At any given time, there are thousands of domains for sale on the Web’s
largest auction marketplace. Some are listed by individuals looking to unload
domains for a quick buck, while others are professional domainers with thousands
of Web properties – this is their business and by all accounts it’s working, as
there is no lack of activity within this venue for buyers and sellers.
So, should you try to buy or sell domains on eBay? There are positives and
negatives for both buyers and sellers so it is important to understand not just
how eBay works, but how we can maximize our investment of time and money when
considering building or optimizing our domain portfolios.
The upside is that you can find many good domains if you know how to use the
service. There are often many keyword-rich domain names available twenty-four
hours a day, many three- and four-letter domains and, of course, many misspelled
domains that aspiring professional domainers can pick up for seriously
The downside is that if you know a thing or two about domains, you might see the
eBay auction as gathering place for the seriously delusional. In fact, it is not
uncommon to find domains listed in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. While
meaningful three-letter domains are in short supply, I doubt that any one in
their right mind would plunk down the $20 million that the owner of MRX.com was
asking back in early March.
But it is not just three letter domains on eBay that are known to be listed for
exorbitant amounts. HouseDownsize.com and InflationSurvival.com (by all accounts
interesting sounding domains) were listed for tandem sale at a staggering
$200,000. You might be asking yourself, why would anyone in their right mind
think this would be a good investment or how the domain owner justifies the
price? It’s not a good investment for a buyer – which forces us to ask an
important question: why are these domains being listed if no one ever buys them?
The question stumps many but it may be due to user activity on eBay – the
traffic that a website receives from a listing is well worth the nominal listing
While my wife has forbidden the purchase adult-related domains, there are many
creative options available. So if you’re considering a venture into this niche,
eBay can be a good place to fi nd a few good domain branding opportunities.
Buying a Domain on eBay
There is simply no better way to get familiar with buying domains on eBay than
to jump right in and start bidding. You may even find that some of the domain
listings support your current Web enterprise.
There are two categories at eBay where prospectors can find domains for sale. To
locate the fi rst, use the search term “established websites” – this will
display entire Web properties for sale, not just the domain names. The second is
the query “domain names” (also available in the “Web Domains and Services”
category) is where the majority of individual domain names can be found.
Consider sorting the list by time left in the auction, finding those newly
listed or leveraging the “best match” sorting tool. For example, use the best
match sort and append a keyword such as “education” and you will find domain
names that are listed with that keyword in the title of the eBay listing. Once
you have found a domain name that appeals to you, conduct a query at your
preferred search engine for some cursory research on the number of inbound links
that are present, its current Google PageRank and even consider utilizing
Archive.org to see how that website was being used in the past.
Since this article is about buying domains on eBay, what better domain to bid on
than SelectingDomains.com? The following is Website Magazine’s attempt to
purchase the domain. Did it work? Did we win? What are we going to do with it?
On March 6th we placed a bid on SelectingDomains.com. The initial bid on
the domain was $11.97. I performed some cursory research which revealed
virtually no inbound links outside of the eBay listing and a few alternative
domain auction sites. Since time was of the essence, I entered a maximum bid of
$14 instead of spending the next few days incrementally increasing the bid by
$0.50 or $1.00. I kept an eye on the domain listing for other bids and bidders
by setting up an alert.
March 13th – Domain Won: What occurred was shocking even to me over the
next few days – no bids were placed and the domain was won without any
additional bidding. I would be the first to admit that this is not the standard
series of events in purchasing domains on eBay. In fact, other domains I have
purchased in the past had a bit of competition in the bidding, which gives a
sense of what others see in the value of the domain. While this domain may
simply have slipped under the radar, it’s still a good one in my opinion and
it’s a good addition to the portfolio.
Due to constraints related to transferring a domain name more than once
within a period of 60 days, the next issue of Website Magazine’s Digital Edition
will feature the next installment of this article, “Selling Domains The eBay
Way,” where we will list SelectingDomains.com for sale and document the results.