Become A Domain Detective: Some Tools I Use When Researching Expired Domains


I’ve been buying a lot of expired domains this year and think I have assembled what I would call a “dream team” of tools to aid me in my search. The other day I was researching a name and thought, you know what, it might be interesting to talk a bit about the tools that I use to better understand an expired domain. I have a really good time playing detective and following a domain through it’s life.

This is actually very important when you buy an expired domain, and I’ll tell you why. Earlier this year I was bidding on nice, aged, two-word .COM along with about twenty other eager bidders. I decided to do a quick Google search for the domain, what I found was article after article about how the company behind the domain was scamming people. There were forum posts, blog posts, and email transcripts from people scammed by this particular company. I immediately stopped bidding, getting that domain would mean taking-on the negative history that comes with it.

Sometimes if something looks too good to be true…maybe it is! I want to buy expired domains that have a clean past and often look for a few other characteristics that might help me later down the road. By using a few key tools I can become a domain detective and learn some very valuable things about a potential investment. Whether you’re buying tech stocks, real estate, or investing in a coffee franchise the more data you have, the more informed investment decision you can make. These are the tools I use every single day and highly recommend, note that not all of these are sponsors of my blog and I am not being paid by any of these companies to write this…in fact they don’t even know I’m writing this post.

Domain Tools
I honestly can’t imagine my life without Domain Tools. I use this tool with every single expired domain I am looking to acquire. This allows me to easily see when the name was originally registered as well as go back in time and view historical WHOIS information. This is incredibly powerful and probably one of the most useful ways to better understand the history of the domain. There is always a Domain Tools tab open and yes, I’m proud to say that I’m a bonafide Domain Tools addict.

Protrada has quickly become my go-to tool for finding expired domains. I can easily search by search volume and CPC which are very important to me when I’m looking for domains for development. Couple this with an interface that makes me drool every time I use it and you can understand why I swear by Protrada. I’m also a big iPhone geek and their new app makes it really easy to search for expired domains while on the go.
If you don’t know about this tool then I’m about to blow your mind. This is one of my favorites and honestly makes me feel like I’m hopping-into a time machine. Put any domain into the Wayback Machine and you can see a timeline and cached version of the site that used to occupy that domain. You can go forward and backwards in time better understanding the different transformations the site may have gone through. This is a great way to see how a site changed when new owners took-over, as well as understanding what was on the site right before it expired.

Yes, this is a tool you might not have thought of but it is absolutely an essential tool to use before investing in an expired domain. I usually just do a quick Google search and see if there is anything good or bad written about it online. If there are lots of bad reviews or any hints that the domain previously belonged to a shady company then I tend to move-onto better prospects.

There are of course plenty of other great tools out there but these are the four I use the most. Feel free to share your favorite tools below or ask any questions about those listed above. Thanks for reading and enjoy being a domain detective, the more time you put into research, the better investments you’ll make!

(Photo Credit: gregwake on Flickr)

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton