Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog

Screw the Sandbox – Buy an old site.

I’ve gone 5 days without posting….sorry for the silence….I’ve got a new addiction that’s been sucking up my time…I’ve been staying at the office well past midnight, and even when I’m at home, I try to sneak away to my computer to play with my addiction.

So what’s my new addiction? It’s called “Buying Old Websites”, And it’s got me hooked, big time.

In the past 5 day’s I’ve bought 5 domains.

Site 1: A stricly informational site registered in 1996, over 70k backlinks, over 650 backlinks from EDU’s.

Site 2:  An informational website registered in 1995, over 1k backlinks in yahoo, 6 from .edu’s.

Site 3: Site registed in 2001, ~1500 yahoo backlinks, 6 baclinks from edu’s.

Site 4: Site registed in early 2004, ~50 backlinks. (ranks in the top 20 google)

Site 5: Site registered in late 2003, ~50 backlinks. (#7 yahoo)


I’ll admit it, I’m Jim Boykin, and I’m an “Old Site A Holic”

To obtain the 5 above I wrote to about 50 people. I have this little private tool that helps me to find potential sites (don’t ask how), and I sit here running this tool, researching sites ….digging up whois info, and writing….over and over and over….

To heck with buying text links, buying whole sites is so much funner – screw the sandbox.


68 Responses

  1. Nice work Jim…. so you’re privately emaling these guys and offering to buy their sites, not searching webmaster forums and looking for people who are selling?

    Are you splashing out a fair bit for these or what?

    I imagine site #1 would cost a fair bit of money.

    Do you have plans of re-doing all of those 5 sites, or just using the domains?

  2. yes, privately emailing…cost..some more than others….I don’t plan on redoing the sites….only changing the homepage, adding content…but keeping up all old content (and keeping those deep links).

  3. Also, I know you said don’t ask how, but care to share that kinda tool with us? I’m looking at a niche that I doubt you’d be interested in at all, so I’d love to have some help in finding sites that I could possibly purchase.

  4. Todd will break my legs if I tell any more about “how we’re finding” these site. Sorry. The tool we’re using is private, and I’ve gotta keep it that way. .. you can find sites by hand searching…. just takes longer.

  5. Jim – These sites that you are buying, is the domain registration info being changed? If it is won’t Google still see it as a new site and throw it into the sandbox? Or are you simply purchasing the site with them retaining a portion of the ownership so that the registration info doesn’t have to change and you still retain the ‘old site’ status? Sorry… just picking your brain!


  6. Good question….I try to change as little of the whois as possible….getting their register login is the ultimate….beyond that, I try to change as little as possible…that’s all I’ll say.

  7. Addeed:
    [quote]”If it is won’t Google still see it as a new site and throw it into the sandbox?” [/quote]
    I don’t believe they’d sandbox an old site even if it had a new owner….I think that “sandbox” is more focused on “date the site was first found” and doubt it would start again if a site changed hands.

  8. Came to the same conclusion myself, emailed about 150 people picked up 2 domains from 2000 for under $1K. I agree you try and change as little as possible, and don’t do something goofy like adding 500+ new pages.

  9. I’ve been advocating expansion via the buying of websites for a long time now. If there’s one asset type that’s highly undervalued at present it’s websites and – if you’re a webmaster yourself – there’s no smarter investment.

    True, there’s a Google-loves-old-sites angle that seems to have suddenly become very topical (Jagger?). But, even if that was not the case buying a site gives you tons of advantages – from getting a DMOZ listing you couldn’t otherwise get …. to giving you a ready made 10K IBL shell to fill with your topical poker/mesothelioma articles.

  10. [quote] don’t believe they’d sandbox an old site even if it had a new owner….I think that “sandbox” is more focused on “date the site was first found” and doubt it would start again if a site changed hands. [/quote]

    Jim – I’ve heard many rumors of sites being ‘resandboxed’ due to 1 of 3 things.

    1. Domain whois being changed AND site undergoing large structural change.
    2. Old site being ‘stagnant’ and suddenly picking up several thousand new links.
    3. Domain name not being renewed fast enough, and the domain bought (either by the same or another person in either auction or a late domain catch). I’ve heard of this resandboxing even when the content wasn’t chanted.

    Have you seen any evidence of the above?

  11. 1. Change WHOIS and a flag goes up at the plex. They then watch for
    2. Old stagnant site picking up several thousand new links

    I’ve tried using an old domain without changing WHOIS and altering the content with kids gloves. It worked. I’ve tried old domain with new WHOIS, new content, new links. It’s as good as starting a new domain /buying an expired one.

