Usually, when you use the term “shortcut to success” in the SEO world you will have a few raised eyebrows and skeptical expressions. But – when implemented correctly – that’s exactly what an aged domain can do for you on the SERP.
Is it something you should do for your very first content-driven website? Probably not – you don’t know what you don’t know yet and starting a website from scratch will help you in the long term.
But is using an aged domain a great strategy for a more experienced SEO? Absolutely. SerpNames is a boutique-sized aged domain marketplace led by someone who already has 8 years of experience in this industry – despite being only 21 years old.
Let’s take a deep dive look at SerpNames and – along the way – get to know its owner a bit better.
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What Is SerpNames?
SerpNames is an aged domain marketplace that offers a variety of niches in a wide price range. At the time of writing this article in March 2022, they had domains ranging from $399 up to $12,000.
Who Owns The Company?
Sumit Bansal is the owner of the company, having founded SerpNames in December 2016 at the age of just 15. He’s also built a supporting team around the company – including:
- Rahul Kumar – their chief technician
- Sunita Sandhu – SerpName’s copywriter
- Vinay Narkar – Customer care
- Mohammad Faiz – Domain analyst
- Ravi – the company’s back-end operations manager
What Is The Value In Buying An Aged Domain?
In short – it saves you time and money.
SEO on steroids
Buying aged domains will help your site rank – but it must be done correctly. Let’s take the following scenario, using an aged domain as a 301 re-direct to an existing site:
Maintaining consistency between your existing site and the aged domain is essential to implement this SEO strategy. Let’s imagine your company is in the wedding business, and your website is all about this industry. Purchasing an aged domain with a CBD focus and using it as a 301 re-direct to your wedding site is (obviously) not a good idea.
Assume you’re the user browsing Google, and you’re looking for some CBD products. When you click on the expired domain, you’re taken to a wedding-related website through a 301 redirect. This would be detrimental to both user experience and SEO.
In a 2020 interview, Google’s John Mueller said that the company accepts that sometimes domains are passed on from one owner to another, or that sometimes a domain is brought back to life. He describes these scenarios as “normal situations”.
However, he adds the caveat that Google doesn’t like when expired/aged domains are used to “abuse the system”. He explains this as when someone picks up expired and aged domains to use them for something totally unrelated to what they were previously used for. It makes common sense not to do this, right?
TL: DR – aged and expired domains can give you great SEO juice. Just make sure you use them sensibly. (See our detailed guide to re-directing aged domains to your main site here)
Age of domain
“Does domain age really matter?” is one of the more debated questions in the world of SEO, and the answer (like most things SEO) is “it depends”. Analytical tool SerpWoo veers on the side of domain age being very important – whereas Google’s John Mueller said in a 2019 Tweet “No, domain age helps nothing”.
So the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
But look at it even from the point of a consumer’s point of view. What kind of site are you more likely to trust and spend money on? One that’s had an Internet footprint for a few years? Or one that’s brand new?
A more aged domain will also help you escape from the Google Sandbox faster. This is a filter Google added in 2004 to keep as many spammy sites out of the SERP as possible.
Getting links from sites The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The New York Times and even Wikipedia are the stuff of dreams for most website owners. Getting Backlinks from authority sites tells Google “hey – you trust our site and we trust this site over here too, so give it a chance”.
Let’s look at this with an example on the SerpNames inventory. I checked an aged domain for sale in the web design niche.
The domain itself has an Afrefs DR of 50 – pretty strong in itself.
But what about the Backlinks?
I clicked on “image” below the Backlinks tab on the dashboard – and the Backlinks didn’t disappoint. At the top was a website linking to the domain from a very well-known brand in the marketing industry – Ad Week. Straight away – if I was interested in this niche – this domain would capture my interest for further investigation.
A good Domain Authority/Domain Rating
Domain Rating is an Ahrefs proprietary ranking statistic that measures the strength of a target website’s or URL’s whole backlink profile on a scale of one to one hundred. Alternatively, Domain Authority (DA) is a Moz predictor that serves as a ranking indicator for how websites appear in search engine result pages.
DA/DR is something else that Google says they don’t factor when ranking a website and some SEOs see DA/DR as a vanity metric. But here’s the thing: an aged domain with great and numerous Backlinks tends to have a great DA/DR – the two of them go hand in hand.
If I was domain hunting on my own without a guiding hand from a marketplace like SerpNames I would certainly take DA and DR ratings with a pinch of salt. They can easily be pumped and fabricated.
