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Expired domains present a big opportunity for anyone looking to build a website with baked-in credibility. As the domain sales market keeps growing beyond an estimated $9 billion in 2023, buying expired domains offers a unique way to secure high-quality digital assets.

But for beginners, navigating expiration cycles and backordering systems can be intimidating. With several options available, choosing the perfect domain can be tricky.

This guide reveals how to buy expired domains and maximize their existing traffic, trust factor, and profit opportunities simply by transferring ownership rights.

domain names

What is an expired domain?

An expired domain is a web address that lost its registration status when the original owner failed to renew ownership rights. When a domain expires, the original owner has 30 to 60 days to renew it by paying a fee. If the domain isn’t renewed by the end of the grace period, the registering authority takes back full rights and access.

After the redemption period, new buyers can backorder or participate in auctions to acquire ownership. So, even though the original ownership rights have expired, domain investors can still get these domains as valuable digital assets.

But why should you buy an old domain instead of a new one? Let’s find out.

Benefits of buying expired domains

A dropped domain offers an existing online asset with baked-in value, so you don’t have to build website credibility and traffic from scratch. These established websites come with inherent advantages that save you significant time and effort compared to registering a new domain.

One major benefit is inheriting the backlink profile and referral streams of previous owners. Quality links and mentions already direct visitors to the site, sparing you months or years of securing inbound links through content marketing. Tracking registered user data also provides insights into audience interests to directly inform effective monetization approaches.

Additionally, expired domains hold search engine authority and trust metrics that new domains lack. Factors like domain age and historic engagement make search bots more likely to rank older websites higher.

So, newly created content on an expired domain can outperform brand-new domains in competitive spaces. This translates into quicker wins, boosting your online presence.

Key considerations when buying expired domains

Not every domain offers equal potential or value to build upon. Conducting thorough research before investing in an expired domain ensures you make a sound investment decision and minimize financial risk.

Here are key factors that determine whether or not your domain acquisition will be profitable:

  • Traffic trends: Analyze the domain’s historical performance. Consider using a web analytics tool like SimilarWeb to gain insights into the domain’s traffic trends. Stagnation could signal limited future engagement, so it’s best to choose a domain with a growing traffic pattern.
SimilarWeb’s traffic analysis tool.
  • Backlinks: Investigate where backlinks originate from. Were links naturally placed in contextual articles? Or were they excessive guest posts or spammy anchor texts? High-quality website backlinks can improve the search engine optimization (SEO) value of an expired domain, boosting your return on investment (ROI).
  • Domain authority: This key metric predicts a website’s value based on its content quality, backlinks profile and analytics. A website with high domain authority is considered more trustworthy by search engines and humans, enhancing your SEO efforts.
  • Reputation: Verify whether the domain has been previously penalized by search engines or has earned a negative reputation. While expirations can forgive past infractions, deeply ingrained reputations can negatively or positively impact trust.

How to buy expired domains 

  • Domain listing platforms.
  • Auction marketplaces.
  • Domain portfolios.

When buying expired domains, you can choose from either of the three approaches listed above. Let’s consider them in detail.

Domain listing platforms

The most popular method of buying expired domains leverages industry listing services that aggregate thousands of expiring domain names across all major registrars in a searchable catalog.

Use websites like Ahrefs, SimilarWeb, Semrush, Majestic or Moz to find expired domains and check analytics. Then, transfer your newly acquired domain to an expiration network.

Providers like allow sorting by metrics, location domain extensions, past prices and niche categories. Once you find a domain name that meets your needs, follow the platform’s instructions to purchase it.

A screenshot of

Auction marketplaces

While listing platforms work for most needs, you can also find expired domains through an auction system that sells to the highest bidder. Popular domain auction sites include NameJet and SnapNames.

You can set up automated maximum bids for domains of interest so the system can bid on your behalf and notify you after a successful acquisition.

Here’s how to buy domains through auctions:

  • Research listings for high-quality domains.
  • Participate in real-time bidding wars.
  • Place incremental bids aligned to the domain’s revenue potential.
  • Finalize transfers once you win the bid.

