Expired domains are good for you.

They are also kind of sad. People have built their websites over a long time and now have lost the site due to lack of interest, lack of resources, or for any other reason.

Expired domains can have tremendous link power. They might have developed a lot of respect from Google and friends. You would want to buy that respect since earning that will take a looong time!


But, expired domains can also be a trap. You have to be careful about buying domains – especially if you are investing quite a bit of money to get them. There are expired domain services and websites that promise you spam-free domains that have built up a reputation. A lot of those services tend to be expensive.

So, what do you do if you are short of money? Here I present three distinct completely free methods to hunt for expired domains.

1. Domcop

Domcop is probably the best way to find out domains that have expired, or about to expire.

Domcop find expired domains

You can check out the domains in 3 categories – expiring, expired and archived. The first two are the ones where you need to focus on.

Once you are set and get through the simple UI, you can see that there are hundreds of thousands of domains here. It is fairly obvious that you cannot filter them all. So, you use the magic wand called “filters”.

The filters I use to search reasonably decent domains at an acceptable cost –

1. DA > 30

Domain Authority is a Moz metric that denotes how relevant the domain is (or was). DA is an amalgamation of trustworthy links, good content, and the overall respect the domain has. Greater the DA, the higher the value of the domain, and greater the price.

2. TF and CF > 20

Trust Flow and Citation Flow are Majestic metrics that denote how the domain stands out in terms of the link profile. Majestic has the largest database of domains and websites, and they publish these metrics to outline the trustworthiness of a site.

3. Backlinks >20 and <1000

Backlinks from other websites pointing to the domain that is expiring or expired are really important. You should keep an eye open for spammy links or links only from one domain. You should also check out whether the anchor text is relevant to the niche, and not spam.

Note that I do not mention Page Rank (PR) here. PR is officially dead since it does not get refreshed in time to be of any relevance.

Also, note that no metric is infallible. After you have checked all the above, go to the Wayback Machine and check out how the site looked. I just show 1000 sites at a time, compare prices, see how the website looked when it was active, and take a decision to move ahead on the domain.

When you are using Domaincop, try to develop your own metrics. You can use the above criteria as a base and play around with the filter criteria over a few days to check acceptable results. Register on Domaincop to save filter criteria and go back to the search when you log in later. You can use any number of filter criteria and keep an eye for any new expired sites satisfying the criteria.

Domcop can also notify you about new sites through email for a fee. Check out the premium plans of Domcop. If you are a blogger like me, the free version should suffice for now.

After identifying a suitable domain, you can go ahead bid for the site or buy it. If you are bidding on the site – remember not to bid crazy till the last 2-24 hours are remaining.

2. Moonsy

Domcop is excellent, but there happen to be too many people who pay big bucks to stay updated with expiring/expired domains and grab them quicker than me.

Moonsy is relatively less known (or so I thought until I heard this on Source Wave).

Moonsy expired domain finder

You cannot do a whole lot in Moonsy. You can keep a tab on the sites that are being auctioned, see Moz metrics, Majestic metrics, backlinks, and a few social metrics. You can use the same principles that I described earlier.

The biggest advantage of Moonsy is that the list is updated more frequently, and you can keep a tab on your favourites just quickly enough.

3. Xenu Link Sleuth

After the two easy ways to find expired domains, here is a rather difficult but exotic way of doing it.

Xenu link sleuth is great software that can check broken links on your website. It is crazy fast and can spit out the problematic links in any website in a matter of minutes.

xenu link sleuth

Xenu is also great as a tool to find expired domains. Used the right way, Xenu can give you sites that have been excellent back in the days and now have fallen wayside. This is slightly laborious than the previous ways – you are forewarned.

You find expired domains using Xenu tool in 3 steps:

  1. Choose a respected directory, website or link aggregator site that lists good websites
  2. Choose a category in that website, use that URL as the root URL in Xenu
  3. Let Xenu rip and identify all broken links pointing to external websites. The aim is to find websites that had been listed before and is now gone

Of course, all this expects that the category listing is restful. Else, it is just more work.

For example, search for a directory that has related content for your chosen topic (e.g. the now expired dmoz.org). Next, get the specific link in the directory for your niche (e.g. dmoz.org/Home/Gardening/). Use this as the root URL in Xenu.

The settings in Xenu Link Sleuth should be tuned to:

  • List broken links by link
  • Check external links

We do not quite need internal links, but will remain turned on since the tool has to check links recursively within the directory.

To set these settings in Xenu, follow the below steps –

1. Click on File > Check URL in Xenu Link Sleuth. Provide the URL of the directory/website that you have chosen and tune a couple of settings.

Xenu link sleuth free ways to find expired domain

2. Click on “More Options” button, and enable “Broken links, ordered by links” option. Uncheck rest of the options.

Xenu link sleuth find broken links expired domains

Now, hit “OK” to let Xenu run and identify all broken links for the websites.

Xenu link sleuth find expired domains

Right click on link that seem interesting, and have a look at them in Wayback Machine.

If the website looks genuine, do some backlink analysis from Moz Open Site Explorer, or similar tools. If the domain looks good, and has no spammy links pointing at it, go ahead and register domains from your favourite domain registrar.

More work – certainly. But it is a kick ass way to get expired domains that no one else is looking for.

Know of any other free ways to get expired domains out there?