Expired Domains for SEO: Generating Up to $35K/m from Best Product Reviews

“Hey Glen. My name is Suumit and I wanted to share a case study of how I launched an Amazon affiliate site from scratch and hit $28,000/m in just eight months.”

I didn’t know who Suumit was or how he got my Skype ID, but if you’re going to message me out of the blue, that’s the kind of introduction that will get my attention.

Three days later he shared the website in question and some of the strategies behind growing it so quickly.

I didn’t need to look at his income reports to believe the numbers (though I would later check them). A quick glance at Ahrefs showed he was dominating the “best [product]” keyphrases for his particular niche and still is months later.

So why did he want to reveal his secrets to me? And why did he also want to share them with Detailed readers?

There were two reasons, he tells me.

The first was to use my audience as a platform for personal goals. “I’m a big believer that knowledge which makes people’s lives better should be freely available. So, I hope this case study will help people out there to understand how SEO is evolving” he typed.

The second goal, he stated, was to connect with me personally.

I admired his altruism but can’t deny I was skeptical. Especially when I asked if he wanted to promote any other resources in our interview together and he politely declined.

Maybe he plans to sell the site later. Maybe he wants a bigger audience in the world of SEO. Maybe he believed a backlink from Detailed might help.

I can’t know for certain, but there’s one thing I’m sure about: This guy is smart.

After talking with him at length on Skype, I got a better idea of why he wants to talk about a site that makes more than $10,000 on a bad month, with little upkeep required.

Amazon commissions for the full year of 2017

While taking me around his various web projects, I got a sense that he couldn’t open up each new tab quickly enough. This twenty-something is unquestionably ahead of the pack when it comes to SEO experiments you haven’t even considered; automating as much of the successful ones as possible.

Primarily based in Mumbai, India, he told me how businesses in his local area were all following similar strategies and taking advantage of Google “loopholes” in a number of different niches.

Whatever happens after this interview goes live, he’s not hurting for exciting projects to work on.

That said, I did decline to share it.

An Upfront Admission You (Probably) Won’t Like

The initial version of this interview included Suumit’s site, niche, rankings and a deep-dive into some of the backlinks that are helping him rank.

I knew it would get the SEO world talking — perhaps more so than when I shared the story of 10 Beasts.

Yet, three weeks after he first reached out, I sent him an email with the subject line “A genuine concern”.

My fear was that while he was revealing information that was inspiring and insightful to those involved in SEO (and especially affiliate SEO), he was perhaps also providing enough ammo for trigger-happy Google employees to issue him with a manual penalty.

After all, a few months after I shared the story of 10 Beasts which went niche-viral, that’s exactly what they received.

(The owner had been talking about his site and tactics in the open for months on his personal site – and the penalty was revoked just 48 hours later – but I accept I likely had a part in bringing the site unwanted attention).

In the email I explained that we shouldn’t reveal the site because I don’t want to be responsible for any issues that may arise.

He genuinely didn’t seem to care, and still wanted to go ahead, but I would later repeat my recommendation to which he finally relented.

To be clear, I have no problem if Suumit wants to reveal the site elsewhere. I’m sure many bloggers would jump at the chance and the end result would undoubtedly be more interesting than my own version.

With that said, this is a case study without a website attached.

If you’re looking for a URL, you might want to leave this article right now. It isn’t here.

Suumit fully expects some people to find the site in question but at least it will be far fewer than if I were to link to it outright. If you do find it, please keep it to yourself.

He accepts that sharing his story may result in negative consequences but there are enough insights here that help him serve his mission of people looking at SEO in a different light (depending on their current perspective, of course).

Only after I knew he worked on a number of projects far more successful than this one was I willing to share his redacted interview. His background is pretty incredible for someone so young and I have a feeling he’s just getting started…

The Backlinks That Rank (Whitehats, Look Away Now)

One of the biggest criticisms I faced when I covered the story of 10 Beasts was that I didn’t dive into their link profile in more detail.

The owner, Luqman, had been so open about his tactics on his own site that I didn’t feel the need to repeat them.

To me the real story was that a young site with so few pages was making so much money. The reaction to that article showed I was far from alone in thinking that.

There isn’t a world of difference between Suumit’s site and Luqman’s 10 Beasts.

Both primarily make money from recommending products with an Amazon affiliate link.

Both have very basic designs with less than perfect content, and both have a domain age that makes you wonder why your own projects didn’t succeed so quickly.

Because I’m not revealing Suumit’s site I feel like we can be more open about his link building strategy, because it’s possibly a huge part of why this site – and similar sites I’ve seen – are ranking.

So what is his strategy that might get him in trouble? Redirecting expired domains that already have links.

Not so much building sites on them, but just doing straight redirects to the site he wishes to rank.

Thanks to this, Suumit technically has great links from sites like the LA Times, The Verge and Gizmodo.

The stats for one domain that now redirects to Suumit’s site

“Over the years I have realized that the value of links which are available for free or can be acquired publicly is dropping day by day.”

He continued, “Found a site with great authority? Chances are it will already no-follow outbound links or will in few months once the SEO community finds about it. Any new “method” which becomes public gets abused a lot in this industry. Scholarship link building is a good example of that.”

When I asked if he was involved in other strategies he said that his biggest problem with paid links or guest posts is that any of his competitors could replicate the same links.

With his own network of domains and sites he didn’t have that problem, and could (mostly) stay under the radar.

Though many people are afraid to utilise these tactics incase they get caught, they can work well, and Suumit’s site is a prime example of that.

After this interview we’ll get thoughts on the site from three well-known names in SEO so you don’t just have to trust what I think of it.

Let’s dive in…

First of all, a lot of people are going to ask…why are you willing to do this interview? What’s the benefit for you?

The reason I wanted to do this interview is because SEO is changing dramatically and getting immensely competitive.

Search engines like Google and Bing are investing a crazy amount of money and resources to make their search results better and there are very few good places on the internet where you learn the latest changes made in search algorithms.

I’ve been active on dozens of platforms to stay up to date with the latest SEO hacks and surprisingly everyone keeps talking about the same old things again and again.

For instance, most people haven’t moved on from talking about H1 tag optimization or they’re still scraping domains and setting up PBN’s in the traditional way.

I’m a big believer that knowledge which makes people’s lives better should be freely available. So, I hope this real-case study will help people out there to understand how SEO is evolving and how they can change their traditional SEO approach and do things differently to achieve better results.

Did you start the website yourself?

Yes! I started this website by myself.

How about the domain? Was that available from a registrar or did you get it through another process?

It was an expired domain that I found within a matter of minutes when I decided to set up a blog related to health. I just applied a few filters – such as only looking for domains which contain the word “health” – and they must not have any spammy links pointing to them.

Although this is the traditional way, I’ve recently started using a new approach for finding brandable domain names that have a good backlink profile.

I created a central database of approximately 1.7 million domains. These domains all have live backlinks from sites like Forbes, The Huffington Post and any authority site you can think of.

One can easily get a list like this using Ahrefs.

All you have to do is enter the URL of an authoritative website and download all of their outbound linking domains.

You can then apply further criteria such as only pulling back domains with a DR (Domain Rating) of 15-40, because it’s very rare that a domain with a higher DR will expire.

I’ve then built some technology which allows me to the check the domain name availability of around 7,000 domains per minute and I’m running a cron-job which keeps checking the entire database on a daily basis.

As soon as any domain is available, I get an email notification.

Suumit’s custom domain name notifications

I know a lot of people are doing the same thing, but they’re doing it manually.

In my case, I don’t need to touch anything for months and I keep getting good domains arriving directly to my inbox.

Checking the availability status of thousands of domains per minute is a big deal since there are no bulk domain name checker API’s available. The cost of running this infrastructure is less than $50/m.

Note from Glen: We’ll dive into Suumit’s link building strategy more later on. For now, I wanted to learn more about the project.

The site is ranking very well for a lot of high-ticket “best product” terms in the health space. What was your inspiration to get involved in this particular niche?

I’ve been working with plenty of Series A+ funded startups and few big corporates and helping them to grow their userbase and revenue with SEO.

As you know, SEO changes at the speed of light and I don’t want to take the risk of trying new methodologies on clients websites directly before I test them on my own projects so I usually have multiple test projects on the side.

Coming back to your question of “Why this niche?”, I seriously don’t know much about health — I’m 27 and weigh 54KGs (119 lbs).

The reason I chose this niche is because one of my close friends recently sold his blog for half a million dollars targeting the exact same keywords. I knew all of the revenue and competitor information for the space so it was “proven” and that’s why I went ahead.

