Things I Look for in Expiring Domain Names |
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Things I Look for in Expiring Domain Names


I’ve been buying and bidding on more and more expiring domain names at NameJet in the last couple of years. I wouldn’t say I am a big buyer, but I do spend quite a bit of time searching for good dropping domain names to buy, and I’ve had some success flipping auction purchases (never sold to a former owner though).

I want to share some of the things I consider when buying names on NameJet and Snapnames:

  • Previous owner
  • Development status
  • Inbound Links
  • GAKT information
  • Number of results for the keyword in Google
  • Potential TM issues
  • Age
  • Other TLD registrations and usage
  • Whether it’s a private sale

I weigh each of these factors differently, depending on the domain name, and quite a bit of my interest still boils down to a gut feel.

One thing I do is filter the names that have bids with an hour to go before the bidding deadline, and I analyze those based on gut feel. I figure I can check the analytics/stats during the auction, since as second or after bidder, I won’t be the leading bidder. Most of the time I place a bid on names of interest in that list and decide whether to be aggressive after the fact.

What do you look for when buying expiring/dropping domain names at auction?

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 sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.

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Comments (30)

    Brad Hines


    Don’t forget the basics like length, relevance, and TLD!


    Brad Hines
    Twitter: @BradHines

    March 31st, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    rob sequin

    Similar domains

    Try it, you’ll be surprised.

    March 31st, 2012 at 12:49 pm


    If everyone is using the same technique and tools, then you are competing against each other.

    Hey, time to change diaper

    March 31st, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Mike Jarema

    Hi Elliot & community, I’m curious which tools you use to analyze dropping domains?

    Elliot had an earlier post commenting on the quality of the NameJet keyword search alerts (are people happy with these alerts?) which caught my eye, and I’ve released a script that goes deeper on a keyword basis:

    I’m juggling whether or not to build a web service around this script and any input would be much appreciated.

    March 31st, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ Mike

    I use FreshDrop almost daily. LOVE it.

    March 31st, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Mike Jarema

    @ Elliot

    FreshDrop looks amazingly comprehensive, thanks for the reco.

    I’ve been viewing dropping domains from a “branding” perspective that doesn’t carry the existing SEO, PR, inbound link, etc. considerations. Hence my focus mainly on keywords and word play.

    I’m going to dive in and give this tool a trial run.

    March 31st, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Bruce Tedeschi

    I have found expired domains at that have yielded me a nice profit. Picked them up for around $8 and used my common sense to choose the names. Recently I picked up which will yield a nice price when I develop it into a blog.

    I have sold several education names picked up there for $8 and then sold them for around $1k.

    March 31st, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Elliot Silver

    I haven’t used it before, but is advertising their Domain Nabber. This might be what Bruce is referencing:

    March 31st, 2012 at 1:49 pm


    Wow dude already back to work dropping posts to monetize the blog

    Do you consider your blog more business to make money off advertising or more personal?

    Seems like you churn out a lot of bs posts just to get traffic no offense just saying

    March 31st, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Elliot Silver

      @ Domainer

      Yeah it is business… earning a lot of money. Flipping names is my primary biz though. I enjoy writing my blog, but it’s clearly more biz than personal. I think yesterday’s post was the first personal post in months.

      Anyway, I wrote a few posts that I saved for this week knowing I’d be busy. Advertisers paid a lot of money, and although I am sure many don’t care about me taking time off, it’s not fair to them.

      March 31st, 2012 at 2:20 pm



    What are the tools you use for finding trademarks when buying domains?

    March 31st, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      Elliot Silver

      @ Kan

      USPTO (Patent and Trademark office)

      March 31st, 2012 at 4:38 pm


    Again, if everyone is using the same tools, it means all of you will be competing against each other.

    As for me, I use God’s given talent-Human Creativity

    March 31st, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Bruce Tedeschi

    Actually it is their “deleted domains” section. No the name nabber. You would not believe what slips by and ends up getting deleted.

    March 31st, 2012 at 3:37 pm


    Traffic is #1 for me.

    I like real traffic that is that will not go away for the foreseeable furture.

    You don’t really even need to have the traffic number told to you. If you have been doing this enough time you can estimate the traffic to almost any domain.

    I look for inbound links, but I consider any inbound links to be a negative against the domain as far as analysis. I prefer domains that have zero links to them, have direct navigation traffic, and have never once been used for anything. That last one is tough to find but there are plenty of domains people have been sitting on for years and never did anything at all with, and I don’t mean domain parking.

    March 31st, 2012 at 6:55 pm


    Elliot where do you place age on a scale of 1 to 10 ?

    March 31st, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Steve M

    “Whether it’s a private sale.”

