Thousands of domains drop every week. Some owners don’t want their domains anymore, some forget to renew them, heck, some businesses close and renewing their domain is the last thing on their mind.
But what a lot of website owners don’t know is the actual value a domain can have beyond just being an address for your website. How?
Domains hold a lot of SEO value without the webmaster actually knowing. Here are a few common factors that provide value to a domain without any real “SEO” working being done:
- Acquiring natural links
- Aging the domain by simply having a site live
- Including keywords within the domain
With that being said, selecting the right expired domain can make all the difference when it comes to giving your next project a much-needed headstart.
A recent post on this blog covered an incident of brand impersonation using expired domains which can pose a significant risk and is an instance of abuse, but dropped domains can be put to completely ethical and productive use as well, as we detail below.
It just so happens that we are using an expired domain on our most recent project https://wreathsacrosscanada.ca. We’re going to share with you our process for getting this domain and some early success we’ve seen with the site. Keep following along…
How We Grabbed Our Expired Domain
This specific example is for finding dropped domains in Canada. You may need to do a little research to find the registration authority for a domain in your desired country. Navigate to the To Be Released (TBR) backorders page on Webnames:
or follow the below steps on the Canadian Internet Registration Authority or CIRA website:
Place your cursor over “Our Services” in the navigation bar and click on the “To Be Released (TBR)” dropdown option.
Scroll down until you see the TBR list and domain filter fields. This is where you can decide what domains you’d like to review. If you already have a business in mind, use the filters to find a domain that contains a keyword related to your niche. In this example, we’ve selected the keyword “flowers”.
As you can see above, in the box on the left you will see the domains that are dropping. In the boxes on the right, you will see the date the domain is dropping. If you are ready to start analyzing these domains, click the “Export” button indicated by the arrow. This will then download your selections. An export to CSV is also available on the Webnames TBR page linked above.
We recommend that you download the file in an Excel format and open it in either Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets for easy browsing
Pro Tip – Domains typically drop on Wednesdays in Canada, so keep your eyes peeled!
Analyzing Your Selected Domains
Now that we’ve identified a handful of domains, it’s time to start analyzing them. There are many SEO tools that carry out domain analysis. However, we are going to use Ahrefs in our example to show you what we see. Here are the results for our “flowers” search:
Using the batch analysis tool in ahrefs enables us to analyze up to 200 domains at a time. You simply copy and paste the domains from your Excel sheet and paste them into the batch analysis field like in the screenshot above. The results are then presented below. Here are a few key metrics we analyze to determine whether to buy a domain or not:
- Organic Keywords – If it’s ranking for some you are looking to go after, that’s great!
- Domain Rating (DR) – This is ahrefs metric for determining your backlink profile authority. Ultimately, the higher the better.
- Referring Domains – How many websites are linking to your domain.
- Backlinks – How many links are coming from those referring domains.
In this case, scottsflowers.ca seems to be the only domain we’re interested in examining any further as it has a few backlinks, a domain rating, and actually ranks for some organic keywords.
Once you have identified that killer domain(s) it’s time to go ahead and grab them.
Pro Tip – Create an Account with Webnames to get a discount on domains. You can also reserve them before they drop!
It’s Time To Build Your Website With Your Expired Domain
This is where we hand it over to you! We’ve nudged you in the right direction to get the domain, now it’s time to build however you see fit.
Here’s our dropped domain and what we did with it…
We decided to build a dropshipping company selling wreaths across Canada! We whipped together a basic Shopify site, sourced some products, and got it up and running in early March 2021.
Without doing any real optimization, we’re already starting to rank for keywords in less than a month.
With a decent foundation in place, the real work is about to start. It’s time to start some serious search engine optimization to see what we can really do.
We hope this article has provided value and helps you kickstart your next online project.
This is a contributed article to the Webnames blog, from an author selected for their relevant expertise.
Todd Foster started working in the SEO industry in 2011 where he launched his first company, Foster SEO. As a self-taught SEO expert, Todd began taking on clients at a steady pace as he grew the business to serve local and national businesses looking for a digital marketing solution that drove relevant traffic to their websites. Todd launched Caseo as a way to embrace his Canadian roots while expanding his services for a global business community. This expansion reflected his interest in serving a larger variety of industries that operate within unique niches.