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Many domain investors primarily acquire names from expiring domain auctions or closeouts. This article, intended mainly for those relatively new to the field, provides an introduction to efficient ways to find domain names that are either about to expire or have expired.

A Few Terms

Before we look at ways to search for expiring names, let’s define a few terms.
  • An expiring domain name is one that has reached expiry, but is not yet too late to renew.
  • An expired domain name has reached expiry, and is now available at registration fee. An expired domain name will have its age reset.
  • Drop-catch services use automated registrar scripts to try to re-register a name the instant that it expires. Read more about domain drop catching here.
  • Many expiring domain names are first offered in an auction, and then go to closeout, offered at a fixed price that may change each day.
  • Domain age is the period from when the name was created, assuming it has not been allowed to expire. If the name fully expired, it is the time since the most recent registration.

Domain Registration Life Cycle

While the details vary with extension and registrar, each domain name goes through a life cycle represented in this diagram from ICANN.

After the domain name registration period is over, the name goes into an auto-renew grace period. This may be, but is not always, as long as 45 days. During the auto-renew grace period, the domain name can be renewed by the owner at the regular renewal rate and its age record is maintained.

This is followed by a redemption grace period, sometimes 30 days, when the owner can still recover the name, but normally at a substantially higher fee.

There will then be a 5 day pending-delete period, after which, if the name has not been renewed, the domain name will expire and become essentially a new name when later registered.

Where To Find Expiring Names

Certainly the best known place to find expiring domain names is GoDaddy Auctions. GoDaddy is the world’s largest registrar, and, in addition to their own expiring inventory, expiring domain names from a network of many other registrars are auctioned at GoDaddy. To bid in most auctions at GoDaddy you will need an auction membership, but it just costs a few dollars per year.

Another large registrar, Namecheap, now auction their own expiring names at the Namecheap Market. You need a Namecheap auction membership, currently $5 USD per year.

Various other registrars auction their own expiring inventory, including Dynadot and Sav, among many others.

All of these sites have their own ways to research and search for names. But there is a much more powerful method, as we see in the next section.

ExpiredDomains.Net

We have many wonderful tools and sites in the domain community, but as great as they are, few are as useful, powerful and well-implemented as ExpiredDomains.net.

ExpiredDomains.net covers domain names listed at GoDaddy, Sedo, Namecheap Auctions, SnapNames, Dynadot, Dan, Catched, NameJet, Flippa, Name Expired, NameSilo Auctions, Namepal Auctions, Park.io, DropCatch Auctions, Bido, DomainMarket, Sav, NameLiquidate and Epik Marketplace.

You will need a membership to do much at ExpiredDmains.net, but that is free.

ExpiredDomains.net currently has more than 510 million domain names in their database, yes more than the total number of current registrations, since they keep names that have expired.

ExpiredDomains cover almost all of the original gTLDs, the majority of well-known country codes, and 335 different new extensions. See the full TLD list here.

In the next sections, I take you step-by-step through basic ways to use the site. Keep in mind this is only a tiny part of what ExpiredDomains.net can do.

If you don’t already have an ExpiredDomains.net membership, sign up now for free. I suggest trying out each filter as you read the following guide.

While you won’t immediately become a power user, you can be very proficient at using ExpiredDomains.net within the first hour.

Finding Pending Delete .com Names

Just because it can do so much, the ExpiredDomains interface can seem overwhelming at first.

As the first exercise, let’s assume we want to find some good short pending delete .com domain names.

Once you get used to ExpiredDomains.net, you will save your filters, and not need to go through all these steps. But as a learning exercise, try the following.
  1. Log in to your ExpiredDomains.net account.
  2. Near the top, in the final row of choice tabs, select PendingDelete. Recently for me that showed more than 2.7 million domain names, so we are going to want to be more selective!
  3. Select Show Filter (it will be on left just above the list of names).
  4. Let’s first reduce the list to only show .com names. That is in the second tab, Additional. Under Original gTLDs check .com. To make it take effect, scroll down and press the blue Apply Filter button.
  5. Note that when we press Show Filter, it now indicates we have 1 filter selected. Also, the pending delete domain list has been reduced to about 350,000 names, but still too many to go through!
  6. Let’s now eliminate names that include a number or a hyphen. Click on Show Filter again, then under Common and Domain Name Settings, check no numbers and no hyphens. Then activate these additional filters by clicking on Apply Filter again. That gets our list down to a bit over 270,000 the day I checked.
  7. Let’s assume we are only interested in short names, say only 5 letter long names. To do that, select Show Filter, then Domain Name Settings, and set both the minimum and maximum Length to 5. Then press Apply Filter again to implement. The day I tried these steps, the additional filters reduced the list to just over 8000 pending delete 5L .com names.
  8. Before we add more filters, let’s look at the information provided for each name. When the mouse hovers over any heading it tells you the meaning – for example, WBY means the official birth year as defined earlier, while ABY is the first year ever registered, even if the name subsequently dropped and had its age reset. Reg is a number of registered other extensions. RDT is number of related domain names, that is longer names including this term. The End Date gives when the pending delete period will end.
  9. Let’s further reduce the list. Perhaps we want speakable names that have a structure like Kodak, that is CVCVC where C is a consonant and V is a vowel. To do this, click Show Filter again, then under Common, near bottom left Domain Name Pattern and enter the pattern CVCVC. Note if you hover over the i symbol it will show you all the pattern options.
  10. We now have a manageable list that you can go through by hand to see if any names are of interest.
  11. This is only a tiny part of what is possible with ExpiredDomains.net, though. For example, options in Adwords & SEO and Majestic provide the ability to explore SEO aspects names.
  12. You can save your search by clicking on the diskette symbol, to the right of the Show Filter. Change the filter name to something descriptive. Next time you want to repeat, or start from, this search, you just select it from your saved filters. You can save up to 100 sets of filters.
  13. If you click on any domain name in the list, it will show a one-page summary of every characteristic for that domain name.

