Recently Liz attempted to purchase a domain for a client on a GoDaddy auction. Learn about the pros and cons related to purchasing a previously owned domain. You can see a list of expiring domains here. 

Episode 0308

Pros and Cons of Buying Previously Owned Domains

Sandro: [00:00:02] Welcome back to Liz & Sandro’s Marketing Podcast. We’re the podcast that helps your small business grow through social media, SEO, email marketing and so much more. Today Liz and I are going to talk about domains.

Liz: [00:00:16] And buying them.

Sandro: [00:00:17] Buying them. We’re going to peek behind the curtain because some of this we’re going to talk about is what might be called ‘Black Hat SEO’, things you should not be doing. But we want to make you aware that these things happen.


Liz’s Domain Auction Journey


Liz: [00:00:30] And we’re going to debate it too. Because you know, so, we’ll get into it. So this whole episode started because I shared with Sandro that I’ve got a client that’s trying to purchase a domain name.

Sandro: [00:00:42] They’re looking to change their domain name, completely different?

Liz: [00:00:46] No, it would be a separate campaign and they want basically a new website that resides on a separate domain for this campaign. And quite honestly I have always purchased domains that have never been previously owned. You know I’m purchasing them directly from GoDaddy for the $15.99 a year or whatever it is. This particular one was available for auction.

Sandro: [00:01:09] Someone else owned it.

Liz: [00:01:10] Someone else owns it and it’s listed for sale. So I went back to the client and I said, here’s the deal, here’s what it looks like, the minimum bid is a hundred dollars. Do we want to go for it? And they said yes so I put in the minimum hundred dollar bid. And I mean it’s no secret how I feel about GoDaddy. They are so annoying. You know, and I read everything on the page and I’m like alright, yeah like let’s do this. Let me put in my bid and um see what happens.

Liz: [00:01:40] Well then I get this big long email with all these other details that I was not aware of and that it can go to public auction. And I’m like, oh gosh okay, so what the heck is going on? And I won’t ramble too much because I think I’m going to need to see how this plays out but from what I can tell I have to wait another, at this point 77 days before I could potentially take ownership of this domain name. I guess it’s available for everyone on the internet to bid on, so, I don’t know.

Sandro: [00:02:06] I feel like it’s an auction so maybe they’re just waiting for the highest bidder in 77 days?

Liz: [00:02:11] I guess so.

Sandro: [00:02:12] It’s kind of weird, yeah because I know you can just buy domains outright. There’s people out there that keep offering to sell me a certain wesite because we own the .net. They’re like, “You can buy the .com, it’s 13,000 dollars, buy right now!” So that’s not an auction obviously.

Liz: [00:02:28] Right. But this is definitely an auction and apparently there are 77 days left. So I’m really, I need to do a little bit more reading in the FAQ section on GoDaddy, figure out why it’s going to take 77 days. And hopefully we can land this domain name because it sounds like the client really wants it. So we’ll see. But in chatting with all of this you know we also, and Sandro and I, we’ve discussed this kind of here and there but not in any great depth, and how you can use domain names for sale to help your ranking.


Buying Expiring Domains


Sandro: [00:03:02] Correct. And I’ve always known about this but it’s very rare that I go into this. But you can Google ‘expiring domains auction’ and look at various sites including GoDaddy’s to learn what domains are about to expire in ten seconds, in 30 seconds, in two minutes, in an hour, in 77 days let’s say. And you can see all of the domains and it’s crazy to watch this list of things that are expiring. There are some x-rated ones kind of that are usually expiring. There’s like some we just saw It was about to expire and it was only 13 dollars. So you can see tons of sites that are expiring and that you can bid on and take over.


Why Would You Want to Buy an Expiring Domain?


Sandro: [00:03:50] Why would you want to do this? Because in a shady way you can also see how many links are pointing to that site. So you can take over, and let’s say they have 50 links pointing to them or 5,000 links pointing to them. You can buy it. Set up your own website, a cheap and easy website potentially, and then link to your, or your clients, or your own website and get some Google juice out of it.

Sandro: [00:04:30] So this site, you know one of the other ranking factors is how old a website is. How old a URL is, so if, I forget it’s gone now so I can’t see it, but let’s say it is five years old, then that’s a good amount of time, Google will use that, with some, give it some juice. Let’s say it’s got 500 websites pointing to it, linking to it. Well Google will give that even more juice. You buy, you take it over, you link to your auto mechanic shop.

Sandro: [00:04:50] Suddenly you’ve got a domain link from, which has great authority and your authority starts to go up a little bit. Some shady resellers will buy that and suddenly list all their clients and sell that link out say, ‘Hey, I’ll get you a link from for ten bucks,’ or something. That’s fishy. That’s Black Hat SEO.


