Many SEO bloggers preach for the acquisition of organic traffic by acquiring expired domains. Is it working? Not so sure!
Why buying expired domains?
A quite compelling post by Nathan Gotch shows how you can get many highly relevant backlinks by buying relevant expired domains.
What are Expired Domains?
Expired domains are domain names that have existed and have not been renewed by their owners.
Those websites might have acquired many backlinks over time, hence the idea that you could increase your authority by redirecting those websites to your own.
I was deeply intrigued by the idea, so I decided to test it on a small scale.
1. Found All Clients With Low Traffic But High Authority
I quick listed governmental institutions in Quebec.
- Gov websites have super high authority
- They don’t care about their own SEO
- A lot of them changed their domain name at a time when they had to migrate to “.qc.ca” ccTLDs.
- Many of them were clients
It was easy to find a domain that only has been dropped for a few days.
2. Bought an Expired Governmental Institution Domain
I finally found an expired Gov domain on Godaddy that was a client and that didn’t renew their website after a migration.
I bought it.
3. Found the Relevant Page on Our Website
The Governmental institution had a profile on our website. It did not receive a lot of traffic at the time.
The client profile was a super relevant landing page for the newly acquired domain name.
It had the client’s name as a header, the client’s own description in the context of the page, and the client’s logo.
Redirecting the domain to their own Facebook page wouldn’t have been more relevant.
4. Redirected The Domain to The Client Profile
I extracted all the pages on the expired domain that:
- Still received traffic from Google
- Had backlinks with the Brand name as the Anchor text
I made a Redirect 301 from each of those relevant pages to the profile.
Expired Domain Acquisition Results
I have to say, the result of this test isn’t surprising.
Everything was there for success:
- High Authority Expired Domain
- Expired for a Week Only
- Plenty Of Backlinks
- Easy To Track Marginal Gains
- Super Relevant Landing Page
Even on a small scale such as this, I am fairly convinced that the marginal gains are not worth the risk of doing this at scale.
What happened is this.
The week after the domain acquisition, I saw a huge increase in organic traffic to that page. Most traffic came from branded terms (the client’s branded terms).
After two weeks, I completely stopped receiving organic traffic, coming back to the initial state.
In the same period, I also lost most gained impressions in Google Search Console.
I have to say this: I don’t believe this to be a true scientific experiment.
The results being clear cut and so close to what I expected, I don’t plan on repeating the experiment, and I don’t pretend that I have provided any absolute proof.
I’ve just gathered the information that I needed to drop the domain name that I have acquired and abandon this as a viable SEO strategy.
This is nothing against Nathan Gotch’s work which I believe is really interesting and is worth reading.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison
This post is at best a proof that something that works in an industry, may, or may not, be as good, or even adverse in another one.
It is my little cry out to the community to make sure to make proper tests and stop believing everything you read online, even from credible SEO sources.
Sr SEO Specialist at Seek (Melbourne, Australia). Specialized in technical SEO. In a quest to programmatic SEO for large organizations through the use of Python, R and machine learning.