Domain Terms Explained

This section explains the various terms used on and in the domain business.

You can skip through this page by clicking on a link of interest below:


Difference between Expired and Dropped Domains

Domains are usually registered for a period of one year, after which, if they are not renewed, they expire. It's important to note that a domain name does not become available upon expiration, it goes through something called the domain drop cycle (illustrated below).

The above drop cycle is applicable for .com/.net/.org/.info/.biz/.us. domains. ccTLDs (country code , ie: .de, .fr) domains follow the drop cycle set by the individual registry for that country.

Generally speaking, once a domain expires, the owner has 1-75 days to renew it, and the costs associated with a renewal usually increase as the domain moves from Hold (Registrar-Hold) to RGP (Redemption Grace Period). Although rare, it is possible for a domain to be deleted immediately after it expires.

During the Hold and RGP stage, the DNS, e-mail and web services cease to work for the expired domain. The domain gets removed from the zone file and does not appear to resolve (cannot find server error is displayed in the browser).

Once a domain reaches the deletion stage in the cycle (also known as PendingDelete) it can no longer be renewed and is marked for deletion by the registry. There are approximately 35,000 domains that go through the PendingDelete cycle daily.

After the 5 day PendingDelete cycle (or if a registrar chooses to immediately delete a domain), a domain drops and once again becomes available for registration.

Here are some interesting facts about the domain drop cycle:

  • 120,000 to 200,000 domains expire daily due to non-renewals. Many of these are renewed as soon as the registrant realizes that their e-mail or site no longer works.
  • 25,500 to 60,000 domains drop (become available) daily as part of the regular drop cycle.
  • Approximately 1.5 million domains are registered and dropped daily as part of domain tasting.
  • At the time of this writing (2007-02-20) there are approximately 65 million registered .coms and 9 million .nets.
  • The official drop time for .com/.net is between 11 AM and 2 PM Pacific time (domains are deleted in batches throughout this period). provides complete Hold, RGP, PendingDelete and Dropped lists (with full metrics) as well as lists that are specific to certain registrars (which are guaranteed to catch the domain upon drop) such as eNom, GoDaddy and drop catcher SnapNames.

Our unexpected drops section lists domains that we have found to be available while scanning various lists including Hold and RGP.


Domain Drop Catchers and Registrar Partnerships

Domain Drop Catchers, as the name implies, are companies that register domains as soon as they become available (drop) on behalf of their customers.

The technical aspect of drop catching is a bit complicated, but the overall concept is easy to understand. Drop catchers usually own or partner with registrars. This is because registrars have direct access to the registry (known as a registry connection) and have the right to register domains. During the daily drop times (11 AM to 2 PM Pacific time for .com/.net) the registrars will send massive "register" queries to the registry to try to grab a domain for the drop catcher.

Since no one knows exactly when a particular domain will drop, the the only sure bet is to constantly send these queries until a domain is either registered or the drop time has elapsed.

The world's most popular drop catchers secure domains for their clients by acquiring registrars and using each registrar's dedicated connection. Companies such as SnapNames and Pool are known to own 20-30 registrars and have partnerships with dozens more. The more registrar connections they own, the more likely they are to secure a domain.

Some popular drop catchers include:

While some drop catchers such as Pool still utilize the brute force drop catching approach for many of their drops, the game has moved to something a bit more civilized, and a lot more expensive to the average domainer.

By forming partnerships with some of the world's most popular registrars, companies such as SnapNames and eNom are able to guarantee catching a domain prior to the drop cycle completing. This is because the domain never actually drops. Prior to hitting the PendingDelete status, the domain goes to auction in order to ascertain its interest level, if there is interest (in the form of bids), the domain is sold at the auction and never goes through the last steps of the drop cycle. This secures any domain at the partnered registrar for the drop catcher.

While domain auctions are very convenient, they tend to drive the price of dropping domains through the roof.

A classic example of quality domains no longer dropping is the partnership between Network Solutions™ and SnapNames. Network Solutions is one of the oldest registrars and it holds onto some of the best domains (generic .coms, etc). Most of these domains will no longer drop (though they will expire), but will go straight to a SnapNames auction where the bidder with the biggest wallet is going to get it.

