How I Search For Expired Domains

Lately I’ve been buying a healthy amount of expired domains as I continue my quest to make my portfolio 90% .COM by the end of 2011. There are some real gems expiring right now and with so many opportunities it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. So I thought now would be as good a time as any to tell you how I search for expired domain names.

First, where do I look for expired Domains?

Well I’ve used just about every tool and platform out there and in the end I find that I spend a majority of time on two sites, Snapnames and Go Daddy Auctions. I don’t have anything against any of the other services out there, I just know what I like after spending years trying things. Yes – you can use automated tools that will just spit back a list but I still like to search myself every day and use filters to make sure I only see the results that matter to me.

What search criteria do I use?

Whether I’m using Snapnames or Go Daddy I tend to set the same search filters. The main filters I use are:

  • TLD – I select .COM only, yes there are great .net’s and .org’s dropping but why spend your time mining copper and silver when there’s gold out there?
  • Maximum Keywords – I set this to three in most cases. At the end of the day a four and five word domain can still be good but I like shorter memorable .COM’s. Most of what I buy now are two-word .COM domains.
  • Domain Age – I like domains that are at least two years old but find I’m buying names that are often 5+ years old. There are tons of benefits to aged domains, just this week I bought an 11 year-old .COM domain that is currently getting a nice stream of type-in traffic, that just feels good!
  • Keywords – I select specific keywords and use the “contains” option. I know which niches I like and there’s about 5 main keywords I focus on.

What is my price range?

I know that plenty of new Domainers love to brag about getting domains that nobody else was bidding on. While there are some good hidden gems out there most of the names I buy have multiple bids and go for anywhere between $50 – $1,500. If you’re not willing to spend more than $100 don’t expect to find many domains that you’ll be able to resell in the four-figure range.

About 75% of the expired domains that I buy are for development purposes with 25% reserved for flips or longer-term investments. For domains that I plan to flip I use the Estibot Lead Generation Tool to find potential end-users. Oftentimes I’ll use this tool before I buy the domain so that I can know how many end-users I’ll be able to email prior to making the investment. If Estibot comes up with over 100 end-users I feel good about the flip potential, if it only returns 10-20 results then I’ll usually pass unless I have development plans for the name.

For anyone that thinks all the good domains are taken I’m here to say you are just plain wrong. Sure, it takes time to find great domains, and no there is no perfect formula, but one thing is for sure – there great .com domains dropping every single day and this won’t be happening forever. Now is the time, if you want to turn your portfolio around, the opportunities are here, don’t look back five years from now and say, I could have been a part of the second domain gold rush!

If you’d like to learn more about buying expired domain names I have an entire chapter in my book dedicated to this topic.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Jon April 14, 2011, 8:26 am

    That’s interesting that you mention about Estibot’s lead generation tool, I’ve been a member of Estibot for a long time, and have always wondered whether this tool of theirs is worth it, are you going to do any reviews or a write up on it, I’d love to hear more about it before signing up for it!.


  • Rich April 14, 2011, 8:48 am

    Hi Morgan
    It’s true, there’s a lot of opportunities out there.Alot of good domains being dropped.I’m takeing addvantage of this.I’m curios why so many droops? My only explanation is that the economy,businesses left and right are shutting down,but definitely this is the time to buy if you missed the boat the first time.
    btw Morgan, congrats on your book.

  • Leonard Britt April 14, 2011, 9:16 am

    .COM is what sells at both SEDO and DNJ and thus the reason why bidding at Namejet and other domain auction platforms can be so intense. However, .COM domains with meaningful search volume don’t drop at the rate one finds in other TLDs. I am just experimenting with the Rapid Domain Builder platform but like the design of their modules. One Spanish domain I put in their platform a few months ago (puppies in Spanish) does appear to be ranking ok at Google. Over the last week or two I have changed nameservers for additional domains and will see how they perform in the coming months. I also recently acquired in English 🙂 via Brian’s .TV newsletter.

  • April 14, 2011, 12:13 pm

    yes, I also go with 2 word .coms for now. And true, while keyword domains with high exact match search do have higher value, I’ve started looking into just overall search as for development, it sometimes makes more sense, especially if the site will contain 1000s of pages.

  • Artem April 15, 2011, 2:52 am

    Hi Morgan,
    Thanks for your useful tips! Could you say please, how do you specify the number of keywords on Snapnames? It seems to me that it works only for private sellers, not for expiring names – as I uncheck “Private Seller”, “Buy It Now” and “Make Offer” settings and enter some number into “Max. words” in advanced search, all the results are filtered out (except exact matches), including ones definitely fitting the filter settings.

  • @AndrewHazen April 15, 2011, 5:15 am

    Hey Morgan,

    Hope you had a memorable Birthday…welcome to “the 3rd decade”….

    I too have been finding some amazing ‘gem’ .com domains dropping lately using various techniques, filters and tools. Earlier this week I saw and drop and after I listed it in my expiring Domain Name newsletter they were registered within minutes…

    I’ve been posting some of the Expiring Domain Names via my blog and but always post them first to those who get the Expiring Domain Name newsletter – you should check it out as I’m sure it will help you achieve your 90% .com portfolio goal!

    You heading to TRAFFIC this year in Oct?

    All the best!!


  • April 16, 2011, 9:01 am

    If you want to develop and you target search engine traffic, you can still go with .net and .org domains, but you are right .com is always preferred. Because i’m from germany the .de tld is also important. If you think it is hard to get a good expired .com domain, you should try to get a good .de domain… 😛

  • Paul April 24, 2011, 12:11 am

    Long time to wait for an e-book, you shouldn’t make it hard on the honest people I don’t shop on pirate bay. I had time to read it this weekend and thought I’d get it instantly. Liked your podcast with Patrick on domain masters is it over?

  • Mike August 4, 2014, 11:21 am

    fyi – if you are looking to find dropping .io and .ly domains, you can find them here:

  • Negro August 3, 2015, 6:42 am

    I do NOT recommend
    that guy list only the garbage and hide the good domains to himself.
    is a stupid way to get good .io domains.
    The best is check the whois info here: and if you really want the domain, purchase the backorder directly there.

    • Morgan August 3, 2015, 5:53 pm

      @Negro – sorry, but I have to disagree, there are some very good names listed on, sure it’s not all of them, and like most things in the domain space, you do have to find your needle in the haystack, but they are there.

  • Peter N June 30, 2017, 12:05 pm

    I am wondering if there is a guide on how domain values are determined. Estibot gives a number, but doesn’t say how this number comes about.


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