My main objective behind these side-projects is simply this: Try new things and make money at the same time.

Do you ever spend time updating the content? Are you worried about your pages not being as good as they could be?

Note: In private I had picked out some articles and their typos and grammatical errors to go with this question. For this interview I have rewritten some of Suumit’s answers (with his permission) as, understandably, English is not his first language.

“Content” is one of those words I hate the most. Not being able to generate quality content is my biggest failure to date.

Being from India, it’s rare to find a local writer who can write articles like a native English speaker. I tried working with freelancers from the United States but my experience wasn’t that great.

I haven’t updated the content on money-making articles for months.

All I’m doing is pushing 3-4 new articles per month of 800-900 words each and trying to make sure I won’t fall under the “thin content” website-type.

Just to clarify, the existing articles on the website are written by around five freelancers from different places like Upwork and local Indian resources.

Of course I’m worried about the pages not being so good in terms of content but I’m not sure I’ll spend more time fixing them. Instead, I’ll build tech products and grow the sites like crazy.

For instance, three years back I launched an app called Grappr which is a community of Indian users where they get paid for doing microtasks such as app downloads or app reviews.

Within a year that app grew to 1M+ active users with 4.5 Avg rating from over twenty thousand users.

I view myself as a “growth hacker” more than an SEO.

I assume there are some pages making more money than others? Which rankings are the most valuable for you?

On Amazon Associate-style websites there are mainly three types of pages:

  • Product Category Search – For example, “Best Standing Desk to Buy in 2018 – A Complete Buying Guide”
  • Product Brand / Model Search – For example, “Varidesk ProDesk 60 Electric Reviews”
  • Generic Articles Related to Parent Topic – For example, “How to Reduce Repetitive Strain Injury With a Standing Desk.”

Usually the competition for product and category related terms is pretty high in the health niche but they can give you crazy returns if you rank in the top positions.

Product brand / model related keywords can be ranked easily but their revenue potential is lower.

For me, only the first and second type of pages are making money, though the third type of pages can attract a lot of legitimate backlinks.

With Amazon lowering commissions and thus your earnings, have you tried to work with companies directly to increase your revenue?

Amazon lowering commissions is indeed a real pain and a constant threat to almost everyone who is in this game.

I tried working with manufacturers directly and while the commission structures was better, the revenue was much lower than with Amazon.

Clicks being sent from Suumit’s site to Amazon on a weekly basis

Most phsyical health product creators don’t have affiliate sales tracking in place so it becomes difficult to work with them. I also believe people trust Amazon more, especially when the transaction size is pretty significant.

On top of that, Amazon gives me a commission for anything & everything the user purchases – so it’s a win-win situation for me.

As per last years report, only 30% of users I sent to Amazon purchased the products I recommended; the rest purchased something else. Yet I still got paid for all of those transactions.

Add in real transparency, trusted tracking, on-time payment, and the considerable brand Amazon have built, I believe it makes sense to stick with them for now.

You recently redesigned the site and I have to say it looks much better. What was your inspiration for that? To increase conversions / look better for a manual review / something else?

I’ve recently started working around conversion optimization and unlike content, I actually enjoy the design part.

According to Full Story – a tool which gives a real-time data of how users are interacting with the website – my users’ experience on a mobile device wasn’t that great.

The New Year is approaching and according to last years data, revenue could go as high as 3X within next 60 days.

Improving health is the most common New Years resolution for people so I redesigned the website for a better user experience and conversion rate.

Is this your most successful affiliate site or do you have others in the wings as well?

The definition of success is different for every individual and talking regarding monetary value this website is adding, this is a successful project. I own a bunch of other websites and apps too (although I have a lot of failed projects as well).

Out of all of these properties, a few are affiliate sites and a few are tech products.

Apart from these, I’ve been working with tech startups who are operating at a scale and looking to expand further online.

What would you say to those going through this model already and not seeing success, or those thinking of starting?

Talking specifically about Amazon Associate sites, most of the sites I see are just creating list articles and repeatedly explaining the same product features. They aren’t adding any valuable information.

For example, actual video reviews of a product isn’t present on more than 95% of them.

Since the last few Google updates I’ve realized that ranking Amazon niche sites (or any kind of website in general) is becoming more time-consuming. With sites that aren’t successful I can usually see it’s because their content isn’t up to par or they need a better link profile.

People who are just thinking of starting an Amazon affiliate site (or any sort of website) should spend more time on creating valuable content and then build links in a smart way.

Never rely on free guest posts or directory submissions or blog comments. Those are old techniques and don’t work as well anymore.

If you really want to dominate search then try building what I referred to in the interview as “exclusive” links. Links that competitors can’t pick up as easily because you’re building them through your own properties.

/Fin

Suumit had not asked for any of his projects to be linked to but he did mention a rank tracker he’s working on, Rankz, that he’s hoping to grow. After all he’s shared here, it’s the least I can support him with so I’ll personally be trying it out in the next few weeks.

Thanks for your time, Suumit!

Three SEO Friends Share Their Thoughts

As I mentioned in the introduction, it was my idea to not share Suumit’s site with the world.

I know a possibly penalty wouldn’t be too detrimental to him but it’s not something I want to increase the likelihood of.

With that said, I did ask Suumit if we could ask some outside experts for their views on the site so people didn’t just have to trust us.

In the order I received a response, here are some other takes.

First up is Nick Eubanks from Traffic Think Tank.

The site is a pretty amazing anomaly if you ask me. The design is as basic as it gets, the content is thin – has no tone or legitimacy, and the internal links are partial match at best.

Yet the site has made strategic use of some old school link building techniques that definitely still work and managed to rack up over 2,300 RD’s in Ahrefs and rank for over 28k keywords, with nearly 1,800 ranking on the first page of Google. Most of these terms are commercial intent terms with several thousand searches per month each.

Crazier still is the domain was registered just over 2 years ago in February of 2016 and is already scoring in the upper echelon of all sites for Domain Rating. I’m a bit uneasy with how well this site is doing, all things considered.

Thanks, Nick!

Next up we have Tommy Griffith, a former SEO for Airbnb from ClickMinded.

It looks like there are some very strong rankings here for a number of valuable affiliate terms. You can see the clear moment in time where there was an investment in PBNs – and for now, it looks like it’s working.

Most of the links are on pages with a very small number of external links, and it looks like there is good contextual relevancy on about half the domains. The other half are from sites that don’t look like they’re related to the topic – but again, yes, this looks like it’s working.

Finally, Britney Muller of Moz fame kindly contributed her time.

britney muller moz avatarThey’ve actually done a great job of optimizing page titles and on-page content. The use of enticing titles like ‘Best of’ and ‘READ FIRST before buying this’ helps increase CTRs. The blog posts are also really clean and without sidebars. The Titles, URLs, and headings are well optimized for Featured Snippets (to which they have several high volume FSs).

Their straightforward IA is commendable; this isn’t a cluttered website with a dozen navigation items. It’s a basic free theme with the only dropdown (and footer) linking to their primary money pages. This helps to optimize their crawl budget and funnel any homepage traffic to their top affiliate posts. The homepage is clean and simply showcases the most recent blog posts.

The one thing that stood out was the appearance of seeded community blog comments with frequently asked questions about the page topic. I would never recommend creating fake accounts to seed questions and manufacture engagement, just include those FAQs in their own section on the page. However, it would be interesting to test this to see if Google deems comment activity/content more or less valuable.

Moz found the most backlinks for this site (just sayin!) and the profile is fascinating. It becomes immediately clear that a savvy link builder helped acquire a few things to increase the link authority being passed to this site.

I still don’t know how people are going to react to an affiliate case study without an actual site attached but I like to think this feedback gives you a much better idea of what’s working for them.

If I can add my own commentary, I have to admit that the site looked pretty terrible before the recent redesign. With the spelling and grammatical mistakes throughout the content – they are not small or random occurrences – I would be pretty disappointed to land on it via a search.

Especially when the products Suumit is ranking for are not cheap.

He has made some clear efforts to improve things here and he posts quite a lot of content that isn’t written just to make money so it’s definitely becoming a better resource.

That said, I don’t think any of these were needed to please Google, who have been rewarding the site regardless.

Redirecting Expired Domains: The Main Link Building Tactic In Question

As with most sites, Suumit’s affiliate site has links from a number of different sources.

The ones with the most authority undoubtedly come from purchasing expired domains that already have links and redirecting them.

The domain he’s ranking was also an expired domain which had previously picked up links.

Detailed Pro hopefully shows how focused on link building I am so while I have redirected expired domains to other sites before I’ve never really pushed the effectiveness of it.

