Domains (e.g. www.example.com) have a bearing on just about every facet of SEO – and it’s definitely one of the most important considerations when you’re undertaking an SEO campaign. A domain name which has been continuously registered and “live” with either just a landing page or a full website for a long time is known as an aged domain; these domains generally command a higher price than newly registered domains precisely because of their age. There are a lot of business owners in search of aged domains, since these domains are seen by Google as more established businesses and unlikely to incur any age penalty often referred to as the ‘Google sandbox’. In brief, a penalty would restrict the website from reaching high rankings in the search results based purely on it’s age.
One place to find aged domains is on websites such as godaddy.com which feature an auction to help you find what you’re interested in. While there are no hard and fast rules to buying and selling aged domains, there are a few things which you should keep in mind:
Potential for Growth and Development
First and foremost, think about the domain name in terms of what kind of use you may have for it. Are you interested in using a particular name for an online community, a page for a product you’re selling, a directory or a personal site of one sort or another? Knowing exactly what you plan to use the domain for will help you to keep the content on the site relevant – allowing you to fetch a higher price should you be interested in selling this domain.
Length of the Domain Name
Though not everyone is in agreement about just how long a domain name should be, the general consensus is that shorter is always better. You can register a domain name of up to 63 characters, but by keeping your domain name as short and memorable as possible, it’ll be easier to bring in traffic.
If you’re looking at buying an aged or expired domain, one thing you should look into is how much traffic the site already has; knowing this will help you to develop the domain.
The kind of traffic the domain has at present also matters. Organic traffic which comes in via the search engines is the most valuable of all, however having back links from relevant sites is also an important factor, since this means a higher Google page rank. You can find out how many back links a given site has, as well as its page rank and other important metrics using Yahoo’s Site Explorer.
Relevance and Keyword Popularity
A domain name which uses popular keywords which are relevant to niche markets which are in vogue will, naturally, be more valuable than domains which do not. It should also be noted that Google tends to place more weight in terms of ranking domains which contain these popular keywords – this has actually been confirmed by Google’s Matt Cutts. If you’re wondering how to find out how popular a particular keyword is, there are a lot of tools out there, the best of which is arguably Google’s Keyword Tool.
Spelling has a lot to do with whether a domain name is suitable as a memorable brand name. For example, is it a word which is commonly misspelled? Domain names which contain double letters are frequently misspelled by web users. If a domain has double letters, unconventional spellings, numbers or hyphens, it can be more of a challenge to build it as a brand.
Trademarks and Other Legal Issues
Never register (or buy) a domain name which could possibly infringe on another company’s trademark. Even if you don’t think it likely that this company will actually sue you, don’t do it. Even though you may be able to purchase a domain name similar to an established brand e.g. www.star-bucks.com, it’s not worth the potential legal trouble.