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.