An Internet Domain defines the address on the Internet where a particular website or other Internet entity can be found. To the person who registers the domain and to the person who looks for it, the domain name probably describes what is to be found there – so, someone looking for the website of a car and van rental company run by a woman called Ethel would expect to find a domain name something like, “Ethel’s Car and Van Rental”, while Ethel herself would be likely also to come up with that name when registering the domain.
A technical person, however, probably sees the domain name differently – to the techie, a domain name is “an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet”. Fortunately, most people need never concern themselves with the task of translating that into readable English.
New domains are registered under the Domain Name System (DNS). At the end of 2014, there were 271 million active domains in the world – but far more than that have been registered; a surprising number expires every day. Why do domains expire? For a variety of reasons. Perhaps the owner dies, loses interest or simply fails to respond to reminders that the domain is due for renewal. Many – perhaps most – expired domains have no value. But not all. Anyone looking for a decent return on investment should think very carefully about buying one or more expired domains.
The market in the resale of domain names is known as the domain aftermarket and it’s thriving. To make a profit, the savvy investor needs to know what to look for.
The ideal is to find a domain name that the person who registered it no longer wants but which, during that person’s ownership, built up a good following. What sort of SEO performance did the domain have? How many sites point to it through back links? What was its page ranking in relation to its keywords? How many followers are there? These things matter because anything new that appears on a website or blog attached to the domain name will attract that same level of interest.
Clickthroughs on advertisements placed there provide affiliate earnings but an even better use for expired domains is to find one (or more) that uses the same keywords as the buyer’s own website. Redirect that domain to the buyer’s existing business and everyone who would previously have gone there – to a business that was probably a competitor – will now come to the buyer!
Finding the SEO information for an expired domain will be time-consuming and may not repay the effort. That is where brokers come in. There are individuals and firms offering, for every expired and expiring domain, all the information needed to establish whether buying the domain is likely to produce a profitable result.
Will it be worth it? Only the buyer can answer that question – but many people have invested in expired domains and made far better returns than the banks are currently offering.