In the beginning of the World Wide Web era, not many people realized the potential of this new technology.
The first six domain names in history were registered in 1985, but it took another ten years after that for domain registrations to really start to pick up.
Many of the world’s first dot com websites were hosted on short one-word domains like Think.com, Quick.com, Apple.com. But as the web suddenly skyrocketed in popularity in the 90s, it didn’t take long for all the short, simple .coms to get scarce.
Because of the impending death of .com domains, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, added on more top level domains, including .info and .biz. But the popularity of those TLDs never took off, and to this day, the golden standard of domains is the .com. Dot-com domains are so popular that today popular domains often sell for thousands or even millions of dollars.
Chances are, if you’re looking to snag a short and simple .com domain, it’s already been registered. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a long, complicated domain or a spammy-looking .biz or .info site.
If you want a great domain name, dropped domains are a solid option.
Not every person or company that registered dot-coms 10 or 20 years ago has held onto it all that time. Many companies that registered some of the best domain names in the 90s have gone out of business since then. The web is very fluid, and websites come and go every day
A dropped domain is a domain whose registration hasn’t been renewed. When someone doesn’t renew their domain registration, the registrar can then put them up for sale to the highest bidder.
How do you find dropped domains, and how do you determine whether they’re worth the often hefty price tag? Check out the guide below, and get ready to snatch up some prime virtual real estate before someone else beats you to it.
Beginner’s Guide to Dropped Domains
With more and more businesses building an online presence, a useful original domain name may be difficult to find. However, dropped domains may be the perfect opportunity for you to begin building your business’s online identity.
What is a Dropped Domain?
A domain is, simply put, the more memorable name of a website or URL rather than a string of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Examples: ebay.com, facebook.com, sandwich.com
A dropped domain means that it has expired.
- The owner hasn’t renewed the licence with their domain registrar.
- Usually the registrar can open bidding for that domain, and after 7 days it goes to the highest bidder.
- The process and timeline can vary from registrar to registrar.
Know Before You Buy
Check with the page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) for domains before you buy.
- You can use the Open Site Explorer at
- They let you judge quality.
Know if it’s banned from Google.
- It might have a high rating, but if it can’t be found by search engines, it’s not useful.
- Check domain names in the Google cache, an online tool that lets you see what version of the page is currently in its index.
- Type: cache:domainname.com in the Google search box to make sure it shows up.
- If you find a great domain that is banned, you can take the risk to purchase the domain and then appeal to Google with a ban reconsideration request.
Know if it’s banned from Google AdSense.
- Many expired domains are banned from Google Adsense.
- Building a website to make money needs to have the AdSense option.
- Look at tools to check if a site is banned.
Check the website’s archive.
- To know what kind of website was associated with that domain, go to archive.org and type in the domain URL.
- A calendar will let you choose a date, as far back as 1996, to see what the website looked like then.
Transfer of Ownership.
- Check the WHOIS database for domain information.
- See how often the domain has changed owners in the last few years as this may alert you to red flags of the domain’s quality.
- Has it been banned from search engines?
- What type of content has it been associated with? Check the Internet Archives to see if it was relevant to your business.
Get to know PageRank
- PageRank can be manipulated to make a domain look attractive.
- Tools like Fake PR Checker will help you catch expired domains that in fact have fake rankings.
How to Buy a Dropped Domain
Know which type of expired domain it is.
- Pre-release, on hold, redemption period, dropping, and deleted.
- Check it’s expiration date with tools like WHOIS Lookup.
- If the expiration date is 1-30 days in the past, contact the domain’s registrar to learn how to get it.
- If the expiration date is 31+ days in the past, check its Registrar Status.
Redemption Period or Pending Delete Restorable
- Domains of this type are in a grace period where the registrar attempts to contact the owner, a period usually lasting 30-40 days.
- It can only be renewed by the original owner during this time and is not available for a new owner.
- You can contact your registration company for information on when the domain will be released to be purchased by a new owner.
- When a domain is pre-release it is sold in auction before it is released to the registry and becomes available to anyone.
- This is a domain that has not been renewed by the original owner before the expiration date.
- It’s being sold by its registrar in an open auction to the highest bidder.
- Pre-release auction sources: SnapNames, TDNAM, and NameJet.
On Hold Domains
- These domains have not been renewed by the owner. When this happens they are placed on REGISTRAR HOLD or REGISTRY HOLD.
- While some on hold domains are actually expired, others are part of a legal dispute.
- Buying source: only purchase by contacting the owner, having them renew the domain’s registration, and then buying directly from them.
- Backorder sources: GoDaddy, Snapnames, NameJet, and Pool.
- A domain not renewed by the owner that is scheduled for deletion from the registry is a dropping domain.
- Once a domain is dropped from the registry, anyone can buy it, such as through a backorder or drop catching service.
- Buying source: purchase the same way a regular unregistered domain name would be purchased.
- A deleted domain has been dropped from the registry already.
Armed with knowledge and the right tools, you can investigate dropped domains ready for you to take your business to the next level. With the right investment of your time, research skills, and money, you can build an online identity worth building on for years to come.
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