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Gauging Traffic Levels To Unregistered Domain Names

May 14, 2012

Ever wondered if an unregistered domain name is receiving any traffic? Here's a tool that can help determine this before you buy it.

Just because a domain name is currently unregistered, that may have not always been the case. Sometimes a registrant will let a domain registration lapse for any number of reasons and the domain might "drop"  (meaning become available again) without being snapped up by hungry domainers

Verisign's DomainScore is a free tool designed to "aid and complement" pre-registration evaluation methodologies.  Launched by Verisign nearly a year ago, DomainScore computes a non-existent domain (NXD) traffic score on a scale of 1-10, with 10 signifying the most valuable domain name in this respect.

The tool measures the  reliability and quantity of DNS traffic; however, the company points out "DNS traffic does not always imply or correlate to web traffic". This means while a domain may score highly, it doesn't guarantee if you register it you can look forward to an early retirement thanks to a bundle of traffic to whatever site you build under the domain.

If you were hoping to use DomainScore before buying Australian domain names, unfortunately the tool only works with .COM, .NET, .CC, and .TV domains.

Another way to gauge if an unregistered domain name may have been active in the past is via DomainTools. The free version will show if the name has a nameserver and IP history. If these are present, then the name has been registered before.

Sometimes domains may drop with inbound links from other sites still pointing to them. Depending on what the site was about, these names can be particularly valuable as quality inbound links can help with search engine ranking. While search engines such as Google offer a very limited snapshot of inbound links; more complete reporting can be gained through Open Site Explorer

Determining whether an unregistered domain has an inbound link profile is also worth doing to gain an idea of the type of content previously hosted under the domain in the past - and the type of sites linking to it.  This can avoid inheriting some potentially bad online karma.

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