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Google cracks down on expired domains used for SEO manipulation. Could Google kill the expired domain market?

In a move to combat spam and enhance the overall quality of search results, Google has unveiled a policy shift that shakes up the landscape of the expired domain market. The focal point of this update is a crackdown on the acquisition of expired domains solely for the purpose of artificially boosting the search rankings of subpar content.

Traditionally, certain search engine optimization (SEO) strategies involved procuring expired domains boasting established backlinks – links from other websites pointing to a specific domain. These backlinks served as signals of trust and authority for search engines, potentially influencing a website’s position in search results.

However, Google’s recent policy revision categorizes the acquisition of expired domains with the sole intent of manipulating backlinks and artificially inflating the rankings of mediocre content as spam. Websites engaging in such tactics may now face penalties from the tech giant.

Expired Domain and SEO Manipulation

In a policy change announced today in its Search blog about “Expired Domain Abuse,” Google said:

“Occasionally, expired domains are purchased and repurposed with the primary intention of boosting search ranking of low-quality or unoriginal content. This can mislead users into thinking the new content is part of the older site, which may not be the case. Expired domains that are purchased and repurposed with the intention of boosting the search ranking of low-quality content are now considered spam.”

This new policy change is poised to have a substantial impact on the expired domain names market, where individuals and businesses engage in buying and selling domains that have lapsed on their registrations. While some may still find value in expired domains for other purposes, the efficacy of acquiring them solely for SEO manipulation is expected to diminish significantly.

Every day, millions of domain names expire, later becoming available in the expired domain marketplace for purchase by scammers and domain speculators, who often call themselves domain investors. Domain registrars like GoDaddy and independent aftermarket outlets typically oversee this marketplace.

The acquisition of expired and expiring domain names at auctions commands millions of dollars annually. As domain name registrants let their domains expire, interested parties, including domain investors, bid on them during auctions or drop-catching platforms.

A subset of domain name buyers specifically seeks out expired domain names for SEO purposes. They may either build a website on an expired domain to capitalize on traffic from inbound links or redirect the domain to another website to benefit from the “SEO juice” associated with these expired domain names.

This policy update underscores Google’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing high-quality content and discouraging manipulative practices that could adversely impact user experience. While the complete ramifications of this change are still unfolding, it’s evident that Google is signaling a strong message – website owners must prioritize creating valuable, informative content for sustainable success in search rankings.


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