In the link building world, it’s important to get good quality backlinks, not to accumulate hundreds. And when you are working on link building yourself or you want to start with it, it is important to also create high-quality links yourself.
One way is to build your own sites from which you make links. A network of sites is called a PBN, or a Private Blog Network. In the past you could create an entire network of newly registered domains and create links to your site. These times are really over.
A link from a newly registered domain has hardly any value nowadays with the new Google updates. Only a link from a high-quality domain will bring value to your site.
Links from low-quality and unrelated websites are often harmful to your link profile and can cause a degradation of your position.
That means that you have to invest a lot of time to strengthen the domains in your network by building your own links to them.
Or… you start building your sites on expired domains.
What is an Expired Domain?
An Expired Domain is a domain name that a website has once been on. Someone has put time and effort into creating a website in the past, but in the meantime he or she has lost his passion and stopped using the site.
At a certain point, this person has also stopped paying the registration and hosting costs, so that the site is free to register again. That’s an Expired Domain.
But how is this going to help me?
Yes, good question. This will certainly help you a lot. When Google looks at a reference to your site, it pays attention to the quality of the domain that contains this link. In short, the quality is made up of the age of the referring domain, and the Domain Authority (or number of high-quality links) of the domain.
Now when you register a brand new site to start working with it, this new domain won’t have either one yet. In any case, an Expired Domain has some age.
And with a bit of luck (or actually good research to find one) the domain has already collected quite a few links in the time that someone was still active with it. He had taken good care of his child with good content, and he has therefore also amassed some backlinks.
So, what should you look for when looking for an expired domain to register as your own?
- The age of the domain
- The value of the domain, expressed in Domain Authority and Trust Flow and Citation Flow and number of referring domains
- The subject of the domain
With these three things in mind, you can register an expired domain name that will bring you a lot of value to use in your network.
How do you find such an Expired Domain?
An expired domain can be found with a web scraper. This is a tool with which you can “scrape” (or comb) the internet. Similar to what Google does when they index websites.
What the tool then does is look at existing links on the web and which of these links get an error message, ie link to a domain that no longer exists. A handy tool returns you the websites that have now expired so that you can examine them for their value to you.
The tool I find most useful is Domain Hunter Gatherer. It has extra built-in features because it also shows you the value of these domains, in one easy overview.
In your research you can search for certain words that are related to the topic for which you want to use the site. Searching for sites on a particular topic is useful because:
- You may want to start a new site. Starting from a domain name that already has value is much easier than registering a whole new one. So if you can find an old domain name that suits your new project, you will immediately get your first boost in the existing age of the domain and existing backlinks.
- You want to create a site to build links from there to your main site. Links from a domain with the same topic as your own site are worth much more than random links.
In both cases, registering an old domain is therefore very valuable. And, you can register it for the same price as a new site! It has expired and you only have to pay the costs of registering.
The Domain Hunter Gatherer tool will help you directly in selecting a suitable domain. He lets you search on a number of search terms that you can enter, and then you get a list of results with all already expired domain names.
Here you can immediately see if there are a few that can be valuable for your company with names that suit the creation of a new website.
You can then further analyze these results. The tool retrieves the most important data that tools such as MOZ, Majestic and Semrush use and adds it to the overview.
You can then drag forward the columns that are most important to you to have all the most important information together. I always use the age of the domain, the Domain Authority, the Trust and the Citation Flow and the ratio between them and the number of links and referring domains.
Here’s an example of dragging columns:
For me, these are the most important metrics to take into account when selecting potential candidates.
Then you will make your selection. That the site was actually about your topic is one of the most important things. The last column that I want to have a bit of insight into is therefore the Topical relevance in order to be able to make a first estimate. Here I also mainly look at the domain name, which is often very significant.
Furthermore, I always sort by Domain Authority because I think that’s the most important first filter. I want to have at least a DA of 15. In addition, I want a Trust Flow of at least 10 and a ratio between the Trust and Citation Flow of between 0.5 and 1.5.
I do the latter because of the kind of connection that can be made between the two. If they are far apart then there is probably a spam-like link profile and we don’t want that. You can read a very detailed article about the two here.
Easy preliminary research of your sites based on analysis
The handy thing about this tool is that you have all this information ready in a dashboard. This way you can do your preliminary research at a glance and then check some extra things.
After this initial check of the domain’s value, I then look at the number of domains linking to the site. The more different domains, the more value (link juice) can be forwarded.
