My Domain Buyers Guide

Just before I sign off for the year I wanted to do a last kind of post on domaining, I’m still 100% happy with my strategy of securing prime keyword specific generic domain names for the purpose of building on. While it would have been nice to reg some domains 10 years ago my mind was on other things, this is still a period in time that won’t be repeated, I still feel we are here just now pretty much at the creation of the internet and there are opportunities today that won’t be here in a generations time.

There is a small element of ‘fear of missing out’ no question but that’s only a tiny part of what has driven me over the last 12 months, when things settle down over the next few years and they roll out other new extensions and add variety and choice I still have the gut feeling that it won’t dilute anything, perhaps the reverse. Country code domains like .co.uk and .com have been to the forefront for the last 10 years and the branding, trust and recognition by the public at large gives me confidence that domain names and especially the good one’s will continue to appreciate in the coming years.

The main thing that’s changed recently is the domainer to domainer sales at the bottom end has dried up, it seemed to be mainly fuelled by selling to each other based upon speculation anyway so moving forward I’ll jot down my golden rules for buying domains if you wanted to replicate what I have done. These are my own views and my strategy, it may differ for other people.

Go for the best you can get, even if it means borrowing. Prices 3 years ago seem cheap today and today’s prices may seem cheap in a few years time, the good domains are ending up in hands that won’t sell. Seek out domains that cover a niche broadly, a domain that describes a business perfectly or major part of a business. So you want outdoorfurniture not outdoortables, you want usedcars not balljoints, you want patiofurniture not patiochairscovers.

You’ll have to buy the domain(s) from someone. While reg fee domains may be good for future products & services it’s pretty much a waste of time trying to build an empire on reg fee domains today. Better to buy one good domain from someone than 100 reg fee domains. 

Do not buy to flip, for a start a quick profit soon gets forgotten but a quality domain cannot be replaced so easily. Sedo’s own stats suggest that in Feb ’08 they had 11.5 million domains in their database and sold 1500 per month. So they sell 0.001% of their inventory in a year, chances are of the 690,000 members the same top one’s make a few sales, chances are it’s not going to be you.

Always be in the zone, I pretty much can’t watch TV or read a paper without relating it to the internet and domain names, I find it hard to bite my lip when I see local companies being so tight and misguided in their domain choice, such an important thing that gets so little time and investment at the start of a business. So I always look for ideas, names, words and niche’s – be aware.

If your contacting someone always give a number, a price expectation or ballpark figure. You don’t want to for fear of overpaying but the chances of getting casino.co.uk for £300 are none to none, better to get a response than be another lunatic that get’s his/her email deleted. You need to find a number that gets a response, one that doesn’t mean your overpaying and one that leaves you room to move. For me on really good domains it seems to be around £2000. Also by giving a number you can immediately keep the conversation in the real world, if you ask for a price you invite the owner (who may have one domain) to dream of retirement and invent something like £100,000, if you offer £2000 it’s a reality check and a number to work from.

Don’t get hung up on worrying about paying for all these offers, I have sent offers on domains that would probably amass to hundreds of thousands in the last year, 99.9% won’t come in if your choosy, when one does come in then it’s time to worry about raising the funds.

Don’t say “I’m pretty much done with buying domains” and then buy insurance quotes 🙂
Insurancequotes.co.uk was one of those domains I had been trying for quite some time, this lady owner only owns 2 domains and both were reg’d in 1998, she didn’t really have an online footprint and in the end it was snail mail that got a reply, but that really should be me now, honest 😉

You only need one great domain to make a micro business from, with the right idea you could get enough interest to rank pretty quickly, having a keyword domain gets rewarded by Google, having one that is a country tld helps in your countries version of Google. If you ended up ranking well and building a good site you will get linked to through your perceived authority status and having a high ranking on any domain brings benefits of others seeking results and linking to the sources they find, getting to the top 10 in Google can bring a certian level of self sufficiency in that you’ll naturally get links just for being there. All this could be achieved in a short space of time and it starts with an idea, I hope you have good ideas and enjoy success in 2009!

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Congrats on getting Insurance Quotes! Great domain!

    Adam Dempsey’s last blog post..Merry Christmas 2008!

  2. Excellent last post of the year, Hope the next year you come into the Top 100 domainers 🙂

  3. Hi Scott,

    I am an qualified insurance professional by day trade…zzz

    Get in touch if you need anyone to write any content!

    David

  4. It’s a shame your insurance quotes site isn’t functioning ;(

    Sketchplanet’s last blog post..Untitled by ephemeral

  5. “having a keyword domain gets rewarded by Google”

    You are right in saying that good domains go into hands who will not sell. This has happened already I guess for .com’s

    insurancequotes.co.uk is killer and can be a brand like confused.com

    I find buying good domains as a big addiction. I look at them and make myself happy.

  6. O forgot Happy newyear Scot and all the SMM readers.

    Wish you a prosperous newyear.

  7. Nice post.

    Whats your opinion about domains with peoples name. Like actors, sportsmen?

