Buying links that others earned… Why not?
If you have the budget for it, then the easiest way to push your domain on Google is by buying an entire domain full of links, that others had to earn through long years of hard work, and then redirecting all content to your domain. If the domain grew organically over the years then many of the links may have been set by users who actually found the content useful which makes them good links.
If you indeed go this route, then please remember that the most important thing is that you offer the same – or at least similar but better – content on your own site, as was available on the old one. Always think of the users who will click on the old links and then get redirected to your new content. If you always optimize for Google’s users and not just for Google alone, then you will likely be on the safe side.
Please also consider that, while Google’s Gary Illyes has confirmed that “30x redirects don’t lose PageRank anymore“, I think that 301 redirects are still the best answer from a technical perspective. First, because the redirects are indeed “permanent” and second, because they have proven to work well (never change a wining team!).
In order for you to make an informed decision for a purchase, you should run a detailed evaluation of the link profile for the domain you want to buy beforehand:
1 – Does the link profile meet your own expectations and quality standards?
2 – Is the domain and its content relevant to the topic of your website?
3 – Are the domain’s backlinks also relevant for the topic or your website and are they “valuable” links for the target site (your website)?
4 – Is the domain popularity at an acceptable (high) level?
5 – What about the nofollow-ratio?
Let’s look at some examples!
Table of Contents
Lowcostholidays.com to Loveholidays.com
The budget tour operator Lowcostholidays.com has gone bust in July, 2016, and the domain Loveholidays.com is now profiting from redirected content. It is not clear if they have purchased the content on Lowcostholidays.com. The only page that is not redirected is the startpage on Lowcostholidays.com, as the insolvency administrator is obligated by law to inform possible creditors about the bankruptcy.
When we look at the Visibility graphs for both domains we can quickly notice the switch.
Next, we have two examples for how the content is being redirected between Lowcostholidays.com and Loveholidays.com:
-Right: The content on Loveholidays is fitting for the old content on Lowcostholidays: Lowcostholidays.com/italy-holidays.htm. The user expects to see hotels in Italy and gets to see hotels in Italy (We can use the Wayback Machine to see a snapshot of what the page looked like before the redirect)
-Wrong: Some of the old content is redirected to the next higher category page, when the fitting sub-page is missing. An example for this is Lowcostholidays.com/germany-holidays.htm. Once again, the user expects to find what the URL promises, hotels for a holiday in Germany. What they get instead, is Loveholidays.com/holidays/. The user will likely feel cheated and Google will consider this behavior as a soft 404 error.
Urbanspoon.com to Zomato.com
About 2 years ago, Zomato.com started an acquisition spree around the word: Menumania.co.nz, Lunchtime.cz, Obedovat.sk, Gastronauci.pl, Cibando.it and many more became part of their domain portfolio. The most important acquisition of them all was the Seattle-based food portal Urbanspoon.com, in January 2015. Zomato took over the content from Urbanspoon and correctly redirected the URLs to their new homes. This led to a significant increase in their UK Visibility:
On the US American market, the combination of Zomato and Urbanspoon created an environment, where Zomato.com took over Urbanspoon’s Visibility and also managed to stop the long-term downward trend that was chipping away the Visibility for Urbanspoon:
Qualityinn, Comfortinn, Sleepinn, Comfortsuites to Choicehotels.com
This is actually a case of a domain consolidation for all the different brands belonging to Choicehotels.com. While, at first, the jump in Visibility looks decent, not all is well in the state of Choicehotels.
In February 2016, I released a blog post on Searchenginewatch.com where we comment: “The redirects are sound but the only hazard may be the fact the consolidated domains still return a 200 status code when a Googlebot user agent visits. It might be a good idea for them to fix this potential cloaking problem soon.“
7 Months later, we can still see some of the supposedly consolidated domains ranking on Google, for months at a time. That may be the reason why Google was not able to understand the move and why it has not passed all the link power to Choicehotels.com:
Quality before Quantity: Hipertextual.com and Giga.de
Hipertextual.com is now very popular in Spain and Latin America. It is the result of a consolidation of a number of websites and blogs (Bitelia.com, Altfoto.com, Appleweblog.com) to Hipertextual.com, last year. They managed to now offer almost the same content but at a higher quality than what the old domains had to offer:
This German technology infotainment and news site, Giga.de, purchased and successfully redirected Macnews.de, Winload.de an other domains unto itself. Unlucky for us, Giga.de has become so big that it is difficult to even see the redirected domains on the chart: The first consolidation happened on October 2011 (1), the next in August 2012 (2) and another in October 2014 (3):
This approach should not and must not be your only method of link building. You should also work with deliberation and the necessary sensitivity. Always keep in mind that the motto of sustainability is “quality before quantity”.
In addition to that, it is not guaranteed that the existing links of the purchased domain will remain active after being redirected to your own website. If a webmaster notices that the content to which they linked suddenly redirects to different content on another domain, they may simply remove the link. This case would apply for example, when the new content does not meet the quality standards of the linkgiver.
Where the technical aspects are concerned, I would recommend using 301 redirects. You can also take a look at our “Ask SISTRIX” article “Can I buy an existing domain to strengthen the backlink profile of my website through 301 redirects?” for more information.
I hope you like it!