Buying an expired domain: learnings on ranking capabilities

Last month, I published an article about buying an expired domain as part of a serie dedicated to building an MVP. Today, I would like to share my learnings on the ranking capabilities:

  • Does buying an expired domain with years of semantic history helps with the rankings?
  • Does buying an expired domain with live backlinks helps with the rankings?

As a reminder, buying an expired domain was not our main objective but more of an opportunity to go with a cool domain name: Poster Collective (as well as a way to gather learnings on the expired domain topic). In the first article, I covered the things to check before buying an expired domain. So here comes the first learning :p

#1 Check the brand name on Google

Well, I looked at everything except this specific part before buying the domain name. It turns out that three websites used the same name but with different ccTLD or with a dash to separate Poster from Collective. Another website was ranking for Poster Collective: Papercollective[.]com. Plus, some of them were also bidding on [Poster Collective].

At this moment, I knew things will become more complicated to be able to rank on our own domain name.

#2 40 days to rank on our brand name

It took exactly 40 days to rank on our brand name; the website went live on September 27th.

Ranking evolution by day. Source: Ahrefs
Ranking evolution by day. Source: Ahrefs

Before that, we essentially covered the main concepts of accessibility on our website so Google can easily discover our pages. We use Next SEO to easily manage these concepts:

  • Title, description, canonical, robots tag and open graphs.
  • Sitemap.xml and robots.txt.

On the very first days after the site went live, we get some impressions from our category and artists pages. It was an interesting hint to understand that not ranking on our brand name wasn’t a crawling / discoverability issue.

Number by impressions by day from Google Search Console
Number by impressions by day from Google Search Console

#3 Get new backlinks

  • Willing to share the learnings along the way, I published my first article on October 15th and I then added the link to our website on October 27th. Ahrefs discovered the link on October 29th.
  • In the same time, we published our new corporate website and included a link to our MVP (tldr; Poster Collective) on October 22nd. Ahrefs discovered the link on October 23rd.
  • We also added a link from our ecommerce website on November 4th. Ahrefs discovered the link on November 5th.
List of referring domains
List of referring domains. Source: Ahrefs

I believe these backlinks help in some ways to rank on our brand name. We already had backlinks leading to the old pages; before the domain name went expired. Even if we retrieved some of the old content or redirected the old URLs, I didn’t think it would help in this case.

#4 Get it wrong to get it valuable

If I hadn’t forgotten to google the name of the site to see what came up, I probably wouldn’t have recommended buying it for two reasons:

  • The uncertainty of being able to rank on the brand name.
  • The difference between the products offered by the above mentioned sites and ours.
Popular products displayed for query: Poster Collective
Popular products displayed for query: Poster Collective

Well, I would have been wrong!

Getting purchases from people looking for query: Poster Collective. November 4th to November 7th.

As always, it takes patience to get results when dealing with SEO. 🙂 In the next article, I will cover the technical aspect of SEO with Next JS.