    Thanks

    • I wouldn’t touch them personally but obviously plenty others do, takes a fair bit of effort to build & monetise a good site and nowadays I prefer to stay product based for my domains.

      • Due to copyright issues or any thing else?

        And what do you reckon about their prices? Say for instance waynerooney.co.uk?

        • Yes partly, and product based sites are easier to monetise, why spend your time on something that your not allowed to monetise for fear of having it taken away trying to earn money based on someone’s fame, so for me value would be reg fee/negligable, just not something I’d try personally.

        • Another thing, a bit off the topic maybe, but hows your experience with affiliates compared to adsense? Since I’ve seen you guys move away from adsense.

          The thisng is that the inconsistency of the adsense earning is getting to me, but then again I think its how the internet is. What do you think?

        • Personally I feel it’s still a trial & error thing, it has it’s place and sometimes both work better than either or. I know what you mean about the inconsistency but I am experiencing the same with aff sales, a few a day and then nothing for a couple of days, bad time of year to be drawing assumptions as well I guess. For me it’s still a bit of both.

  8. Wow! I’m so impressed with the fact that you got something like insurancequotes.What did you end up paying for it?

    Mikael Rieck’s last blog post..Case 2008 afslutter året i fin stil

  9. Just stumbled on this site and must say it is quite informative. The good keyword rich .com/.net domains are all but impossible so congratulations. For me “.biz” or “.ws” still sounds fly by night. The solution is use keyword tools that produce names as close to your general niche as you can.

    Jack Clarke’s last blog post..Blogging tips for beginners

  10. Hey Scott. How are you paying for these domains, especially with the non-savvy tech people. Is it via escrow or is there trust in there, for example just paying via a cheque?

  11. Yeah lot’s of trust needed at times, bank transfer for some, Paypal for small one’s the odd Escrow, last few have been from companies with a good established business but didn’t use the domain like notebooks.co.uk so just bank transfer using my online banking. You have to remember the sellers are not really on the scam as I am always the one contacting them out of the blue rather than them offering anything for sale.

  12. Have you looked into how much you could make from lead generation on the insurance site?
    I used to work in mortgages in the UK for a large netwrok.The top mortgage broker was generating 2 million GBP per year – from Insurance business via lead generation sites – didnt even bother with mortgages!
    Granted he was doing the full process lead gen through to advice and the policy but lead gen alone can be a nice earner.

    My site is very small in terms of traffic but when we get enquiries and do business, each client is worth a minimum of 1,500€ if we get to completion. I am concentrating on high revenue per clients like this at the moment as there are so many available – ususally the niches are so small that they havent been fully explored/exploited. As long as there is good revenue you dont need a massive amount of traffic.

    • It’s a big subject and not sure it’s one I can do justice Andy that has been my main concern, it’s such a good domain I couldn’t resist buying it as I felt I got it for a great price, things will be clearer within the next few days I think as to what will happen with it.

  13. I agree with you saying that you just need to have a website to market a micro business. In web inifinity is possible.

  14. Congratulations on acquiring insurancequotes, its a great name and seems ripe for sub domains ie car.insurancequite, life.insurancequote, etc etc.

    It would be great to see a post about how you find these domains names, although I suspect you don’t want to give away too many trade secrets!

  15. 2 questions for you:

    1. You said “Go for the best you can get, even if it means borrowing.” How do you know this is sustainable, that’s there’s not another dot-bomb like in the past? Suddenly you’ve invested thousands in names, and their worth hundreds??

    2. How about this scenario. I wanted to buy a domain name to create an ecommerce shop, let’s say it’s products.ca. It’s already owned by a domainer, and when I approached him he said he’s developing the site and doesn’t want to sell. So I bought fineproduct.ca. Your thoughts?

    Justin Cook’s last blog post..What is Google’s new SearchWiki?

    • 1. I believe getting a .co.uk gives you a boost in Google.co.uk, I also believe having exact match keyword domain gives you a boost in Google, so building on an exact match keyword domain that gets search traffic gives you an advantage over others, regardless of any valuation model you can get to the top and if you build quality you’ll also get noticed and have more authority. You can also naturally get keyword anchor links. So for me it’s regardless of any secondary domain buying/selling market. However that market exists and it’s not going to be as easy in one years time as it is today to buy land at prices that your average person could raise.
      2. You could do well on a smaller budgeted domain but I would say that if product.ca ranked and did well and fineproduct.ca ranked and did well if it ever came to selling up product.ca would be more desirable, furthermore having a ranking & earning site on an exact match domain like product.ca would be worth more than the sums of it’s parts and would carry an added value of goodwill and authority status. cruises.co.uk did not sell purely on it’s domain or ranking, having both put it in a whole new league.

      • Well, at this point, product.ca does not rank in a google.ca search for ‘product’, but I suppose that’s because it’s one those parked “related searches” pages.

        It is however, 8 years old, which would be killer for SEO. Should I approach him with an offer? How do I determine what’s suitable?