I would usually build a site on the domain and then link out from it (like a PBN).

If you’re been in SEO for a while then you’ll know that both of these strategies are far from new.

If you were to ask about its effectiveness on Blackhat World, you’ll probably get a response that suggests looking at all of the other threads on the topic, like so:

If you go to a course sharing site like Udemy, you’ll find it’s very popular over there as well:

In other words, it has been around for a while, and many people know about it.

Suumit, as far as I know, is one of the first people who has basically said, “This is what I do, and here’s the kind of results I’m getting.”

However, he’s certainly not alone.

According to my Ahrefs usage stats I’ve checked the backlink profile of thousands of sites in the past year alone and I’m constantly finding high-trafficked sites that employ this tactic.

A recent site relying on it heavily isn’t doing too badly:

This site has some incredible links thanks to other domains that now redirect to them.

To stick with the theme of the post so you don’t just have to believe me alone, I asked Ahrefs CMO Tim Soulo to verify that graph and their links.

He has.

For those who know about the tactic already I really hope you got something out of this interview.

For those who are completely new to the concept, you might have a few questions in mind, so I thought I would answer them FAQ-style.

“So all I have to do is find dropped domains and redirect them?”

That is what appears to be working incredibly well for a lot of sites, yes.

But in that same vein, you will find many people who say they tried to do the same thing and saw little to no results from their efforts.

Depending on your source of domain names and the niche you’re in, this can be an expensive exercise.

As with anything when it comes to search, there are no guarantees, but I should add the warning that I wouldn’t ‘test’ this on a site that you care about.

Set-up a new brand and don’t risk your own or client websites in the process.

“Surely Google can just block this tactic from working?”

Perhaps, but there are a lot of genuine use cases for it.

Sometimes sites change names and want to redirect all of their ‘juice’ to a new brand. That can include letting domains expire before they are picked up and used.

Sometimes companies acquire other businesses and merge multiple sites into one.

Not every example of one domain redirecting to another is someone trying to game search results in their favour.

“OK, then maybe a red flag if a lot of domains redirect somewhere else?”

It’s certainly possible Google have something like this in play but if it caused an obvious and immediate penalty it would be a bit too easy to hurt your competitors.

“What if I build a site on an expired domain that I try to rank?”

I’ve heard of a lot of success stories relating to this so it can definitely work.

People buy domains that have dropped all of the time and build legitimate resources on them. I wasn’t the first person to own Detailed.com – so it isn’t exactly “shady” either.

Suumit’s site is built on an expired domain that already had links to it. There’s no way to say for certain that they helped, but logic would suggest they likely did.

Especially when he was dominating search results within a few months.

“Didn’t Google say this shouldn’t work? Won’t they?

If recent trends in SEO are anything to go by, we’ll see a Google denouncement of this entire concept shortly ;).

It is entirely possible that the expired domains aren’t helping the site in any way, even though it’s a large part of their strategy (notice how Tommy mentioned PBNs rather than redirected domains).

If you are going to try it yourself, you could invest a lot of time and effort with nothing to show for it.

I’ve seen the subdomain vs sub-folder debate where people are convinced subfolders are better and show the rankings improvement but neglect to state they changed their URL structure, internal links and so on.

Back in 2003, ‘GoogleGuy’ said,

you can get that domain into Google; you just won’t get credit for any pre-existing links.

While 15 years is a long time in SEO, this should mean that the tactic doesn’t work at all.

A few years after that, Google’s Matt Cutts said,

There are some domain transfers ( e.g. genuine purchases of companies) where it can make perfect sense for links to transfer. But at the same time it wouldn’t make sense to transfer the links from an expired or effectively expired domain, for example. Google (and probably all search engines) tries to handle links appropriately for domain transfers.

On a webmaster hangout in December of 2016, Google’s John Mueller said,

Sometimes we recognise that a new site is completely unrelated to an old site. So for example if you go out and buy an old domain name, it might have been a church website for 10 years. If we recognise your new website is really not the same as it was, then we need to understand that difference and say that, these links, they apply to the old website but they don’t apply to the new one.

That certainly doesn’t seem to be as definitive as the statement from 2003 and seems to tie more into the relevance of the new site.

Either way Google will win any argument on this topic because they can always say (and often do) some variation of “We just don’t count those links.”

I can’t find more recent updates than that but I will update this article if I find them. Danny Sullivan had a nice guide to this back in 2009.

“Where can I find expired domains?

Just to reiterate, keep in mind this tactic goes against Google’s guidelines depending on how you implement it so be very cautious about using it on sites you care about.

If you’ve decided you want to give it a try, you have a few options available.

First of all, you could follow Suumit’s method and find domains with the links you want first, and then build a tool to constantly monitor their availability.

I recently built just that as an experiment and tried it out on around 30,000 domains:

Im my first crawl I found two domains out of 30,000 that were available and worth picking up.

So even if a lot of people are aware of this model, there are great domains up for grabs.

To get the 30,000 domains took less than 30 minutes – including filtering – but you will need an Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush or similar account.

Creating the tool in the first place is more costly, but shouldn’t set you back more than $1,000.

If you have a large budget it’s probably better to go via the Ahrefs API – or similar platform API’s – because the constant downloading of CSV’s and filtering the results is a bit laborious (especially when you get into tracking millions of domains).

Another option is to go to auction sites like GoDaddy Auctions and watch what is available.

You could of course simply Google “purchase expired domains” or “purchased dropped domains” and find a lot of resources that way.

I have personally implemented another system which cost around $750 to set-up and $500/m ongoing and is finding at least two register-worthy domains per day. If there is enough interest in this article, I’ll happily share that strategy in a future blog post.

(I don’t redirect these domains, but they are useful for other purposes. I’ll purchase a new batch this week solely for the purpose of a redirect experiment as well).

If I’ve missed anything, please do let me know in the comments. Suumit might join in as well if you have any questions for him.

Thank you for reading!

212 comments
  1. I was under the impression that G’s official position was that backlinks are “invalidated” once a domain is dropped.
    So either they lied to people just to prevent them from employing this tactic, or I misunderstood this.

    P.S. Glen, great content as always!

    1. Hi Dumitru,

      Thanks for the comment.

      The most recent clarification I can find of that definitively is from 2003. “you can get that domain into Google; you just won’t get credit for any pre-existing links.”

      15 years is a long time in search but I believe it’s possible it could still be the case.

      More recently Matt Cutts said,

      “What I *wouldn’t* recommend is try to register unrelated expired domains in an attempt to get those pre-existing links to count toward your domain.”

      And in another time said,

      “There are some domain transfers ( e.g. genuine purchases of companies) where it can make perfect sense for links to transfer. But at the same time it wouldn’t make sense to transfer the links from an expired or effectively expired domain, for example. Google (and probably all search engines) tries to handle links appropriately for domain transfers.”

      As with anything related to SEO we can’t be certain what is having an impact. It may very well do nothing at all.

      Either way, I’ll be trying it myself, as I see lots of examples where they appear to be massively helping sites.

      I’m sure it suits Google’s best interests for us to not believe it works.

      At the very least, the site ranking was an expired domain with links, so they certainly aren’t penalising that side of things.

      1. Can you tell us in detail how did he automate domain searching? (technically) I am aware of the process but I used to do them manually not automatically…

        1. Well, I think I have already explained the major steps for finding the domains with good backlinks on automated mode. You have to refine your requirements based upon your requirements (Such as you can remove all non-english domain names, filter the domains which has DR less than 5, filter the domains which was dropped more than 2 times, there are so many other factors)

          Just follow the “heuristic approach” and tweak things according to your needs and you’ll realize it’s pretty easy and fast to find the domains which has crazy backlinks profile.

          1. Hi Suumit,

            Thanks for sharing this case!

            How to know if a domain was actually dropped 2 times or more? I couldn’t find any reliable tool for that.

            Thanks!

      2. “What I *wouldn’t* recommend is try to register unrelated expired domains in an attempt to get those pre-existing links to count toward your domain.”

        Two words that jump out: “recommend” and “unrelated”.
        So maybe links from an expired food recipes blog will look suspicious if they are redirected to a auto parts website, but if they remain in the food niche – maybe that’s enough to throw them off the scent…

        Will probably look into this closer 🙂

        P.S. Why is the comment “Post Comment” button white on white background? 🙂

        1. “So maybe links from an expired food recipes blog will look suspicious if they are redirected to a auto parts website, but if they remain in the food niche – maybe that’s enough to throw them off the scent…”

          Very possibly. It seems John implied something similar to that as well.

          I am trying to fix that but it’s a bit of a nightmare with the caching I have in place. Thanks for the heads up!

