Oh, we’ve got a good one for you today! Have you ever looked through a list of domain names and thought “dang, all of these names look good, I’ve got to get all of them”. Hold on there buddy. Chances are, most of them are crap and not worth putting any money into.
But how could you know? Are there any ways to distinguish a good domain name from a bad domain name?
We think there is…here’s how.
First off, everyone has their own taste and preference when it comes to domains names. Some people like to buy various extensions while others like to be old school and buy primarily .com’s (our style for the most part). Either way, there must be some type of strategy to make sure you are buying a domain name someone else would want from you in a few hours, days, months or even years right?
Remember, domain names are illiquid assets to begin with. Meaning if you want to sell them right away, you probably can’t (unless you have super generic terms, that’s different). For the most part, we all have to sit and wait or do some outbound marketing to try to sell our domain names to the best suitor.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how we weed out tons of domain names and try to find the most valuable domain names for us to buy.
And now…Let’s give Will the stage to break some things down.
“Pay attention to the sites that rank on the 1st page, you can reach out to these people and aim to sell them the domain as well. This works especially since the domain you have is an upgrade to the domain they are currently using.” – Will
Tip #1: The Google Keyword Planner
One of the best things about the Google Keyword Tool is that it’s free. That’s right, completely free and who doesn’t love free? The tool is pretty simple to use and accurate when it comes to measuring these 3 specific stats:
- Search Volume – This shows how popular a term is. The higher the searches the more known the term is among people who search on Google. If the term has low searches then it is simply not popular.
- CPC – Cost per click and this is in reference to the advertisers and their willingness to spend money on a specific term. The higher the CPC the more lucrative that keyword term is.
- Competition – You will have low, medium or high competition each one representing the amount of potential ads are out there for the term. (You can verify the ad use by doing a Google search, more details about this later)
So all this talk about the tool and its benefits but, how do you use it?
As I mentioned it is very simple and easy to use all you are going to need is a gmail/google account and just log in. The way I find the tool I just search Google keyword planner on Google and click on the first site.
Real simple and self explanatory. Simply click on the link and you will be directed to the keyword tool.
Now take a look at the searches, CPC and competition. The higher the searches the better but just keep in mind this is not the only deciding factor. Anything close to a dollar CPC will be awesome and medium to high competition will be essential. ( I will show 2 samples and break them down later on)
Once you get to this screen make sure you put the keyword/s where it says get search volume date and trends. My arrow needs help lol…
Remember the examples I mentioned I would break down? Here they are:
1st example is HookahPens.com. (Cool name right? We think so too)
This is indeed a great name (the keywords in it are Hookah Pens), has consistent 18k searches and high competition. The only downfall is that the CPC is semi low at $0.29 but definitely will like this one to be closer to 1 dollar but the amount of searches is a great sign. The searches being so high means a lot of people are searching for this product and know about it. This adds a lot of value to the domain and puts you in an excellent position to sell it.
I consider a good search amount to be in the 1000 range. If it is lower then the CPC must be high like in the 3 dollars and above for me to even consider investigating the domain further. When we looked at this domain what caught our attention right away was the searches. Then we looked into the product and noticed it was trending since people are into smoking Hookah now and going to Hookah spots.
The second example is ManhattanDojo.com (What were we thinking when we got this?!)
The keywords in this domain are “Manhattan Dojo“. So looking back at this domain and just simply looking at the fact that it does not have any searches, no CPC and not even low competition, it is the same as not existing. I wonder what was I thinking when I bought this domain.
When I say it out loud it does sound like a potential business but just because it sounds nice does not make it valuable. I hope you are starting to understand that there are many factors that will make a name valuable and you must learn how to analyze them.
It will take some time to get the feel for this, the main concept to understand is to keep it simple and not be too technical. If the domain term has good searches but lower CPC this is still a potentially valuable domain. It does not have to have all 3 factors but that will be an amazing name if it does =-D
Once I analyze these 3 factors my next step is to open up Google search and just put the term on there and see how many advertisers are there.
In this case we will use the domain ComputerScanners.com. (“Computer Scanners” is the keyword term)
These advertisers are people you can reach out and sell your domain to. The more advertisers means there are a lot of people interested in making money and getting visitors from this term. This is a very important factor and we make sure to not purchase domains that have a few advertisers.
