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What is Domain Drop Catching & How Does it Work?

Domain Drop Catching is a very popular, and overall great process of registering often highly contested domain names after they expire and become available for registration once more.  Once domains ‘drop’ i.e. become available for registration again, they are typically re-registered within milliseconds.

Drop catching domains is highly competitive and the resources of several thousand registrars can often be utilized.

Domains most valuable domains to ‘park’ for monetization are commonly expired domains with a high quality SEO profile; DA, Alexa, Similar Web, number of and quality of backlinks. Please see the section Important Metrics.

Before just jumping into buying domains as they drop, it’s important to first understand how the drop catching process works, and how to take advantage of it.

This article will help you understand the drop catching process from start to end. By the end, you should know how to get yourself involved in the industry and what you need to do to get started.

So, read on and find out more about this lucrative digital trade.

Domain Drop Catching Defined

Drop catching is when someone registers a domain name that has recently lapsed from ownership by a person or company.

It can be a great digital investment if the person buys a domain that later becomes popular. At other times, it might be the only way to get a specific domain if you want it at a later time for any reason.

What Is the Drop Catching Process?

As domain drop catching is a somewhat technical process, we should start with understanding domain names a bit better. If you already understand some of the basics, you can skip forward.

Why Use Domain Names?

The domain name is, in short, the nickname your website’s address has on the Internet. When you type “google.com” into the search bar, that is the act of you entering the domain name for Google’s website that you want to visit.

The Internet makes use of these domain names as using the real IP addresses would be too complicated. It would make it very hard for people to remember what their favorite websites are. This is because the real addresses look like the following instead of normal words:


As you can see, a domain name such as google.com or whitehouse.gov is much clearer to the average person.

How Do Domain Names Work?

When you press enter after typing an address, your request for an address gets sent to a central set of “DNS servers” (Domain name system servers). These hold information on all the IP addresses in the world. Your computer is then sent to the address you want to go to based on the requested domain name.

After finding the real site you want to go to, your browser can then display what the server you are looking for chooses to send you.

How Can People Buy Domain Names?

A single organization manages all the domain name systems across the internet. This group’s name is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This is a non-profit organization that puts in place the rules, systems, and policies necessary to allow people to buy and sell domain names.

They work with domain name registrars. These are companies that sell domain names and have the permissions to change the domain name registry.

These sales often last a set amount of time, usually a year or more. At the end of this time, the domain name will go back up for sale and it is the responsibility of the purchaser to ensure that they renew their ownership. If they do not, the ownership will lapse, and this lapsing is what domain name drop catchers rely on.

You should note that purchasing a domain name does not grant you a website. The contents of a website exist on a server, such as a hosting service or private servers. If someone else purchases your domain name, they do not gain access to any of your data, it remains safe even if someone drop catches your domain name.

What Drop Catchers Do

Drop catching is the process of claiming domain names that have only recently become released by a domain name registrar. They then register the domain for themselves.

For example, let us say the domain name exampledomain.com gets purchased by an individual or company. After plenty of use over a year, the owner does not pay their registry dues anymore.

When eleven months have expired, the owner will receive a message from the registrar that they need to extend their ownership period. Sometimes re-registry will occur without prompting, but not always. In the case that it does not, the owner will lose control over the registered domain name.

Sometimes, there might be a redemption period in which the person can still claim it, on occasion with a small organizational fee. This may last any set amount of time depending on the contract between the registrar and the purchaser.

If the registry lapses, though, the domain name will become open for buying by others. This is when a drop catcher comes in. As the domain name is “dropped”, the drop catcher “catches” it by buying out the domain name once more.

This is not always successful. Sometimes a site will be popular, in which case there will be more than one potential buyer.

In those cases, the domain might go to the first person to put down payment and sign a contract. This is not always the case, as it often instead gets put on hold and the sale is instead resolved at an auction.

Drop catching is completely legal.

After the original owner drops a domain name, they lose all rights to the location. If someone else buys it, that person is entering into a whole new contract with the name registrar that is unique and separate from the original.

It is important to note that the original owner will have received several reminders about their registration. They will have had every chance to renew their ownership of the domain name and if they do not, what happens to it is out of their hands.