        2. There are tons of websites doing very well with most of the inbounds coming from websites totally unrelated. This is not exact science though, but there are still hundreds of details to consider when operating such a campaign – from the registration process to revival and hosting, to content and content structure, anchors and velocity. That’s when you use the aforementioned PBNs. Not familiar with 301s at all, so I’m standing here, lost and bewildered, wondering what’s Suumit’s secret sauce. There’s always a secret 🙂
          I’ve also found some markets tend to go better than others in terms of PBN campaigns. For example I ran some campaigns in Italy, buying great .it domains and pointing them to money sites. The biggest failure up to date. There are other markets where you can rank with PBNs with no big efforts. Obviously I don’t want anyone onto those markets, so I won’t share ( ͝° ͜ʖ͡°)
          Lately, I came down to a conclusion. If you build them well (PBNs from expired domains, that is), you will get away unharmed. Even if the effect isn’t positive, the fact you won’t get a penalty is a huge plus.
          No science though, but worth taking the risk and keep on trying till you get it. Testing is key and I assume Suumit here spent thousands trying to figure out.

          1. You are 200% correct Maxi and I tried to keep things as transparent as I could (Glen can confirm the same).

            I tried so many things from guest posting to PBN’s and measuring the lone effect PBN’s or redirections on overall rankings is like measuring the impact of a single piston in a race car. By itself, it won’t win you any races. But you’d never want to be in a position where you’re missing one and all the other cars have more.

            Hope it explains it all.

  2. Hey Glen,
    I also recently came across a personal finance site using redirect method and that site is currently ranking for some of the most competitive terms in personal finance industry.
    P.S [I hope you share your own method of expired domains which you talked about at the end of the article]
    Basit

  3. do you have any stats as far as how many 301 redirects were used and to where? Are they all going to the homepage? Inner pages? Also, would be curious to know how many PBNs were used for this project.

    Great write-up though! Very impressive stuff.

    1. There were two main ones that I personally looked into. One specifically that has The Verge, Gizmodo and other links.

      It is 301’d to an internal page on the site that (interestingly) doesn’t exist and isn’t trying to rank for anything. I’m not sure if that’s intentional. Suumit might jump in the comments as well.

    2. Hey Ryan, I used some 3-5 domains which had really good backlinks profile. Some of them were directly redirected to the root domain, and on the other hand some domains were pointed to the page URL xyz.com/brandA-acquired-brandB [Which has a press release sort of content and there are interlinks pointing to revenue generating pages on the same page]

  4. Well, I never bought any pbns from any resellers. Every single domain which we pointed to this blog was found through our domains hunting tech.

    Talking about 301 vs 302 – we tried both ways and I don’t really know which one of them worked.

    1. glad to know about 301s vs 302s, and about PBNs they were similar to those sold by resellers but much better than average ones, maybe they are your in-house PBNs.

      Thanks for the reply.

      P.S – Sorry for my bad English in the first comment, typed on a mobile in hurry.

  5. Awesome article. Thank you so much for sharing all the details, minus the site’s URL…which I completely understand. Interesting to see some of the “pros” comments, which a few seem to conflict with their online “best practice” instructions. Would love to see an article on the $500/mo setup you have to find expired domains. Really great stuff here!

    1. Hey Dario, everyone has their own ways of ranking keywords and very few of them reveal actual strategy of “how do they do it”.

      For instance Glen shares incredible things which you can’t even find anywhere else and then there are “pros” who try to market themselves by either putting fake screenshots or maybe scaring s**t out of you by inventing the terms which does’t even exists, for example “pillow anchor links” lol. I’ve seen some of the pros started renting links from their PBN’s for 5$ per month or so lol =D

      So you have to be very careful while choosing whom to follow and whom to not and I hope you learnt something new from this case study.

      Wish you best luck.

  6. Great share Glen. I have question in mind.

    how this method can rank a keyword that we wanted to rank ?

    suppose I want to rank for the keyword “xyz”. in pbn. we are using anchor text to tell Google that I want to rank for that specific keyword.

    in this method, how we can tell Google that we want to rank for that specific keyword?

    1. With your on-site SEO & content focus. Ideally – if these links do pass the weight we think they can – you would focus on redirecting domains with links relevant to your niche as well.

  7. Great case study, my compliments.

    Had a question about the link strategy. How often do you register a domain and redirect it to the website? About how many redirects are we talking?

    And do you check the domain to be sure it’s niche relevant or not at all before you register and redirect it to your affiliate website?

    1. I’ve started redirecting the domains when the money site was approximately 5-6 months old. I used total 3-5 domains which were redirected to root domain/inner pages.

      You can use tools like Ahrefs to check what was the niche of specific domains by looking at anchors or maybe you can check the old content of specific domain using https://archive.org/.

      Just make sure the domain which you’ll be buying for the redirection purpose isn’t dropped multiple times.

    1. Hey Sampath, I’m not using any API’s. I’m directly making request to https://who.is/whois/{domainname.tld} and parsing the expiration dates of the domains. [I would recommend you to read their policies about data crawling, because few websites dosn’t allow that and you have to do it on your own risk]

      Another challenge would be, if you make way too many requests to who.is, they will block IP or maybe put some hurdles for you such as CAPTCHA.

      You need to use proxies for this purpose to bypass such situations. But make sure you’ll be able to do things on scale – for example checking expiration of 100k domains under 15 mins.

      1. That’s actually cool if you can make 100K request in 15min. How many proxies do you use?(this answer will actually save me time testing and figuring it out myself)

        1. Well, to be honest – I don’t use/rent any single proxy, but I have my own setup of approx 5k+ unique IP’s who are connected with the internet 20% time of the day.

          But proxies could be the better option too, easy to use.

  8. Summit never fails to make us learn new stuffs!
    I few questions:

    1. Do you wait for the domain to index before redirecting it?
    2. Do you also setup the domain with it’s past archive before redirecting.

    (OFF Subject) 3. Summit you must have come across expired domains which has thousands of pages indexed on google, how do you make those links live( automation). What is your strategy to set them up.

    Waiting for an answer
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Tanish, Yes for this project, I’ve been waiting for 5-6 months before I redirected any of the domain. And coming back to your second question – Why you do need to setup a blog when you are redirecting the whole domain to your blog?

      I’m not using any tool as of now, but I think one can crawl all pages of specific domain and build exact same website in html/css with automation. [It’s not possible to use any CMS in this case, as you’ll have to manual setup theme, permalinks and all], so straightforward converting to html approach could be better.

      1. Hey Suumit, by “I’ve been waiting for 5-6 months” do you mean that you age the money site for 5-6 months before redirecting any domains to it? Just to clear things out? I’ve used the same strategy quite a few times with GREAT results, but just wanted to see what other people are doing.

      2. Hey summit,

        You did not answer the second question

        Do you also set up the domain with its past archive before redirecting.?

        If yes!

        how it is possible?

        because in one of your responses below you said you’ve used the redirection from the domain registrar level.

        Another question, if you could please answer!

        After making 301 redirects do you recommend confirm the redirection in GSC formerly known as google webmaster tools?

        Waiting for your answer!

  9. Awesome write up. May I ask how many expired domains did you use to redirect? And did you all registered and hosted them on different providers? Cheers!

    1. Hey Dan, all of the domains were registered with the same registrant and I don’t see that as a big problem, as there are more than billion domains available in the known or unknown universe.

  10. Hi Summit,

    Do you do the redirection from the domain registrar level or from Cpanel level?
    If it is from the Cpanel level, are they registered on the same host or different hosts as we have in the case of PBNS

  11. I’m currently revisiting a lot of ‘forgotten’ techniques with some great success… so the more I hear of techniques not working any more… the more I want to try them!!

    I’d be interested in hearing just how niche-relevant the expired domains were. Are they ‘general health’ or have you managed to find uber-targeted domains?

    Also you mentioned you had 3-5 expired domains pointing to the site if I remember right… i’m guessing these were super-powerful domains. Do you think the ‘less is more’ approach would be best, or do you feel confident you could get 10+ less powerful domains to point without any trouble?

    Thanks for a great write-up, and congrats on the site! Inspirational indeed 🙂

    1. Hey Tim, usually I’ve seen people hiding “real-working” stuff and gives more generic statements around SEO. But since the day 0 of my entry in the field of SEO – I’ve followed just one philosophy:

      “Torture the data and it will confess to anything”

      That being said, every single action I took was based upon some data points. The domains which were pointed towards my money site were complete out of the niche, and yes, you are correct! those were super-powerful domains.

