Knowing how to buy expired domains can be a huge plus. We’ll teach you all you need to know. 

Choosing a domain name is tricky. Maybe you’re sitting at home or in the office asking yourself, “What if my domain name is taken?” or “How do I get more search traffic?” Well, do you know how to buy expired domains?

The name can sound off-putting. “Expired” means “dead,” right? Not in this case. An expired domain is a domain that was registered before but isn’t anymore. That means it’s up for grabs again. 

There are heaps of reasons to buy an expired domain. One is the traffic they can bring to your website. They can also be a great way to secure the domain of your dreams. 

In this post, we’ll explain how to buy expired domains in detail. We’ll also look at how to check when a domain name expires, what makes a good expired domain, and the pros and cons. So, let’s do it.

What Are Expired Domains? First and Foremost

Before we get into how to buy an expiring domain, you need to know what we’re talking about. Let’s start with some background.

When you buy a domain name, you don’t technically own it. More like you’re renting it for your contract period (usually somewhere between one and 10 years). When this contract ends, you have to renew it. If you don’t, it expires.

This doesn’t mean it dies; it just becomes available for someone else to snap up. You also lose your website, email address, and any other services attached to it (yeah, that’s a bummer).

So, when does a domain name expire?

A domain name may expire when:

  • The domain registrant forgets to renew it
  • They miss the renewal reminder emails
  • Their domain name infringes on someone else’s trademark (Oops…)
  • They don’t need it anymore, so they let it expire on purpose

What happens to expired domains? (Hint: they don’t go to heaven…)

When a domain expires, a few things can happen. The registrant may realise their mistake, panic for a moment, and then contact their registrar to renew it. If not, the registrar is free to put it up for auction. 

Domain name auctions basically work the same as other auctions. People place bids on an expired domain, and the highest bidder wins. 

If no one bids for the domain, it heads home to the registrar. They may then delete it, which makes it available for anyone to buy (even other registrars). Or they may just make it available to register again. 

Who buys expired domains? Why would you, anyway?

Buying an expired domain is one way to secure a domain name for your website. Some people also buy them to flip. One of the main reasons, though, is search engine optimisation (SEO). 

How can expired domains help SEO? It has to do with Google’s ranking algorithm. This uses things like a domain’s age, authority, and backlink profile to decide where it should appear in search results. The higher the ranking, the more search traffic you’re likely to get.

The best-expired domains for SEO are well-established and have a squeaky-clean link profile. If you can grab one of these, you’re already ahead of the game. 

How to Check When a Domain Expires: Let’s Show You

If you want a particular domain but some pesky so-and-so is already using it, you can do a WHOIS search to see when their registration will expire. There are a tonne of websites that offer this type of search, including us. 

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Go to the WHOIS domain lookup on our website. 
  2. Type the domain name you’re interested in into the search box and click “Search.” Remember to tick “I’m not a robot” first. 
  3. The expiration date is next to “Registrar Registration Expiration Date” (try saying that after a few drinks.).

How to Get Your Expired Domain Back with Ease

If you accidentally let your domain expire, don’t freak out: you can still get it back. 

Missing your renewal date is only your first strike. Decent registrars offer a grace period to renew your domain at no extra cost. At OnlyDomains, this period is 35 days.

If you miss this deadline, it’s your second strike. Your domain name then enters a redemption period (30 days at OnlyDomains). You can still restore your domain in this window, but it will cost extra.

If you miss this deadline, too, it’s your third strike, and your domain is up for deletion. Any last requests?

If you want to restore an expired domain at OnlyDomains, log in to your account and click “Domains” in your dashboard. Choose “Expired Domains,” select the domain you want to restore, and click “Restore.” And voilà.

Five Benefits of Buying an Expired Domain: Is It Worth Your While?

There are so many reasons to buy an expired domain, especially if you’re all about SEO. Here are the five main benefits. 

