If you are new to domain names, it’s easy to get baffled by the terms used to describe their status. If a domain is ‘free’, what does that really mean? Is an expiring domain the same as a deleted one? Is it better to look for a domain that is for sale, or just register a completely new one?
Here we will explain what all the jargon really means.
You are probably looking for a domain, or want to add another domain to build a site with. Any potential domain you are interested in registering can be either free and available, already registered, expiring, deleted or for sale. Let’s look at each of these now.
1. Free and available
If you have typed a domain name in the address field of a browser, and you get a message like ‘Server not found’, then it is likely that the domain name has not been registered by anyone yet. If you do the same search at a domain name registrar you can confirm the name is still free, and then buy it. If you are having trouble finding a suitable domain name, most of the registrant services, or search tools like domainsbot.com will be able to suggest variants of your keyword.
You should note that a lot of sites mean something different when they talk about a ‘free domain’. They are often referring to the domain name you can get as a freebie when you sign up for web hosting.
2. Already registered
If a domain name is already registered, it means someone else has the name in their ownership. There may or may not be a website associated with it. Some domains are bought by speculators or ‘domainers’ in the hope that they become valuable or someone makes them an offer. If you really want a name which is already registered but not being used, remember the owner will probably ask for far too much. Try to negotiate downwards. If you can’t, look for another name.
This means the period that the person who registered the name for has expired; they still have a chance to renew it if they want. The domain is ‘on hold’ while the domain registration company awaits contact and payment from the owner. They will do their best to make sure the owner has a chance to renew. Valuable domain names which are about to expire will be snapped up by speculators the instant they are released.
The expiring period has ended, and the domain is released. It can be registered again by anyone who wants to pay for it.
5. For sale
The owner of the domain is actively trying to sell it, either through an auction, an agent, or through a ‘This domain is for sale’ message on a parked page. You can buy the domain if you want. Remember, unlike physical real estate, most domains sell for a fraction of their advertised price. But remember if the domain is associated with an actual web site, and the site can be found in the search engines, then it could be a more valuable purchase.
To read more about domains, and to start your domain name search, check my free domain names page. Dee Buteland writes about domains and how to profit from them.