Domain Names, Developed Domains, and Expired Domains

When it comes to search engine marketing, one issue that many people struggle with is the domain name. There’s some confusion out there regarding domain names and how they effect a site’s ability (or inability) to rank well in the search engines. I thought I’d talk a little bit about domains in general, mention some issues involved when it comes to domains and rankings in the search engines, and how one might go about searching for and evaluating domain names.

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Domain Names in General
Several years ago (I actually don’t remember exactly when it changed, so if you know please comment to let us know), the keyword in the domain name had an effect on rankings. So, before 2003 or so, if you had your main keyword in your domain name and your site was about that subject, then you had a good chance of ranking well in the search engines for that main keyword.

Nowadays, after 2003, having your keyword in the domain name really started to not be as significant. It kind of stopped being a factor when it came to the actual search engine rankings. Many people still say that having your main keyword phrase in your domain name is a big factor when it comes to search engine rankings. However, this effect can be confused with the fact that many other sites link to that domain name with the keyword phrase because the site is about that subject. Anchor text still is a big factor. Let’s take, for example, a site like www.companyname.com. The site tends to rank for that company name because the majority of links pointing to that site use the company’s name as the anchor text. So, it’s going to be difficult to “out rank” a company for the company name; because of the anchor text, not because a company owns “companyname.com”.

Domain Name Age
Some say that an “aged” domain name, one that has been in the search engine’s index (mainly the Google search engine index), is a help when it comes to search engine rankings. So, when some consider domain names there’s a big push now to buy domain names that have been “aged”, domain names that are a few years old.

There’s a lot more on the subject of domain name aging, and Google has a patent out there that explains how Google might be using domain age as a part of their search engine algorithm.

There are a few things that can effect search engine rankings; someone can buy an older domain name that has links and traffic and is “aged”; they can buy it at an auction or just buy it from its current owner. They can continue to use that domain name that they buy. Or, they can purchase the domain name at an auction and set up a 301 Permanent Redirect from that domain name to their current site.

Domain Names and Rankings
When it comes to analyzing search engine rankings, you might consider going to Yahoo! and performing the following search on a domain:

linkdomain:domain.com -site:domain.com

This search at Yahoo! will show all of the links from other websites that are pointing to the domain name. By adding the -site command to the search, it excludes internal links on that domain name. [Read more...]

.Photos, .Shoes, .Recipes, .Careers gTLD Domain Registrations Now Open

Today, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at 10:00am Central Time, the non-eap registration started for the gTLDs .photos, .recipes, .shoes, and .careers domain names. That means that you can freely go register any available domain names that end in .photos, .shoes, .recipes, or .careers and you don’t have to pay the “premium” price that was previously offered. [Read more...]

How to Know if You Should Renew Your Domain Name?

If you own domain names, then you are inevitably going to have answer the question: should I renew this domain name? Well, as someone who owns a considerable amount of domain names, I frequently have to make that decision on a regular basis–and have come up with my own internal checklist that helps me decide whether or not I should renew a domain name. Here are fourteen questions to ask yourself to help you decide on whether your should renew your domain name or not.

What is the current status of the domain name? Developed or Not Developed?
If the domain name is developed, meaning that there is a live website on it, and it’s in use, then most likely you should renew the domain name. If you have spent any time adding unique content on the website, then most likely it is profitable–or can be profitable. There are ways, after all, to monetize just about any website out there–and developed websites have value. If you are not planning on continuing with working on the website, then perhaps you should consider selling it to a third party. In any case, if the domain name is developed, I would renew the domain name and sell it to a third party. Another option would be to redirect it to another existing website that you own.

Do you plan on developing the domain name?
If you have plans on developing the domain name into a live website, then I would tend to want to renew the domain name. If you lose it, then it will be more costly to get it back later on.

Is the domain name profitable?
Remember that you a domain name only has to make about $.03 cents a day in order to remain profitable (to cover the average $10 per year registration feed). Even if the domain name is not developed, it can be parked at any one of numerous domain name parking services. If you own any domain names that are not currently developed and they are not parked, then you are missing out on potential revenue. Most domain name parking companies do not charge you for parking your domain name with them. All of my domain names that I own that are not currently developed are parked–allowing the domain name to literally “pay for itself”.

Is the domain name valuable?
Does the domain name itself–without any content on it–have value? Does the domain name have real value or is it really something that you HOPE will have at some point in the future? There are a few ways to assess a domain name’s value. You can go to these sites and put in your domain name and see its value. These tools only really give the value of a domain name based on external factors such as the demand for certain keywords in the domain name as well as current CPC (Cost Per Click) values. If a domain name has content and visitors, then the value of the domain name would only be higher than what is shown. For example, take a domain name I have for sale, and let’s look at its value: ReservedSeat.com

Estibot:

ReservedSeat.com value $3400
http://www.estibot.com/appraise.php?a=appraisal&k=ff7a4a74eb7333dc26dd9930a73f288f&domain=reservedseat.com

domain name value

Epik:

ReservedSeat.com value $8500
http://appraise.epik.com/ReservedSeat.com

You can see some of the factors that Epik uses in putting a value on a domain name. I personally use a factor of about $500 when assessing whether or not to renew a domain name of not. If I am currently not planning on using a domain name and developing it, and one of these online tools says it’s value is more than $500, then I may consider renewing the name.