  1. Expired domains have an existing audience base. People have already visited the expired domain. When they see it’s up and running again, chances are they’ll come back. With the right content strategy, you can funnel them to your website and make them your audience.   
  2. You can secure extra backlinks to your main website. Every expired domain you have is an extra backlink to your website. This will help push it up the rankings. For this to work, use an expired domain like a blog. This means posting high-quality content that pulls in the expired domain’s audience. 

You can include backlinks in this (which is also a great way to get more people to your site). Just make sure the expired domain is actually relevant to your business. So, if you’re a travel company, you’re not going to buy That’s not what you sell. But it would make sense to buy 

  1. Websites already link to the expired domain (so you’re not link-building from scratch). If an expired domain has high-quality links, it should rank well on search engines. When you buy it, those links become your links. That means you’ll be ranking well from day one (handy if you’re starting a business or want more traffic for your website). 
  2. Expired domains with high authority get you ahead in SERPs. Domains with high authority tend to rank higher. Why? Because they’re trustworthy. So, buying an expired domain with high authority is a great way to climb up the rankings. 
  3. Old expired domains rank higher on search engines. If a site has been around for a long time, it’s built a reputation. Search engines are going to see it as more trustworthy. In all honesty, spam domains aren’t usually around for long. And that’s why older expired domains are the golden ticket. 

Drawbacks of using expired domains: The downsides

Buying an expired domain can be a cool strategy, especially if you’re looking for domain hacks or an SEO boost, but there is also a downside, folks. 

  1. Good expired domains can be really expensive. You spot the perfect expired domain. It’s old, has a killer backlink profile, and is super authoritative. Great. The trouble is, you won’t be the only one whose eyes lit up when they saw it. Good expired domains can get high prices at auction (heaps higher than new domains). So, you could be disappointed. 
  2. You may get penalised for the previous owner’s bad practices. It’s such a big deal to research the history of an expired domain before you bid on it. If you don’t, you could get penalised for the previous owner’s ‘crimes’. Stuff like plagiarism, spam, malware, and “black hat” SEO tactics like keyword stuffing. 
  3. The expired domain may not be competitive in its niche (so it wouldn’t bring you much traffic). A registrant will sometimes let their domain expire because it just wasn’t competitive. If you buy it, you might not get the traffic boost you had in mind. Before you invest, remember to run a competitor analysis with a tool like SEMrush. This will show which websites an expired domain is up against and how it’s doing.

Where to Find and Buy Expired Domain Names: Domain Backorders and More

Time to look at how to buy a domain when it expires. There are two main ways: domain backorders and auctions. 

How backorders improve your chances of securing an expired domain

So, you’ve found out when a domain is set to expire. Now what? 

The smartest thing to do is place a backorder. That way, you’ll know the second it goes to auction or is up to register again. Some backorder services will even try to register it for you the second it drops.

Backordering doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the expired domain. It can still go to auction, but backorders are a great way to boost your chances of bagging it if it’s deleted. 

Here’s how to place one:

  1. Go to the auction site or backorder service and sign up for an account.
  2. Search for the domain you have your eye on.
  3. Choose the “backorder” option and wait for it to expire.

How to use an auction house to register or buy an expired domain

If an expired domain goes to auction, you’ll need to find out which auction house is selling it. We’ll talk you through playing detective later. 

Your next step is to create an account. Then, you can place a bid on the expired domain(s) you want. 

(Don’t have a specific domain in mind? Or wondering what to do if .com is taken? Search for expired domains on different auction websites till you find one that works.)

Most auctions last about seven days. Once the bidding closes, the highest bidder gets the domain name as long as the current registrant doesn’t renew it. If they don’t, and you place the winning bid, you’re the proud owner of the domain (as soon as you pay for it, obviously). It gets transferred to your account and registered in your name. Happy days.

Keep in mind that some auction sites set maximum bids or allow proxy bids.

