Does a website have a price? Yes, and you can make money buying and selling domains. If the demand is high enough, you can even make a high profit with domain trading. However, it isn’t enough to have any web address and just hope for the best. To buy and sell domains successfully, a few things must be considered. So what do you have to do to sell a domain?
‘How much is my domain worth?’ Have you asked yourself this question before? Or have you perhaps received a request from a potential buyer and are not sure how to work out the value of your domain? The past shows us that it’s not so straightforward to estimate the worth of your domain – even web services that specifically support this kind of request often don’t provide accurate estimates. It’s probably unlikely that your domain’s worth is in the millions, like the 2005 acquired domain lasvegas.com from the travel agency Vegas.com, which sold for USD 90 million (£65 million). But other price segments will also see you making a profit for selling your web address.
This article summarises the key facts on domain value, providing you with a solid foundation on the valuation and costs associated with buying a domain – or selling one.
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Domain value: how to react to a request?
If you want to sell a domain yourself, it goes without saying that you should determine its value in advance. But what is the best course of action if a third party suddenly approaches you and asks whether you are interested in selling a domain?
In any case, the first principle to follow is: Don’t rush into anything! If a company or an individual is really interested in your domain, you will usually have enough time to think about a sale and to carefully determine the domain value. But before the question of the selling price comes up, you should deal with the buyer themselves. Make sure that it is a serious offer before you take any further steps. If your research leads to a positive result and you are not put off with the sale, you basically have two options to choose from:
- You ask the potential buyer to make an offer.
- You name your selling price to the potential buyer.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages: If you choose the first option, you don’t necessarily have to find out the domain name value beforehand, for example, but can also start your research after you have asked the potential buyer for an offer. However, this way you give up the advantage of going on the offensive yourself to possibly achieve a higher selling price. If you have listed your domain for sale, you should move ahead with naming your own price.
Always keep in mind that the domain value is not the same as the value of your website, if you run a project under the advertised address. So, when it comes to the question of how much your domain is worth, the published content doesn’t matter. It is no coincidence that you can also sell domains without operating your own website. If you are specifically interested in registering domains to sell them, you can find out more about getting involved in domain trading.
How do you find out how much your domain is worth?
Domains are unique, which is the reason prospective buyers contact you in the first place, to convince you to sell. However, the exclusivity of an address is also the reason why determining the domain value is so difficult. The respective domain components or domain types like top- or second-level domain, ccTLD, or gTLD naturally play a role in the valuation – after all, some domain endings already cost a lot of money by themselves. Ultimately, however, the respective combination of name and extension, which can only ever be registered once, is the decisive factor for the classification of the domain value.
Online, you’ll find a mix of free and paid online tools and services to help you with the process of finding out the worth of your domain and selling it. The following providers have got you covered:
- EstiBot.com: The online tool EstiBot.com lets you perform free checks to determine the domain value based on numerous factors. These include internal attributes such as domain length and word count, as well as external attributes such as search popularity or the age of the domain.
- Sedo.com: The provider Sedo.com offers paid domain evaluations for buyers and sellers, which are sent by email no later than five days after receipt of payment. The ten evaluation criteria include search engine suitability and the advertising impact of the domain.
- Freevaluator.com: The Freevaluator.com tool gives you a free preview of your domain’s value. Factors such as the domain’s keywords, statistics, website rankings, and the sales of similar domains are considered to determine the ranking.
The question ‘How much is my domain worth?’ can certainly be answered with the solutions listed above and the various alternatives available on the market. However, the very different evaluation criteria employed by these providers also means that the domain value often differs greatly from service to service – especially with free providers.
Calculating domain worth: which factors are important?
The paid services for determining domain value typically consider significantly more criteria, which is why you can generally expect a more accurate result. But how should you as a domain owner be able to assess whether an investment of £35-70 for the determination of the domain value is worth it? In the final part of this guide, we’ll look at some of the most important evaluation criteria, which you can use to make an initial assessment of the domain name value on your own.
