How to 301 an expired domain (Guide)

janist

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Thanks bro, 301 redirects are something that fascinates me, but I've never really understood them...

A few days ago I bought a domain with good backlinks, it wasn't indexed. I made immediately a 301 to money site with .htaccess, establishing that ALL PAGES (home page and internal pages) go to the HOME PAGE of my money site.

Reading your post, maybe I was wrong in at least these 2 points:
- I had to re-build old site architecture and WAIT for google to re-index it BEFORE doing the 301
- it would be better to link expired-homepage -> moneysite-homepage and expired-inner -> moneysite-inner

True?
ty

Well, a full redirect to the homepage can also work, however I (personally) prefer the method outlined in the OP of this thread.

In the end, it's up to you on what you want to try. If you don't see the desired results of the 301 after 4-8 weeks, try the other method, if that doesn't work create a PBN out of the site.

JT
 

PaulMeck

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Hello Janist,

i have a question, how many whole domain 301 redirects can i do without becoming too obvious (looking unnatural?)

great guide thank you very much
 

condorit

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Is it ok to redirect multiple domains to a domain that is already redirected to moneysite?
301 chain
 

janist

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Hello Janist,

i have a question, how many whole domain 301 redirects can i do without becoming too obvious (looking unnatural?)

great guide thank you very much

Theoretically, there's no limit.

Big brands use redirects of TLD variations all the time.

If your site has a complementary link profile that can support a few expired 301s then go for it. The good thing about 301s is that you can terminate them with a few clicks.

It's all about testing with 301s.


Is it ok to redirect multiple domains to a domain that is already redirected to moneysite?
301 chain

Not a fan of chains, but they can work, yes. But i'd rather build out a PBN in that case.
 

genya

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So, you want to know how you can leverage the power of an expired domain by using 301 redirects?

Sweet, then this post is for you.

We'll show you exactly how to create 301 to improve the rankings of our money sites while mitigating some of the virtual risks.

Let's dig in.

1 - Domain Analysis (seriously, don't skip this)

Before you even think about buying an expired domain for a 301, you want to make sure that it is actually worth your hard earned bucks.

We don't want to get too specific here, but we at least recommend to go through the following steps:

1.1. Check indexation of the domain

First of all you want to make sure, that the domain is still indexed.

While this is not a necessity, it is a good sign that the domain is suitable for a 301.

To do that, simply go to Google.com, type in site:domain.com and check the results.

Example:

View attachment 186952

Takeaway: An indexed domain is a good domain ;-)

1.2. Check Domain History


Next, you want to make sure that the domain has a clean history and has never been used as a PBN or for other rather shady or spammy techniques.

The easiest way to do that is by using Archive.org.

Archive.org gives you snapshots of the domain throughout it's time in the WWW.

Example:

View attachment 186953

You want to click on those little circles for each individual year and spot check how the site looked in the past.

Takeaway: If it has never been used for a PBN or other spammy technique, you are good to go.

1.3. Check Domain Trademarks


Next up, you want to see if the domain name is currently trademarked. It would suck to have a company send you a C&D, only because you skipped this step.

Just do it, it takes literally a minute.

The easiest way to do check for active trademarks are these sites:

If the domain is not trademarked, you are good to go.

Takeaway: No trademarks? Cool, proceed.

1.4 Check the Link & Anchor Profile


This is the most crucial step.

You want to make sure that the potentially interesting expired domain has strong links that are still live.

1.4.1 Check the backlinks

The easiest way to check all live links to a domain is via Ahrefs' site explorer.

Go to ahrefs.com, enter the domain name and then navigate to "Site Explorer 2.0" -> "Backlinks".

We recommend to use the following filters:
  • D0 Follow
  • Backlink Type "in content" - to only show contextual links
  • DR from 10
  • One link per domain
Then sort by DR (descending).

This will give you an overview of all the powerful contextual links pointing at a specific domain, to see if it's worth it.

Here is BHW for example:

View attachment 186954


Ahrefs will also show you if those links are still live or if they dropped, which can give you a concise picture on the state of the link profile.

Takeaway: Make sure that the expired domain has strong (and live) backlinks. Preferrably contextual ones.

1.4.2 Check the Link Targets


Next, you want to check to which pages have the most links pointed to them.

You will want to re-create these pages before you 301.

So it's imperative that you check this.

Go to "best by links" and sort by "referring domains"

This will give you an overview of where the links are pointed to and what pages you SHOULd re-create once your expire domain is hosted and live.

