How To Guide: Things I Look For When Catching Expired Domain Names

This post will cover things that I personally look for when catching expiring domain names & how I determine if a domain name has resell potential value. Everyday there are approximately 60,000 .com & .net domains that expire & are deleted from the central registry (Verisign). While most people rely on services like estibot, freshdrop, drop day & so on, I find that my unique approach has really helped me catch domains that I later sell for a good profit. I tend to catch only .com expired domains. I don’t spend much time or money in .net domains or any of the other extensions. I feel that the .com version of a domain is king & the best extension for maximizing profits.

I used to manually scan the daily drop list eye balling each domain line by line & looked for domains that simply popped out to me as a domain that I can later sell.  I found myself spending around three hours a day to eyeball the drop list. From eyeballing domains, I have had a lot of great sales.  I also noticed that a lot of the domains that I found from eyeballing the lists had no stats on estibot’s feed. So these domains would have gone under the radar & probably be available as a hand registration. I wouldn’t recommend that you start eyeballing the droplist, but here are some things that I factor in to find out if a domain’s worth in my eyes.

*note that these are my opinion on my strategy & only cover a small part of the spectrum that drop catching expired domains entails.

1.) I like to target domain names that other extensions are taken & a website is present. Eg, the .net and or the .org extensions of the same domain are available. Eg, is dropping while & are taken domains & they have a website built out that looks like a business or organization is using. The drawback to this is that expiring domains that fit this category always will have backorders put in & bidders at all the drop catchers eg, snapnames, namejet & pool. This trick is known around the block & these domains are far in between & valued by drop catchers. I’ve had success in selling a .com version of the same domain to a .org organization & they simply redirect the .com to the .net/.org or build out the .com while redirecting the .org/net to the .com.

2.) I like to use the Wayback Machine ( results to sift through the drop lists. if a domain had enough attention to get built out in the past, then it can serve a purpose today if caught. The issue is that a lot of these domains just don’t make sense. Although they were developed sites years ago, the most of the bunch are just plain junk. Sometimes there’s a diamond to be found, but that domain will usually appear under other statistics versus checking for wayback history as the single statistic.

3.) I find that searching by domain age can yield a list of domains that are aged, make sense & are dropping. If someone is willing to invest in a domain’s renewal fees for various years – then these domains maybe be worth looking into. Note that the age is immediately reset to today’s date the second you catch the drop. The better quality drops that are aged will usually carry a backorder at various registrars.

4.) Search volume & Brand-ability.  The search volume numbers are a good indicator of the amounts of google searches people are doing on a monthly basis. You’ll want to focus on the “Exact Search Volume” count versus the “Broad search Volume” count. Sometimes a domain will make complete sense to me & have a low or zero search volume count, so don’t let that disappoint you. The search volume is a helpful indicator, but it will really boil down to brandability. Is the domain brandable to cover the niche or category it’s serving? Is the domain brandable enough to become a brand of it’s own?

5.) CPC Costs (Cost Per Click). I like to target expiring domains which have a high CPC cost. The CPC count can be determined by the Exact search term cpc or broad search term cpc. This will yield a list of expiring domains which hold value if developed or parked & have a good amount of clicks & payouts based on the cost per click for advertisement banners hosted on the domain.

6.) Length does matter! The shorter the better. For instance let’s say I own: & the website: is an operational site, then I have the chance to present the owner of: the shortened version of his domain: & he can make an upgrade and benefit from an SEO angle more exposure to his tile business by using both domains or redirecting one to the main website & attracting additional visitors. Doing a simple google search for the term of the domain dropping will give you an idea on how many potential buyers you can expect who own a longer variation of the domain term.

7.) Pagerank, Overture & Alexa are also good indicators of valuable expiring domains. You’ll notice that domains with these stats may hold some value. Google Pagerank is difficult to keep intact once a domain drops. Alexa rank can help determine if a domain hold visitor traffic & rank. Overture is more keywords oriented & search results – this list can provide drops that may be valuable.

Once you’ve figured out the domains that you’d like to catch, the next question is to figure out a means of catching the domain at the most affordable price. You’ll find that a $59+ backorder fee on a domain at snapnames could have very well been caught at had you not made snapnames aware of the drop & put a hit on the domain using Dynadot’s API with drop catching software & pay registration fee on the expired domain saving you over $51. You’ll need to develop a sense as to which domains you feel are worth backordering at snapnames or attempting to save money & use an API or a cheaper backorder system.

You win some & lose some. Sooner or later you will notice that some domains will be caught by others & that’s ok.  This how to guide is more focused on you building a system that works for you. If you target 5-10 domains a day & end up catching 1-2  domains and lose the rest, that would be a good figure to expect.  The idea would be to warehouse & categorize whatever you catch & setup shop to offer your inventory to buyers. If you keep in mind that the whole picture is an ongoing collection of daily drops versus a one time deal – you’ll keep stocking up domains with resell value & have customers contacting you if the domain is good enough & has a clear purpose of use to your buyer.

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  • Eric says:

    Great article. I use everything you do but I also like to know how many advertisers are willing to pay to get traffic to their website using those keywords. Just run a google search! After that go to to see what the budgets are of the top advertisers using the domains keywords. It could give you an idea of how much money you can get out of a prospective buyer. How fat is their wallet?

  • ricojake says:

    good points! the question is what tools are you using to evaluate you prospects. is there an all-in one tool that i can use to measure the domain age, searches, cpc, alexa or page rank?

  • admin says:

    Eric, thanks for the comment. I wasn’t aware of: – thanks for the tip. I will use it to figure out what advertisers are paying for ads & determine value in expiring domains.

  • admin says:

    Ricojake, I know estibot offers lists of dropping domains with stats. This is usually my all in one tool to determine which dropping domains may hold hold good value. The lists have 60+ stats with age, alexa, search volume & etc.

  • Lyubo says:

    Very good and informative guide, If I read it before, I could save some money on ordering non-com’s :)

  • […]  How To Guide: Things I Look For When Catching Expired Domain Names by Dan […]

  • admin says:

    Hi lyubo, I was in the same boat & I think all domainers go through the same. It’s nice to have generic domains in other extensions, but when it comes time to sell, .com is the top paying extension.

  • sam says:

    Hey expron,

    I am interested in some API dropcatching software. Do you offer any discounts? Please shoot me an email and we can workout something!


  • admin says:

    Hello, I will send you an email. There is a discount for bulk purchases of the drop catching software titles.

  • Shane says:

    Nice article, thanks! What do you mean “made snapnames aware of the drop”? If I do a search on snapnames but do not backorder it – does this make them aware of the drop? Or are they only aware when someone backorders?

    I’ve been using NameJet & SnapNames and have been the only bidder on some names. I’ve won a dozen this way but its expensive. I am about to use your software to see if I can let the names drop and try to hand reg them before others. What confused me is how these services ‘become aware’ of my intent to hand register? Can they?

  • admin says:


    If you search for a domain on snapnames, this will not make them aware of the drop. When you place a backorder, they are made aware of the drop & depending on how many backorders it receives – they will try harder to catch the dropping domain. The major backorder shops will not be able to become aware of domains you plan to hand register. However some domains do attract awareness if they are of good quality. I hope this answers your questions.



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