I’ve been hearing mixed opinions about aged domains lately.
Some people reported great results:
Others said aged domains were hit or miss:
Personally, I’ve never built a website on an aged domain before.
But I love the idea of being able to skip the sandbox and have faster and better results with SEO.
That’s why I decided to run my own experiments.
And I’m gonna document my progress and report it here in this blog post. So come back to this blog post often as I’ll make updates on a monthly basis.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Aged Domains?
- 2 How Can I Determine The Value of An Aged Domain?
- 3 Take a Look at 2 Aged Domains I Just Bought
- 4 3 Experiments That I’m Running
- 5 What Do You Think?
What Are Aged Domains?
Aged domains are simply domains that were previously used to build websites but for some reasons they were discontinued.
The domain names would then be available for pickup at registrar or being traded either privately or publicly on marketplaces.
You can find these domains yourself by using a tool like Domcop or you can save time by buying from sellers.
Dominating PBNs is a trusted seller that I've been using. He has really high quality, spam-free domains that can really deliver awesome results.
How Can I Determine The Value of An Aged Domain?
There are 3rd metrics that are supposed to help you determine the SEO value of a domain, such as:
- Domain Authority / Page Authority (Moz)
- Domain Rating / URL Rating (Ahrefs)
- Citation Flow / Trust Flow (Majestic)
However, you shouldn’t rely 100% those metrics as they can be inaccurate or manipulated.
What matters the most is the actual backlink profile of the domain. The more do-follow backlinks from large publications & trusted authority websites the better.
Anchor text should look natural and doesn’t contain any spammy phrases.Website history checked via Web Archive should also be clean. That means the old website wasn’t used for illegal or scammy purposes. Main topics should be relevant to what we’re building the new website around.
Take a Look at 2 Aged Domains I Just Bought
I spent $3600 on this domain which makes it the most expensive domain that I’ve ever purchased.
Fun fact: CloudLiving.com is actually the 2nd most expensive one which I bought for $750.
I found this domain by running the top website in my niche through Ahrefs and manually analyzing each result in the Linked Domains report.
As you can see huffingtonpost.com is linking to 246,931 results. That’s a lot!
The trick to narrow it down quickly is downloading the report to Excel then customizing the filter to only display domains with DR between 15 to 50.
Anything lower is not gonna worth your time and anything higher is not gonna be available for purchase.
You might have a few thousands results left to analyze.
Still that’s quite a lot but personally I’ve found a few gems already doing this so it’s definitely worth my time.
My original intention was to look for neglected sites that I could purchase and roll up into my main site. But this domain looked so good that I couldn’t ignore.
It was on sale on Sedo.com for $6000. After some negotiation, I was able to get it at $3600.
Here’s why I spent that much on this domain:
- It’s a great brand name - short (4 letters) and memorable.
- It’s super relevant to my niche - The old website fits my current niche perfectly.
- It has a powerful backlink profile - The old website was a popular project and got covered by 100+ large publications (DR 70+). These are the types of links that would be very hard to get via manual outreach. Even if I pay for placements, It’s also very expensive and $3600 could only get me 10 - 15 links.
- I can break even quickly - I plan to sell a limited number of sponsored posts on the site to cover the initial acquisition cost. This is a high quality domain so it’d be fairly easy to find buyers.
Keep reading as I’m gonna reveal my plan to use this domain in a bit.
This one I purchased from DominatingPBNs.com after a lengthy discussion with Sumit (owner of the site) about his experience using powerful aged domains to build money sites.
He answered all of my questions quickly and gave me more confidence in giving his domains a try.
I ended up buying a nice domain from his marketplace for $600. It’s also a brandable domain and is very relevant to my current niche.
The only downside of this domain is that it has 4 drops in Registrar History.
Some people say when a domain is dropped Google would reset its SEO value.
However, Sumit told me that it’d be fine so I trusted his experience.
3 Experiments That I’m Running
Experiment #1 - The $3600 Website Rebrand
I’m using domain #1 for this experiment.
Usually people would 301 redirect an aged domain to their money site to boost it up with SEO juice.
However, domain #1 is so awesome for branding that I’m gonna do it the opposite way.
That means I’m rebranding my current site and 301 redirect it to domain #1.
This is a big bet because if domain #1 turned out to be toxic it’d mess up all the rankings that my site is currently having.
But personally I believe that having a better brand is very valuable and would help a lot.
The site would still benefit from the age and SEO value of domain #1 as well.
I’ve already talked with top SEO experts to make sure I’m on the right path here.
This is a pretty nice domain. The branding could work well. There are some great backlinks. The only downside is how long the domain has been inactive for.
That's the only flag for me. That said, if you could get this for between $2-3k it's an absolute steal.
Ask yourself how many links $3,600 would get you if you had it to spend on link building campaigns.
The answer will be nowhere near what you'd get from buying the domain.
And yeah, you're not even going to be able to buy links from a lot of these sites
Personally, I'd do this.
I'd 100% start with building out domain #1 with some of the old content from web.archive.org and get it indexed and just see how it performs.
This will give you a quick indication of whether the links are still pushing good authority. Then when you feel comfortable, do the rebrand.
I think it's definitely a good buy.
Those are all awesome links
$3k would be a great pickup
My Action Plan
- Set up the domain on a fresh WordPress install.
- Recreate old content pages whenever possible and post new articles targeting low competition keywords.
