Historically there has always been a very liquid market in premium domain names, with even some secondary domains proving popular in the market place, but have times now changed?

While there was great interest in the dot com market when the internet initially began to take off, we have seen a mass of new Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions introduced, such as .co.uk, tv, ie, cc and many many more. Each new TLD seems to devalue the rest, although it has to be said that the dot com market has held its value more than most.

We recently saw casino.co.uk change hands for in excess of £3 million, showing that premiums names are doing ok, even if they have fallen from earlier highs. We have seen other domain names go for a lot more money, with some approaching £10 million, but is the market fatally flawed now? Have we reached saturation point?

There is no doubt that the domain name market is not, and is unlikely to be, as lucrative as it once was, even though there are some prime domains which will always demand large prices. Due to improved SEO techniques and better promotional campaigns the TLD of your domain name is not as important as it used to be. It is now possible to make a big splash in the online market with a relatively obscure TLD, something which was probably unheard of a few years ago.

The domain market has moved on, the scarcity value has all but disappeared and the ever growing list of TLDs is not helping the situation. Investment into the domain name market is now a lot more difficult than a few years ago and very risky for those not up to speed with the industry.

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Over the years the business community has been full of stories about innocent webmasters being sued for domains which bear a slight resemblance to a major corporation, with many of these actions seemingly over the top for the money involved. However, there does seem to be a vast difference of opinion as to whether similar or trademarked names in domain names will ever be pursued through the courts. But is it safe to buy a domain which contains any element of a trademark name?

The problem for the original trademark owners seems to be the fact that if they were to chase every single domain which they deemed “unlawful”, they would be chasing webmsters all day and every day. However, there are some companies such as eBay, who are very proactive in closing down sites using their name in the URL, firing off legal emails at a seconds notice. Alternatively there are some corporations, such as TV companies who may actually view sites with TV a program name in the title as “free publicity”. So how can they differ so much?

In reality it all comes down to how much money the webmaster may potentially make from a website with a trademark name in the title. If the underlying corporation were to see too much interest in a site, or massive income flows, there is every chance they would step in.

If however it was to be viewed as a promotional tool, from which the underlying trademark holder would actually benefit there is every chance that they may not pursue the owner. There is no hard and fast rule, and no real basis on which to value a domain name / site which could potentially land you in trouble. As they say in the trade, “He who dares….wins”.

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For those who have not come across “WhoIs” before, it is the central database which shows who owns each website on the internet, and offers some basic details so that you may contact them or their service provider. While you would think that the details on “WhoIs” would be changed automatically when you buy a domain name, this is not always the case.

There are many offers which have become very popular on the internet, one of which is “Host with us and we will give you a free domain” – great, I pay for the hosting and they give me a free domain for a year, 2 years, etc. What have I got to lose?

Unfortunately these offers are not always as straight forward as they look, as very often the host will register the domain in their name with “WhoIs”, so that they can “look after it” for you. In this instance you will have full access to the domain for the agreed period, and your hosting will run as normal. However, if :-

· The domain registration period ends OR
· Your move host

you may well get a surprise.

This is when you will find out that the domain is not yours, it is actually held by the original hosting company and you have just built your business around it. Surely you can just buy back the domain when the name expires?

Well you would think so but you may well find that the host have already done that, and they will forward you an excessive invoice for you to renew the domain in your name – effectively transfer true ownership.

So you are in the position that you have spent 2 years (or whatever it may be) building your business around a “free” domain name. You are now effectively been held to ransom, and can only buy the name at well above the going rate. What do you do? Start again under a different domain, or pay the “ransom” to buy it from your original host?

Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch!

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There are an uncountable number of property development shows currently on the TV. From Channel 4′s ‘Property Ladder’ to the BBC’s ‘Homes Under The Hammers’ – we are being bombarded with ideas of how to turn a profit with property. We are told that the booming property market means that you can buy a house now, keep tenants in it and then sell it a decade or two down the line for a small fortune. That’s the pension sorted then.

However, very few people can afford to get into the property market in this way. The very booming market that these shows speak so proudly of, prohibits many from making their first step on the ladder, let alone buying a few additional retirement properties for themselves. So, property development is just not an option for them, right? Well, maybe but it depends how fussy you are about the type of property that you develop.

