How I decide which domains to renew vs. delete

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Some helpful tips for making the keep/delete decision.


I like to spend the final week of the year preparing for the next. This includes reviewing the domains in my portfolio that expire over the next 6-7 months and renewing the ones I want to keep. I ran this exercise last week and documented my process in the hope that it’s helpful to readers.

I currently have about 1,700 domains, which means about 150 are up for renewal in a given month. It takes time to review 6 months’ worth of expiring domains to make decisions, but it’s time well spent.

Here are some resources I use to determine which domains to keep/delete and my thought process.

Afternic leads: If you have a lot of domains at Afternic, they probably get quite a few leads that you never hear about. The buyers don’t end up being qualified, or their offer is nowhere near your floor price. But knowing that a domain receives offers is important when making keep/drop decisions. You probably don’t want to drop a domain that receives real offers, even if they are only $500. Ask your Afternic account manager for a leads report for your portfolio.

Parking revenue: Parking isn’t what it used to be, but the data is still relevant. Some domains (even new top level domains) can still earn their keep from parking alone.

dotDB: dotDB lets you quickly see how many extensions a domain is registered in, as well as how many other domains the keyword appears in. Search for your second level domain to find out how popular it is in domain names. A paid version will show you if the domains resolve to websites.

Estibot: Knock it all you want, but Estibot is a great tool for figuring out if you’re overlooking a valuable aspect of your domains.

After reviewing all of this data, I ask these questions:

1. Will this domain ever sell for a lot of money? Or is the pool of buyers (or their financial wherewithal) too small to make a difference?

2. Was the domain previously registered in a lot of extensions but the owner(s) let them expire? Perhaps I thought there was a lot of demand for the second level domain, but it was really one person who let all of the alternatives expired.

3. Is the singular/plural version of this domain available for hand registration? If so, the domain might not be worth much.

4. Did I reduce the price substantially last year and it still didn’t sell? If it was priced below $500 and didn’t sell, it’s probably time to cut it.

5. Does this domain have a big/important/valuable subject matter, but it wouldn’t ever make sense for a company to use this domain for a website? The two aren’t always correlated.

6. Have I sold domains that are similar to this one? Some domainers invest in ‘themes.’ If none of my domains within that theme have sold, the market is telling you something. Likewise, have I received inquiries/leads on any of the similar domains?

7. How long ago was this domain registered? If it was a long time ago, resist the urge to think about sunk costs. Why hasn’t it sold?

I ended up turning off auto-renew on about 80 domain names, so roughly 10% of the domains due to renew in the next 6 months. This is more than usual. But I figure the cost of renewing domains is only going up, and perhaps I should have cut some of these domains years ago.


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