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Using expired domains for 301 redirects: What are the risks?

expired domains

     
12:45 pm on Jul 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Recently I was approached by a representative of an online agency who presented to me a file with around 10.000 domains, which he claims that they own.
He has informed me that by buying expired domains and using them through 301 redirection will be of benefit for our sites, but I am wondering if this method of passing link juice through redirections has also any kind of serious risks.

Has anyone else tried it and can offer a reply based on facts?
11:53 pm on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Never done it myself as I try to stay white hat but others have complained about their competition doing it so I assume it has some validity. Especially since that is what you are suppose to do when your website actually change domain names.

I would think (or hope) that Google would be semi smart about this. Having more than a few domain pointing to your own domain would be a red flag to me. Plus, for example having a page that use to be about apples and pointing it to a unrelated page about cars would be another red flag.
12:56 am on July 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone else tried it and can offer a reply based on facts?
Probably, but they may be reluctant to admit it in the present forum. You might try asking at {redacted} or {edited} or possibly even {censored}.
9:27 am on Aug 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Tried it a couple of times on test sites to see what happened - had mixed success (one site saw a bump in rankings, others didn't).

The difficulty is that it's not a scalable strategy - as JesterMagic said, anything about a few domains redirecting starts to run a higher risk of Google noticing.

This means you'd have to carefully select the expired domain to redirect - and there's a lot of rubbish out there with inflated 3rd party stats (such as DA). I scour expired domains a few times a week and only really pick up one or two every now and again (although I limit my purchases to stuff that is also brandable, has a natural link profile, was a legit site, etc - i.e. domains I could probably build a standalone site on).

I'd also be dubious about anyone sitting down with a 10k strong list of domains - there's going to be a lot of junk in there. In fact, thinking about it, it's probably 99% junk. If there was any real value in that list, then it's easy / cheap enough to set up a site monetise it rather than trying to rent them out.

In addition, you have to consider what your commercial relationship is going to be with them. Will you buy the domain from them or rent it? The latter leaves your rankings (if successful) under the control of a 3rd party who can "switch them off" at any time.
10:25 am on Aug 6, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It does work, worked with someone who had a semi-competitive niche, 10K > searches a month, $5/click and got into the top 3 for that search with a blend of 301s and hosted links.

I'd agree with being wary about them owning the domains. Preferably you want to have a bit variation in registrars, the server doing the 301 etc.

As with any SEO there's an element of risk. Having a bunch of expired domains 301 is not going to look too good in a manual review versus other kinds of links that can appear less deliberate. Hard to prove who's doing the 301ing mind you.

There are expired domain services offering raw lists (some free) if you felt like you could do it yourself. 95% of expired domains have no backlink value, either no links or a small number of low value links. The guys that buy the domains, you're basically delegating your definition of a good domain or backlink - personally I prefer the option of choosing.

Also consider that if he's willing to show you the domains, how many others have seen them, do they have anything in common, and what do their backlinks look like? If no decent backlink profile, pointless using it.
12:46 pm on Aug 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Thank you guys for all opinions.
I think this whole procedure involves a lot of risks for an established company, so it may not worth the trouble.
3:15 pm on Aug 20, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Redirecting domains is an old tactic that no longer works.

301 redirects do not pass PageRank indiscriminately. There has to be a one-to-one match. For example, redirecting an entire domain to the home page of another site does not pass link signals to the home page. They will be treated as soft 404s.

It has to be a one to one match or the link signals will not pass. This is true for all 301 redirects, whether you're redirecting a web page to a web page or an entire domain to another domain.

That is how redirects work in today's modern algorithm.

There are people out there (who sell no-follow links) who have "case studies" that no-follow links pass link signals. There are some fakers who tell you that LSI Keywords are a real thing.

301 redirecting domains falls into the same category of B.S. SEO practices. It's a lot more complicated today than it used to be.
 

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