Think outside the box..

The days of .com, .net and .org being the only top-level domains worth considering are well and truly over. Our website www.expired-domains.co is case in point. At one time anything other than a .com was TLD was looked down upon and carried significantly less value. Our very own .co domain is testament to the previous point, building a website, slowly but surely creating a backlink network can seriously pay off in many ways. Today, every domain extension from .io to .us can be worth an incredible amount to the right domain investor.

If you spot a fantastic domain name that uses an unusual TLD, don’t shy away from it out of principle. With the popularity of domain hacks, an unusual top-level domain can often be worth just as much as the ‘gold standard’ .com extension.

Ready, steady, go!

Domain flipping is an excellent way to put your research and investment skills to the test and generate real online income. It’s also a fantastic way to learn what startups, online companies and marketers value in a domain name and online presence. So what’s stopping you go to our awesome expired domain database now and start making money… expired domains.

 

Really so why should I buy that expired domain?

second_hand_berlinWith over 40 million expired domains in our database and hundreds of thousands expiring each day, it can be daunting to see the wood through the trees. Which are truly valuable domains that you could resell or flip for a profit? Which domains will provide long term SEO benefits and which domains are just pure duds that you are best advised to stay clear of…..

Secondhand better than new?

With so many new GTLDs fresh to the market you may be asking yourself why even buy an expired domain, it would be so much easier to register one of the hundreds of thousands new domains out there all shiny new, and yes this certainly may be the case for the small business owner where web traffic or SEO is not a main priority. Domains are much like wine, find a good grape, an awesome vineyard which treats the fruit with respect and the good wines will only get better with age. Think of the domain as it develops in its lifecycle, being enriched with great back links, and relevant content as that vintage wine being saved up for a special occasion.

Semi Valuable Domain checklist in a flash..

With the wine analogy in mind here’s the quickest guide I could put together to summarize finding what I call semi valuable domains ( semi valuable because you probably aren’t going to get lucky enough to find an expired domain and flip it for a million plus, but these domains will have SEO and resale value) It’s not important that you have EVERY metric covered, but say at least 3 out of 4 of those should at least meet the criteria 1 to 4 below.

  1. Page authority>20
  2. Domain authority>15
  3. Trust Flow>15
  4. Citation Flow>15

Spam Check

It’s all very well having great metrics, but if the domain has been spammed in the past, be very very careful.

Unlike with some of the other metrics, this area is more difficult to measure, and this is only becoming more so as spamming becomes more sophisticated.

Watch out for..

  • Chinese or foreign language backlinks
  • Extremely high percentage of “same match” anchor texts
  • Tons of low quality links (PR N/A, free platforms, software generated etc etc

Do your homework on the backlinks – quantity does not mean quality.

There are loads of back link checkers out there but none of them are 100% reliable, so I would recommend sticking to the moz.com or majesticseo.com, they are two of the largest, offer a limited subscription service but general pricing is pretty decent. Being the largest they have a reputation of data integrity and reliability they need to uphold.

Anchor Text %

Generally speaking, when I personally build links for 1 target keyword, I keep the percentage of exact match anchor text around 20% or less to avoid an Over-Optimization Penalty. The remaining 80% being closely related keywords or generic keywords such as click here, visit this site etc etc.

When checking the back link profile of a domain you’re interested in, make sure the anchor text of the target keyword(s) found are 20% or below.

Registrar History

You should make sure the domain hasn’t been dropped too many times. The more times it’s been dropped, the more likely it’s been abused and should be avoided. An aged domain usually does have history so some sound judgment is needed here.

What went before

When buying an expired domain you should always take a peep at what the previous content was over the years. Though the popularity of exact match domains has declined somewhat over the years, it would be prudent to stay away from a domain whose website content has swung away from the original meaning of the domain and has no relevancy at all. Another warning sign would be if the website subject matter has switched many times over the years.

So ok I said it would be a checklist in a flash, which it was…As you all know there are many other factors to also consider, but buying expired domains is really no different to many aspects of life, sometimes you can over complicate and over analyze something into inaction. As much as we have tried to add metrics and measurement tools to this industry buying domains is not a science. Judgment and good old fashioned gut feeling is just as important as some of the metrics listed above…

Before you go don’t forget to hop across and check out our awesome expired domains database, I know I said it before but I will again, we have millions of domains but best of all we have a state of the art user interface which will enable you to find the expired domains quicker than on some of the other sites – AND we are completely free – no subscription!!! Expired Domains