Before you sell a domain and assess its value, you should check everything is legally sound: Trademark infringements can end up costing an arm and a leg! A good place to start is the British Library who explain how you can find out if a similar trademark already exists.
Domain name and length
A rule of thumb is: the shorter the name of a domain, the higher its value. However, there are a few conditions attached to this rule because otherwise domains with arbitrary strings of letters, such as ababcd.de or abcde.com, would also be worth pots of gold. The decisive factor for the domain value is therefore whether the domain – which should be as short as possible – has a meaningful name or contains well-known (not trademark-protected) abbreviations, puns, or similar that could be of interest to buyers. On the other hand, the value of a domain is lower by default if it contains cryptic names and endings or combines several words or terms.
Have you found the perfect domain variant for your web project but have just realised that it’s already taken? In our article we’ll talk you through how to proceed if your dream domain is taken.
Apart from the length and popularity of the domain name, there are several other linguistic aspects that can have a decisive influence on the value of a domain. For example, it’s relevant whether the main term of the domain is a noun, an adjective, or a verb. In most cases, nouns are the preferred solution, although it can be decisive for the domain value whether both singular and plural forms are assigned – as is the case, for example, with shoe.com and shoes.com. For some nouns like ‘sheep’, ‘news’, or ‘staff’ that are the same whether plural or singular, this factor is of course irrelevant.
Characters, digits, or words that are part of the domain but completely unrelated to other possible web projects also have a value-reducing effect.
Availability of alternative top-level domains
Now with new TLDs, the combination possibilities of name and extension in the web address area have increased considerably. So, if you want to determine the value of a domain, the availability of alternative top-level domains must also be considered. For example, if you own domain.com but the alternative domain.org is still available, this reduces your chances of achieving a high sales price for your address. If you buy and register domain names with a wide variety of endings right from the start, you will have a better basis for negotiation – especially if you focus on the most popular domain endings.
Often, companies and online services secure the desired domain name right away with the most diverse available top-level domains. In addition, there is the approach of publishing content under different sub-level domains. This is referred to as a multiple-domain strategy.
Domain age and other SEO aspects
Domain age refers to the date on which the web address was registered. Domains that, for example, were registered in 2011 celebrate their 10-year anniversary in 2021. Whether the time of registration itself has an influence on how Google and others rate them isn’t known. However, if the domain has already been active for years, this will surely influence the ranking and therefore also on the domain value. Especially the content and the number of backlinks that link to the domain determine the reputation of the web address. Another thing to consider is the trustworthiness of the web projects that were published under the domain in the course of time. From a technical, SEO point of view, this is relevant.
Even though websites published under the domain play a role in SEO evaluation, the domain value, as already mentioned, is not the same as the value of these websites. In other words, you only buy or sell the address, unless other conditions have been agreed upon.
Together with SEO, you should not underestimate the importance and role of the domain’s keyword potential: If the web address incorporates terms that score highly on Google search results or that of other search engines, achieving a high search volume, then this can significantly help you out during domain negotiations. However, if the address is too direct and obvious with the use of keyword phrases, as is the case with the address what-is-seo.com, this tends to have negative consequences for how search engines rate it, which diminishes the value of the domain. As early as 2012, Google adjusted its own algorithm to penalise these kinds of domains, which were often associated with spam or low-value content.
Is it possible to earn money with a web address? And if so, in which industry? To determine the domain value, you also need to know how to assess the commercial potential of the address. Domains in Internet-related industries are particularly popular, which is why their value is significantly higher than those of addresses in niche industries. On the one hand, this is because companies in booming industries naturally want to impress with a suitable, strong domain. On the other hand, it’s especially worthwhile to place ads on web addresses that promise commercial potential, which in turn makes the domain interesting to partners.
If the domain has already been used for web projects in the past, this can provide a good basis for evaluating its profitability: Visitor numbers, impressions, clicks, ads used, subscribers to paid content, and various other factors can point to whether the domain is suitable for selling products or services. In this case, however, it’s also important to include the role of the websites or online shops hosted under the domain.
Various top-level domains have blackout periods within which corresponding web addresses may not change owners. Our article explains which domains have blackout periods.