Usually after such a search I get somewhere between 5 and 10 domains that are a potential end candidate to register. Finally, I’m still looking at Wayback machine to see what the site looked like in the past and if it wasn’t a spam site.
A super handy tool that shows you the site as it has looked several times in the past. Look up the most recent date the site was still online and see if it has not been used as a spam site for just ads, affiliate links, or inappropriate content.
I also check in Semrush (reviewed here) what kind of links point to this site and whether that doesn’t look spammy or with an over-optimized anchor text. If the site went offline because they spammed it too much with backlinks and it ended up beyond saving, then you definitely don’t want to use it to build your site or link it to one of your sites. So make sure you check this as well.
This is how you keep one or a few sites
All these things add up to the fact that you end up with one or some of the best sites to use in your projects. A good preliminary investigation and due diligence ensure that you will not waste your time on a site that can no longer be saved.
It is also important that you choose the best site that you can choose. The preliminary research takes some effort, but building the site will take much more time and it would be a shame if you had better put that time into another project.
You will also want to put a few articles or blog posts on your page that deal with your topic before using it for a link.
A number of articles of between 600 and 1000 words are fine as a start with information about your topic. Interlinking between pages is always a good SEO practice and will help spread the value of your site across your pages.
Then comes your main article in which you want to place a link to your site. Make it nice and big so that Google will index it quickly and appreciate it very much. 1500 words about really very specific the search term with which you want your main site to be found is perfect.
Freely place the link at the top of the article and it is always good to create a second reference, but this time to another website with a high rating on the subject (not your direct competitor of course, then you will only help him ).
With that extra link, yours is less noticeable, but above all it shows Google that your 1500 word article knows what an authority is in this field and then the other site you linked to first will also have great value.
It helps the search engines show a natural flow of knowledge and appreciation and establish a link between your main site and that other authority.
Extra bonus tip: also use expired web 2.0s
Perfect to use old sites as a project website or for links! But how do the web 2.0s fit into the story?
Web 2.0s are those blog sites where you can create a blog for free. They often have a free variant with which you get a subdomain, and you can also opt for a paid package with which you can request your own domain name.
But we can also make good use of this free variant here. Registering those old expired domains is not that expensive, but you also have to host them. And you have to build a website on it, for example with WordPress. The costs can add up quite nicely, especially if you want to register several such sites.
Then come the web 2.0s. A page on such a blog site is really completely free and as an additional advantage such a platform already has very good Domain Authority. This is because the entire platform has of course collected a lot of links. This Domain Authority has value for the search engines. You can now choose a username on one of these platforms and create a small blog and use it as a link, completely free of charge!
The best sites for their high Domain Authority and ease of use are:
- WordPress (by far the most comprehensive)
- Weebly (a good and slightly easier version of WordPress)
- Tumblr (a blog site where you can quickly and easily share and link mainly images)
But in order to make a really valuable link from such a blog profile, the profile itself must also have value. If you now register your own username, this profile will still have value 0.
By being very active in the community, following and sharing a lot yourself and collecting links to your profile, it will increase in value. But who has time for that??
As with the expired domains, Domain Hunter Gatherer also allows you to find expired web 2.0s. So they are profiles that someone had created and eventually let expire. You can register it again and use it in your project as a valuable social media link that also sends link juice to your main domain.
Searching in the tool is the same with your keywords. Also, web 2.0s were about a certain topic when they were still active and the more related the better. It is also important to pay attention to the Page Authority of the profile.
Domain Authority will be the same for all expired profiles, depending on the blog site you found, so definitely above 90. But the Page Authority is the authority of the profile (subdomain) itself and here too you want to go for at least an authority of 15.
You can easily find a couple of good profiles that are related to your topic.
With a number of different such profiles you can make your link profile nice and varied. I always use these profiles for anchor texts with the brand name of the main site and for anchor texts like “click here” and “on this blog”. This way you can expand your anchor texts for free with general texts and you can use your really more expensive sites for links with more value for your exact search term on which you want to be found.
This way you ensure that your anchor text ratio is not too high and that your links are not over-optimized for the search engines.
Cool strategy right? Domain Hunter Gatherer’s tool is free to use to track down those web 2.0s, so you can get started right away. You also have a paid package to be able to search expired websites.
Joost Nusselder is The Content Decoder, a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new tools en tactics. He's been working on a portfolio of niche sites since 2010. Now since 2016 he creates in-depth blog articles together with his team to help loyal readers earn from their own succesful sites.