December 5, 2011

The In's and Out's of Pre-Owned Domain Names by Richard Lowe

I don't know about you, but sometimes it seems like all of the
best domain names have already been taken. On more than one
occasion, I've come up with a great domain name for a site,
only to find that someone else had already purchased it. I can
live with that, but sometimes I've found that it has been
purchased by some scum domain scavenger, and that's really
A domain scavenger is someone who purchases a whole bunch of
domain names under the theory that people will want to purchase
some of them during the year or two that they own them. These
people are bottom feeders, as they hold many useful domains,
demand huge prices, and do not provide any real value. It's not
uncommon to find that a domain name is not available, to check
the WHOIS information and find it is owned by "this domain is
for sale". In fact, some of these scum have been known to
purchase thousands of domain names made of up the first and last
names from a phone book, in the hopes that at least some of the
people will want their names as a dot com.
Anyway, domains are only purchased for a specific time period,
and they do come up for renewal regularly. Quite often they are
not renewed, and at that time the domain names may be purchased
by others. Even the so-called "good names" are occasionally not
Sometimes domain names do not get renewed because the business
that owned them is no longer operational. Sometimes the business
still exists but has found it no longer wants or needs a domain
name. Quite often the bottom feeders will allow their
unpurchased domain names to expire because they don't have the
funds to purchase them again or they feel the domains are no
longer marketable or profitable.
Occasionally, the domain name holder has died or lost interest
in their business or the internet. Once in a while a domain is
allowed to expire because it has attracted some maliciousness
and it cannot be maintained, and most often of all, the domain
name holder simply does not realize that it needs to be renewed.
In this last instance, the domain name is unintentionally
expired and someone can purchase it before the owner realizes
In any event, regardless of why a domain name expires, you can
often find yourself in a position to purchase one that has been
previously owned. Note that in addition to expired domains, you
can also purchase domain names on the after-market (by making
bids) or from the domain name resellers (the bottom feeders
mentioned above).
Some Advantages Of Using Pre-Owned Names
The name was part of a link exchange - Webmasters work hard to
get their sites involved in link exchanges. This means the
domain names are listed on other sites, and this is useful for
getting traffic. If you take over a domain name, you can inherit
these incoming links and the resulting traffic.
It was listed in Yaho, DMOZ and/or Looksmart - A small industry
has sprung up recently, which consists simply of selling tools
and reports to allow people to quickly find domain names which
are listed in Yahoo, DMOZ, Looksmart or other directories yet
have expired. By expiring, these domain names are up for grabs,
and all of the resulting benefits for the original site transfer
to the new site. For a well placed entries, this can literally
mean hundreds of thousands of hits per month.
There are hundreds of thousands of sites listed in Yahoo and
millions in DMOZ. Anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred
expire each month. Eventually the expiration would be discovered
and the entry removed. However, if someone purchases the domain
name quickly enough, the entry will remain and you will gain
that traffic.
It has a good page rank in Google - Another thing that
webmasters work very hard on is gaining page rank with Google,
the number one search engine. A high page rank implies that the
site appears nearer the top in search results pages. When you
purchase a domain, you can inherit the resulting page rank and
traffic. Note that you will need to duplicate the page or pages
referred to by Google in order for this to work properly.
The Downside Of Using Pre-Owned Names
You inherit spam - If the previous owner received spam email,
then when you take over the domain you may very well inherit it.
Why is this? Well, when you own a domain name, you get the email
sent to every single username on that domain. Of course, most
email servers are smart enough to "bounce" email messages for
users who do not exist, but that email still gets sent to the
server. For a domain which received a lot of spam, it could mean
a significant amount of bandwidth used just for junk messages to
non-existent users.
You can inherit robot activity - I got a domain once which
someone had listed with a number of robots (programs which
perform automatic functions). These robots were exceptionally
active and caused a tremendous amount of traffic - so much so
that I had to give up using the domain for a couple of months
until the robots stopped visiting.
You might inherit enemies - Sometimes people give up domain
names for a reason. One of those reasons might be an enemy -
someone (or a group) that is targeting the name for some
malicious act. For example, the name might be the target of
email bombs or denial-of-service attacks. In these instances,
you could find yourself inheriting these issues.
The domain could be banned - If a site gets involved in
spamming search engines (attempting to fool them for higher
placement on the results pages), it can be banned. By purchasing
these old domain names, you might be similarly banned. This
normally would not effect your existing domains, but it might
reduce the value of the domain name that you purchased.
Things to do before giving up a domain name
Be sure you really want to expire the domain - Once someone
else purchases your domain name, you may find it impossible or
very expensive to get it returned. You will lose access to the
use of the name entirely. So be sure that you want to give it up
before you actually allow it to expire.
Be aware of expiration dates - Keep an eye on your domain name
expiration dates as you may not get notified by the registrar
before expiration. This can happen because email is not a
perfect delivery system, because of a glitch in the registrar
system or even because you didn't check your mail or email for
the renewal. Don't accidentally lose your domain names.
Change your email addresses - Once you lose access to a domain,
you will lose access to any email that is going to that domain.
Think of all of the private emails that you get, and imagine
them going to strangers. Well, once someone else gets the domain
he may receive those private emails.
Change any links that you can - If you are allowing a domain to
expire, be sure you salvage any links that you might want to
keep. While you can do this after a domain name expires, it
makes more sense to do it beforehand. For example, if you had
owned three domains that all went to the same web site and you
allowed two of them to expire, you might want to spend the time
to change the links to the domain name that you keep.

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