Review – Popular Domains

Lee Hodgson

Popular Domains is a Windows program that takes (or generates) a list of domain names and checks their link popularity in a number of search engines. In addition, the latest version detects whether the names are listed in Yahoo and can also reveal their Alexa ratings. As a quick reminder, Alexa is a very cool way of roughly determining how many visitors a Website attracts.

So why would you want to know these things? The answer lies of course in the expired domains industry. Every day thousands of domain names expire due to non-renewal. A fair number of these are valuable because they produce visitors, or are "traffic catchers". If you can re-register some of these names, it’s a great way to generate extra traffic for your own sites.


Before reviewing Popular Domains itself, let’s get the thorny "cybersquatting" issue out of the way — isn’t re-registering expired domain names with built-in traffic just the lowest form of cybersquatting?

To answer that question, we need to analyze why domain names that generate traffic are allowed to expire:

  • Deliberate Expiry – It’s an unfortunate fact of Internet life that Web businesses fail by the truckload every day of the week. Many of these site owners lose all interest in every aspect of their Website — domain name included.
  • Accidental Expiry – When the original registrant wanted to keep the name, but for whatever reason, didn’t pay to renew the name before it got deleted.

The point is that any program that aims to locate domains with high traffic cannot hope to distinguish between these two types of expiry. It is just a tool and cannot be held responsible for how it is (mis)used.

So in the case of accidental expiries, it is the new registrant’s responsibility to choose what to do if the old registrant wants the name back. The decent thing would be to hand the name back for a nominal fee, $100 or less. That way, the old owner gets their Website back, and the new registrant doesn’t lose out.

So How Does It Work?

Popular Domains generates domain names to check in three ways. It can work on:

  • Deleted Domains – This is a very powerful option that searches through a daily-updated database of on-hold and deleted domain names.
  • WHOIS – A less useful option that searches through the Whois database of deleted domains.
  • Custom Domain List – A great option that checks a list of imported domain names. It’s very useful for people that subscribe to expiring domains services such as LocalWhois or have their own way to generate "candidate" domain lists.

As well as being able to select what sort of domains to search through, Popular Domains allows you to customize the types of checks that are performed on each domain, namely:

  1. Incoming Search Engine Links – Specify one or all of the following search engines: Google, Lycos, MSN, All The Web, AltaVista, Hotbot.
  • Yahoo! Placement – See if the domain is listed in Yahoo! Remember, Yahoo! listings now cost $299 annually!
  • Alexa Rating – This option utilizes the Alexa ranking system to give a rough idea of how many visitors the site generates.
  • The Results

    By using the powerful Deleted Domains option, anybody can quickly find a number of on-hold domains that have high link popularity, or high traffic or a Yahoo! listing, or all three!

    Popular Domains delivers the results smoothly and without fuss. If you have a dial-up link you can expect a long delay if you are analyzing hundreds of domain names. If you have any kind of decent broadband link, however, you should be able to race through big lists in no time at all.

    The Verdict

    At US$149, Popular Domains is not cheap. But it does offer excellent value for money. Considering that Yahoo! now charge a US$299 annual fee, if you can even register one domain with an existing Yahoo! listing, the program will have already paid for itself. And the Alexa rating search is another great way to find valuable domain names.

    As a final reminder, if you register a name and are then contacted by the original owner wanting the name back, do the decent thing and let the name go for a small sum. Go after the "deliberate expiry" names instead. In the case of accidental expiries, it’s very much a case of "there but for the grace of god go I". Good luck!

    For more information, or to download Popular Domains, click here.