Expired domains are domains whose registration has expired. This happens either because the domain is no longer needed by the owner or because the annual registration fee has not been paid.
What are expired domains?
Expired domains are domains that are defined by the issuing registry as ‘freely available’ and are therefore available for purchase.
How do domains become available again?
Most domains are not built to last. The internet consists of a few domains that have been known for years – for example, Google.com and Spiegel.de. However, the majority of domains are little-known, or not known at all.
These domains include everything from one-off projects for university, to birthday websites for Aunt Josie’s 75th, or the new home of the local dachshund breeders association. In addition, there are many affiliate and/or spam projects and other domain names that have been secured by people who intend on doing something with them at some point in the future.
To avoid the problem of domain names which are no longer really needed being lost for all eternity, and in order for the issuing registries to pay for their technical infrastructure, there are annual registration fees that need to be paid for assigned domain names. These are not hosting fees for the website itself; these fees need to be paid in order for domain names to be listed as having been assigned.
If a domain owner stops paying these fees, the registrar will advise them that, if they don’t pay the fees, the domain name will be made available for other people to use.
How can I find expired domains?
There are several websites that allow you to search for expired domains. Some also offer lists of domains that will soon become available. If you already know the name that you would like to register, it is possible to do a whois query (for .co.uk domains, this information is available from the registry for .uk domains (nominet.uk). This enables you to find out whether the desired domain is available.
Expired domains and SEO
From a search engine optimisation perspective, it makes a certain amount of sense to buy a domain that has earned visibility, trust and links, as you can benefit from these trust signals. When you redirect the links on these websites to your own site, it is critical that you send users to content on your site that is relevant to the subject matter at hand. Further information can be found in our article ‘Buying links that others have earned… Why not?’.
It is, of course, extremely important to remember that content cannot simply be copied 1:1 from the former site; you first need to ask for and receive permission to do this.
From an SEO point of view, expired domains that are relevant to your niche can represent a great opportunity to forward URLs to your own articles and thereby benefit from the resulting increase in trust signals.