Expired domain strategy for E-commerce sites

Henny10

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Looking for suggestions people.

I have a small e-commerce site selling consumer electronics (3-4 products). Revenue in the best month was around $700k (market peak) but it has settled down to around $160k per month.

Net profit margins are around 30% after all is said and done, VAT (sales tax), fulfillment, product costs, ads, 1 staff member for CS and other incidentals.

IMG_3783.PNG

I kick myself a little bit because I think I have approached the opportunity all wrong and left a lot of money on the table.

I built out a site on WP/Woocommerce and tried to use blog posts to drive traffic to those posts which then lead to the product page.

Fresh domain, DR6 now after a little bit of link building. Homepage is starting to rank for some good KW's but we're talking small traffic numbers - ALL OF MY SALES COME FROM GOOGLE ADS.

If I could do this all over, I would buy a powerful expired domain and build out a standard format e-commerce store, with category pages being the target for my SEO efforts.

I don't think I wouldn't even add a blog to the site. Google doesn't seem to care about blog posts in my niche - the SERPs are all category pages for e-commerce stores.

Very important lesson for me as a novice SEO - you can do as much KW research as you want BUT YOU NEED TO LOOK AT THE SERPs - what is Google ranking?

Anyway - I'm thinking of purchasing a powerful domain to do what I think I should have done first time around. The current site will keep going too.

There is a particular keyword I want to chase with high commercial intent, rated as Medium (16) difficulty on Ahrefs, and the SERP is category pages for e-commerce stores with DR of 50-70, so I'm going to need some power.

I'm happy to be VERY aggressive with this new site because I will have the safety net of the original site.

Does anyone have any advice for me? I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who has gone through the process of ranking an ecom site in a competitive niche.
 

hreyhrey

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I also run a 7 figure (yearly) e-commerce site and the best decision I've ever made was to switch to Shopify. Removes ALL hassle, and since you're primary getting sales from Google ads it shouldn't hurt your limited SEO.
 

mikaop

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Make sure to not fall in keyword cannibalization problems - don't target the a keyword of product name with blog post
 

Henny10

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I also run a 7 figure (yearly) e-commerce site and the best decision I've ever made was to switch to Shopify. Removes ALL hassle, and since you're primary getting sales from Google ads it shouldn't hurt your limited SEO.
How do you feel about the fees? I just can't get my head around what feels like giving Shopify a % of my business.

Do you use Shopify+? I'll give them a second look for sure

Make sure to not fall in keyword cannibalization problems - don't target the a keyword of product name with blog post
I was about to do EXACTLY that when it dawned on me that I had approached the whole thing with the wrong SEO strategy.

I just laughed. It was either that or cry

Sounds like you are the one that should be giving advice. :)
A VERY fortunate niche selection has worked in my favour. Nothing else I've done has been particularly smart
 

Henny10

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You should write a case study on your project.
I'd love to do that - the background story borders on unbelievable

To give enough detail to make it worthwhile I'll probably need to wait until my niche dies though! ;)
 

ContentExpert

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How do you feel about the fees? I just can't get my head around what feels like giving Shopify a % of my business.

Do you use Shopify+? I'll give them a second look for sure
I was about to do EXACTLY that when it dawned on me that I had approached the whole thing with the wrong SEO strategy.

I just laughed. It was either that or cry
A VERY fortunate niche selection has worked in my favour. Nothing else I've done has been particularly smart
I'd love to do that - the background story borders on unbelievable

To give enough detail to make it worthwhile I'll probably need to wait until my niche dies though! ;)
Use the multi-quote feature instead of replying to comments individually:
.

Doing so not only saves you time but ensures you comply with the rules. :)
 

MIRANTHA

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Target long tail kws in your niche.. Blog section is a must. can get decent traffic if did right
 

rafark

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I don't think I wouldn't even add a blog to the site. Google doesn't seem to care about blog posts in my niche
Almost any niche you can think of can have a blog that can rank and bring traffic. You just need to be creative.
 

Afflicted

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I had the same idea about hopping on an expired domain.
I bought 4 pretty good expired domains, and then returned the domains, and abandoned the idea.