A lot of the factors that are mentioned in the Estibot and Epik appraisals are related to the demand for the keywords and the average CPC price (as I mentioned above). That brings us to my next consideration.

Is it a keyword rich domain name?
Does the domain name include a keyword or keyword phrase that people (lots of people) use to search at a search engine? Is this an EMD (Exact Match Domain)? Meaning, is the domain name in the form of Keyword.com or Keyword1Keyword2.com? Notice that there is no hyphen in the domain name. Also, the domain name should be a .COM extension. These are preferred, since the .COM domain names that are “Exact Matches” tend to get a preference or “extra brownie points” and have a better chance of ranking better in the search engines for the keyword if it contains content about that subject or topic. There are .NET and .ORG domain names that have value, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes to keyword rich domain names, .COM domains are preferred right now.

Does the domain name pass the “radio test”?
If you heard someone mention the domain name on the radio while you’re driving down the road, could you remember it when you got to your destination? Does the domain name pass the “radio test”, meaning that it’s very easy to remember? Is it unique? Will people misspell the domain name when trying to remember it (if they will misspell it then it doesn’t pass the radio test)?

Was the domain name originally registered before 2000?
Having personally practiced search engine optimization and building websites since the mid 1990s, I have to say that domain names that were originally registered before 2000 (especially in the 1990s) have “aged”. They’ve been around for a while, tend to be more trusted by the search engines nowadays (mainly Google), and would have some value to someone who is going to put content on it. If it’s had a website on it, there is a good chance that it has even more value.

Does the domain name have backlinks?
Many domain names that have had live websites on them at one time or another have value because they have links from other websites. When a domain name has links, then it most likely has at least some traffic. So, there’s a good chance that even if you were to park the domain name to earn the click-thru revenue, the domain name would pay for itself just because of the traffic from other websites. The more links a domain name has typically the more value it may potentially have. You can check if a domain name has links by performing a linkdomain:domain.com search at Yahoo.com or by using tools like Majesticseo.com or OpenSiteExplorer.com. If you own the domain name currently, and it has links, then you may want to park the domain name or set up a 301 Permanent Redirect so that it redirects to one of your current, live, websites.

Does the domain name include a trademark?
If the domain name includes a keyword that has a trademark (and you do not own the trademark) then you most likely you will be better off if you did NOT renew the domain name. There is a chance that you could get sued or lose the domain name through the UDRP process (trademark owners can use the UDRP domain dispute process) to recover a domain name, and they often do if there is a dispute.

On the other hand, if you own a trademark and you own the domain name, then I recommend renewing the domain name. Even if you are not going to be using the domain name anytime soon, renewing the domain name is a lot cheaper than having to hire a lawyer or going through the UDRP process for $1500 (the current fee to file a UDRP request) to recover the domain name at a later date.

Have you unsuccessfully tried to sell the domain name?
If you have unsuccessfully tried to sell the domain name in the past through multiple channels, then it may not be worth renewing the domain name. There are many ways you can sell a domain name:

- list it on an aftermarket/domain marketplace website (godaddy, sedo, afternic, snapnames, etc.).
- list the domain on ebay
- put “domain for sale” on the website itself.
- search at Google for a related keyword–and contact those who are currently showing up in the search results. Ask if they’d like to buy the domain name.
- search at Google for a related keyword–and observe the Google AdWords ads. Contact those advertisers to see if they’d like to buy the domain name.

Is there more than one Extension or TLD registered?
Take a look and see if the .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .us, or other TLD version of the domain name is registered. If more than one is registered by someone else, then there may be a reason to keep the domain name that you have. Again, for most domain names, I prefer to own the .com extension because that will typically have more value. If the domain name is not a .com, then you need to assess it’s value (some of the online tools like Estibot may say it has value). If you were to develop something other than the .COM, keep in mind that I personally believe that you may be sending traffic to the .COM site if it’s not search engine traffic. People typically type in “domain.COM” rather than “domain.NET”, for example, if they are trying to remember a website. But, in any case, if you own the .COM and lots of other extensions and TLDs are registered, that may be an indication of value. You may even be able to sell the .COM domain to someone who owns the .NET, for example.

View recent domain name sales
To assess a domain name’s value, you may want to see if similar domain names (or even that domain name) has sold in the past, and what it (or they sold for). You can check websites like DnSalePrice.com that indexes domain name sales data. Certainly, if the domain name that you are considering not renewing sold in the past, you may want to renew it. If other similar domain names have sold for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, then you may want to keep the domain name and renew it.