Find Expired One-Word .XYZ Names

For the second example, let’s say that we want to find single-word .xyz names that have recently dropped and are available to hand register. Here are the steps.
  1. Login to your ExpiredDomains.net account, if not already in.
  2. Click on Deleted Domains, then find the tab ngTLDs P-Z and then from the pull down menu select .xyz.
  3. If it shows no domains, it is probably because you still have your old .com search. If that is case, click Clear Filter.
  4. The day I tried, there were more than 2.1 million expired .xyz names. Let’s look only at English word domain names. To accomplish that, under Common I selected No Numbers and No Hyphens, then set the language as English and the maximum number of words to 1. To activate these new filters press Apply Filter.
  5. You might be surprised how many are in list, but it seems to have a very liberal definition of what is a word. I would strongly suggest checking any word that interests you in a standard dictionary such as Merriam-Webster.
  6. There are two really important columns on the far right of the domain list. Dropped shows the date (and time for current day) the name expired, and Status shows if it is available. If it says registered, it means someone else has already taken it. There is a setting under Listing Settings where you can select Only Available Domains.
  7. An important metric for many is how many TLDs the name is registered in, given in the Reg column. Just after that, are columns showing if the term is registered in .com, .net, .org, .biz, .io and .de. A red dot means the term is taken in that TLD, while a green dot means it is available to register.
  8. If you prefer, you can under the Additional tab set Name In Selected TLD Is Registered. For example, I checked .com, .net, .io and .co since I was most interested in .xyz names that were registered in those major extensions. Remember to click Apply Filter to implement.
  9. As before, save your filter for later use.
ExpiredDomains have a Help and Explanations Section, as well as FAQs. Note you need to be logged into your account for these helpful resources to show.

Hopefully this introductory guide has been helpful. I may follow up with a second article that looks at more sophisticated ways to use ExpiredDomains.net.

I regret that I did not become familiar with ExpiredDomains.net in my early weeks in domain investing. If you are new to domain investing, don’t repeat my mistake and take the time to learn how to effectively use ExpiredDomains.net at the outset.

Please feel free to share some of your favourite ways to use ExpiredDomains.net in the comments section.


Thanks to those who created and maintain the superb ExpiredDomains.net site. I could not find an official representative in the NamePros representatives list, but if you are on NamePros please interact with the community in the comments so we can thank you directly.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.

Chris Hydrick

Top Contributor
Impact
9,454
Thanks to those who created and maintain the superb ExpiredDomains.net site. I could not find an official representative in the NamePros representatives list, but if you are on NamePros please interact with the community in the comments so we can thank you directly.

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Tagging / Thank you @kostaki
 
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29,777
@Bob Hawkes
Please add my tool to the post as well. I built a more visually pleasing and fun to use version of ExpiredDomains.net about two years ago and it's free to use.
https://dropfilter.app
Thanks for telling us about your product. I just had a quick look. The tool is very fast and easy to use and works particularly well for those looking for names related to certain keywords.

Certainly a keyword approach can be helpful in some searches (that was one of many aspects of Expired domains I did not cover).

My edit window is short, not different than anyone else, and I would not alter the article based on just a short look at any product in any case.

I will look into your product more fully, and keep it in mind for possible mention next time I do an article on domain tools. Thanks for drawing it to my attention.

I urge others to give it a try, and share comments here.

Thanks again.

Bob
 
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Impact
29,777
Nice article, but i want to know how to search dictionary word and how can i see drop domain list .........
Thanks, but could you please clarify what you are looking for. The article covers how to search for dictionary words. You select language and the maximum number of words to 1. As I note, some are not what I would consider dictionary words though, so try them in a dictionary that you find acceptable. As I was going through the process to write this article I actually found a dictionary .com that I thought was worthwhile registering, and did.

If by drop list you mean names that have expired, you use the deleted tab as explained in article. If you mean names dropping soon, use the Pending Delete tab as covered. I did one example with expired and one with pending delete, and one with .com and one with .xyz, but you can use the similar procedure for any TLD that you want.

If I am misunderstanding what you are looking for, please clarify. Thank you.

Bob
 

Chris Hydrick

Top Contributor
Impact
9,454
As Alexa site rankings is due to shut down May 2022, I wanted to post below site info comparing ExpiredDomains.net to namePros... namely for a historical timestamp.

ExpiredDomains.net
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namePros.com
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While I love namePros for domaining, ExpiredDomains.net tends to get more of my time these days. Thank you @Bob Hawkes for this article and thank you @kostaki and crew for creating/maintaining one of domainings greatest resource. 🙏
 
Impact
29,777
  • An informative and helpful article as always, thank you @Bob Hawkes.

Could you possibly write on how to appraise domain names?
Thanks for your comments.

Re how to appraise, here are some links to existing NamePros articles that may be of interest:
Also there are a whole series of articles on what sells in .io, .org, .xyz, 4L .com, etc. that are potentially applicable.

While many ways to appraise, the key idea is simple: Ask yourself it a business would use this domain name?

There will be exceptions to any rule or metric, of course.

Bob
 
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