      I haven’t tried redirecting a lot of small domains, so I can’t comment anything about “less is more” is the best method or other way round.

      Wish you best luck

      1. Thanks for your reply Suumit… I think a bit of testing is in order 🙂

        So these were fully-dropped domains right? They weren’t non-dropped, still live?

        For that reason, did you get lucky and pick them up for super-cheap $10 etc, or were they auctioned?

        I’m off to find a way to filter the domains (I think I have a plan!).

        To your continued success

        Tim

  12. Hey Suumit and Matt, firstly THANK YOU! This article is amazing!

    I have a question: did you redirect the 3 domains all at the same time, or were they spread out (maybe one every 4 weeks?)

  13. To confirm, you’ve only redirected 3-5 expired domains to your website? Besides the redirected links from expired domains and the links to the domain you’ve purchased have you done any other link building?

    Also, historically, were the domains you’ve redirected relevant to your website content?

    1. Hey Sam, my journey started from GUEST POSTS, and unfortunately it didn’t show any significant growth in terms of rankings. Later I started building redirected links ad also expired domain ones consistently and there was a spike in the traffic.

      Initially the domains which I used in the process were not relevant to niche, but now I’ve started using the domains which are relevant to the niche.

  14. Suumit and Glen,
    Amazing as always.

    I’ve been working on a domain/pbn management tool for personal use and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one that is still having success with expired domains.

    Funny how expired domains/pbns became a fad a few years ago and now are no longer mentioned as much. Like you said Suumit – try everything and let the data show the facts.
    Thanks so much for the share and open honesty!

    1. Hey Allen, glad you liked it. We all know that things at big G’s end are changing at the speed of light, as technology is in evolution – what works today might not work very next morning, so it’s always great to leverage latest technologies to pace up the work and keep trying new ways to hack the growth instead of doing thing traditionally.

      Wish you best luck

  15. Server redirects are usually 302 by default. You need to set a 301 header in order for it to be a 301 redirect. My guess is that they didn’t know and therefore didn’t set one. I can’t imagine a situation where a person who purposely set a redirect to 302.

  16. Hi Suumit,

    Do you take our primary domain anchor ratio into account at all when reviewing potential domain purchases for redirection?

    I’ve done a very simpilar strategy numerous times in the legal niche with success. Old law firm sites with big volumes of high authority
    Links. But, hit a point where I was too concerned google would be confused with other business name anchors coming in to a relatively new site.

    Any tips on anchors/ensuring all the ‘brand-based’ link building doesn’t get ruined? Thanks!

    1. Well, as Glen also explained in one of the comment above – I don’t think you have to consider any anchors when you consider doing things like “redirection”.

      All you have to ensure that your on-site SEO is pretty simple and Google knows what your page is all about. So “brand-based” link building strategy looks pretty straightforward to me without any bad consequences (so far :p)

      Cheers

  17. Awesome article Glen! Thank you for the time and effort!

    Suumit thank you too for sharing knowledge and experience! I would be very grateful if you answer my questions.

    You said you waited 5-6 months for the expired domains to get back in the index again but also didn’t say you have restored the original sites.
    1. Can I assume you left them with parking pages? Or maybe just a couple of pages?
    2. If so, aren’t the domains losing power due to many of their inbound links pointing to 404s?
    3. What do you think of hosting the expired domains on the same server where the affiliate site is – this way when the redirect is set all the indound links will still point to the same IP… and this may be less suspicious for G?
    4. Have you think of a way to hide the scheme from tools like Ahrefs – like hiding PBN links with htaccess/PHP redirects etc?

    Regards

    1. Hey Stoyan, those all domains were idle in my account before I redirected them elsewhere.

      I don’t think domains were loosing power with respect to time, since I was able to see crazy growth as soon as I got this army to fight the war for me after sitting idle for a while

      Hosting the expired domains on the same server where the affiliate site is something I’ll not do for fundamental reasons. No one really knows where google draws the line before tagging any activity “Suspicious”, so I can’t give you exact answer to your question.

      I was doing things like hiding ahrefs crawler, but then I realized smart people will be able to discover things no matter how much you hide. As they say – “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” – I don’t think SEO is the game which you can play if you start thinking about your competitors actions/reactions too much. However, you can use things like PHP redirects or htaccess if you want to do certain technical things – such as combining similar topics under one long article.

      Best luck

  18. thank you for your kind responds, i have a question 1. how do you check your whois domain availability which leads you to 7000 domain per minute 2. What do you mean that the domain pointing to your site were out of niche

  19. I just can’t believe it. It’s all bullshit..

    Just for a link to rankz .io , He bullshited this much.

    And crazy week audience just buying this crap..

    1. Did you read the post?

      “When I asked if he wanted to promote any other resources in our interview together and he politely declined.”

      And if you don’t believe either of us, I don’t think the four other SEOs in this article would lie for a link.

      Have a great day 😉

    2. Hey Fred, no wonder why 99% of the world is interested in jumping into conclusion without thinking about anything these days! [Be it a blogpost or review of any gadget]

      I appreciate your 12.35 seconds of time to pass the judgement on Rankz and this article.

      Wish you best luck!

  20. Google sneezes when Glen writes.

    I would never be surprise to see any attack on the use of expired domains in G’s future animalistic updates.

    However, this would stop me from taking advantage of the juice flowing from this master piece.

    For quicker greenbacks in terms of affiliate niche sites this approach is the way to go.

    How can you work for Ford motors and expect McDonald’s to pay you.

    So try and remain niche focus with your expired domain hunts (EDH) for easier, quicker link juice flowing your way from ED.
    I see the foundation of google shaking the very moment Glen hits publish

    However, “knowledge in the hands of those who doesn’t use them is useless”
    Don’t be boarded about the number of ED’s, 301 or 302 redirects and even PBN.

    My take from this content is be niche focused with your domain choice the rest will follow.
    Just Do It.
    I wish you all a prosperous new year.

    1. Ahah! Yes, I know that Google sneezes when Glen writes.

      Also, as I said earlier – I do NOT use such practices on my client’s websites as I know the RISK pretty well. [And Yes! I’ve been heading SEO for McDonald’s India as well]

      Hope you enjoyed the article.

  21. Nice case study, enjoyed it.

    In the recent past (3-4 months) we have come across a couple of established sites in the design niche (themes, templates, typography etc) losing 30-60% traffic after they migrated to a new domain and redirected the old domain. (still struggling to get back )

    Certainly, there are a number of factors to look at while directing the domains even if it is a legitimate domain migration.

    1. Hey Dhriraj, I think back in 2014 when we redirected housing.co.in to housing.com, we lost almost 80-90% organic traffic.

      All you have to do is make sure all the technical aspects of redirection are being taken care of and “WAIT” till big G processes the whole update thingy.

        1. I mostly build stuff myself according to my problem priorities. All those tools available in the market can give you some data points and you just have to connect the dots to execute things at the speed of light with latest technologies and get desired output.

          Cheers

  22. Great Post, I am working on some amazing niche site and this case study really help me to achieve the things in a right way. Thanks to you, keep sharing your knowledge with us.

  23. 1 year ago I chatted with Gary Illyes about the same thing and even on recorded conversation, he said, domain redirect don’t work that well that it used to work before.
    I have got multiple examples of having success with domain direct on many occasions but it’s not that effective anymore and the success rate is keep reducing day by day.

    1. Interesting, as GoogleGuy – which I believe is Matt Cutts – said in 2003 pretty definitively they don’t count old links.

      Then follow-ups (quoted in the article) didn’t seem to be as definitive. Do you have a link to that quote from Gary?

      Thanks for your comment, Ankit!

    1. Looking at Ahrefs the chart is incredibly steady. I assume that’s because the site is more product focused than information-focused.

  24. Great post as usual Glen.

    Couple of questions:

    1.) By “expired” we’re talking about already dropped but still indexed I assume, as opposed to auction domains?

    2.) You mentioned Suumit shared some other projects with you…is there evidence this has worked enough times to be more than just anecdotal or an anomaly?

    1. Hey Dom,

      Great to see you here.

      1. I believe not indexed but I could be wrong.

      2. The other things he’s doing are 10x more interesting than this in my opinion. At least in terms of finding loopholes I haven’t seen anyone else talk about. I didn’t look at other examples where he’s using this specific tactic though.

  25. Suumit thanks for sharing and It’s really inspiring.

    How much money did you invest to build this site including content, link building and other expense?

    1. Hey, I invested approx 15k USD (maybe something more or less) to get this project at this level. The major spend was on back linking stuff but now I’ve started invested heavily on content.

