With many millions of domain names already registered by Internet users worldwide, finding a decent and meaningful domain name that is available for registration can be almost impossible, especially if it is a .com. That’s why the domain buying and selling marketplace can be a great place to start when looking for a good domain for your website.
Domain marketplaces, like Sedo and Afternic, allow you to find and custom-search domains offered for sale by their owner as well as expired domains auctioned off by registrars. If you have sufficient money (how much depends on what you’re looking for) to spend then you will certainly find some nice choices to consider.
But what are the things you need to consider when searching for a good domain name to buy? Let’s talk about the main factors that every domain buyer should pay attention to.
1. Brandable vs. Keyword-Rich
Most new webmasters seem to be torn between going with a brandable domain vs. a keyword-rich one. The fact is there’s no rule of thumb here so you need to examine your options based on your website’s type and purpose.
Brandable domain names are generally shorter, more memorable, buzzier and very trendy. On the other hand, it may make it unclear what the subject/purpose of the website is for someone not familiar with the brand name.
Keyword-rich (generic) domain names tend to look dull and outmoded, however, they convey a clear idea about the website’s subject matter and/or purpose, which is a helpful advantage (marketing wise).
2. Length and Format
The golden rule for domain name length is: the shorter always the better. Web users prefer short domains that are easier to remember and type. This is especially true for mobile Internet users. If you must have a keyword-rich domain, try not to go with anything more than three words.
As for the format, try to avoid names with hyphens and/or numbers in them since these can be confusing and are usually less valuable.
Both lengthy domains and those with hyphens or numbers in them are often harder to remember and may sound unprofessional.
The domain extension, also known as the Top-Level Domain (TLD), is the part that comes after the “dot”, for example “.com”, “.net”, etc.
Dot-com’s are unbeatable! The .com extension has been the most popular and widely-used ever since the dawn of the World Wide Web and it will probably continue to be so, at least for the foreseeable future.
If your website is of commercial nature then a “.com” name is strongly recommended. Second choice should be “.net”, while “.org” is more appropriate for non-profits.
4. Age and History
Valuable domain names have all been registered many years ago. Every desirable name must have some history. Run a Google search for the domain name (including its extension) and see what comes up. Check the domain’s archive.org record to get an idea of what it was used for in the past (if at all).
Domains that are/were associated with questionable content or activities (like spam) should be avoided.
Also, make sure the domain is not banned by Google, Bing and other search engines. This can be checked by searching for “site:domain.com” in Google/Bing (remove the quotes and replace domain.com with the domain in question). If the domain has an active website (full website or parked page) then that search should return pages from the domain, if no results were returned then there’s a chance that the domain may have been banned by the search engine.
5. Backlinks and Statistics
Before deciding to buy a domain name do your due diligence by checking its backlinks and any available usage statistics.
Alexa ranking is a good indicator of traffic to the domain and can be publicly checked at Alexa.com.
Also check the backlinks that point to the domain using one of the many available SEO tools out there. If the domain has too many low quality/spammy backlinks you’d be better off searching for another one. Even buying a brand new domain for a nominal registration fee might be better than wasting your money on an old one that has lots of spammy backlinks in its profile.
Price is a subjective issue, and no one can tell you how much you should pay for a specific domain. Inexperienced buyers can obtain a professional appraisal for a reasonable fee, but spending some time learning and researching would be much more useful and rewarding than paying someone to do a job that with little effort you can learn to do yourself anytime and for free.
Some domain owners/squatters look for easy cold cash and will ask outrageously and unjustifiably high prices hoping that some gullible user will take the bait. So don’t be that guy and remember that you can always find another, and even a better, domain name without having to pay a fortune for it.