Saturday, November 04, 2006

Domain Name Expiration

I've already explored the possibilities of the domain name business, it is now time to examine methods and strategies for getting there. This will be a series spanned over several posts, and I will try and keep the content density high to avoid wasting time. Hopefully this will help prospective domainers.

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned the possibility of catching domain names as they expire. This is a popular strategy for nabbing valuable domain names. It is the strategy Yun Ye used in the late '90s, and while it won't be as lucrative now, it is still viable. Here are some convincing reasons for employing this strategy:
  • Expiring domain names may have once contained a functioning web site with visitors and search engines may have indexed the web site. This potentially means more traffic.
  • The domain is more likely to have a traffic statistics which can be discovered through several methods. I will go into this in a later post.

How Domains Expire

Domains are not released back to the public right at their expiration date. There are several stages a domain name goes through before getting their. I will outline those stages from active, normal registration right up to deletion.


While the domain is live and within it's registration dates, it will be referred to as being active. The domain name is working as you would normally expect it to.


Let's say you have a domain registered. The expiration date is approaching. If you fail to renew when the expiration date hits, the domain will enter the hold status. Domains on hold will stop functioning as normal (i.e. they won't point to your web site anymore). However, you may still renew the domain for the registrar's regular price during this period. Other parties are blocked from registering the domain. This period varies by registrar and is usually between 30-45 days. A whois query on the domain will list this as ON-HOLD.


This is your second chance to renew the domain. You still have exclusive access to renew, but usually at a higher price. I've seen numbers from $100 to $150. Once started, redemption lasts 30 days. The redemption period is a new process. Unlike the holding period which is controlled at the registrar, this a Registry imposed period which must happen.


This stage can last up to 5 days. At the end of this period, the domain name is released back to the public. You may not renew while deletion is happening.

This covers the domain cycle from active registration to deletion. For a visual representation of this, view this Life Cycle diagram on DomainsBot.

Obtaining an Expiring Domain

Domain names can be back ordered, and there are many services that will do this for you. There is no guarantee that you will actually get the domain name. Thus, these services usually work on a bidding system. The more you are willing to pay, the better your chances. Since you don't always know how many people you are competing with on a given service, let alone across all services, it is difficult to determine your odds to a high degree of certainty. However, you can increase your odds by utilizing several services at once.

Obtaining an expiring domain will be the topic of my next post. I will detail several services available to you and provide further insight into strategies. After that post, I will probably discuss methods for valuing domains.

Happy hunting, domainers!