Recently I went through the .com and .xyz domain names in my portfolio, deciding which to renew prior to the price increases that took place Sept. 1. With another .com price increase coming in 2022, it won’t be long before the process is repeated. But how do we determine which domain names should be renewed? Offers Perhaps the best indicator is whether you received offers on the domain name, and if so how many and the significance of the amounts. If you set the minimum offer very low, there will probably be more offers, providing more data. However, the low minimum may put you at a disadvantage when negotiating with potential buyers. NamePros members contributed to a Community Minimum Offer Study. While most marketplace platforms automatically log past offers, you may receive offers for the same domain name on multiple platforms. Therefore, it is important to track offers yourself, at minimum the name, offer, date and platform, as well as counter offer. Visits While some domain names will get many visits, but never sell, and others will sell despite very few visits, the number of visits a domain name gets is relevant to some degree. Depending what landers you use, you probably have some information about how many times the domain name has been visited during the past year. For example, if you use the popular Dan landers, when you sign into your account and select Portfolio you will see visits during the preceding 30 day period, as well as a leads column that will reflect the number of offers or leads. Keep in mind that it is not valid to compare visits for two domain names if one name has the DNS pointed to Dan and the other does not. The longer-term data at Dan is presented in a graph. Note, however, that Dan plots the number for each calendar month, rather than a 30 day rolling average. This means that recent traffic will show a dramatic decrease at the beginning of each month, and then adjust to the correct value towards the end of the month. Even if you do not use their monetized parking, Sedo show the number of visits to the Sedo Marketplace listing, as well as the overall traffic. At least in my experience, names parked at Sedo seem to have a higher number of visits than the same name at Dan. I am not sure if the difference has to do with overall visitors to the marketplaces, or to differences in how bot traffic is removed, or a combination. In any case, be cautious in conclusions based on Dan visits for one name and Sedo for another. Many landers allow you to use your own Google analytics code, so you can do more sophisticated tracking if you wish. You can also invoke this if you don’t use marketplace landers at all, but rather your own custom landers. Inquiries Some platforms allow potential purchasers to contact you, even if they are not making a specific offer. Efty supports direct negotiation. Agents at marketplaces like Afternic and Uniregistry, among others, may contact you to set a price for unpriced names as a result of a query. If you track these requests for each name, it is one more data point in your renewal consideration. Short Lists When a potential client not only visits a name, but also favourites or short lists that name, that is an additional indication of interest. If you have premium listings at SquadHelp, when you sign into your account and select Premium Listings from the dashboard, the number of visits and the number of shortlists each name received are indicated, as well as the percentage. If you instead select Marketplace Dashboard, SquadHelp shows in addition comparisons to listings from other sellers on their platform. The hybrid platform Alter provides comprehensive tracking. For your entire portfolio, or for each individual name, both visits and favourites can be tracked for various time intervals. In addition, as shown below, they indicate the source of those visits. That is, how many visits were from directly entering the name in an URL, versus finding the name via the Alter marketplace. Some visits result from third party agreements or advertising. I show part of the Alter information panel below. Screen capture for part of tracking data from Alter Dashboard. Recent Sales If similar names have sold within the past few years, that would be an argument to renew the domain name, even if it has not yet received offers. NameBio is your best source for sales information. Enter a variety of identical and similar keywords in the NameBio search box, and set the date to last year, last 2 years, or last 3 years. Do look at venue and price, to see if the sales are likely retail or wholesale transactions. Registrations In Other TLDs If there have been additional registrations in the same term in other extensions, that might support renewing the domain name. The easiest way to check this is dotDB.com. If you have recorded the number of TLDs a year earlier, you can readily see the recent change. Also, with dotDB one can check how many longer names incorporate the term. Advanced search at Dofo provides similar information, and includes asking prices for names with buy-it-now. SquadHelp have begun notifying sellers when a name in either premium or standard listings has been registered in another extension. SquadHelp recently shared research results that showed that domain names registered in other extensions sell more rapidly. Whois Inquiries If people go to Whois to see information on expiry date and where registered, is that another indication of interest in a name? At least Epik provides information on Whois queries, including whether one IP address is doing repeated checks. To access this information, choose the Performance tab while managing your domain names. Whois