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7 Ways to Monetize Expired Domains

7 Ways to Monetize Expired Domains

Last week, I wrote what I considered a “controversial case study” on expired domains; but as it turns out, everyone seemed pretty supportive!  The controversial part was really in the fact that I discussed the potential to link from these expired/reclaimed domains to your other existing niche sites.  This is definitely not a “white hat” SEO tactic; but neither is most other types of link building.

However, what I wanted to focus on today was how these expired domains can be monetized other than using them as a link building tool (although that’s certainly a way).  In fact, I closed my last post out with the question: Where can I sell these domains?  I really didn’t know at that time.  Well, after doing some research and seeing some results, I have 7 ideas of where to either sell the domains or monetize them in other ways.

1. Flipping the Domains on Auctions or Forums

After doing a bit of research, I found several webmaster forums that have an active market place for buying and selling domains – especially those with PageRank.  Some of these forums include: Digital Point Forums, DNForum.com, and TrafficPlanet.com.  I’m sure there are many other good forums where you can sell domains as well.

In addition, there are established marketplaces like GoDaddy Auctions and Sedo.com.

My Experiement

As an experiment last week, I listed one of my PageRank 3 domains on GoDaddy Auctions.  This was an expired domain that I found a couple of weeks ago and had purchased for less than $10.

I put the minimum bid price at $47 to see what would happen.  This domain had wordpress installed, but no content whatsoever.  And guess what?  The domain sold for my $47 list price!

I was a bit surprised because this was not a cool domain name either, it was just someone’s name; like, john-doe.com.  That’s it.  So, I made a quick flip of almost 5 times my investment.  Not too bad.  Now imagine doing this hundreds or thousands of times every month!

2. Selling Domains on Your Own Site

I could also quickly sell my domains here on my blog.  If you have a blog in the online marketing space, you could potentially do the same.

I started thinking about this after my last post. I listed 10 domains as an example of the types of expired domains I was looking at.  I mentioned that I hadn’t had a chance to analyze the back links of these to see if they were spammy or even worth buying.  However, within 2 hours all of those domains had been purchased!  I was really surprised to see how quickly these were picked up by readers of my blog.

So, yes, the wheels are turning on the fact that I could simply list the expired domains with PageRank that I have found on my site and probably sell them very quickly.  I may test the waters in the near future…we’ll see.

In addition, I received a few emails from people interested in buying my PR 3 and 4 domains.  I received offers between $30 and $50.  So, the market appears to be there for me to turn around and sell these domains at a profit pretty easily. Maybe you could do the same on your blog?

3. Package and Sell Them on Flippa

I had written off selling these domains on Flippa because they charge $29 just to list your site!  However, if you were able to package a dozen or so domains together, you could potentially sell them at a price worth the fees.

If you could sell 10 domains at an average price of $40 – that’s $400.  This would cover the Flippa fees and leave enough profit to still make it a good business.  And this is on the low end for sure.  You could probably list 20 or 30 domains together and spread out the costs much better.

So, if you don’t have your own blog or audience to sell to, you can potentially still go the Flippa route.

4. Monetizing with Text Link Ads

Another way to monetize expired domains is by selling links.  Again, this is perhaps on the controversial side, but its a big business.  You can sell links on forums or other places, but one of the most established link marketplaces is Text-Link-Ads.

I haven’t sold any links yet, but I’m close to testing this out.  I have a site approved on the system and will likely be getting buyers very soon.  Again, this is more of an experiment at this point – not sure how far I will take it.

However, the potential is big in selling links on Text Link Ads.  A PR 3 site can easily bring in $20 to $30 a month, while a PR 4 site could top $50 a month.  Higher page rank domains will bring in exponentially higher dollars.

Imaging having several hundred PR 3 and 4 domains bringing in $20 to $50 a month…not bad.  Now imagine taking a site that has been consistently earning $50 a month via text link ads, and flipping that domain!  If you can pull in 20 times monthly earnings, that’s $1,000 for a $10 investment in the domain.  I’ll let you think about the possibilities there for a while.

Maybe flipping these types of monetized sites for 20 times earnings is not as easy, but some decent multiple is certainly doable.

5. Building the Expired Domains into Niche Sites

Another option for making money with these reclaimed domains, is to simply target a niche keyword and try to rank for that in Google.  Ideally you can pick a keyword that is somehow related to the domain, but this is not essential.

