6 Expired Domains Vetting Tips For Highest Success Rate

Last Updated: April 17, 2020

Hey, Sumit here 🤗

Do you believe expired domains don't work or involve a high-risk of penalty?

See this.

This website belongs to one of my clients. He built it on an expired domain and started getting amazing results in just 1.5 years.

The site is ranking for some of the toughest keywords for more than a year.

Let me say this...

You'll have a 90% success rate with your expired domain without any potential risk if you choose the right domain. 😊

(By success rate I mean the domain will give you faster rankings than any fresh domain)

Creating an affiliate site on an expired domain is still the fastest and cheapest way to get your website to rank high.

Let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we?

There’s no unique “strategy” involved while working with an expired domain to make it a success.

In fact, you build the affiliate site just like any other fresh domain. 😊

However, if you pick the wrong expired domain, then either you won’t see great results, or you’ll get penalized by Google sooner or later.

You need to select the right domain based on various metrics.

I conducted an online survey in one of the Facebook groups and within my SerpNames family.

See how they responded:

In both the surveys, the highest vote went for “strong contextual backlinks”

While I do agree with it, you can’t overlook the other metrics which also play a crucial role in determining the potential of an expired domain.

So, what are the best metrics you should look for in an expired domain?

In this article, I’ll be showing you six most important vetting guidelines for expired domains — that work for my clients as well as me — which will give you a success rate as high as 90%+ 😄

Important note: Many times, expired domains fail because of other SEO factors like bad on-page, low-quality content, etc. and people say it’s the fault of the expired domain which isn’t true at all.

So let’s get started…

1. Strong Contextual Backlinks

This is the most important metric.

If you’re going to use an expired domain that has strong contextual backlinks (in a good number), then consider your job is half done. 😁

I use Ahrefs.com and these settings for checking:

I check “do-follow” backlinks as they bring the most link juice and power.

Note: Always check the referring domains in the “live” index instead of “historical.” You may find some extra backlinks in the historical index, but the majority of them might be dead already.

Now look at the referring domains, you need to manually check if they are contextual or not.

In this case, all backlinks are from the articles.

You can also check the DR and Ahrefs rank of those sites.

If the DR is high and Ahrefs rank is low, then it means that the website is authoritative and trustworthy.

A DR between 40-100 and Ahrefs rank below 1 Million is perfect! 😊

You should avoid an expired domain that has more than 50% backlinks from comments, forums, profiles, or directory.

There’s nothing wrong with those links if they are built naturally.

But, they reduce the success rate of the domain.

Tip: If most of the referring domains in the top 25 have contextual backlinks, instead of manually created links, then you’ve found a strong contextual backlinks profile domain. Try yourself! 😉 

2. Topical Relevance

Topical relevance decides the sustainability of your affiliate site.

If you choose an expired domain that is not relevant to your niche, then sooner or later, you’ll be penalized by Google. 😬

Some expired domains don’t take off, and most of them get penalized after a few months.

How do you check for the expired domain’s relevancy?

There are two ways:

  1. Checking the backlinks’ topic through ahrefs
  2. Checking in the archive.org history

I recommend you go for the highest relevant expired domain possible so that you get safe and long-term rankings.

If you’re starting an affiliate site in weight loss supplements, then look for a domain in weight loss and fitness.

Sometimes, it gets challenging to find a strong domain in a specific niche  (unless you’re lucky 😉).

You can go for a general health domain as well,  and repurpose it for your weight loss supplements site, without risking.

(Google bots crawl the backlinks for topical relevance. A site in health should have backlinks from other health sites only, not from other niches like tech or gaming.)


  1. You can repurpose “restaurant/food” expired domains for your kitchen products affiliate site.
  2. You can use “golf tournament” expired domain for your golf products affiliate site

Look at this example below:

This client of mine started this affiliate site in late 2018 on a broad niche domain.

The growth is impressive and making high four figures in monthly revenue. 🤩

His website started generating a revenue of $7,000/mo in just 11 months!

You can read his detailed case study here.

By the way, using non-relevant expired domains for short-term rankings is not always bad.

Some people do it purposely to make 6-7 figures in revenue by investing only a few thousand dollars on an expired domain. 😲

This is called the “churn and burn” strategy using expired domains.

Here’s a good example:

MBPI.org originally was an NGO in social development. Check here


Later, it was repurposed in male health supplement reviews.

If you’re a beginner in expired domains, then I don’t recommend this strategy.

It involves a high risk of getting penalized before you could churn. 🤐

So, look closely for expired domain’s topical relevance before you decide to purchase it 🙂

The worst-case scenario using a strong and relevant expired domain is, it won’t give amazing results and you’ll need to start building backlinks from scratch. 😅

3. Number of Referring Domains

An expired domain with strong relevant backlinks may cost you more in the beginning, but it may save you a lot of time and money in the future. So, choose wisely.

Most affiliate marketers invest between $7,000-10,000 before they reach their $1,000/mo revenue when using a fresh domain.

But, if you invest $1,000 on buying a strong expired domain, then the only other major investment you need to make is on the content.

Here’s a case study of a friend who crossed $3,300/mo revenue in just four months without any link building on his expired domain.

So, is link building not required at all while using an expired domain? 🤨

Well, it is. But you may not require it in many cases to make your first dollar if you focus on amazing content and on-page.

Remember this,

More referring domains = more power = faster rankings. 😎

I recommend going for an expired domain that has at least 70-80 referring domains.

Lower referring domains may not give your expired domain enough power and link juice to rank fast.

Thus, you’ll need to get more backlinks to rank your website and start generating revenue.

