Should You Take Over A Competitor's Domain Name?

Jul 5, 2013 • 8:30 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

empty shellA HighRanking Forum thread has a site owner asking about expired domain names. Not any expired domain name, an expired domain name of a competitor that went out of business.

He asked if it would be safe to pick the domain name up and 301 redirect it to his site.

He asked:

Whilst they were in business they built up some links to their website and I wondered if it would be worth registering the domain and doing a 301 to our site. Given the minimal cost it seems worth doing, however are there likely to be any negative affects?

(1) Typically, Google may reset the value of a domain name when it expires. But not always.

(2) So you may or may not adopt the benefits and the negatives from that domain name if you 301 it.

(3) You can pick up some of his old customers by redirecting it to your site.

I'd definitely buy it and hold it. I personally would set up a page either 301ed to my site or as a landing page on that site, redirecting humans to do business with my site.

I'd be a bit caution about the domain passing value, I'd analyze the domain name before doing it.

What would you do?

Forum discussion at HighRankings Forum.

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Mark Scully

07/05/2013 12:53 pm

Personally I'd create a custom landing page on the site and 301 them to it. Inform them of the closing down of the competitor, and suggest the benefits of sticking with the site that acquired the domain. It would at least mean the content is relevant to the newly purchased domain, avoid user confusion and capture their attention. Maybe they'd stick around as a new customer.


07/05/2013 12:59 pm

If you are looking to avoid the risk of domain value but want to keep the type in traffic / visits that the domain could offer, surely a 302 redirect would be the better option?

Michael Merritt

07/05/2013 01:57 pm

If Barnes and Noble could redirect the Borders domain to their site when that company went out of business, surely other people can do the same. I'd just first make sure you're not inheriting a bad link profile. If not, 301 it. I like Mark's suggestion of redirecting to a custom landing page. B&N does this for people coming in from the Borders domain.


07/05/2013 02:48 pm

Why would you not consider a 302 redirect rather than sending the users to a landing page? Failing to see how having to make the user locate the link through to your own site would be a good user experience when you could simply use a non equity passing redirect to send them straight there?


07/05/2013 02:54 pm

Yes, redirect to custom landing page every time. Explain, interact and, hopefully, develop a rapport with the new visitors. Nothing worse than the redirecting to a new site without providing an explanation to people arriving.

mark rushworth

07/05/2013 03:53 pm

what he said lol

Michael Merritt

07/05/2013 05:57 pm

It's a redirect to a landing page on the new site. In B&N's case, they use a page that's fairly similar to the main B&N page, but just use a customized welcome to the former Borders customers. And I'd use 301 because it indicates a permanent redirect instead of a temporary one.


07/05/2013 10:40 pm

I would first do a link audit of the site to see if there's any questionable links. There's a reason the competitor went out of business. I once saw a company acquire a former competitor's domain name and they redirected it to a landing page on their site. On that page, they essentially wrote a letter to the customers of the old company--and offered then a deal to "convert them" to using their service. Best case scenario.


07/05/2013 10:43 pm

>> surely other people can do the same. Absolutely NOT! "Other people" aren't B&N, and they don't have their backlink profile and their domain authority. B&N is a rare case. Before redirecting anything, you have to look at the potential consequences, and the backlink profile. I've seen sites get dinged because they were 301 redirecting other domains to 'game' the system so to speak.

Alberto Carranza

07/06/2013 10:10 am

Before you waist you time, go to, upload the the old homepage, install GA, wait 1-2 weeks and decide what to do according to the traffic.... If there is 0 or ~0 traffic, don't waist your time in this domain. If you get some nice traffic, analyze it and see if you can point those traffic sources to your website. As Bhartzer said, there is good reason why the competitor went out, so most of the chances the domain has 0 value.

Dave Fowler

07/08/2013 11:21 am

I know it is not a reliable measure but it is perhaps notable that, although the B&N landing page is in Google's index, the toolbar PageRank is n/a. When live I believe had a toolbar PR of 6. On the surface it looks like the value of 301 redirecting the old domain - in terms of PageRank flow - is suppressed.

Michael Merritt

07/08/2013 12:50 pm

As I said, people should check the backlink profile first.

Michael Merritt

07/08/2013 12:52 pm

Now it probably is. I think the old domain is only effective for a time before not being counted anymore, though I suppose that might not count if it has a really bad link profile.


07/09/2013 09:26 am

Perhaps knowing the reason why the competitor had to leave the business would help figure out some answers.

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