Lets say the domain John-Doe.com was a site for a financial planner.  You could target any low competition financial term, even though its not specifically mentioned in the domain.  Having an exact match domain is not critical.

Because these sites already have links and authority, the content you place on these sites technically should be ranking better than content placed on sites without any links or authority.  I personally haven’t done this, but the idea is certainly an intriguing one.

6. Build Authority Sites

If you are able to find a domain that has a PageRank of 5 or 6, you have a valuable asset.  Why not develop a high quality authority site and rank for lots of keywords?  This is a route that I would like to pursue if I can find a domain that makes sense to do so with, and has lots of authority already.

In this way, rather than spending years to build up the link profile of a brand new site, you can start ahead of the game!  So, if you are planning on starting an authority site anyway, perhaps its worth considering starting that site on a domain that already has high quality links pointing to it.

7. Link to Your Other Sites

Finally, you can always just use the domains to link to your other niche sites.  The focus of this post is not on this point, but it certainly is a way to monetize these domains, so it needed to make the list.  This is a tried practice that is the basis for every blog network in existence out there.  Blog networks continue to pop up (and probably always will), because it works.

Some blog networks fail for various reasons, but if you have complete control over the domains, hosting, and link placements – you can make sure to do it right.

Again, this is not something that Google is a fan of, but it is certainly a method for making money with expired domains.  I haven’t personally done this at this point, but many people do, and its definitely a way to get authoritative links pointing to your sites.

In Conclusion

Overall, the more I look into finding expired domains, the more ways I am finding to potentially monetize them.  So far, I’ve sold just one domain – but I’ve only put 1 domain up for sale.  I’ve also received offers from blog readers, and I see lots of other potential ways of using these domains.

How far I go down this road, I don’t know – but I’m definitely exploring options right now.

What do you think of these 7 ways to monetize expired domains?  Do you have any other business models to add?  If you have had any experience with this business, I would love to hear your thoughts.

58 Comments for this Post

  1. Domain Code

    Domain Code

    Hi Spencer – First of all, thanks so much for this information and your recent podcast(s) & posts with Hayden on the page rank & expired domains. This is great information and I have already started implementing it. I would like to get your opinion on a couple of items:

    #1 – Content for the domain – If for some reason the website has not been archived into archive.org, how do I know what web pages I need to add to the new domain to ensure the old links continue to be valid ? What tool do I use to find the incoming links to the domain ?

    #2 – Do you use private registration on the domains so google isn’t aware of the change to the domain ?

    thanks again

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      #1 – I use Open Site Explorer to find the links for the most part. I don’t think you should try to recreate the domain from Archive.org – pick your own keywords. The point is to take the existing authority of the domain itself – not trying to recreate what was once there.

      #2 – Yes, this is a good idea.

    • Danny

      Danny

      Hey DC,

      Great question.

      Like Spencer said, check out the links on OSE. Filter to [External] and [Only Pages on this Root Domain] and choose the first 5 or so links (don’t include spam or directories ofc). Run each of them through GAKT a few times and you should have a list of at least a couple hundred keywords. Follow Hayden’s keyword competition vids to look at CMI.

      If OSE doesn’t show 5 good links, check Ahrefs. If there is only one or two links between them, then all you’ve got is the domain name and your own intuition. :D

      Danny

  2. Arbel Arif

    Arbel Arif

    Great info Spencer… expired domains are very valuable…

  3. Kevin

    Kevin

    Great article Spencer!

    I have been buying expired domains for almost 3 years, and would make them in to link directories and sell featured links. I was doing 5 figures a month with that little side business.

    Of course, not long after the evil G shut down my adsense account, they then came out with the evil Penguin update, which killed off much of the “SEO” company link submissions.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Important thoughts Kevin. There are lots of risks if someone decides to get involved in this. However, as mentioned there are several ways to still monetize these outside of Adsense and SEO (first 4 ways).

  4. Justin Cooke

    Justin Cooke

    Interesting thoughts, Spencer!

    Monetizing with text link ads seems to be an interesting approach. As long as you’re using a system that’s fairly automatic when it comes to monetization I think that could be a strong strategy…using AdSense as filler until someone takes over that site with a text link.

    I hear what you’re saying about blog networks…but it’s pretty easy for that house of cards to blow up in your face…we’ve seen it happen to a few of our friends…ouch!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Hey Justin – I definitely hear you with the blog networks. Its no guarantee – and is like a house of cards. In addition, in order to do it right, you have to be quite advanced and is well beyond the average person.

