strategy Process to Rate and Price a Domain Name Acquisition - Part 2

Spaceship Spaceship
Last week in Process to Rate and Price a Domain Name – Part 1, I covered:
  • Structure, clarity and memorability of the name.
  • Multiple interpretations, both literal and metaphorical.
  • Business applications, related metrics.
  • Indicators of recent startup use of similar terms.
  • Registered extension indicators.
  • The fit of the term with the extension.
In this article I consider further metrics and considerations. As previously, I use the example domain name rafter.xyz to demonstrate the points.

Competitive Names for Sale

Savvy potential buyers for your names will also look at alternatives, so you should know how competitor names are priced. Look at similar names for sale. There are a few ways to do this, including a search for the term on Sedo or Dan.

Another possibility is to find the term on ExpiredDomains.net (does not need to be this extension), and then click on Domain Details and then Marketplace. See details in the article Getting More from ExpiredDomains.net.

I used to use Afternic search as my go-to primary tool for this step, but now that they route to GoDaddy general search that is not possible. However, GoDaddy Auctions has most of the Afternic inventory, and is an easy way to find listed similar aftermarket names. Here is what I saw for ‘rafter’ at GoDaddy Auctions.

Screen capture courtesy GoDaddy Auctions showing leading results for term 'rafter'.

We see that the previous owner still had this name listed, asking mid 5-figures for rafter.xyz. We also see that the .co is priced in 5-figures, while some of the other extensions are in the 4-figure range. Note that no listing is shown for the .com or .io at GoDaddy Auctions for this term, so I will have to dig a little deeper.

Check Status of Important Extensions

For the important extensions that did not show up in the marketplace for sale searches in the previous part, it is important to track down their current status. In the case of ‘rafter’, I tried the following:
  • rafter.com took me to a GoDaddy parking page, but when I clicked on the domain name it showed the GoDaddy Broker Service, rather than a price. Interesting. In any case we know it is not developed.
  • rafter.io seems to be a very early-stage developed site, although I see it is also listed for sale at Sedo.
  • rafter.ai is registered, but does not have an operational lander.
  • rafter.cc is a developed site for a mini digger service, an application I would not have thought for this term.
I already knew from checking Sedo that the .org of the name was for sale as make offer, and the .me, .us and .eu were all for sale and priced.

Dig Deeper into .COM

Often the above steps would clearly indicate pricing on the .com if it was not developed, but in this case it did not. I went searching at BuyDomains, HugeDomains, BrandBucket, SquadHelp, BrandPa, and Efty to see if the name was listed for sale at one of those, but had no luck.

I then used the SquadHelp Domain Insights evaluation on rafter.com. I could not do the exact name, since they only evaluate .com. It gave the name a 10/10 rating, and also showed that rafter.com was 27 years aged, and the term is apparently developed in more than 50 extensions, although I have found the tool not always accurate in this regard. The SquadHelp AI also lists potential applications for the term.

If you are even considering a different extension you want to be clear that the .com is very good and either not available or highly priced. Never register or acquire another extension without carefully looking at the .com.

Did Similar Names Sell?

An important indicator for any name is whether there is a record in sales of similar names. I went to NameBio and searched for related sales for the term ‘rafter’.

It looks at first glance that there are 88 sales, but if you go through the list you will see that the majority are in fact the word ‘crafter’ or ‘ever after’ and a few other combinations. If you make the NameBio search term rafter!crafter it will give sales of term ‘rafter’ but not when it is also ‘crafter’.

There were some related sales, like the plural rafters.com has two listed sales. The exact term ‘rafter’ has no recorded sales. We should keep in mind that the majority of retail sales are not listed in NameBio, but nevertheless the sales history is weak for ‘rafter’.

In past I would use a GoDaddy Appraisal to get Afternic comparator sales not in NameBio, but they have now taken away comparator sales listings.

