What does vetting a domain name mean?
The word vetting means “make a careful and critical examination of (something).” And it is important that we do this when it comes to domains. Whether we are considering to renew or not a domain, register a new domain, or purchase a domain on the aftermarket, a smart investor will carefully vet the domain in question. How can this domain vetting process be made? The following are some of the top ways. Some may only apply to when it comes to deciding whether you should renew a domain or not. But others can also apply to when considering registering a new domain or purchasing one on the aftermarket.
Is the domain registered in other extensions? If yes, are the domains used by a company or parked for sale by other domainers? If only 1 or 2 other extensions are registered by domainers and simply parked, then it may not mean that much. You might approach them to see if they’d be interested if you won’t be renewing the name.
2. Google search
Is the name keyword combination used somehow for business. Will this name be an upgrade to the current names used (i.e. is your name a .com and the business is using another extension such as country-code). Are similar names being used but yours is a better alternative? Also pay attention to the ads displayed in the search results, if any. This is an indicator that advertisers are targeting the keywords in the domain. Positive sign.
3. Past Sales
Put the keyword into search fields on sites like DNPric.es, NameBio, or Domain Tools. If the keyword is a 2 word combination, search for each word individually as well. What have similar domains been sold at? This will help you gauge the value of the domain you are considering.
4. Internet Archive
Check to see if the domain at some point was a real website by using the Archive.org’s Way-Back Machine. If the domain only changed hands between other domainers, or worse, was dropped and then picked up only by domainers then what are the chances that YOU will be the fortunate one that will get the end-user sale? Not very likely but you never know:
5. Social Media
There are 2 ways to look at this. If someone owns a social media account (Twitter and/or Facebook) in the @domainname or /domainname (obviously without the extension) then there might be a potential buyer or at least example of serious usage of the name. When you combine that with the other criteria listed here then this is a positive sign. Especially if there are other accounts with similar alternatives (like with numbers or words added). However, when there is only 1 account and all the other criteria turned out not so well, then it may be a false positive, because very likely it is an individual somewhere and not a serious business. You want to focus on businesses and business people.
6. Traffic Stats
You should have data available to you regarding the traffic the domain has received over the recent months and years. Traffic is what makes domains so valuable. So if the domain receives consistent traffic then you want to renew the domain.
7. Past Inquiries
Has the domain received any inquiries over the time it was in your ownership? Past inquiries is a sure indicator of interest. Even if you had one serious inquiry this should play heavy role in your decision.
8. Domain Aftermarket
The domain aftermarket will send you many signals as to the potential of the domain. You should check active auctions (i.e. auctions with more than one bidder), past sales, etc. If similar domains are actively being sought and sold then this is a positive that you should renew or acquire the domain in question.
Vetting New gTLDs
The above vetting criteria mainly applies to legacy domain extensions. It is more difficult to vet new gTLD’s because of the simple fact that they are new. Not enough sales and usage data is available for a proper vetting.
When it comes to new gTLDs, some gut instinct combined with experience comes into play. So tread responsibly.