Gold Glitter Eye

What are dropped domain names and how do you snag them?

10 min read
Brenda Barron

Dropped domain names are a great way to expand your domain investing portfolio. Thousands of domain names expire on a daily basis, making it easy to start a high-authority website, relaunch your brand with a domain name, or simply flip it for a profit.

Interested in learning more about dropped domain names? Here’s what we’re going to cover in this article:

  • What is a dropped domain?
  • How to determine the quality of a dropped domain.
  • How can you tell if it’s a dropped domain name?
  • How do you find dropped domain names?
  • Six key metrics to watch when buying dropped domain names.
  • Securing dropped domain names.

Let’s take a look at why you should consider dropped domain names and how to go about buying them.

What is a dropped domain?

All domain names are registered for a certain length of time. When that period expires, you have to renew your domain registration in order to keep it active. If you fail to renew the domain before the end of the registration term, most registrars will give you a grace period to renew the domain name.

Once the grace period is over, the domain becomes an expired domain. Most registrars will then list the expired domain as an auction item.

If the domain fails to be purchased during the auction process, the registrar then adds it to a domain name drop list and the name eventually becomes available to the general public. The length of the grace period and the exact process varies from one domain registrar to the next, as well as which domain registry the domain belongs to.

Why buy a dropped domain name?

A dropped domain name is a great business and investment opportunity for several reasons.

You can immediately launch a high-authority website

Good domain names get picked up quickly, which sometimes makes it hard to launch a website on a particular topic or in a particular niche.

When you buy a dropped domain name that matches your niche, you can quickly launch a high-authority website that already has an established rank.

This makes it easier to rank in search engines and get the organic traffic right from the start instead of spending years building it up slowly.

Easily redirect to an affiliate site

If you rely on affiliate marketing for your income, you can use dropped domain names to redirect to relevant affiliate websites and boost your earnings.

Related: How to start affiliate marketing on your blog

Sell the dropped domain name for a profit

If you’re not planning on using the dropped domain name for yourself, once you have acquired a dropped domain name, you can sell it for a profit instead.

Related: 5 tried-and-true tips for buying and selling domain names for profit

How to determine the quality of a dropped domain

While it’s true that thousands of domain names are dropped on a daily basis, the truth is that not all dropped domain names are good investments. However, there are a few common qualities that all good dropped domain names have.

It’s not blocklisted by search engines

Woman Looking At Google Search On Tablet

The most important quality to look for in a dropped domain name is to make sure it’s not blocklisted by search engines. This will allow you to make use of the domain name immediately and monetize it easily.

While you can appeal the blocklisting of the domain, the process is rather lengthy and complicated.

By checking the domain name before making a purchase, you can avoid a lot of headaches.

Keywords have search traffic volume

Domain names that match common search terms are high in demand. If you plan on selling the dropped domain name in the future, this can be a beneficial factor that will allow you to ask for a higher price.

Related: Can including keywords in a domain name improve search ranking?

It’s old

While the age of the domain name does not make the domain more valuable per se, it is an indicator of the domain quality. In some cases, domain names that have been registered early on are usually the best and the most sought-after domain names.

Related: What is domain authority and how can it enhance your search visibility?

It’s short and doesn’t have hyphens

Shorter domain names are easier to remember, so it makes sense to find a dropped domain name that is relatively short. Hyphens make it hard to pronounce your domain name and users will often forget the hyphen when typing it in, which means they can wind up on a competitor’s site.

It’s registered in multiple extensions

If a domain name is registered in multiple extensions, that means there is likely high demand for it. Some of the other domain owners might be interested in buying a matching domain name in a different extension.

This is a great tip to keep in mind if you plan on reselling the domain name later on.

Related: Domain extensions guide — What you need to know before you pick a domain name

How can you tell if it’s a dropped domain name?

The easiest way to check if a domain name has been dropped is by doing a quick WHOIS lookup. You can do a WHOIS lookup here.

The results will tell you if the domain name you’re considering is registered, as well as the current status of the domain name.

Once you’ve looked up the domain, you’ll want to look for a line that says “domain status.” The expiration date that shows in the WHOIS can be misleading since it often automatically shows an additional year of registration on expired domains until the last phases of expiration occur.

