Just like old vintage cars, expired domains can be very good if you buy the right one and extremely problematic and wasteful if you spend your money on the wrong one. New domains, like new cars usually have no issues. All you need to do is buy and start using.
Expired domains are domains that were registered and used by someone else and that person no longer renews the registration fees. There are plenty of vendors online who sell and auction these expired domains. The main advantage of buying an expired domains is that you might have a head start over someone who registers a new domain.
Used domains have page rank, traffic, links which are all good for your website. Expired domains are usually more expensive that newly registered ones and it would be really bad if you spend a lot of money on a domain that will not do what you want it to do. Here are the most important things to look for in a domain before you spend your money on it.
Google Page Rank: I have included page rank here because it is most likely what you are expecting. PSA: Google no longer displays the page rank of websites. All page ranks display PR 0 which is obviously strange. It is not clear whether Google still uses the metric in Google search rankings or not. Some websites claim to still give website page ranks. These are cached values that were saved before the change. The values might indicate what the PR value used to be.
The age of the domain is an important characteristic to look at. Older domains get more favor from Google and other search engines because they seem trust worthy. The older the domain, the better. Any domain more than 2 years old should not be too expensive.
Domain Authority / Page Authority :
The two metrics denotes as DA and PA usually go hand in hand. The authority of a domain or page basically shows the ability to appear in search engine results. Domain authority is achieved through many different factors including domain age, content and backlink profile. Measured from 0 to 100, an expired domain with DA/PA 30 upwards should be good enough to start your website on. Obviously the higher the domain, the better things will get. Ahrefs.com is a good tool to check the DA/PA of any domain.
Backlinks are links on other websites pointing to the domain. A large quantity of high quality backlinks is an ideal backlink profile for a domain to have. High quality backlinks are backlinks from websites with high DA/PA. The more, the merrier. You can find a detailed backlink profile for any domain at Ahrefs.com
This tool will also show you the number of unique domains that link to the domain which is a plus. Links from websites with .gov and .edu extensions get extra love from Google. You can find all this backlink data at Ahrefs or at Moz Metrics.
Google Search Ban:
The success of any website is directly proportional to how much traffic it’s getting. What better way to get free targeted traffic than from Google search results. Google being the biggest search engine, it would be useless to have your website on a domain that has been banned from Google’s search engine results.
SEO Mastering is a good tool for checking this. Simply enter the url of the domain in the text box provided and click continue. If not banned it will tell you and also tell you the number of pages indexed if the website is live.
If a website is online, just go to google search and type Site:<domain url> and search. Google will list for you all the indexed pages in your website if it is not banned from Google search.
Before you buy an expired domain, it is important to know what kind of content the website on that domain used to have. The domain name might give you an idea but there’s a tool that can show you exactly what website and content was on that domain before it expired.
WayBack Machine is an interesting and useful tool in this aspect. Enter the url of the domain and browse history. You can choose specific periods of time to see live demos of the website at a particular time. With this info, you will know what kind of links point to your website and the general history of the domain.
Alexa rank is a tool that ranks websites according to the amount of traffic they receive. This will tell you the amount of traffic a domain gets even before you put your website on it. A domain that is already getting good traffic is a bonus.
Alexa rank also shows top Alexa rank which is the highest rank a website has ever gotten. This will show you the potential that domain has to generate traffic to your website.
Country Specific rank on Alexa will show you how a website ranks in a specific country. If you want to target a specific country with your website, this is an important metric to look at.
Very many websites are monetized through Google Adsense. Also, very many websites are banned from publishing Google Adsense ads due to the ad network’s strict policies. It is important to know whether a domain has been banned be Google Adsense before you buy it if you plan on using the ad network to monetize your website. This tool can help you check.
If you get these parameters right, and can afford the domain, buy it. The content you put on the website will go a long way in determining the overall quality of your website but a good domain will always put you a step or two ahead of your competitors who purchase new domains.