Lordy Lordy This Feckin' Site's 40!

I wrote about this topic recently for Anita’s site, Reviewlicious.com. However, I had a discussion a few days ago with another SEO about this and the person was unaware of the “old site” angle so I thought I’d do a little more on it for those of you who haven’t thought too much about it.

Old sites are, many times, valuable goldmines. They’re like Terrence Stamp in that black jumpsuit. Here’s why you should never discount an old site.

Best case scenario…
1. They’re listed in critical directories.

2. They will give you links for free.

3. They may sell you the domain for cheap.

4. They’ve got age on their side in the databases.

5. They have nice backlinks.

Worst case scenario…
1. The site is not listed in critical directories.

2. The site owner is too savvy or misanthropic (ever met the vegetarian-hating evilgreenmonkey?) to give you a link for free.

3. The selling price they offer for the site would buy you a lovely used Toyota and a latte a day for three months.

4. Age hasn’t been good to the site and it is the equivalent of Debbie Harry with no makeup on in the SERPs.

5. The backlinks are either tiny in number or there are none.

Here’s how to find quality sites that you can use in your quest for world domination…

Go through a directory. Simply hit Dmoz.org and drill down into a category, visiting some sites. Chances are you’re going to see some really horrible ones that are about as far away from Web 2.0 as Elvis Costello is from Sid Vicious. I know these sites exist. Just recently, I worked on some of these sites. These are the sites that are so hideous, you have to look away and count to ten before you can calm down. These sites scare small children and make the meekest among us fly into homicidal rages. If someone has a site like this, there is no telling how nicely you can abuse them. Think free links or a seriously cheap site buyout.

Go through the SERPs and click on the listings that appear to have no meta tags in place. Sometimes you’ll hit on something good that hasn’t been optimized at all because the site owner has no clue. Check the backlinks and see if the site is listed in a few good directories. Exploit site owner to your advantage.

Dumb luck is also a good way to find these old sites. You do your search and click on a result that actually looks promising, then you notice that the site has a copyright of 1998, there are banners flashing everywhere and gifs rotating around like chickens on a spit, and everything about the site screams “I’m lonely, seriously socially inept, and I live/work in my parents’ basement whilst listening to Metallica and playing Nintendo all day.” In a case like this, try bartering for a free link, especially if you have some old Metallica bootlegs on cassette.

A few things to keep in mind when considering the value of old sites:
The cache is critical with old sites. If the site hasn’t been crawled in a year, you probably don’t want to mess with it unless the site owner simply hands it to you and goes on his merry way. You’re not going to immediately reap the benefits by working with a site that doesn’t get a regular crawl.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can rely only on domain registration for a site’s age, since that is no predictor. A domain could have been registered years ago and the site could have just gone up last month for all you know, so check for that.

Overall, I am not recommending that you cease to buy new domains and add to the joy that is the overpopulated internet, but old sites really are quite valuable in many ways. Go buy some and 301 them at the very least. Or get rid of the ones that have flashing banners and neon green text. That will help me and I’ll be a nicer person to my master and commander, the lovely nutbrown hare Mahoud Ashgar.

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