In the previous article in this series on How to Invest in Websites, I discussed how to generate ROI from acquiring starter sites that have the potential to rank and bank. In this article I talk about how to generate ROI from building out on an aged domain.

This is the third option for investors (which I set out here) where you buy a domain that already has a link profile (as it used to have a website on it) and use that authority to quickly rank new content. I’m currently doing this with a couple of aged domains that were caught at Godaddy Auctions by ODYS

In this article I asked two experts two questions.

The Experts:

  1. Alex, the founder of ODYS, the private SEO domain marketplace

  2. Adam, the co-founder of Niche Website Builders who have premium expired domain content packages

What is an aged domain?

First up let’s define what we mean by an aged domain / expired domain.

Alex from ODYS:

Aged domains are one of the greatest business opportunities for the current state of SEO based online business models. Why go with a brand new domain and spend 4-5 figures on links, building everything from scratch, when you can kick-start your venture with one that is already juiced up by almost impossible to get links? 

Pick a great brandable or catchy name or go after niche relevant dictionary words when shopping for the perfect pre-owned domain and and you’re not only investing into a semi-developed piece of online real estate (powered by links, traffic and old authority), but you’re also buying a very liquid asset that can be later flipped for a profit.  

Domains are assets. SEO powered pre-owned/aged domains are turbo-charged assets. The industry is booming due to more business-owners and affiliate marketers realizing that a combination of a good name + decent SEO behind it is not only a ‘lottery ticket’, but a solid business model and investment vehicle.

Domains are assets. SEO powered pre-owned / aged domains are turbo-charged assets. Click To Tweet

Adam from Niche Website Builders:

There are 2 different types of premium expired domains:

1. Value based on brand name.

2. Value based on history (link profile, PR, SEO).

As SEO’s we are predominantly interested in No. 2. But what does a good premium expired domain look like? There are a variety of metrics we can look at. These include Ahrefs URL rating (UR) and domain rating (DR), Majestic trust flow (TF) and citation flow (CF) and Moz’s page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA). It’s important to ensure that these metrics line up (essentially, the higher the better). However, this only tells half the story. Metrics can be manipulated and inflated. Therefore it’s imperative to check the history of the site via archive.org. You are looking for a number of things here:

1. There is no evidence of spam.

2. The niche is relevant to what you are wanting to repurpose too.

3. Has the site ever been hacked?

Generally, you want to see a genuine business or blog that has been around for years and was once a strong player within the specific niche. There are a number of other aspects to look at which include: are the backlinks strong and relevant, does the anchor text look natural and branded, do the majority of the links point to the home page etc. 

One thing that we always look for – everything above needs to line up. It’s hard to understand exactly how much power and weight each aspect above has, so if there are any red flags, we walk away.

How to generate ROI from expired domains

Next let’s talk about how you can make money by investing in aged domains.

Adam from Niche Website Builders:

Assuming you have completed all of the due diligence checks and you are happy that you’re working with a solid domain, it’s now time to create the site. It’s becoming apparent that while you can have success creating a site in an unrelated niche to its past history, you have a much higher chance at longevity if you keep the relevance tight. 

Else you run the risk of fast growth, and then fast decline. An example of this would be aecinfo.org in the golf niche. Previously it used to be a site about America’s Emerging Companies and now it is a golf review site. Great growth initially:

Once you have formulated a plan to recreate the site around it’s past history you need setup the site in WordPress. It’s important that you recreate any pages that have strong links pointing to them (or redirect them to relevant pages). Not everything should be redirected to the homepage. In the extreme, this could lead Google to identity your homepage as a soft 404. 

Now you have your site up, you need to choose what keywords to target. The strength of the domain will determine the competitiveness of the terms to target. My approach with expired domains is to find low hanging fruit within the niche and create between 100-150k words of content (usually a 70/30 split between money and informational). 

As soon as you see the site gaining traction and Google likes the new repurposed domain, continue to add content and embark on a link building campaign to propel the site to authority status.

Alex from ODYS:

There are two approaches IHMO.

A) Beginner investor

1. Pick domains relevant to verticals that you’re already making money from or keen to learn everything about and become an expert in.

2. Content wise, cover the topics of interest in their entirety (this means loads of buying intent and informational content)

3. Don’t get too emotionally attached to super-profitable sites. Flip when you get the chance.

4. Keep re-investing, keep rolling the snowball.

B) Aggressive investor

1. Pick powerful, brandable domains in proven niches.

2. Completely outsource the content and site building part; aggresively go after 200k+ words sites (ideally 1 million+)

3. Don’t search for ROI in your first built site, keep re-investing to identify the UNICORNS.

4. Don’t fully optimize the site. Always leave space for improvement to make flipping attractive to the buyer. Rinse and repeat.

Conclusion

With a starter site, you already have the framework for a successful site, in terms of existing keyword research, site structure and content. With an aged domain, you need to be able to put this plan together yourself or use an expert provider such as ODYS or Niche Website Builders. There’s more work involved, and more guesswork of when a site will start to take off. Below is a domain I got from ODYS that was built by Hekkup back in May. 

It got 50K words and only took 2 months to take off. This is why I’ll never build out on an brand new site again.

Richard Patey

Richard Patey

Richard runs the Website Investing publication which covers the world of website investing with a weekly newsletter and podcast. He personally builds and sells software review sites and has had a six figure exit.