Example:

View attachment 186957

Takeaway: Make sure that the links are pointed to pages you can re-create.

1.4.3 Check the Anchor Profile

Lastly, you want to take a look at the anchor profile of the expired domain.

Ideally, you want your expired domain to have a diverse anchor profile with <10% of exact match keyword anchors and no spammy sh*t.

Example:

View attachment 186958

Takeaway: Make sure that the expired domain has a diverse and natural anchor profile.

That's it for the domain analysis.

If your potential expired domain passes all these checks, you can purchase it and get it ready for the 301.

2 - Setup the 301 (hell yeah!)

Okay, so you got your hands on a clean expired domains with powerful links that are still alive and kicking (pun intended)?

Awesome.

Now you can get everything ready for the 301.

Here's how.

2.1 Set up your expired on a new hosting server

First of all, you want to host your newly acquired expired domain on a dedicated and separate server (don't host it on the same server as your money site).

There are tons of options to choose from, but we really like cloud hosts such as Vultr, Digital Ocean or Cloudways.

A small $5-10 droplet is enough for our purposes, as it only serves as a frame for our 301.

2.2 Copy & Match your money site pages

Now comes the kickers.

Copy the content of 1 to 3 of your money site pages (the pages you want to rank for your target keywords) 1:1 to your expired domain.

Then add a rel-canonical tag to avoid duplication issues.

View attachment 186967


You want to do it like this:

  • moneysite.com/page-you-want-to-rank-1/ should match expireddomains.com/page-you-want-to-rank-1/ (add a rel canonical tag for moneysite.com/page-you-want-to-rank-1/ on this page)
  • moneysite.com/page-you-want-to-rank-2/ should match expireddomains.com/page-you-want-to-rank-2/ (add a rel canonical tag for moneysite.com/page-you-want-to-rank-2/ on this page)

The rel canonical will tell Google that the original source is on your money site and not the expired domains. This avoids duplication issues.

This is basically a way of 'pre-approving' the 301 we will create in the future.

Do this for 1-3 of your money site pages.

But don't over do it.

2.3 Rebuild strong inner pages

Remember Step 1.4.2? It's time to rebuild the inner pages that have strong links pointed at them.

We usually recommend to use fresh (but thematically relevant) content on those pages, but you can also use archive.org content (just keep an eye out for copyright issues).

Make sure to add internal links to the homepage and the pages you created in 2.2 within the content.

2.4 Let the domain index

Now wait around 2-4 weeks, so that the expired domain can fully index the new and re-created pages again.

You can use Google Search Console to confirm the indexation status, or simply use the site: operator.

Once it's fully indexed you can move to the last step, which is the 301 itself.

2.5 Create a Merger & Acquisitions (M&A) page on your money site

While this is an optional step, we had great success with it.

Basically, you create a separate page on your money site about the acquisition / merging of expireddomain.com

Example: moneysite.com/we-acquired-expired-domain/

On that page you add 500-1000 words of thematically relevant content about the acquisitions and what moneysite.com is all about.

Within that content you add links to your key money pages that you want to rank, for example

moneysite.com/page-you-want-to-rank-1/
moneysite.com/page-you-want-to-rank-2/
etc.


It can look like this.

View attachment 186960


By doing this you are telling the world that expireddomain.com has re-branded. It's a very organic way to leverage your 301... which we do now.

2.6 Redirect your domain (finally, dude!)

Now that everything is in place, you can finally 301 your expired domain.

We recommend to do it via .htaccess to avoid chain issues.

If possible try to use exact match redirects.

Like this:
  • Homepage (expireddomain.com) ===> 301 ===> Homepage (moneysite.com)
  • Inner pages from step 2.3 ===> 301 ===> Merger & Acquisition (M&A) Page OR if you don’t want to create an acquisition page 301 them to your money pages.
  • The pages on the expired domain you created in step 2.2 with the rel canonical tags ===> 301 ===> to the corresponding pages on your money site
If there are any other pages left to redirect, simply point them at the homepage or M&A page.

If you don't know how to create the htaccess code, you can use a 301 generator, like this one: https://www.pixelkicks.co.uk/resources/bulk-301-redirect-generator/

It may look like this:

View attachment 186962

That's about it.

The 301 is live.

Now there's only one thing left to do. And that is to....

2.7 .... keep an eye on your rankings

Now that the 301 is in place, you need to keep a close eye on your rankings.

Generally speaking, a 301 should show initial results withing 8-12 weeks.