  26. Really interesting stuff. I’ve only tried one redirection in the past with poor results, but the idea of just injecting a site with 300 new links is intriguing!

    (p.s. * he finally relented )

  27. I looked at a similar method a while ago using ahrefs linked domains, but exporting the lists takes a lot of time and the API would be expensive exporting this much data. I presume the $50/month running cost doesn’t include this? Well, it can’t.. ha. So I presume this figure should be higher or you’re using another source for your linked domains.

    I’m surprised only 3-5 domain redirects made such a big difference, this doesn’t seem like many at all unless they have big link profiles, I was expecting 100+. How many other referring domains does the website have?

    Also, how many articles are on the website and are they all ranking well or just one or two of the articles driving the revenue?

    Would be interesting to know these extra bits of information.

    I just love the fact Google employees will be reading this post trying to figure out the website and ways to block this tactic which is near impossible as 301 redirects are used 99% of the time for the correct purpose and they can’t neglect them instances…

    1. Hey Jamie, I’ve recently started using publicly available data for filtering the good domains, which reduces my overhead cost of APIs. So as I said, all you have to pay for is – Server Bills, which is probably less than 50$ a month, but for few other purposes I’m using Ahrefs APIs as well.

      Even I’m surprised to conclude that only 3-5 domains made such a huge difference in rankings. SEO is probably like a blackhole and no-one really knows “what” happens inside and “why” it happens.

      These domains had approximately 200 RD and 3000+ backlinks.

      My website currently has around 100 articles live.

      Well, for your last question all I could say is – “This is just my test project, so it’s not going to affect me even if an angel comes and manually penalizes my website”. All I wanted to do with this project was – “TRY NEW THINGS AND LEARN” and I think I’ve learnt crazy things from this website’s SEO.

      Wish you best luck

  28. Another great read Glen. After seeing some recent SEO case studies and “SEO competition” winners manually targeted by Google for example “Kyle Roof” – I dare not contribute my own experience but I will say “building for the long term doing extra work” is like hiding in plain site.

    I would also suggest to Suumit that he hide his clients sites if any, as one of the comments here has literally blown him up and as with what happened to Kyle Roof i can see Google taking a tantrum on anything even remotely related to Suumit which would be a shame but they do come after people and a site/article/celeb like Glen/s attracts a lot of big names who will come here and potentially be a pain to the man.

    Great effort Suumit – $$$ flowing 🙂

  29. How many articles are there on site and you use dynamic homepage or static page? apart redirection what kind of link building practices you follow?

  30. One problem I can think of is that once you find domains worth buying, the registrars might pick them up before you have a chance to buy them, so it can become a very time-consuming and frustrating job. Am I correct?

    1. Someone else can definitely beat you to dropped domains, yeah. It has happened to me on ones I even pay money to backorder (purchase the second they drop).

  31. Hi Suumit and Glenn. Thanks for the article! I have had an experience that backs this case study up. I have an affiliate site that was stale in rankings for the main terms in 3rd page of Google but was ranking for some long tail keywords + keywords with year.

    My domain was brandable and had none of my main keywords in it. So I decided to test a partial match domain. I bought the domain (FRESH) and I did a 301 redirect of my old website to the new one. What I experience was amazing. ALL of my keywords jumped just after 7 days of doing the redirects and the website started growing again.
    After reading this article I know what my next steps for testing are. However I have some questions for both of you:

    1) What exactly is the purpose of the technology that you developed? To test the outgoing links of a website daily in order to catch up something that expires before someone else notices?
    2) Did you integrate your software with AHREFS to filter the expired domains or TLDs or organic traffic or do you just feed it through CSV whatever is within your filters?
    3) What is the difference of using your technology VS doing daily checks on the outgoing links of the domain and testing it through a bulk domain availability checker?
    4) Is there any chance to get a recommendation for a similar technology? I started doing some research in order to develop something similar but I would be interested to use something that is already available.

    Again, thanks for the great article. I really appreciate your effort on improving this industry!

    1. Hey Sotiris, here are my answers to your questions:

      1. Yes, to check the “expiry of domains with good backlinks profiles” and grab them as soon as they get expired before anyone else can.

      2. I tried Ahrefs in the past and I must say Ahrefs API’s are bit costlier so I tried to achieve the same thing using some publicly available data. [Absolutely FREE one]. But when you want to operate on scale – for instance, if you are working on multiple projects at once, it makes sense to go for Ahrefs

      3. I get extra hours to play pool with my friends, I don’t have to spend on real-estate or salaries and I can keep travelling as much as I want because “Machines” work for me. If you try to do it in manually – you’ll never be able to speed up the things.

      4. There are individual tools which can allow you to perform certain things, but I never came across any single platform which can automate things from start to end.

  32. Hi Glen,
    How would you build a tool that checks for the availability of expired domains? Do any domain registrars have free bulk api checking tools or is there an alternative?

    Also are there any commercial software options available for doing it on the market?

  33. Very interesting case study. I remember 5 years ago being told how redirecting expired domains would no longer work. The proof is in the pudding. Well done Suumit.

  34. Hi,

    question for Suumit –
    1) have you added the redirected domain to the Webmaster Tools (Search Console) and noticed Google about there redirect there too? Sounds perhaps dumb, but worth asking.

    2) Do you redirect the whole domain including all of the directories and subdomains to a single page on your money page? Or just homepage 301 to homepage and perhaps a few good pages?

    3) How long till you see the results?

  35. Great case and impressive results. Thanks, Suumin & Glen.
    I’ve started using this technique a few months ago after seeing one of my competitors using it.
    So I’ve found a few expired domains with the links from powerful sites, including Forbes, NYTimes, inc.com, Lifehacker, etc. I’ve done registrar-level 301 redirects like SomeExpierdDomain.com -> MySite.com
    So far I don’t see any significant results. I even don’t see any of these links in ahrefs. In Search Console in Links section, I see these SomeExpierdDomain.com’s but not forbes, nytimes, etc.

    Should I wait more or I’m doing something wrong?

    Also does expiration time matters? Some of the domains I bought had expired back in 2013-15.

    1. Hello Mike,

      As you know SEO is so dynamic, and what works for one domain might not work for other domain under same circumstances. If only redirecting POWERFUL domains was the key to achieve better results, I would have dominated every single niche but that’s not the case that’s why I mentioned specifically in the interview that I have A LOT of failed projects.

      The reason why you are not able to see your backlinks instantly in any of the tools like Ahrefs is because they do not crawl the domains available in the universe instantly, their index is partial index which gets updated frequently (I don’t know how frequently though). So give it some time and you’ll be able to see every single link in your Ahrefs dashboard (if you haven’t blocked Ahrefsbot explicitly using your robots.txt)

      Waiting is the ONLY thing you can do I believe.

      There is no exact answer for your question “does expiration time matters?”, maybe it does, maybe it does not!

  36. Oh and one more question for you Suumit:
    You wrote that you redirected some domains to the root (homepage) or your money site and some to a special page with a press release about the merger. Do you think it makes a difference and if yes – which one would you recommend more? I want to redirect one website which is not very niche relevant to my money site (not absolutely the opposite but still not the same…)

    1. Hey Adam, as I explained a couple of times in the comments – I tried both the things. Redirecting domains on root domain and redirect them to inner pages. I can’t really which method worked – but REDIRECTION thingy worked for sure.

      Cheers

  37. You said you spent $15k building this site and most of that went to backlinks. Am I missing something? Registering the 3-5 domains shouldn’t of cost more than $50. This means you spent a ton of money on building other kinds of links as well so a lot of the results could just be from that.

    1. It was my understanding throughout the entire interview of the exact same thing. That Suumit had registered the domains at the normal fee.

      It hadn’t crossed my mind for a second that he had spent much more money on the site (besides content). That’s my fault…I just never even thought to ask.

      Luckily comments are open so people can ask what I foolishly didn’t think to, and it’s my new understanding that Suumit watched the domains expire then picked up them up at auction for a few thousand dollars.

      I imagine content makes up the rest as there is a lot of it on the site, but he might clarify here.

      1. Here is the thing:

        1. I have re-written content for at least 3 times on this site. [And imagine how much you’d end up paying for writing 15-20 articles which generates money THREE times]. Recently I hired one agency from US who is charging me 225$ per article, so calculate things.

        2. Out of 3-4 Strong Domains, I spent somewhere around 6K USD on 2 domains to keep things floating on top (Although I was already dominating top spots)

        3. Apart from this, there are no extra costs at all. Just domains (for which I’m spending 20$-50$ max/domain) and content.

