I want to share some personal insight into my domain name acquisition process because I thought it would be interesting for you to see how I evaluate domain names and decide what to do with them. It might still be a bit opaque, but it is an off the cuff analysis.
For the most part, I buy domain names either in private or at NameJet. I don’t do much hand registering these days. In fact, I might hand register 50 names a year, and that is probably an aggressive number.
Typically, I will focus on specific verticals for my acquisitions. For instance, I was recently attempting to buy doctor and medical specialty related domain names. I spent time researching types of doctors and practices and then highlighting the keyword domain names I’d be interested in buying, primarily based on the marketability. For instance, doctors that are more patient facing would be have domain names that are more valuable in my opinion. I put together a list of specialist .com names, which included variations such as -ist.com, -ists.com, and -ogy.com domain names.
I do many, many Whois searches using DomainTools to learn more about these targeted domain names. By doing this research, I am looking to see who owns the domain name, if it’s listed for sale anywhere, and how the domain name is being used. I also like to see how many other extensions are registered and being used. Generally speaking, the more TLDs registered the better. This is because if a doctor is using a .info for his website and someone else is using a .org, the .com is probably worth much more. It also means more prospects that may wish to upgrade if given the opportunity.
I eliminate the domain names that look like they are frequently updated and/or active websites. There is no reason to bother people who have busy schedules when there is no indication that the name is for sale. I do like contacting people who have undeveloped, inactive, or “old” websites. Sometimes I make a blind inquiry just to ask if a domain name may be for sale, and other times I make an offer. When making an offer, it’s based on a gut feel. I make a reasonable offer, but it’s at a level I would be comfortable buying, with the idea that I can sell it profitably. There’s no science to this – just a gut feel, which is based on many factors.
Every purchase I make is speculative. In my example, I am not a medical expert, so perhaps I will buy a domain name that doesn’t have much commercial usage. My feeling is that if people and businesses are advertising in Google and there are solid search numbers (from the soon to be disappeared Adwords Keyword Tool), the matching .com domain name probably has value. You can also use Estibot as sort of a “gut check” to make sure the automated appraisal gives it some value.
I use the knowledge that not everyone knows how to contact a domain owner (especially if it’s not listed for sale), which may establish a negotiation with someone who hasn’t been bombarded with offers in the past. I believe if I can buy a valuable off-market asset, I can use my knowledge of contacting prospective buyers to facilitate a sale.
It’s a busy weekend, but I will try to answer questions if you have them. I certainly welcome your thoughts on domain acquisitions and how you go about doing them,