Expired domains are becoming an ever more important factor when it comes to SEO. This post is brought to you by Dan, an expert when it comes to expired domains. Dan is a niche site builder & local SEO consultant. He also runs Domain Colosseum, an expired domain market place.
In the past six months I’ve looked at well over 1000 expired domains. I’ve ranked dozens of keywords in a variety of niches and I’ve built a ton of sites for my personal network as well as clients.
As you can imagine when you look at that many domains you start to notice trends. For example, excessive blog comments often lead to low TF scores, even if there are a few credible backlinks. Sites that have made use of automated SEO software tools such as GSA can have strong metrics across the board.
When you’re hunting for expired domains what metrics actually matter? And more importantly what story are they telling you?
If you’re not interested in the theory behind each metric you can click here to scroll to the bottom of the post where I discuss exactly what I look for. You can also see how I find expired domains
SEO Metrics Demystified
MOZ: DA, PA and mR: What Are They & Where Can I Find Them?
Open Site Explorer produces three important metrics: DA, PA and mR.
Domain Authority (DA) is MOZ’s best predication of how a site will perform in search engines, while Page Authority is an estimate of how well any given page will perform in the SERPs.
Lastly, MozRank (mR) reflect a sites importance on the web. MozRank is very similar to google PR in the sense that it doesn’t measure where a website ought to rank in the SERP’s but rather it gives us an indication of how powerful it’s out bound links ought to be.
Of course, how well a page performs is directly related to how powerful the domain that that page is on. So as you might expect, PA is highly reliant on DA.
You can find these a number of ways. We mainly look at DA and PA, so the tools we use are:
SEO Toolbar by Moz – This is a browser tool for Chrome and Firefox. It inserts a small bar near the top of your browser that displays the PA and DA of the current web page you are viewing. It’s probably the fastest way to get a quick overview of the power of a site if you’re doing a lot of comparisons looking for domains (or checking competition while doing KW research).
99webTools Bulk DA/PA Checker – An amazing free tool for bulk checking up to 200 sites at once. This is handy if, like us, you often find yourself with a list of hundreds or thousands of domains you want to check the metrics for.
Open Site Explorer by Moz – The in-depth link tool by Moz, which provides all the Moz metrics as well as shows you the links on a site, similar to MajesticSEO and Ahrefs. We don’t usually use this because you only get 3 entries per day if you don’t have the pro version. We prefer to check DA and PA with the tools above and then do our link analysis with Majestic or Ahrefs.
MOZ PA & DA: What Can They Tell Me?
DA is the primary metric we use when selling expired domains over at Domain Colosseum, however it isn’t without fault.
For starters, a domain can have an incredible DA but it may not pass any link juice. Sites that have been de-indexed permanently will still carry their DA & PA scores. For example I bought this domain www.ptta.info for a client. I knew it had some shady history but it looked promising so I picked it up.
ptta.info has a PA of 28, DA of 20 and a mR of 3.44. Not incredible metrics but the website was highly relevant and offered a few relevant directory links. Nearly two months later it hasn’t indexed.
Pro Tip: Before you spend time and money building a site out make sure it indexes using our three minute indexation hack.
It’s unlikely that MOZ will ever be able to predict this. As it would require incredible accuracy in determining whether a site has been de-indexed due to spam issues or de-indexed because it hasn’t been registered for a period of time.
On top of this, sites that have been blasted with automated, spammy links that end up with some of the best metrics. I run into URLs such as “buycheapuggs.com” on a daily basis. I’ve experimented with a few of these and to date I’ve never been able to get any of these re-indexed.
Three sites that have incredible metrics that will never be re-indexed.
Another downfall of DA and PA is the credibility it gives to blog commenting.
This particular URL: www.rvdreamers.com has a DA of 24 and a PA of 28. I prefer the PA to be >30 but regardless, those are still some reasonable metrics.
However, when you dive deeper you’ll find that 61% of it’s anchor text is “Shannon”. This screams blog comments, lots and lots of blog comments. Blog comments aren’t necessarily a terrible thing and if you were to build an RV parts site this would be a terrific domain to build it on top of.
In terms of link juice? You’re probably not going to get a whole lot out of this particular domain.
If you can avoid the common pitfalls (poor quality links, spammed de-indexed domains) associated with following DA & PA they’re actually very good indicators.
A Few Other Notes About PA/DA
One thing to keep in mind when you’re hunting for a badass domain is DA & PA are both measured on a logarithmic scale. So every single point increase makes a domain 10 times more powerful.
As such, finding domains with DA +30/PA +40 that are clean are incredibly difficult and usually will be fairly expensive to purchase.
The other thing to remember is when you see a PA of 1 and a DA of 22 it doesn’t mean the website is garbage. It means you’re not looking at the most powerful page on the website.
As a rule of thumb after you redirect all of the link juice to one page on the website, the PA will be approximately equal to the DA +10. So, if we were to register rvdreamers.com and install link juice keeper over time the PA should increase by several points.
MajesticSEO: CF and TF: What Are They & Where Can I Find Them?
Citation Flow, and Trust Flow are the metrics put out by Majestic SEO. Trust flow is a metric that I particularly like and one that can help to weed out the garbage that doesn’t get picked up by DA or PA.
Citation flow is an indicator, which helps establish authority based on the number of links pointing to a site.
Trust flow measures those the trust, or power, of those links.
As for what tools we use for this, we typically head on over to MajesticSEO.com because we’ll look at both the metrics and the links at the same time, but there are toolbars available for Chrome and Firefox for a quick check while you’re viewing a web page.
MajesticSEO: CF and TF What Can They Tell Us?
