The Quest For The Perfect Domain Name

Every SEO and entrepreneur has a bunch of domains they never use, just sitting in their Namecheap or NameSilo account collecting dust. We naturally have more ideas than time and energy to pursue them all, and domain registrars are all to happy to help us feel a little better about securing that special domain name (and take our money while doing it).

But when time comes to buy a domain that we really want, we are severely limited by the number of available domains out there, especially when we consider the TLD (top level domain) extensions like .com, .net or .org – these are the ones we typically want, but there are almost none left, and if they are the prices are astronomical.

Setting aside the availability of a domain, is also the question of SEO and authority each new domain has. In short, new domains have zero chance to rank for anything meaningful. Although, this is NOT because search engines ‘penalize’ or ‘sandbox’ new domains – they just don’t have any links pointing to them, nor have they had a chance to crawl and re-crawl them. Despite what some SEO analysts say, there is no evidence that domain age is a ranking factor. And yet, this myth is perpetuated by many well-intentioned marketing experts.

Correlation does not equal causation. The age of a domain is no indication of trust or longevity. Regardless, a new domain is usually at a disadvantage over an aged one, due to the fact that the aged domain has had a chance to acquire links, branding, traffic and (possibly) indexation. With that in mind, when starting a new project, it’s almost ALWAYS better to acquire an existing domain over registering one on a standard registrar like Namecheap or NameSilo.

So, where would we acquire such domains?

By no means exhaustive, this is what we’ve found to be a good place to start looking:

It would be obvious (if you browsed for even a few minutes) that most of these domain marketplaces do NOT display domain metrics we care about, such as backlink volume, referring domains, spam score, anchor text, traffic etc. However, that should not deter us from utilizing their services. If anything, it is why most webmasters settle for a less-than-ideal domain, because they were not willing to go the extra mile to find the perfect domain for their campaigns and projects. It really makes all the difference in the world.

A great way to research your potential domains is to run them through the bulk analysis tool from SEMrush, which allows you to analyze up to 200 domains at a time. It’ll save you some time and frustration to say the least.

While these are the most well-known sources for acquiring aftermarket and expiring domains, there are always outliers and alternative ways to find domains to purchase. Don’t allow this list to be the definitive standard to go by. If there is a particular domain you want, visiting them directly and understanding what state the domain is in could also lead to an acquisition. Perhaps they’re too lazy to list the domain on a marketplace, or they never even considered selling it; you’ll never know until you get in touch with the owner, most likely through a Whois lookup or online contact form (and FYI, it always pays to follow up).

Good luck and happy hunting!

About the author

Sebastian Hovv

Sebastian is the founder of SEO 101, a SEO agency for startups. He is also the author of "The Little White Book of SEO" and curates a weekly marketing newsletter just for fun.