Before purchasing an aged domain, you should know what benefits you are looking to gain and you should understand how you are going to use the domain name in order to realize those benefits. In other words, you should have a strategy.
In this guide, we cover the key elements of using aged domains strategically. We explain how aged domains can be used to kickstart new websites or boost existing sites, and we outline the various ways that redirects can be implemented to maximize your authority boost while minimizing your risk.
3 Major Strategies
When using an aged domain, one of the biggest strategic decisions you will make is whether to build a new site or redirect the domain to an existing website.
Which approach you take will depend on your current website portfolio and your objectives. It may be that you are looking to kickstart a brand new project using an aged domain, or you may have an existing website that you believe could receive an SEO boost more quickly, easily and cost-effectively from an aged domain than it would from manually building backlinks yourself.
We cover each of these strategies below, explaining how to use an aged domain on a new authority website, how to redirect an aged domain to an existing website, and introducing a third approach that combines elements of both strategies in order to mitigate risk.
Building a New Authority Site
The most common strategy when using aged domains is to build a new authority website on the domain.
This strategy involves finding an aged domain that interests you and performing all of the necessary due diligence, then launching a new website with content located on pages that match the aged domain’s backlinks.
Example: if you were launching a new website about dogs on a dog-related aged domain, and you can see that the aged domain has backlinks pointing to …/dog-baskets, you would recreate this URL with a relevant page of your new website located at …/dog-baskets.
Recreating the URL is crucial for any page that has useful backlinks. The valuable, unobtainable backlinks pointing to your aged domain are the reason you purchased the domain in the first place, so you need to harness the link equity of those backlinks by ensuring they point to live and relevant pages of your new website.
If you don’t follow this step, you won’t retain the authority that your aged domain has to offer and you will lose the value of purchasing an aged domain compared to simply building on a fresh domain.
After recreating all of the valuable URLs associated with the aged domain, the next step is to implement 301 redirects as needed.
For example, if the aged domain has several articles on a closely related topic, but you decide against recreating each article individually and instead want to cover all of the topic in one ‘ultimate guide’, you can use 301 redirects to ensure that each of the article links points to your ultimate guide page.
Finally, once you have recreated all of the previous website’s structure and obtained the maximum benefit from the aged domain’s backlinks, you can start to add new content and build out your authority site.
The most important thing to bear in mind when doing this is topical relevance. You want your website to remain as closely matched to the aged domain as possible, for as long as possible, before slowly expanding out into other related areas of the topic. This should only be done once the website is fully indexed and has established rankings and traffic.
Redirecting to an Existing Site
Some people are interested in aged domains not because they want to build a new site, but because they have an existing site and they want to quickly boost its authority and improve its rankings.
Aged domains are a way to do this without spending time and money on a link-building campaign. However, it is critical to carefully consider topical relevance when following this strategy.
When building a new website on an aged domain, it is easy to create new content to closely match the topic and backlinks of the aged domain. However, when redirecting an aged domain to an existing website, you need to consider the topic of your website alongside the topic of the aged domain to make sure they are as close a match as possible. For this reason, it is more challenging to find a suitable aged domain when redirecting to an existing site than it is when building a new authority site from scratch.
Once you do find a closely related aged domain that matches your existing website, it is important to carefully map out your redirects. You will need to review each of the aged domain’s high-value links and choose whether to redirect them to existing content on your website or – if you don’t have existing relevant pages – add new content to take advantage of the aged domain’s links.
You should not redirect the homepage of the aged domain to your existing homepage, as this carries many SEO risks without significant benefits. Instead, we recommend redirecting the aged domain’s homepage to a news page announcing the acquisition/merger of the two websites. We explain this in more detail later in this guide.
Merging a Micro Site
The third strategy we want to cover is essentially a combination of the first two strategies. However, rather than building a new authority site on the aged domain, you build a new micro site with the intention of merging this micro site into your existing website at a later date.
The advantage of this strategy is that you are effectively quarantining your aged domain before allowing it to impact your main website. If there are any issues with the aged domain – for example, a Google penalty – then only the micro site will be affected. This is much safer than immediately redirecting an aged domain to your existing website and then discovering problems.
Just like with the authority site build, this strategy involves recreating the aged domain’s URLs on a new website and adding new content, you just do it at a smaller scale.
Once you have recreated the URL structure and added some new content, you’ll need to closely monitor the performance of the micro site. Is it indexed by Google? Are there impressions in Google Search Console? Does it start to get traffic?
If everything looks good after a few months, you can then merge the micro site into your existing website. This will involve recreating the content on your existing website and then using 301 redirects to ensure all of the aged domain’s backlinks are live and pointing at the correct content.
4 Common Redirect Strategies
If you plan to redirect an aged domain to your existing website (or you follow the micro site strategy first and then merge with your existing website), at some point you will need to make important decisions about where to point the aged domain’s existing links.
This is a critical step, as your redirect strategy will determine how all of the link equity and authority of the aged domain is passed to your existing website.
At best, implementing redirects the wrong way will mean that you squander some of the benefit the aged domain had to offer. And at worst, you could actively harm your existing website and get hit with a Google penalty.
To help you implement redirects the right way, we’re going to explain four common redirect strategies.
1. Homepage Redirects
By definition, an aged domain will have previously been used on a website that had a homepage and articles with valuable backlinks. It probably had category pages and other pages too, including pages that do not have valuable backlinks.
