Category Archives: Expired Domains

PENGUIN-PROOF Link Building with Expired Domains

This is a complex process so we will take our time to review all details involved.

For many years, I have acquired aftermarket domains (also termed expired domains or dropped domains) and using other’s people forgotten, ignored, or otherwise disinterested projects as an alternative to link building which for the most part is considered webspam by Google.

To be clear, Google’s SEO support page does not even list link building as part of the SEO Practitioner’s repertoire.

Be that as it may, if you need to create or advise others about what links you need or what link anchors are preferred you are actually doing SEO wrong.

When Google launched PENGUIN in the spring of 2012, it sent a negative ripple across the SEO landscape. Websites that focused on cheap links (webspam) as a means to tilt the playing field in their favor were caught off balanced when PENGUIN righted that ship. This post is not about fixing a PENGUIN issue it is however about avoiding PENGUIN altogether.

If you have an existing PENGUIN devaluation, you likely need dedicated paid assistance. As quoted by Matt Cutts in the original release notes for PENGUIN 1.0:

Reference: Another Step to Reward High-Quality Sites

Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.

When you tie this to Google endorsement for what SEO Practitioners should be doing as “Whitehat” you can get a sense that all forms of direct to page (and unearned) link development is purely link webspam.

While I don’t condone producing webspam I do believe leveraging what you have against what you need is a competitive advantage one must use so that you can put yourself into a position where you do not ever need to develop any webspam.

That’s a difficult challenge for most since most don’t really contemplate what webspam really is.

Domains that are new to the optimization arena are disadvantaged not because they are inferior to the current competitive landscape but because don’t have some X-factor to offset the fact that they are new to the game. To mirror whitehat ideals, that is, “to not violate search engines’ Terms of Services (TOS)” requires an enormous amount of investment. Most companies can ill afford risking such levels of investment without having a guaranteed lock on ROI for that upfront investment and as Google suggests, no one can guarantee results, thus we have a paradox.

That’s why so many, rightly or wrongly, venture down the webspam road.

This post is just a different road to follow. If you digest it and adopt it, you will change the pattern PENGUIN is looking for and therefore you change the outcome and avoid being devalued by it.

PENGUIN Avoidance

PENGUIN focuses on unnatural patterns to detect results manipulation. Primarily (but not exclusively) this manipulative pattern centers on (for this discussion) unnatural use of the link anchor text which paints a bulleye (I AM SPAM!) on your targeted page if you happen to pass a certain threshold.

That isn’t the only factor under consideration but for the purposes of this discussion, it is our focus.

First, let us define webspam “Webspam is an attempt to manipulate against the relevant or intended calculations of a search engine”. In the context of link webspam, this would be the creation of artificially obtained links. Most often, these are associated with links that pass PageRank and by design, target a specific phrase with commercial value. This methodology usually has some form of payment exchange that circumvents the ideals as the intended “earned” calculations of a search engine’s algorithm.

One form of link webspam commonly deployed is the use of article submissions. That is:

Article submission generally refers to the writing of articles that are relevant to your online business and then getting them added to the popular article submission directories with the expressed purpose of acquiring an attractive anchored backlinks to your domain.

These are in fact according to Google’s TOS:

The following are examples of link schemes, which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”)
  • Linking to web spammers or unrelated sites with the intent to manipulate PageRank
  • Building partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site

Reporting Paid Links

The link resident party acquires your services to provide them original content. The pretense of that service hinges on your desire to acquire the attractive backlink to your domain. Sorry but that is the webspam part.

Wherever that newly developed content resides – that’s where the potential of backlinks can naturally grow.

However, in our infinite wisdom to get ahead when the newly developed page is preordained to provide the backlink (not receive it) that produces an easily discernible and very unnatural pattern. Hence, PENGUIN detection!

Google provides the clues to succeed in their SEO support while avoiding link development.

Reference: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Many SEOs and other agencies and consultants provide useful services for website owners, including:

  • Review of your site content or structure
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript
  • Content development
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • Keyword research
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies.

This is all you need to do to get ahead. Get new and improved content on your domain.

The reason why Google avoids discussion link development (my professional opinion only)… if you have the right mix of compelling content links will flow to you naturally. You can certainly do a lot to induce links to you but anything you do on other domains that require Google to index a purposely built backlink requires you to also include rel=“nofollow” so it does not manipulate results.

Aftermarket domains are a way to get around that.

DISCLAIMER: I am certain you can manipulate with aftermarket domains just as you can using any other strategy so it can be perceived as just another form of webspam. However, it has merit to drive results without intentionally violating Google’s TOS.

Your Internal Site Architecture

Architecturally this strategy is based on building what I have coined the Backpath.

The BACKPATH is derived from BACKlink and PATHfinder.

A backlink is defined as a hypertext link received by a web page, directory, site, or domain from another web page, directory, site, or domain.

A pathfinder is a person who goes ahead and discovers or shows others a path or way; as in, “look what I found here,” or “here’s another take on the same question“.

