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A Second Look At Afternic-GoDaddy Search

In a previous NameTalent article I took a look at the revamped Afternic site. Afternic recently took down their legacy search page, updated with a fresh graphical look, and users seeking to buy a domain name are now routed to GoDaddy search.

At GoDaddy search if the user enters the precise term including the extension, that domain name, if available on Afternic with a price, will be presented, along with many other options. If the term is entered without an extension, the results obtained vary, as we will see below. 

GoDaddy also recently added a Start With AI Domain Search, but as we saw in the first article, at least as of this time, that only provides available hand registration options, not names from the Afternic aftermarket catalog.

For this article, I performed an experiment to provide insights for those with names listed on Afternic. I tried to establish which names will be presented, as well as statistics on alternative names presented.

I also had conversations with GoDaddy/Afternic representatives, expressing community concerns, and hearing their views on the change and its possible impact. 

A Search Experiment at GoDaddy

In addition to the searches I had done in preparation for the previous article, I searched at GoDaddy search for 67 new names that I knew were listed with buy-it-now pricing at Afternic. When eligible, all names I used in the search also had Fast Transfer active. I wanted to check how GoDaddy search responds to different extensions and types of names, so my experiment included:

  • single-word .com
  • multiple word .com
  • made-up brandable .com
  • single-word .net
  • single-word .org
  • single-word .co
  • single-word .io
  • single-word national extension (.ca)
  • single-word generic country (.cc)
  • single-word hybrid country (.me)
  • matches across dot new extension names
  • single-word .xyz
  • single-word .ltd
  • a  few other names

I tried to use 5 domains of each type, but in a couple of cases needed to use fewer.

As a reminder, the legacy extensions .com, .net, .org, .info as well as .co, .io, and .xyz are supported by Afternic Fast Transfer, while .me, .ca, .cc, .ltd and other new extensions on my list are not.

GoDaddy search shows 45 results for each search, plus up to two highlighted ones at the top in boxes. Most of the time for me, searching from Canada, the boxed ones were a .ca in one box, and often a package of possible registrations in the other, although sometimes an .ai option. 

For each of the 67 searches I noted and summarize below the alternatives suggested among the 45 options presented. 

Experiment Results:

Here is what I found in the experiment:

  • 14 of the 15 .com domain names that I checked did appear in GoDaddy search results. I am not sure why one did not. I did check a search with extension to confirm it was indeed listed at Afternic.
  • In most cases my Afternic-listed .com names appeared in second place in the search results, with an .ai name proposed just above. This is an improvement from my earlier search tests outlined in the previous article.
  • For the 5 .net names that I searched, 4 appeared in GoDaddy search results, with placements ranging from place 7 to 45. 
  • I also searched 5 .org names, and all 5 appeared within results, although placements were generally low, from 9 to 45, although three were place 40 and below. 
  • I had only 4 single-word .co to check, but all appeared within the search results, in places 8 to 11.
  • None of the 5 .ltd names appeared in GoDaddy search, even though in other searches that is one TLD they show with hand registration possibilities.
  • None of the 5 .cc single-word names I tried showed in search, even though in the old Afternic search all would have been in the top half of the single page of search results. 
  • All of the 5 .ca that I tried were listed, and in first place. I suspect searchers from other countries will see their national country code highly placed.
  • I searched for 5 single word .me that I had on Afternic, but none show up in GoDaddy search, either when I search only for the SLD term, or for the SLD plus me. Again, these would have shown in the old Afternic search.
  • All 6 single-word .xyz that I tried did appear in GoDaddy search, placement varying from 8 to 43, although most in top 15.
  • I only had one .info to try, but it did appear.
  • I was somewhat surprised that only 2 of the single-word .io that I tried appeared in the GoDaddy search results. 
  • None of the across the dot new extension matches showed up anywhere in GoDaddy results. For example, I have the name on Afternic, but when I search for PlannersPage it does not show that as an option, with or without a space. This is surprising, since occasionally GoDaddy search will suggest corresponding hand registrations with similar structure. I tried names with 5 different extensions in this part of the test.
  • It is difficult to concisely summarize, but sometimes the search was smart enough to suggest similar names, and other times similar names that I knew were on Afternic did not appear in the search results. For example, if I searched for the singular of the word it did show the plural I have listed at Afternic, and sometimes it would pick up a name using a synonym.

I also kept track of what GoDaddy search proposed within the 45 results for each of the 67 searches. Of the 3015 suggested domain names: 41 (out of 67) were the Afternic listed domain name I searched. Keep in mind if I add the dot and extension this would become 67 out of 67. Here is the breakdown on the others:

  • 2751 were hand registration suggestions.
  • 6 were names at GoDaddy closeouts or expired auctions.
  • 165 were other Afternic listed aftermarket .com.
  • 24 were other legacy TLDs at Afternic (usually the .net or .org).
  • 24 were other Afternic country codes, usually .io or .co or .ca.
  • 4 were Afternic listed new extension names. 


Keep in mind that GoDaddy constantly tries new models, so specific patterns will change. Search results also will depend on location. But based on my many searches, I observed:

  • Any name that is entered precisely including the dot and extension will appear.
  • Your national country code or most legacy extension domain names will appear when searched with or without the extension.
  • In almost all cases legacy extension domain names will appear when searched with or without the extension. In one case in my trials a listed .net did not appear.
  • Unless your Afternic-listed .com is very similar to the searched term, it is unlikely to appear within the 45 suggestions.
  • Note that names without buy-now prices will not appear in GoDaddy search results. This is an additional argument to price your names. This is a change from the previous Afternic search, where Make Offer names would have appeared. 
  • If you have priced .xyz names on Afternic, they should appear if someone searches that exact term, even without extension.
  • With .co and .io it seems, even if directly searched but without extension, some appear and some do not.
  • i did not observe new extension aftermarket names other than .xyz in results, even though many hand-registration new extension names are proposed.

