Ep 35: Adam Smith, Building on Expired Domains


In this episode of the Website Investing podcast, Avi talks about expired domains with Adam Smith of Niche Website Builders. They cover how to acquire expired domains, how to efficiently build websites with them, and why to use expired domains. They also discuss the different steps and principles used by Niche Website Builders to build these websites and make them successful. 


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📝 Show Summary & Insights

Expired Domain “Sniff Test”

  • They use several tools for a five-minute sniff test to gauge domains. One of these is SpamZilla, which finds many sources to buy expired domains. It also filters them using different metrics such as UR, DR, trust flow, organic traffic, and many more. 

  • The metrics used depend on the purpose of the domain. Looking at the metrics, you need to determine whether the domain looks good, and is a good fit for its purpose. SemRush is a valuable site for doing quick sniff tests using their categorization of backlinks.

  • Adam mentions that once the sniff test is passed, you can use the Wayback Machine for the domain. You can see multiple snapshots of each year to determine whether a site or domain is really good. There are cases when outbound links to unwanted sites exist. 

  • Adam says that you shouldn’t worry about whether or not a website is in the index or if it’s been 301 redirected to another site. What matters is that the link profile is checked and the links are still alive. It's usually still better than having a fresh domain.

First Steps

  • The first thing to do - sometimes even before buying a domain - is to think about the keyword plan or the content plan for the domain. Some niches are more competitive than others so you want to consider if the domain is powerful enough to compete in that specific niche. 

  • The keyword research done by Adam and his team is proprietary. However, he mentions that it involves looking at competitors in the same space or niche, figuring out who the weaker competitors are, and analyzing how the outliers with good organic traffic are doing this. 

  • Content plans are built around uncovering and reverse engineering the content from outliers who are performing really well in their niche. 

  • There are things you can do to increase the chance of success for your domain. In terms of site structure, you want to ensure that your homepage passes as much link juice through to the rest of the site as possible.

  • Starting out, try to cover only a small sub-niche, keeping the click depth of a website really low, i.e., everything only two clicks away from the homepage.
    You can check the best pages-by-links report using Ahrefs. 
    You want to keep these links for two reasons. One is that they’re good links and you want to keep them active. Two is, there’s a chance that these links might 401 if you leave them.

Handling Links

  • There are two options for tidying up the links. The first option is to take the existing content and keep it on the website. This is the riskiest, but may be mitigated by hiding these pieces of content from the website navigation so you can’t get to them. The second option is rewriting the content in your own words or repurposing the content.

  • As a rule of thumb, Adam says that any old page with more than five links pointing to it should be recreated, and anything with less than two links is redirected back to the homepage.

  • One thing that differentiates an expired domain is how all the old redirects are handled. Apart from this, the steps are the same as for setting up a new site.

Adam’s Approach

  • Adam has been building out sites on expired domains for his own personal portfolio, but still builds domains or sites on fresh domains for clients.

  • Adam compares his website building approach to a horse race; he doubles down on the ones that are doing the best. 

  • A typical worst case scenario seen with expired domains is that they act like fresh domains. This means that they have a sandbox period and revenue coming in after three or four months of the site going live. On the other hand, there are outliers and sites that grow insanely fast from the start.

  • If everything goes well, traffic typically shows within the first six weeks so Adam suggests waiting a month or two to see traffic. You can check Ahrefs and SemRush to see the increase in the number of keywords indexed which points at the right direction.

  • There’s no commonality between sites that perform like rocket ships from the get-go, versus the sites that sit and don’t take off so well.

  • A phenomenon of expired domains is that these sites may have metrics that look good, have due diligence and proper checks performed, but there is still no way to tell how they will do.

  • Adam recommends his company's services as they are flexible and tailored to the level of experience of the client building the site. The client may be as involved or as hands-off as they like.

Guest Info

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