There are few feelings more frustrating than thinking of the perfect domain name, finding an old un-updated website, and then never getting any response from contact attempts. While that domain name might seem out of reach, putting in a backorder can be a great way to give yourself a chance of getting that name anyway.
Using the backorder tool is a great way to cut in line before a potentially expensive auction or to get a hold of a forgotten or uncared for domain when it expires.
Let’s dive into how to backorder a domain and why placing one or more of these could be a smart move.
What is a Domain Backorder?
Placing a domain backorder puts you in line so if a domain name expires, before going to the open market you have the chance to pay for it and own it yourself.
The backorder is placed with a registrar and it will generally cost a certain amount per domain name. This fee doesn’t give you the domain if it becomes available, but it acts as a holding place in line.
If your domain backorder is the only one on a domain name, you have the first shot at purchasing it. If the domain has no backorders then it goes to open auction before becoming listed.
Domains with multiple backorders on them are put into a private auction with only the individuals who put a backorder on that domain name. No one else is permitted to make a bid.
The highest bidder in that private auction then gets the domain. If there’s a strange circumstance where no one bids, then it moves to a general open auction.
Why Should You Backorder a Domain Name?
There are multiple good reasons to backorder a domain name. Is there an old website that gets massive traffic despite no updates in 6+ years? It’s fully possible that the site is owned by someone who doesn’t care, has no intention of working online anymore, or maybe even passed away.
There are also times where people buy really good brandable domain names intending to do something…and then just don’t. They’re sitting on a premium domain name and don’t know it or lose interest.
There are stories of good domain names lost simply because a person didn’t pay attention to their auto-renew and had an expired credit card on it that wouldn’t go through.
If a great domain name is coming up in the next year a backorder puts you in line for a domain name that might otherwise be impossible to purchase…or would cost thousands if it went to auction.
What types of domain names should you look at to backorder?
- Domains expiring within a year or two
- Domains featuring websites that have not been updated in a long time
- Domains with a lot of backlinks to them that aren’t active
- Extremely brandable domains
- Premium domains that have a domain name for sale sign, but are coming due for renewal
While it’s true a backorder doesn’t guarantee anything, if it gives you the chance to buy a multi-thousand dollar domain name at $25 or $30 – that’s a steal.
Best Domain Backorder Services
There are multiple domain backorder services available. Since domains are released to registrars, a domain backorder for any given domain name can come from any of these services.
SnapNames specializes in domain backorders and domain name auctions. They have been in the business of domain names for many years and have had a reputation as one of the old-school backorder companies.
The price of a backorder from SnapNames is $79 as of the last price increase in 2016 (source).
This is also the lowest price you will consistently see in their auction listings.
NameJet focuses on verified bidders who have used their site multiple times, but are also open to unverified bidders, aka newbies, coming in to bid in auctions or make domain backorders.
Their business model is partially based on jumping ahead to spot really good potential domain names others don’t see and getting those names, making them the owner and thus the exclusive place where some domain names can be acquired from.
Figuring out the cost is a bit convoluted with NameJet. If you are verified you can put in backorders for free, assuming the domain is not one of their exclusive ones already at auction. If you are not verified, you likely need to bid in auction format at or above the minimum fee to participate in an auction, which varies.
This can make budgeting difficult, but NameJet does have access to some domain names that other backorder companies will not.
GoDaddy Auctions has become the go-to for many individuals looking at placing a backorder on the off-chance they can get their hands on a great domain.
A GoDaddy Auctions membership is required, which is $4.99 a year. The actual domain backorder costs $25.98 and includes the first year of registration.
If the domain backorder goes through, the domain is transferred to you within 45 days. If there are multiple backorders you’re put in a private auction with others who put in backorders.
An additional benefit is that if a domain backorder doesn’t go through because the owner renews their domain name, you can change which domain name goes on backorder for free.
Important: Make sure to look at GoDaddy Auctions + Domain Backorder, NOT domain brokerage services. The latter is a different service that costs much more.
DropCatch is a “drop catching service” that takes the backorder requests of clients and uses software to try to shoot in that backorder request when a domain name drops and becomes available.
Backorders cost $59 and the charge only happens if they actually get the domain for you. There’s no membership required for use.
One important thing to note: while other backorder specialists mention private auctions if multiple backorders are put in for a domain name, if multiple people using DropCatch put in a backorder the domain goes to a public auction.
Best Way to Backorder a Domain
The process for back ordering a domain is mostly the same. One of the best things you can do is work with a company or system you are familiar with. If you know GoDaddy very well, look at how they do back ordering. If you’re a NameJet fan, check out how they do things.
The process is fairly similar. You put in an order, get tools to track, and then it’s a waiting game. If everything goes well, then the domain goes straight into your account.
If multiple backorders come in on the same domain, it goes to a (usually) private auction.
Because of that the process for backordering a domain should be relatively simple:
- Identify a domain you want to backorder
- Choose the company you will use to place the backorder
- Pay the fee and place the backorder
- Monitor the domain as the expiration date nears
- Follow up in auction if necessary
Domain Backordering Questions
There are a few frequently asked questions that pop up when it comes to backordering a domain.
What happens if other people placed a backorder on the same domain name?
When multiple people put a backorder on a domain name, everyone who put in a backorder is entered into a private auction featuring only those who put in a backorder for that same domain.
Whoever wins that auction gets the domain.
How do I check on the status of a domain name I backordered?
Each backorder domain service will have some sort of tracking service. This will vary based on which one you’re using, but they will have instructions for where and how you can track the backorders you have with them.
Is a domain backorder guaranteed?
No. If a person renews the domain name, then it doesn’t get picked up or go to auction. If you are one of multiple people who put in a backorder you can also lose that domain in auction to the other bidders.
A domain backorder isn’t a guarantee but it is a useful tool to give you a chance at an otherwise unavailable domain.
Is a Domain Backorder Service Worth Using?
While a domain backorder service isn’t for everyone, it can be a valuable tool for getting the inside track on a really good domain name when it expires. These services can be a great way to get a potentially amazing used domain name or brandable name for relatively cheap.
Beating out a public auction for the name is almost always the right choice for getting a domain name at a cheaper price.
For individuals who don’t have a specific target or can’t wait, it might not be worth it. For investors who can always use a strong domain name, this is worth it to get a chance at some potential gems.