Also pay attention to the sites that rank in the 1st page of google or any other search engine you use. You can reach out to these people and aim to sell them the domain as well. This works especially since the domain you have is an upgrade to the domain they are currently using.
A simple email stating how they will benefit from getting the domain you have to offer will do. Remember, if the name itself is good the selling part will be easy. If you are trying hard to sell a name and getting nowhere re-analyze that name and make sure it passes the test of the factors we mention in this post.
If I would have become stagnant and simply put my energy and effort trying to sell ManhattanDojo.com I would of not had the chance to buy HookahPens.com and sell that one for a profit.
I know you will pick awesome names but once in a while you will come across some crappy ones that for one reason or another you liked and purchased but they simply are not valuable. This is when you have to be honest with yourself and move on to the next one.
Tip #2: NameBio.com – Analyzing Past Sales
One of my favorite tools personally is NameBio.com. It provides such powerful information and data that can help you a ton in analyzing the specific domain you are planning to buy and determining how popular the term is based on the recent sales.
They have some amazing filters, you can put the term in and see how many similar sales happened with the term used at the end or at the beginning. You can also sort by domain extension. When I have a domain name I am interested in if it is a 2 word .com (Most will be since it is our focus) I take both terms and I analyze them each separately.
OK, so instead of just typing away more details and nerdy terms I am just going to show you an example of breaking down a 2 word .com and analyzing each term individually.
We are going to analyze the domain CashMachines.com.
So, I analyzed first the term “cash” and it shows a lot of past sales, 604 to be exact and there are quite a few that are recent. This is important because it means domains with that term included are selling frequently. It is always a good sign when you see recent sales since it shows the term is still being sought out.
Now we see the 2nd term “machines”, this one shows a total of 80 sales and definitely a good amount of frequent sales in 2015. I pay attention to the prices and get an estimate for the average. This is how I determine how much I should pay for a certain term. We all have access to this data, it is crucial to take advantage of this and use it to make better decisions.
Tip #3: Would A Business Be Interested In This Domain Name?
One of the simplest but most overlooked way to determine the value of a domain is analyzing how natural it sounds, asking yourself questions like “do these two words go together in the domain name”? Does it make sense having the plural version, singular version or vice versa?
I always like saying the word out loud and just to hear how it sounds. This is very important. Omar also likes to ask himself “Can I see this domain name on a billboard driving down the highway”. He is kinda weird, but he likes billboard ads and pays attention to them heavily. It’s an awkward fascination…
Anyway, I can guarantee you will be able to save yourself from making a dumb emotional purchase by simply taking your time analyzing the domain in all types of angles. A common mistake is to buy a name without really looking at it only to find out it is spelled wrong.
Now the name you thought was valuable is worth less than a pack of gum -_-
Here is a set of questions to ask yourself before pressing that final purchase button:
- Is this name spelled right? Is is hard to spell?
- Can someone create a business or informational website out of this?
- Do I find this name valuable and would pay to have it?
- How does it sound when I pronounce it? (Does it pass the radio test?)
- Does the name itself make sense?
You will be surprise on the improvement of your decision making by simply asking these 5 questions before finalizing a purchase. You must remember the importance of quality before quantity. We look back at the domain names we first bought and it just makes no sense as to why we got them, they simply had no type of value. This is one mistake you definitely want to avoid making.
OK Omar, here’s your part. Time to take the stage.
“You would be surprised at how many businesses buy domains not to use them themselves but just so their competition can’t use them.” -Omar
Tip #4 : ZFBOT – Finding Similar Websites
(Image Credit: OneBusyPixel.com)
ZFbot.com is a free tool we love, love, love to use. I am not too sure the entire features of the website and what they offer but I know the reason we use them is to get a feel for how many other websites are using similar domain names to what we may be offering. This is crucial in my opinion.
If you own a domain name and do not find ANYONE else on the internet using a similar domain name to yours online, what does that tell you? It probably means your domain name sucks and may not be a good choice for resale.
Here is an example so you can see exactly what I mean.
The example we are using in this case is TennisBalls.com (we do not own this name, it’s just for the experiment. But if it is for sale and the owner reads this…what’s up?)
Please disregard my photoshop skills. I have none. Make sure when using this took you click “OR”. Also put the keyword phrase on both top and bottom, just like in the picture above.
