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A Comprehensive Guide to Registering Expired Domain Names

In the early days of the Internet, when a popular domain name passed its expiry date and the owner didn't reregister it, there was a mad rush by domainers to register the domain as quickly as possible.

The picture changed when the domain registrars caught onto the idea of auctioning the best expired domains to those who would bid the most in order to generate extra income.

If your auctions found no bidders, then the domains would drop and the registrar would cease to have an interest.

Being able to pick up an expired domain of significant value is tough these days. You need to be selective about the domains you are going to choose, so make sure that it really does hold value for your brand, or your marketing efforts. This piece is really geared towards understanding the process of registering expired domains and so we won't go into the actual process of choosing too much.

The types of expired domain status

Six main categories of expired domains are as follows:

A prerelease domain

This is where a domain has been dropped by the original owner but is still in the hands of the registrar, who would auction it to the highest bidder in a free auction.

A closeout domain

Also known as a fire sale domain, is where a domain name is not purchased during an auction by the registrar, and so it is available without a buy it now, discounted price. You'd see lots of these auctions around the Internet.

An on the hold domain name

This is where the original owner failed to reregister his domain before the expiry date and the domain has been placed on the registry hold status.

A domain in redemption period

In this context, a redemption period would refer to a specific time period, normally 30 or 45 days, in which the original domain owner can register the domain they failed to reregister prior to its expiry date. This is also called a grace period.

A dropping domain name

A domain that is termed dropping has not been registered again by the original owner and is going to be deleted from the registry in a short period of time. There are many domain sellers and Internet marketing professionals who are constantly on the hunt for dropping domains, so they can catch them first.

A deleted domain name

This is where the registry has deleted the name and therefore it is available again for registration by anyone, at the standard price for that domain extension.

Where to find domain auctions

If you're on the hunt for that perfect domain name, you'd probably want to join a domain auction.

If you have a specific domain name that you're after, then you can go to WHOIS look up and find out who the domain name registrar is, and enter their auction system online to find the domain name partner.

There are three main sites that offer domain auctions, namely godaddy, at auctions.go daddy.com, main jet, at nine jet.com, and snap names, at snapper names.com.

Heading to the appropriate domain name auction house is the best way to acquire the domain name, but keep in mind that if you register interest in a domain name, you may automatically spring an algorithm with the auction house where they buy that domain name.

It seems that snap names, for example, would buy domains of a certain length if someone registers interest, and the price remains below $500. You can always have a gamble. That is, your domain name would go through the auction process and be available to you at around $10 when it reaches the deleted domain name status. You have to assess how popular the domain is likely to be and how much value it offers you, in order to decide what you are willing to pay.

Bidding for a Domain Name

If you have a domain name in mind, you can place a backorder with the domain name registrar in order to register your interest.

The process from there varies depending on the domain name registrar, and sometimes you'd automatically be entered into an auction, or sometimes you'd be able to pick up the domain there and then.

If the domain does not go to an auction, then you would probably have to register with a domain drop catching service in order to pick up the domain name quickly, as soon as it fully drops.

Drop catching services is very marketable. Some of them would run an auction for dropping domains such as if they catch the domain name, you pay the auction price. Some services offer a non-refundable fee to attempt to catch a domain.

Some services offer a variety of options depending on whether you are willing to pay upfront or only willing to pay if you secure the domain name.

If you want to choose the exact domain name that you want, then it is perfectly possible to pick up highly brandable domains, or domain names with good back link metrics, without spending a fortune. So how do you value your domain name?

Exploring an idea about domain value

It's worth having a think about how to value a domain name. One good way is to use the Google ad words keyword tool and find out how many exact match searches there are for a domain name.

If you find a domain that has more than 1000 exact match searches every month, it may be well worthwhile pursuing. By calculating the number of searches, the expected percentage click through, and the cost per click for PPC, and then multiplying that by 24 months, you have an approximate value of the generic domain name to work with. Brandable domain names are more difficult to value, as they are worth what someone is willing to pay.

It is easy to get tempted into buying lots of nice domain names at drop catch prices. The truth is that you may be paying four times the registration fee for that domain extension, without getting any extra value on top of thinking about domain names that are not taken.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of dropped domain names is that they have been registered before, and so, at least have proven a level of popularity. If they were registered many many years ago, and you suspect that the domain name is being dropped in error, you may well be picking up a valuable domain name.

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