Update: Although PBNs still work, they now have a history of being targeted by Google and therefore may not be the safest option. This is why we now focus on creating online businesses that are independent of SEO traffic.
Whether you are starting your private blog network (PBN) or adding to, it is always a challenge to find quality expired domains. Today, most people purchase from auctions as it has become very difficult to find expired domains using the Scrapebox/Xenu method which Hayden popularized a couple of years ago. So, if you don’t want to buy on auction or marketplace like DomainJawa, the alternatives today are to build your own crawler or to try drop catching.
Over the last few years, I have done both and each has its pros and cons. But let’s talk about drop catching today.
First, a definition: Drop catching is the process of registering domains as soon as they are dropped by registrars. This means the person who previously owned the domain, did not renew the registration so the domain is dropped so anyone can register it. The domain is typically dropped 75 days after it expires as it goes through a series of stages before it becomes available for someone else to register.
The Competition in Catching Expired Domains
While this all sounds great in principal, drop catching can very competitive as there are big players involved such as NameJet and Snapnames. You can backorder a domain through them and they will try to catch it for you. Most people, however, will only use services like this for premium domains since there is a fee if they catch the domain. Premium domains are the ones which people are back ordering because they are short names, brandables, have very high page rank, thousands of backlinks or DA above 35.
Yes You Really Can Drop Catch and Be Successful!
That means there are still plenty of DA 20 to 34 domains which can be caught by you and me. In fact, a couple of years ago I used ExpiredDomains.net to perform my drop catching. Here is how it worked.
I would monitor the pending delete domains during two drop periods. The .org which started at 8:30 a.m. Central and the .com and .net which goes from 1-2 p.m. Central. Essentially all I did was hit the refresh button during these time periods and checked the domains which came through, indicating they had not been registered. Once I saw the domain was available, I did a quick spam check and then purchased the domain if it looked good. While a couple of years ago I picked up some excellent domains using this manual method, I doubt it would work today.
This is because people are a lot more sophisticated about drop lists and drop times. A few websites even publish the drop order and drop time like Dnmeter or Dropping. While the drop times vary in their accuracy, the drop order is usually accurate since the registries set the order before the drop and supply this information to registrars. Still, the drop times can be useful to give you an idea of when you should try to drop catch your domain of interest.
Drop Catching Today
So the next question is, how do you drop catch in today’s competitive expired domain market?
- Find clean domains which are DA 20+ and dropping today. I’ll let you read a previous post on spam checking since Hayden wrote an excellent guide. To know what is dropping today, you can go to ExpiredDomains.net
- Sign up for a Dynadot account so you can register domains. I don’t use Godaddy for drop catching because their system is too cumbersome and doesn’t work well when you are trying to register a domain very quickly. Dynadot essentially has a one-click registration system for buying a domain as long as you have funded your account. So make sure you do this before attempting to drop catch a domain.
- Subscribe to Dropping.com or Dnmeter.com to get the drop times.
- About 15 minutes before your domain is about to drop, sign into your Dynadot account. I’ve seen domains drop as much as 15 minutes before their listed drop time so this is why I suggest you get ready early, especially if the domain is in the latter half of the drop.
- Once you are signed in, attempt to register the domain. Continue to do this until you catch the domain or find someone else has registered it. You can check periodically by performing a whois search to see if the expiration date has changed from the present year to a year later. This means the domain has been caught by someone else.
- If you sign up for Dropping.com, you can see the actual drop. What I mean by this is you can see the drop in real time. It’s pretty cool. You can even set alerts to be notified when your domain is about to drop.
One question you may have is can you really catch domains using this method? Absolutely, I tested this in the last couple of weeks and it is still a viable method. I’m not sure how long this will be true as there are lots of do-it-yourselfers out there who are building their own drop catchers.
And this brings up another question. What about people selling drop catchers? Should I buy one? Honestly, I purchased a couple over the years and they worked like crap! So, I don’t recommend it. I’ve built my own this year and my programmer said it was harder than building Expired Domain Miner, my crawler that supplies the domains to DomainJawa.
But does it work? Absolutely! And so does the manual method so I would recommend that for now.