A personal injury attorney reached out to me today to inquire about 301 redirecting a website they purchased to their existing site (I do SEO for a wide variety of attorneys and hear from them 365 days a year). Attorneys are interesting as they like to learn about SEO. I know a variety of medical professionals who do not even visit their own websites, so it is interesting to see the contrast.
Should I 301 redirect a site to mine?
This individual picked up an expired domain at an auction. Expired domains are purchased through websites such as Pool.com, Snapnames, GoDaddy, etc.
The point here is to buy a domain that someone else scrapped or forgot about which already has backlinks to it. When the site is revived (or redirected) it still has its SEO value.
Most people use this tactic when building PBNs (private blog networks) which they use for spamming or manipulating the google search rankings of a target site. But, in other cases, people simply redirect the old site to their main site for the “link juice”.
This does work, however there is risk involved. I would never personally do this for an important site or recommend that anyone do this for a domain that they would like to last a lifetime. If you do not mind the risks involved, however, it does work.
In fact, this has worked forever. I personally know someone who has been building out sites this was since around 1999. It is now 2017, and they have been ranking sites this way for 18 years now. They are married and support their wife and children by being an Internet entrepreneur, and they make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
This works for attorneys as well. For example, one of the top ranking lawyer sites in LA ranks due to their 301 redirects.
Why doesn’t Google fix this?
Google hasn’t spoken up on this topic. If you ask me, it is because they don’t want people finding out about it. However, I have many thoughts:
- This would be difficult to police. There are many legitimate reasons why domains expire, get redirected, and change hands. People forget to renew their domains, businesses change hands, and all sorts of events take place causing websites to disappear from Google for a month or two and then pop back up elsewhere.
- Most people using this tactic churn and burn sites. A lot of people are in to their redirected sites for $10 – $80. They blast them with spam or abuse them until they are penalized and then scrap them. They do this all day long and simply do not care about the domain enough to take care of it. People who do this are usually trying to make a few bucks on AdSense or Amazon affiliate ads. They are not big enough fish to go after, and in the grand scheme of things are really not causing enough of a disruption to Google’s users to create a poor user experience.
In other words, it just isn’t that big of a problem.
I do know that Google does not want you to do this, though. Google states: “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” (source)
Mistakes when 301 redirecting
- Lost links. If you do not rebuild a site’s content, pages which were linked to at one point lose their links. For example, if the site you purchased had a page that was linked to from CNN called website.com/balloons.html, if you do not rebuild the /balloons.html page, you could lose that valuable CNN link. In many cases, the most important links were pointed at the home page, making this irrelevant anyways.
- Domain forwarding. This often results in a 302 or a failed redirect. For example, see my article on GoDaddy domain forwarding and why it doesn’t work correctly.
Are links that important though?
In the early 2000s, sites with lots of links performed well.
Then what was important, was the source of the link- the more powerful the site which linked to you, the better.
As of 2017, what maters a lot is geographical and topical relevance. I personally operate some very, very powerful websites which have obtained natural links used in context. When you are cited naturally by a page, it is very valuable. For example, if I owned a website about animals and had a page about the platypus, I may want to reference the Wikipedia page about platypus venom in case people wanted more information.
When Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, this is what he had in mind, as the links created a web of information.
It only makes sense that as Google becomes smarter, utilizes artificial intelligence, and factors in user behavior metrics that contextually meaningful links which add value to content will continue to be the most important.
Need help ranking?
I have been creating content which gets cited since 1992 for a wide variety of niches around the planet. I am familiar with every black hat and white hat tactic out there and have a plethora of link building ideas. If you need help ranking and do not want to upset the search engines feel free to contact me today.