One of the most underground tactics for building traffic and backlinks is the practice of buying up expiring domains.
EHow.com, the main website of Demand Media, a NYSE listed company worth over $500 million dollars, used this backlinks-building technique as one of its main tactics.
So how does it work?
What Happens When a Name Drops
Domain names are registered with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). When a domain name drops, ICANN essentially just de-lists that name from its registry.
There are several ways you can get your hands on that domain, before or after it completely drops out of the registry.
First, you can buy it from the domain registrar itself. This is how GoDaddy does it. When a domain expires from GoDaddy, it doesn’t go back into the pool. Instead, GoDaddy hosts an auction for the domain. The new domain gets assigned to the winner of the auction rather than going back into the registry.
On the other hand, the majority of expiring name registries work by actually waiting for the name to drop off the registry. Once it does, they immediately hammer the ICANN servers with registration requests.
There’s actually an immensely competitive technological war on this front. The first person to get the request through to ICANN gets the domain. There are a handful of companies that provide this service, so they’re constantly battling it out trying to get their requests in faster than the other guy.
It’s a battle fought in milliseconds in complex server arrangements. As a person who’s trying to pick up expired domains, the best way to take advantage of this battle is simply to bet on all sides. Place a bid with each of the services that can pick up domains for you. You only pay for a successful pick-up anyway.
Here’s where to look for expiring domains.
DropDay, Fresh Drop
DropDay and Fresh Drop are expiring domain watch lists. They scour all the various different dropped domain auction sites and make the data easy for you to sort.
While these two services don’t actually do bidding or registering, they can be incredibly useful for finding domains that you might be interested in bidding on.
SnapNames, NameJet, Pool, ENom
These are the actual tools you’ll use to bid on expiring domains.
Take a look through their websites to see exactly how they work. All of them use similar central technology, essentially hammering ICANN with registry requests. However, each of them work slightly differently.
Some require you to say what you want to pay up front; others will start an auction after they win the domain, and still others just register the domains for a straight fee.
A Word on GoDaddy Auctions
Finally, take some time to get to learn GoDaddy’s auction system. It works differently than the ICANN registry services, but due to the sheer volume of domains on GoDaddy’s system, you can find quite a few great deals there.
Picking up quality expiring domains requires vigilance. You need to be always on the lookout for quality names to snap up as quickly as possible. That means watching the auctions and the aggregators regularly.