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  Updated Tue, Dec 16, 2008 Version 1.0.4  
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How to find a valuable expiring domain name

There are three primary variables you can use to determine the value of an expired domain name:

  1. Traffic - Does the expired domain name have traffic?
  2. Relevance - Is this traffic valuable?
  3. Domain Name - Does the domain name itself have any value?

Traffic - Does the expired domain name have traffic?

Since accurate traffic statistics are unavailable for most expiring domain names, you must make an educated estimate based on the following indicators:

  • Google PageRank. Expiring domain names with a high PageRank generally have more traffic than those with a low PageRank.
  • Inlinks (according to Yahoo, MSN, Google, and Alexa). The greater the number of inlinks for a domain name, and the better the quality of those links, the greater the amount of traffic. See our article on the risks in buying an expired domain name for more detailed info.
  • Alexa Traffic Rank. Domain names with a higher Alexa Traffic Rank have more traffic than those with a lower rank. Note: When reviewing an expiring domain name's Alexa Traffic Rank, always be sure the ranking is for the exact domain name you're analyzing, and not for related domain names.
  • Number of years registered. The "age" of the domain name is generally proportional to its traffic, with older domain names generating more traffic than more recently registered ones. The domain name's age is determined by the year in which it was originally registered, according to WHOIS.
  • Estimated type-ins (number of times the domain name is typed directly into the browser). Type-ins are free traffic, so the higher the probability of a type-in, the higher the probability for more traffic. You can use the Overture Keyword Selector Tool to help estimate this.
  • Quality of the expired website. As a general rule, the higher the quality of the expired website, both in terms of design, functionality, and content, the higher the amount of traffic it will generate. An expired website's quality can be evaluated through the Wayback Machine.

With 40,000 domain names expiring each day, it may seem a daunting task to go through them all one-by-one and analyze them based on the above information. Thankfully there are tools available that automate this process. By sorting and grading the domain names based on the above indicators, these websites provide reports which can be used to quickly locate ideal expired domain names. These services are referred to as "droplist websites" or "expired domain name research" websites. Each of the above indicators is available in Dropscout.com's free expired domain name research (explore our website to see for yourself).

Relevance - Is the expired domain name's traffic valuable?

This is a tricky question... One man's trash is another's treasure. The answer really depends on what YOU can do with the traffic. See our article how to increase website traffic with expired domain names for one possibility.

Domain Name - Does the domain name itself have any value?

Ultimately, a domain name is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. Since this is a vague statement, and doesn't really help us estimate the value of an expired domain name, we've listed below a few of the more important factors that influence the likelihood of someone paying big bucks for a domain name:

  • TLD. Based on a study done by SEDO in July of 2006, a .com is the most valuable TLD, following by .de, .net, .uk, .org, .info, .biz, and .ca. There are many other TLDs, but they are ranked as less valuable.
  • Status of similar domain names. If all other TLD alternatives for the domain name are registered, it's worth more than if no other TLD alternatives are registered. For example, if abcdomain.com is the only TLD available (i.e. the abcdomain.de, abcdomain.net, abcdomain.ca, etc are registered), the domain name's value is positively impacted.
  • Length. The shorter the domain name, the higher its value. Domain names between two and seven characters are the most valuable, while those 10 characters long are worth slightly less. Long names over 20 characters have only a fraction of the value of a shorter domain name.
  • Characters. Domain names with hyphens or numbers are significantly less valuable than their counterparts.
  • Linguistic Suitability. Domain names consisting of a meaningful word or words in any particular language are generally more valuable than those consisting of gobbledygook (the popularity of the language of the word plays into the equation as well, with English words being worth more than Finnish words, etc). The lower the number of separate and distinct words in the domain name, the higher its value. Suitable word combinations are more valuable than words than don't work well together.
  • Typing Error Sensitivity. If the domain name is easy to spell and type, its value will increase. Conversely, if it's difficult to spell and type, (like psoriasis.com), the domain name will be less valuable.
  • Legal Situation. If there is a possibility of the domain name being subject to a future trademark dispute, this would negatively impact its value.
  • International Usage. A domain name's ability to be used internationally is a valuable asset. Both language and TLD influence the suitability for international usage.
  • Comparable Transactions. The selling price of comparable domain names is usually the most important factor in determining its value. The selling prices for other domain names can typically be found on domain name auction sites, or through Google. The three primary characteristics in finding a comparable domain name are the TLD, number of words, and commercial potential.

As with all things on the Internet, there is a level of risk in analyzing expired domain names. See our article on the risks in buying an expired domain name for more detailed info.

Dropscout.com provides free expired domain name research. Read more expired domain name articles, or send us your comments and questions.


Last Updated: April 4, 2007

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