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So you want to buy a domain name at an auction. Yes, getting a domain name that's been around awhile is a good idea, especially if it has existing links to it on the internet. This can help it be found more easily by search engines, which is going to be an advantage when you build a site on it.
Here I'll show you step by step the process for how to bid on a domain auction. I'll use the NameSilo auctions as the example, because it's a good and well-run domain name registrar with a reliable auction process. It also tends to be easier for me to find higher quality domain names on their aftermarket than at GoDaddy, but that's a matter of personal opinion.
First of all, it is going to be much easier if you do this on a laptop or desktop computer. You can technically do it on a phone or tablet, but a drawback of NameSilo is that its marketplace just doesn't display all that well on phone or tablet. It works but the writing is tiny.
1. Log into your NameSilo account (or create a free account)
You'll need to have an account at NameSilo to bid on their auctions, so navigate to NameSilo.com and log in, or create an account for free if you don't already have an account. You can bid on their auctions even if you've never bought a domain name from them before.
Go to the NameSilo auction marketplace to see what domain names are currently up for auction. You'll see something like the image below:
2. Find the domain name(s) you desire
As you can see from the image above, you can use the drop-down options to decide on the type of auction (expired domains, regular auctions, or offer/counter-offer). You can also select your desired extension (.com or other extension), price, reserve, domain age, whether it has existing bids or not, and so on. If you have a particular keyword you want, you can enter that in the search box.
By default the search results are sorted according to time remaining, with the ones finishing soonest at the top of the list. However, you can change the search order by clicking on any other column. For example you can sort according to the current bid price by clicking on the "current" column header.
Protect yourself by doing your due diligence
Part of finding domain names you wish to bid on is doing whatever research you deem necessary prior to buying it. It's up to you how you plan to do that. You are responsible for researching the domain name and checking that your proposed usage of it will not infringe any trademarks, copyrights, or put you at any other legal risk. This article does not provide any legal advice; for legal advice consult an attorney versed in intellectual property law.
One of the many checks I always make is to ensure the domain of interest doesn't appear on a blacklist; I use Sucuri Sitecheck for that, but there are many other blacklist checkers. There are many other things you may wish to check on, so I would not recommend bidding on an auction that is going to end in a few minutes unless you've already done your due diligence on that domain name first.
3. Decide on your payment method
It's industry standard across virtually all domain name auction platforms that if you bid, you'll need to make sure your account has a way to pay if you win. At NameSilo you can pay via debit card, credit card, PayPal, AliPay, Skrill, Dwolla, or wire. At domain auctions, the payment method is more stringently vetted than if you were just buying a domain name from that registrar.
If it's your first time bidding on an auction, NameSilo might require you to put account funds into your account, for example by transferring money there by PayPal. If you win the auction, the amount you pay will be automatically taken out of your NameSilo account funds. If you do not win the auction, then your account funds stay in your NameSilo account. You can use the money to bid on another auction or to buy any other product or service from NameSilo.
To be safe, I simply add funds into my account to make sure I have enough to cover my bid. However, if you didn't want to do that, you'll be able to figure out what your payment options are when you bid.
It's very important to note that any bid you enter is binding. Don't enter a bid just to "try it out"!
Depending on the domain pricing and your history with NameSilo, only certain payment methods might be accepted, or some payment methods may be subject to additional verification. This is just something to be aware of.
4. Place your bid
I know I've said it before, but again, a bid is binding. You can't back out of it if you change your mind. When you are ready to bid and have decided on a price, either
- click on the green arrow in that domain's "bid" column in your marketplace search results, or
- click on the domain name from your NameSilo marketplace search results
Either way, you'll wind up at a page that looks like this:
In the case of the domain name above, we can see that the bid is automatically set to $10.00 even though I haven't placed a bid yet. This is because it has a reserve of $10, meaning that it won't be sold for under $10. NameSilo automatically shows you the lowest bid you are allowed to make for the desired domain. That's all there is to it. If you're comfortable with that, then just click the checkbox "Confirm our marketplace terms and conditions" and click the "Place your bid" button.
Of course, in the case above you are allowed to start with a bid of more than the $10 minimum in which case you need to edit the number in the "Your Bid" box before placing your bid, but in most cases you'd probably want to go with the lowest bid.
Proxy Max Bid is optional so you don't need to enter anything here unless you want to, and it's only available on certain types of auctions. Proxy max allows you to set the highest bid you'd want to make, and then the system will automatically bid for you if someone over-bids you; it'll stop bidding for you once your Proxy Max bid is reached.
You can see the bid history of this domain at the bottom of the screenshot; in this case no-one has bid on it yet.
Many of the domain names up for auction have no reserve, meaning you can make a bid as low as $1. Now that's good news! Before you get too excited, be aware that the bid also commits you to paying a year's renewal fee, which for .com's on NameSilo is $8.99 at the time of writing. So if you win a $1 bid, you'll pay $1 plus $8.99, totalling $9.99. Make sure to account for that when bidding!
5. What happens after you bid?
At the end of the auction timeframe, what happens next depends on whether or not you won the bid.
If you win the bid, then you'll receive an email at the end of the auction telling you what to expect. The amount you pay will be automatically taken out from your payment method and the domain name will automatically be transferred to your NameSilo account if the domain is currently registered with NameSilo. The payment and transfer process usually happens immediately, within minutes of the end of the auction. On occasion it might take up to 48 hours, although that is rare. If you have any questions or if it's been more than 48 hours and you still don't see the domain in your account, definitely contact the NameSilo tech support. I've never had a problem.
What I love about NameSilo is it's so fast and automatic, and you never need to communicate with the seller. Everything is done with NameSilo, and in the unlikely event that there is a problem, it's NameSilo you'll deal with, not a private seller who you don't know and have no reason to trust.
If you don't win the bid, nothing happens. Your money remains where it is. You can use it to bid on another domain if you wish.
It's simple and easy to bid on a domain name auction at NameSilo. As always, a bid is binding, so make sure you are prepared to pay the amount for the domain name(s) for which you wish to bid. You need to be logged into your NameSilo account to bid, but you can view and search the NameSilo auction marketplace any time without being logged in. Why not give it a try and see what's available?
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