Things to consider when buying domain names

o you are scoping the domain aftermarket and the drop lists to find those nuggets just waiting for you to register and possibly develop. Here are some things to think about and research to be able to gauge the niche your domain will have in the SERPs and the aftermarket listings. These are not listed in order of importance, they are all important, nor is the list an exhaustive one. Simply consider the following as ideas, ways to tweak your process, whatever.

Search Results

What are other companies doing with their domain names with the same or similar keyword domains? What are their revenue models? What can your domain offer that theirs can not? Take a look through their code, can you or a potential buyer improve on the SEO to help get a leg up on the current SERPs? Example, the insurance industry can be such a lucrative one (CPCs can be well north of $50) that you can bet that the companies in the first page SERPs in their respective niches are spending time and money to make sure they stay there.

If you can express potential ROI in your notes when selling the domain, it’ll help some people. Many domainers don’t need this kind of input and can tell utilizing their own methodologies to determine potential value. For these people, at least you might be able to gain some respect for having done a little research and that you care about providing value in the sale.

Search Traffic

Basic domain research 101, find out if anyone else in the world cares about the keywords in the domain name, other than you. At the very least, check Google’s AdWords keywords tool. Be tough here, set it to “exact”. Note the results and switch back and forth between the other options to gauge searcher expectations. There are a number of ways to use a word too, sometimes a word can sneak up on you and be used as a verb. Maybe search intentions are different than developer assumptions. This research also forms the basis for general SEO tasks.

How do the results change with the plural of the domain? Intentions change, sometimes dramatically, when a searcher uses the plural of their search query.

Sales Results

This is where your research meets up with reality. Have any other domains sold with your keywords. Ron Jackson over at DNJournal makes Wednesdays exciting with his weekly roundup of domain name sales and his insight. Mr. Jackson is one connected and respected guy and should sit in your top spot for consuming domain name industry content. Also check out Nambio.com and DNSalesPrice.com. Both are perfect for really quick results and have some of the best inventories around. You’ll sometimes find a name that is in one list but not in the other, and this can be both for current sales and quite old sales.

Domain names have appreciated over the years. If you’ve found a domain name sale example, check to see when it sold. If it was an “insurance” domain that sold in 2005 for $1000, you can expect a valuation increase. By how much isn’t exactly certain, although competitive industries may see bigger gains as consideration for keywords increases. Some industries can take off from time to time, making certain keywords more valuable now than they were 5 years ago as new products and services are introduced, and changes in spending take place.

DNSalesPrice.com
DNSP seems to have, more often than not, older records, and the search process requires some fiddling. Don’t be fooled that if you searched for “vacation” that you are going to get every “vacation” listing. Sometimes you have to try other keywords, and additional keywords. Also, you need to enter the words individually, not bound together like “ItalyVacations”, you aren’t searching by domain name, you are searching FOR domain names. Use it like a search engine and go at it from a few different angles.

Another drawback is that they list all the extensions alphabetically, Namebio groups the most common at the top. Not a huge deal, but when rapid-fire domain keyword research is taking place, these little time wasters can be aggravating. This site’s archives more than make up for it though.

NameBio.com
The best features about this site is the filtering for keyword positioning and sorting – brilliant. The Ajax auto load feature is pretty cool but takes some time to get used to. Changing keyword, position and dotCom to a second position dotOrg takes a few moments to change all three fields and wait for the auto load. Still, take in a brief glance during each change because there will be something relevant in each reload, assuming the keyword you are changing is part of the same research task.

Aftermarket

Is anyone else selling the exact match keywords but in other extensions? If so, how much money are they looking for? If someone has a dotCom for sale at $2000, needless to say that you’ll find it tough to sell your dotNet for more, generally speaking. There are some industries where a dotNet or dotOrg or others are more competitive due to the finite number of ways of expressing those same keywords, intentions or services in a domain name, or the sheer number of searches and CPC.

Anyway, find out who and what the competition is like. If no one else is selling their domains with those keywords, then you’ve got a small window of opportunity to be the only kid on the block with the exact solution.

Availability

Popularity should never be considered the measuring stick of the value of anything. The inherent issue is that, once something becomes popular, its usually too late to take advantage of it, which is where the domain drop comes in. This isn’t a case of someone buying an unopened pack of 1911 T206 baseball cards and forgetting it in the attic for 100 years and you’ll never find it, domain drops are available to anyone, and you just have to look through them.

So find out, is the plural available? other extensions? If you have the dotNet, how much negotiating power will you have if the dotOrg is still available for registration? If the dotCom drops how will this effect your dotNet? Can you score the dotCom instead?

Another consideration is, ‘who owns those other extensions?’. On the surface of it, it may appear like the keywords are valued because all the extensions are registered, but when they all drop because they are owned by the same guy, then that is important to know and opens up a whole can of worms. Regardless, knowing what the expiration dates are of the other extensions can shed some light a little on the value of the keywords to the owner(s).

Try using the search traffic results data from AdWords to see if there are other domain name keyword combinations available that are better than the one you are interested in purchasing / registering. Perhaps your investment can be better made elsewhere. Each domain name comes with an annual cost (albeit small but it all adds up) and administration expense, and for most domainers that is personal time required to research and collect data, and marketing the domain.

Each domain name is an investment and requires looking into the details, no matter how small they may be, you never know what you’ll find. Keeping a streamlined portfolio will make it easier to manage.

Brandables

If you are looking at a brand-able domain name, then, generally speaking, the dotCom is mandatory. The world has been told for years that the dotCom is the king of domains, so don’t fight it, succumb. A domain name made up of some funky words and word combos, words that are tough to remember, tough to spell, not searched-for or words fused together already have a road to climb as it is without being a dotInfo.

If someone has to be taught (through marketing) about your domain / site, then go easy on them, for they will go to the dotCom anyway.

For more info on domain sales issues, check out the DotSauce article on 10 Reasons Why a Domain Won’t Sell