Domain portfolios

Purchasing domain portfolios is slightly different from an auction or domain listing platform. Instead of buying one domain, you’re buying a collection of expired domains.

This method requires you to:

  • Find a potential domain portfolio through marketplaces or domain owners.
  • Evaluate the domain portfolio to assess its value.
  • Negotiate with the seller.
  • Purchase the domain package.

Regardless of the method you choose, you must transfer ownership rights to legally own your newly acquired domain.

How to set up domain ownership

After securing an expired domain name, you’ll need to transfer the ownership rights from the previous owner and assign the domain. To ensure a smooth transition, contact domain registrars after the auction or use broker escrow services for more complex multi-domain deals.

Ownership transfer usually involves a $12-15 processing fee per domain, depending on the registrar. Once that’s settled, update your domain name system (DNS) settings and name servers to point to your preferred web host.

While this process is generally smooth, typical administrative tasks could delay single domain registrations for one to two weeks. But once you’ve officially taken ownership of the domain, you can start optimizing its digital assets to increase traffic and revenue.

Tips for securing high-quality expired domains

Buying expired domains can accelerate revenue growth and minimize the amount of time required to build your brand. Follow these best practices, and you’ll be on your way to finding a high-quality domain for your online business.

Review historical data

Much like assessing vehicle histories before purchasing used cars, you must validate domain backgrounds before taking ownership.

Domain searches can help you sift through metrics for past spam links or penalized content categories that could cause problems if unaddressed. Typically, a high trust flow score can be a good indicator of domain authority, as it indicates a website has high-quality backlinks.

Reviewing the historical data of an expired domain provides helpful insights into its quality and longevity, helping you make the right choice.

Cast bids strategically using market proxy pricing

Expired domain values fluctuate based on several key metrics and topic relevance. Observe what similar domains with comparable authority metrics and commercial keywords have recently sold for.

For example, a $500 bid on a likely hot finance domain name could turn into a resell price between $2,000-$5,000. Basing targets on market analysis saves guesswork and maximizes your potential return on investment.

However, the more expensive the domain, the more risk for you, the buyer — if it turns out to be a bad investment, it may be difficult to recover your money.

Watch expiry windows

Start monitoring your target expired domains around 60 days prior to the expiration date, then intensify tracking through the final weeks and days. Making a list of potential acquisitions can help keep you organized.

You could even use auction sniping services to place last-second automated bids or use incremental backordering to secure names once registration rights open for new website buyers.

This precise timing beats competitors who may get distracted by prematurely celebrating assumed victories. Remember to stay vigilant until ownership changes officially and displays in WHOIS records.

Build in buffer room for administration transition delays

When buying old domains, it’s a good idea to leave one to two weeks in your project timeline, allowing for any delays in the transfer process. While this mechanical process typically flows reliably in the background, there may be delays due to escrow transfers, ICANN registrar administration or other administrative tasks.

Building time cushions helps avoid losing early website development momentum when new projects get stuck in admin queues awaiting finalization. Instead of waiting idly, consider writing engaging blog posts during the administration time so you can post them once you acquire your domain.

Continually build sustainable domain authority

Search engine algorithms build domain credibility dynamically, updating it in real time based on accrued content quality, engagement signals and ethical links — not just historical snapshots. So, buying expired domains should build sustainable value, community trust and page authority for your website.

By leveraging SEO fundamentals and building high-quality links, you can transform your website into a traffic-generating powerhouse.

Final thoughts: How to buy an expired domain — steps and best practices

Buying expired domains can provide unique shortcuts for securing authoritative assets to drive online revenue opportunities through transferred credibility. However, like other investments, it has its risks.

By following some of the best practices in this article, you’ll be well on your way to making a positive return on your investment. And who knows, you might be able to flip your domain for a profit.

If you’re looking to build a fast and secure website, consider choosing a trusted web hosting provider like Bluehost. With our website hosting services, you get maximum security, reliable performance and a variety of plugins and themes to customize your website.

Get started with Bluehost’s website hosting services today.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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