What to Avoid when Hand Reging Domain Names to Flip

This post was inspired by a fellow rookie domainer that sent me an email inquiring if I thought his potential domain name idea was advisable to purchase.  My quick answer was "No!" Afterwards I went and purchased the name with the intent to sell it - JUST KIDDING! It's not really a good name for flipping (or developing) and would likely be a waste of his $8 to register it for a year.  Note: I say "likely" because every now and then, you flip a name that you had absolutely no expectations you could, and then you can't sell a name that seems golden - that's one of the frustrations, yet enticements, of the domain game.
Based on his domain name idea, it reminded me that there are few key items to avoid(at least from this rookie domainer's opinion - as is all the info I relay here!) and so I'll lay out the long answer to him and any other rookie noobs:

  1. Avoid any prepositions such as of, from, between et al and also the, and, or! Typically, a good keyword domain name is just the noun(s) and maybe a decent adjective.  Consider something solid like textbook.com or cheaptextbook.com, but stay away from buyyourtextbookshere.com or textbooksforcheap.com.  See the difference?  Those filler words dilute the power of the keywords and typically lengthy the actual name, a component to the value of the name - shortest being most valuable. Have people bought and sold names with these filler words? Absolutely!  But as a rookie domainer, your pocket is shallow and your experience is limited so focus on less risky purchases with greater chance for returns aka sales.
  2. Google exact match results are critical to the valuation of the domain name.  Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to determine how many times your keyword(s) get typed into Google as a search term.  Obviously, the more the term is searched the more valuable it is to you and potential buyers. Here's a good rule of thumb to follow regarding exact match counts:
    1. > 10,000: Must buy! Even if the name sounds funny and is unusable by a business as a flip name (this can happen because of how people search for things, i.e. towels big  fluffy would be towelsbigfluffy.com), if it's getting over 10k in exact matches, then it's worth something to someone and that someone can be you!  Throw some content on and load it with affiliate links and make money off that traffic.  This is extremely, extremely rare for a hand reg find... especially a .com, but you may be lucky to score other extensions and I'd definitely snatch those up too.  Yes, even a .us.
    2. > 1,000: Strong buy!  If the name sounds good then it's a definite buy for a flip name.  If the name is odd sounding like described above, give significant consideration to whether you can monetize the site or not.  I've passed on names in this range before because it wasn't going to flip easy or drive much ad revenue.  These are tough to find hand reging and when you do, give careful consideration to buying it or passing on it.  If it's not a .com, I'm possibly passing on these - really depends on the niche and how much potential ad revenue is out there if you're stuck developing content for it.
    3. > 100: Likely buy, but only if it's a name I can flip.  I don't typically buy names that get less than 1,000 exact purely based on the idea that I can develop a site.  If I don't think I can flip it, I'm not buying it.  Usually, only focus on available .com and sometimes .net extensions.
    4. < 100: Unlikely buy.  Again, the less people search the term, the less intrinsic value the domain name using that term has. However, I have sold names before that get less than 100 exacts and the reason is those names represented a specific category or niche as viewed by the businesses that didn't match with how people seek them out.  In other words, the companies used these terms in their ads, in headers on their sites, or as page categories, while the phrase wasn't used by customers to find them.  It's a mismatch of sorts but the business feels that term represents their business so they snatch the name up.  It can also be that their niche is so small, that if 100 people searched for their specific niche product a month, the business is delighted - these guys will buy these small search volume names because they're used to competing in a small customer base and working to get any edge they can.
    • Bottom line: Avoid lower exact matches, unless any of the exceptions mentioned above apply.
  3. Avoid large box retailer products generally. What does this mean? Well, you need to consider your potential buying audience with a flip in mind.  Do companies specialize in exactly what your name is, is it one of five things they do, one of hundreds?  The less critical this product (or service) represented by your domain name is to their business model, the less interest they will have in buying the name.  If it's sold at Walmart, it's either a gigantic generic category like televisions.com and trust me, all the good names like that are taken... or it's greenfishtankbubblers.com and consider the group of buyers that might be interested in that name.  Your big box retailers won't buy it because they don't need it and unless there's some mom-and-pop out there and this is all they manufacture or sell, they won't buy it either.  The other component to consider is price of the product or service.  If the bubbler retails for $5 and is one of many things I sell as a mom-and-pop pet store... well, I have no dreams of ever cornering the market on bubblers with that domain name and I won't spend even $8 to register a name like that, let alone a few $100 from a domainer and then another few $100 to $1,000's to get content on it.  Remember to ask yourself this: Would someone in this niche want to own this name and why? Keep in mind, most big box retail products are not niches by definition, so avoid these for the most part.
  4. Avoid terms not used by businesses because if they don't use the term in their ads or their website descriptions, then they're unlikely to buy the name with that term.  Quickly google the term(s) you targeted to buy a domain name of and if the ads and the results reflect that exact terminology often - then buy it up.  These websites represent businesses that are likely targets to solicit the name to.  The only exception to this rule was briefly referenced above in #2.  You might find a name with high exact matches but the phrasing is odd based on how people search and so businesses don't reflect that odd phrasing in ads or descriptions.  If the exact match is high, then the name may be a candidate for a developed site to monetize but in terms of flipping, it's definitely less desirable if companies don't use the exact phrasing.
  5. Avoid hyphens. Just do it.  Learn from this rookie's past mistakes.  My very first slew of names I purchased included the following doozies: kill-mice.com, kill-rats.com, kill-mosquitoes.com.  Yes, I thought the pest control niche was a worthwhile endeavor and needless to say, those names are available again as I did not renew their registrations a year later.  Those names sucked for more reasons than the hyphens, but that should've been enough to keep me away.
I hope this helps domain rookies to focus their approach, not waste their money, and learn from my growing pains.  If anyone else has some advice about this topic, I look forward to you sharing it here with us!


Tony Stark said...

Thanks for the useful article on how to use our own domain on blogger. Though the tips were very useful to select a best domain name, the sad part is all the good domain names have been already taken. Anyway not all the already taken domain names are being used. Most of them are kept parked for sale. In such case, the domain name owner can be contacted for a bargain. The contact details of a domain name owner can be obtained by having a whois lookup at WhoisXY.com it is one of the best way.

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