Some people think Google is using expired domain info to track down so-called “Private Blog Networks”.
About ten years ago I made a mint from expired domains. These weren’t good expired domains. They were just domains that had been used before, had lots of incoming links and nice Google juice.
I’d slap up a site full of pretty crappy content and wait for the search engines to come slurp it up. The ad clicks tallied up to over $1,000 a day for a short while.
Then Google got smart. It became a domain name registrar to get more data and started devaluing the previous SEO value of an expired domain when it went through the deletion cycle. That meant you were effectively starting over, and that was the end of my easy money.
Later, expired domain companies started doing direct transfer deals with registrars for expired domains. The expired domain company would transfer the domain to the auction winner before it went to pending delete. In whois, the registration date stayed the same.
This thwarted Google’s efforts, as Vint Cerf noted at an ICANN conference in 2006.
I got out of search gaming long ago. I realized any benefits I received were short lived, and it’s part of the reason I’m skeptical whenever someone pitches a mass-buildout product to the domain industry.
I thought Google later figured out a way to detect the direct transfer of expired domains and used that for ranking, but perhaps this isn’t the case. A number of people who’ve been buying expired domains and allegedly reaping search benefits from them say the domains are now being scrutinized for content quality.
It’s all anecdotal, but Matt Bentley of CanIRank.com has a roundup.
Some people think Google is using recently expired domains that now have content as a clue to track down so-called Private Blog Networks and slapping a manual penalty on them.
It’s not clear if Google is devaluing previous backlinks to the domains or is just using them as a way to track down these networks. Chatter is mostly about the latter.
If nothing else, this explains why people are buying crappy domains at GoDaddy Auctions.