This one will be a short initial update on this website that I am building from scratch (no previous revenue or traffic) on an expired domain. Check out all the archives here. Let’s get to it!
Why Expired Domains?
In short, expired domains come with “history”. That can be bad or good history based on how it was used, backlinks, and more. It’s on you to determine if a domain is a good one or not.
I love expired domains.
It’s like purchasing an abandoned real estate property. You are buying it for its land. You will break everything down and build anew on the land. That’s very similar to expired domains. You get the virtual land and history, i.e., backlinks, to give that domain it’s strength. You will then build on that strength into a new website. Easy!
When reviewing an expired domain, I look at the backlink profile using AHREFS and the history of the site using Archive.org. These are the questions I ask:
- Does the site have a healthy backlink profile? How many referring domains? Diversified anchor text? Was it part of any blackhat linking methods?
- Does the site have links from quality domains/publications, e.g., NY Times, Forbes, or niche relevant authority sites? This is not necessary but I like to ensure I get the strongest domain possible.
- What did the site look like and do in the past? Use Archive.org and look into its history.
What you should avoid:
- Use an expired domain ONLY if you will be building a site in the same niche —> do not buy a domain just for its backlinks and build a random site on it not related to what the domain was about in the past. That may get you penalized.
- Copyright and trademarks: many branded domains still have legalities attached to it. Do a copyright and trademark search. Make sure it is clear.
Read this detailed guide on building sites on expired domains.
Expired Domain Stats
- Purchased 04/22/2020 for $4,000
- Ahrefs DR: 58
- # of Referring Domains: 183
- Referring Domains: ThemeForest, ElegantThemes, StackOverflow, Theme-Fusion, SearchEngineJournal, BBPress, BuddyPress, ManageWP, and many others…
- Age: November 2010
- Revenue: $0 (blank domain only, no content)
My goal with this site is simple: develop into a WP informational site with WP plugin and theme reviews, buying guides, tutorials, and more.
For easy wins, this is what I am focusing on for several months:
- Longtail keywords for WP theme reviews (e.g., XXXX Theme Review)
- Longtail keywords for WP Plugin reviews (e.g., XXXX Plugin Review)
- Longtail keywords for comparison reviews (e.g., XXXX vs YYYY Plugin Review)
- Longtail keywords for buying guides (e.g., Top X Themes for YYYY)
There are plenty of keywords to target above that will keep me busy.
Eventually, if the site starts generating traffic + revenue, the goal is to start developing tutorials (hiring an expert in the field), and collecting emails. Emails in the internet marketing world are very valuable and can be remarketed to with various content and affiliate offers.
A WP-focused site comes with many monetization strategies. Here are a few:
- Affiliates: most if not all quality WP plugins/themes come with an affiliate program. Some pay recurring income, and some are one-time ~50% commissions.
- Services: software for a WP site is not enough. Users need services (e.g., website design, SEO, audits, etc). These can be more lucrative deals that I can set up for the visitors
- Courses: I can either launch my own course (not really interested in this) or recommend other people’s courses that are of quality
- Emails: I have a goal to collect emails on the site. I can either market to these emails directly or do a “rental” agreement, i.e., have another company send emails to my list for a fixed monthly payment.
- Display Ads: this one is easy. I will stick Ezoic on the site to generate revenue.
A major reason I decided to go ahead with building a WP site was because of the Revenue Per Visitor (RPV). I know the RPV in this niche is high. People trying to build a WP site don’t only need one product; they need a theme, 10 or so plugins, hosting, a few services, etc. The list goes on and on and never ends.
The competition is fierce in this space with big players. However, with the strength of my domain, it may take me a ton of time to get to the top 3 positions, but I can still generate good revenue in the top 3-10 positions.
May 2020 Update
May was the first full month of ownership. This month, I set up the site from scratch, added a ton of content, and just let it sit.
Here are the current stats and rankings taken on 07/04/2020.
Current AHREFS Stats (07/04/2020)
Current Search Engine Rankings (07/04/2020)
Taking a look at my SERP rankings for keywords I am targeting, many of them have moved up. I am ranking in the top 10 for many keywords already that I wrote content for in May 2020. This is a great sign! I’ve seen that whenever a publish an article, within a few days, I am at a fairly good position, and then it slowly goes up over time.
