In this case study, we will build a site on an expired domain that was available on an auction.
The domain name I chose was very relevant to a website I was already planning on building, so I went out of my way to try and win the auction. This cost me dearly, and I wound up paying $1,100 for it.
My planned website is in the cooking niche, so I wanted to work with an expired domain relating to kitchen appliances. For this case study, we will be focusing on a specific type of appliance.
I received my new domain name seven days after I won it in auction. I set up a basic website.
My first step in restoring the domain was to focus on pages that had links directed to them. I focused on the pages with the most links first. I was able to recover the content on those pages using the Way Back machine (archive.org). I could have restored all of the pages; however, I limited myself to 20. The content on the old website wasn’t very good and wouldn’t be interesting to my readers, so I will likely have to replace it.
In addition to restoring old pages, I also added 32 fresh pages of content. I used a mix of buyer’s guides and top 5 lists, optimizing them to convert once they start ranking in Google.
This month, I won’t do much aside from waiting to see where the site ranks based on the old backlink profile. The old backlink profile was very impressive, as you can see from the data below:
One thing that I found interesting was that the root domain had a trust flow of 27, but once I set up my website, it changed to an impressive TF 47. Based on the backlink profile, I believe TF 27 was a lot more appropriate for this domain. This just shows how flawed external backlink checking tools can be, especially when it comes to strength indicators.
When I bought the domain, it had backlinks from 555 referring domains and 501 IPs. Somehow, we gained 2 additional backlinks, but these are most likely from scraper sites.
After leaving the site alone for 10 days, I decided to start tracking a few keywords. I didn’t see anything extraordinary happen yet.
The only keyword the new website ranks #1 for is its domain name, which is the same as a keyword people search for 140 times per month. They are searching for the keyword, not the website.
I was a little anxious about using this keyword, as it took a long time to reach #1 on Google. This specific key phrase is often used as an anchor text, but Google has figured out that it is also the name of a popular brand. This could have happened due to the authoritative backlink profile found on the website.
My plan is to let the website sit for one or two more months and track any changes. This will help us see how far those existing links are getting us.
According to Google Webmasters, our new website is ranking for 150 keywords, 15 of which are ranking on page one. These are all keywords with close to zero search volume, but it provides us with one or two visitors per day. The website makes between 50 and 100 impressions per day.
For the first few days, the clicks and impressions were likely my own from checking the domain name ranking.
The traffic that StatCounter shows us is very interesting:
This domain name receives a lot of traffic from its backlinks. The 555 other websites send a lot of visitors to the expired domain.
I could monetize my new website right now and start making money without having to do anything else. This would allow me to recoup my $1,100 investment and $1,000 in quality content very easily.
Those 1,000 visitors a month are helpful, but I want faster results. I am not going to touch the website for the next 30 or 60 days, but will be posting updates each month. Stay tuned to read more about my journey.
Where did month two go? Well I never updated it in the second month as there was little to nothing to show.
As you can see I just updated the case study to FAILED.
The main reason I consider it a value is cause after 3.5 months, or almost four months actually, it isn’t ranking in the top 500 for any of my main keywords.
The idea was to rank purely based on the pre-existing backlink profile, let the juice flow freely throughout the site.
As said, I restored a number of old pages and added approx. 30 additional brand new pages.
What happened is this:
- Old pages, largely got their old rankings back
- New pages, don’t rank for anything at all, it’s like the old juice ignores them completely.
It was an experiment and based on the rankings for the new keywords we can easily say this experiment failed.
The site did start to rank for a few hundred more keywords and there has been some improvement in organic traffic but it’s all so minimal that I hardly want to mention it, but as I’m sure some of you love screenshots I add some below.
Let’s look at Statcounter first
As you can see traffic doubled, however as it was in the startup phase that doesn’t mean a whole lot:
Let’s see what SEMRush has to show
Nothing to impressive either, yes it did move from ranking for approx. 100 keywords to 300+ but that doesn’t mean an awful lot either as none of those keywords are part of the groups I’m targetting in an attempt to convert.
Here is Google Webmasters as well
The amount of impressions doubled, the amount of ranking keywords went from +/- 100 to 500+ which is quite an improvement, but once again, most is not very related to what I want to rank for.
Conclusion for now
I am going to leave the site as is, for another 3 months, just to see what happens.
If there are no significant improvements I would call it a definite failure, eg you can’t just leech blindly on old links and expect your new content to rank.
Google once said something along the lines of:
If your site changes drastically we may ignore the old links pointing at it.
I can’t really disagree with that statement based on the results so far.
Now I do think that this site can handle a lot more juice, and a lot faster then a site based on a brand new domain, but that’s another experiment for another time.
If nothing special happens in the next 3 months I will start building new links to this site and update the study accordingly.
Thanks for reading!