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Buying The Right Domain for SEO

Updated on August 28, 2011

Trading in domain names is now a multi-million dollar business. Thousands of domain names are traded annually, either on specialist websites, on generic auction sites like eBay, and in private (often unreported) sales. Generic one world domain names can sell for millions of dollars. Recent examples include Fly.com (bought for $1.76m) and Toys.com (sold for $5.1m). As with any other product, there are now a lot of brokers trading in domains. SnapNames.com, Afternic.com are examples of the popular ones, as are DotPound.com, Sedo.com and GoDaddy.com. Caveat emptor is the advice when dealing with domain name brokers, and you would be best advised to stick with the reputable ones.

Making Unsolicited Offers for Domains

If you have identified the perfect domain name that you 'absolutely must have', you will need to determine the current owners before you can approach them with an offer. The easiest starting point is to use one of the many Whois tools available. Popular ones include:

Entering the domain name you are interested in on any of these sites, will return a list of contact details for the Registrant, the Administrative Contact, and the Technical Contact for the domain name. These are often the same person. Along with the address and telephone numbers, there is usually least one contact email address provided as well. 

Even where domain owners have chosen to make their contact information private, there is often an administrative contact email for the original registrar. A lot of registrars do forward any correspondence sent through such email addresses to the domain name owner, so it is worth trying. If all else fails, and you seem unable to track down a domain name's owner, you can always hire a broker to do the legwork for you.

The best strategy for buying the name once you initiate contact with the current owner is beyond the scope of this article. You will have to be honest, if only with yourself, just how much you are willing to pay for this domain name. In some cases prospective buyers use their personal email addresses without discussing any company details or intended use for the domain, since appearing to be part of a big company can cause the price to skyrocket. Even when you have identified the current owners, you should still be prepared to have your offer rejected. Consequently, it helps to target several domain names with this approach.

Coming up with the right figure to pay for domain name, is also beyond the scope of this article. Ultimately, your domain name should help to drive traffic to your website. You will need to weigh the cost of the domain, with the expected traffic you think it will organically generate with no effort on your part. The value you place on such traffic should factor into your valuation for the name. In some cases though, you might intend to build a brand around that domain name, and this will have different implication for your valuation. In many respects though, a domain name is only worth what the next person is prepared to pay for it. 

If you have limited funds, you might be better off spending them on SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) for a domain name you have bought cheaply, than blowing your entire budget on a domain name of questionable real value. That said though, exploring the domain names that are available for sell is a worthwhile exercise to build into your SEO plans. A good domain name will help all your SEO efforts, and you just might find the perfect name available that fits within your budget. 

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