DA/DR can be manipulated
Craig Campbell – an SEO veteran – demonstrates very well in this video how he spotted that a website with a DR of 45 was manipulated to get to this rating. Fortunately, companies like SerpNames vastly reduce the risk of buying aged domains with disingenuous DR and DR figures.
High DA/DR means keyword scalpers are more likely to stay away
A strong DA/DR number on an aged domain will also keep keyword scalpers at bay. Keyword scalping is when someone with a website in the same niche as yours – but with a higher DA/DR – puts your website’s URL into Ahrefs and takes all your ranking keywords.
This seems to be a growing trend that leaves websites built on fresh domains open to losing their ranking positions. Having a DR/DA of even 20 or more will give a scalper pause for thought before pilfering your keyword research and hard work.
Quality of Domains At SerpNames
Spam & Penalty-Free
Sumit has written an entire guide on spam checking aged domains on his blog: https://serpnames.com/spam-checking-methods-of-aged-domains/
They carry out some serious and excellent due diligence on their domains.
- Spammy backlinks: They check thoroughly for any spammy backlinks on Ahrefs.
- ViewScreenshots: They use this website to check the archive snapshots if it was used for spammy purposes.
- Archive: They use archive.org to check the domain manually for every month and year.
- Archive redirection: They check if the domain was 301 in the past to a suspicious website or not.
- Anchor texts: They check anchor texts to see if they were spammy or not.
- Best by links: They check if there’s any spammy page indexed or not in “best by links” on Ahrefs.
- Redirect backlinks: They check if the domain is not getting backlinks from other domains.
- Google index: They check if the domain is indexed or not.
- Bing index: They also check the domain on Bing Index to see if it’s indexed or not.
- Cache: Sumit “It’s useful to check the cache of a domain. Google sometimes records the history of the latest spammy archive and we can find that in cache”
- Deindexed: If a domain is deindexed, they check to see if it was offline for some time or not.
- Subdomains: They check if the link juice is spread among subdomains or not. Sumit: “If it is it’s a bad choice”
- Organic keywords: They check organic keywords to see if they are spammy indexed or not.
- Traffic spike: If there’s a traffic spike then it’s a red signal to Sumit and his team.
- Netsoltrademark Backlinks: They check to see if most backlinks are pointing to the right pages or not.
- GSC spam-check: Finally, they check the domain in GSC to see if it has a penalty or not.
How Often Is The Inventory Updated?
They update their inventory 3 times a month (every 10 days). They promote the new domains to their subscribers first via email on every 1st, 10th & 20th and then the unsold ones go into inventory.
There’s no specific time for inventory update, but they usually update it a couple of days after their email broadcast.
What Payment Methods Are Accepted?
They accept credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers, and Payoneer.
What Is The Domain Transfer Process?
As soon as the payment is complete, Sumit’s team gets in touch within 12 hours asking for registrar details. The transfer is done within 24 hours.
Interview with SerpNames founder Sumit Bansal
(Additionally, Sumit also did a recent interview with The Affiliate School. A lot of my questions below are covered and answered in it, but it’s still worth a look.)
How did you get interested in domain investing and tell us about the history of SerpNames
It all started with me dropping out of school at the age of 16. I started event blogging just to earn some bucks. To boost those blogs I started scraping aged domains and that’s when I first experienced their potential.
When I realized there was a demand for those domains in SEO, I started selling them too. I founded the company with the name DominatingPBNs which later became SerpNames.
What precisely are aged domains, and why are they so valuable?
- Aged domains are simply domain names with a history.
- They are valuable because of authority backlinks.
- SEOs invest in aged domains to save thousands of dollars on link-building and rank faster than new domains.
What are the platforms you use for purchasing and selling domain names?
We buy from various auctions like GoDaddy, NameJet, SnapNames, DropCatch, etc. For selling, we use our inventory, i.e., dash.serpnames.com.
What exactly is a “domain drop,” and how important is it in your industry?
- Expired domains and dropped domains are the same. Period.
- Domain drop means the registrar has dropped, i.e., deleted the domain name, and anyone can register it anywhere at a regular price of around $10/year.
- The “domain drop” isn’t important for us because good domains keep dropping, and drop-catching platforms like DropCatch.com sell those domains for thousands of dollars.
- Hence, dropped domains are equal to aged domains (non-dropped) as long as they’ve strong backlinks and are relevant.
You can read about drop catching here.
Do you ever deal with platforms like Sedo, Afternic, and Dan.com?
We do, especially Sedo.
Why is it important to have a strong backlink profile in an aged domain?
