There are a number websites that automatically value domain names, but they are not usually correct. Domain value can be influenced by numerous other factors that algorithms don’t take into account.
Value Domain Names
Value domain names are not cheap domain names. Value domain names are domain names that will rank in Google search results and are worth the time and expense of building out a functional website with content. For example, a given website that ranks well with a first domain name address will not usually rank as well on a new and fresh domain name. While website content and on-page SEO settings are a factor for a website to rank, search engine traffic for an established domain name with an active website will trump a website hosted on a second fresh domain name, even if the first website is deleted to avoid duplicate content on the internet. A domain valuation expert or a domainer may value domain names for businesses. Alternatively, the owner may put the domain name up for auction and the related party may pay an arms-length price through the auction.
Need to Value Domain Names
Accountants often need to value domain names when transferring the asset to a related entity. in the case of a sale of property (whether or not depreciable) between a partnership and a person owning more than 50% of the capital or profit interests in the partnership, or between two commonly controlled partnerships, any gain recognized shall be considered ordinary income if the property is other than a capital asset.
Determining Domain Value
Factors impacting domain value include:
- The age of a domain name
- Is the domain name a generic product or category name? Such names tend to be highly sought after by existing businesses.
- The number of backlinks to pages on a domain name
- Backlinks are incoming links to a webpage.
- When a webpage links to any other page, it’s called a backlink.
- The number of backlinks is a major metric for the ranking of a webpage.
- A page with a lot of backlinks tends to rank higher on all major search engines, including Google.
- The quantity and sources of backlinks for a web page are among the factors that Google’s PageRank algorithm evaluates in order to estimate the importance of a page.
- The ability of new content on a domain name to rank in Google search result
- The length of time that the owner has been using the domain name for their business email addresses and the number of business cards distributed using the email addresses.
- The on-going or periodic income that the domain name owner derives from the website or from incoming business emails
- The value of the domain name to various third parties:
- The domain name registration date may pre-date the trademark registration dates of several unrelated businesses who each now have a trademark registration for the word comprising the domain name.
- The financial strength of each of the exact match trademark holders
- Whether the domain name is generic to a broadly searched industry or product name
- gymbag.com in 2007 sold for $29,420 to NetNames. It is a company that provides online brand protection, domain name management and acquisition services. And they still own it.
- medicalstaff.com in 2007 sold for $18,000 to an established medical staffing business.
- The value that the third parties may each derive from owning and using the domain name
- The Alexa traffic rank
- The Google page rank (not currently published by Google but available for pre-2014 domain names on third party services).
- The average monthly exact match search stats on Google and other search engines
- The average monthly broad match search stats on Google and other search engines
- Host provider DNS of the domain name
- Domain details
- TLD: .com domain names are usually more valuable than matching .net, .org, .ca (ccTLDs), and new TLDs.
- Keywords: One keyword is better than two or more keywords
- Domain Length: 8 characters or less is better than longer domain names
- Domain age: 7 years or longer is better
- Domain with hyphens are not that valuable and are generally not used by established businesses in North America.
- Domain with numbers are not that valuable and are generally not used by established businesses in North America.
- Website IP: Hosting IP addresses may impact continent relevancy for search results.
- DMOZ Listing: Whether the domain name is listed or not
- MOZ Equity links
Most expensive domain names
The most expensive domain names are usually generic domain names. Occasionally, domains that match a trademark are sold at a premium, such as iCloud.com. See our article about the iCloud trademark.
- Insurance.com $35.6 million in 2010
- VacationRentals.com $35 million in 2007 
- PrivateJet.com $30.18 million in 2012
- Internet.com $18 million in 2009
- 360.com $17 million in 2015
- Insure.com $16 million in 2009 
- Fund.com 2008 £9.99 million
- Sex.com for $14 million in November 2014
- Hotels.com $11 million in 2001
- Porn.com 2007 $9.5 million
- Porno.com for $8,888,888 in Feb 2015
- Fb.com by Facebook for $8.5 million in November 2010
- Business.com for $7.5 million in December 1999
- Diamond.com 2006 $7.5 million
- Beer.com 2004 $7 million
- iCloud.com by Apple Inc. for $6 million in March 2011
- Israel.com for $5.88 million in May 2008
- Casino.com 2003 $5.5 million
- Slots.com 2010 for $5.5 million 
- Toys.com: Toys ‘R’ Us by auction for $5.1 million in 2009
- AsSeenOnTv.com 2000 for $5.1 million 
- Clothes.com 2008 for $4.9 million 
- Medicare.com 2014 for $4.8 million 
- IG.com 2013 September for $4.6 million, acquired by IG Group from Internet Group Brazil 
- Marijuana.com 2011 for $4.2 million by WeedMaps, a subsidiary of General Cannabis Inc.