In many ways the world of website domains is very similar to the property market. The first rule is the same – select a good location or this could limit the amount you can charge for your domain when it comes to resale. By this I mean buy only ‘.com’ domains for maximal return on investment. Moreover, it is necessary to keep your domain for a while and let it age, without necessarily doing anything to it. No, it will not need a lick of paint or any new wall paper, just remember to renew the domain every year and you will be fine.

Search engines, such as Google, seem to favour domain names that are well established. Aging your domain name in this way makes it far more valuable when it comes to time to sell.

So if you do not have a spare couple of hundred thousand pounds but do have $8.95 and if you are not any good at wielding a paint brush but are perfectly happy to sit and press ‘renew’ once a year – then domain, rather than property, development may be right for you.

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It looks so simple when you see that you can get a web host and your name registered at the same time. Many web hosting companies offer to register your domain name for you when you do business with their company. It might sound like a good idea at the time because of the convenience of getting everything done at once but is it really?

Own Your Domain Name, No Questions Asked

While convenience is a good thing, you should register your domain name on your own. When you register your own name, it is a clear-cut case of who owns the name. The reason why this is important is that when you get a web hosting company to register your domain name for you, you have not actually seen the registration form so you do not know whose name is on it. Sure, your domain name is registered, but is it registered to you? There might be strings attached to the domain name and it can become fuzzy over who owns the name if your domain name is not registered by you personally. At the least, you could get a hassle if you decide to leave the web hosting company for another web host.

Registering a Domain Name is Easy

Registering your own domain name is essential to avoiding any hassle over who has the registration rights to your domain name. Besides, it is easy to register your own domain name. You can do the entire process online. The longest thing about it will be checking to make sure that the name is not already taken. If the name is taken, you will have to spend time coming up with alternatives. The smartest thing to do would be to have a list of desired names and alternatives before you try to register your domain name.

Find a Reputable Registrar

All you need to do is find a reputable Domain Name Registrar and start the process with them. There are many registrars so you will be able to choose a registrar that has been around for a while so you know the company will stay in business for as long as you need them. After checking your domain name by doing a “whois” search and finding that it is now owned by anyone, you can proceed with the online domain name registration. Registering a domain name is inexpensive, ranging in price from $1 to $35 for a year from the expensive registrars. You will have to choose how many years that you want to have the domain name registered to you and you can pay for the entire time at once or pay the fee every year.

You can register a name before you have a web site and park it meaning it is on hold for you. The registration takes about 24 hours before your site shows up online. You will probably have to pay for your domain name registration with a credit card.

When you register your domain name, you can be sure that the content and domain name is completely under your control.

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If you are trying to find a domain name for your website and you are just not having any luck with any rabbits out of your hat, you might want to consider buying a parked domain name. A parked domain name is domain that is already owned by someone. A parked domain may be the undeveloped site of its owner who is still working on the site or a parked domain owned by someone who has registered the site for selling it to somebody else.

Should you want to buy a parked domain, you will need patience, luck, time for the research and a talent for negotiation. Your first job will be to find a parked name. You can use a domain search service for this part. All you do at such domain search service is enter your keywords and you are given results that relate to your keywords.

Some domain search services have a domain name generator so you could luck out and find an available suitable name that would negate the need for a parked domain. Some domain search services will also offer a domain registration service and that adds even more convenience for you.

The domain search service may also have a Whois search option where you can put in a desired domain name with an extension to find out if it is already own by someone. If it is taken, you will be given information about the owner and expiration date of the domain. You can then go and check out the owned domain to find out if the site has content and whether is being currently used. Many parked domains are undeveloped and this is your big clue that it is probably available to buy. If you are lucky, you will find a suitable domain with a for sale notice on it with a link to contact the owner. At this point, you can start to negotiate with the owner.

There are domain name appraisal sites which will calculate the value of websites for you although you may get over inflated prices from these services. Despite what an appraisal suggests is the value of a domain, the owner of the domain name has the last word on the price of it.

You can find out about the site’s history by conducting a search on an internet archive service like archive.org. You will be able to view updates to the site since the site went live. This can give you an idea about site traffic and for a general price that the owner may sell the site. domaintools.com will let you view a site’s history plus owners and change of name servers.

When you are trying to contact a parked domain’s owner, go beyond email and try a phone call. Ask the domain owner about the site’s traffic and the price for the site. Negotiate with the owner successfully and you could be the proud owner of your desired domain name.

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