If you see your rankings stagnate or even decline, you should terminate the 301 and maybe think about turning it into a PBN instead.

As mentioned before, 301s don't always work.

But with this method you can mitigate some risks, emulate the process of a real re-branding while still leveraging the link profile of your expired domain and passing link equity to your most important pages.

Let me know if you have any questions and how this method worked out for you.

JT
 

janist

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So overall, it would be great if you can get a niche specific domain, but it's not mandatory.

Correct. Ideally it should be somewhat related, but it's not a necessity as you can always twist content to create topical relevance for ANY niche.
 

makta21

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I used this method on my new site (3 or 4 months older at the time of redirect) my site is around 10 months older and from the last 20 days, i am seeing some of my posts are deindexing.

I checked with GSC and others, but there is no error or issue with my site. What is the cause of this deindexing?

Any idea?
 

Mike420

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Nice post!

I have 2 expired domains. 1 is lower DR but has keyword in domain and 2 is higher DR some random brandname url but had more niche relevant topic looking from archive. Which seems to be better?

Is there a difference if one domain has mostly homepage links and other also has inner pages to random slugs. None of the links has any kw anchors.

I want to use one as PBN and one as redirect..
 

janist

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I used this method on my new site (3 or 4 months older at the time of redirect) my site is around 10 months older and from the last 20 days, i am seeing some of my posts are deindexing.

I checked with GSC and others, but there is no error or issue with my site. What is the cause of this deindexing?

Any idea?

Could be unrelated. Google has some indexation issues atm. Keep a close eye on it.

Nice post!

I have 2 expired domains. 1 is lower DR but has keyword in domain and 2 is higher DR some random brandname url but had more niche relevant topic looking from archive. Which seems to be better?

Is there a difference if one domain has mostly homepage links and other also has inner pages to random slugs. None of the links has any kw anchors.

I want to use one as PBN and one as redirect..

I'd use the higher DR one as the redirect and the lower DR one as a PBN.
 

Mike420

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I still havent built the money site and expired domain is not hosted.

Should I build the money site, let it index for a while and after that build out the expired domain with copy pages from money site with canonical tags?

Or put up the expired domain and let it index meanwhile building the money site and later redirect it without canonicals or add the canonical articles later on?
 

janist

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I still havent built the money site and expired domain is not hosted.

Should I build the money site, let it index for a while and after that build out the expired domain with copy pages from money site with canonical tags?

Or put up the expired domain and let it index meanwhile building the money site and later redirect it without canonicals or add the canonical articles later on?

You can't build the money site on the expired domain? That'd probably be easier.

But if that's not possible: Your money site should be fully indexed before you build out and 301 the exp. domain.
 

Aadya

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I have found 3,4 expired domains should I just redirect them all at once but can somebody also suggest where I can buy all and host them for cheap
 

janist

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I have found 3,4 expired domains should I just redirect them all at once but can somebody also suggest where I can buy all and host them for cheap

3-4 is not THAT much, if you site can take it, sure.

For hosting: A simple droplet on Vultr or DO for $3-5 bucks/mth per domain is sufficient.
 

robin222

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Reading your post, maybe I was wrong in at least these 2 points:
- I had to re-build old site architecture and WAIT for google to re-index it BEFORE doing the 301
- it would be better to link expired-homepage -> moneysite-homepage and expired-inner -> moneysite-inner
no problem. I previously bid on a premium expired domain name and 301 redirected it directly to the money page of my niche site without restoring the previous content and hosting. In about 2 months, a large number of my keywords entered the first page of Google, and some keywords with high competition entered the top 3 of the first page. Good luck
 

Alanon

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Great post. Just what I was looking for. Thank you very much.
 

Mesha86

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no problem. I previously bid on a premium expired domain name and 301 redirected it directly to the money page of my niche site without restoring the previous content and hosting. In about 2 months, a large number of my keywords entered the first page of Google, and some keywords with high competition entered the top 3 of the first page. Good luck
Redirect to single page of your site or to homepage?
 

Royal96

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Redirect to single page of your site or to homepage?

I have no experience with expired domains and 301, but I saw some people creating an "acquired" page. One famous example is Neil Patel & Ubersuggest. In this case, he built a whole tool around it.
 

robin222

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Thanks man. It seems that ive been doing 301 the wrong way. But luckily, all my 301 are pushing my domain to the front page. I am redirecting all page to the home page of my site.
Me, too. But I've been experimenting with this new method of getting pages recently, and I'm looking forward to having the same success in two months :)
 
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