By using an expired domain, you're basically continuing with someone elses brand from where they left off.
This could bring issues with trademark or unregistered trademark as they could easily argue that you're pretending to be them as the source of the product/service.

There's a bunch more rules/restrictions about trademarks, but it's just not something I'd want to deal with. Building and learning from the ground up is more beneficial for the long term in my opinion.
 

Henny10

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I had the same idea about hopping on an expired domain.
I bought 4 pretty good expired domains, and then returned the domains, and abandoned the idea.

By using an expired domain, you're basically continuing with someone elses brand from where they left off.
This could bring issues with trademark or unregistered trademark as they could easily argue that you're pretending to be them as the source of the product/service.

There's a bunch more rules/restrictions about trademarks, but it's just not something I'd want to deal with. Building and learning from the ground up is more beneficial for the long term in my opinion.
Good point but you also need to be careful when registering a fresh domain, it’s surprising just how many names are trademarked.

I use the UK trademark search tool and it returns worldwide results.

For an expired domain, one really safe tactic I guess would be to buy what is known as a “descriptive” term, for example, something like “Beds Direct” as names like that cannot be trademarked.

This of course would prevent you from trademarking it as well which might be annoying if you want to build and use the brand exclusively, however, at least you would not have to worry about any potential disputes.
 

Afflicted

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Good point but you also need to be careful when registering a fresh domain, it’s surprising just how many names are trademarked.

I use the UK trademark search tool and it returns worldwide results.

For an expired domain, one really safe tactic I guess would be to buy what is known as a “descriptive” term, for example, something like “Beds Direct” as names like that cannot be trademarked.

This of course would prevent you from trademarking it as well which might be annoying if you want to build and use the brand exclusively, however, at least you would not have to worry about any potential disputes.

Yep, that's true to be careful about new domains!

It's very hard to be picky when scanning for expired domains though - you can't be picky AND find good metrics. You can do one or the other, unless you hit the lottery.

Registered and unregistered trademarks are region specific. And every trademark only applies to their specific niche where they built the brand. And if your brand is simply descriptive words, you are unlikely to get proper protection ("descriptive fair use"). Your brand would need to be fanciful to gain full protection. AND you need to keep on top of protecting your brand or else they will retract the trademark.

If you're running a ton of revenue, I think a fanciful brand is a lot smarter than running descriptive terms. Because people will remember you for your brand at that point. Using descriptive terms can be beneficial for starting out, because your brand aligns directly with the search term - making you look more official/credible than you actually are. But when people come around to re-buy, there's no brand recognition with a descriptive term brand - they'll buy from anyone.

Example:
If you're selling white jeans and you're called "White Jeans Store" - it's a quick hack to look specialized, official for some credibility but "descriptive fair use" is working against you if you're thinking long term. And it's difficult to expand past selling just white jeans.

Example 2:
If you're selling white jeans and you're called "Ultra Green Dawgs" - it could be built into a big thing, I can think of a few types of pants where people refer to the descriptive item as the fanciful brand name. (tight black yoga pants for one, most popular blue jeans for another)

Some more things about expired domains you should know:
-We don't know how search engines react to people picking up expired domains.
-The PageRank was built with a mix of the previous owners on-page and off-page seo. You don't align with either of those at all, whatsoever. I don't think search engines will be happy to see that the content is totally different and off topic.

From my researching, a lot of black hatters suggest to use wayback machine and re-create the original website. But that is copyright violation.
 

Henny10

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Yep, that's true to be careful about new domains!

It's very hard to be picky when scanning for expired domains though - you can't be picky AND find good metrics. You can do one or the other, unless you hit the lottery.

Registered and unregistered trademarks are region specific. And every trademark only applies to their specific niche where they built the brand. And if your brand is simply descriptive words, you are unlikely to get proper protection ("descriptive fair use"). Your brand would need to be fanciful to gain full protection. AND you need to keep on top of protecting your brand or else they will retract the trademark.