search is just one of a number of performance metrics provided by Epik, see graphic below. Screen capture from Epik performance data. The Value column gives Estibot valuation. Alexa and Google Page Rank appear in next columns, followed by Earnings if you use Epik monetized parking. The number of visits to the parked domain name, Whois queries and visits to the marketplace listing, assuming you have the name listed for sale on their market, appear in the next columns. By clicking on the Market Visits number you can see the dates and IP addresses for visits. Under Whois, the colour changes according to whether there is one, or more than one, person checking repeatedly. For example, the second bottom listing in the screen capture only has 7 Whois queries in total, but the red means one IP address is checking repeatedly. One nice feature I just discovered in the Epik Performance tab is the far right column, marked with a + icon. You can add domain name comments here, perhaps recording other measures of interest in a name, or offers received via other platforms. The icon changes to show those names where you have left a comment. Checking Trends Even if a name has not received offers, or even many visits, if interest in the topic is increasing, that is a reason to consider renewing. You can plot search popularity using Google trends, or appearance of term in books using Google Ngram Viewer. Simply checking the number of Google results periodically may be informative as well. Corporate Use If you recorded at the time you acquired the domain name the number of OpenCorporates listings, checking again will show if business and organization use of the term is growing. Parking Revenue Some names pay for their own renewal. If you use monetized parking, review the revenue for the year for each domain name. Even if the amount is less than renewal cost, it can be an argument to keep the name. The impressions, average cost per click and number of clicks are all relevant. As well as parking, there may be other ways to generate ongoing revenue from the domain name. Examples include paid redirection, subdomain or main domain rental, or a monetized mini-site. Unless you really need liquidation cash, it makes sense to renew any name that generates more revenue than the renewal cost. There is a good recent discussion thread at NamePros on the topic of Making A Living From Parking, started by @tjms. Another active discussion is entitled Why Domain Parking Works For Me, started by @privatereg. I also found When You Should Develop A Domain Name, started by @Seventy, insightful. You have many choices for domain name parking, including dedicated services such as Bodis, VooDoo and Parking Crew, the parking landers at Afternic and Sedo, the hybrid for-sale with parking landers at Dan in partnership with Bodis, and monetized parking options at many registrars. There are numerous other discussions at NamePros around the topic of parking, and in fact an entire section Domain Parking and Traffic Monetization. Final Thoughts No metric will definitively tell you whether a name should be renewed or liquidated. Ultimately, you often need to go with your instinct on the worth of the domain name. Here are a few concluding thoughts. Once we have invested significantly in a domain name, the sunk cost fallacy is a natural tendency that pushes us towards renewing the name, even in cases where we should not. Sunk cost fallacy is actually a general expression that builds on underlying biases, including loss aversion and commitment bias. Try to view each renewal decision in terms of whether you would invest in the name today if you did not already own it. Ever since I first heard the idea, I find the principle of always optimizing use of funds helpful. Simply ask whether there is a different use you could make for the funds you are considering putting into renewals. For example, would it be better to hand register other names, or to use funds to instead invest in one better domain name? This idea was covered in Simple Ideas To Guide Domain Name Investing. Considerations around renewing a domain name should not be fundamentally different than those for initial acquisitions. See Hand Registering Domain Names. That said, we do have additional information on a name we have held for a year, or more, to help guide renewal decisions. Bouncing thoughts off others before making the final decision makes sense. See Domain Investing - Don’t Do It Alone. I think it is important to first make a tentative decision yourself before seeking opinions, however. While the appraisals sections at NamePros are often used at acquisition or pricing time, they can provide additional opinions at renewal time too. Ever since being introduced to the terms by @Recons.Com, I have found the idea of a keeper portfolio and a trial portfolio helpful. Domains in the latter category are essentially a one year experiment. Offers, sales in similar names, traffic and other considerations during the first year of ownership will help determine if a trial portfolio name might deserve to be added to the keeper portfolio. Pricing on many new extensions, and .co, with sharply discounted first year rates, push one year trials, but careful consideration is needed before paying the much higher renewal. While I see advantages to a diversified portfolio, I think it makes sense to concentrate on certain sectors and niches, building expertise. One question to ask at renewal time is whether this name fits into your personal portfolio plan. I urge readers to share in the discussion below the considerations that go into their decisions to renew or not, and what metrics they emphasize.