When you have a developed website and are looking for ways to grow your traffic and rankings, redirecting (via 301 redirect) related, expired domain names is a good way to do it. On Lowell.com, I had a difficult time getting inbound links from the city websites and local organizations, as many of them work closely with the city of Lowell. I get frequent compliments and submitted press releases from many of them, so I know they like the site, but getting returned links has been a difficult task.
Needless to say, there are many small organizations and/or Festivals in the city. Some of the Festival organizers have websites that for whatever reason have been neglected. On occasion, they even let these domain names expire, which isn’t a surprise since these have generally not been updated in a while. Oftentimes, these websites have links from businesses, cultural organizations, and government websites in the area (not all .gov though). Most are links without anchor text, so the SEO value is very little, but that isn’t entirely the point.
Instead of letting someone else grab them and park them for the small amount of traffic they receive, I bought a couple and forwarded them to the correct event pages on my website, which contains information about the event history and dates. If/when people type these domain names-in or click on a link, they will get the information they looked to find. Most visitors probably won’t even notice the difference because they simply wanted to learn about the event, and that’s what I am doing. An example was a recent ethnic Festival, and I received about 20 visits from one website that had a link to the old site.
Ironically, the minor league hockey team operates on LowellDevilsHockey.com and LowellDevils.com dropped very recently. I was debating whether to buy it or not and opted against it. I informed all of the executives about the pending drop auction, and their marketing person told me they don’t need the domain name. I opted not to buy this one, as I didn’t want to have to deal with a professional sports organization asking why I own this name, while not understanding how I ended up with it.
The key is to pick and choose which names are worth buying and which could be infringing. Most of the Festivals have generic names, and if the Festival founders ever want the names back, I am more than happy to oblige. However, the hockey team name wasn’t close to being generic in my opinion and wasn’t worth any type of legal trouble. There’s a fine line between being helpful and being harmful, and I didn’t want to be perceived as being harmful.
If you operate websites, you can find expiring domain names that might help build awareness of your site and perhaps even add some SEO value. I want to give a tip of the hat to a friend who is a great SEO for this advice a while ago.