Google Expert Asked About Expired Domains. Opinion: His Uncertain Response May Confirm the Power of Expired Domains

Expired domains can be a powerful ally in ranking dominance, despite what Google may want to say.
SIA Team
August 7, 2021

Why People Find Expired Domains Valuable

As you may know, domain names are usually never owned forever: they’re basically “rented,” with necessary annual renewal fees. 

If you’re not exactly sure what it is, an expired domain is one that was previously registered, but when the time came to renew the domain, the “renter” of the domain didn’t renew it. 

While a domain name may expire, it seems evident that it’s history, and the effects thereof, does not. And, when it comes to search engine optimization, it’s the past history of a domain that may hold a lot of promise.

The next paragraph explains this.

Some expired domains will have had sites built on them. These sites may have been up for years, had a number of pages, inbound (and outbound) links, and possibly a lot of authority. (These authority numbers can be measured by some metrics, such as ahrefs’ Domain Rating and MOZ’s Domain Authority.)

It’s partially because of the authority (the past history) of these expired domains that they have such appeal to some. They have authority gathered over years, so by acquiring an expired domain, you are, in a way, saving years of your time. That’s why some would rather buy (or rent, I should say) an expired domain name vs renting a new one.

Now, I should say that there’s a whole process that goes into acquiring an expired domain: you have to evaluate a potential domain, look at the anchor text of it’s inbound links, look at the content that was on the site(s), and a whole host of other things. 

For those who properly go through the process and acquire a good expired domain, it has been reported that it’s easier for sites built on such domains to rank in Google. 

And that brings us to our news item.

During Google’s most recent English Google SEO office-hours, from August 6, 2021, John Mueller, who’s a Google search advocate, was asked a number of webmaster-oriented questions. 

One of the questions (which was the first to be asked in this session, at around the 40-second mark) had to do with expired domains. The participant said he had observed some rather low-quality sites ranking for some search terms. Upon closer inspection, he had found that these sites were on expired domains. 

When he looked closer, he found that these expired domains used to belong to Indian government institutions. The domains expired, weren’t renewed, and now, someone else renewed them and was alleged benefiting from the history of the domains. The participant offered to send John some urls.

John Mueller’s response was, “Sure. I mean…it’s hard to say without looking at the specifics. But we do have systems in place that try to catch these expired domains and to figure out how to handle them better.”

My Opinion

Well, from watching this portion of the Q&A, it seems to me that the power of expired domains is validated. Granted, I should reiterate something you probably know: there are many factors that go into the ranking of a site, so it’s hard to know for sure, but in this case, it sure seems that the past history of a domain name is one of them. 

That would explain why, as Mueller said, Google has some systems to “try to catch these expired domains.”

A Small Tip

If you do acquire an expired domain that you intend to use, which you plan to build a significant portion of your business on, I’d urge you to make it a professional-looking site, rather than a spammy, throwaway site. (In fact, that’s what, in my opinion, caused the participant to even ask about expired domains: he saw some low-quality sites that were ranking highly, presumably because they were on expired domains.)

In conclusion, I think that expired domains can be a powerful asset to those who know how to properly identify a valuable one, acquire it, and build a good site on it.

Source: Google Search Central YouTube channel