10 Step Domain Renewal Checklist

Posted: March 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Evaluation | Tags: , | No Comments »

Having a portfolio of over 1,000 domain names can be quite stressful and even exhausting. To most, owning domains is kind of a “get it and forget it” sort of feeling but to domainers it is pure agony.

Every single day thousands of domains are dropped, most of those dropped domains were previously owned by investors/speculators who were scaling back their portfolios or by businesses who either went under or reconsidered the necessity of owning that domain. At some point, the domainer or previous owner that decided to drop a domain had to consider the reasons for dropping and reevaluate the domain. Here is a checklist of 10 qualities that I use to evaluate whether or not to renew a domain.

1. Offers

This one seems like a no brainer but if I have ever received an offer on a domain I keep it, so long as the offer is substantiated and not some BS inquiry.

2.  Similar Sales

I use NameBio.com and DNSalesPrice.com to look for similar domain sales. Example: Just recently was considering the renewal of ApartmentMarketing.net. I checked out the above sites and saw that ApartmentMarketing.com sold for $2,501 on NameJet last year. This was a good indication that the keywords had demand and there was potential for a sale; most likely not one in the $X,XXX range but definitely in the $XXX range.

3. Traffic/Revenue

Most of my domains don’t really get any notable traffic, so this isn’t a big factor for me. But some of my lower tier domains, that don’t really have much going for them, seem to get enough traffic to make a case for renewing. Example: Anime-Online (.) net; not the greatest domain, I admit it, but it gets consistent traffic every month and made enough in parking earnings last year to pay for its renewal cost.

4. Search Volume

I buy a lot of domains that have high search volume because it is usually a good indicator of keyword demand. Every now and then I pick up a domain that has no shining qualities but has pretty good search volume and a high CPC. If the exact search volume is above 3,000 local searches a month, I keep it. Example: CricketNews (.) info; this domain is expiring soon so I already did my due diligence on this one. 6,600 exact local searches/month and 90,500 exact global searches/month – I think the search volume alone warrants the renewal, not to mention it is a popular sports niche with development opportunities.

5. Age

If a domain is more than 7 years old it has good value in SEO, as long as it has the right keywords and extension. Aged domains are hard to come by these days as so many domains are constantly dropped, they are also highly coveted by investors, SEO gurus, and development companies. Example: eNewsClips (.) com; pretty brandable but the age is what made me keep it, first registered in 1999 – making it 13 years old this year.

6. TLD Check

Another good indication of keyword demand is the registration of they keyword in multiple TLD extensions as well as ccTLDs. This is not always a sure fire test to determine renewability but if you are on the fence about a domain this is a good tie breaker. When checking other extensions, note the registrant info – if they are all the same it could just be a defensive reg and not have tons of external value…it’s a judgement call.

7. Enduser Potential

Finding a home for your domains should be the primary objective, unless you plan on developing. Domains with a lot of potential endusers have a higher likelihood of selling and vice versa. If you can find 20 legitimate potential endusers for your domain, I think that is a good start and worth the renewal fee. Whether you decide to contact those leads or sit around and wait for a sale is your call.

8. Development

Maybe you registered or bought a domain because it has great development potential. I know I have bought at least 200 “project” domains that are still just collecting dust. Every year they come up for renewal and I have to think about whether or not the domain can truly stand on it’s own as a business. Most of the time, it can’t. This test usually relates to brandable domains that are descriptive (TennisFever.com) for example.

9. Acquisition Cost

The acquisition cost of domains varies greatly; the amount of money you initially invested in a domain can be enough motivation to hold on to it. It is oftentimes easier to let go of a reg fee domain then one that you acquired for $50… even though that $50 domain was a bad investment that is just eating away at your cash flow. It is sometimes easier to just cut your losses and profit in the long run. A lot of LLLL/LLLLL.com domains come to mind.

10. WhoIs look ups

GoDaddy offers an exportable list of your domains that includes the number of WhoIs lookups on that domain for the current and previous period. I usually consider the number of WhoIs lookups for a domain that is expiring, if it shows significantly more than previous periods I take that figure into consideration. This is by no means a tell tale sign, as I don’t really know where or how the lookups were generated (user or bot.)

The above 10 factors should be used as a guide to dropping a domain. Let’s say each of the 10 factors is worth 1 point, if it scores a 5 or higher I would renew. There will be cases where only one factor is needed to decide, such as revenue/traffic, offers, and enduser appeal…there are different circumstances with each domain.

Here are 3 things you can do to try and salvage your initial investment if you decide to drop that domain:

1. Contact BuyDomains.com and ask them if they are interested in purchasing the domain(s). They regularly purchase domains, but don’t expect enduser prices.

2. Go to one of the well known domain forums and try to liquidate your domains via an auction or firesale

3. If applicable, approach endusers and see if they are interested in your domain

Let me know if you found this post helpful or if you use different methods to determine renewability.

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