World's largest registrars, such as eNom and GoDaddy also no longer process drops on domains which they think may be valuable, instead they go to their own auction system.

The best way to secure a dropping domain is to backorder it at all of the above listed drop catchers.


Difference between Registrar and Registry

A registry is an organization that handles and maintains domain name records. Verisign is the registry that handles .com/.net TLDs (Top Level Domains). Every TLD and ccTLD (other than .com/Net) is controlled by a different registry.

The registry is responsible for recording and handling domain name registrations initiated by a registrar and for publishing zone files (or lists of all domains currently under that registries control).

A registrar is a company that allows an individual or any legal entity to register a domain name. The registrar uses its dedicated connection to the registry to process domain registrations, renewals and deletions.

In other words, a registrar is what one would use to register a domain name, change contact info for a registered domain and much more. A registry is where one would go to become a registrar and sell domain registrations.

Most registries have an accreditation process that one would have to pass in order to become a registrar. The registrar pays the registry each time it wishes to register or renew a domain name.

In most cases, if someone wants to sell domain registrations to the public, the easiest and most cost effective way is to become a reseller of a large registrar such as eNom or Moniker.

Here are some examples of registries:


Domain Tasting and Early Domain Deletions

Domain Tasting refers to a fairly new domain phenomena that claims over 1.5 million domain registrations and deletions per day. Most of the major TLD registries have allowed registrars to delete domain registrations and receive a full refund within the first five days of registration.

This results in domain tasting, or the process of registering domains (usually by the thousands), testing them on parking pages for a period of 4-5 days and then releasing the domains that are not generating revenue.

There are no rules when it comes to deletions, so in theory, a domain taster could register and taste a domain multiple times before finally deciding whether or not it meets their criteria (usually it must generate more money in a given year then it cost to acquire).

Several large, well funded companies have now mastered the art of domain tasting and claim pretty much every daily dropped domain. In other words, any domain that drops as part of the daily drop cycle gets registered and tasted, almost immediately after dropping, and then re-released several days later for others sample. Many tasters register tens of thousands of two and three word combination domains that were never previously registered, in addition to the drops.

Most of the high volume tasters own at least one registrar and have budgets that allow tens of thousands of domain registrations per day. Since they only keep a very small percentage of what they taste, the money stays in constant circulation.

The only way to combat domain tasting (since virtually anything that drops as part of the regular drop cycle gets picked up by them) is to backorder domains through one of the drop catchers.

The following registrars allow direct domain deletions:

  • eNom
  • Moniker
  • GoDaddy

Pre-Release, Exclusive Drops and Auctioned Domains

Domains that have just expired, or are about to expire (not drop) are in many cases auctioned off by the top drop catchers (SnapNames, GoDaddy, NameJet, Pool, etc). The domains are often in Registrar-Hold or RedemptionPeriod status'

The drop catchers publish daily lists of domains which are to be auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder long before they are due to drop. We download these lists and pull the many metrics into a single report available from within the site.

The domain is guaranteed to be captured by the drop catcher because it never actually drops (becomes available for registration), it simply moves from one registrar account to another and has another year added to its renewal (if someone bids and wins the auction).

Most of the world's largest registrars now push all their domains to auction prior to dropping them. While most don't fetch any bids (and are later dropped as part of the regular drop process), some do and are immediately pushed to the new owner.


Domain Term / Words

We have recently begun to provide parsed words as part of our daily lists.

Parsed words (also called Term) refers to the list of valid (and typo) words extracted using an English dictionary file from within a domain name.

Ex: domain, The parser would extract "fast cars" as the words. These words are later used to analyze the search results popularity which are also provided with our lists for the major search engines (so we would perform an additional Google/MSN/Yahoo search for "fast cars" and return that as the "Actual Term Popularity", or "ATP" metrics.

In the above case, "fast cars" is a popular word combination so the ATP result would be a large number, denoting a popular keyword pair. This keyword data can be used to identify highly valuable domain names based on the popularity of the combined keywords.


Link Popularity

Link Popularity ("linkpop" or "LP") refers to the number of other web sites or domains that link to a specific domain name. Link Popularity is reported by various search engines including Google™, MSN™, and Yahoo™ and each of their numbers vary.

