Many website owners struggle with issue of expiring domain names.  The most common question is whether or not you should renew it or just let it expire.  But if you do renew it, is there anything you can do with the domain name to enhance your SEO efforts? 

Hopefully I clear up some of these issues on what to do with your expiring domain names.

Renewing Expiring Domain Names for SEO Value

The other day one of our clients asked, “we own a bunch of different domain names, so should I keep them and redirect them for SEO purposes?  Or should I just let them expire?”

Great question!

Unfortunately there isn’t a quick, simple answer that’s applicable to everyone’s situation.

So I’ll tell you exactly how I answered this client’s question.  And if you have a different scenario that you’d like some feedback on, go ahead and leave a comment.

But first… let me give you a quick summary as to why this client asked about redirecting domain names.

Our client is an Economic Development Corp in Florida who serves major industries and businesses in their market.  There #1 goal is to make their geographic area appealing to other companies… i.e. they want companies to relocate to their market in Florida.

When a company locates to their market, it brings jobs and many other economic benefits to the local economy.  So they are constantly trying to think of ways to get exposure to businesses outside their area.

And one of those ways is to get found in Google for relevant keyword phrases.

Several years ago, they purchased keyword rich domain names that were relevant to the surround metro areas and industries.

None of the domain names were even built out into websites, accept for the one they use now as their primary domain.

I think they purchased the domains on a 5 year term because they forgot them until recently when they started receiving notifications of expiration.

That brings us to the question they had as to whether or not its worth keeping these expiring domain names, and are there any SEO strategies that would make it worth renewing the domain names.

Let me give you a few different scenarios to consider when facing this situation.

Hopefully this will help you decide whether or not to renew your expiring domain names.

And if you do renew the domains, what you should do with them as part of your overall SEO strategy.

Scenario 1:  When it’s worth holding on to expiring domain names for SEO purposes.

Scenario 2:  When it’s not worth holding on to domain names for SEO purposes.

Scenario 3:  Renewing your domain names and publishing new websites on those domains.

When it’s worth holding on to expiring domain names for SEO purposes

The only time I believe its worth holding on to expiring domain names for SEO purposes is if the domain name carries a substantial amount of domain authority.

You can see the domain authority of any URL (domain name) by using the Moz domain name research tool here.

It’s hard to say what minimum level of domain authority to use as your threshold in renewing the domain, but I would say anything with a domain authority of 20 or less (DA20 or less), is not worth holding onto.

This can vary as it’s relative to the domain authority of your primary domain.  You should go ahead and run your own domain name to see what your domain authority is.  If your domain authority is less than 20, then it’s probably worth holding on to the domain name.

In this example, let’s say your domain authority is 20 or greater.  So now it looks like it would be worth renewing the expiring domain name.

If you are going to renew your domain name, what should you do with it?

Great question!

If you are going to renew your expiring domain name use it for SEO purposes, then the best thing to do with it is to implement a 301 redirect to your primary domain name / website.

By implementing a 301 redirect, you are will likewise be sending all domain authority from that domain name directly to your primary domain name.

You can learn how to implement a 301 redirect properly by reading this article by Bruce Clay.

In this way, you are passing the domain authority to your primary domain name which in turn helps to increase the domain authority of your primary domain…  and this help with your overall SEO efforts as your rankings and exposure in Google search is, in a lot of ways, correlated to your domain authority.

Again, if you are going to renew your expiring domain name and you want to use it for SEO purposes, then I recommend simply 301 redirecting it to your primary domain name.

When it’s not worth holding on to the domain names for SEO purposes

If your domain name has no domain authority relative to your primary domain name, then (in my opinion) it’s not worth the investment to renew your domain name.

If you aren’t going to be passing any substantial amount of domain authority, then the expiring domain name will contribute little to no value in your SEO objectives.

A lot of people may tell you to buy keyword rich domain names and then redirect them to your primary domain name.

But this is fools gold as Google treats 301 directs as pass thru’s to your primary domain name.  So if the domain name you are 301 redirecting has no authority or value, then you just passed no authority or value on to your primary domain name.

Renewing your domain names and building out new websites to publish on those domain names

The other common misconception with expiring domain names, or the idea of buying a bunch of domain names for SEO purposes, is that you should build out a bunch of one page websites with expiring domain names.

The problem with this idea is that you are dispersing your brand authority, and potential domain authority, across multiple websites.

Most business owners hardly have time to invest time and effort into building up the domain authority of their primary domain name let alone many other random websites.

I do not recommend taking your expiring domain names and building out multiple websites that are related to your brand.

As Google crawls and indexes multiple sites associated with your brand, it will start to assume their are multiple websites for your business.  This creates potential confusion as to which website is your primary website.

And this confusion creates volatility with your domain authority.

And volatility, like the stock market, is a great way to cause downward pressure on your rankings.

So unless you have the time and resources to build out the websites you publish on your expiring domain names, I would argue that you are actually working against your SEO efforts.

Again, having multiple websites (domain names) for your business can actually dilute the domain authority of your primary website (domain name).

The best strategy is to focus on one domain name and website, and shore up all of your efforts in building out the best, most user friendly website you can for your business.

It takes a lot of time and effort to create high quality content on your primary website, attract high quality links, and build a competitive level of domain authority.

So don’t compromise those efforts by renewing your expiring domain names and building out multiple websites.

If you have expiring domain names, either don’t renew them or 301 redirect them to your primary website.

And spend all of your time and effort creating an amazing website for your business that attracts visitors and converts customers.

If you do this, you will begin to reap the benefits of a strong SEO initiative, which means higher rankings in search and increasing amounts of high quality traffic to your website.

Now it’s your turn!

What do you think?

Do you agree with my suggestions on what to do with expiring domain names?

Do you have any other ideas as to how you can leverage expiring domain names for long term SEO benefits?

I look forward to seeing your comments…