        • I don’t have an answer for that, every niche is different, if you want you could try and equate it somehow into value you could get from it back in a year with a little work. Look for other .ca sales, find out about the owner if you can to see if they sell or not, cash is king just now so deals can be struck. I offer and buy at levels I feel I can justify not at levels I feel I can flip it for or it’s worth on an open market. Sometimes it takes a lot of offers before I meet someone who will deal with me on my terms at my prices but it wouldn’t stop me looking and offering.

  16. Well, then I’m going to re-approach him. It’s difficult, because I’ve never done this before (I’ve bought sites, not domains for name purpose). I’m kind of asking him to set the price, which perhaps is kind of stupid… but I don’t really have any other option.

    Justin Cook’s last blog post..What is Google’s new SearchWiki?

  17. I have just switched a .com site to geo target the United Kingdom in Google Webmaster Tools rather than looking a purchasing a similar domain .co.uk domain name and redirecting it.

    Has any one used this feature in GWT and if so, have you seen any ranking benefits in the location you are targeting – or a drop off in rankings on non google.co.uk searches?

  18. Hi Scott

    I take on board your point about buying one really good domain and really focussing on developing that, in light of this, I’d really like to know your current thinking on the whole minisite thing, particularly for us newbies who are still learning the ropes? Rightly, you are focussing on much bigger projects now, but do you still think there is some value in developing small minisites on lower quality domains or do you think everyone should focus on something larger? Is it still possible to make some income from small sites such as phraseoftheday?

    Cheers Rich

    • Rich, there is plenty to be made from minisites. The question is only how you’re going to make that money. You might not be able to sell them because of the domain name, but you can easily create an income stream and (if you want) sell it based on that income stream.

      Mikael’s last blog post..Hvorfor du ikke skal sprede dig over mange nicher

    • Phraseoftheday gets around 100 visitors per day and I spent probably one hour on it so if it adds value then for sure, I don’t agree with bashing out poorly reworded articles or just scraping wiki’s as I tend to only favour things that offer a long term play to pay my mortgage and build for the future. It’s well worthwhile building minisites if you can offer a comparison or a tool, I have seen some really nice one’s on prepaid credit card comparisons for example which are a page or two, rank well and must earn well for their owners, so yes but not for the sake of it, it needs to be of value & informative or entertaining.

  19. The statement regarding regional domain names is absolutely spot on – just take a look at the number of UK sites that are using domain names with a foreign suffix in order to rank for an exact match search phrase – most of them pick up poor levels of traffic.

  20. Thanks for taking the time to write up the guide Scott. I have followed this blog for the last year or so and have been impressed by the deals you have managed to make.

    Unfortunately for me, having to work overseas during the week for 12-14hrs a day means that my research time is really limited, as a result I end up looking at domains owned by domainers who seem to ask for huge money for even average names.

  21. That insurancequotes domain has huge potential – insurance is boring as hell, but its also a big market and very competetive. The traffic for KWs like ‘car insurance’ is huge, even a small slice of that traffic from some long tail KWs should bring a nice income.

    John Essex’s last blog post..Permitted Development Regulations Update

  22. I too have bought a few domains, approaching 50 now – yikes! And agree there is always a feeling that this is a unique time. But when I think more a couple of points spring to mind:

    1. When searching for domains, 99% of the ones that are taken are just parked. In time these often don’t get renewed and become available. Sites come and go, people get bored. Who knows, maybe undeveloped sites will be forced back into the market with your reg fee returned.

    2. Google is constantly revising its algorithms. It seems very possible that they won’t assign so much value to the domain in the future as they get more sophisticated. I mean we’ve all seen rubbish sites that rank well just because of their name. If Google is trying to deliver great results then surely this is something they will “solve” eventually. The first search engine that actually picks out the best sites is on to a winner and Im sure Google will want to be that engine! New startup sites will have to use creative names and if Google doesn’t rank them then people will lose trust in their search engine.

    3. Again, on the lines of thinking ahead, the internet is bound to change massively in the next 10 years. Why wouldn’t it? Why would we want to constrain ourselves to a limited set of names. This is a solvable problem and although those with a vested interest will campaign to keep the status quo (ie those with keyword .com domains) sooner or later this will change. It has to. And there is no reason it can’t. The obvious solution is the expansion of TLDs. Again it is tempting to think Google will always value .coms but only until enterprising people start using other TLDs to host great sites and other search engines return these new resources accurately. We all know how quickly Google appeared and I think if they chose not to rank new TLDs they’d quickly disappear! When the time is right Google will adapt. They have to.

    Like I say, I have a few domains myself and wouldn’t want them to turn out to be “worthless” but there is no doubt in my mind the internet we know today will be massively different from the one we know tomorrow. Even slow moving industries turn around in 10 years, the Internet will have shifted through several paradigms by then – don’t fight it – or get left behind!

  23. I have over 500 domain names and I can say that it’s definitely worth investing in a domain with the keywords you want to target.

    http://www.insurancequotes.co.uk is a great buy.

    Good luck!

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