Finally, you want to head over to domaintools.com. Then put the domain into here. What this will do is it’ll show you the history of the domain, because a lot of times these domains have been dropped like four or five times and a lot of people in SEO feel this way. I’m not sure about it. If a domain has been dropped several times, then Google does actually devalue the links pointing to that domain. So, as you can see I just changed registrars a few times and it hasn’t been dropped or else it’ll say one drops or two drops.
If you bid at NameJet *after* the domain name moves to Pending Delete status, then it’s too late for NameJet to take advantage of their relationship with eNom and take control of the name. So then eNom thinks, “no interest from NameJet users; we’ll just drop it” and it goes through the regular deletion process — where the fastest fingers can register it. In some cases, investors don’t want to pay the $59 or $69 fee at NameJet and if there are no bids they can likely get it for $18.99 at Pheenix or using other dropcatching services.
When searching from keyword DHG will take your list of keywords and search each one, the pages will then be crawled to find unique domains to check availability of. The process is relatively simple but very time consuming when done manually or semi automated as was necessary in the past. Luckily now the job can be set and left to work while you do something else.
Your course of action really depends on how much work and effort you can put into the expired domain. If you're barely able to maintain and optimize your current site, you probably want to just 301 redirect the old site (note: see my amended comment above about the link value not likely to be passed). If, however, you're more creative and have some time on your hands, you can try your hand at crafting a microsite. If you really know your stuff and are experienced at making money off various websites, you'd probably do well with the third option.

If you buy a domain from a 3rd party, the backlinks are valuable.  I always wait a few months before redirecting, so just set up a quick minisite until two page rank updates have passed and then go ahead and 301 redirect.  However, it seems that you'll get the link juice from the back links, the anchor text is ignored by Google.   Buying a domain at Godaddy TDName expired auctions, seem to not count as a dropped domain if you immediately set up a mini-site.
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