Checklist Before Acquiring Expired Domains: Our Pearls of Wisdom

Before you rush off to buy an expired domain, make sure it’s worth investing in. Here’s what you need to check:

  • Backlink profile. Use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to check the backlink profile of the domain you want to backorder or bid on. This will show you the number and quality of backlinks, the authority of referring domains, and more. You want domains with lots of high-quality links from authoritative sites.
  • Domain authority (DA). Moz developed domain authority (DA) to give you an idea of how “rankable” a domain is. DA is on a scale of zero (meh) to 100 (now we’re talking). You can also check page authority, keyword rankings, and more. The higher the DA, the better the domain is for SEO.
  • Domain history. It’s so important to know the history of the domain. Was it used to spam people? Was it used for gambling, porn, or any other activities that are a huge no-no for Google? You only want expired domains with a halo (that’s a clean history for all the sinners reading this), so use a tool like the Wayback Machine to check it.
  • Page speed and responsiveness. We’re getting into the technical side of SEO here, but you want a domain that’s responsive and quick to load too. Otherwise, it will drive your potential customers crazy. PageSpeed Insights is great for checking these and even suggests how to improve them. 
  • Trademark infringement. Last, but not least, you need to check the domain didn’t expire because of a trademark infringement. You don’t want to buy it only to get sued. You can search for the domain in the Global Brand Database, which shows any trademarks attached to that name. If there aren’t any, great. If there are, do some more investigating before you bid.

The auction website will probably repeat some of this information, too. 

How to Buy an Expired Domain Step-By-Step: Let’s Talk You Through It

So, we’ve put together this summary of how to buy an expired domain name step-by-step.

  1. Find the registrar it’s listed with. First, you need to do a WHOIS lookup. Not only does this show when the domain name will expire, but you’ll know who the registrar hosting it is. 
  2. Find the auction site that will sell it. Most registrars have an exclusive auction partner. Once you know the registrar, you can look up which auction site will sell the expired domain. Some registrars also have their own auctions. 
  3. Place a backorder or an auction bid. Once you’ve found the right auction site, sign up for an account and search for the domain you’re dreaming of. Then you can place a backorder or an auction bid if it goes to auction. 
  4. Register your new domain name. If you secure an expired domain name, you’ll need to register it. This will usually be with the registrar at the auction site. Give it a bit of time and you’ll be able to transfer it to the registrar you really want. 

OnlyDomains Has Everything You Need to Buy Expired Domains

So, now you’re an expert on how to buy a domain name that is expiring, you’ll find everything you need to do it here at OnlyDomains. 

Searching for a domain with our WHOIS lookup is a breeze. This will give you its expiration date. Then, all you have to do is wait till it drops and register it with us.

But, why should we go with OnlyDomains?

Well, we’re affordable, rated “Excellent” on Trustpilot, and you can get a website and email address too. Oh yes, and we offer over 900 domain endings. If you don’t want .com, there are plenty more domains in the sea. Or, at least, on our registry.

For more information or to get started, why not check out our website? We can’t wait to hear from you.

FAQS About How to Buy Expired Domains

What is a dropped domain?

A dropped domain is an expired domain that wasn’t renewed or sold within the redemption period. At the end of this, the domain is deleted and “dropped” by the registrar. Anyone can register a dropped domain.

Is a deleted domain the same as an expired domain?

Not quite. If a domain registrant misses their renewal date, the domain expires. It’s classed as an expired domain until it’s deleted. Then, it’s dropped by the registrar and re-classified as a deleted domain. 

You have to bid for expired domains at auction or place a backorder, but you can register deleted domains as if they were new.

How do I reserve an expired domain name?

You can reserve an expired domain name by placing a backorder with a registrar or auction house. If the domain is one day up for grabs, you have a chance to register it before anyone else. 

Transferring and registering the domain with a registrar

Once you secure an expired domain, you have to pay for it (because nothing in life is free). It then gets transferred to your account within the time frame set by the auction house—usually seven to 14 days. 

The domain is usually registered with the registrar partnered with that auction house. If you want to transfer it to a different registrar, you can, but you normally have to wait 30 days or so. 

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