[Experiment] Using Powerful Aged Domains for SEO

aged domains for seo

I’ve been hearing mixed opinions about aged domains lately.

Some people reported great results:

results from aged domains
do aged domains work

Others said aged domains were hit or miss:

Matt Diggity thoughts on aged domains

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.

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

Age

Referring Domains

Domain Rating

Citation Flow

Trust Flow

Dropped?

Domain 1

16 years

506

37

17

13

No

Domain 2

10 years

173

21

21

4 drops

4 drops

Domain #1

aged domain 1

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.

Linked Domains huffingtonpost com on Ahrefs 1

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:

  1. It’s a great brand name - short (4 letters) and memorable.
  2. It’s super relevant to my niche - The old website fits my current niche perfectly.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Domain 2

aged domain 2

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.

domain 4 drops

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.

EXPERT'S OPINION

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.

matthew barby

MATTHEW BARBY

Director of Acquisition at Hubspot, Co-founder of TrafficThinkTank.com

EXPERT'S OPINION

​I think it's definitely a good buy.

Those are all awesome links

$3k would be a great pickup

ian howells

IAN HOWELLS

Director of SEO at LendingTree, Co-founder of TrafficThinkTank.com

EXPERT'S OPINION

I like it. I know Google tracks whois changes and there are many stories of them discounting links after whois changes.

I'd buy it because it is much more memorable than your current name.

sol orwell

SOL ORWELL

Co-Founder of Examine, Blogger at SJO

My Action Plan

  1. Set up the domain on a fresh WordPress install.
  2. Recreate old content pages whenever possible and post new articles targeting low competition keywords.
  3. Set up proper 301 redirects for old URLs to preserve link juice.
  4. Monitor ranking and traffic for at least 30 days.
  5. 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:

domain 1 rank tracker

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:

  1. Made a full back up of my old website.
  2. Installed the backup on the new domain.
  3. Click on every link on Sitemap to make sure all links are working.
  4. Crawl the site using SiteBulb to see if there's any technical error.
  5. Set up 301 Redirects using HTACCESS. WPXHosting team helped me with this.
  6. Check old URLs to make sure they are redirected to new URLs. 
  7. Set up Search Console for new domain.
  8. Notify Google by using Change of Address feature.
  9. Resubmit sitemap for new domain.
  10. 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.

experiement success

Click on the image to see enlarged version

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.

TUNG TRAN

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:

organic keywords domain 2

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.

TUNG TRAN

Founder of CloudLiving.com

Experiment #3 - Leveraging Aged Domains to Build Links at Scale

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.

How?

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.

Keywords like:

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:

EXPERT'S OPINION

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.

ken lyons

KEN LYONS

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. 

neglected website

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.

TUNG TRAN

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.

Tung Tran

Tung Tran is the founder of CloudLiving.com.
  • Experiment #3 is a great idea… especially for the content swap

  • I love the idea. I’m excited to see where it goes.

  • Dude, this is great. Definitely following this one.

  • Hi Tuang,
    Wow. You are really doing a great job. Pls keep up the aged domain experiment. I’d like to see where it leads.Good luck, bro.

  • Kindly advise me on the best link building strategy that works in 2018. Thanks in anticipation

  • That’d be a perfect case study to follow. I’ve used expired domains in the past (found them manually using ExpiredDomains.com), and results were better than if I were to start fresh.

    #1 domain looks very promising and given that many experts have shown it a green signal, I’m waiting to see how quickly it grows.

    Good luck Tung.

  • I usually buy expireddomains from expireddomains.net (manually checking for my niche) and I use a wordpress plugin to 301 those links of the old domains to my homepage. It has worked very well and I have seen some success when it comes to ranking with long tail keywords. I am eager to see your results of Experiment #1 and #2 🙂

    • Nice. Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope I can see similar positive results.

  • Tung, It seems you have stolen my strategy 🙂 I have just applied the same strategy before a month ago. One domain is 4 years old and another is brand new.

    I’ve realized the same when approach for guest posting and that’s why purchased new domain.

    My process will be a slow one but lets see how it goes.

    Wish me a good luck and same to you Tung. Cheers

    • Haha. Great minds think alike. Do update me on your progress too. Would be interesting.

  • Following the journey. never bought aged domain. waiting for results. btw the link building idea is super cool. surely try with my authority site. 🙂

  • Excellent test you’re running here Tung. I’ll need to bookmark this post to keep track of your progress. My money is on #1

    • Thanks Lisa. Good news is that Domain #1 is indexed with 2 unique articles. And they are ranking for main keywords on page 4 – 5. Very exciting!