        PS: I think I forgotten to mention about guest post approach which I followed at the beginning where I built 100+ guest post links and couldn’t move the needle in SERPs.

        Hope it explains it all.

        Cheers

      1. for the content creation, you hired people from a freelance website like UpWork? You’ve published like 2 articles/week? thx

  38. @Sumit I believe this would have been asked before by some but I would like to ask you this
    1st – Were the dropped domains belonged to the same niche ?
    2nd – Also, did you anyways considered the Dofollow to Nofollow Ratio while redirecting domains?
    3rd – What was the time window did u see usually your keywords going up serps after redirection of expired domains..

    Thennnks mate for coming up with this. Much appreciated

    1. Hey Hitesh.

      1. Dropped domains are from random niche, but ideally you should hunt for the domains which are from your niche. (if you want to play safe)

      2. There is nothing called DOFOLLOW vs NOFOLLOW while you redirect any domain.

      3. I think it was less than 30 days, but again – this all depends upon how quickly/slowly Google rolls out their ranking algo triggers. Time may vary in every case.

      Cheers

    1. That can certainly happen, Ann.

      I did make a comment on this,

      “That is what appears to be working incredibly well for a lot of sites, yes.

      But in that same vein, you will find many people who say they tried to do the same thing and saw little to no results from their efforts.”

      There are so many factors in play they might not even have been noticed. Your niche might be too competitive. It simply might not do anything. Nobody knows for sure.

  39. Not sure what to comment as part of me says he was just lucky.

    From experience, i can share all the numbers ( including GA ) to prove that link building is not mandatory to rank a website in Google. I built a
    “life insurance” website from scratch 16 months ago in sydney and built no links ( deliberate intent) with 1 good natural link so far. We rank for over 1100 terms now and is a full time business.

    Anyways, not sure if i should feel happy or feel weird that above discussed loopholes are still woring despite so many smart engineers are at work.

    1. Hey Rama, just google a query “backlinks” and I don’t think those “2,73,00,000” results which says “backlinks” is for real are wrong! Maybe you chose keywords no-one else wants to rank for or maybe you are “Lucky”, either way! Good to know that you have tagged your business as “full time business” and I’m sure you are doing pretty well.

      But whatever Glen or I write, is supported by a solid data and not just hypothesis. Backlinks works, period.

      I know that “so many smart engineers are at work”, and the fundamental algorithm of Google was built about relevancy, and relevancy comes from links! What kind of links? That you have to figure out!

      1. Hey mate, I wasn’t picking on you nor have any doubt on your story. I was just speaking loud. My attempt was to prove rankings can be achieved without back links ( a theory that worked).

        And the keywords I tried to rank were those with decent competition( best life insurance )

        Anyways, my apologies if you thought I was picking on you….good luck mate

        1. Hey Rama, SEO is not a game with structured rules – people have N number of ways to rank their websites.

          I often prefer playing the games which doesn’t have a predictable output, and SEO is one such game! If you believe that your strategy is working, it’s a bossmode! Scale it! Write about it and let other’s know that it actually works!

          Cheers

  40. Great interview, thanks to Glen and Suumit!

    Have a question for Suumit though has nothing to do with SEO. Do you know any programming languages, would like to know if any suggestions on that as it obviously is giving you an edge to think differently!

    1. Hey Richard, I do know fundamentals of programming (as I spent 4 years in completing my B.Tech in Computer Science) but I’m not a big fan of coding – as I hate to spend time on solving bugs.

      However, I don’t think life is about having all of the skills, but rather it’s about knowing the person who has those skills. So yeah! I’ve got a team of monkeys who are really smart with TECH stuff, so I just act as “orchestra manager” instead of playing the guitar by myself.

      Talking about a suggestion, I would recommend watching this video by one of the successful entrepreneur from India who explains “how to think”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4px19xzK7zI

      Hope you enjoyed the article and best luck.

    2. Also, I’ve forgotten to add this thing in my last comment:

      As you have started considering latest tech to scale your SEO thing, your next question would be – Which technologies I should use? Whether Java is better or Ruby on Rails? So here is my answer before you get confused or spend more time choosing tech stack:

      “Choosing a technology stack for SEO automation is like choosing the color of underwear on your date, Only matters if you get LUCKY!!”

      Cheers and keep rocking mate.

      1. Suumit Hilarious analogy!
        If I can chime in as a software dev and SEO I’d personally suggest PHP (specifically Laravel framework) as it’s widely known and finding top talent at a reasonable price is relatively easy.

        Just my $0.02 🙂

  41. Im kinda confused. We can either setup a new site on an expired one or redirect it to another site using 301 just like in this article have been said. In both cases we will have the same backlinks profile. In such a case why bother with 301 as it seems like a bit more work and still the same outcome…?

  42. I am planning to start multi amazon affiliate niche site, but the thing is what kind of guest posts/pbns should I get for such sites, since it’s not a single niche in single category?

    1. If you have bigger goals such as creating an amazon associate site like bestreviews.com and cover everything, go for multi-niche. But if you are planning to flip your websites within an year or two, it’s always better to go niche and create small websites instead of creating one big.

  43. @Suumit – Thanks for the case study.

    Forgive me if this has already been answered but when you get the expired domain are you redirecting it without content after 3 to 5 months (so you make it sit empty)

    or are you reloading some content into it then letting sit for 3 to 5 months then 301 redirect it?

      1. Hello
        do not add it to Search Console the domain redirected? . I just wait months at the registrar without doing anything

  44. Thank you Suumit and Glen for this case study!

    Quick question to both of you: what about applying Suumit’s strategy – 3 to 5 super expired domains redirected – not directly to the money site, but pointed at 10 or 20 PBN or natural tier 1 backlinks?

    (Please don’t answer “try and you ll find out” 🙂 )

    1. The results will be different for everyone, but I’m sure you wouldn’t be the first to try 🙂

      Feels like a bit of a waste to me personally, depending on how much you pay for the domains.

  45. Excellent stuff guys, thanks for sharing.

    I’m just curious about this year’s results. Why you have added only last year Amazon earning screenshot? TIA.

    1. Hey John, numbers for these year are a bit low as compared to previous year in terms of revenue since Amazon cut down the commission by almost 40-50%.

      The point of this case study was – dominating SERPs with specific tactics and not about how much revenue a website can generate.

      Hope it explains it all.

      Cheers

  46. what a detailed guide and really nice tactic. After reading this article, I am going to buy some expired domains and let me see if magic works for me 🙂

    Yes, i have read your article and google guys warning also and will for sure keep in mind all those warnings

    Thanks again

  47. Hey Glenn and Suumit,

    Since I just learned about 301 redirects and expired domains I have few queries, please answer. Since before learning how to redirect and whether to chose redirect or use the domain as PBN, first I need to know how to chose an expired domain.

    1. After exploiting Ahrefs I found a domain from a high authority .edu ( DA >90) site with dofollow rel attribute from a page with PA>50. The domain is currently in the auction and I think I would be able to afford it.
    this certain domain doesn’t have any other backlink from anywhere ( as per Ahrefs). Will this domain be something worth spending $100s? I really don’t know.

    2. suppose an expired domain ( abcdefg.com) is having links from NYtimes, Forbes,Huffpo, LAtimes,cnbc etc and costs $3500. And suppose there are 5 domains having links from these 5 HA sites and costs $500 together. Which one is worth buying?

    If I redirect the 5 domains to money site or redirect the one domain ( abcdefg.com ) to money site, I understand the SEO juice cannot be equal, can you let us know which of the two setups is worth, money wise and SEO wise.

    I’ll definitely understand if you chose not to answer ( since the queries could be very stupid) but could you please write a “detailed” article sometime soon 🙂

    1. Hey Zavion,

      Here are answers to your questions:

      1. I can not say if the domain which you found using Ahrefs will give you positive result or no, as there are no predefined rules when it comes to SEO. Also, DR, PA or whatever factors you refer to, those are not factors defined by Google, so you have to use your own experience and knowledge and filter out which is a good domain and which is a bad one.

      2. I’m 200% sure that you won’t be able to acquire links from NYtimes, Forbes,Huffpo, LAtimes,cnbc in 500$. If you do, go for posting articles on those sites and link back to your money site instead of finding expired domain and redirecting it.

      I can not really tell you which is the best method, but personally I would opt for buying links directly on big websites if that’s affordable.

      Cheers

  48. This is pretty amazing. I for years advised all my clients against redirects. I thought, and think until now, that this loophole can be shut by G in any given day. So i always advocate restoring sites or building new sites on the found domains. Yes so much more work and investments, site building, content, hosting – against simple redirect… But your case opens my eyes to another side of story. Hat off.

