UPDATE September 2013 – When I originally wrote this article it was largely focused on tools that help you find expired or expiring domains that had high page rank. We have actually added our own tool now that allows you to quickly find domains and see at a glance the page rank, volume of backlinks, page authority and more. I’ve been using this tool myself but figured I should share it with you. I should also mention it’s FREE to use!
We all know the feeling. You get an idea in your head or a keyword and you merrily head down to GoDaddy – or your domain name registrar of choice – to search for those elusive domains. And search, and search and search.
You finally settle on one. And then the long, drawn-out process begins … changing the Name Servers, setting up the hosting, installing WordPress, doing all those after WordPress tasks, designing the site, coming up with content, and, finally, as if that wasn’t enough, trying to get authority (aka links)!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just side-step that initial process and jump straight to the fun bit?
Well, you can. You can head over to Flippa and simply buy an established website – the domain, the content, sometimes even the Facebook page. But the problem with Flippa is that you get what you pay for. If you want a site that’s making $100 a month you’ll have to pay a minimum of $1000 and there’s no knowing if you’ll be able to maintain the traffic, income or interest within the audience.
Otherwise you can try RegisterCompass.com, which is great. There you can search and filter millions of domain names by niche, Google PageRank, indexed pages, traffic, backlinks and more.
Believe me, there are diamonds in the rough to be found there, but you’ll never find anything by just searching for high PR domains that have recently expired. They simply don’t exist. Shortly after expiring the domain will lose it’s toolbar PageRank and it’ll be impossible to find (but it will come back once you redevelop the site!)
So you have to get creative by narrowing down domains by another factors. SEOMoz Domain Authority, for example, which is another of the many search filters that exist in RegisterCompass.
Or, do it yourself!
He recently had a podcast with Hayden Miyamoto who’s an SEO/internet marketer making around $1000 a day, mostly by flipping websites, selling text ads and with Adsense. The podcast entitled How to Find Valuable Expired Domains – please have a listen to this.
Hayden explains to Spencer his method of how to find high authority expired domains by looking at dead links on high PR pages. If a domain has just one PR6 link pointing to it, for example, it could be PR3 – and is likely to have more.
He goes on to say how he sets up these domains (with WordPress and a plugin to catch the juice from all the old pages) to create his own blog network on hosts with varying IPs. He makes money by using the powerful links from these sites to his money sites, text link ads and flipping.
Setting up a network of sites to artificially gain PageRank – as well as selling text link ads – is against Google’s terms of service and, therefore, not something I would condone or advise. However, there’s nothing wrong with hunting down expired domains to develop into excellent authority sites. At $9 a year, it’s a great way to hit the ground running with a new site!
Tools of the trade
In order to find out how to do this you really need to head over to Hayden’s site NoHatSEO and sign up there. Hayden has 10 years experience in the industry, he’s a great teacher, and a clever guy.
You will need a few, mostly free, tools to search for these domains. And, Mac users, I’m sorry, you can really only do this on a PC.
- Scrapebox is essential for finding large numbers of PR5 and above pages. This is PC only software, there’s nothing quite like it on a Mac.
- You may like to buy some proxies to get Scrapebox to work properly. Hayden recommends Squid Proxies – that’s an affiliate link.
- Xenu Link Sleuth is a great free tool for finding broken links on multiple domains. (There is Integrity on the Mac but it can only work on one link at a time, as far as I can see.)
- NameCheap bulk domain search to mass check if the domains unavailable in Xenu are, in fact, available
- Having checked their availability, use Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs.com and Whois Domain Tools to check the validity of the links to the domains. You can use the free option on these tools although it will restrict the number of domains you can check in a day.
- Then if you’re looking for a cheap host to add multiple sites with differing IPs then Hayden recommends IX Web Hosting (affiliate link).
It is possible to start searching for these high authority domains for free. All you have to do is find high PR pages with loads of links on them and run them through Xenu to find the ones with “no such host”. But this process is time consuming and the Scrapebox option speeds things up.
Beware: this process is highly addictive. You don’t want to start doing this in the evening – you’ll be up all night!