Domain flipping is a great way to make money online, and buying parked domains and dropped domains is an easy way to get started. But whether you want to buy multiple domain names and resell them for a profit, or you want to get a head start on generating traffic for your website, buying dropped domains is a prudent investment.
But just so we know we’re talking about the same thing…
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What are dropped domains?
To understand dropped domains, the first thing you need to know is that domains aren’t really ever bought outright. Instead, they’re registered to an owner for a certain length of time (usually a year, especially for beginners). When that time expires, if the owner doesn’t renew registration, the domain becomes a “dropped domain” (also called an “expired domain”).
Dropped domains are more common than you’d think. Lots of people set out to finally create their dream website, only to lose steam somewhere around the third or fourth month of running it, and in a few months, that domain is added to the sad pile of forgotten domains on the internet.
This is bad news for new year’s resolutions, but it’s great news for you, because dropped domains can be repurposed for fun or for profit!
How to buy dropped domains
Buying dropped domains is slightly different from buying new domains, but it’s not that much more difficult.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Domains have a “grace period” after the registration period has lapsed. Most registrars give registrants up to thirty days to renew their registration. So, if you want to buy the domain within this period, you’ll have to contact the person who most recently owned it. (This is not advised, unless you have a massive budget. Remember: Domain owners can set any price for their domain name; some domains have sold for millions of dollars. Be careful.)
- After the grace period, the previous owner of the domain name forfeits the right to the domain, and if you let the registrar know you’re interested in buying the domain name, you’ll be invited to do so.
- If there are no backorders on a domain (or if everyone who made a backorder decides not to pursue the domain anymore), the domain is auctioned to the highest bidder. This auction usually lasts a week.
- If the domain isn’t sold in the auction period, it’s re-entered into the registry, where it can be sold by domain resellers.
- Most people who buy dropped domains get wind of them well after the auction period has expired. So, most dropped domains are bought through resellers.
Why you should buy dropped domains
1. Dropped domains are cheaper than newly registered domains
A good domain is hard to find. So, if you’ve spent hours trying to come up with a good name, only to find that someone else has newly registered it, you might be tempted to blow your whole budget on the domain. But that could be a very expensive mistake. If you have the budget for it, and your marketing team is giving you the go-ahead, then go for it. But if you’re just starting out, wait until the domain is dropped.
2. Dropped domains give you a head start on ranking
Lots of new buyers use dropped domains to help their new website rank quickly on search engines, because a dropped domain that was attached to a successful website will already have attracted a moderate amount of traffic. This gives you a head start in getting your website to rank on search engines.
3. You can use them to boost existing websites
If you use a 301 redirect, you can redirect dropped domains to your main website and enjoy the ranking benefits of backlinks that exist on the dropped domains. This gives your website a lovely little boost in SEO.
4. You can tap into its existing goodwill
Dropped domains come with a pre-existing reputation. If the owner of the dropped domain worked hard on the website, filling it with many high-value blog posts and steadily collecting backlinks from trusted sources. Plus, any post you add to the website will automatically rank in search engines. And if you can match the quality of previous posts (which we recommend aiming for), you can even enjoy that goodwill permanently.
Dropped domains are a great way to get a head start on building the reputation of your website, but before you rush out and buy one, there are some things you should know.
What to know before you buy dropped domains
1. Sometimes, domain owners inflate their traffic
This usually happens when the owner is looking to resell the domain. Be careful that you don’t buy a domain with inflated traffic, because this can cause the domain to be blacklisted. If you try to use a 301 redirect to divert traffic from a blacklisted domain, you’ll only end up hurting your main website.
2. You need to check the website’s reputation
Dropped domains come with a pre-built reputation, and that’s not always a good thing. Use tools like the Wayback Machine to see what the website looked like throughout the years. You can also use WHOIS to check the details of IP addresses that were connected to the domain.
3. Sometimes, dropped domains are dropped for a reason
Not every dropped domain is a diamond in the rough. Sometimes, a dropped domain was dropped because it simply wasn’t attracting enough traffic. If you buy a domain like this, it won’t be long before you end up dropping it, too.
Dropped domains are a great way to get a head start on search engine ranking. If you do some careful research, you can make a fortune with dropped domains!