  5. Michallo

    Michallo

    Great post Spencer, you certainly lifted my spirit a bit after I got stuck with 6 PR 3 domains I hunted down on a surge of enthusiasm that Hayden injected.

    I’m leaning towards putting 2-3 on Text Link Ads. Two questions here to you and others:

    1. does it count how many pages of content you have? Can you rake in 20-30$ for a site with 5 pages of unique and well-written content?

    2. are entry requirements hard to pass? Do you need Alexa Rank, some social signals, etc. to make your site less of an obvious link cow?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Michallo – As mentioned, I’m new to TLA myself. But I think 5 pages is sufficient.
      2. You have to have at least a PR 3 domain. That’s it.

    • Domain Code

      Domain Code

      Yes – just a couple of things from a long time TLA member.

      #1 – Your site must have all original content. They will not accept a site (or will even cancel your site if you add it later after being accepted) with duplicate content.

      5 pages may be enough, but the more the better, and longer 500+ word articles are better.

      #2 – Just because you are accepted does not mean you will sell links. Certain niches do much better than others.

      • Blake

        Blake

        Hey thanks for the info on TLA. This may seem like a stupid question, but are the links just blogroll links or are they contextual?

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          You can choose to sell either blogroll or contextual links.

  6. Domain Code

    Domain Code

    1 more quick question – what is a good domain authority & page authority ranking on open site explorer ?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Domain MozRank is a better metric to look at. Over 3.0 is very good.

  7. Rolf

    Rolf

    Hi Spencer, interesting points!

    I hope you can help me out on this one:
    Do I need to set up the domains on different ip’s in order to sell tekstlinks?

  8. Stuart Young

    Stuart Young

    Thanks for the tips, some interesting ideas. Picking a method really depends on the domain in my experience. I’ve had good results picking up a few domains in the same niche, setting up an affiliate site on the strongest domain and creating links to that site on the less valuable ones.

    Really enjoyed the podcasts too, keep it up!

  9. Bradley C.

    Bradley C.

    You forgot about 301 redirection! This is a great way to give a new domain instant credibility.

    Although I wouldn’t advise doing it for every new niche site, it might be good for a new authority site, or a niche site that needs a little extra boost (helpful when all your competition are aged and established).

    The disadvantage, of course, is that you can only do this once. While, with Hayden’s method, you can use the previously-expired domain to link to hundreds of you sites.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yes, 301 redirection can also be a great way…thanks for mentioning.

  10. Josh

    Josh

    Spencer from the list selling links seems like a good option but I know from your podcast that Hayden started off selling links and moved to the niche business. Any idea why?

    The niche business is seeming like a lot of work complexity and moving parts for ok income. I could use a little less complexity in my business.

  11. Jon @ free site traffic

    Jon @ free site traffic

    I am huge supporter of method #7 and doing it right.

    There is low risk for the sites to be de-indexed if the expired domain site is built/run with care.

    If your goal is to make money with an expired domain another metric to look at when getting the domain is its Alexa rank…picking up a site that has traffic from day 1 is a great help.

    Jon

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great advice Jon, thanks for sharing.

  12. James

    James

    Very cool ideas Spencer.

    Lots of great ways to make money where you don’t really need to rely on Google search traffic.

    Always good to diversify your income online.

    Thanks for the tips.

  13. Doug

    Doug

    Great post Spencer I’ll be digging into this much further.

    I was wondering one thing. With TLA can you only sell one link for site you own?

    Thanks.

  14. MU

    MU

    well spencer, what exactly are you doing now? I think you have been confused since slapped by google, cmon man, stick to niche sites! remember you are NICHE PURSUITS

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Too funny. I think you must be the confused one. First, I still build niche sites. Second, this is directly connected to niche sites. And finally this site is not just about niche sites, its about niche pursuits. Perhaps you should re-read the about page in case you have forgotten what a niche pursuit is (hint – its not niche sites).

      • MU

        MU

        haha, I just kidding so please never mind, I am for sure understand nichepursuits is not only building niche sites.

        but seriously I recently built several nichesites for adsense, but it is definitely harder to rank after penguin, so I hope you can launch some discussions on this topic in future.

  15. Niche Wolf

    Niche Wolf

    Thanks Spencer for this inspiring post. I believe that the market for Aged and High PR domains is huge and largely untapped.

    I have began doing my own research too and I have been hitting some few golden domain name.

    I was still thinking on what exactly to do with the few I have found .

