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Looking to stake your domain? Check its family tree

Looking to stake your domain? Check its family tree

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Looking to stake your domain? Make sure to research the domain's family tree.

Are you looking to buy your own domain name? Perhaps you own a business or have a cause you would like to promote, so you're interested in taking it to the Web for more exposure. Well, chances are, it may have already had some exposure, and that exposure may hurt or help your cause.

A domain name is like a house that someone has previously occupied before you buy it. Each has its individual history. That history can affect the reputation of your website or business once you buy and move into the domain. Many domains have been around since the 1990s, so they may have had a few occupants in the last couple of decades.

Additionally, just like a house, a domain name has an appraisal process and market value. According to, several factors influence that value. I like to call in the “RIPLE” effect. Recent traffic; International top-level domain names (or TLD’s, such as .com, .net, .org); Popular word names; Length of domain name; Established (as compared to new).

Rankings also play a role in a domains market value. Just like prime real estate, there are also prime domain names. Googl e Rank and Alexa are two rankings that hold clout in the industry.

Most likely, you’ll want to buy a name that is currently in use with a good reputation. Consider buying a domain with built-in credibility. Chances are, the ones that have some value from the start are ones that are currently owned, but are up for resale. Remember, too, that regular updates in domain names, like real estate, help maintain or increase their value.

How do you find the previous history of your domain? Where can you look? Who owns the site? Can you get on a waiting list? Following is a list of answers and resources.

WHOIS allows you to determine the registration status of domain names. According to, WHOIS lookup service helps you trace the life cycle of the product you would like to acquire. It shows the holder information, the IP Address, registrar, name server etc. published “10 Tools for Researching Domain Names.”

Put yourself on a waiting list for the domain name to expire. Back-ordering your domain name is also a possibility. Like a foreclosure, domains usually have an “expired” period where the owner can renew without penalty. If they continue to default in paying their renewal fee, they move into the “redemption” period and charged a reactivation fee. If they choose not to renew, the domain name is up for grabs. However, you’ll most likely be in stiff competition with those who see it’s redeeming value.

Domain registrars are companies that act like banks that buy up and hold titles of expired domain names to sell to the highest bidder at auction. Usually, if you’re the only bidder, then you pay a flat fee.

If all else fails, you may just have to break down and hire a broker to negotiate a deal with the owner. You can do that on a website such as Although you may have to reach deep into the bank account, you’ll have the prettiest little domain on the block.

Michelle Bell graduated from BYU with a degree in marriage, family, human development, with minors in French and editing. She is a married mother of three young children who's living the common lot.

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