If you're running a ton of revenue, I think a fanciful brand is a lot smarter than running descriptive terms. Because people will remember you for your brand at that point. Using descriptive terms can be beneficial for starting out, because your brand aligns directly with the search term - making you look more official/credible than you actually are. But when people come around to re-buy, there's no brand recognition with a descriptive term brand - they'll buy from anyone.

Example:
If you're selling white jeans and you're called "White Jeans Store" - it's a quick hack to look specialized, official for some credibility but "descriptive fair use" is working against you if you're thinking long term. And it's difficult to expand past selling just white jeans.

Example 2:
If you're selling white jeans and you're called "Ultra Green Dawgs" - it could be built into a big thing, I can think of a few types of pants where people refer to the descriptive item as the fanciful brand name. (tight black yoga pants for one, most popular blue jeans for another)

Some more things about expired domains you should know:
-We don't know how search engines react to people picking up expired domains.
-The PageRank was built with a mix of the previous owners on-page and off-page seo. You don't align with either of those at all, whatsoever. I don't think search engines will be happy to see that the content is totally different and off topic.

From my researching, a lot of black hatters suggest to use wayback machine and re-create the original website. But that is copyright violation.
All good points

And I agree 100% on being picky about expired domains - it makes it difficult to find something suitable

One thing to know about trademarks is that it is VERY easy to apply for worldwide protection once the domestic mark is in place. For that reason many US/UK/EU trademark holders have worldwide protection, not just domestic.

It is not safe to assume that the trademark holder won’t come after you just because you operate in a different country from them - there are many trademark management services that keep on top of this for trademark holders, and so it’s not easy to stay under the radar “forever”

And to truly build a brand properly, one that people will remember when they go to make that repeat purchase - it’s not quick or cheap

I suppose different consumers respond differently to brands. If you sell a needs based product and have good reviews and a good website/pricing etc. the consumer is not likely to be influenced anywhere near as much by the brand (or lack of) maybe compared to someone selling clothing or cosmetics where brand recognition is crucial

Without getting too specific, my market don’t appear to care very much about branding, there are a number of successful stores with VERY generic names
 

Digirulz

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Ranking in the SERPs Matter for E-Commerce Businesses -

Ranking in the SERPs matters for e-commerce businesses because it brings organic traffic to their website and Even with the challenges facing e-commerce like limited or duplicate content, high competition, and common SEO errors, there’s plenty of ways to get noticed by the search engines.

These are the 8 Ways to Get Your E-Commerce Website to Rank in the SERPs -

1 - Optimize Your Product Pages -

A - Creating a Visually Appealing and Clearly Presentation of your Product's Feature and Benefits
B - Confirm your target audience can quickly find the information they need to decide on your products
C - Have a clear Call to Action (CTA)
D - Include Reviews and testimonials
E - Optimize Meta Title and Descriptions
F - Include Long Tail Keywords
G - Use Psychology and Color Psychology

2 - Modify Your Site’s Hierarchy -

You need to get this part right because the way you organize content makes or breaks your conversion rates as your hierarchy defines how easy it is for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

Here are some tips for better site structure -

A - Take time to plan the structure
B - Add product tags
C - Keep Content Evergreen
D - Review permalinks
E - Incorporate an inward linking structure
F - Ensure you organize all subcategories

3 - Focus on the Right Keywords -

Everyone knows importance of keywords. You also understand long-tail keywords are vital, but are you focusing on the right ones?

You’re looking for keywords :

A - With a good number of monthly searches
B - That are profitable
C - With have low competition

There’s plenty of free and paid tools to identify these. Try -

A - Ubersuggest
B - Google’s search engine
C - The “People also ask” feature on Google
D - Ahrefs
E - Moz
F - WordStream
G - SEMush

4 - Reduce Site Loading Time -

The longer a user has to wait for a site to load, the more likely they are to click away and Slow loading times can impact conversion and bounce rates and result in a poor user experience.

If you find your site is slower than average, consider taking the following steps to accelerate speed -

A - Use fewer images per page
B - Optimize your photos with compression tools like Photoshop, or use free tools like PhotoPea.
C - Create a site map.
D - Establish an effective navigation system.
E - Consider changing your web host.
F - Optimize video content and reduce the size.
G - Avoid unneeded tools, like excessive plug-ins or redirects.
H - Limit coding or compress it.

