Google’s John Mueller responds to a query concerning expired domains and potential bonuses.
Google’s John Mueller answered whether restarting material on a parked site would have any ranking benefit in a Google Office-hours chat. John Mueller, a Google engineer, explained how the company handles expired domains.
Parked And Expired Domains
An expired domain is one that has already been registered but has been allowed to expire, allowing it to be re-registered by someone else.
A parked domain is one that has been registered but not used.
Many customers mistakenly believe they are purchasing an expired domain from a domain broker when they are actually purchasing a parked domain that was previously registered.
Authority Of Expired Domains?
The person asking the question wanted to know if there was any “authority” leftover from a parked domain that would cause Google to index and rank the domain more quickly.
While Mueller did not address the question of website authority in his response, he has previously stated categorically that Google does not utilize any form of authority metric.
This is the question:
“I have a domain that hasn’t been used in four years. The blog I had was doing great in its niche. But because I didn’t want to sell it I deleted all the content and left the domain parked.
I want to revive the content on it but I want to take a slightly different approach.
My question is, does Google need to learn about my blog again as if it was new or do I have a better chance to be an authority in my niche faster than usual because of this old domain?”
John Mueller of Google Talks About Expired Domain
Google And Expired Domains
John Mueller confirms that there is no ranking benefit to using an expired domain and outlines what the following steps are from an SEO standpoint.
“So if the content was gone for a couple of years, probably we need to figure out what this site is, kind of essentially starting over fresh.
So from that point of view I wouldn’t expect much in terms of kind of bonus because you had content there in the past.
I would really assume you’re going to have to build that up again like any other site.
Like, if you have a business and you close down for four years and you open up again then it’s going to be rare that customers will remember you and say oh yeah I will go to this business.
And it looks completely different. They offer different things. But it used to exist.
I think that situation is going to be rare in real life …if you will, as well.
So I would assume that you’re essentially starting over, here.
This is also one of the reasons why it usually doesn’t make sense to go off and buy expired domain in the hope that you’ll get some kind of a bonus out of using those expired domains.”
Expired Domains Have No Ranking Bonus
Mueller’s argument that expired domain have no bonus does not surprise those of us with twenty years or more of SEO experience.
We already knew this because our generation of SEOs pioneered the practice of buying expired domains and lived through the time when Google issued an algorithm update to address it.
We’ve seen firsthand how expired domain can help websites rank higher.
Not only were they useful for ranking, but we could see how much PageRank they offered on Google’s toolbar.
Holdover PageRank was found on more than simply expired domain. A PageRank source could also be a link to a broken domain.
A crawler was launched on a popular website, and the outbound links that produced a 404 Page Not Found error message were reviewed.
So SEOs bought those domains, which were usually misspellings, and then redirected them to affiliate sites. The PageRank would start to flow in a matter of weeks, and the affiliate site would begin to rank higher.
Buying misspelled domains with a lot of inbound links and buying expired domains were all part of a PageRank recycling scheme to help sites rank without having to develop links.
They were shortcuts for creating links.
Google Algorithm Already Handles Expired Domains
When Google discovered the technique, they updated their links-related algorithm to reset the PageRank of expired domains back in 2003.
Those who are new to SEO and have less than five years of experience and believe in expired domains may be surprised by this.
However, since 2003, Google’s system has reset the PageRank and link effect of expired domains.
Google Expired Domains Update Announcement
A Google engineer with the WebmasterWorld handle of GoogleGuy made the news about restoring PageRank for expired domains.
Matt Cutts was GoogleGuy the majority of the time.
Other Google search engineers, on the other hand, utilized that identity to make announcements in the name of the company.
Google stated the following in a WebmasterWorld post titled “Good News About Expired Domains”:
“Hey, the index is going to be coming out real soon, so I wanted to give people some idea of what to expect for this index. Of course it’s bigger and deeper (yay!), but we’ve also put more of a focus on algorithmic improvements for spam issues.
One resulting improvement with this index is better handling of expired domains–the authority for a domain will be reset when a domain expires, even though dangling links to the expired domain are still out on the web. “
An expired domain might still rank, according to Google, but not because of any pre-existing links, which were no longer counted.
“…you can get that domain into Google; you just won’t get credit for any pre-existing links. “
GoogleGuy also pointed out that expired domains with existing penalties will continue to be penalised.
“Right now the penalties can remain on a domain. So you’ll want to do your research before you buy a domain.”
PageRank resetting wasn’t limited to expired domains. The PageRank of misspelled domains was also reset as well.
The market for expired domains collapsed soon after and people pretty much stopped buying them.
Resurgence Of Expired Domain Buying
Then, 10 years later, a new generation of SEOs came along and unearthed expired domains, unaware of Google’s history of ensuring they were no longer active.
The whole situation with the expiring domain started all over again.
Anecdotal evidence may be discovered to back up almost every SEO strategy. There are also strong supporters of ineffective techniques such as comment spam. It’s hardly strange, then, that something like expired domains would resurface.
Adversarial Information Retrieval
- Google has the ability to prevent PageRank from flowing from links in the sidebar and footer.
- Depending on whether the link is relevant, Google can limit how much PageRank goes from one site to another
Because there is no meaningful context for the link.
- Google can prevent PageRank from moving from one site to another.
Those Google data are familiar to most SEOs.
However, some SEOs believe that Google is ineffective and unable to reset the PageRank of expired domains when it comes to expired links.
Google has nearly 20 years of experience dealing with search engine manipulation, including expired domains (which is documented above).
Adversarial Information Retrieval is a term used to describe the process of building search algorithms that are resistant to manipulation.
In a world of Natural Language Processing, BERT, and MUM, and given that Google announced a PageRank reset for expired domains in 2003, it may be argued that claiming that all it takes to overcome Google is to buy an expired name pushes the boundaries of reality.