Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Finding A Great Domain Name for under $10

Have you ever read that all of the good domain names are already gone? Well, it's absolutely not true! Some people believe that cyber-squatters have registered all of the domains with any potential in all viable extensions. This is simply not the case! I know from personal experience that it's not too difficult to register a domain name for under $10, and sell it later for a huge profit!

Be warned, however...there are many domain investors out there who register any domain that strikes their fancy at the given moment, only to regret the purchase two months later. We want to avoid buyer's remorse when it comes to our little pets.

The first thing you need to do is gather information on what makes a good domain name. The best places to gather info are at the Domain Name Forums: Namepros and DNForum are the top two forums, with Namepros being more of a social site, and DNForum catering more to the business side of the industry. Either site is a worthy place to get your feet wet if you are a domaining "newbie".

Next, we need a system or tool(s) which produce good available domain names that we can browse through. One site I really like is AllDrops.com --- which provides huge lists of recently dropped and available domains that you can filter using a variety of criteria. Another good site is Whois.ws --- which will suggest additional domains if you type in a domain that's already registered. Finally, Fabulous.com has a nice domain suggestion tool if you are registered there. (It takes a decent portfolio to get accepted there, so that one may have to wait).
I use these sites (and more) to produce a list of potential domains. I write down the few that I think are the best, and disregard the rest.

What criteria do I use to determine if a domain name is worth registering?

- The domain name must appeal to ME. Either I'm going to use this domain for a personal site which will make me more money than my investment, or I'm going to sell this domain at a later time for a nice profit.

- The domain name should appeal to others. Does it sound good? Does it avoid ugly combinations of letters? (Example: LessSmall.com has the letter 'S' thrice in a row) Is the subject of the domain easily identifiable and hold potential purchase value to a buyer?

- Is the domain name relatively short? Try to stay away from those domains that are 20+ characters in length unless you are a seasoned veteran and really know what you're doing.

- Is the domain name available in the .COM extension? If not, make sure that your keywords are very strong, and that your keywords fit with the domain extension. (Example: FigService.info might make perfect sense to you, but not to anyone else)
.COM is the king of domain extensions by a longshot, and many search engines including Google give high priority to domain names ending in .COM, thus making them more valuable.

- Does the domain's exact term(s) have good search results? If you take your exact keyword terms and type them into Google with quotes around them (like: "Dog Bones"), does Google return a high number of websites with that exact search term? For a .com domain, I like to see 200,000 Google results for the term in quotes. That means that the keywords are widely used. Some domains that I've sold recently have had relatively high Google results, which tend to be favored by some of the major domain auction sites.

Once I've found a domain name that meets all of the above criteria, I don't rush off and register it yet. There are some good tools out there that will give me a better idea of the domain's value.
For instance, Estibot.com is a nice resource that will give you an automated appraisal value for your domain. That site will also provide additional information, such as any traffic that the domain receives, and how many searches are being done for the keywords.

*** Be careful when typing your potential domain name into online services. Sometimes, other websites can view the results of your input, and it's possible that someone could register your domain name before you do! I usually use sites like Estibot.com as the last step before I actually register the domain name, so there's only a few seconds between the automated appraisal and the registration of the domain. ***

Lastly, you need to find a good domain registrar. Some of the well-known registrars are Godaddy, Enom, Namecheap, Name.com and Dotster. Some have better prices than others, and some are easier to use. Some registrars charge as little as $6 for a .COM registration. Some registrars have coupons as well, which will give you a discount upon registration. Visit the domain forums listed above to learn more about each registrar.

Keep in mind that most registrars use a free "push" system that allows sellers to send a domain name to buyers for free as long as they are both registered users of that registrar, and the domain is also registered there. So, it's good to use the more popular registrars to make transactions that much easier.