In this guide we will show you exactly how to 301 your expired or auction domain to your website to leverage the link equity for better SEO results.
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
Step1: Host the expired domain
First of all, you want to get a reliable and robust hosting for your expired domain.
Personally, we can recommend CloudWays*, which offers cloud droplets from big hosting providers such as Digital Ocean, Vultr or Linode with the additional bonus of being completely managed. This is pretty straight forward if you don’t have the technical know-how to set up the servers yourself.
For a more detailed guide on how to host your domain, please refer to our hosting guide.
For the purpose of the 301, a small server with 1GB is totally sufficient. The costs for the smallest one will be around $10.00 / month, which is a great price for robust hosting.
Cloudways also offers you the option to pre-install WordPress on your expired domain, which is convenient, as we need it. Simple install a clean theme (like Hello Elementor or Astra) and keep it.
Step2: Copy & Match Money Site Content (optional - but helpful)
Now that you have hosted your domain and have a fresh WordPress installation to work with, we can get in the nuances of the 301 guide.
What you want to do is copy the content of 2-3 of your most valuable money pages on your website 1:1 to the expired domain with the exact same URL structure.
should be added to the expired domain like this:
To avoid duplicate content issues, you will add a rel-canonical tag to the newly created page/post on your expired domain.
By adding a canonical reference to the new page, you are basically pre-approving your 301, by telling Google that the original content source is your money site.
It should look like this (we used RankMath in this example, but you can do it with Yoast or other SEO plugins aswell).
Only do this for 1-3 of your money pages, that’s it.
Step3: Rebuild the inner pages of your expired domain
If the expired domain has some inner pages that have links pointed at them, you want to rebuild them with the exact same URL structure and some fresh content.
We recommend to use fresh content, as content from Wayback can lead to copyright issues.
To check, if the expired domain has some inner pages that we need to rebuild, we will use Ahrefs.
- Go to Ahrefs.com
- Enter your expire domain name into the site explorer.
- Click on to “best by links” in the side menu.
- Sort by referring domains.
Here’s an example of how it will look like:
For this example domain, the page https://www.usermeds.com/diseases/gerd-heartburn has some decent links pointed at it.
We want to rebuild that specific page with the exact URL structure and some fresh content to leverage the link equity of that page.
On the rebuild page, you want to make sure to add internal links to the homepage of the expired domain and the re-created pages from Step2 (if you did that).
If your expired domain does not have any inner pages with links (e.g. most links pointed at the homepage), there is no need to rebuild any pages and you can skip this step.
Step4: Create a M&A post to your money site.
Once your expired domain is set up, you want to add a “Merger & Acquisitions” post or article to your money site.
On this page you want to add some relevant content on how your company (e.g. money site) has acquired the company behind the expired domain and that you now have merged.
200-500 words are usually momre than enough. Make sure to add links to the top pages you want to rank.
And here’s how you could structure the content.
Step5: 301 the expired domain
Now we suggest to let the expired domain idle for a bit. 2-4 weeks until everything from the previous step has been indexed and crawled by Google.
Once that’s done, you can finally 301 the expired domain to your money site.
The best way to do that is via .htaccess with direct redirects like this:
- Homepage Expired Domain =>301 to=> Homepage Money Site
- Inner Pages (Step3) =>301 to=> Merger & Acquisition Post on Money Site
- Inner Pages (Step2) =>301 to=> the corresponding pages on your money site
You can easily generate the 301 codes for the .htaccess with Pixelkicks.
Now you have successfully 301’d your expired domain to your money site.
All that’s left to do is monitor your rankings and keywords to see if the 301 has a net positive effect on your rankings.
Unsure wether your domain will have a net positive effect on your SEO? Read our domain analysis guide to learn how to analyze the inherent authority of ANY domain.
4-8 weeks are a good timeframe to gauge results. Sometimes it can take longer. We'd give it a maximum of 6 months.
If you don't see positive effects by then it's time to drop the 301.
301 redirects are a great way to leverage the link equity of expired domains for better SEO results.
You can skip Step2, if you'd like. But we would definitely suggest to stick to all other steps as closely as you can for the best results of your 301.