There are many paths that might lead you to the domain aftermarket — that magical place where you can purchase already-registered domain names. These can include domains currently in use by other people or names that are actively for sale on a marketplace like GoDaddy Auctions. Maybe you’re looking for a perfect website address for your small business and the domain name you want isn’t available for new registration — so you head over to the aftermarket. Or perhaps you’ve decided to dabble in buying and selling domains and you’re ready to build your investment portfolio — you’re destined for the aftermarket.
With countless strategies, many marketplaces, and tens of millions of domains represented in the aftermarket as a whole, it can be challenging to narrow down the best way to find valuable names.
Here are some tips for mining for valuable domains in the aftermarket.
Snagging a specific domain name
You’ve won half the battle if you’re after a specific domain name. Now, you just need to figure out who owns the domain, how best to contact them, and how much to offer for the domain.
- Start with the WHOIS database, a searchable list of all domains registered in the world. You’ll probably find an email address for the current registrant of your target domain name.
- To determine how much to offer, check out this article about how domains are valued and this Google Hangout with domain valuation experts.
Building a domain investment portfolio
If you’re working on building up a portfolio of investment-quality names, begin by focusing on domains you know will have value.
Once you identify your niche and the keywords you want to buy around, head over to GoDaddy Auctions. Log into your account and then click Advanced Search. Narrow your search by keyword, TLD, price and age.
Pay particular attention to these factors when reviewing results of your search:
Age of domain. In general, the older the domain name the better because it’s probably been off the market for a longer period of time. While you can still register great domains today, many of the best names have been registered for a long time already so searching by age helps narrow this down a bit.
Top-level domain (TLD). Some TLDs sell better than others in the aftermarket. For instance, it’s typically easier to resell a .com than a .biz domain.
Price range. This is about your budget. If you have $500 to spend, why waste time looking for names priced above $500?
Buying format. There are a few key auctions types with different rules that you should understand when you’re wading through the aftermarket:
- Buy It Now priced auctions — If you want the domain, you buy it for the “buy now” price.
- Timed auctions — The names are put up for sale with a certain timeframe for the auction. The highest bidder when the time is up wins the name.
- Offer/Counter Offer listings — These auctions are won through negotiation between the buyer and seller. The seller lists the name for sale with a minimum offer they are interested in accepting just to engage the potential buyer. Once the initial offer is received, the seller can accept, ignore, or counter the offer. The buyer can then accept, reject, or counter the seller. This process continues until both parties come to a price they can agree on for the domain.
Check out this article for more details about each type of buying format.
Think like a buyer
As you sort through your results, put yourself in a potential buyer’s shoes. Would you buy the domain if you were in their business? Honestly, how much explanation would it take to make sense to the buyer? Picture yourself calling a photographer and saying, “I have a great domain to help you drive more traffic to your website, saycheez.biz. Well, actually it’s spelled c-h-e-e-z, not c-h-e-e-s-e. What’s a .biz? Well, it’s just like a .com but it’s spelled .biz …”
The more you have to explain the domain, the harder the sale.
There are some really exceptional domains in every TLD, and there are times when a keyword like “cheez” can anchor a brandable domain. The point is to think through the conversations you will have with potential buyers; if you suspect they’ll be difficult, you might want to pass on that particular domain.
A few more tests
Once you have what you consider a list of strong names for investment, take a few more steps to further narrow it down.
1. Buy what you know. If you’re an expert in a particular subject, trade, etc., and the domain makes sense to you, then it’s probably a good name to buy.
2. Check domaintools.com. Look up the domain to see what other TLDs are registered. It’s not a good sign if you’re buying the .com and none of the other TLDs are registered. It’s also a red flag if you’re buying the .us domain and you see that the .com, .net, .org and .info versions are all registered but in use by domain investors instead of end users. This means less demand by end users and lots of alternative options.
3. Check archive.org. In many cases, Archive will show you what was up on the domain throughout the years. It might signal low demand for the domain if the website that was attached to it was continually for sale.
4. Look up previous sales by keyword and TLD. Use sites such as namebio.com and dnjournal.com to research previous sales. Check out the typical sales price range for your target keyword to ensure the purchase price makes sense.
There are always exceptions to the rule, but it’s generally best to start with a conservative approach. Get a better feel for what will sell before trusting your instinct — and losing money.
Want to learn more?
For in-depth tips and tricks for buying domains that someone already owns, or to learn how to mine expired domain name auctions for gems, subscribe to our YouTube page. We regularly host Hangouts that cover these topics.