There are now 75,000,000 active websites in the United States alone, so it's a safe bet to assume that all the very best domain names that were available to purchase over the past twenty years are now officially gone -- and I mean really gone. So what is the best approach in selecting a domain name, particularly if you are just starting your business, and you don't have $100,000 hiding between the cushions of your sofa? Is it better to purchase a .com extension, a .net extension, or one of the many new extensions like .house, .realestate, .expert or .professional? Here are three tips to consider as you embark on your branding journey.
Tip 1: You will likely purchase your start-up domain name from a reseller or private seller. If you want a domain name for a consumer-facing website, then you need to focus on purchasing a (.com) extension. If you need a domain name for an Intranet site, customer, or business portal that is not "consumer-facing", a (.net) is an inexpensive and smart choice. Most of the best domain names are owned by large re-sellers and individuals who "squat" or "park" domain names until you show up with an offer. After negotiating and settling on a price, there are numerous domain name brokerage firms like godaddy.com and escrow.com who provide escrow services to facilitate a smooth transition. Hundreds of thousands of domain names and purchased and transferred between buyers and sellers every year using this approach. To locate and purchase a domain name, you have three options.
- Visit sites like sedo.com, greatdomains.com, afternic.com, and buydomains.com, and start searching. At Sofvue, we currently use sedo.com. Sedo has over a million domain names ready for purchase, and are non-auction, meaning you can buy the domain name immediately, and at the price posted. Other re-seller sites will put a minimum bid requirement of a starting dollar amount, but every time you make a bid, you're automatically told that the minimum bid has gone up -- what a scam.
- Find an available domain through auction sites like networkSolutions.com, register.com or godaddy.com, and purchase the domain name directly from the seller through a domain brokerage, reseller, or seller.
- Contact a seller directly to learn whether they would consider selling an already purchased and "parked" domain name. There are pros and cons to this approach beyond the scope of this article, but as the old saying goes, "the first one to speak loses". We use escrow.com when assisting buyers and sellers who have purchased or sold a domain name.
Tip 2: Be prepared to spend $500, or $50,000 for the domain you want. The days of paying $10 to $35 for a "good" domain are over. In 2008, Pizza.com sold for 2.6 million dollars. Yes, 2.6 million dollars. Today, we have clients who spend $500 to $10,000 for a "good" domain name. The right domain name can save you thousands of dollars in marketing costs if it meets your branding requirements. Oh, and if you think $500 or $1,000 is too much, go purchase a "poor" domain name and try branding it. In the end, investing upfront in a "good" name pays long term dividends. As the old saying goes, "you gotta pay to play".
Tip 3: The verdict is out on the newly approved list if ICANN extensions. In early 2014, ICANN announced the release of hundreds of new domain extensions into the marketplace, with another large batch of TDL's (Top Level Domains) scheduled for release in March of 2016. Some believe this a great move by ICANN while others believe it will flood the market and create added confusion to an already crowded domain field. It's the same argument during the 1980s when "1-800" was the only toll prefix available. Regardless of your position pro or con with ICANN's decision, the (.com) extension will continue to lead as the most popular extension for the foreseeable future. This is evidenced by the high dollar purchases for names with the .com extension. Companies using made-up words to brand their company can be very effective. Companies using made-up [.com] names include unum.com, wordoid.com, trivago.com, and autoliv.com, to name a few. These are just a few of thousands of companies now using made-up word names. Some of the new extensions include .guru, .club, .house, .yachts, .today, .pro, .realestate, etc. Until we see evidence to the contrary, we continue to recommend to our clients to continue purchasing domains with the .com extension.
For now, the (.com) extension remains the reigning champion, and in today's highly competitive business climate, stick with what works.
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