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Old 09-09-2005   #1
bhartzer
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Should Search Engines Ban Expired Domain Names?

When a domain name isn't renewed by its owner, should search engines automatically ban a domain name from its index? I don't think so. Here's why:

A domain name, in my opinion, is just like a piece of real estate--or a plot of land. It has a location. If you do not pay your taxes, a government entity has the right to take it over and sell that land to the highest bidder. You may have paid $100,000 three years ago for that land--but if you do not pay your taxes I have the right to bid on it and purchase it from the government. And I might purchase it for half or a third of what you paid for it.

It should be the same for domain names. I consider them like "real estate". You have to pay your domain name registration fees. If you do not pay your fees, then you will lose ownership of that domain name, plain and simple.

I honestly don't understand the reasoning behind why a search engine thinks that they feel they can disrupt this completely legal, natural process of the buying and selling of domain "real estate". I understand that a lot of spammers have been involved with the buying of expired domains in the past, but the current owners of domain names need to understand that you must pay your domain name registration fees--and if you don't (just like not paying your taxes), you will lose ownership of it.

Say, for example, that you own a gas station next to a busy highway. If the bank forecloses on your property, then you will lose the gas station and the business. Just because that gas station closes down doesn't mean that the highway traffic will stop driving by. If that gas station is for sale and I purchase it, I have a legal right to sell gas on that property. If you own a good domain name and there's a lot of "traffic" going to it and you lose that domain name I have the right to purchase it and start selling something on it--perhaps the same product. I don't think it's "natural" for a search engine to step in and disrupt the normal "traffic flow" to a location.
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Old 09-09-2005   #2
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If you own a good domain name and there's a lot of "traffic" going to it and you lose that domain name I have the right to purchase it and start selling something on it--perhaps the same product. I don't think it's "natural" for a search engine to step in and disrupt the normal "traffic flow" to a location.
The problem with that is that a search engine couldn't care less about traffic (or anyone's business except their own) - all they care about is relevance (which makes them popular and therefore good for their own business).

Nobody links to a domain - they link to a website. When that website disappears, so does the honest vote for the site.

As an analogy, nobody votes for the president. They vote for a particular person for the presidents position. You can't assume that all the people who voted for the last president will still vote for the new one. They might, but you can't assume it.

The position/title/domain might be the same, but not the underlying reason for the vote in the first place.

As a further practical reason - what if one day you decided to change your domain name? And a search engine insisted that all the votes for your site going to the previous domain stayed with the domain rather than letting them be redirected to your new site?

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Old 09-09-2005   #3
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You bring up some valid points.
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Nobody links to a domain - they link to a website. When that website disappears, so does the honest vote for the site.
Actually, I would like to believe that they link to the content, not necessarily a domain or a website.

I definitely agree that search engines are into relevance--and that's what they should be concerned about. However, the search engines do not know what content is going to appear on a site until it appears. So, by completely removing a domain from their index they're assuming that there will be irrelevant, off-topic content on a domain when it appears again.

The search engines need to worry about content that currently exists and whether or not that content is relevant, not content that might exist in the future.
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Old 09-10-2005   #4
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If the site remains the same but the owner changes, then I see no reason why the engine would care or want to ban/remove it.

However, if the site completely changes its content or focus, then I can perfectly understand why an engine might want to wipe out its existing information regarding the site, and the site would start fresh.

I have no idea if they do this or even attempt to, but that's what I would guess they would eventually strive for, if it were possible.
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Old 09-11-2005   #5
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if the site completely changes its content or focus, then I can perfectly understand why an engine might want to wipe out its existing information regarding the site, and the site would start fresh.
My thoughts exactly. If the content, focus, or even the owner of the site changes then fine--the engines should discount or ignore the backlinks, PR, and any other 'factor' that benefits a site's rankings.

I don't understand the reasoning behind a complete ban on a domain before the domain even expires, which appears to happen when a domain gets to the 'pending delete' status. Truly the engines have the power to zero out the PR, ignore backlinks, etc. without completely banning a domain from its index.

By putting a ban on a domain is like putting a 'death wish' on a domain. We all know the negative effects of getting a site banned in a search engine. What has a domain done to deserve a ban when it hasn't even expired yet?
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Old 09-11-2005   #6
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I don't understand the reasoning behind a complete ban on a domain before the domain even expires, which appears to happen when a domain gets to the 'pending delete' status.
What makes you think this happens?
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Old 09-12-2005   #7
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When a domain goes 'pending delete' the PR is zeroed out (even a former PR6 site gets a PR0) and it is completely removed from the index.
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Old 09-12-2005   #8
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'pending delete' is a new one on me. It sounds like someone came up with a theory - not the things to rely on.