You can go for a strong expired domain in the starting and avoid the big headache later 😄

Tip: Most of the referring domains should have contextual backlinks, not manually made links for a higher success rate. So check carefully!

4. Domain Rating (Ahrefs)

Domain Rating can help you save a lot of time but you can’t trust it blindly. 😕

Here’s why.

Look at this:

Domain Rating is 63, which is high.

However, most of its backlinks come from forums and comments.

DR is still helpful and gives you a fair idea about an expired domain.

I don’t consider any expired domain “good” if it has a DR of less than 16, even if it has a high number of backlinks.

The key is to look for a high DR but the one with natural and relevant backlinks.

Make it a point to always check the backlinks manually. 🤓

A strong and healthy expired domain will have a balanced DR and referring domains ratio.

As a general rule, the below combinations of DR & referring domains serves as a great starting point, 

DR 16-20 & 200 referring domains or less

DR 20-30 & 500 referring domains or less

DR 30-40 & 1,000 referring domains or less

DR > 40 & 1,000 plus referring domains

It’s a general rule and you must manually check the quality of referring domains before you take any decision.

For example, look at this expired domain:

It has 46 DR, so the referring domains should be more or less than 1,000.

The referring domains are contextual and from giant news sites

You can try this method with other domains and you’ll get near-accurate results.

Lastly, if you focus on strong contextual backlinks, then you’ll find that other metrics like DR and DA are in place already.

Tip: If you spot an expired domain with hundreds or even thousands of referring domains but a lower DR, then most likely maximum number of backlinks would be manually made 😉

5. Domain’s Popularity

This is the most underestimated metric.

It can make a big difference in the success of your affiliate site.

An expired domain which was a known brand/business/organization once will have a much higher probability of success than a small personal blog domain.

Google trusts websites that were popular in the past.

When you combine this level of authority and trust with the strong contextual backlinks, your expired domain will have a significant impact on your rankings. 😄

Take this as an example: VoteForTheWorst.com

Strong contextual backlinks profile with a 46 DR and 2,000 referring domains.

Now search this on Google: “VoteForTheWorst”

VoteForTheWorst has a Wiki page that was launched in 2004.

Even the search on Google images shows valid results for the domain.

Clearly, Google lists this website as highly trustworthy.

Repurposing such a domain for an affiliate site can give massive results and super-fast rankings. 😎

If you find an expired domain that was owned by a big company, then don’t give it any second thought.

Here’s a good example:

This is one of my client’s affiliate sites. He built it on an expired domain which was previously owned by a big international company.

The keywords growth he got here was just in 2 months, and as you can see, most of them are on the top pages. 😋

So next time when you purchase an expired domain, always check for the domain’s popularity in its previous life. 

6. Clean Anchor Texts  & Archive

Buying a domain that has irrelevant or unnatural backlinks could get you in trouble.

They could have an existing penalty, or they might get a penalty in the future when Google catches it.

Avoid domains that were repurposed as PBN or churn & burn sites and have spammy anchors.

You can use ahrefs to check for anchor texts. 😎

Here’s an example:

Avoid such domains as a plague!

Next, look for archive history and use archive.org

You should avoid domains that were either used as a PBN, have got Chinese archives, or used as money sites in the past.

Here’s another example: CrossfitSawMill.com

I checked the Wayback in 2012 and it looks like this:

This is the original Wayback about fitness. Later, it was re-used as the PBN and here’s the screenshot:

Don’t deal with such domains, as they’ve got a high risk of penalty. 😨

That’s all.

If you follow these metrics in picking the right expired domain, then your chances of creating a successful website are as high as 90%.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. 😄

If you’re unclear about anything, then feel free to ask me in the comments section.

And btw, if you need any help or even a 1-on-1 mentorship on learning about expired domains, then you can email me or connect with me on skype.

I’ll be more than happy to help you. You don’t have to pay a dime for this and nor do you need to purchase any domain 😊

Just trying to help people get success and more happiness in their lives.

Please share this article with your friends. I’ll really appreciate it! ❤️

See you in the next article, take care!

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Find Expired Domains Like a Pro! Learn the tips & tricks to find expired domains with strong backlinks.

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12 comments on “6 Expired Domains Vetting Tips For Highest Success Rate”

  1. I was wondering what that survey was for when you sent it ... Great Article Sumit! Waybackmachine research is so important. Well done.

  2. Thanks for the useful information Sumit. Now a tip of my own: many expired domains carry a small risk of having been trademarked in the past. In the US there's apparently a market for predatory lawyers who go around seeking new owners of trademarked domains and suing them. If you want to ensure a domain you're using wasn't once trademarked, it will add to your costs of acquiring the domain because you have to somehow vet it. Not saying a lawsuit or WIPO injunction will automatically happen – just be aware of this latent risk.

    1. Hey Gre, thanks for dropping your comment 😀 I agreed that expired domains have a potential risk of copyright. However, in my experience, there's an extremely low chance that someone would sue the domain owner if he is repurposing it completely in a different thing, as many times either the company might have closed their business, the trademark has expired, the company is small and don't care about suing much as long as the new owner is not mis-using their content, etc. Also, it is best to check for the trademark on site like this:

  3. For an expired domain, I acquired, In ahrefs it shows 150 referring domains, but google crawls only 50 domains and shows it in the webmasters tools. So in this case, the value of the domain becomes less, right?

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Find Expired Domains Like a Pro! Learn the tips & tricks to find expired domains with strong backlinks.

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Find Expired Domains Like a Pro! Learn the tips & tricks to find expired domains with strong backlinks.

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