Check Brandable Marketplaces

Since we are evaluating the name as a possible brand, it is worthwhile to see if brandable marketplaces list similar names. I did a search at BrandBucket for ‘rafter’. At first glance it showed 15 listings, but when you look through the list they are in all cases really the term ‘crafter’. I then took the root word ‘raft’ and searched for that. While most of the 263 listings were for ‘craft’, there were a few where ‘raft’ is the word.

You can do a similar process at SquadHelp and BrandPa. While BrandPa showed 31 listings, only 1 was really the word ‘raft’ and not ‘craft’ or ‘draft’.

Where Has This Domain Been?

As part of the evaluation process I usually quickly look the term up in @jmcc’s HosterStats. It gives you a rundown on the registrations and deletions, and the nameservers used. I show a portion of the record for rafter.xyz below.


Screen capture courtesy HosterStats showing a portion of the record for the domain name rafter.xyz.

The HosterStats record shows the the name has been registered most of the time since the launch of the .xyz extension. It was allowed to drop and then registered by someone else 5 different times. One can view that as a positive or negative: it was listed and not sold and investors gave up on the name, but also multiple people have found it a worthwhile acquisition. The domain name has been on several marketplaces, and also used for parking at Sedo and Bodis.

I also did a quick check at WayBack Machine. That did not show any true past development of the name.

Check for Reputation

There are numerous ways to check a domain name for reputation, blacklists, etc. That is particularly important if you are acquiring a domain name that has been a developed site. Seeing little past use, I did not feel it was necessary to do much for ‘rafter.xyz’.

A simple check is at Spamhaus. They have done a major rework of their site of late, but this link will go directly to the section where you can enter a domain name and see its reputation. They will give a score on a number of aspects, and then an overall rating. No problems were indicated for rafter.xyz.

Search Data

Although we are not considering names specifically for parking, it still is of interest to look at search volume, competition and cost-per-click. An easy way to do this is to use ExpiredDomains.net – I covered how in Getting More from ExpiredDomains.net.

For ‘rafter.xyz’ ExpiredDomains suggests a monthly search volume of 90.5k with a competition of 4 and a cost-per-click of $3.04.

Additional Optional Checks

One advantage of writing the article in two parts, is that I can incorporate feedback. @Nikul Sanghvi made a great suggestion. Do Google searches for the word with some of the applications that are particularly relevant for that extension:

I tried a few terms with rafter, discovered there was an NFT artist using the handle, and a game. My search also produced a number of results that were triggered by the idea of banners, etc. “hanging in the rafters” of an arena.

There are also several additional checks that you may want to consider for certain domain names. Some find it helpful to check LinkedIn to get an independent indicator of business use, or people with that name.

I don’t regularly do this, but some investors find it helpful to search the term on GitHub. This is simple to do – go to GitHub.com, enter the term in the search box, and look at the number of projects using the term. For ‘rafter’ it showed 147 depositories, which is kind of low compared to other searches I have done. Note that you can also see how many developers use the term, 200 for ‘rafter’.

Another possible Google search is using the Shopping tab. In the case of ‘rafter’, it was not too illuminating, with most products connectors or measuring devices for rafters.

If the term is also a name, as in this case, you should check a resource such as Forebears.io. It indicated about 5000 people globally have ‘rafter’ as a surname, so not hat popular. A smaller number have it as a forename.


Screen capture from Forebears.io for ‘rafter’.

Another possible check is how taken the term is in social media handles. One resource to check this is DNSchecker.

Screen capture courtesy DNSchecker of a portion of the output for ‘rafter’.

Get A Second Opinion

If you are going to ask someone else for an opinion, I would do it at this stage, that is after you have done your own evaluation.

Opinions can be helpful[/b] from a trusted domain investor friend, but also simply friends and associates can give you useful information on what they think of when they hear a name.

NamePros has a section for pre-acquisition appraisals.

