Like everything else, domain speculation is a job for the born marketer. It’s easy to find good domains, once you invest a little time or money. It’s harder to get them off your hands. But if you want to try it, here’s a way to get started:
1) Scan Godaddy and see what’s selling. Then scan some of the Domain Name forums and do the same.
2) Seek out your own domains. Either comb some of the free services, or pay for an expired-domain service.
3) Evaluate the domain. Here are some things to look for:
– brevity: not too many letters, and preferably two or fewer words.
– dictionary words: ideally, the keywords in the domain should break down into recognizable dictionary words.
– good TLD: stick to .com if at all possible, or maybe consider.us.
– no ‘junk’ characters: avoid numbers; avoid hyphens. Avoid e- or i- or similar prefixes (eBigSplash, iLaunchNow) if possible. Avoid junk suffixes like “inc” if possible.
– singular v. plural: singular keywords are sometimes better. E.g., ApocalypseNow.com is better than ApocalypsesNow.com. Sometimes, though, the reverse is true: UsedCDs is better than UsedCD.
– if plural, standard is better: “z” won’t kill you, but “s” is better. That is, Stocks.com is much better than Stockz.com — although if you can find a decent one-word domain, grab it, even if it is pluralized with a z!
4) When you see a domain you like, do some research before you buy. Here’s what I look for:
Does the domain have any traffic or backlinks?
A domain that used to be active and popular is more valuable than an undeveloped domain. These domains tend to still bring traffic in, which you can leverage. Here’s how to peer into the dark depths of that traffic:
Go to Alexa and enter the domain. Alexa tries to tell you how many other (important) sites link to your domain. It also gives you a rough estimate of site importance. (This ranking is more accurate as site rank slips under 1 million). If the site was very popular, you might see a screenshot of the home page and actual traffic statistics.
Now that you’ve done that, scroll down and look for the “WayBack Machine“ link on the left. Click this link to see what your site looked like before the domain expired. Typically, your site will have stopped operating at least six months ago, but you can still tell what it looked like and sold. (This can give you a good idea of how to market your domain.)
Now, get a better idea of how many backlinks (other sites linking to yours) your domain enjoys: use the MarketLeap tool. Plug in your domain — forget the comparison URL fields — and MarketLeap will return a more accurate count of which sites link to yours, and which search engines know about them.
Now you have a good idea of traffic. Is there any? Good, then you can capitalize on it in at least two ways.
1) Find an affiliate program that closely matches your site’s old content. Build a quick site that pre-sells those affiliate products, or simply get an affiliate link and forward all your traffic directly to the merchant’s site.
2) Park your domain at a free clearinghouse offering good pay-per-click revenues. Sedo has performed best for me.
Now, let’s say there’s no traffic, or only a little, but the domain looks good. Do a little market research for obvious prospects before you buy. Here’s how to start:
1) Google. Break your domain down into keywords, then search on them. For example, if you’re looking at the domain name “MarketApp.com,” plug in “market app” and see what turns up. Any potential buyers?
2) Whois Source. Use this amazing, invaluable tool to see if anyone has a similar but less desirable version of your domain. If you’re selling NeoIndia.com, does someone have Neo-India.org? Just enter your keywords and try different permutations … with or without hyphens, for example.
Putting the Domain on the Market
If you’re ready to sell, jump to How to Sell a Domain Name.