5 - Increase Your Incoming Links -

Inbound links are a vital component of SEO and can increase your website’s ranking on search engines.

There are several ways to get them -

A - Social Media
B - Use Quora
C - Create internal links
D - Get repeat buyers to promote
E - Join online communities
F - Write guest posts for your niche
G - Create FAQ pages
H - Issue press releases

6 - Research Your Competitors -

Researching your competitors is one of the best ways to understand what is likely to work for your business.

These can enable you to uncover all sorts of information, like -

A - Backlinking opportunities
B - Gaps in the market
C - Keywords
D - Differentiation points.

7 - Use A/B Testing -

A/B testing measures the conversion rates for different variations of a landing page to identify which variations perform better.

There are 3 different types of A/B testing that you can use -

A - Split testing
B - Multivariate testing
C - Clickthrough rate testing

Common areas of your e-commerce to test are -

A - Product descriptions/pages
B - Headlines
C - CTA placement/color
D - Headlines
E - Font
F - Free shipping/special offers
G - Overall color scheme

The best approach is to A/B test over time to see what works. Experts recommend 7 to 14 days at a minimum.

8 - Optimize for Mobile -

Mobile device use is far more than a passing trend.

In other words, a mobile-optimized website is essential for enhancing your SERPs and product sales.

Make your e-commerce website mobile responsive -

A - Keep your text size readable at all times.
B - Change the background color of the webpage to black or white.
C - Add high-contrast colors to help readability on mobile devices, like black and white.
D - Test your website on a variety of different browsers and devices.
E - Provide a mobile-friendly checkout process.
F - Use smartphone-specific features such as QR codes and barcodes.
G - Optimize your site’s URLs for search engines and smartphone users.
H - Compress images to reduce loading time on low bandwidth connections.
I - Promote any special discounts or promotions that might be happening on the site.

Conclusion -

There are several stages to enhance your e-commerce website. The first step is to optimize your website for search engines through keyword research, on-page optimization, and backlink building. It’s also imperative to focus on site hierarchy, page loading times, and mobile optimization.
 

Henny10

Newbie
Joined
Jun 5, 2021
Messages
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Ranking in the SERPs Matter for E-Commerce Businesses -

Ranking in the SERPs matters for e-commerce businesses because it brings organic traffic to their website and Even with the challenges facing e-commerce like limited or duplicate content, high competition, and common SEO errors, there’s plenty of ways to get noticed by the search engines.

These are the 8 Ways to Get Your E-Commerce Website to Rank in the SERPs -

1 - Optimize Your Product Pages -

A - Creating a Visually Appealing and Clearly Presentation of your Product's Feature and Benefits
B - Confirm your target audience can quickly find the information they need to decide on your products
C - Have a clear Call to Action (CTA)
D - Include Reviews and testimonials
E - Optimize Meta Title and Descriptions
F - Include Long Tail Keywords
G - Use Psychology and Color Psychology

2 - Modify Your Site’s Hierarchy -

You need to get this part right because the way you organize content makes or breaks your conversion rates as your hierarchy defines how easy it is for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

Here are some tips for better site structure -

A - Take time to plan the structure
B - Add product tags
C - Keep Content Evergreen
D - Review permalinks
E - Incorporate an inward linking structure
F - Ensure you organize all subcategories

3 - Focus on the Right Keywords -

Everyone knows importance of keywords. You also understand long-tail keywords are vital, but are you focusing on the right ones?

You’re looking for keywords :

A - With a good number of monthly searches
B - That are profitable
C - With have low competition

There’s plenty of free and paid tools to identify these. Try -

A - Ubersuggest
B - Google’s search engine
C - The “People also ask” feature on Google
D - Ahrefs
E - Moz
F - WordStream
G - SEMush

4 - Reduce Site Loading Time -

The longer a user has to wait for a site to load, the more likely they are to click away and Slow loading times can impact conversion and bounce rates and result in a poor user experience.