This is the time, and not before, if you plan to check automated appraisals. View these more as a relative indicator if you are considering several names, rather than placing weight in the values they propose. Even then, you will see a lot of variability. When an automated evaluation is high, or surprisingly low, try to figure out why that is, and if they see something you have overlooked.

I looked at evaluations using 6 different tools for ‘rafter’, with evaluations ranging from Furm <100 to Graen $5410 and Saw $5000-$10,000. Given not many reported sales, GoDaddy only rated it $226.


The time has come to consolidate what we have learned. Under strengths I like that ‘rafter’ is a short, easily remembered, dictionary word with multiple meanings, including figurative ones. The active OpenCorporates number was promising, as was the 19 CrunchBase uses. The number of registered extensions was kind of middling. The small number of reported sales of ‘rafter’ or ‘raft’ is a potential concern. Names that would compete with this, for example the same term in .co, is priced in 5-figures. I like the ‘er’ ending for a brand, and .xyz has a solid sales record over the last few years. How suited this particular word is to decentralized applications, the normal space that .xyz get used in, remains the key question.

Establish a Retail Price

Before you acquire a domain name, you should decide how you plan to retail price it. How else can you know if it is worth acquiring?

While one could establish a price based on other criteria, such as search statistics and related savings in digital marking costs, I want to focus on using comparator sales.

As noted earlier, there are not many sales including the term ‘rafter’, except as part of ‘crafter’ or other long words. The name rafting.org sold for $3092 in 2020. It is a comparator, but what I consider to be a weak comparator, a different form of word, and a different extension.

So what I did next was used NameBio to search for sales from the last 5 years of .xyz domain names of length 5 to 8 characters that ended in ‘er’. I came up with the following:


As is often the case, we see a lot of variability. The buyer and seller and process can make a big difference in the price a name actually sells at. So which of the sales is a better comparator?

‘Gutter’ is a 6-letter name that has both literal meaning related to construction and metaphorical applications. It is probably better known, but maybe carries a bit of negative connotation.

‘Lever’ is shorter, very common, and positive. I decided to drop it from the comparator list, though, because I think it is a clearly stronger word.

I decided to look further at 5-8 letter .xyz to see if I could find other terms that have a construction association, and saw the $17,000 sale of trellis.xyz in 2022.

So with the addition of ‘trellis’, and dropping ‘lever’, we have 5 comparators, ranging in price $1888 to $17,000. I tend not to do an average, but sometimes use the median, the central sale if you arrange the good comparators in order, which is $9888 here.

I don’t normally do this, but Google Ngram Viewer will show relative popularity of words in terms of appearances in Google scanned books.

Screen capture courtesy Google Ngram Viewer.

We see that ‘rafter’ is on the lower end of the comparator list, although above woofer and zapper that sold at $9888 and $7888, and not much different than trellis at $17,000. You might also look at automated estimates of worth of the different terms.

Setting a price is as much an art as a science. I think in this case you could make an argument for a price anywhere from about $1495 to $19,995, with something in range $2995 to $9995 most probable. In the end, I decided on an asking price of $2995.

Estimate a Sell-Through Rate

Next, we need to estimate a sell-through rate for this domain name. This is impossible to do precisely. We have three options to get a rough estimate:
  1. Use some broad industry estimate like 0.5% or 1%.
  2. Use NameBio data and an estimate of the number of names for sale to get an overall recent approximate value for the extension. Over the past 3 years there have been 759 .xyz sales of $1000 and more. If we estimate that perhaps only 20% of retail sales get listed in NameBio, this suggests about 253*5=1265 sales per year. There are about 3.8 million .xyz currently registered. If we estimate that one-quarter of these are for sale, then the sell-through rate would be 1265/950,000=0.0013 or 0.13%.
  3. If you have any number of sales of similar names, probably the best estimate, even though the numbers are small, is based on your own results. I have sold 3 .xyz domains for more than $1000 over the past 3 years. My portfolio in .xyz has varied, currently at 200, but most of the time period somewhat less. So if I sell 1 domain name per year out of 150 that is 0.0067 or 0.67%. I would say this name is about average for .xyz names that I currently hold.
Clearly there is significant uncertainty, but I will assume a sell-through rate of 0.5% or 0.005.