- Set up proper 301 redirects for old URLs to preserve link juice.
- Monitor ranking and traffic for at least 30 days.
- If the site ranked on page 2-3 for targeted keywords quickly, that would be good sign. That would mean Google still values the site’s backlinks. I would proceed with the rebrand.
UPDATE: JUNE 28, 2018
This experiment turned out to be a MASSIVE success.
I followed the Action Plan above and posted 4 articles targeting easy keywords.
Here's what rankings looked like after 20 days:
Looking pretty good right?
I waited for another week. Rankings kept getting better. So I decided to do the rebrand.
The whole process took about 4-5 hours. Here's what I did:
- Made a full back up of my old website.
- Installed the backup on the new domain.
- Click on every link on Sitemap to make sure all links are working.
- Crawl the site using SiteBulb to see if there's any technical error.
- Set up 301 Redirects using HTACCESS. WPXHosting team helped me with this.
- Check old URLs to make sure they are redirected to new URLs.
- Set up Search Console for new domain.
- Notify Google by using Change of Address feature.
- Resubmit sitemap for new domain.
- Updated Google Analytics and social profiles with the new homepage URL.
After the rebrand, all I had to do was waiting for the results.
I was expecting traffic to drop for 2-3 weeks before coming back stronger.
Fortunately, that never happened.
Google quickly indexed the new URLs. And ranking improvements started showing very quickly across entire website.
Here's what organic traffic looked like almost a month after the rebrand.
As you can see, it went from 184 visit on May 28th to 1540 on June 26th.
That is an 8.3 times increase in daily traffic!!
The site's earnings also increased significantly as a result.
Overall, I'm very happy with how this experiment turned out.
The $3600 investment into a powerful aged domain was well worth it.
Founder of CloudLiving.com
Experiment #2 - Building a Money Site on Aged Domain
For this experiment, I’m using domain #2.
I want to see whether building a money site on an aged domain with existing backlinks is a good idea.
The action plan is similar to experiment #1. I’m gonna set up the site, do proper redirects for old URLs and post some relevant content.
If the site performed well after 30 days, I’d pour more resources into growing it.
UPDATE: JUNE 28, 2018
Here's what rankings looked like after a month:
Rankings are still fluctuating on a daily basis.
The results for this domain is not as impressive as domain #1.
However, it makes sense because the backlink profile for this domain is at least 10 times weaker than domain #1.
Also, the keywords I chose for this website also had way higher Keyword Difficulty scores.
Obviously, this domain needs more backlinks in order to climb up higher.
Founder of CloudLiving.com
I’m not talking about building a PBN here.
What I’m testing is creative ideas to use aged domains to scale white hat link building.
Take a look at these:
1) Increasing Outreach Success Rate
Have you ever done an outreach campaign and gotten a ton of replies asking for a link back?
I’ve personally seen this happening more and more with my campaigns especially in industries where people are more SEO savvy.
Sure I would love to honor the requests for some high quality sites.
But if I do that for every site that asked, I’d be linking out to hundreds of sites.
That just wouldn’t work.
Also, in many cases it would be pretty hard to find a relevant way to link back to them.
So what would be the solution to this problem?
Well, just offer them a link from another site of yours instead.
If you build your another site from an aged domain with very high quality backlink profile, then there’s a high chance that they would happily take the offer.
2) Content Swap
This has been talked about here.
In order for this to work, you’ll need at least 2 sites in the same niche.
The main idea is to rank your sites for terms that SEOs commonly use when prospecting for guest posting opportunities.
Keyword “guest post”
Keyword “write for us”
Keyword “guest post opportunities”
Keyword “this is a guest post by”
And when they reach out to submit a guest post for one site, reply back and say you would allow them only if they link to your other website in return.
It’s a win win for both so there’s a high chance that they would say Yes.
Other people have reported this idea to be effective. Here’s one example I found on this post:
We optimize and link to the “become an author” pages on each site we run this on so the doc will rank for search operators in specific keyword verticals. This gets us a steady flow of guest posting inquiries. We offer to “swap content” with bloggers that want to guest post on our sites. If you’re unwilling to or can’t swap, we won’t publish your article.
With the number of sites we run, we swap an average of about 100 articles per month. What I love about this tactic is the efficiency: link opportunities come to us versus us having to prospect for them. This really puts us in the driver’s seat and means:
– We can insist on only swapping with sites that meet or exceed specific quality thresholds.
– We have total control over link placement within the article and aren’t restricted to a single author bio link.
– We’ve been able to build ongoing relationships with others who run portfolios of sites and swap with them on a pretty regular basis.
Pretty cool right?
For this experiment, I’ll leverage both domains as they’re in the same niche.
Stay tuned for the results 🙂
UPDATE: JUNE 28, 2018
I decided to not use domain #2 for this experiment as its backlink profile doesn't look very impressive.
Instead, I'm in the process of purchasing a neglected website with a very powerful backlink profile.
It was a news website with more than 1 million visits in 2012 and picked up a ton of backlinks from big media publications.
For some reasons, the owner decided to stop publishing and it has not been updated since 2014.
I'm still negotiating the final price with him but we're very close to a sale.
Founder of CloudLiving.com
What Do You Think?
This is the first of a series of experiments that I'm gonna document live on Cloud Living.
Each experiment will have its own post and will be updated in real time.
If you would love to see more experiments, comment below to let me know.