Buying and Selling Domains the eBay Way

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 discounted prices.

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 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. and (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 fees.

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 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 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? Read on.

On March 6th we placed a bid on 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 for sale and document the results.