The PR0 penalty is as old as the Google hills, and it doesn't mean that a site is about to be deleted from the index.
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Old 09-12-2005   #9
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Not only is the domain given a PR0 (PageRank Zero), it's also completely removed from the index before it actually expires. The domain is banned.
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Old 09-12-2005   #10
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When a domain name isn't renewed by its owner, should search engines automatically ban a domain name from its index?
When did you stop hitting your wife? Why did you stop dealing drugs?

Can you see the flaw in all three questions, including yours? No? Well it is simple really: the question presupposes stuff. When did you stop hitting your wife supposes that you ever did hit her. Ditto drug dealing. And your questions assumes that a domain name is automatically banned when it isn't renewed by its owner. Can you perhaps provide some proof?

There is evidence that links are zeroed, but that is hardly the same thing as a ban. If you start link building anew, you will not find the site penalised in anyway AFAIK.

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Say, for example, that you own a gas station next to a busy highway. If the bank forecloses on your property, then you will lose the gas station and the business. Just because that gas station closes down doesn't mean that the highway traffic will stop driving by.
It is not like a busy highway at all. If I buy the same gast station next to a highway that is bypassed by a faster freeway, I lose my business. SEO traffic isn't like a highway or gas station. Highways are entities that exist in a researchable environment. I can check if a new freeway is being planned. I can read that the mine down the road is closing, or a town's economy is up the stink hole.

SEO traffic isn't an immutable or constant highway. It is dynamic, and changes daily. It is nothing like a highway, which is the fastest way between two points. It is more like a restaurant guide that changes year to year. If a restaurant lost their business, and you set up with the same name and different chefs, would you expect a restaurant guide to continue to give you the same review and mark out of ten? It is a legal and honest way to do business after all...

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I honestly don't understand the reasoning behind why a search engine thinks that they feel they can disrupt this completely legal, natural process of the buying and selling of domain "real estate".
I honestly don't see why you think that buying other people's hard work should be rewarded by search engines. Why is buying a domain a good enough justification for continuing SEO traffic? What if a domain's content changed from children's puzzles to porn? Surely just zeroing links is the easiest method of avoiding such problems.

Make no bones about this, you are benefitting from other people's work, have no contract with the search engines and no reason to believe that the traffic will continue. If you buy a domain because it has good SEO traffic, you have to expect this sort of thing.

And really, a $10 punt on registering the domain name, $30 in hosting and no effort on your part isn't a terribly big risk. To assume that you deserve anything is, to me, silly. If you takes the punt, you takes the risks. If you don't know the risks going in, you needs to do some more research.
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Old 09-14-2005   #11
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your questions assumes that a domain name is automatically banned when it isn't renewed by its owner. Can you perhaps provide some proof?
Proof? Sure, I can provide proof--go find a domain name in pending delete status--it will be banned in Google. You can find plenty of the if you look at any of the 'drop lists'. There are quite a few services out there specializing in expired domain names. Or, just go find any domain that has actually expired in the past few months. They will be banned in Google and have zero PR.
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I honestly don't see why you think that buying other people's hard work should be rewarded
There really isn't a reward there per se. If you spent a lot of hard work building a house and you don't pay your taxes then you'll lose that house. If you don't pay your domain name registration fee you'll lose your domain. I consider a domain to be online 'real estate'.
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Old 09-14-2005   #12
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You are making 2 mistakes.

One is that a PR0 indicates a "pending delete" status, but it doesn't. PR0 indicates a PageRank in the zero range of the Toolbar. It also sometimes indicates that a site has been penalised. In the latter case, a deletion doesn't auomatically follow.

The other is that deletion = banned. It doesn't. Banned = penalty, but deletion can be for a number of reasons, one of which may be that a domain has expired, and another of which may be that a domain is actually banned.

The idea that a domain is real estate doesn't fly with me. It isn't like a house that remains a house even when the ownership changes. A domain usually/often changes the nature of its content after it has expired and somebody else picks it up. There is no reason for an engine, or for the rest of us, to think that a domain's attributes (IBLs, etc.) should be kept after the domain has expired.
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Old 09-14-2005   #13
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PR0 indicates a "pending delete" status
It's the other way around. All I know is that when a domain changes from the on-hold to pending delete stus the PR goes from whatever it was before (perhaps a PR4, for example), to zero. Then domain is then banned in the index.

As far as I'm concerned, a domain is banned or it's not. It's not in the index. I cannot tell whether it's penalized or not because it's completely removed from the index, the same as if someone got a penalty for having nasty search engine spam on their site. Either the domain is in the index or it's not. It's banned. If it's not in the index, then only a manual review from a Google employee will get it back into the index.