In this way, a pathfinder will use backlinks to share topics of interest they have discovered with their readership. Over time, as more and more Pathfinders share their discoveries with their patronage a track-able growing Backpath of relatedness can be identified.

The more generations of relatedness there are from the primary source(s) of authorities to a definitive set of topics the more explosive the resulting output in ordered ranks can be realized.

In context, all backlinks, whether internal or external are provided exclusively for patrons of a domain to easily gather additional facts, details, or more value-added information that was not immediately present on the link resident page.

It goes without saying; you need to do some serious internal research if you are going to advance any domain in results without investing in webspam.

Thus, problem-solving architecture on any domain is an endless web of different nuances that cannot be easily demonstrated in but a few posts. Thus, we will limit this to discussion to a single page of content that was purpose-built for driving results in Google without any form of Google manipulation.

The original article you created for article submission could be that page. On a third party domain the domain owner has the rights to do as they wish with the navigational bars (header, sidebar, footer as well as in content advertorials) when you retain the article for your own domain you own these rights to the value-added components and for the most part internal navigation will never be considered webspam.

That is the first clue about what Google deems as an SEO Practitioner’s valid services. e.g. review of your site content or structure, technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript, content development, keyword research and expertise in specific markets and geographies as some of their suggestions.

That page (the article submission one) can be considered a landing page and you can deliver unprecedented returns to your domain starting from this page. If you structure your website from this point with a clearly define plan it will act as an internal filtering system which turns irrelevancy in link anchors (e.g. the “click here” phenomena normally associated with natural links) into highly relevant authority value.

While I commonly choose blogging technology to be that filtering system and do much of the manually, most any content management system will do. Learning how to use WordPress Multisite configuration can save you a lot of construction time however be forewarned you still need to use common sense. An internal network of landing pages can easily become a network of doorway pages, which simply turns a PENGUIN fix into a PANDA issue.

Once all the paid links (exact match anchor text link style or image advertorials) are purely internal navigational links you cannot get into trouble with PENGUIN.

Now simply “feed the beast!”

Aftermarket Domains

Many years ago, I started a domain for funeral homes in United States and found that searchers commonly looked for Cape Cod Funeral Homes and the like. However, Cape Cod is actually a body of water and there are no funeral homes in that neighborhood (or rather the body of water region) but that didn`t stop people from searching for them.

To avoid web spamming (like adding a doorway page for Cape Cod) I picked up an expired Cape Cod KID (Keyword in Domain) and redirected it to the state page of Massachusetts and in a matter of weeks that page was in top positions for Funeral Homes, Funeral Directors and all other phrase variants that include Cape Cod as part of the searching parameters.

That is an elegant solution. Others might simply create link anchors on pages indexed in Google to problem-solve never considering that would in fact violate Google’s TOS and the inherent devaluing gist of webspam.

There is nothing wrong with redirecting a domain to provide a solution to a problem. In fact, Google endorses the idea on their SEO Practitioners page.

In recent times with Google aggressively targeting link webspam the merits of aftermarket domains is at a premium and removes any chance of Google devaluing the links especially if you are merely redirecting the domain as you are not officially adding anything into Google to be considered as webspam.

If you advance the internal architecture of your website and merely redirected a few domains to the newly developed editorial pages you just created that starts your Backpath. Then with the help of internal breadcrumbs found in your header, sidebar, footer or in-text advertorials to such pages of commercial value you have build a structure that is webspam free.

It will produce dividends so you can invest in more appealing content and over time the natural links that follow.

I am sure you can equally create new and improved webspam that will remain undetectable to PENGUIN 2.0 but watch out for PENGUIN 3.0.

Expired Domain Strategies Do Not Violate Google’s TOS

If you plan to promote your website by considering and writing different ideas (or recording audiovisual components) for sharing with others and then spreading the word about those. That’s great!

But if your idea of spreading the word is in some way, shape, or form about forcing others to link to it using an exact match phrase you picked out that is not really whitehat SEO. It is just as shady as every other form of bad faith webspam.

Therefore, if your plan is to webspam anyway:

  1. It is best to use techniques that Google isn’t currently targeting as webspam practices, and
  2. doesn’t add anything new search engine results pages

This then is why I suggest using expired domains or commonly called aftermarket domains, dropped domains or otherwise defunct websites.

As I stated earlier, if you plan to promote your website by considering and writing different ideas (or recording audiovisual components) for sharing with others and then spreading the word about those then an expired domain strategy can be a very efficient and cost effective (as well as time-saving) method to remaining inside Google’s guidelines while generating great exposure for yourself.

The greatest value that any previously promoted expired domains has is that it is already included in the search engine archives. That generally means it is predominantly webspam free, or rather, if you don’t add content to the domain you are not intentionally building webspam that pollutes search engine results pages (SERP) you are simply spreading the word for your attempts at “just making your website better”.