    I have found an idea Just by reading your today’s post.

    Cheers

    Dori Sam

  16. Joe

    Joe

    Great info Spencer. A couple of quick questions. First, I followed Hayden’s process for finding expired domains and found about 10 PR3 & higher, when do they typically go to PR3? After you add wordpress or content? I have a number of sites that I thought would be PR3 & higher, but once I add wordpress, they still show as a zero. Also, I bought your niche theme, can I email you directly for a quick question on that?

    Thanks

    Joe

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I just install wordpress with no content. It takes about 4 or 5 days for the PR to update. If the PR doesn’t update after a week or so, then unfortunately it means the site is not a PR3 or higher like you thought.

      Submit a support ticket for the theme. Thanks.

      • Joe

        Joe

        Thanks Spencer, really love your blog!

      • Rich

        Rich

        Spencer,

        First, thank you so much for what you do: your blog is fantastic, and this post (and the last) are great. Timing was perfect given I’m in the same boat – trying to determine what to do now with a handful of PR 3 and 4 sites acquired using Hayden’s approaches.

        One comment re PR realization – I registered my domains, installing wordpress and a couple of basic pages (contact and about) – and found that my sites were quickly indexed, but did not update PR at all for several weeks (frustrating). But when the Google toolbar page rank was officially updated a few weeks ago, my sites instantly updated PR.

        I haven’t seen anyone else mention this, so thought I’d throw it out there…

        Rich

  17. Rolf

    Rolf

    Hi spencer, I did find some expired domains When I check one of them in OSE it gives this line: “Oh Hey! It looks like that URL redirects to www3.xxxxxxxx.org/. Would you like to see data for that URL instead?”

    Does this mean this domain is useless for backlinking?
    It is a rather promising domain besides that.

  18. James

    James

    Thanks for posting this great article! After hearing the podcasts with Hayden I ran the same experiment, except I must be incompetent. I purchased http://www.calnaturephoto.com which has a mozRank of 3.47 and a mozTrust of 5.06. Put it up on Sedo, then a godaddy auction; just relisted it today on godaddy auctions. No bids so far. Not sure what I’m doing wrong.

    • Steve A @ ScratchCam

      Steve A @ ScratchCam

      Looks like your domains page rank hasn’t come back yet.

      For some reason, a small percentage of expired domains have their page rank returned straight away on registration, which I’m guessing happened to Spencer’s one.

      For the rest, you have to wait until Googles next Tool Bar Page Rank update for the page rank to return, assuming the links are all still there by then.

      They just did a TBPR update at the start of this month, so it will probably be November when they next do it (there seems to be a 3 month pattern)

    • Chris

      Chris

      You have the following backlinks:
      (1) 5 PR – coming from:http://www.calitics.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=217
      (2) 3 PR
      (4) 1 PR
      These are all do follows

      So in the next pr toolbar update, this domain should turn into a least a PR 3, based on the above PRs pointing to it. The PR 5 link alone should probably do it.

      The only thing i see negative is that PR 5 has over 300 Outbound links, not sure if you would still get the full link juice.

  19. Eric

    Eric

    I have been looking at godaddy auctions. I do not see any of them list the page rank. Did you just list yours and whoever bought it just figured out its value on their own? I am just wondering how to set apart a listing from the 1,000’s of other listings on there?

    • Steve A @ ScratchCam

      Steve A @ ScratchCam

      I believe people can download a large list of domains from the go daddy site and then run them through a bulk page rank checker. Not done this myself but read about it from people who have.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      In the notes of the listing, I did put the PR etc – but this only shows up if people click on the notes specifically. My guess is that somebody’s tool scrapes the Godaddy auctions and looks for PR domains. That’s probably how they found me.

  20. lynn

    lynn

    Did you do anything beyond a basic listing on Godaddy.com to earn the $47 sale?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      No, I didn’t. In the notes of the listing, I did put the PR etc – but this only shows up if people click on the notes specifically. My guess is that somebody’s tool scrapes the Godaddy auctions and looks for PR domains. That’s probably how they found me.

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  22. Nathaniel

    Nathaniel

    Which is the best place to market or sell the domain name?

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  25. Gil

    Gil

    Very good tips and is an excellent article. Keep it up, cheers!

  26. momo

    momo

    Hi Spencer

    Great post. In the example you gave above, did you pay for any extra visibility for Godaddy Auctions or just the normal 7 day public listing. Thanks

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