When domain names expire

This has been annoying me for a little while, but just below the level of making me do something about it.

Sometime in 2010 I subscribed to e-mail notifications from the Transmedia Artists Guild blog – it looked interesting, it probably helped me to hook up with Transmedia-interested people at SXSWi 2011 while I was #plate11-ing.

I remember at some point seeing a notification that said something like “So long, and thanks for all the fish!”  So it was over, forget about it.

And then.

Then notifications started popping back up in my e-mail, but with titles like “Limiting sofa time adds years to your life”.  Hmmm…. it turns out transmediaguild.com has now home to a poorly-written blog about how fabulous exercise is with links out mostly to a certain startup gym company – I’m assuming that they’re doing this to generate some “natural” search engine optimisation, by um… writing about themselves on a domain name that has nothing to do with the parent company.   Which is why I’m deliberately not linking to any of this stuff.

Thankfully, I’m only aware of it because I left a feedburner e-mail subscription running, so I can turn it off.

But with a little searching, I can see though that at least serve2011.org, nationalnano.org, bluedogdemocrats.com and tellmeaboutyourselfanswer.com are being used in the same way by the same people…

Can someone who knows more about SEO shenanigans explain what’s going on?

UPDATE: A little bird suggests that googling “Dropped domains SEO” might be useful.  Yes it is, it points me to this – it’s a thing, a ridiculous (to me) thing, but using expired domains for SEO is a well-known thing.  Still don’t know whether this is a well-executed example or not.

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4 thoughts on “When domain names expire”

  1. I can certainly answer from an RSS technical point – not sure about an SEO one…
    When you set-up the feedburner subscription it will have done it’s thing daily and looked for new items in the feed at http://thedomain.com/feed (or whatever) and then sent them to you. When the blog dies, the feedburner subscription, for whatever reason (what if it was just broken for a week or two?), doesn’t. So it will still do it’s thing each day and check thedomain.com/feed, it’s just that it won’t find anything so you are none the wiser. But then one day it does – because whoever has taken over the domain has set-up (knowingly or un-knowingly) a feed with the same address.

    The most likely thing is that both the original and the new blog used the same blogging platform, so had the same default feed address.

    I think that’s how it works anyway ;)

    Presumably from an SEO point the idea is to do this to domains of dead blogs that would have had sizeable followings. Or maybe they don’t even realise it’s happening.

    1. Thanks Jon, yes, I understand what is happening with the feed and I doubt very much that they realise that I’m getting updates.

      I’m now wondering how you’d know about this stuff happening otherwise, I mean why would you go looking? And whether it really provides any SEO advantage over just writing a good, interesting, engaging blog of your own.

  2. If the domain is dead, could it be that the numbers that the system use URLs to point to are reused, and pointed at a different URL?

    1. I think I see what you’re getting at, but no, I’m fairly sure this is deliberate use of those domain names to host blogs which only point to the main business site.

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