Have you bought a domain name before? Why did you pick it?

I started buying domains 4 or 5 years ago primarily for personal branding & for my mobile app projects. Early on I made mistakes buying the wrong names without understanding the power of a good domain name for word of mouth marketing & branding.

My passion in domain names has led me to learn more about the premium domain name aftermarket industry these last few months & how others research and determine the value of a domain name and what tools are used. Knowing these things can help some "end-users" (what domain investors call the buyers of domains that ultimately build a real website & business using a domain) find names & better deals before they get snatched up by others.

Domain investors may look to some to be "cyber-squatters" but they are far from that. These individuals truly understand the power of a good domain which can supercharge your brand online quickly & in some instances make your company appear more global. They understand trademarks better than most & never try to use domains in bad faith with the intent of profiting from the goodwill of someone else's trademark which is really what cybersquatting means.

Here are the tools I use & some guidelines that I've learned when deciding if I I think a domain name is good or not:

Domain Extensions

  • .COM is the best - you're unlikely to be able to get a 1-word dictionary word unless you're willing to pay a lot more for it, so look for 2-word dictionary words that go together that make sense for your business and/or industry.
  • .IO is my favorite next TLD - it's heavily used by tech startups as I/O means "input/output", I only really like 1-word dictionary .IO domains; .IO can be expensive to own & renew so I would use a domain registrar like Namecheap.com as their fees are a lot lower than others.
  • .CO & .AI - I know that a lot of startups opt to use .CO for domains but personally I don't like them because it's too easily confused for .COM & traffic could leak to the .COM - also potentially sensitive emails could be sent to the .COM domain name (which may be owned by a competitor). For .AI, if you have a company that is building machine learning / AI technology it may be a good choice but just know the cost is high to renew & you have to renew 2 years at a time.
  • .NET & .ORG - these extensions get mixed opinions from people in the domain industry so I won't say too much on them except that if you can get the .COM version of a domain choose that first.

Other Tips

  • Does the domain name pass the "radio test" - can it be said on the radio or a podcast and people can easily go type it into their web browser
  • For 2-word .COM domains - there are some word combinations that may seem ok but won't be the best names - generally avoiding words that end with "-ing" & having double letters between the words isn't ideal (ie exampleexam.com)
  • More tips to come...

Domain Research Tools

  • ExpiredDomains.net - this is a very powerful (and free) tool for researching & finding domains that are expiring and that have expired. Sign up for an account for greater filtering functionality.
  • dotDB.com - this tool lets you easily see how many TLD extensions a domain name is taken in, this shows you that others have found value in your domain name.
  • Namebio.com - this is a powerful tool to research historical domain name sales (the ones that are publicly reported - many huge sales are never listed).
  • Dofo.com - this is a powerful domain search engine that allows you to see how many domain extensions are for sale for a given domain name.
  • Park.io - this is a great website to find & "backorder" domain names especially .IO domains (the website catches the domain with software when it expires & if caught and you're the only bidder it's yours for $99, otherwise it goes to an auction).
  • GoDaddy Domain Appraisal - find out what GoDaddy thinks your domain is worth based on similar previous sales, what domain extensions are taken, length, "easy to remember", & several other factors in their algorithm; tread lightly using this tool as it can give ridiculous appraisals because of keywords in a domain name - use it for ideas & adapt your thinking based on your own experience and opinion.

Good Domain Name Podcasts

We won't always get the domain names we want for our projects & businesses but we can educate ourselves and try to see things differently. The domain name industry is always changing & it's important to understand it more as we rely more on the internet to build businesses.

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Thanks for reading!