Potential Costs


Liz: [00:05:09] And so you have to consider the time, the cost to acquire the domain name. I’m scanning through this list I’m seeing $12.99, $25.99. So not overly expensive. So you gotta. . . But you have to factor in the cost to purchase the domain name, the time it’s going to take to get up, get a site up, the hosting that you’re going to pay for it. So essentially you’re looking at a one link that could be 100 dollars, could be 300 dollars depending on what is involved in terms of setting up the site because I think you mentioned also it’s not just the home page. There could be other pages that you need to build.

Sandro: [00:05:53] Correct. Yeah if you’ve got 500 links because all we’re seeing is the number of links to that domain. But if the link goes to again, then you’ve got to build that. Put something on or else you’ll have a hard 404 error going there and that link won’t give you any juice. You’ll lose some links if you don’t build out the site. If there’s links pointing to other important parts of that site.

Liz: [00:06:19] And over time so like, let’s see, I’m looking here, I’m looking at has actually 14,000 links pointing to it. But um, but over time some of those links are going to disappear. I mean that’s just the nature of link building. So right now we’re seeing, yeah 14 some thousand links so, but over time unless you are continuing to maintain the SEO value and domain authority of this new site you’re building, it’s going to diminish over time.

Sandro: [00:06:55] Correct. You’ve still gotta work it, correct. So that’s Black Hat. But good way, White Hat or Gray Hat. You know I did see one, it said, it might have been .net, that was up for auction. So if you are a anti-Hillary Clinton person and you want to build a website, a blog, maybe you know, that thing had like 12,000 links to it. Maybe you want to take it over and build out that site and say “Hey my blog is called” or dot net, I don’t know.

Liz: [00:07:26] And so you could theoretically launch a site already with with some great links and authority.

Sandro: [00:07:33] Correct. So it may be worth it if you’re starting up a whole new website, a whole new business and you’re wondering, what domain should I buy? Theoretically if you’re looking to launch a brand new site or brand new business and you don’t want to start from scratch with a domain name that you’re just making up, you may want to go into the auctions. Look for the, look for a site that’s already got some links, it’s already got some domain authority, that’s already got a good age, just sitting there and snap that up and you’re already ahead of the game.


All Link-Building Black Hat?


Liz: [00:08:01] So let me ask a question. Let me kind of play devil’s advocate for a minute. I feel like all link building is black hat.

Sandro: [00:08:08] I would not disagree on many points.

Liz: [00:08:11] My impression is that, you know unless you are contacting a site, submitting a guest article, like doing everything very transparent, you know any kind of forum posting and commenting that’s, it’s just kinda shady.

Sandro: [00:08:25] I wouldn’t say all of it is because I had a client, he repairs motorcycles and he went to welding school and they just wrote an article about him and it’s my cousin. And it’s like, hey, how come they’re not linking to you? So I just wrote a quick note to the college and said, hey great article. They wanted to do the article, they reached out to him, he’s a success story for future graduates, future potential students, why not just turn that into a link? And they did it. So that was, I would not consider that black hat, but a lot of it is. We advise clients to sponsor charity runs and they happen to get a link. That’s gray hat. Yeah, you know that’s buying a link, is that buying a link, is that helping a chairty? Just having to get a link.

Liz: [00:09:06] Okay so you don’t, you don’t want to buy links but if you’re paying an agency to get links, you know that’s not paying directly but it’s paying for the manpower to do it. I’m sure in Google’s perfect world you know, these things would just come about naturally.

Sandro: [00:09:23] And we’ll link to these expiring domains. Also because I’m looking at a really good, a different one and I’m seeing is up for sale. And there’s some really interesting, You know there’s some great stuff out here. And things you just never thought about and it may give you an idea for a new domain to buy yourself. And some of these list the domain authority of the site. Some of these list the back links so it’s just fun to check out and go, oh man, why is that for sale? And the reason they are expiring is people just forget to renew.

Liz: [00:10:00] We have a whole spreadsheet that documents domain name expirations, hosting expiration dates and we check it monthly because I don’t want to let anything like that slip through the cracks.

Sandro: [00:10:13] I just got an email from SEM Rush saying one of our clients, “Your domain is going to expire in two weeks,” and I was like, I need to tell the client and the client didn’t even realize it. So yes, that is pretty cool. So domains can be gamed and this is something that goes on behind the scenes, something you may not have known about, something you may want to try and check out.

Liz: [00:10:34] I love it. If you have attempted anything like this, we would love to hear from you, we’d love to get your insight. Send us an email or tweet us, Instagram us, Facebook us. We’re on all three of those platforms. You can subscribe on your favorite podcast app. We are on iTunes and Google Podcasts and most recently Spotify. So check us out. That wraps up today’s episode. Thanks for joining us and we will see you next time.