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Site Flip: Buying and Selling Websites for Profit

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Finding Expiring Domains with PageRank

Domaining and SEO pro Rob of the Wholesale Directory has contributed some knowledge here about finding good domains that are about to expire. The emphasis is on those domains with established PageRank, in order to speed up the SEO process of ranking the website/domain for its selected keywords. If you enjoy the read, consider my free newsletter.
I frequently field questions about how one would go about finding expiring domains with high Google PageRank. When I realized that some people are simply checking the whois for current high-PR domains and hoping the owners will forget to renew, I thought I’d share my method for finding these domains.

The serious domain speculators who make 6-figures+ from domain reselling have their own software and sometimes entire teams of people working to find them good domains. Not all of us have those sort of resources at our disposal. My method, which does not require either, can be broken down into 4 steps.

1. Find the domains
2. Trim the list
3. Check the PR
4. Check the backlinks

Finding the domains

The easiest way to acquire a list of expiring domains is from a drop catching service. Personally, I get my lists for free from On their website, you can download a text file(in a zip) of all domains that are expiring within the next few days. Just click on the “Deleting Domains” tab and choose “Download the Full List”. This text file can be simply copied and pasted into MS Excel or any other spreadsheet program. Sometimes the list is too big to actually paste in its entirety, so you may have to split it in half.

Trimming the list

The problem with the lists you get from is the extra characters. The text files are formatted much like a CSV file, and contain numerical values and commas after each domain. Here is where the excel “Find and Replace” feature comes in handy. From the “Edit” menu, choose “Replace” (or “Find and Replace”, depending on what program you’re using). You’ll be presented with two text boxes: one for the text to find, and one for the text to replace it with. The text you want to find is “,*” without the quotes. Using * as a wildcard tells the program to replace all commas and everything after them. But you don’t actually want you replace them – you want to remove them. So leave the second text box empty. Let ‘er rip!

Now you should have just a spreadsheet of domains. Here are a few other search strings that may come in handy for the “Find and Replace” tool at this time…

“*.biz” – Will remove all .biz domains, and can also be used for other TLDs you may not be interested in spending your time checking.

“*2*” – Will remove all domains with the number 2 in the, and can obviously be used for all numbers if you’re not interested in domains with numbers in them.

“*-*” – Will remove all domains with hyphens in them.

If you choose to use these strings to remove domains, be aware that you will now be left with quite a few empty cells. A simple “Data  Sort” (ascending) will allow you to remove the empty cells.

Checking the PR

Now that you have your list trimmed exactly the way you want it, it’s time to begin checking the PageRank of these domains. Rather than check one at a time, you can use a Bulk PR Checker like the one at to check up to 25 domains at a time. The rest is simply copying and pasting the domains 25 at a time and checking their PR. Personally, I ignore any domain under PR4. Write down the domains that you are interested in and save them for the next step.

Checking the backlinks

Just because you have purchased a domain with a high PR doesn’t mean it will retain that PageRank after the next PR update. Regardless of whether or not you intend to develop this expired domain, a domain with active backlinks is always more valuable than one without. Since the Google site: command has been on the fritz for quite some time, I prefer to use Yahoo Site Explorer ( to check backlinks.

Since chances are you didn’t check the PR of every domain on your list, you may have stopped at between 10-20 domains of interest. Check their backlinks and decide on which ones you’d like to buy.

The process of buying an expired domain involved first requesting it from a drop catcher, and then bidding on it if more than one person has requested it. There is no way to know, however, which drop catcher will get a domain. For this reason, it’s best to sign up and reserve your domains at as many drop catchers as possible. is a great place to read reviews of drop catchers such as,, etc.

Thanks again to Rob for the great SEO and domaining tips! Rob maintains Wholesale Wiz, the Wholesale Directory.

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