    So is this factor a positive or a negative to you (and to anyone else who’d like to chime in)?

    It’s never mattered to me; a good deal’s a good deal; regardless of source.

    Why would anyone care?

    March 31st, 2012 at 7:04 pm



    That’s about it.

    March 31st, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Domainer 007

    Appreciate the honesty

    Best of luck to you with everything

    Crazy to me that blogs have become more about making money with advertisers than personal opinions/thoughts

    But hey name of the game is time is money

    As long as you are transparent I have respect

    March 31st, 2012 at 10:10 pm


    Very hard to tell if the domain was penalized for seo black hat

    March 31st, 2012 at 11:08 pm


    I use a lot of what you posted.

    Exact match – there is a certain number I look for in generic terms, niche type stuff, that’s pretty easy to rank for if you develop. When I say develop, I’m not meaning made for adsense type sites, articles by other people, rss feeds etc. I’m talking some actual work, effort.

    I like to see if it’s taken in other extensions, shows interest in that keyword, and those are potential buyers as well, because most of the time, they really want the .com.

    Check for trademarks.

    Check to see if PPC ads are showing, more potential buyers.

    I also check how many results show for the keyword, certain number I look for.

    I like generic .coms usually or brandable type .coms, terms that might not get a lot of searches but sounds good, I can picture a strong site with that name.

    March 31st, 2012 at 11:51 pm


    ‘”Crazy to me that blogs have become more about making money with advertisers than personal opinions/thoughts”

    Was that stand up comedy ? Where did Silver say it was about more ? Of course blogs are a business, the first second you take advertising dollars. So you work for free ?

    And how was this post BS ? What have you done in domaining that’s meaningful. Please show real examples of what you have accomplished.

    April 1st, 2012 at 12:12 am



    Bruce is referring to the “ Happy Hour” where you can get pre-release domains from at hand-reg prices.

    April 1st, 2012 at 12:14 am



    Can you post link to “ Happy Hour” ?


    April 1st, 2012 at 6:03 am


    @Domainer 007

    Quite honestly if there’s anything BS about Elliot’s blog is the 2 posts that I’ve read of yours!

    I thought it was crystal clear to most that the whole idea of starting a blog was with a view of turning it into a profitable business – Have you seen “John Chow’s blog”? Do you know how he started initially and how much he’s earning now? (Beyond Your Dreams!!)

    April 1st, 2012 at 10:42 am


    Namejet seemed like it was great; until I realized a major loophole that all domainers should realize regarding “PENDING DELETE” names. Even if you “snipe” a name with only 5-10 seconds left (before the 12 o’clock cutoff) and are the only bidder, other people can still see that you bid on the name. Even though the domains aren’t “searchable” via the Namejet interface after the cutoff, you can still simply type the domain in the URL, and see if someone sniped a bid. Then you simply go to Snapnames or another catcher and place a bid there. I imagine people have software that can already do this. In other words, people have 1 1/2 hours to figure out what names were sniped (take advantage of other people’s hard research work) and place bids on those names on the far superior Snapnames, or Pool, or whatever else. Too many shitty to mediocre names that I snipe on Namejet, and am the only bidder, end up being caught by Snap with 1 or 2 other people. But those same names or even those of lower quality where I SKIP Namejet and just place the bid on Snap …. I am almost always the only bidder on Snap in those cases.

    Namejet, get your sh*t together and close this loophole- make auction pages for PENDING DELETE completely unscannable/unviewable after the cutoff- you are (inadvertently) letting people take advantage of your customers and giving their business elsewhere. This isn’t a complaint against Namejet, it’s an actual loophole !! Think about it.

    Sorry Elliot, had to vent! I hope someone from Namejet sees it.

    April 1st, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ M

    Venting is good, especially if you get results. I’ll ping Matt from NameJet in the morning to have him look into it.

    April 1st, 2012 at 7:45 pm


    to clarify, you just type:

    into the address box, replace XXXXX with a domain, and voila, you can see if anyone sniped. Then just walk over to Snap and beat out Namejet the vast majority of the time. It doesn’t make any sense why they would do that !

    April 1st, 2012 at 7:45 pm


    The other TLD usage is a good signal for me. If a .com looks good, but i see that none of the other extensions (net, org, biz, info) were registered, it makes me think twice before going after it.

    … about NameJet, I don’t think I’ve won a single PENDING DELETE name with them out of the last 6 or 7 backorders I’ve placed.

    April 2nd, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Cem K

    – Registration date
    – History of the domain (‘s website)
    – Possible trademark issues

    These are most important ones.

    April 2nd, 2012 at 6:37 pm

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