This metric is usually associated with previously developed but dropped domain names. These domains usually have incoming traffic and have the potential to generate revenue.

Generally speaking, the higher the link popularity, the more traffic a domain is bound to receive from the various sites that link to it. A domain with a link popularity of 1,000 in Google may receive anywhere from 100 to 1,000 visitors per day.

When purchasing domains based on link popularity it is important to check the source of the links (check below for research links) as some "linkpop" may have falsely generated link popularity.

Link Popularity can be checked for each major search engine by clicking on the links below (default EXAMPLE.COM will be checked). Remember to always include www. in front of a domain or you will receive incorrect results.

It is not uncommon for "Link Popularity" to disappear from search engines when a domain goes through the drop cycle (expires, drops and gets registered again). While search engines may no longer acknowledge or display the link popularity associated with the domain, it is still likely to receive traffic from the incoming links (assuming it had a link popularity prior to dropping).

Search engines such as Google are known to not acknowledge link popularity on dropped domains but


Link Saturation

Link Popularity ("linksat" or "LS") refers to the number of pages a particular search engine has indexed for a specific domain name. In other words, how many .HTML pages the search engine knows are associated with your domain.

This metric is usually associated with previously developed but dropped domain names. While these domains may not receive traffic, they may be useful for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes.

Link Saturation can be checked for each major search engine by clicking on the links below (default EXAMPLE.COM will be checked)


Type-in Rank (Overture™ Score)

Type-in rank is commonly referred to as Overture.TLD or "Overture score". It relates to the potential "type-in" or organic traffic a domain name may receive per day. These types of domains tend to be the most valuable because their traffic is based on the generic term of a domain and not outside links or search engine positions.

Type-in domains tend to have a long lasting, sustainable flow of unique visitors and are some of the best domains for monetization and development.

Here are a few examples of type-in domains:


The Overture.TLD score may be checked by looking up a domain name in the Overture Suggestion Tool. The results can be analyzed and used to predict how much typein traffic a domain may receive. Generally speaking, a .com/Net domain name will receive 70-90% daily type-ins based on it's Overture.TLD score but these numbers may vary substantially.

For example, the domain name "" has an Overture.TLD score of 4,995. It is likely to receive ~3,500-4,500 type-in (unique) visitors per day.

It's important to note that Overture.TLD is just one indicator of possible type-in traffic and should not be relied upon unconditionally. It's always a good idea to test the traffic of a domain prior to purchasing it based on Overture score. While very uncommon, it is possible to manipulate the Overture.TLD score for any domain resulting in false data.

Overture.TLD can be checked by clicking on the link below and entering in a domain name.


Term Popularity (Overture™ Term)

Term Popularity or "Overture term" refers to the overall popularity of the term part of a domain name as analyzed by Yahoo! For example, given a domain name "", the term would be "something" and the Overture Term result (as of 2007-02-19) would be 28,208.

This metric is helpful in determining the "keyword" strength for a particular domain. A domain that has a type-in score, should always have a term score.

Generally speaking, the higher the Overture Term score, the more popular the keyword within the domain and the more potential the domain has for development and resale.

Overture Term can be checked by clicking on the link below (search for terms with no spaces just as they appear in domains, ex: "fungames")


Term Popularity (Google / MSN / Yahoo / AltaVista )

Term Popularity (Google / MSN / Yahoo / AltaVista or "GTP", "MTP", "YTP", "ATP") refers to the amount of references to a particular term on the specific search engine. Once again, the "term" part of a domain name is everything before the extension, so with "" the term is "something". Actual Term Popularity may be different depending on the domain and is described in the next section.

All term popularity looks are performed with quotes around them, so the search will always be for "something" and not something. It's important to note this distinction when validating the metrics.

This metric is helpful for spotting domains with "market potential" as well as those which may be used for development.

Generally speaking, the higher the Term Popularity score, the more popular the keyword within the domain and the more potential the domain has for development or resale.