Ok, so let’s break this down. ZF bot is showing you how many websites have the keywords you are searching for in their own domain names. So in this case, I am looking up all websites that have the exact phrase “Tennis Balls” in them. The reason I am doing this is because if I want to potentially sell this domain name, immediate prospects could be people who own similar (inferior) versions to my TennisBalls.com.
If you noticed, the other websites tend to own longer, somewhat uglier versions of the domain name. You could argue that this version is the best version and one other websites would want to own either to have it for branding purposes or just so their competition doesn’t get their hands on it.
You would be surprised at how many businesses buy domains not to use them themselves but just so their competition can’t use them.
Either way, do you see how great this tool is? It’s super fast, free and gets the job done.
In the case of this experiment, you can see there are 117 websites with similar domain names. That’s a great number. The more the better (but just make sure the prospects are targeted, if you have a general term you may have to dig deeper into what the exact website is about).
I think anything over 10-15 active websites using a similar version to your domain name is a good bet and should be investigated further.
Here’s another thing, make sure the websites are LIVE websites. See picture below.
Make sure you pay attention if the website is parked. This would most likely not be a prospect. It’s probably someone who invest in domain names just like you and they may not be interesting in your domain name. They could be but chances are better when it is a live website that’s up and running that could potentially use a shorter/better/sexier domain name, such as the one your offering.
And here’s an example of a domain name you should not buy. When we first started (and sometimes even now) we buy dumb domains. One of our first purchases was a hand registered domain name, ItchyBoobs.com. I dunno, don’t ask. We bought it, thought it was good. Let’s see what ZFbot has to say about that…
As you can see, there is only 1 registered domain that match the keywords “Itchy Boobs”. This isn’t good because it shows no one else out there thought other versions of this name were worthy to register. That’s how this tool can help you.
It may take you a little bit of time to get use to the tool but it’s going to be time well spent.
Tip #5 : 3 Important Crucial Things To Evaluate
Plain and simply, I love to see when a domain name we are looking to acquire is taken in other extensions. It’s a a wonderful thing. There is a very in depth blog post over in a website called Dropmining where he goes into details on exactly what professional domain name buyers at auction seem to look for when they buy a domain name. You can read the post here. It breaks down into these 3 things. I will describe why these 3 things are crucial.
- Other Extensions Registered – Is the domain name you are looking to acquire the ONLY one that is registered out of all the extensions possible? This probably isn’t a great sign. Why? Don’t you think that if a domain name had value and others wanted it, they would have registered that domain in various extensions just to be able to have something. This goes back to my ZFbot explanation, it’s awesome to see other people with the same domain name as you in a different extensions, especially if you have the superior version (.com).
- TLD – This one is rather simple. We’ve made domain sales but simply put, we get a better return on our money when it’s a .COM. Domainers and end users a like want a .com. There really is no comparison when you own a good generic .com domain name. We like to stick to .com. A good 1-2 word .com are what sells. Don’t take our word for it though, just look through a site like Namebio and see what we mean.
- Search Volume – You get this information from the Google Ad Planner (which Will wrote about above). Our strategy for this has changed though. Before, we only liked to look for things that had, lets say 1,000 exact match searches per month. But after doing this for a while, I noticed we were severely limiting the number of domains we could filter through. If you look at recent sales, sometimes the domain names have ZERO searches. It’s crazy! The thing is, end users rarely care about search volume or a lot of the metrics we online peeps drool about. If it can help their business, then they want it. So this metric is a little wishy washy BUT we ALWAYS like to see at least SOME form of search volume to make sure the keywords are even relevant.
That about wraps it up for the 5 tips to see if a domain name you want is worth buying . I’m sure there are a few other things we consider when purchasing a domain name but these are the KEY factors we continually look for.
Keep in mind, the best resource is going to be your gut instinct. Sounds crazy right? We wrote up all of this just to tell you in the end the best decision maker is your own instincts!?
Well, because it kind of is. We continue to read stories about people who purchased domain names on a “hunch” or because they “had a feeling” and sell the name for big bucks later on. No metrics involved, nothing just “feelings”.
Hopefully, you were able to pick up a few key things in this post that you were missing in your strategy.
Do you do use any of the tools or tips we mentioned when evaluating a domain name you are going to purchase? Let us know below!
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