Evaluating Expired Domains – Step by Step Guide

Evaluating Expired Domains v3

People can’t stop asking us how they should evaluate expired domains, so I put together this guide showing how we do it at PQD.

If you’re short on time, grab our PDF here which is great as a reference or handing to VA’s.

I know many people have minimum metrics they go by, but by doing that you can miss out on some gems as every metric can be manipulated. Check out Steve’s excellent video on this.

We use DA as a baseline and then the majority of our steps afterwards are manual.

1. Check Domain Authority

Although I’ve mentioned that DA can be manipulated, it’s a good baseline indicator as to the power of a domain. This is one of the few times we rely on a metric in our domain filtering process.

I like to make sure all my domains have a minimum of DA 17+. Some will consider that to be on the low end, but I’ve seen some good results from my testing.

Side Note:

Here’s a PR blast we did on a new domain recently with 5 low DA sites.

low DA site blast

Results from a recent 5 site low DA blast

I’m not saying higher DA won’t help – it definitely will, but low DA’s work very well too. More testing and results will be updated at our Search Highway Testing Laboratory.

If you’ve got a long list of backlinks, here’s a good bulk DA checker that we use from time to time.

2. Check that CF and TF are about equal (optional)

Usually DA is the only metric we go by, but sometimes you’re looking at a foreign domain and you just want a quick indication of quality.

A quick indication of bad quality are very skewed Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF) stats.


Bad Quality CF / TF balance


Good CF-TF

Potentially a good domain: CF and TF are similar

(I say potentially a good quality site because you won’t know for sure until you examine the backlinks).

The Citation Flow (CF), in a nutshell indicates the number of linking domains. The Trust Flow (TF) indicates the trustworthiness of these domains. By having both these very similar, you are ensuring that the domains linking in are legitimate and of good quality.

You don’t need both of these to be very high – in fact I have used a lot of sites with low CF/TF and they still rank very well.

3. Check referring domains

We recommend a minimum of 10 referring domains. Any less is somewhat risky as losing 1 link can have a huge impact on the power of your domain.

Remove Referring Domains < 10

Remove Referring Domains < 10


4. Manually Review Backlink Anchor Texts

These next few steps are probably the most tedious of them all – which is why most domain brokers don’t go through them. It can’t be automated by a program and therefore requires so much time (and SEO experience) to get it right. Unless the domain is for yourself, you wouldn’t want to go through this.

Note: At PureQualityDomains.com – we have a team that manually checks every domain, despite how painful it can be!

This however is an essential step of the process to ensure a good quality domain.

We check for 2 things:

1. Spammy Anchor Text

These are your typical adult keywords, pharmaceutical, Louis Vuitton handbags, Nike shoes..etc.

Make sure to check both the http:// and http://www. Version as well as they can be quite different (see image below).

Anchor Text Check

Check for Spammy Anchor Text in both www. and non-www. versions

2. Over-optimized Anchor Text

Any over-optimized domain could potentially be penalized. We therefore like to stay on the safe side and avoid any domains with overly high exact match anchors.

Over-Optimized Anchor Profile

Over-optimized anchor text

Over-Optimized anchors in Domain

Natural Anchor Text Profile:

Non-optimized Normal Anchors

Natural Anchor Profile

5. Check if Top Backlinks are Alive

It’s important to make sure that the backlinks still exist – at least the important ones.

Click through the top 5 links and manually check to ensure that the backlinks are still alive (or most of them are).

This ensures that your site is still very powerful when you buy it.

6. Check Link Quality

There are obviously different quality of links. If the majority of your links are from article directories, social networks, forums or any other low quality site, then stay away.

I like to see links from authority sites like the huffingtonpost, BBC or .edu / .gov sources.

The domain below is obviously a powerhouse with links from very authoritative sites.

backlink quality 1

backlink quality 2


7. Check for 301 redirects

It’s normal that a site has 301 redirects, but if most of it’s power and authority is coming from one redirect site, you may want to stay away.

8. Check Domain History

We now want to make sure that the domain wasn’t used for any other SEO/shady activity in the past.

If it was ever re-purposed as a money site or used as a PR site, then we want to stay away from those.

To do this, go to archive.org and click on different periods in the past.

You’ll notice that sites which have been repurposed as money sites or used as PR sites will usually show 2 distinct periods (sometimes 3).

archive check 1

Distinct Periods in the Archive History – Check each period

You’ll want to check the history in each of those periods and see if the purpose of the site had changed.

From the example above, here is the original site design in period 1:

archive - original site niche

Archive.org – original site design

Period 2 site design:

archive - new spammed page

Archive.org – Site had been repurposed

As you can see, there’s quite a drastic difference!

Note: Be careful to not just look at design, because some sites go through a redesign, whilst others set up the PR sites quite well that it’s hard to tell. I usually look at the outbound links and if they look spammy, then stay away!

9. Check if the site is indexed (Optional)

One reason we check the index is because sometimes the archive doesn’t display any useful data and is therefore inconclusive.

Sometimes checking the Google index will help us determine if the site was recently used for anything bad.

To do this, go to Google and type Site:domain-name.com


Domain with bad index

Indexing Myth

A common misconception is that domains that are not indexed are bad. This is not true, but if the domain is indexed, then I consider it a bonus.

Let me explain.

If a site has been expired for a couple months or years, Google has no reason to keep it in it’s index – even if the site is squeaky clean.

For that reason, a lot of older, expired domains you find wont’ be indexed, but if you’ve done your due diligence (check the spam, archive history etc. as we talked about above), then it’ll come back within days of hosting the site.

In fact, most of our sites are not indexed but come back very quickly. Here’s what a customer had to say about it:

deindexed sites

The domain will be re-indexed quickly if it is clean


If your domain passes all these checks then you’re gold!

If you have any questions drop a comment below.


Upcoming in the Pipeline from PQD:

  • Hosting your domain Training: Find out our #1 recommended hosting provider and get a 15% discount as well.

Upcoming in the Pipeline from Search Highway Test Laboratories

  • TLD Ranking Test – How do different TLD’s react to rankings?
  • GSA blasting on Money Sites – Does this work?
  • Pinterest/Instagram Ranking
  • Google’s 201 Factor test on Inner Pages



  • Rachel

    Reply Reply August 14, 2014

    Thanks Hin for the well done domain buying steps / checklist.

    I especially like #5 as I have had domains lose value after buying them due to this.

  • Francisco

    Reply Reply August 20, 2014

    Great write-up guys.
    You seem like very serious business guys, which is good.
    Keep it up!

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field