  49. Great article which really has piqued my interest and opened my eyes to different approaches that can be taken in SEO.

    ‘I have personally implemented another system which cost around $750 to set-up and $500/m ongoing and is finding at least two register-worthy domains per day. If there is enough interest in this article, I’ll happily share that strategy in a future blog post.’

    I would love to delve more into this automation process. Keep the great content coming!

  50. It seems to me that the most important part of this is that the 301 domains looked to be the tipping point for this website. The site already was an expired domain with backlinks, had a bunch of content, had a bunch of guest post links, and then the 301’s. It was not a new site that a handful of 301’s shot up onto the first page. This is definitely another tool for the toolbox. Thanks for the info Suumit.

  51. what a detailed guide and really nice tactic. After reading this article, I am going to buy some expired domains and let me see if magic works for me 🙂

    Yes, i have read your article and google guys warning also and will for sure keep in mind all those warnings

    Thanks again

  52. I can vouch that these tactics work and have always worked, having sold and used thousands of 301/ PBN domains in my time and learned the process of evaluating domains for such purposes, those who often slander this tactic have typically bought terrible domains and can’t weed out the bad from the good, even recently I located a seller on a well-renowned platform selling PBN links on really poorly chosen and previously spammed domains, and they have done it in the hundreds, overall my point is many are terrible at evaluating quality expired domains for 301 redirects and PBN’s hence their bad experiences.

    Invest your time in acquiring the knowledge to judge a good domain and don’t solely go off metrics, I see tons of great domains with low TF, more so than anything look at the links and ask yourself are they from authority sites.

  53. Hi Suumit,

    I tried following your strategy and I bought an expired domain which is having links from many popular news sites like NyTimes, HuffingtonPost, FoxNews and many other but the problem with the domain is that it is having a manual penalty with Google.

    There’s no way to check an expired domain penalties before buying so I made a bad choice but now my question is,

    Can I simply redirect the domain to my money site which I am trying to rank? Will it pass a positive impact or its going to be negative? I am sure you must have gone through similar situation in past.

    Would love your thoughts on this.

    Thanks

    1. Hey Prat,

      I don’t think there is any way to check whether the domain was penalized in the past or no, max you can do it put the domain in https://goo.gl/ and see if it allows you to generate short link (if they have done something really really bad, goo.gl won’t allow you to generate the shortlink)

      In your case, as you already know that your domain was penalized in the past, I would recommend not to use it for any of your project. Hunt more domains and keep experimenting.

      Cheers

    2. I’m afraid a bad domain is exactly that, if banned it won’t do you any good or we could just got out and buy any old spammed site and redirect and get benefits, google is not going to let that happen in 2018.

  54. I have another idea to make money with 301 redirects:

    Just get a new domain, setup some content on it and then redirect some powerful domains to it.

    Then its metrics will increase and you can start selling links from this domain. This is a safer “make money” approach than redirecting the expired domains to your money sites.

  55. Would a safer way to do this being 301 one domain then 301 the other domains to the first 301.
    Would that work? and also be a little safer for your money site?

  56. Well.. $1000 seems to be about right price for a tool like that – at least it is how much I charge my clients for something like that written in python.

  57. Hey Summit,

    Thanks for Sharing this Article and You reveal the Secret about 301 Redirects Links And according to Me Redirects Links Are safe then PbN Links .

    Your article contains a to z Complete Guide about link building. If anybody read it carefully then He know all about Backlinking Secrets Methods.

    Thanks Man
    Jagdeep kaushal

  58. I am waiting for the Expiration Monitor Tool since the this post is published. Daily I check my inbox and your blog to see if the post is published about that tool. Please guide me how to build such a tool. Question for Glen.

    Thanks

  59. Wow! What a case study. And Ironically I am reading it the same day i read the news ‘Google Pops the Redirect Link Building Balloon’ on search engine land! Anyway, I still believe that this strategy works. Because just like 10 beasts, many said that university and organizational links are not working. But we have tested them and they still work.

    Google is difficult to understand. So, why not just focus on money?

  60. Hello Suumit and Glen.

    First of all Glen: I never spent so many hours reading/re-reading one article. You did a really good job. It was really interesting. I deffinitely increased your “average time on site” stats haha.

    Suumit I have a few questions to you. I see no date on this article so I have no idea in which year it was posted. I have tons of questions to you

    1) Does this method still work in 2019? Does your site still dominate the SERPs?
    2) This was asked before but remained unanswered: do you buy expired domains or dropped domains? My guess is that you buy dropped ones.
    3) If you are buying dropped domains, why do you have to check the expiration dates with your tools? There are many sites out there where you can buy such domains. My guess is that you find domains that these sites miss out on.
    4) Is there any difference between a domain that was dropped 5 years ago and one that was dropped a few days ago? Which one do you prefer?
    5) Why dropped domains and not expired domains?
    6) Have you had success with this method multiple times or only this one time?
    7) Do you rank for any big keywords like “best vacuum cleaner” or only long tail keywords?
    8) Did I understand your approach correctly: All you did was buy a fresh domain, publish 100 articles, then wait 6 months and then redirecting 5 domains with quality backlinks by month 8? Is that all that you did? So you would rank for keywords like “best camera in 2019” without having a single backlink related to cameras?

    Suumit and Glen. I took a lot of notes while reading this article. I can say that it was really inspiring and it will definitely take action and add my own twists. Thanks for your time posting this. I will follow both of you.

    1. The screenshot I took of the other site were in December 2018.

      It still appears to be working very well in 2019, yeah 🙂

  61. I just found another example of this strategy. Domain names purchased and redirected 301 in January 2018, then there was a sudden increase in organic traffic in March 2018

    More detail: http://prntscr.com/myzwj0

    80% of the content is product reviews, the rest are information articles.Expired domain names have backlinks from authority sites such as engadget, smashingmagazine … (http://prntscr.com/myzx5q)

    There is a certain relevance between the topic of both domains.

  62. I want to ask one question it may be a stupid question from a newbie

    How much juice gonna transfer from 301 Redirects like 1 to 100?

    If you can explain it to me

    Thanks in advance

  63. Hi Sir,

    I just cross-check their website ranking it’s down!

    Kindly update us if it’s the Google spam penalties as it’s black hat technique.

  64. I ‘ve read this article maybe 5 times,
    Now I am on the edge of buying an expired domain.
    Hope I will make some dramatic improvements. I will share the result whether I succeed or not.
    Thanks!

  65. You mentioned that these days you mostly pay for domains between $20 and $50. Am I correct in assuming that you use the your tool to identify desirable domains only, and then you go through an auction and (eventually) pick up some of the domain that you want, for which there isn’t much competition (e.g. for about $20 at godaddy or $50-$50 with backorder services).

    Or do you actually pick up a dropped domain for registration fee only? (this is implied since you say that you do daily checks on your entire ‘desired’ domain database – if you were using auctions or backordering, there woudln’t be a need for such urgency).

    On the other hand I am not sure how that would work because desirable domains don’t get drop for more than a milisecond (namejet or somebady else snaps them)

    I would really appreciate if you could clarify this point, thanks

  66. I learned New Strategy Thanks For The Sharing… I Have A Question….
    Hi If I Purchased Expired Domain After Few Months Old Owner Get Back At The Time Who Will Get Domain?

  67. I can’t even imagine how you guys pick out these amazing SEO tricks. Also, you guys share it on Internet for completely free. Thanks a lot man!

  68. Hi Glen, great post and very interesting indeed. Could you make a new post about some other search engine seo like Yandex or Baidu. I see many foreign sites ranking very well just from reciprical footer links. Would be interesting to see how some foreign sites work as well as other search engines other than Google. Keep up the good work, look forward to seeing more content from yourself and Summit.

    1. I don’t really think too much of my audience would be interested in that I’m afraid but I appreciate the suggestion!

  69. Great post suumit… I have learned so many things from you. My question is that.. If I apply this method. Can this affect google Adsense on my website. Because my main target is to draw traffic.

  70. Hello, thanks for the insightful content!

    We have 301 redirected two DA50+ domains to inner pages that are topically relevant to the old sites on a registrar level and additionally found several highly relevant aged domains of DA20-30 and redirected them as well.

    Three weeks later, search console shows one of the DA50+ domains links in the website’s backlink report, yet it doesn’t show the others. In terms of search rankings, the website has dropped from page 3 to page 6(!) for one of the main keywords, yet we’re not sure if this is related to the redirects.

    Do you suggest leaving things as is and just wait? When did you start seeing significant ranking boosts? And is there anything else that you’d recommend to give achieve great results?

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