A lot of things can impair the value of a domain. Here are 13 of the most common reasons that I’ve seen for domains to have no value or a low value:
1. Weak Term in a Weak Extension. For domains that are not .com or strong .ccTLDs, the keywords in the domain need to be much stronger to compensate for the weaker extension. A weak term in, for instance, a .info domain, isn’t going to have much value.
2. Brandable Domain that hasn’t been Branded. A lot of people are good at coming up with clever sounding domain names. The problem is that other people generally will prefer to think up their own clever sounding domain name rather than pay a premium for your great idea. Google is a cool name - but without millions of dollars of branding behind it - it would be a practically worthless domain.
3. Redundant Terms. Having redundant terms in a domain can lower its value dramatically. For instance, UkParties.co.uk is worth significantly less than Parties.co.uk as the .co.uk already tells people that it’s a UK website - you don’t need the first UK in UKParties.co.uk as well.
4. No Commercial Applications. People are generally only going to pay a premium for a domain if they can make money from it (an exception to this are “collectible” domains like 2, 3 and 4 letter domains). If there is no way to monetize a website using your domain, it is likely that your domain has no or little value. Do a Google search and see whether there are any sponsored ads for your domain keywords. If there are none, this is often a sign that your domain has little value.
5. Trademark Domains. While trademark domains can still be sold for high prices, each trademark domain you hold is a potential bomb that could explode into a large liability.
6. Typo Domains. Typo domains only have value if they actually get traffic and revenue. Without traffic and revenue, typo domains are pretty much worthless.
7. No Mindshare. If you search on Google for the keywords in your domain (using quotes around the terms) and get few results, your domain probably isn’t worth much. If, in all the billions of documents indexed in Google, hardly any one has thought it worthwhile to use these terms, it’s unlikely someone will decide to use these terms in a domain for their website or business.
8. “Free” Domains. While Free.info and Free.mobi have sold at really good prices recently, generally having the word “free” in your domain will decrease it’s value substantially. It’s notoriously difficult to run a profitable business that gives away its products for free (of course, there are exceptions to this).
9. “Forum” Domains. Forums are notoriously difficult to make profitable as well. And for a forum to be successful you don’t need a particularly great domain name. While “forum” domains do have value, it tends not to be very high, and these type of domains can also be very difficult to sell.
10. Domain Must Make Sense. While it might seem obvious, I’ve seen a lot of domains that just don’t make sense. For instance, after all the excitement about the (as yet uncompleted) sale of Pizza.com, domainers seemed to be registering any domain that had the word Pizza in it. For instance, just because domainers eat pizza, doesn’t mean that DomainerPizza.com has any value (fortunately, this isn’t registered yet).
11. Too Narrow A Market. A domain may be commercially useful, but if the market is not all that large, the domain will likely not have much value.
12. A Domain That Was Registered Yesterday. While I still do fresh registrations all the time, the reality is that just because you’ve registered a domain, doesn’t mean it suddenly has value. Especially if the domain is a .com, the fact that the domain is still unregistered after all of these years, means the domain likely isn’t that popular a term. You’ll likely need to wait a bit to sell the domain, and even then it likely will only sell for a modest amount. Of course, domains about emerging technologies and the like can be an exception to this.
13. Keyword + Fanciful Prefix or Suffix. By this, I mean a domain like, well, DomainBits.com. These domains can be worth something. The problem with them is that your domain is competing against all the other domains with the same keyword and other prefixes or suffixed - like say, DomainWorld.com. This large number of equally acceptable alternative keeps the value of the domain down.
I know that everyday domains that break these rules actually do sell for a decent price. But the reality is - for every one of those sales, there are thousands, and probably tens of thousands, of similar domains that don’t sell. With so many domains out there, and the value of domains so unclear to many people, there are always bound to be outlier sales and domain owners who get lucky. But it certainly isn’t a good business strategy to rely on luck to make profits - avoid the above domains and you’ll increase the chances of your domaining success greatly.