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How to Invest in Expired Domains

Domain names that you don’t renew eventually get deleted for someone else to register. You have some time to renew a domain name after the expiration date but, eventually it is made available again.

There are people who wait for the second these domain names expire and snap them up. Sometimes these are people who want to use the domain for their website. But most of the expired domains are registered by domain investors, aka “domainers”.

What’s Domain Investing?

Domain investors buy domain names today with the hope that someone will want to buy the name in the future. They are somewhat like real estate investors; they buy virtual homes or land and hope that the price appreciates.

Investors acquire domain names in several ways. They might

  • buy them from existing owners,
  • register domains that aren’t yet registered,
  • or buy expired domain names.

Buying expired domains is one of the most common ways to acquire high-quality domain names as an investment.

The Expired Domain Market

Millions of domain names expire every month. These are domains that people decide they no longer want or need. After all, lots of us have registered domain names with a great business idea only to get distracted by other opportunities!

There are several services that help domain investors get domain names the moment they are released, including NameJet and DropCatch. These sites are called drop-catching services. They use computer systems to grab domains the instant they become available. If just one person is interested in a domain name they can acquire it fairly cheap. The services hold auctions for domain names that are in demand.

With so many domains dropping each day, investors need to know which domains are becoming available and need a way to separate the good ones from the bad ones. They hope to buy the best domains for the lowest auction price possible.

What Makes a Good Expired Domain Name?

If someone buys a domain name in order to eventually sell it, then they want to make sure that people will be interested in buying the domain name. There are many factors to consider to figure out the likelihood that someone will want to acquire the domain name in the future:

  • The same name is registered in multiple extensions – Great minds think alike. If many different businesses or people register the same domain in extensions like .net, .org and .biz, that means there’s demand for the domain. In fact, one of the owners of the other extensions might want to buy the matching domain in a different extension.
  • The domain contains dictionary words – Since most companies start a domain search using a keyword, domain investors seek domain names with dictionary words in them. Some even look for domains containing certain “hot” keywords such as ‘crypto’.
  • It doesn’t contain hyphens – Hyphens are usually a no-no for domain names, so excluding domains with hyphens from an expired domain search can whittle down the list.
  • The keywords have search traffic – Domain names that match common search terms are often in high demand. Various tools show Google search volume (and even how much people pay to advertise on Google) for the keywords in each domain name.
  • The domain is old – The age of a domain name in and of itself does not make a domain name to be more valuable. But most of the best domain names were registered early. Screening expired domains to exclude ones that were registered in the past year or two eliminates a lot of low-quality domain names.
  • The domain is short – All things considered, people want shorter domain names. Many domain investors limit their search to names that aren’t too long, either in terms of the number of words in the domain or the number of characters.

Screening Domains En Masse

Okay, so you have some criteria you want to use to find expired domains that have value. How can you possibly apply these criteria against millions of domains?

There’s a market for domain name investor tools and many of these are for finding the best expired domain names.

One of the most popular expired domain tools is ExpiredDomains.net. This service lets you apply dozens of screening criteria (including all of the ones above) against databases of expiring domain names.

Surprisingly, ExpiredDomains.net is free. It makes its money from referral fees for sending buyers to expired domain name registration services.

Some people also use automated domain name appraisal tool Estibot to search for the most valuable domain names.

Dip Your Toe into Expired Domains

Have an eye on a domain name that is expiring soon? Want to try your hand at domain investing? Take a look at ExpiredDomains.net to familiarize yourself with the market and start grabbing expiring domain names. And once you’ve found them, register your domains with Namecheap!

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew.

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