- GiftCard.com by CardLab for $4 million in October 2012
- Yp.com by YellowPages.com for $3.8 million in November 2008
- Mi.com by Xiaomi for $3.6 million in April 2014
- AltaVista.com for $3.3 million in August 1998
- Whisky.com for $3.1 million in December 2013
- Vodka.com for $3.0 million in 2006 
- Candy.com for $3.0 million in June 2009
- Loans.com by Bank of America for $3.0 million in February 2000[21
In 2017, the most expensive domain names have been:
Sumo.com sold for $1.5 million in January 2017
Fashion.nyc sold for $37,000 in February 2017
Bitcoin.casino sold for $28,000 in February 2017 Casino Holding Inc created a site to show casinos that accept bitcoin payments.
NatureLab.com sold for $22,000 in February 2017
Kizen.com sold for $15,000
PeoplePower.org sold for $10,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union for the ACLU’s “new effort to engage grassroots volunteers across the country and take the fight against Donald Trump’s policies not just into the courts, but into the streets.”
Domain Name Strategy
Try to register .com domain names and ccTLDs where you do business for keywords that match:
- Your brands (with no hyphens),
- One word domains relevant to your business,
- Generic keywords,
- Search terms,
- Typos (Not so important with the advent of auto-complete in Google Chrome and FireFox),
- Derivative names,
- Defensive registration of abusive terms that comprise your keywords,
- The Names of business subsidiaries and business units
- SEO and search engines are heavily weighted on relevance
Startup Domain Name Price Guide by Name Ninja
GoDaddy Valuation Engine
GoDaddy launched a valuation engine in 2017. The valuations that it provides seem to be wholesale values.
For example, Visa International Service Association bought visa cards .com for $10,000 in late 2017. On January 2, 2018, GoDaddy values the visa cards .com domain at $5,940 (USD).
The site has no SEO value because it has no content. Oddly, it still shows the Network Solutions auto generated PPC links:
GoDaddy gave a domain valuation of $1420 USD for mbastaff.com on January 2, 2018. According to Name Ninja, a two-word .com should be worth $1500 to $50,000. Clearly GoDaddy needs to improve it’s domain valuation algorithm. MBA Staff could be the name of a high-end business staffing agency.
Problems with Estibot valuations:
Estibot sometimes incorrectly categorizes a domain name’s use.
For example, in the case of mbastaff.com:
Estibot categorized mbastaff.com in the education category instead of the mba careers or staffing services categories. A more comparable domain such as medicalstaff.com sold for $18,000. And medistaff.com sold on a Godaddy Auction for $160,000 USD on 2013-09-17.
Estibot calculated the mbastaff.com domain value based on the sale price of other mba related educational information domain names.
Estibot still uses the Overture type-in score even though Overture doesn’t exist anymore.
Estibot incorrectly stated that the average monthly search stats on Google for “mba staff” is zero. And according to the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, the average monthly searches for all ideas is between 100K and 1M!
|Avg Search Results (keyword):||18,900|
|Avg Search Results (sld):||5,890|
|Avg Ad Count (keyword):||8|
|Avg Ad Count (sld):||1|
|Alexa Traffic Rank:||0|
|Google Page Rank:||
|Word Tracker (keyword):||–|
Domain Name Auction Services
|Popular domain name auction services include:||Fee Charged|
Used the Google AdWords keyword tool to get the average number of people who type in the keywords comprising a generic domain name every month. Then multiply that average monthly search volume by the CPC x 12 or x 36 months, to determine the present value of a domain name.