As I mentioned above, trust flow is a metric I find particularly useful. It measures the quality and relevance of links that are pointing to any given domain.
Generally speaking if a site has a low trust flow, it has links from spammy corridors of the web (though you will find low TF sites that are completely clean and legitimate, particularly if they only have a handful of links). If you take the trust flow of a website and divide it by the citation flow you get the Trust Ratio (TR). The higher the ratio the better the links are. This doesn’t always translate to a better domain.
If you’re a serious about building out a private blog network, Majestic is a must. Trust flow is the best metric for weeding out spammy, worthless domains.
Although it’s great at identifying spam, I find it tougher to establish whether a site is so-so or kick-ass from Majestic. Generally OSE & Ahrefs do a better job of that.
Ahrefs: Domain Rank and URL Rank What Are They & Where Can I Find Them?
Similar to Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs provides a statistic for the page and one for the domain. AR & DR.
Ahrefs is trying to mimic Google’s PR formula. Ahrefs Rank works like this:
Each page on the web is provided with a ranking 0-100. Each page can pass a maximum of 80% of it’s link juice (it can probably pass less, however they don’t discuss how little it can pass)
If a page has a rating of 62.5, has 5 do-follow links and passes 80% of it’s juice each link receives a rating of 10.
The page receives this link and all of the other links (including internal links) and that establishes it’s AR.
Head on over to Ahrefs.com to find these metrics by typing in a URL in the search bar.
Ahrefs: Domain Rank and URL Rank What Can It Tell Us?
If I had to use one, and only one link checking service this would be the one. Remember RVdreamers?
It scores a pathetic 16 AR & 21 DR in Ahrefs. In my experience Ahrefs does a better job of filtering crap out then PA/DA and a slightly worse job then TF.
However it is probably less accurate than DA & PA when it comes to measuring how powerful a clean domain is.
Because I have access to all three tools I don’t use Ahrefs as often as the other two major link checkers. It’s probably the best stand alone tool, but it’s less effective than the other tools combined.
I do use it for checking for spam because the indexes on all three tools vary slightly. I believe Ahref’s index is actually the largest and the most accurate. The index will primarily impact the anchor text profile and pick up trace amounts of spam that the other 2 tools sometimes miss.
Google PageRank: What Is It And Where Can We Find It?
A dinosaur. ZING!
Jokes aside, PageRank is Google’s personal indicator of how powerful a site is. It’s measured on a scale from 0-10 and is rarely updated for us to see. PageRank can be found from a number of sources, but I personally use 99webtools.com. Toolbars are available, too, as well as a bunch of other websites, so do a search depending on your browser if you want to add a toolbar for a quick check when browsing.
Here is a list of the most recent PR updates:
- December 2013
- February 2013
- November 2012
- August 2012
- May 2012
- February 2012
- November 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- Jan 2011
- April 2010
- December 2009
- October 2009
- May 2009
- June 2009
- April 2009
- December 2008
- September 2008
- July 2008
- April 2008
- January 2008
- October 2007
- April 2007
As you can see it used to receive frequent updates. I have a couple of theories why Google no longer updates PR.
First off there are an abundance of quality tools that help us establish a websites authority.
Pagerank isn’t used to determine where a site ranks in the SERPs. It’s used to determine how powerful a domain is. Giving us an up to date measuring stick that comes directly from the source only makes it easier for private blog network owners to hunt domains to manipulate the search engine. Why would Google want to provide information that is predominately used by the SEO community while we break their TOS?
Backlink Profile: What Is It And Where Can We Find It?
This is pretty straight forward, backlink profiles are the links pointing to any given domain. Despite what anybody says, backlinks still govern how the search engines behave. The most accurate way to determine the quality of a site is to go straight to the source and look at the backlinks. To accurately check a sites backlink profile you should make use of several tools. As I discussed above, each tool has a different index, which means slightly different backlinks will be picked up.
Why aren’t more folks using backlinks to build out their PBNs?
I have two theories.
The first one is that we’re lazy and we assume OSE/Majestic/Ahrefs will do a better job analyzing the links for us.
My second theory – I don’t think most people have the tools to correctly analyze an entire sites profile.
Let’s talk about RV dreamers. Remember it had a decent DA/PA at 24/28, an awful TF, a decent CF and poor Ahref’s metrics.
Now let’s assume another site, RV Schemers has a link from RV dreamers. How do we measure that link? Not only do we have to correctly analyze how solid RV dreamers is, we then need to find where the link is. Is it contextual, is in the footer, is it on one page or across the entire site? Is the link follow or no-follow?
Now do this for the 112 referring domains and get back to me to let me know how solid a domain is.
Without a wealth of experience and the right tools you’re sunk.
Backlink Profile: What Can It Tell Us?
If you take the time to analyze an entire backlink profile it will tell you everything you need to know about the SEO power of a domain. However, there aren’t enough folks in the market place who have the skill set and/or time to use the backlink profile correctly.
Here is a few things you can do.
Check no-follow versus follow. A site needs to have at least 2 or 3 good follow links. If it doesn’t have any, pass on it.
Check the top links.
Make sure the top links are actually relevant sites and not spammy. There is nothing wrong with Chinese links with Chinese anchor text if they’re relevant (Google Translate is your friend here), however there is something wrong with a link from a Chinese stock broker website pointing to an American RV blog. That doesn’t add up.
So, did this help demystify some of the metrics surrounding networks and domains?
Let us know below if you have any other questions, Curt and I will be happy to answer anything that comes up. Hopefully you’ll be more confident when you’re picking up domains and building your very own network, now that you know the basics plus a few insider tips on utilizing and reading these metrics.