Bonus Question: Is there a BackOrder on the Domain Name?
If you think you have a good domain name, but you’re just not sure whether or not you should renew the domain name or now, check to see if anyone else has placed a backorder on the domain name. If there is a backorder or several people have placed backorders on the domain name, then I would definitely renew the domain name.

What is a backorder? A backorder is a way to tell certain backorder “services” that if they are able to obtain the domain name the second that it becomes available, then you would like to purchase it. Typically, you only pay for the domain name if the backorder service obtains it on your behalf. And if more than one person backorders the domain name, and the backorder service obtains the domain name, then the name is put up for auction to the highest bidder. If you are thinking of not renewing a domain name, then you might want to check the backorder services to see if there is a backorder on the name–which would indicate that there’s some value there. Popular domain name backorder services include Namejet.com, Pool.com, and Snapnames.com. Hat Tip goes out to Vincent at vsdholdings.com for this backorder tip.

So, should you renew that domain name?
If you have gotten to this point, and any of these questions that I’ve listed has not promoted you to renew the domain name, then there might be a good argument for not renewing the domain name. Ultimately, I prefer to put a value on the domain name first, especially if the domain name does not have a live website on it. After I put a value on it, looking at other factors such as whether or not it’s profitable and has “earned its keep” in the past year (if I had it parked it earned more than $10 in the past year), then there is a good chance that I should renew the domain name. Remember, domain name values are really only going to go up–especially for domain names that include keywords and EMD keyword rich domain names.

Of course, if you are still wondering if you should renew that domain name, then you can always ask me. I might just buy it from you.

Disney Registers Star Wars Master the Force Domain Name

In the past 24 hours, Disney Enterprises, Inc. registered a few new domain names. I normally monitor the domain names that are registered by major companies on a regular basis. Disney doesn’t register a whole lot of domain names. But, they currently own 15,000 domain names total. In the past 24 hours, though, they registered three new domain names: [Read more...]

Facebook Picks Up Content Fellowship Domains

In the past day or so, Facebook has registered “Content Fellowship” related domain names, possibly indicating that they have a plan to offer a content fellowship. There are several domain names that they’ve registered that seemingly would protect a new possible project that they’re working on.

Here is a list of the domains recently registered by Facebook:

contentfellowship.com
contentfellowship.net
contentfellowship.org
csfellow.com
csfellow.net
csfellow.org
csfellows.com
csfellows.net
csfellows.org

Here is a sample of the whois data:

content-fellowship

Usually, when a company is starting a project, a new website, or a new product or service offering, it is customary for them to register several related domain names in order to “protect” their mark or their project. I tested each of these domain names in a web browser and they currently do not resolve.

JD.Com Domain Name Sold for $5 Million in 2012

According to George Kirikos, the domain name JD.com sold for an estimated $5 million in 2012. Mr. Kirikos was browsing through EDGAR, and was able to discover that their SEC filing referenced domain names. Looking at the recorded public data, he was able to concur that the amount paid for domain names rose from 2.6 million RMB to 36 million RMB as of December 2012.

jd.com

Here’s what Mr. Kirikos told me: [Read more...]

Facebook Recognizes New gTLDs in Facebook Posts

After seeing that Twitter doesn’t actually recognize the new gTLDs as real links in Tweets, I was curious to see whether or not Facebook recognizes the new gTLDs as links in posts. If you were to include the URL of a new website that you just put up on a new gTLD, then would Facebook include that URL in the post and change it so it’s a clickable link? [Read more...]

Google Plus Recognizes new gTLDs as Links in Posts

I was curious to see whether or not Google Plus actually recognizes the new gTLDs as links in posts. If you were to include the URL of a new website that you just put up on a new gTLD, then would Google Plus include that URL in the post and change it so it’s a clickable link?

google-plus-recognizes-new-gtlds

Well, I made a post with a list of URLs of 14 of the new gTLDs that are now available to the public for registration, and I am happy to report that Google Plus actually recognizes them. That’s good news.

Well, notsomuch for Twitter.

Twitter does not recognize the new gTLDs, and therefore doesn’t change URLs that include them into clickable links.

Facebook recognizes the new gTLDs, though, as well.

Twitter Not Recognizing New gTLDs in Tweets

UPDATE: This was a post that I wrote back in February. At the time, Twitter was NOT recognizing the new gTLDs. But, I’m happy to report that it appears that Twitter has fixed the problem that I wrote about.

I noticed today that Twitter is not recognizing the new gTLDs in Tweets. While there are already several new gTLDs that are already available now for anyone to register, and they are getting indexed in Google’s search results already, Twitter has yet to recognize the new gTLDs.

twitter example gtld links [Read more...]

Apple Continues to Register Mystery Domain Names

A few days ago, I uncovered the fact that Apple owns a bunch of mysterious domain names, most of which are resolving to a default Linux setup page on Amazon’s cloud.

apple-mystery-domains

But today, after I reported that one of these mysterious domain names, trollqtkhoverlaysbynk.biz, was registered and then deleted, was just re-registered yesterday. [Read more...]