The extensions most impacted by the change are new extensions and generic country code extensions. Extensions that were in the top 20 of Afternic sales volume did show in the old Afternic search, but now many of those do not show at all. 

But Does It Matter?

I have read what Afternic/GoDaddy representatives have posted about the changes. Also, in preparation for this article had discussions with two GoDaddy representatives.

They stressed that research showed that only 1% of sales at Afternic came via Afternic search, and that the company needs to prioritize limited resources by concentrating on the channels that are producing the majority of sales: the landers and the network.

It is true that there have been significant enhancements in the network, such as the inclusion of .io and .xyz in the Afternic Fast Transfer network. Also, in the not too distant past they improved their landers. Furthermore, with the updated Afternic control panel it is now much easier to switch lander styles. 

In my conversations, I questioned if they were sure about the 1% figure. I suggested a scenario where founders or a rebranding group at a company might have used the old Afternic to see available options. Then take several weeks to make a decision. Even though they ultimately purchase the name at GoDaddy or a network registrar, that does not mean that the Afternic search had no role in the sale.

The GoDaddy/Afternic representative provided the following assurance:

“We carefully considered the move to the latest version of Before, during, and after the gradual launch, we closely tracked sales to ensure the change wouldn’t have a negative impact for sellers.”

To put the 1% figure in perspective, if you normally sell 10 domains on Afternic per year, you would just miss out on a single sale over a 10 year period! I suspect it is not even, though, and the hit from loss of Afternic search will be less for the high-quality .com names that people are more likely to directly search, and more for second tier country code or new extensions.

It’s The Network

From the very beginning, Afternic has always been primarily a network of sellers, rather than a marketplace. Their site suggests that about 85 million searches are made across that network each month. I covered domain name fast transfer networks in an article at NamePros.

While it is natural to have concerns regarding GoDaddy search, it is important to keep in mind that it is evolving. As the GoDaddy representative said,

“GoDaddy is constantly working to improve their search results and ensure they surface the most relevant domains for each customer. However, it’s important to remember that GoDaddy is just one of many registrars we work with. At Afternic, we’re committed to advocating for increased visibility of investor domains within the search results of all our partners.”

GoDaddy Airo

GoDaddy recently announced Airo®, an AI-powered assistant to help with website design and construction, logo creation, email composition, social media posts, and more. 

The GoDaddy Airo page has a domain search button near the top. That button, at least at time of writing, takes the searcher to the previous AI-powered GoDaddy search, one that currently never shows Afternic aftermarket names, only names available for registration. 

I presume changes will be coming, but, based on my limited trial searches, Airo domain search as of right now essentially shows available hand registrations that are combinations of the prompt words and their synonyms. 

Advantages of the GoDaddy Brand

It is certainly true that the GoDaddy brand is much better known than the Afternic brand. Also, many potential buyers will already have a GoDaddy account, so completing a purchase would be simpler if the search is via GoDaddy.

The problem right now is that GoDaddy search is not very effective in showing aftermarket domain name offerings. 

Despite its outdated appearance, the old Afternic search showed in a single page the main extensions that businesses were using, along with some of the better multi-word combinations in .com.

Mixed Messaging

A second problem with using GoDaddy search is that any aftermarket names are interspersed within a set of many promoted hand registrations. Almost certainly this mixed messaging is to the detriment of domain name aftermarket sales. 

Thankfully, by the end of my search trials the promotion for the .sucks extension had come to a close, and it was no longer being proposed as a top alternative in my searches.

GoDaddy Auctions Is A Great Substitute

If investors are searching for their own benefit, or are referring others interested in Afternic aftermarket holdings, the best option right now is to send them to GoDaddy Auctions. That does an excellent job of showing the most relevant names first, without distractions from hand registration promotions.

In three ways GoDaddy Auctions is superior to the old Afternic search.

  • One, it has GoDaddy branding front and center.
  • Second, it allows you to filter effectively.
  • Third, it allows the searcher to dig deep into a long list of possible names, and not be restricted to the single results page of the old Afternic search.

A simple way to meet concerns of investors would be to show visitors at the revamped Afternic site a link to GoDaddy Auctions, rather than, or in addition to, GoDaddy search.

As the first article mentioned, another option for investors who belong to the Discount Domain Club is to use the Afternic Search Tool that is part of the Domain Academy. The cost involved will keep this from being a good alternative for buyers in general, however. 

Final Word

It seems to me that the solution to concern over removal of Afternic search functionality is simple. A significant number of monthly searchers go to Afternic.

Make the Afternic landing page have GoDaddy branding and it should have to clear options:
1. For those who want to sign in to their Afternic account, or sign up to sell at Afternic or GoDaddy auctions, make that an obvious and simple process.
2. For users searching to buy a domain name, send them to the existing GoDaddy Auctions search

Sure, a link to GoDaddy general search could be offered as a third possibility, but the mixed messaging there is to the detriment of aftermarket sales, in my opinion.

About the author

Bob Hawkes

Domain analyst and commentator with particular interests in quantitative analysis, new uses for domain names, nontraditional end users, and bridging the gap between the domain community and end users. Background in science, research, education, outreach and communications, as well as almost two decades running a small home-based business. My first domain name acquisition was 2001. I hold a modest domain portfolio with legacy, country code and new extensions. Based in western Canada, but my domain outlook is global! My goal is to provide fresh insights and an evidence-based balanced outlook on the domain industry.

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