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301 Old Purchased Domains - as a strategy for new sites

     
1:08 am on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Hi guys. I have seen quite a few new companies in our sector buy up old (circa 1998) domains that have pr4-6, then 301 redirect them to newly registered domains. The newly registered domains appear to be ranking well, and do not suffer from the same issues that a new domain has, especially regarding trust. I have been following this for a while, and definitely the rankings are sticking.

For what it is worth, relevance doesn't seem to matter either, in the case of an obvious older website about one genre being redirected to a new domain about different subject matter.

Is this something that anyone here has experience and understanding in?

Do you see the same phenomenon in your genres?

3:01 am on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I don't think there's much to understand. Last time I went looking for this a couple of months ago there were sites for billy bob's birthday circus farm ranking on texas holdem poker. Well, not exactly that, but about the same amount of relevance.

You might check the whois to see if they've bought up these domains, or if they're picking up dropped domains. My guess is they're expired domains.

I don't understand why they rank on terms that are completely outside the realm of their inbound links. If there's no 'trick' and it's just plain old algo busting, well, that tells us something - relevance of inbound links and previous content count for little.

And if that's the case, then worrying too much about relevance when developing inbound links is currently futile. Links from anywhere is a good thing. And if that's the current state in 2009, well I am really going down the wrong path. All that work on relevance, when all I had to do was start sponsoring high PR opensource projects!

While I have noticed what you're suggesting, I've not actually tested this stuff specifically so my thoughts are mostly speculation. Of course it's not that difficult to test it yourself....and report back with the results :). it does cross over into a question I asked here a while ago, about neighbourhoods and whether getting links off the beaten track is good or bad.

5:12 am on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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"Is this something that anyone here has experience and understanding in?"

...

"I don't understand why they rank on terms that are completely outside the realm of their inbound links."

This is the level of understanding and discussion I am looking to achieve. If there's not much to understand, then you would understand it (and hopefully share your insights)

I think if this is the case many of us are going down the wrong path, if our primary objective is qualified rankings and earnings. Of course, what follows suit is the idea of buying a very qualified on topic old trusted domain, then rebuilding it - which I know is done quite often.

What strikes me here is the off topic relation to the ranking core topic. Essentially, relevance appears to be trumped altogether...

I don't have a wide range of domains available to be scooped up, so for experimentation purposes it might be a bit unfeasible for me at this time. However, a discussion around what others see here might shed some light on:

-How effective this technique is in your genre?

-What are the overriding factors here that seem to trump relevance? (Age, inbounds, editorial citations)

9:31 am on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, I just want to clarify my understading.

So, you buy up a old domain that has some PR. Thats it- any random domain, as long as it has PR.

You 301 it to your domain

Full whacking power of bought domain added to your domain, as observed for a decent (say 6 months plus) amount of time?

Conceptually, this would suggest the algo is applied to the old domain, then the SCORES transferred to the new domain- rather than the commonly-held idea that the FACTORS affecting the old domain (backlink profile etc) are added to the new domain, then algo applied to the whole.

Am I understanding what your saying, or have I missed you completely?

12:22 pm on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It's a practice that I've been made aware of and recommended to stay clear of. However, i guess it's a matter of risk assessment.

Fast and flighty, quick buck , quick sink sites maybe.

For a top quality branded site I'd be worried that the practice might be picked up by Google , even if there is some temporary reprieve. All these types of things add up and then one day " bang ".

6:53 am on Jan 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Is there any quick way of finding dead domains with high pr?
8:01 am on Jan 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I was thinking of 301 redirecting a site I shut down a while ago to my company's site. It would be fairly off-topic but, as my company did design and run the site in the first place, would it be ethically wrong to do so?

Wonder if it's a good SEO tactic though?

8:42 am on Jan 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to the forums, mooli7dm. There's no quick way of identifying such sites - high PR domains and also dead? That's not very common to begin with. So it would take real work, good research, and strong networking.

Discussing specific tools is outside the scope of this forum (see the Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com].) But still, welcome. You will probably find it challenging to locate any "quick" methods for internet success, but I do hope you do well in your business endeavors.

Bouncybunny, if you use domain-level 301s purely to get ranking increases, Google will sometimes penalize your sites - and then not let go of the penalties very easily. It is after all something that they openly discourage. Google engineers have even mentioned that they have special tools to track deceptive 301 activities, so you should appreciate that. Entire collections of domains have vanished from the SERPs in a flash. So Google does stop the effectiveness of the tactic -- when they catch onto it in any given case.

As the opening post mentions, sometimes the approach works. But it's also the kind of thing that can really burn through domains when it misfires. I'd consider it one of those "high risk" approaches - a description I much prefer to "ethical". Google is not a religion, at least not yet ;)

10:10 pm on Jan 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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For what it is worth, relevance doesn't seem to matter either, in the case of an obvious older website about one genre being redirected to a new domain about different subject matter.

I see the same even with basic backlinks, not just 301s. The idea that links or redirects should be "on theme" is pretty popular among webmasters, and Google certainly preaches it. There may well be some truth to the idea, but there are also many cases where being off-theme doesn't seem to matter. There may be a limitation with G's semantic processing today that will improve over time. There may well be some "social engineering" in play as well. It's just not the cut-and-dried situation that many seem to feel it is.

Google has also told us that when a domain changes ownership, they "reserve the right" to reset everything to zero. As that language implies, sometimes they do -- but sometimes they don't. I wrote earlier that I consider this method to be high risk, and I feel I should expand on that comment. If the only risk is having the existing juice re-set to zero, that would not be such a dire thing.

The big risks come when webmasters get some taste of success in one case, and then start building interlaced networks of 301 domains with links on active domains, eventually feeding that juice somewhere or other. This is the kind of activity that, if discovered, can set the Google detective squad into action -- looking for all the relationships that they can uncover between domains and setting off penalties and even bans in the worst case.

There's nothing wrong with businesses buying other businesses and redirecting the legacy domain. It happens all the time and for all kinds of reasons, so don't be overly concerned. It's when Google gets a whiff of something going on purely to manipulate the SERPs that risks come into play.

11:11 pm on Jan 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I remember seeing someone fairly high profile in the SEO world being busted by Google for doing this, only six months, or so, ago. It might have been less than that, actually.

I don't think we can name names here, but it was plain to see that the strategy of acquiring a domain in order to "redirect its accumulated PR" to another site is not a good one.

That's "acquiring a domain purely for PR" vs. "legitimate B&M businesses merging, and therefore merging their sites too".