Researching and Buying Dropping Domain Names

I am still away for DomainFest, and two of my friends have written guest posts related to topics in which they are experts. On Monday, Jeff Behrendt of, wrote about investing in Indian domains. Yesterday, Richard Douglas discussed social media for domainers. Today, Richard discusses investing in dropping domain names. Richard has a diverse background is systems administration, web development and security. You can read more about domain development on his blog or follow him on twitter.


If you scan the drop lists, you’ve probably noticed a lot of good quality drops lately. And I think this trend will continue throughout 2009.

When I look at drops, I’m looking for domains that could be developed into full sites.

In addition to checking keywords, search frequency and advertiser interest, here’s a few tips of how to spot good drops for development.

Domain drop tips

1. Domain age – look for domains that are 8+ years old. The SE’s like old domains, it’s a trust issue. I’ve had great results taking an eight or 10 year old domain that ranks for very little, building out a site of unique content and ranking in the top 10 for one or two word phrases and #1 for long tail phrases. I use a script using the whois command from my linux CLI to check domain age. There are lots of tools out there to do this, of course.

2. Check for back links – in a perfect world, a domain with back links, especially .edu or .gov back links, would jump to the top of my list as a good drop for development. The SE’s give a lot of trust to domains that have .edu and .gov back links because these type of back links are less spammy and harder to acquire. I use yahoo search using the following command formats to check for .edu and .gov back links: “ .edu” and “ .gov”. I use this command to check all back links to the domain, except internal links from the domain itself: “”.

3. Verify the back links – if you find that the drop has back links, you need to verify them too. You never know if people played games to get back links, and the SE’s have devalued or ignored the back links. Once you use yahoo search to find those back links, copy the back link URL and search for it in google to see if google lists it. If the page is listed, that means google is giving some weight to the back link. Normally, I just check the .edu and .gov back links in google because they are the most valuable.

Put it to the test

Elliot has added a top drops page to his blog. I recommend that you check it out regularly.

As an example, I have selected a domain from Elliot’s top drops page to illustrate the tips. The domain is:

1. This domain was registered in 2000. Great, keep it on our list.

2. The domain has 83 external back links according to yahoo search. Woohoo!

3. The domain even has four .edu back links, and three of the four are listed in google!

In this example, is a domain worth chasing on a drop for development.

What do you look for in a good drop?

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. I agree at looking for keywords in a domain and back links. The challenge is that you can’t automate finding back-links to all of the domains that drop because you’ll get your IP address burned IE you won’t get any results. So you have to limit the number of automated requests to the search engines.

  2. Richard –

    Taking the same example, I’d appreciate your thoughts on the G external tool results.

    Using ‘all countries and territories’ and ‘exact’ match type:
    – CPC: $0.05
    – Advertising competition: 0
    – Avg searches: 320

    On its face, not too sexy.

    I’m guessing that due to the age and existing backlinks, you believe the domain can rank for lots and lots of things outside of just ‘discover hawaii’.

    Thanks in advance.

  3. @gps

    Correct, I believe the domain is worth buying because you could rank it for many Hawaii related terms.

    There are many terms, but if if it were me, I would build out content around the islands of Hawaii first and rank and get visitors based on that because the Google External tool is showing a lot of searches for the islands and a domain like would be a perfect fit and would also get trust/clicks from visitors who saw the search rankings.

    Once you have rank and traffic, I would check the travel affiliate offers and also talk to local tour, hotel and charter companies about selling ads direct to them.

    – Richard

  4. Mr. Silver,

    what information exactly does the commandyou liisted tell us?

    David O.

  5. @Dave,

    Using that yahoo command will give you a list of back links to the from all other domains, excluding internal back links, i.e. links from the itself.

    The excludes the internal back links.

    – Richard

  6. @Richard,

    Thank you for your reply and detailed explanation. Do you, or any one, know of a good article/blog that lists helpful tools (like the one above) for beginners and novices alike?

    David O
    May the blessings of reciprocity touch us all.

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