Current Traffic (07/04/2020)
The traffic is not that interesting to look at. Most of it is referral traffic from various sites that have linked to it over the years.
I put my sites together with a specific technology stack. This is the tech I used for this site:
- Hosting: Digital Ocean ($5) with ServerPilot ($10) for management, and CloudFlare ($0) for CDN. I also optimize all images using ShortPixel (highly recommend this)!
- Theme: I used GeneratePress Premium theme. I also added in Elementor as a page builder to create a unique page for different them and plugin reviews.
- Caching: I used WP Rocket.
- Security: I use the free Wordfence plugin to lockdown my site.
- Extra functionality: I use Easy Table Of Contents to get a ToC on the page. I use the RankMatch SEO Plugin on this site. Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP) for related posts at the bottom of articles. WP AutoTerms for Privacy policies, TOS, etc.
- WP Management: I use ManageWP to manage all my WP sites from one dashboard.
I used an agency that charges me 2 cents/word for content. I usually like to hire writers from Upwork and work directly. However, I usually give the 2-3 agencies I work with sometimes a shot. One of them was amazing. They had a writer that can not only write well but actually has a deep understanding of WP. A great win!
In April-May 2020, I added 45,165 words, with an average article length of 1,500 words.
I used Ahrefs to find the keywords. My target KD score was 0 to get the really easy ones first, and then the goal is to move up the KD. I put together a large list of keywords, put together an outline that my competitors were doing, and then assigned in Trello to my writing agency. When finished writing, they provide me with a Google Doc, which is sent to my VA in Trello, who then formats the article. I then do a final review and publish it.
Here is the cost breakdown:
- Content: $1,279
- VA Fees: 32.94
The goal is to continue adding content over the next 6 months at least.
Recreate Old Pages
Expire domains come with various pages that have pre-existing backlinks. It’s rare (and bad) that all backlinks point to your home page. A healthy backlinks profile should have links to your homepage and sub-pages.
Looking in AHREFS -> Pages -> Best By Links,you can identify the best pages with backlinks. Here is an example of my top pages:
As you can see, I have many pages with backlinks (that’s great!).
The next steps are as follows:
- Analyze each page’s backlinks. Review the backlinks to each individual URL on the site. Check if those backlinks are quality.
- If the backlinks are quality, recreate the pages on your site. Have an article written that is on the EXACT same topic, or if you already have an article written with the same EXACT topic, then do a 301 Redirect.
- If the backlinks are poor, ignore the page. No need to recreate.
Important note: you may not always be able to recreate the exact same URL on your site. Many old sites use a date approach, e.g., URL.com/2015/05/02/xxxxx-yyyyy, whereas modern sites tend to use permalink structure of URL.com/xxxx-yyyy.
The best approach here is to create the page with content with the new modern URL structure. Then use a plugin like Easy Redirects Manager, and take the EXACT url of the old page from AHREFS, and redirect that to the new page on your site. That will pass all of the benefits to the new page.
This process can be time-consuming but well worth it. You do not want any of those amazing backlinks to go to waste.
That’s if for May 2020
June 2020 Update
Since May had the bulk of the work to get the site stabilized with a strong foundation, June was focused on just adding more content.
In June, I added 24,802 words of content.
As for costs, I bulk paid for the content in May 2020 so there were no additional costs in June for content.
Most of the months going forward will be like this: add new content, track rankings, and wait.
Full Cost Breakdown by Month
Here is a breakdown of my ongoing costs by month:
- Continue adding content, content, and then more content
- Interlink the content together
- Create pillar pages to support all of these articles
- Backlink audit to potentially remove any bad links (optional but I like to do this)
In general, it’s all focused on content for a while.
Until more traffic comes in, it makes no sense to do Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), or add in affiliate links. Time is valuable. If I am spending time optimizing pages that get no traffic or minimal traffic now, it takes away from my other projects.
For beginners working on a single site though, if you have pages that are getting a few visitors daily, you should optimize it for earnings. The reason for this is that that could result in an affiliate sale thus giving you a boost in confidence.
I will keep you all posted on the progress on this site. The project is showing a ton of promise!
Let me know if you have any questions!