Pay attention to the domain status instead.

The statuses to look for will be “pending redemption” or “pending delete.”

How do you find dropped domain names?

Finding a dropped domain name can be an involved process. From using clunky keyword-based software to manually crawling the web to hopefully stumble upon a valuable expired domain, trying to find dropped domain names is tedious and time-consuming.

Luckily, there is a better and faster way.

If you’re looking to easily find dropped domain names, you can use GoDaddy Auctions. Just visit the GoDaddy Auctions page and select Expiring as your predefined search.

The results will populate a list of domain names that have expired and whose auctions are expiring soon. Before you start bidding, however, it is recommended to do a bit of research on the domain name you’re interested in.

6 key metrics to watch when buying dropped domain names

Once you have identified a dropped domain name you want to buy, you need to check six important metrics to ensure you will get a good return on your investment.

1. Spam

The first thing you should check is whether the dropped domain name has ever been used for spam purposes or if it used or had spammy links and backlinks.

An easy way to check is to use the Wayback Machine and investigate what type of content was on the site. A few indicators of spammy content include:

  • Signs of hacking
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Unsafe content
  • Duplicate content

You can also use tools like Ahrefs or Majestic SEO to investigate historical links and backlinks for a particular domain name. Be wary of links that come from spammy websites or websites with no page or domain authority, irrelevant backlinks or links coming from suspicious websites.

2. Domain and page authority

Dropped domain names usually have a higher domain and page authority than a brand new domain.

A higher domain and page authority will help you rank better in search engines from the start, so it’s a good idea to use Moz Tools to check the domain authority and page authority for the domain name you’re interested in.

3. Blocklisted or banned by Google AdSense

Google AdSense is one of the most popular advertising programs for website owners. If the dropped domain name has been banned by Google AdSense, you won’t be able to participate in the advertising program, which makes monetizing the site harder.

You can use the AdSense Sandbox to check if the domain name has been banned.

4. Trust flow

Using Majestic SEO, you can check the trust and citation flow for the dropped domain name you want to buy.

Trust flow is measured by checking the quality of the domain in question and measuring the quality of a linking site.

The higher the trust flow score is, the better your rank will be.

5. Google index status

Another important metric to check is the Google index status and see if there have been any manual penalties. You can do this by simply searching for the domain name in Google.

If you get results for pages with your domain name in it, chances are your domain name is indexed, which is a sign the dropped domain name is not penalized by Google.

6. Trademarks

Lastly, check if there are any trademarks associated with the dropped domain name. This can save you from a lot of headaches down the road as the last thing you want is a lengthy legal battle. Use the US Trademark Search Engine to check for trademarks.

Securing dropped domain names

Money On Computer Illustrating Buying Dropped Domain Names

Once you’ve checked your desired domain name and ensured there are no penalties, no spam, and that the domain is trustworthy, it’s time to make the purchase.

If the domain is available for purchase immediately, you can use GoDaddy Auctions to buy it.

But what if the domain cannot be purchased immediately? The best way to secure a dropped domain name is to use Domain Backorders.

Domain Backorders makes it easy to monitor a domain name that has already been registered. By signing up, you’re purchasing a number of credits that can be applied towards purchasing a dropped domain name.

The service monitors a specified domain name for you daily and attempts to register it for you the minute it becomes available. If multiple backorders exist for the same domain, you can then bid for it at an auction or decide against it and apply your credit towards another domain name.

You can also add domain name privacy to your domain backorder to ensure your information remains safe and private from the public eye.

If your backorder is successful, it adds the domain name to your account once the domain completes the full expiration process and renews the domain for one year automatically.

Final thoughts

Buying a dropped domain name allows you to get a domain name that already has a good rank in the search engines so you can build a high authority website or to sell it for a higher price and make a profit.

You can easily find out when your desired domain name becomes dropped by signing up for GoDaddy’s Domain Backorders. With Domain Backorders, you don’t have to worry about setting reminders and manually checking the WHOIS database to see if your desired domain name has been dropped or not. Domain Backorders makes buying dropped domain names a breeze!

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