What are Expired Domains? A Detailed Outlook

As an SEO expert, you’re working hard to rank your websites. Your objective is to get the website ranked on the top section of Google’s search engine results page. With all the on-page and off-activities, you’re aware of the time, patience, money and effort it will take.

However, there is a way to speed up the process of your SEO efforts. One of the quickest ways to do that is to use the power of expired domains!

Needle in a Haystack

While there are 200K+ domains expiring every single day, finding the quality ones is like finding a “Needle in a haystack”.

In this post, you’ll get a comprehensive explanation of what expired domains mean, their reasons for expiring, and what happens thereafter. Furthermore, we’ll talk about the lifecycle of domains, and the difference between drop and non-drop domains.

What are expired domains?

When the owner of a website fails to renew their domain, that domain is termed as expired. What does this mean? The IP address and DNS won’t be pointed to the hosting server, and the website will not be functional. Furthermore, any data, files, or pages on that expired website will be temporarily unavailable until the domain is renewed.

What are the causes that lead to expired domains?

There are several reasons why domains might have expired. In this section, we have mentioned some of the most common reasons why domains expire.

Reasons why a domain expires:

  • The owner of the domain passed away: If the owner of the domain has passed away, then it’s highly likely that there may not be anyone else to renew the domain.
  • The owner was unable to login / lost access: The owner may experience technical issues while logging in, and is unable to get through for a long period. Alternatively, they may have lost access to the registrar or their email account.
  • The owner’s business was shut down: If a business shuts down, the owner will not renew the domain name, leading to its expiry once the validity period ends.
  • Redundancy of event sites: A site was created to promote a particular event that is already concluded. For instance, events related to Music shows / concerts, Politics, Art exhibitions, Conference, and other functions were conducted, and are now over. Hence, the domain of that site is no longer needed.
  • The startup failed: A startup was initiated but did not run much longer and was ultimately shut down. This may have led to abandoning the domain of the startup website.
  • Purchased domains for experimental purposes: A domain was used for some experiments but is no longer required.
  • Domain affected by Google update: Due to an unexpected Google update, the website may get affected severely, because of which its ranking may drop. As a result, the website owner may not renew the domain name as the traffic is lost.
  • Company acquisition: A company may have been acquired by another company, and therefore, have let go of the old website.
  • Moved from one domain to another: A brand adopted a new domain name, and so, left the old domain to expire by itself. Example: brandname.net moved to brandname.com and let brandname.net expire.

Now that you’ve understood the reasons behind the expiring of domains, it’s time to know what happens thereafter.

What happens after a domain has expired?

An expired domain goes through a cycle that involves a set of stages leading up to its availability for public registration.

    • Domain Registration
      As per ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a registrant can register a domain for up to 10 years. As you know, every domain name has an expiry date.
    • Domain Expires
      Upon failing to renew, the domain goes through a set of stages before it becomes available for public registration. The day after the domain expires, it goes through a period called Auto-Renew grace period.
    • Auto-Renew Grace Period
      During the Auto-Renew Grace Period, the registrar provides a grace period of up to 45 days to renew the domain. If you renew the domain within this period, you will not be charged an additional fee apart from the domain renewal fee. This means that you will be able to renew your domain for the price offered originally. However, if you renew the domain after the grace period ends, you will enter the Redemption Grace Period and pay a penalty / redemption fee in addition to the domain renewal fee.
    • Redemption Grace Period (RGP)
      During this redemption grace period, the original registrant can still choose to renew the domain name for a fee known as redemption fee. For top TLDs like .com, the RGP is generally 30 days. RGP is the last chance for the registrant to renew the domain. If the domain name is renewed at this stage, it will not enter into the Pending Delete Status. If the domain is not redeemed within the redemption grace period, it will move into the Pending Delete Status.
    • Pending Delete Status
      When the domain enters into the Pending Delete Status, it will stay there for 5 days. After 5 days, the domain name will be deleted and becomes available for the public to register.

That’s the lifecycle of the domains.

Domain Backordering

After five days of the pending delete, the domain will be dropped by the registry. The domain is dropped for public registration. So, once the domain is dropped by the registry, anyone on the web will have the right to register the dropped domain through a backordering service. Therefore, backordering services like Dropcatch, Snapnames will allow you to backorder dropped domains that you’ve listed with them. This way, when the domain expires, the backordering service will make attempts to catch the dropped domain of interest within milliseconds of it dropping.

Furthermore, if multiple people have backordered for the same dropped domain, then it will be put up for auction. This process is known as Expired Domain Auction. Backordering services like Dropcatch and Snapnames will put up these expired domains for auction.

Some registrars like GoDaddy and Namejet will list expiring domains for auction. These domains have those that have not yet entered the pending delete status but are in the auto-renewed stage of the expiring domain lifecycle. So, if you bid for this domain, then the registrar will try to renew this domain on your behalf. Here, you have to pay the auction as well as the renewal fee, after which the domain will be transferred to you.

New Registration

Whoever wins the expired domain at the end of the auction will receive the domain name upon payment completion. This transfer of ownership takes place when the domain name is delivered to the registrant’s account in the respective registrar.

Different Redemption Periods for Different TLDs

The auto renew grace period, redemption grace period and pending delete will be different based on the domain extension and its registry policies.

Some of the top domain extensions with the redemption grace period and registration period are as shown below:

Extension Auto Renew Grace Period (Days) Redemption   Grace Period (Days) Pending Delete Period (Days)
.COM 44 30 5
.AU 29 1 0
.UK 89 1 0
.ORG 44 30 5
.CO 44 30 5
.NET 44 30 5
.IN 44 30 5
.CA 44 30 7
.DE 1 30 0
.INFO 44 30 5

Therefore, to decide which TLD group to join, it is imperative to know about their percentage rankings. Below is a list showing the distribution of top TLDs by the number of registered domains.

TLD name Number of Registered Domains Percentage Ranking
.com 23,78,81,342 37.10%
.cn 2,65,61,392 4.14%
.de 2,35,82,079 3.68%
.net 2,08,71,007 3.26%
.uk 2,06,70,346 3.22%
.org 1,64,99,711 2.57%
.xyz 1,20,69,608 1.88%
.ru 1,11,34,843 1.74%
.top 95,23,867 1.49%

On an average, there are 200,000 domains that get dropped or deleted on a daily basis. This means that registrars or SEO professionals looking to buy expired domains cannot run short of them when required. For instance, 498,716,212 domains dropped in the last 7 days (from today, that is, 5th Jan 2023).

Difference between Drop and Non-drop domains

Now, when you’re looking for old age domains, it’s necessary to understand the difference between a drop and non-drop domain.

Once a domain enters the pending delete status, and when its period in this status gets over, the domain gets deleted. It is released by the registry, which means that the domain gets dropped. Its WHOIS status is reset.

At the same, if you are looking to buy expired domains, you can also look for non drop domains. These domains retain the WHOIS registration, giving them a higher domain age. This is unlike dropped domains where the age gets reset. Non drop domains never get dropped by the registry. You can buy non drop domains from Domain Coasters as well.

We hope you now have a clear and comprehensive view of what expired domains are all about. Understanding the process of what happens with expired domains will give you more clarity when you proceed to buy domains pertaining to your industry and niche.

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