If someone is interested in protecting all their hard SEO work on a domain then gee--maybe perhaps they should make sure they pay their domain registration fees.

There are plenty of good domain names out there that expire every day. A lot of them aren't being used and are left to expire by their current owners. Perhaps they thought they'd put up a great site on that domain someday but never got around to it. So, they let it expire. I come along and want that domain name, so I register it and establish a site on it. But wait--it's banned in Google! You mean to tell me that I must request a manual review via a re-inclusion request from Google just go get that domain name back in the index?

Most new website owners don't know that they must request a manual review to get their domain name in the index.

Domain names shouldn't be automatically banned before they expire.
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Old 09-14-2005   #14
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To the best of my knowledge, there's no such think as a "pending delete status" than can be visibly recognised. When a site's pages are not in the index, the Toolbar PR indicator is greyed out. When it shows PR0, the page is in the index. It may or may not be penalised, but it isn't banned.

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Domain names shouldn't be automatically banned before they expire.
What makes you think that happens? You seem to be misreading something. It's believed that Google does act against domains that have expired, and rightly so.

To my way of thinking, search engines should delete all references to expired domains so that they can start afresh if they are picked up by a new owner. But that isn't so easy. Suppose somebody picks up an expired domain after all reference to the domain has been totally cleared from the index, and the domain (site) has a load of IBLs still pointing to it because the other site's aren't aware that the domain expired. The new owner creates a new site and the engine finds it. Now there's a brand new site with no IBLs of its own, but there are a load of historic IBLs pointing to it that have nothing to do with the new site, and aren't intended for the new site. Why should the new site receive all those benefits that are not intended?

It's not a particularly easy problem for links-based engines. The first answer that comes to mind is that expired domains receive a fixed period ban - say 6 months or so. That would give linking sites time to clear the unintended links. Another answer might be to flag all the old links so that they don't count, at least for a fixed period, but that could get very messy.
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Old 09-14-2005   #15
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To the best of my knowledge, there's no such think as a "pending delete status" than can be visibly recognised.
Use a whois service to look up a domain name that's going to expire. It shows as "pending delete". Google is a registrar. They have direct access to that information. And you and I can look it up using whois.

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search engines should delete all references to expired domains so that they can start afresh if they are picked up by a new owner.
I agree with you. But they shouldn't do it before a domain actually expires, which is what they're doing right now.

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there are a load of historic IBLs pointing to it that have nothing to do with the new site...
That should be up to the site owners who link to that domain--they should be aware of who they're linking to. It's not the search engine's responsibility.

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Why should the new site receive all those benefits that are not intended?
They shouldn't receive all those 'benefits' necessarily. But again, an expired domain that doesn't have those benefits shouldn't be banned just because it expired. All domains are automatically banned before they actually expire whether or not they had any links going to them--and even if it never had content on it at any time.

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expired domains receive a fixed period ban - say 6 months or so
Fixed period bans do not happen currently--there's no such thing. An expired domain is banned until the website owner puts real content on the domain and makes a re-inclusion request--and a Google employee manually reviews it.
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Last edited by bhartzer : 09-14-2005 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 09-14-2005   #16
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My mistake. I thought you'd meant the "pending delete" thing to be something that Google does.

How do you know that Google is doing it before the domain expires. Can you show an example or three? Are you sure that the 'pending delete' status is *before* the domain has actually expired, and not in a period of grace after it's date is up?

I don't agree that site owners should check their links often in case a domain expires. It's not a bad idea but the idea of almost requiring them to do it isn't a good one, imo. I favour the idea of an expired domain having to start from scratch.
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Old 09-14-2005   #17
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Can you show an example or three?
There are over 20,000 domains that will expire tomorrow. Check any one of them (they all will be in Pending Delete status) and every one of them will be banned in Google and have a PR0.
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Old 09-14-2005   #18
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Bill, I think you are missing a few steps that are built into the system.

When a domain expires, its status becomes “REGISTRY-DELETE-NOTIFY” and at this point is not deleted from the zone file for 30 days, as long as your registrar hasn't requested a delete, and allows you some protection in the event you accidentally allow a domain to expire.

Even if your registrar requests the deletion of a domain name, it still must go into 30 days of the “REDEMPTIONPERIOD" status. However, the domain is deleted from the zone file.


Only then does it enter the "PENDINGDELETE" status, and that is a five day period.
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Old 09-14-2005   #19
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Thanks for clearing that up, unreviewed. I'm going to check various domains and their statuses to see if I can pinpoint exactly when the ban occurs. But, in any case, it's actually before the domain actually expires.
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