Guide to Rebuilding or Redirecting Expired Domains in 2023

Navigating the vast ocean of expired domains offers ample opportunities for SEO enthusiasts and digital marketers. Once you’ve purchased an expired domain the challenge lies in deciding the optimal approach: rebuilding or redirecting. This guide dives deep into these strategies, supported by insights from experts.

Expire Domain Audit: Starting Point

It’s common practice to audit a domain before purchasing to check for spam and see if it has relevant Trust Flow and Citation Flow. But once you’ve purchased an expired domain you should perform an audit to understand the contents of the domain you purchased.

Here are some tools and tips on how to perform this audit. Bear in mind this is a lengthy process that can take anywhere between 1 to several weeks. But its important to be thorough so that you can set your expired domain up for success.

  • Tools for Audit:
  • Screaming Frog: Ideal for domain URL analysis.
  • Ahrefs: Provides insights into backlinks and keyword profiles.
  • Sitemap Crawls: A hands-on approach to inspect indexed URLs.

Steps in Domain Audit:

  1. Determine if the original page needs a resurrection.
  2. Consider if a new URL should be crafted, subsequently redirecting the old one.
  3. Decide if various old URLs should be merged to point to a fresh address.
  4. Debate if the URLs should navigate users to specific categories, press releases, or perhaps the homepage.


Redirecting has its merits but needs a careful strategy. It’s not always advised as it only works for very specific situations. Nevertheless, we’ll share when redirects are actually useful, as recommended by Ian Howells SEO guru and Partner at Traffic Think Tank.

Reasons to Redirect:

  • The domain previously housed a significant business.
  • It resonates with a trademarked term or phrase.
  • It boasts a rich collection of backlinks.
  • It offers content relevant to your core site and has recently transitioned to the “expired” status.

However, hasty redirection without due diligence might lead to SEO complications. Ensure that redirects are meaningful and steer clear from potential legal muddles linked to trademarked content, especially if you purchase domains that have trademarks in the United States.


To rebuild or not to rebuild? Rebuilding is labor-intensive but usually the recommended choice and here’s why:

Reasons to Rebuild:

  • Discover potential penalties by plugging into Google Search Console.
  • Gauge its ranking power by investigating keywords and articles it has ranked for in the past.
  • Enjoy flexibility: Whether you wish to preserve it as a PBN or elevate it as your primary site.
  • Have the option of monetizing your expired domain (hosting ads or setting up affiliate links) or more so recuperating the cost spent on your domain purchase.

How to decide to rebuild or redirect?

The following decision tree will help you quickly evaluate if you should redirect or rebuild your expired domain.

Rebuild or Redirect Expired Domain Purchase Decision Tree

Phased Rebuild Approach for Seamless Integration

If you’ve chosen to rebuild your expired domain, you should commit to the phased approach. This helps leverage the maximum value from your expired domain and reduces the risks of being penalized by Google or marked as spam. This is a long process but the investment will be worth it in the end.

Steps for Phased Rebuild:

  1. Relaunch: Begin by ensuring a penalty-free environment and evaluate its ability to rank.
  2. Content Enrichment: Incrementally introduce high-quality content and establish valuable backlinks.
  3. Holistic Integration: After nurturing the domain for approximately a year (suggested by Ian Howells), integrate it into your main site. This strategy is reminiscent of acquiring a live blog and folding it into your primary domain. The difference is you’ve already made the investment in setting up your purchased domain.


Within the SEO landscape, expired domains, when maneuvered correctly, hold boundless potential. Whether your strategy leans towards redirecting or rebuilding, grounding decisions in domain history, relevance, and expert insights is paramount.

Be warned – instantaneously redirecting an expired domain might seem tempting, but it’s not always the safest bet. By adopting a strategic approach, informed by thorough audits and expert insights, you can ensure that your domain endeavors are both profitable and sustainable.