  • Great article, Tung! Thanks for sharing your experiment
    Btw, what tool did you use to check registrar history?

  • Talha Wahid says:

    I am excited to know the aged domains experiment for money sites because it’s very painful for me every time to start with new domain after selling the previous one (if not profitable), so looking forward to it if aged domains can reduce the time frame !!

  • Hi Tung.

    Really glad that you’re carrying out this experiment at the time that I’m also contemplating buying an aged domain. I will be following along with you. Hope this turns out really well as there are guys I know who have got impressive results from such tactics.

    • Thanks Zach! yeah I’m quite excited to see the results of these experiments too.

  • Time for an update, no? I’m curious about how the “4 times dropped” will/won’t affect you. Cheers!

    • I was thinking to wait until the end of the month to have more stats. But I’m gonna do it this week then 🙂

      Teaser: The results are insane!

  • nguyễn mạnh hưng says:

    old but gold!!!

  • So 2 months ago i started building backlinks for a new domain i had purchased a year ago. If i bought an aged domain and 301 direct to new domain should i continue to build links for new site or start building links for aged domain? Love the strategy.

  • Stephanie says:

    How is building your site on an aged domain not the same as using expired domains as part of a private blog network? I feel Google might punish you with a new update or if one of your competitors reports you for using an old domain’s non-relevant backlinks for an affiliate-marketing site. Too risky, IMHO. You’ll make good money–until the crunch comes.

    • Totally different. There’s nothing wrong with using an aged domain for money site. That’s just the nature of the internet. Can you explain why you think they’re similar to PBN?

      And my domains are 100% relevant to my new content on the site 🙂

  • Hi Tung, I own your course. Great stuff. Nice post here. I really appreciate your sharing this experience. So much seems hit or miss and taking big what I’d call risks with $ sites is time-consuming, tough, ballsy and much appreciated. Case studies are great and even if there are cases where similar studies produce different results, I find it pushes me to think in new ways about what SERPs find acceptable and SEOs find advisable.

    • Yeah – this was my first time trying this too. I’m not saying that aged domains are the silver bullets that can deliver awesome results everytime – but they definitely worked for this one case study.

  • Great post! Experiment #3 is very clever, looking forward to seeing an update on that one Tung!

    • Yeah I think this could work well. Thanks for commenting bro 😀

  • Hi Tung Tran, Awesome casestudy, I’ll be looking for more update from you. and will try to implement most of your action plan to all of my aged domain (5 in total)

  • Hey Tung,

    Wish you good luck for your experiments.

    I also have bought 1 domain from Sumit @ $1400
    Its relevant domain with the strong Link profile. I was thinking to redirect it to my money website homepage, is it the bad strategy?
    I was thinking that this way Homepage will have strong backlinks, so link juice and authority will be transferred to the other articles. Let me know your thoughts on it.

    Also, are you paying Thrive a monthly subscription? Is there any 1-time payment model?

    • Without knowing the domain, I wouldn’t be able to provide any feedback. But Sumit knows his stuff – ask him.

      Yes I’m paying annual fees for Thrive.

  • Great stuff Tung. My money’s on domain number one as well. So does Google discount links after whois changes or is that just a rumor?

    • I dont know 😀 This worked for domain #1 – but can’t say it would work every time

  • Just awesome! Please keep update… I am so much excited about your this case study. Hope will start one to the end of the year. Thanks Tung.

  • Hi Tung,

    First time reader, glad I came across your blog. I do have a question hopefully you can help with.

    I noticed you did the 301 of your old site to the auctioned site.

    Do you think it would still be beneficial to do the same thing but this time redirecting a the auction site to a new domain?

    If so, would you simply send the auction site to the home page of the new site or would you redirect it on a “per page” bases, for example, homepage to home page and inner pages to inner pages?

    Any help would be much appreciated!

    • Yes I think the results would still be very good if you 301 an aged domain to your existing site.

      Definitely redirect per page. Try to make the redirects as relevant as possible.

  • Awesome Tung, thanks for sharing this informative post about the importance of aged domain names for search engine optimisation. this is interesting blog post. Keep it up!

  • Hey Tung, the guest posting method you mentioned sounds like, back in the days, the 3 ways link exchange. It is a pretty cool idea, didn’t found anyone doing this.

  • Please run an experiement by having an Aged Domain 301 redirecting to a money site(where Aged domain from different niche but all branded clean links and money site from different domain.

    • Not interested in trying that 🙂 I always try to be as relevant as possible.

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