I have heard people use the word “luck” regarding domain investing and while some luck may play a role in domain investing success, I firmly believe that due diligence can put more success in your corner than luck.
Let me share a little history of my domain investing journey. In the early days of domain investing, I would buy domains on a hunch. Truth be told, most of my domains were hand registered early on, however, I have been in the digital marketing field since 1999, so it’s not too far-fetched to think I could hand register decent names and sell them for 4 figures as I did. Looking back, I wish I had the foresight to see the value of focusing on investing in premium domain names, however my focus in the digital space was primarily SEO, and helping companies find new customers online. I am blessed to have been an early adopter to SEO and I launched my first full-service SEO Firm in 1999 and sold it in 2003 to my partners so I did well in that segment of digital marketing. It was after that journey that I focused more intently on domains.
I can’t recall when I started using many of the tools I use today because they simply weren’t around. Back in the day, I would do a Google search to see what came up, check the keyword search volume at Google AdWords, use Whois to find the owner, and “go with my gut” for the most part. That being said, I did not buy dozens of domains per year back then as I do now. I just bought them as I saw good opportunities, thought of new ideas, or spotted trends where I could hand register a domain name.
Today, there are a host of analytic tools that a domain investor can use to determine the potential market value of a domain name, as well as the likelihood of selling the domain. Here are the tools I use and recommend (not in any order).
Keywords Everywhere. This is likely due to the “SEO Guy” in me. I always want to know how many people are searching for a keyword in a keyword-rich domain (I tend to buy those). Recently, I picked up a domain that was available for hand registration and it had nearly 3,000 exact match searches per month for the term. I like seeing numbers like that. This is a simple browser extension that can be used on Chrome or Firefox that shows search volume among other metrics.
Google Search. I like to do a basic search on Google for the domain name. I do a search putting the name in quotations, especially if the name has more than one word, so I get the best results. This helps me see how the name is being used, how popular it is, and potential prospects for purchasing the name.
Google Trends. This is another great tool to help you see the popularity of a term over time. (Special thanks to Alvin Brown @ Kickstart Commerce for recommending this one during his presentation at The Domain Show!)
NameBio. This is a site that tracks historical domain name sales. It’s nice to see what a name actually sold for in the past, however, a good percentage of domain sales remain private and are not reported.
Instant Domain Search. There are a handful of tools that will show you how many extensions a domain name is registered in, and I have found this one to be the simplest. Knowing this can clue you in to potential prospects for upgrading to a .com extension of the name.
USPTO.gov. Yes, a government website can help you as a domain investor! In fact, it can help you stay out of trouble by not buying a trademarked name. This is the site for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you want to make sure the name you are about to purchase does not infringe on any trademarks, do a quick search on this site.
GoDaddy Appraisal Tool. I know this is a controversial tool for some, however, it is just one of many tools I still use. I like to get a quick snapshot of what GoDaddy thinks the value is, given all of the sales data they have, and it will also show any quick comps, which can even include the name you are looking to purchase.
The Wayback Machine / Archive.org. This is a great site for seeing how a domain has been used in the past. Not all sites are archived here, but if the domain was ever a live website for any length of time, the chances are good that you can find it here.
Blacklist Lookup Tool. I am leaving this one as generic as there are many sites you can use to check to see if a domain name is on a spam blacklist. This is good to know because if you are selling it and the end-user has a problem they could come back to you and say you sold them “damaged goods.” Some may say they don’t want to know so they don’t have to disclose, but I want to know what I am buying, so I don’t get stuck with a dud domain name, because savvy buyers will check before spending lots of money.
I hope you found that helpful and most of all, I hope it increases your domain investing success. Keep in mind that having the data from those tools and knowing how it all works together is not the same. If you are needing help in your domain investing journey, I recommend investing in DN Academy where you will learn the A to Z’s of domain investing and also join a community of like-minded investors where you can network and ask questions.
What tools are you using to analyze your domains for purchase? Feel free to comment below.