SEOThursday

Blog covering a variety of Search Engine Optimization topics.

Monday, January 08, 2007

1.2 - Buying a Domain - What is it Worth?

As Section 1 alluded to, it gets more and more likely that the domain name you most covet for your budding webspace has already been registered by another party. First and foremost - that doesn't mean you can't still get it. For most people it simply comes down to cost/benefit and finding a common ground with the current registrar. Whether the domain name is simply "parked" or it is a registered business that has been operating the domain for 7 years, there can always be room for negotiation.

**For good measure, I'd like to point out the way to find out who is the current registrar of a domain name as that information would be pertinent to anyone trying to contact a site owner about a possible purchase. While contacting them through the standard contact forms or "info@" email addresses listed on the site is always the simplest option, the most surefire way of getting ahold of a domain owner is through the email and/or phone number listed on their WHOIS information.

Registrar's like GoDaddy and NetworkSolutions provide links to looking up WHOIS info when you search for availability (i.e. SEOTHURSDAY.COM is already taken - click here for info). Simply go there or hit up WHOIS.net and you can find this information pretty quickly.

So, what is a domain really worth? There are many factors to consider (besides your budget and intention for your future site of course), and here they are in pretty list format:

1. Domain Age - Check the registration date of the domain. If it was within the last year then it may not be worth as much as something that's been around since 1998.

2. Domain History - Tied in with domain age (but much more important), by "history" I mean what has been hosted on the domain since it was registered? A domain that has been hosting a functional, developed website for over a year is much more appetizing than one that has been simply parked and running AdSense. Do a few quick checkups by going to Archive.org and also by running "site:www.domain.com" queries in Google and Yahoo to see the # of pages each is indexing. The more that is there the better.

3. Search Presence / Relevance - The above 2 checkpoints are ultimately working towards determining the value that can be added SEO-wise by an established domain. Older domains with many pages indexed in Google can be a jumpstart towards top rankings and hopefully success for your website however you may define it. One other key thing to consider is how well the current website relates to what you intend to do with it. Hopefully, in purchasing a domain you are targeting something that is already highly relevant. In turn, check and see if a site is popping up in the top 300 in the SERPs for keywords relevant to your vision of the site. Check how the site is ranking for the words in it's page title and it's main themes. If it looks like Google is showing some love to the domain already - big points! In purchasing a domain with SEO in mind, this is the most important thing you should consider (and all the other checkpoints are related).

You have to consider that dollars spent on acquiring a certain domain will pay themselves back to you by decreasing your online marketing costs in the future. If a domain is already showing up in the SERPs for your keywords, then you will have to expend much less effort attracting and/or acquiring links just to get it there. You are bypassing a few steps and taking the fast-track to visitors.

4. Value-Added Benefits - Is the domain catchy? Will it be brandable, or possibly catch some type-in traffic? Again, hopefully that is the kind of domain you are targetting if you are wasting time trying to purchase an existing one. With these 4 factors under consideration, it simply becomes a cost/benefit game. Buying established domains is about gaining instantaneous market position and authority in the search engines. There can be a lot value in that, as well as a lot money. Domain names are also assets - that is, what you're buying is an investment. Even if your plans don't come into fruition, there will always be a market for selling it in the future.

If you're an expert in your industry and can project out what corners can be cut and time can be saved by buying a domain, this may be all the advice you need. For those that may not know, read on.

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