Google Doesn’t Count Existing Backlinks When You Get An Expired or Drop Domain

Danny Sullivan, search engine guru, just published a post on this blog,, in which he got the “Official Word” from Matt Cutts of how Google treats existing links when a domain is transferred, sold or dropped:

Mr. Cutts distinguished between, “domain transfers ( e.g. genuine purchases of companies) where it can make perfect sense for existing links to transfer.” and the links from an “expired or effectively expired domains” of which he said:

“””The sort of stuff our systems would be designed to detect would be things like someone trying to buy expired domains or buying domains just for links.”””

So according to Mr Sullivan, having chatted with  Mr. Cutts if you get an expired or dropping domain” chances are, the back links aren’t going to be counted by Google anymore.

Google detects domain transfers, resales, new registrations of previously owned domains and even domains obtained in domain drop auctions and in most cases of new registrations of existing domains or drop auction domains, will disregard all existing links.

According to Mr. Sullivan “If you buy a web site from an existing owner, and continue business on that site as normal, there seems to be a good chance that link credit will continue as normal.”

“If you get a domain due to a company acquisition – company A buys company B? You should be OK, thought it’s unclear how Google tells the difference here from an ordinary transfer. And no, Google wouldn’t share more on how they can tell the difference.”””

However on the question of does domain registration length effect your Google rank, Mr. Cutts told Mr. Sullivan:

“”To the best of my knowledge, no search engine has ever confirmed that they use length-of-registration as a factor in scoring. If a company is asserting that as a fact, that would be troubling.””

A very interesting article which I urge you to to read in its entirety.

One of the only times I have seen a representative of Google actually answer questions on how its search engine ranks sites.

Yesterday we wrote a post on why people pay more money from domains at drop service auctions rather than domains owned by people.

With this acknowledgment you might want to consider more private purchases, although if the content of the site changes, you may still not get credit for all existing links, but you would seem to have a better shot at it.


  1. says

    …which if correct should obviously be a(nother) factor in favor of buying existing (i.e. non-dropped) domains.

    Mike (and you other regular drop buyers); for those who’ve done such research, what has your experience been in regards to before-and-after search engine positions of drops you’ve bought?

  2. MHB says


    We do not buy domains on Google PR rankings, don’t even look to see if the domain has one.

    As Mr. Sullivan stated this is not a new policy but the first time someone at Google went on record to simply confirm this.

    We also do not buy domains that just have traffic unless the traffic is due to it being a good domain.

    Domains that have high alexa, that don’t mean anything, have always been a crap shoot, many of them with backlinks and spam traffic, so we are not a buyer of these.

    I have always urged people to spend their money on domains that mean something and can be used for a site.

    This just confirms this strategy

  3. says

    Google is smart. It’s really not that hard to make up a list of things that Google should look at and take off points for.

    I recently transferred a six+ year old site that had a PR6 from one registrar to another and now (maybe by coincidence) the site has a PR5.

    So, maybe just transferring from one registrar to another will get a knock off your page rank.

  4. says


    I’ve been experimenting with this – grabbing drops with backlinks and developing them and seeing if we can get rank in the top 10. I suspect this is not the case, perhaps only for ‘competitive terms’

    I’ve have results to share soon.

    – Richard

  5. says

    ya this is old news, so old its not even funny, but its nice that it domainers are catching up? are they? but how are people going to value their domains based on what?

  6. says

    Yeah, I had noticed that a few months ago when I bought a dropped domain that was still listed in Google after about a year of being expired. Bought it because I liked the name, not because of the links. And then I noticed that the rating had gone down, so I assumed that was because of it. Steadily built the domain back to beyond what it was ranking before I even bought it :)

  7. says

    I had some problems renewing my domain because my credit card was stolen so my website was down for two days, google completely removed me from all the keywords i initially ranked very well, i think google trying to be too smart somethings has its down side.

  8. says

    I have had a few people drop by and leave comments on my site. It truly is amazing when people start commenting on your blog. I enjoy reflecting on and writing the entries and it is nice to know that I am not the only one reading them (which would be ok since I mainly do this for myself). But, oh the feeling you get knowing that other’s are with you.

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