If you find your site is slower than average, consider taking the following steps to accelerate speed -

A - Use fewer images per page
B - Optimize your photos with compression tools like Photoshop, or use free tools like PhotoPea.
C - Create a site map.
D - Establish an effective navigation system.
E - Consider changing your web host.
F - Optimize video content and reduce the size.
G - Avoid unneeded tools, like excessive plug-ins or redirects.
H - Limit coding or compress it.

5 - Increase Your Incoming Links -

Inbound links are a vital component of SEO and can increase your website’s ranking on search engines.

There are several ways to get them -

A - Social Media
B - Use Quora
C - Create internal links
D - Get repeat buyers to promote
E - Join online communities
F - Write guest posts for your niche
G - Create FAQ pages
H - Issue press releases

6 - Research Your Competitors -

Researching your competitors is one of the best ways to understand what is likely to work for your business.

These can enable you to uncover all sorts of information, like -

A - Backlinking opportunities
B - Gaps in the market
C - Keywords
D - Differentiation points.

7 - Use A/B Testing -

A/B testing measures the conversion rates for different variations of a landing page to identify which variations perform better.

There are 3 different types of A/B testing that you can use -

A - Split testing
B - Multivariate testing
C - Clickthrough rate testing

Common areas of your e-commerce to test are -

A - Product descriptions/pages
B - Headlines
C - CTA placement/color
D - Headlines
E - Font
F - Free shipping/special offers
G - Overall color scheme

The best approach is to A/B test over time to see what works. Experts recommend 7 to 14 days at a minimum.

8 - Optimize for Mobile -

Mobile device use is far more than a passing trend.

In other words, a mobile-optimized website is essential for enhancing your SERPs and product sales.

Make your e-commerce website mobile responsive -

A - Keep your text size readable at all times.
B - Change the background color of the webpage to black or white.
C - Add high-contrast colors to help readability on mobile devices, like black and white.
D - Test your website on a variety of different browsers and devices.
E - Provide a mobile-friendly checkout process.
F - Use smartphone-specific features such as QR codes and barcodes.
G - Optimize your site’s URLs for search engines and smartphone users.
H - Compress images to reduce loading time on low bandwidth connections.
I - Promote any special discounts or promotions that might be happening on the site.

Conclusion -

There are several stages to enhance your e-commerce website. The first step is to optimize your website for search engines through keyword research, on-page optimization, and backlink building. It’s also imperative to focus on site hierarchy, page loading times, and mobile optimization.
Thanks for taking the time to lay this out. A lot of good information in there.

Taking time to plan structure is something I definitely didn't do properly the first time around. Thinking that over for a couple of days would have been so worth it.

I'll be giving that, and many of your other points some serious attention on the next site.

Is your business kinda drop shipping ?
No I keep all of my stock on hand. Or at least, the 3PL does these days.

Very tough in the beginning as I was only able to buy in a small amount of stock (£10k-£15k) at a time, and ran out of stock a couple of times as I couldn't get fresh stock into the country quickly enough.

Fortunately, there were industry-wide shortages of stock and so for a 2-3 week period I was able to sell a high volume of goods and hold off customers because every one else was suffering the same issue and it wasn't like my customers could get the goods any faster elsewhere.

All in all it was a very fortunate situation, and the proceeds from the weeks where no-one had any stock allowed me to make much larger ($500k approx.) orders with my manufacturers.

Stock isn't an issue any longer.

I sympathise with anyone starting out as it's incredibly difficult to get the capital required to buy in stock, and everyone thinks you're crazy.

My preference is always to hold stock rather than dropshipping
 

Henny10

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Are you referring to long tail keywords that are buying intent or generally about the picked niche?
It would be interesting to hear what that user has to say about this. I don't disagree that blogs are useful, but for e-commerce, once you have rinsed all the main KW's with your category and product pages I'm not sure just how much value is left in chasing after extremely long tail KW's via blog posts.
Those are huge chunks of cash, that's amazing
Thanks man, it pulled me out of a hole that's for sure. I stuck a screenshot of some of the Stripe payouts purely as a bit of inspiration for others. I love reading about others successes, drives me on a bit
 
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