The quickest and simplest way to redirect an aged domain to your website is to take the URLs for all of these pages and use a wildcard 301 redirect to point all of them at your website’s homepage.
With this strategy, when a visitor follows any link to the aged domain or types in any URL on that domain, they will land on your website’s homepage. The same is true for Google. When the search engine crawls any link that points to the aged domain, they will be passed to your website’s homepage and, as Google updates its index, so will that link’s authority.
At first, this may sound like a good idea. You can boost the authority of your homepage, link to other pages of your website from the homepage, and pass authority through to the rest of your website. However, in reality, this approach is very risky.
Lazily linking an entire aged domain to your homepage is a major red flag to Google. It suggests you are trying to manipulate their algorithm and artificially boost your website’s rankings and you could be hit with a penalty.
Another disadvantage of this strategy is that any negative impact of the redirect will impact your entire website. For instance, if the aged domain is not a good topical match and you redirect it to your homepage, the negative consequences of that decision will be felt throughout your site, rather than only impacting individual pages or categories.
In the vast majority of cases, redirecting all of an aged domain’s links to your homepage will not be the right strategy. Instead, you should take the time and put in the effort to more carefully redirect specific URLs of the aged domain to relevant pages of your website.
2. Category Page Redirects
The category page redirect strategy involves redirecting all pages of an aged domain to a category page of your existing website.
For example, let’s say you have a large authority website about dogs, and that authority site has a dog food category. You then purchase an aged domain that was previously used on a website dedicated entirely to dog food. As the aged domain is a close topical match to your website’s category, you may choose to redirect the aged domain and its URLs to your dog food category page.
Essentially, this approach is like merging a small site into your own much larger site. You’re taking a niche site and merging it into your authority site by pointing its backlinks to relevant pages of your website.
You aren’t doing a homepage redirect – as your website is about more than just dog food – but you are linking all of the aged domain’s URLs to the dog food section of your website, as it is highly relevant and a good topical match.
The advantage of this approach is that it is easier to ensure a close topical match and the authority from the aged domain will pass to any articles on your website that have links from the category page.
A disadvantage of this approach is that – like the homepage redirect – you are still just pointing the entire aged domain at one page of your website. This is more targeted than pointing everything at the homepage, but it is still not as targeted as redirecting individual URLs to carefully selected locations.
3. Silo or Pillar Page Redirects
When reviewing your aged domain and comparing it to your website’s content, you may find that a particular article on your website is relevant to one or more of the aged domain’s backlinks.
For example, if the aged domain has backlinks that used to point to several short articles about dog food, but you have (or could create) a lengthy pillar article about dog food, it may make sense to point all of those individual dog food links at your dog food guide, as it covers everything they did and more.
If you choose to follow this redirect strategy then you should ensure that the pillar page you link to is a close topical match, is a priority for your website (i.e. you’re boosting a page that is worth boosting), and that the page contains good internal links so that other pages of your site benefit too.
4. Press Release Redirects
Even with the best aged domains, you will inevitably find some backlinks to outdated pages, and links to content that is not a close topical match to an existing page of your website.
In these cases, for the reasons outlined earlier, you don’t want to redirect to your homepage, but you do need to redirect the links somewhere in order to pass the authority to your website and avoid 404 page not found errors. So what do you do?
The solution to this problem is the press release page.
Incorporating another brand into your existing website is an important development for your site and the news will be of interest to any loyal readers of the previous website too. For this reason, it makes sense to publish a press release announcing the merger.
Your press release page can explain why your website has acquired the other website, emphasize the topical match between the two sites, and include internal links to top pages of your website.
By doing this, you will avoid dead links and lost link equity, pass authority to other pages of your website through internal links, and – importantly – you are being open and honest with both readers and Google regarding the recent merger.
Redirecting your aged domain’s links to a press release page may not offer the most bang for your buck, as you inevitably pass a lot of the aged domain’s authority to a press release page that you probably don’t particularly care about ranking. However, it is one of the most legitimate – and therefore one of the least risky – ways to redirect an aged domain to an existing website.
Customizing Your Strategy
No two situations are exactly the same, so when considering the aged domain content and redirect strategy you should use, it is important to customize your approach to your own unique circumstances.
In most cases, you will find that a mix of the strategies outlined in this guide will be right for you.
Let’s say that you purchase an aged domain with links that pointed to:
- A homepage
- An about page
- Articles about dog food
- Multiple dog bowl reviews
- Several outdated articles that are no longer relevant
Meanwhile, your website is a dog authority website with:
- A homepage
- An about page
- A category about dog food
- A pillar article on the 10 best dog bowls
- Lots more categories and content
There’s no need to choose between linking to a category page or a pillar page or a press release page. You can do a mix of all three:
- Redirect the aged domain’s homepage and outdated articles to a press release page announcing the merging of the old website into your brand.
- Redirect the aged domain’s about page to your own about page, while adding in some information about the acquisition to ensure your about page is up-to-date.
- Redirect the dog food articles to your dog food category.
- Redirect the various dog bowl reviews to your dog bowl pillar article.
By taking this mix and match approach, you ensure that your website receives the maximum benefit from the aged domain’s high-value backlinks, while minimizing risk by being transparent about the merger through a press release and only redirecting URLs to content that is a very close topical match.
To learn more about auditing an aged domain, mapping its backlinks to your website, and how to actually implement the necessary 301 redirects, check out our guide to setting up aged domains.