Most of the search engines would zero the domain's SEO (PR) on expiry. Even with a 301 to an existing website, the search engines may well have updated and you will only pick up user traffic to the old domain.
The volume of traffic driven by links to lapsed domains can be considerable and therefore of considerable value . . especially in the right hands.
Thanks for the replies guys.
Maybe I shouldn't say this . . but thinking that a domain for a previsously existing site is SEO-dead somewhat misses the . . opportunity?
1. IF SEO is "about traffic" then what's not to like about traffic.
2. IF traffic is one of the catalysts for "natural linking" then what's not to like about that.
3. PR zeroed? Forever? What IF you picked up the ball and ran with it? In other words, actually improved upon the theme/focus/content of the site that previously existed? So, (A) the site "keeps" the prior inbound links, (B) continues a pattern of gaining new links, and, (C) sends other "signals of quality"? Would a rational, intelligent . . algorithm . . insist on perpetually degrading the link=vote value of the once and still relevant inbound links . . or would a rational, intelligent algorithm "think" . . say, after a year of study . . "the quality votes (not junk links) MUST mean something - by their persistence - otherwise the assumption made at the outset - that they were thoughtfully and cognizantly given - was in error and I (the algo) don't make such errors?
Just some wild speculation about the possibility that even old links to expired domains might just have a second life, and an observation about using the traffic to your advantage. Fiddlesticks to those who turn their nose to the domain because the "PR value of links is zeroed".
I must admit that I'm more of a links and content guy and have limited knowledge of the impact of domains on SEO. However, Webwork, I do see your logic and tend to agree with your view.
I know of a handful of expired domains that have damn good links pointing to them and was all giggly at the notion of being able to point those to a site I have and see dirt cheap and super easy increases in relevance--I don't believe they have much traffic else they'd have been picked up (I could be wrong)...lazy man's link building!
I'm not to keen on the idea of building yet another site, but you may have a good point here...might just try it out and report back in a few months.
from my expirience (~200 exp.domain) You have ~75% chance to save PR value, using 301 redirect, etc...
"If" Google zeros the link equity on an expired domain, does anyone have an opinion on whether it happens at the time of expiry, the time of renewal, or when the site itself is dropped from Google's index?
Lets say you're running webmasterworld.com. Someone screws up, and the domain expires.
Brett figures it out, pays the registration fee, and puts the entire site back online again right away.
What do you think would be likely treatment for that by the SE's?
Now someone buys a dropped domain and two months later finally puts some unrelated content on it. What do you think the likley treatment for that is?
Somewhere in the middle is where you are :).