The Official Frank Schilling Blog

When to holdem..  When to foldem..  and How to Build a Good Hand.

When to holdem.. When to foldem.. and How to Build a Good Hand.

Thomas Price asks:

  “”…how do you know when an unregistered domain is good enough to be registered? I find domains all the time that I think are great domains, but if I registered every domain I found, I would be bankrupt by the time it came around to renewing them. I’ve got a list of over 500 unregistered domains that I think are great domains – while only a few of them are great names for “type-in-traffic”, almost all of them are “two or three stackers” in advertisemnets on Google. (The term comes from Jay Westerdal)

I think all of these unregistered domains could developed into profitable websites, but how do I know when to stop registering, and start developing? (How to cut loose of what I think may underperforming names in my porfolio).. I’ve always had a few domains that really outperformed the others, including on single domain that averaged over $500 a day in clickthroughs (until Google caught wind of it and torpedoed my organic search ratings.) I still have several GREAT performimg domains, and am always looking for that next star performer.”"”

***FS*** A bunch of great questions here.. There are different philosophies for buying names and many right ways to do things in the domain business.. A few days ago on the linkfest I blogged about how Stephen Webb was turning trafficless lemons  into lemonade with his “We Are *City* ” .com names.  This type of story emboldens every theme-name holder from the good (“e” names, “i” names, “my” names) to the horrifically bad (hotb2b name, names) ..  In the end you need to use a little pop culture, instinct and search volumes as guide posts.

Firstly if the names you are interested in are sitting there available in late 2007,  then it’s doubtful that they have any material traffic. Somebody would have scooped them up by now via tasting or via the expiring name drop (if they were formerly owned).  So what you are speaking of are names which “look cool”,  which ”could” get traffic, or which are “easy to remember”, or which would be “easier than other names” to build traffic to.

I would caution you against taking the Google or Overture search-term popularity tool results too literally.  Some of the worst names are procured using these tools.  If the name ranks highly in Google or Overture,  and it got any merchantable traffic at all (high search count names typically get some traffic), then it would already have been registered through the drop (if old) or through domain tasting (if newly invented term)..  There are the odd stragglers which may have been missed,  but unless tasting stops,  it will be very difficult for the available-pool to replenish with ‘new vernacular’ traffic names.

The Overture tool may say that “psychic reading free” gets 12,000 searches a month but may not serve results in order..  the correct order for the domain name would be (plural) ..  that’s where the organic type-in traffic component of those 12,000 monthly searches lies in domain-form.  Had you bought the wrong order or the singular tense, you will get less or no traffic.  Building traffic via search engine optimization or making money via paid search keyword arbitrage are similar..  The correct tense,  the most appealing order will convince the human visitor to click.

   You would be much more successful (draw more clicks) arbitraging traffic under the bidded keyphrase “psychic free reading” if you you used the domain Yahoo groups less popular keyword orders together for paid-search purposes..  so if you take their suggestion too literally as a domain procurement tool,  you’ll buy the wrong order.  My advice is to watch more MTV,  see what the correct phrases are..  use pop-culture, television and magazine covers as guideposts to steer you in the right direction relating to conceptual names.

You’ll buy better names and make more money selling them that way. 

Lastly,  If you have names you’ve been carrying for years and they get no traffic and they get no whois lookups (whois lookups are useful for determining sales potential because they tell you how often others tried to see if the name was available to register) then you should dump those names.. I never let any names expire,  but I have friends who try to explore for unregistered names similar to those they are considering deleting..  If they find that all related names are registered,  then they keep their name for another year.  If they find other names available and ‘their’ name gets no traffic or whois-lookups,  then they release the registration. 

Hope this helps.

This entry was posted by frankschilling on Friday, November 30th, 2007 at 3:50 PM and is filed under Ask Frank a Question:, Domain Names (Domains), Friends and Family, Monetization, Paid Search, Type In Traffic, Web/Tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Hi Frank,

    Thanks for the great info.

    I was wondering what website or tool you use to see how many times your domain/s have had a whois lookup.

    I did not know that this was possible.
    You learn something every day in this game :-)

    Thanks from Down Under.

    Ed Keay-Smith

  2. mark says:

    Frank, I’m not sure where to post a question directly to you but… here goes.

    I’m interested in selling perhaps one or two domains, and I have a handful that I think might be valuable, as they are top tier generics for a specific industry/or product category. Is it best to go through the various auction formats and focus on the secondary domain investors? Or is it worth contacting the major companies in the industry that ‘should’ want the generic domain for their industry… I put ‘should’ in quotes as I believe many companies still have no clue about owning their generic domain space. Which is nearly impossible for me to believe..but still seems to be true.