Is the Acquisition Worthwhile?

I am suggesting a retail price of $2995. If I pay a marketplace commission of 15%, that would net about $2546.


Multiply the net price, $2546, by the assumed sell-through rate, 0.005, to get $12.73. The domain will either sell, or not sell, in any year, of course, but this is the expected annual return, based on our assumptions. It does not make sense to pay more than this per year in renewals and amortized acquisition cost over expected holding period, unless there is parking revenue.

We see that it is surprisingly close to the actual renewal fee for .xyz, so one could go either way to acquire or not. I did acquire the name, with a discounted 2-year registration at my registrar.

Notice how close to break even it is, under my assumptions. If it was in an auction at even $25 it would not make sense to acquire. You really need to concentrate on names that have reasonable selling chances. This was a marginal name, but that made it interesting to do the metrics.

Time Required

With the example and screenshots, the evaluation may seem more complicated and time consuming than it is. Here is a summary of the steps from both articles, with the approximate time for each in parentheses.
  1. Assess name qualities (2-3 min).
  2. Look up definition in online dictionary (1 min).
  3. Would you start a business with this name? (1 min)
  4. List ideas for use of this name. (3-4 min)
  5. Check number active OpenCorporates listings. (1 min)
  6. Check number of CrunchBase listings. (1-2 min)
  7. Google search with quotation marks. (1 min)
  8. Google image search for business logos. (1 min)
  9. Other Google searches (0-3 min)
  10. Trademark summary for term. (1-3 min)
  11. Number of exact extensions and longer names using dotDB. (1-2 min)
  12. Check availability and pricing of similar names on GoDaddy Auctions, and possibly other marketplaces. (2-4 min)
  13. Check status of any extensions that are better or approximately equal. (2-4 min)
  14. Check for comparator sales listed on NameBio. (1-2 min)
  15. Do many related terms get listed at brandable marketplaces? (2-5 min)
  16. Use HosterStats to see how the name has been pointed and registration history. (1-2 min)
  17. Use WayBack Machine to see if the name was developed in the past. (1 min)
  18. Check reputation. (1-2 min)
  19. Note search volume, competition and CPC at ExpiredDomains. (1 min)
  20. Use NameBio to find comparator sales. (4-12 min)
  21. Consolidate findings and set price. (2-3 min)
  22. Estimate sell-through rate. (1-4 min, assuming already know for TLD)
  23. Does it make sense to buy calculation, and decision. (2-4 min)
The minimum time with these estimates is 33 minutes, assuming you do every indicated step, while the maximum is 62 minutes.

Keep in mind that the early steps may indicate a reason not to acquire, and you don’t need to complete all of the steps. Also, you may decide on an abbreviated process. By the time I have considered the name, looked at OpenCorporates and CrunchBase, Googled the term, found the number of exact extensions and related names, I have a pretty good idea on how I feel about the name. Comparator sales are the most tricky, and time consuming, part of the remaining process. If you have handled a lot of similar names, you may be able to suggest a price without formally going through the comparator consideration.

  • Apr 10, 2024 Added link for NamePros Appraisals in the section under Other Opinions.
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Thank you for another tour de force! Whenever a question comes to my mind, you answer it in the next paragraph or so. 👏
Fantastic guide and valuable information. I bookmarked Name Checker for the social handles, this one was missing from my due diligence.

Great tip from Nikul on the alt tld´s for the SLD+keyword combo. Perhaps @Bob Hawkes next topic could be breaking this down to all popular TLD´s : like ai, co, io, cc etc so newbies get a sense what to look for when it comes to alternative investment options.
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