You’ve come up with an idea for a side hustle or startup, and now you’re on the hunt for a domain. Rather than just brainstorming one and registering it, let me show you a little known trick to end up with a domain name with existing SEO benefits.
Most people start by writing a list of possible business names, and then searching to see if the domain is taken.
What many people don’t realise, is that there are millions of domains that were once owned by others, some of whom put effort into SEO that you could benefit from.
In fact, the reverse can happen too – you buy a domain name and find that it was previously used by a spammer or unsavoury characters, and is now even harder to get any search engine rankings.
Obviously you’ll want to put more thought into a proper business name if it’s going to be a big deal, however for a side hustle or small project, you could choose a domain name that is;
- Keyword rich (enjoy the small SEO benefits);
- using the .com extension (they’re typically best for global focus);
- reasonable easy to remember, and;
- shorter than 20-30 characters.
There’s plenty of evidence that a keyword rich domain can help with search engine optimisation. However this is easily balanced with the evidence that the best domains are memorable and brandable. Something that a simple collection of words like perthwebdesign or sydneyplumber is not.
Think about all the big brands and their domains – most of them are not generic terms (well they weren’t, until the brands themselves became big);
If you are after something pretty generic, mostly for the SEO benefit that having keywords in a domain name can provide, then here’s a fast five step process to follow.
- Short list and research a number of terms
- Search for domains with existing SEO benefits (backlinks and domain rating)
- Look at the backlinks pointing to them
- Check out Archive.org for old websites
- Bingo! Choose and register the best domain
Even if you believe your latest domain name is entirely unique, it’s worth doing points 3 and 4, just to ensure your new domain name doesn’t have a previous bad reputation.
Let’s walk through each of these steps in more detail.
Short list and research a number of terms
I typically start by writing up a list of keywords and phrases that I feel match the intent of my target audience. Say we are trying to target people looking for guest post opportunities on blogs. You may come up with a list, like;
- guest articles
- guest blog list
- guest post
- guest post data
- guest post list
- guest blog posts
Then, using your favourite SEO analysis tool (mine is Ahrefs), search for the keyword data on these terms. Ideally, you’ll find a phrase or keyword that has high search volume, and low keyword difficulty. That’s much easier said than done.
Search for domains with existing SEO benefits
Now that I know I want the keyword phrase ‘guest post’ in the domain name, it is time to start looking for available domains in ExpiredDomains.net (another example of a generic phrase for a domain).
There’s a truckload of expired domains listed, so using the filters they have, limit the search to .com extensions (or worst case, the other original extensions; .net or .org), and domains currently available.
Now search for the exact combination (in this case, ‘guestpost’).
The search results above show that I have sorted the results by the fourth column, BL (Backlinks). This handy figure shows that the first domain has roughly 1,400 links pointing at it, down to the last domain which has 12 links pointing at it.
I don’t have US$6,000 to spend on a domain name, so will ignore the second result.
So the first result looks good, but a little concerning there are so many backlinks. It would be perfect to get some existing SEO benefits, but there could be something wrong with it. The next step here is to jump back to Ahrefs to get the domain rating and overview of the backlinks data.
Look at the backlinks pointing to them
Now that we’re back in Ahrefs I can see that the homepage has a rating of 6/100, which isn’t great but also not like a fresh domain that would be zero. The Domain Rating is zero, however since the URL rating is 6, it is something that can improve with an active website.
Unlike the 1.4k backlinks that Expired Domains shows, Ahrefs shows there are 4.11k backlinks, including 137 relatively recent ones.
This makes me even more eager to look further into those backlinks to find out if they’re dodgy.
That’s where Ahrefs proves it’s worth; they have a Backlinks report that shows all sorts of data, including how good the domains that have links to this site fare with their own Domain Rating, etc.
The above report shows that most of the backlinks are from directories, and are using non-spammy sounding anchor text.
Whilst it would be great if they were all within the content of other articles, this shows that the domain was used safely, and shouldn’t have any issues.
Check out Archive.org for old websites
The last step to undertake, is to look at any archived copies of previous websites on that domain hosted at archive.org. This service is a great way to double check that the domain wasn’t previously used for anything seedy.
As you can see, it previously held listings of sites that accepted guest posts, so it’s perfect for what I require.
There is nothing spammy looking or odd about this website, and it’s obviously just a case of the previous domain name owner couldn’t get the service to be monetised, or ran out of interest.
Bingo! Choose and register the best domain
Now that we’ve performed due diligence on a few domains, hopefully you are now at the point like I was, to register your preferred domain name, and get building your new website with the secret sauce of existing seo benefits.
Finding appropriate expired domains is a great way to get existing SEO benefits, and a head start on building backlinks and improving your search engine ranking.
Your new website will benefit from previous efforts at backlink building and SEO efforts, and will enjoy the existing SEO benefits that this domain name will provide.