    I’ve seen a handful of ‘private’ auctions, targeting a specific industry for an individual domain, and I wonder if this strategy has any merit. One domain buddy of mine sees no value in this approach, as there are so many significant domain investors in the secondary market. But I can see how having a private auction, inviting a target group of companies in a specific industry to bid, might a chance to work well.

    thanks in advance,

    ***FS*** I think that’s not a bad idea.. worth a try anyway. Set a reserve and see what happens.. Run the auction on the name itself like sahar did with a while back (google that)

  3. Phil says:

    I second that whois lookup question. I would also like to be educated on how to do this.

  4. DP says:

    There’s a lot of good names even tasting won’t catch. A domain that gets 5 clicks a year, but $3 clicks, will fall through the cracks.

    Frank, remember earlier in the year when DDN was first announced and a bunch of us rushed out to buy names? People were even posting available combinations here. Conventional wisdom said “The tasters already tried them and spat them back out many times, move on”. That’s probably true, but the 200 names or so I registered are paying for themselves just fine in aggregate. None of them are big earners, in fact, most of them only get a click every other month or so, but names like “BuffaloMasonry” and “PlanoCabinets” are bringing in $1-$3 clicks and it doesn’t take many $5 clicks on obscure names like “PhiladelphiaCarpentry” before it doesn’t look like a bad idea. I think this space is still fairly un-mined. The names were bought solely as a speculative position to list on the DDN but as it turns out I haven’t even listed them – they pay their rent so might as well wait :)

  5. DP says:

    Duh, tags removed, the above line should say “we all rush out to be local service names”.

  6. Bill E says:

    Well said, or written rather.

    I’m with Ed on this one. I never knew someone out there was tabulating whois lookups.

    Would love to find out more information on that service.

  7. Edwin Sherman says:

    “Lastly, If you have names you’ve been carrying for years and they get no traffic and they get no whois lookups (whois lookups are useful for determining sales potential because they tell you how often others tried to see if the name was available to register) then you should dump those names.. ”

    Where’s the place (or best tool) to check for whois lookups?

  8. blogengage says:

    Great article. I’ve been trying to understand this exact concept because I also think I have seen unregistered domain names that might be worth money.

    Thanks for the article and I look forward to reading more of your blogs for sure.



  9. Hugh says:

    Fabulous gives you WHOIS look up data.

  10. Dave Wrixon says:

    It is reassuring to hear that Domain Tasting has effectively played out the New Reg game as far as Traffic is concerned. The only way forward from here is to identify niches which may develop traffic due to technical changes such as IDN or Dot Mobi. Of these two, however, I am pretty sure one will and the other will not!

    Yes sure you can build traffic to a name, but from what I can see you need to be looking at a development budget North of $20K, so why throw that kind of money at a domain that is questionably worth Reg Fee?

    It seems to me that New Reg game is basically over unless you are looking very much second to third line in IDN. Why put yourself through this hell? Buy something that is going to bring home the goods.

    If you want to stick with English, then build a business around a decent name that you buy in the aftermarket for a decent amount of money. This is going to be hard work but the rewards should be their. Online retailing is still in its infancy. High levels of profitability is still achievable, with hard work and the right business plan.

    If you are looking for exceptional rewards, then IDN is definitely the answer. Domain tasting has been a non-starter because of the low traffic due to lack of browser support. Many second line opportunities are still out there going begging. But why settle for second best? For low $xx,xxx you could surely still acquire something really inspirational that will attract dramatically growing levels of traffic in the coming months.

  11. Darren says:

    I used to believe the new reg game was played out, but I’ve since changed my mind. It’s just a different game.

    I’ve picked up about 25 or so in the last few months that I think are very solid – not single-word generic solid – but still solid. I’ve focused on emerging markets and started reading journals and magazines to see what’s new. Here’s a couple quick examples, feel free to disagree but I think this shows it’s still very much alive in some respects:, – only 5-6 uniques a month, but incredibly high margin industry and green technology has potential in the future., – next generation of video editing and high-end professional video. Both getting around 10-15 uniques a month but the gear they refer to is in the very high thousands.

    There is still opportunity, you just have to be slightly more creative.

    just my semi-professional opinion – but keep backing that truck up.

  12. Rick says:

    Hi Frank,

    So I will ask you for help as many others have asked in this thread:

    Q: How do we check the whois searches done on our domains?

    Thank you and you have a great blog.

    I daily read it…..hope you don’t go on month long vacations again :) j/k