- People invest in aged domains to reduce link-building costs and benefit from existing authority.
- Google trusts strong backlinks because they are hard to acquire.
- Thus, aged domains rank faster than new domains, and SEOs save thousands of dollars.
How does your company make absolutely sure an aged domain has a robust backlink profile?
We manually analyze domains for strong backlinks, spam, and penalties. You can read more about it here:
What are the dangers of purchasing a domain with a bad backlink profile?
Manual Penalty: A bad or spammy backlink profile domain could have an existing manual penalty. We can’t know it until we purchase the domain and check it in GSC. Such domains are useless and a waste of time and money. That’s why careful spam-checking is very important for aged domains.
Poor Performance: You may not see faster rankings with a bad backlink profile domain because there’s no link juice. The stronger the domain, the better possibility of faster rankings.
What has changed about your average customer over time?
A couple of years back, most customers bought aged domains for building PBN.
The domains were cheap, and SEOs were not into building a website or doing 301 redirection using aged domains.
However, slowly and gradually, more SEOs started using aged domains, and the demand and prices skyrocketed.
A $100 domain would easily cost a few thousand dollars now compared to 5 years ago. Nowadays, most people use aged domains to build websites and 301 instead of PBN. So that was a change in the past few years for our customers.
What variables influence how you price your aged domains for sale?
Many factors are involved in pricing our domains, but the major ones are niche, backlinks, and brand-ability.
We consider past traffic to some extent in our pricing; however, many domains are performing excellently with no traffic history, so it’s not a big part of it.
We also use metrics like DR and DA, but backlinks and niches stand on the top.
Pricing also depends on the supply vs demand factor. People are ready to pay higher for domains in niches like insurance, cannabis, than food, music, etc. It keeps changing.
Do you employ 301 redirects to maximize the power of a domain?
301 redirects is an excellent strategy. My clients and I use it to boost existing websites. You can use 301 for a website built on an aged or a new domain. It doesn’t matter.
While doing 301, we have to pick a strong domain. I prefer 100+ referring domains and as relevant as possible.
What does the future hold for domain investment?
The increasing demand and prices of aged domains could make them more valuable in the next few years. Moreover, the SEO benefit will always be there, and one can take advantage to rank faster on Google.
The only thing is, dead domains lose their value, i.e., backlinks over time.
So the ROI could be less in the future due to competition, however, investing in aged domains would be a good choice.
What makes an aged domain a smart purchase?
Investing in aged domains is a smart purchase, as the growing competition speaks itself. You save thousands of dollars in link building, and the existing authority helps you rank faster than new domains.
Finding aged domains on your own vs SerpNames. Why use you?
Finding domains cost 2 things, i.e. Time & Expertise.
You can learn how to analyze and find domains easily. Just Google or search on YouTube. However, the most expensive thing is time and strong and clean aged domains are scarce. Finding a perfect domain takes a lot of patience, and sometimes it can take weeks or months.
If your time is more valuable, you can buy from a company that has already got your dream domain. But if you’re starting and don’t have any specific plans, you can invest your time to find a domain at a very low price.
So it ultimately differs from person to person.
What would you say the main benefits of SerpNames are?
When you buy from SerpNames you can rest assured about the quality of the domain. With my 8 years of working experience with aged domains, my team and I have analyzed over 12 million domains. Secondly, we have dedicated technical support in place for our customers and we go out of the way to make it hassle-free for them.
Finally, what is one thing the company can improve on?
We want to start with marketing. Till now we have only relied on organic growth as we were focusing more on improving our internal processes.
Wrapping Up – It’s Free To Sign Up, So Why Not Give It a Try?
I enjoyed my experience using SerpNames. It has a smooth dashboard, a good selection of niches, and prices that are beginner/intermediate friendly. Additionally, its owner Sumit goes above and beyond when answering any queries – they’re dealt with fast and thoroughly. You also can’t help but admire an SEO entrepreneur garnering such success at such a young age.
It’s important to remember however that aged domains from any marketplace are not a get-rich-quick shortcut to strong results. You still have to put in the work after you purchase your aged domains, invest in new content, perhaps build more backlinks in the future, and more besides.
But purchasing a well-vetted aged domain from SerpNames will give you the right foundation to build on. Think of it as the digital equivalent of buying a great brick-and-mortar business where the owner looked after it very well, but now they’re retiring and their business needs a new owner who’s willing to put the effort in.
SerpNames is definitely worth signing up for and browsing – there are no downsides to taking a look at this marketplace and Sumit’s strong due diligence process on the domains gives me peace of mind.