Term Popularity can be checked for each major search engine by clicking on the links below (default EXAMPLE will be checked)


Actual Term Popularity (Google / MSN / Yahoo / AltaVista )

Actual Term Popularity (Google / MSN / Yahoo / AltaVista or "GATP", "MATP", "YATP", "AATP") refers to the amount of references to a particular word combination on the specific search engine. Since we parse out English words (ex: = "fast cars"), we also perform a query on all the major search engine to see how popular the parsed word combination is in that engine. This metric is different from the regular term popularity (TP) because words are parsed out with spaces instead of just trimming off the extension as the regular term popularity does.

All term popularity looks are performed with quotes around them, so the search will always be for "fast cars" and not fast cars. It's important to note this distinction when validating the metrics.

This metric is helpful for spotting domains with strong keywords as well as those which may be used for development.

Generally speaking, the higher the Actual Term Popularity score, the more popular the keyword within the domain and the more potential the domain has for development or resale.

Term Popularity can be checked for each major search engine by clicking on the links below (default EXAMPLE will be checked)


Advertiser Count

We now provide lists with advertiser count metrics. The ad metric refers to the amount of ads shown on Google/MSN/Yahoo/AltaVista when a particular term or actual term (described above) are searched for.

The "AD1" metric refers to the amount of ads that are shown for the domain minus extension (aka, term or TP lookup).

The "AD2" metric refers to the amount of ads that are shown for the actual domain term (ex: domain, "", actual term, "fast cars", advertisers, 10).

This metric can be used to identify domains with high advertiser interest or potentially high bid prices.


Alexa Traffic Rank / Link Popularity

Alexa Traffic Rank and Alexa Link Popularity ("Alexa TR", "Alexa LP") refer to the monthly traffic rank and link popularity as reported by Alexa, an company, uses various methods to calculate a domain's popularity. Most of their domain data comes from the millions of Alexa Toolbar users that are constantly surfing the web.

This metric is helpful for spotting domains that were previously used for web sites and may still receive traffic. It's important to note that the lower the Alexa Traffic Rank score, the better. Generally speaking, anything with an Alexa score below 100,000 is bound to receive some traffic. Be cautious buying Alexa Traffic domains from resellers however, it is quite easy to manipulate the alexa score. Dropping domains are usually not subject to manipulation but always do your research before purchasing a domain based on Alexa score.

Alexa also stores domain owner information, such as name, e-mail, address and phone (where available) and this data can come in handy when the whois data is not available.

Alexa metrics can be checked by clicking on the link below (default EXAMPLE.COM will be checked)


Wayback Age / Records

Wayback Age and Wayback Records ("WB Age", "WB Records") refer to the age of a domain and the amount of archived records stored for that domain as recorded by

The age metric comes in very handy in determining the true age of a domain name. For example, if was registered in 1996 and then dropped in 2007, and then was registered again in 2007, then its age according to whois (creation date) would only be <1 year, when in reality this domain was ~11 years old.

The records metric can help determine how often the web site associated with a particular domain was updated, the more frequently, the better. spiders the entire internet, every home page, monthly, and archives the data on their servers. If an index.html page was found for a particular domain, it is recorded in the archive for that year/month, hence "wayback records".

Wayback Machine can be checked by clicking on the link below (default EXAMPLE.COM will be checked)


Google Pagerank

Google Pagerank refers to Google's ranking system for domain names. Pagerank score ranges between 0 and 10, the higher the pagerank, the easier it is for a particular domain to appear higher in the search engines for competitive keywords.

There are thousands of articles discussing the relevance of Pagerank in search engine optimization, we recommend reading the wiki article for details.

Pagerank does not imply traffic, and it is quite easy to manipulate pagerank. It's also important to note that in some cases Google will "clear" the pagerank of a domain once it drops, so it may not be wise to purchase domains based only on Pagerank.

Pagerank can be checked by installing the Google toolbar. The green bar in the center of the toolbar displays a domain's pagerank. See screen shot below.


DMOZ Directory Listing

DMOZ directory listing (Yes/No) refers to whether or not a particular domain is listed in the DMOZ directory. Unlike today's automated search engines, DMOZ is a human built directory with human editors and an approval process for each domain.

It is widely believed that DMOZ listed domains tend to rank higher in Google (since all DMOZ listings are manually approved by a person, and since Google owns DMOZ).

DMOZ is no longer an active directory and is believed to be in the process of being phased out. Having a DMOZ listed domain does not guarantee traffic.

