A few days ago I thought of an idea for an affiliate site. Naturally, the first thing I did after conceiving the idea was a search for available domain names. I couldn’t find a good .COM one. The .NET domain was also taken, and it was only the .ORG one that I could buy. But because of (a) the lack of time to start working on this new project right away (I’ve purchased domains in the past, sat on them for a year, and then, having no time to work on them, released them… and didn’t want this to happen to this one), and (b) the assumption that no one would want the .ORG version anyway, I procrastinated with the domain registration. Next thing I know — the domain is registered by someone else! Yes, the .ORG version that I was certain no one needs!
No, this wasn’t the first time I saw this happen. You search for domains, find some good ones, but put the final purchase decision off until tomorrow, but tomorrow some of them aren’t available any longer…
The replies I received on my Facebook wall have clarified many things. Here are just a few of them:
“My understanding is that most registrars have a deal with major domainers: any new domains that are checked for availability but not bought are passed to the domainers. They’re able to keep them for 30 days without paying to see if they attract traffic. If they do, the domainer keeps them. If not, they get thrown back. Happens all the time. If you look up a domain, you have to buy it immediately.” ~ Chris Trayhorn
“Always a great test to see if the names you just researched were magically unavailable moments later. I used to see this at [domain registrar name here] and Chris brings up an interesting point. They are in the business to sell domains and wonder how fast that data could pass to the domainers.” ~ Michael Vorel
“A few months ago I noticed a search in my logs for a domain very near one of mine. Then I was offered that same domain a few days later. Was bothered by email for several days as they thought I’d be interested. After another week it came back to the market and then I bought it.” ~ Herb Breese
“This type of stuff has been happening for years now.” ~ Vinny O’Hare
What Chris Trayhorn is mentioning above is eye-opening to me. He has also sent me a link to an interesting article at CNN Money gives an overview of the tricks that domainers use, as well as the arrangements they have with domain registrars. Here it is: The man who owns the Internet.
It seems that with domains then it’s not the early bird that gets the worm, but the bird that’s faster, better prepared/equipped, and has the right connections.
1) When searching for a domain name, don’t use the registrars that are being suspected of special arrangements with domains (not listing any names here, but they are easily-retrievable through search)
2) If you see a good domain that’s available, snatch it! Don’t procrastinate.