A lot of people are of the inclination that buying dropped domains can be beneficial. The demand for dropped domains is so high that people spend thousands of dollars picking them up every day, which is why you should make sure you are on top of exactly when all of your domains will expire. If you’re not, they will drop and someone else will snap them up.
First up, what are dropped domains?
When a domain name’s registration is allowed to lapse by its owner, either because the owner forgot about it or just didn’t want to renew the domain, that URL becomes available for the public to buy. There are people waiting for domain names to expire, in particular names with keywords, short URLs, and URLs with Page Rank, and as such there is stiff competition to snap these up.
It is possible to monitor domains that are about to expire. If you go somewhere like Club Drop, you can search which domains you would like to pick up, and then if and when they do expire, you get to bid on them in an auction. It’s highly competitive and not something I recommend you get into. Many domains drop unnoticed or unwanted, and you can find them at places like this and this.
Once a person has won an auction for a desirable domain, they have three options: they can either use the domain themselves to build a website, they can park the domain and use existing traffic to generate pay per click revenue, or they can sell it on to people like you and me. When the latter happens, you see domains going for anything from a few dollars up into the high hundreds.
The real catches are the dropped domains that have backlinks and Page Rank. You might have seen people selling domains on places like Digital Point. Most of the time, these are dropped domains, although the seller will not always point this out.
Why do you want a dropped domain?
The benefits of dropped domains are debatable because there are so many factors involved. Reasons you may want a dropped domain are that you could use it to build a site that already has Page Rank and then use that site to make money online. Alternatively, if the domain already has traffic, you can direct that traffic to another domain using a redirect.
We love backlinks
Backlinks make a site. If you buy a dropped domain, often it will have backlinks earned by the previous website. The more backlinks from higher Ranked sites the better. Mostly, those links will remain in tact because webmasters don’t spend much time, if any, checking old links.
The real question is whether the Page Rank will remain after a toolbar export if the links stay in tact. The short answer is that you can never be sure. Webmasters agree that crucial to upholding a Page Rank is getting a site up on the domain as quickly as possible. There is no guarantee that even if a domain keeps its backlinks, that those backlinks will be given credit for by major search engines. The chance of the links being discounted goes up exponentially when a domain expires.
Content is king
If you do get a site up, there is some weight behind the argument that the content needs to be similar, if not identical, to what it was before the domain dropped. This is where viewing a website’s cache on Google can come in handy. Search for the domain name and then click the option to view its cache in the search results. Alternatively, use the Wayback Machine to look at a domain’s history. Whether or not you want to recreate prior content is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself. If a domain has no history, you need to start questioning if it’s worth buying.
The trouble with buying dropped domains is that there is a huge margin in which you have the potential to be ripped off. Even if a seller is touting a domain with a valid Page Rank, there is a possibility that all is not as it seems, whether the seller knows this or not (and most of the time, he does).
Fake Page Rank can occur when someone redirects one URL to another. If the URL redirects to a site with high, valid Page Rank, that rank can show up in Google Toolbar and a number of Page Rank checkers for both domains. To avoid this, type in the domain and actually see where the site goes. If you are taken to a parked page then you probably aren’t being redirected. However, I’ve typed in a domain and been taken somewhere completely different.
Sellers can be crafty. They will redirect to relevant, different domains to try and trick you. Check with a variety of Page Rank checkers to determine if a Rank is valid or fake. Use these:
Also use Smart Page Rank’s backlink checker to analyze the quality and Page Rank of any backlinks. This will give you an indication as to whether or not a domain is worth purchasing, but remember that there are no guarantees in this game. Also bear in mind that sometimes a person will use domains with Fake Page Rank to link to a dropped domain and make the dropped domain’s Page Rank look valid. Check out the Page Rank of the backlinks and keep an eye out for similar looking websites (such as www.url.com/affiliates) that have a high number of links on them.
If someone tries to sell you a domain with traffic and/or Page Rank and they swear it isn’t dropped, use one of the above tools to check when it was registered. If a domain was registered within the past month or so and it has Page Rank and backlinks, it means it was dropped. If they are trying to fool you on that account, there are probably other things they are trying to get you on too.
If you really want to buy domains with existing Page Rank, the safest way is to buy domains that are not dropped. If you want to make a gamble, don’t pay over the odds because you have nothing to fall back on if your domain’s Page Rank ends up dying.
I recently purchased a dropped domain and am experimenting just what I can do with it. I will report on my findings a few months from now, you can rest assured that I practiced what I preached in this guide to dropped domains.
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