DMOZ directory listing can be checked by clicking on the link below (default EXAMPLE.COM will be checked)


Two / Three / Four Letter & Character Domains

Two, three and four letter domains, especially .coms, tend to be popular due to their scarcity and high resale value. Two letter .coms can fetch anywhere from six to seven figures. Three letter .coms can fetch five to six figures.

All two and three letter .coms and .nets are registered. Most four letter .coms are registered, but a few still remain available (ex: as of 2007-02-20).

It's important to not mix up letter with character. Letter implies letters a-z, while character implies any combination of letters,numbers and legal domain characters (such as dashes).

Here are some examples of two, three and four letter & character domains:

  • - Two letter domain.
  • - Three letter domain.
  • - Four letter domain.
  • - Two character domain.
  • - Three character domain.
  • - Four character domain.

Dictionary / Adult Domains

Dictionary domains are defined as domains that are made up of a single dictionary word and nothing else. For example,,, would all be dictionary domains.

Quality generic single word dictionary .com domains can fetch six to eight figures due to their scarcity and market potential. While single word .coms are long gone, dozens of .info, Net, .org and other TLDs drop daily.

We now process dictionary domains for many languages including English, French, German, Polish, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian with more languages coming soon.

Adult domains, as the name implies, are domains that contain adult terms.


Typo / Trademark Domains

Typo domains are domains that a web surfer typed incorrectly while attempting to navigate to the domain they intended to visit.

For example, is a typo of (notice the double m). is a typo of, a popular flash games site. Some typo domain names can receive tens of thousands of type-in visitors per day and the revenue that goes with it.

Trademark domains are usually typos with the exception of the actual term in the proper name being trademarked. For example, is a trademark typo of because Microsoft™ owns the trademark on their company name.

Trademark typos are very risky and can be lost through UDRP arbitration. If a trademark holder is able to prove that a typo/trademark domain was used in bad faith or generated revenue they can sue for the revenue loss incurred.

People and organizations that register typos and trademark typos knowingly are known as typo squatters.


Whois Creation / Expiration / Update / Registrar

We are now displaying whois creation, expiration, update and registrar information for every domain in our system.

Registrar refers to the name of the company where the particular domain name was registered. This does not refer to the owner or registrant, but rather to one of the hundreds of domain registration providers currently available. The complete whois information (ex: real owner, technical contact, etc) can usually be pulled up by visiting the Registrar and by utilizing their whois search on a domain registered there.

Creation Date, as the name implies, refers to the date the domain name was created (registered) at the specific registrar. This may not reflect the true age of a domain name since many domains drop (become available), resetting the creation date, and are once again registered (with a new creation date).

Expiration Date, as the name implies, refers to the date the domain name expires or has expired. Domains that have an expiration date in the past (ex: before today's date) have expired but they have not yet dropped. Scroll to the top of this page to view the difference between a dropped and expired domain name.

Updated Date. This metric refers to the date the domain name was last updated by the registry (and usually by the registrar). The registry will update a domain name for one of several reasons:

  • Domain expired, it's status will change from "OK" (or whatever it previously was) to "Registrar-Hold", "RedemptionPeriod" or "PendingDelete"
  • Domain was renewed and the expiration date needs to be changed
  • The domain name was locked or unlocked at the registrar (preventing or allowing transfers).
  • The domain name was transfered to another registrar.
  • The domain name was force deleted.



Whois Nameservers

Nameserver refers to the domain name of the server at which the DNS record for the domain name is kept. It does not actually refer to where the domain name is hosted or parked, but rather to the server that has that information.

When a domain name is typed into the browser the browser first queries the DNS servers at the ISP, which query their own DNS servers or lookup a domain host record in the zone file. The data is finally pulled, either from the zone or from the ISPs cache and the IP address of the machine hosting the domain is sent back to the user (browser).

DNS servers generally do not serve pages or sites, they only tell the remote PC where those pages are hosted (IP address of the server). This is done primarily to ensure that DNS and web requests are handled quickly (in milliseconds!). DNS servers can handle millions of requests daily and tens of thousands of domain names.


Available Domains

As the name implies, these are domains that were available at the time of the last metric scan (usually within the last 1-6 hours).

You can usually register these domains at your favorite registrar.