After the original owner drops the site, it will go on “redemption” for a while. This gives the previous person to register the site a period in which to keep hold of it. This puts all the keys in the hands of the original owner, meaning any person who grabs it after that will have done so after a rigorous process.

Thus, if a dropped site is “caught”, it is often because the original owner did not want it anymore.

Is It Done by Companies or Individuals?

Drop catching is a plausible activity for an individual, although it will be much more difficult. To claim a domain name, you must be on the ball to do so exactly as it becomes available before other companies try to take it for themselves.

As such, individuals who attempt to drop catch are likely to do so in a more local or small-scale manner. They will try to claim domain names owned by small businesses who do business in their local area rather than worldwide. They are likely to then hold that domain name and wait for offers from the original owner, in essence holding it hostage.

This is a risky business, as the original owner might choose to not renew the domain name. They might consider it a better deal to change the registry from a .com domain to a different URL, for example. Another possibility is that they might choose to change the name of their website and lose any SEO they have gathered over time instead of paying.

How Can Some Domain Names Cost So Much Money?

Much like any other possible commodity, domain names can gather a lot of demand. One can both buy and sell them, and their price has its basis in the age-old concepts of supply and demand. A more in-demand domain name thus could be worth anything from thousands to millions of dollars.

A domain name might even have sentimental value to a particular individual. A company might not own the domain, but instead, someone who wants it because they have a deceased relative who needed it for some reason or another.

Other reasons why a domain name might be worth a lot of money include any of the following:

First of all, the domain name might have a short name that is catchy and could be valuable to several different services to promote their services.

Or the domain name has a high SEO value due to a previous large company having had ownership over it. The larger company might since have lost its grandeur.

Other domain names include very popular search terms, giving a very high SEO value.

Finally, the domain name might be identical to that of a specific product. The owner might wish to keep a hold on the name to prevent others from getting hold of it except for a high price.

The above is not an exhaustive list of reasons. There could be any number of reasons someone wishes to hold on to their domain name. These could be personal, business-related, or even related to short-term popular terms such as through online memes.

What Services Do Drop Catchers Use?

When people want to get involved with drop catching, they must often use any number of services. These services offer many different ways for the drop catcher to both find and register these sites.

Without these services, the drop catcher will need to search for each site’s information themselves. They will then need to research which sites are up for renewal by hand.

Many of the locations you can find to do this online use the same underlying technology and resources, such as the ICANN database or DNS servers. Although they present them all very in different ways and offer different services or data for potential drop catchers

Registering Domain Names

There are a great many sites that allow you to register domain names. Many of them let you search to see if domains are still available for claiming, then they will inform you of how much it would cost to register. To the layman, this allows people to see how popular specific domain names are.

These sites often let you also see how much the same domain would cost with several different domain name extensions (.org, .co.uk, .com). Because of this, you can lock down a whole domain name and prevent someone from instead going to the next most popular extension.

A high-level domain name drop catcher will not use this interface. Instead, they will hook straight into a registrar’s application programming interface (API).

The API for a registrar lets them program a bot or application to trawl popular domain names, especially ones that are likely to become free soon. They will then use this API to buy the domain name as soon as it becomes free, usually the very second the registry ends.

Back-Ordering Domain Names

Another option to get the domain name you want is to create a backorder. Services that provide these attempt to give you the first attempt at snatching a domain name when it becomes free.

Now, this might not always be possible. Many people may put up a backorder for the same domain. If that is the case, the individual domain name will go to an auction, which is likely to increase its price exponentially.

Backorders are also not always final and it is possible to put in a back-order for a website as a “holding pattern”. This way, you can hold on to it for the sole purpose of seeing if anybody wants to buy it from you. If nobody appears interested, you can then drop it back into the market. 

Where Should I Go To Learn More?

You should now have a much greater understanding of drop catching and how it can help you get the domain names you want moving forward. If you still have questions, though, our articles are ready to help answer any queries that you might have about the process.

So if you want to investigate more about domain name drop catching, you need only read up on what to do. You will be grabbing domain names in no time. Good luck!

Ready to start monetizing your domain names? Register with BODIS to maximize your domain revenues.

Updated on December 8, 2021

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