    Domain expiring is not on its own a guarantee of sandbox. I’ve had a client’s old domain expire in Feb, get renewed, and NOT lose any of it’s rankings. The 5K+ IBLs seem to still be working! Google is smarter on the domain issue than many people give them credit for (though amazingly lax elsewhere).

  12. This is a briliant idea if you profit from the the original topic of the website. But I am somehow unsure as for:

    “to giving you a ready made 10K IBL shell to fill with your topical poker/mesothelioma articles.”

    Google is becoming somehow more sofisticated these days.

  13. Don’t change the whois……I bought an old site with a dmoz listing in a competitive area and idiot that I am 🙂 change the whois. Left everything else the same yet very shortly thereafter poof! no more dmoz listing.

  14. Vaclav, I agree….anyone who’d put off topical pages or just bastardize a website would risk loosing their investment (and probably not rank as well either). If you want to utulize “poker” buy an old poker site.

  15. *** ADVERTISEMENT ***

    OK…this wasn’t on my mind when I posted the original post, but I’m going to be an opportunist and offer the service of finding old sites for people to purchase.
    For details, see this page on how to buy a website through We Build Pages.

    *** End of Advertisement ***

  16. Hi Jim,

    I think it should really be highlighted though, that buying old domains is not the way to go if your changing the content, as ANY site can go back into the sandbox filter. I already know that people are going to read this, forget about what you have said Jim, ie. not changing the sites content or whois / very minute, and run off, buy up, then end up in the sandbox. I get so many emails on this, asking me if buying old domains for the age factor, then publishing their content is the way to go. The answer? No. If the site has thousands of backlinks, and you are willing to risk putting in the box, but the overall savings for those established links outweights the filter waiting period, then, Yes, the value is there.

    Just thought I would add this, as I know what this information is going to do in the amateurish hands that it will find.

  17. I like the concept, but I get a bit thrown off by the idea of not changing WHO-IS. This information is supposed to be up to date. Changing WHO-IS, moving hosts even across continents do not trigger the alleged sandbox.

  18. We purchased an old site and changed the whois info and added 200 pages with no problem. It has been 6 weeks now and all new pages are in the top 100.

  19. Interesting comments here – and this is still a very important topic… for me especially.

    I really am unsure as to whether to update the whois or not?

  20. Quick question.

    If I found a recently found an expired domain that is pending a renewal OR deletion, and I plan on pretty much using the site for the same purpose, would it be a good idea to buy it?

    It has ~1300 backlinks from Yahoo.

    Any comments?

  21. Pingback: Out With The New, In With The Old
  22. Hi Jim,

    I came across this post and noticed it is almost 2 years old, and also that you no longer offer your service to help people buy old domains.

    Since things change fast online, I was wondering if you could mention if what you’re talking about in this post is still as relevant today as in 2005? Or would you consider doing an updated post on this?

  23. I have the same question as Justin above. Please let us know the relevancy now in 2007… Also, any chance of releasing your tool? 😉

  24. Jim the Man!
    Great articles, but as Justin was asking, I ponder the same.

    Could you be so kind to offer some updated advice on the seasoned domain game…

    Many Thanks,


  25. Justin, Jason, and Lane….when I originally did this post I opened a big pandora’s box….does the age of a website still matter?….yes, sure does….does buying old sites still work in 2007….yup….I don’t want to say much more, or even update this post….part of me regrets even doing this post (I’d have less competiton in buying old sites if I never posted this)….that’s all I’ll say.

  26. Jim,

    Thanks for the update! I have a unique issue…. I’ve owned for ~4 years now. I am the original registered owner and only owner ever. I moved registrars from directnic to 1and1 but now Google and the wayback machine think ownership has changed… Is there any way to prove I am still the same old owner and for them to fix their records? If you can shoot me a quick e-mail at JFOX {at} I sure would appreciate it!

  27. Jim,

    I found a few really good sites that have great pr, backlinks but hey information on them is private. I’ve made a bid on the domains but i’m not even sure if anyone will respond. Do you have any suggestions for tracking down the ownders of the domains.


  28. I know that this post is 2 years old but this strategy still seems to be valid.

    Any pointers how to get started in this area?

  29. This is an excellent strategy. Does anyone on this board want to collaborate on developing a tool to sift through sites. It cannot be too hard to develop. Millions of domains have to be laying out there with zero activity and the owners would likely enjoy getting some cash to take them off their hands.

  30. If you do not change the WHO-IS could there some confusion as to the actual owner of the domain. If at some future date the site is successful could there not be a danger of litigation with the original owner claiming rights to the site and domain?

  31. I bought a couple of old sites too, they are both around 4 years old. I’ve noticed so far when writing new content, google ranks them much better almost immediately than a newer site. It will be interesting to see if the new pages improve as time elapses.

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