Out of Site, Out of Mind – Buying Domains

When setting up a retail business, there are many hoary clichés and pieces of advice. “Out of sight, out of mind” is among the oldest and the hoariest. It basically warns you to buy or lease the best real estate available to you in order to make your company visible.

Well, what was true in the 1900s is still true today, and thus you should be thinking about buying good real estate online. Domain names are often referred to as “21st century real estate” and this is declared with good reason. A good domain can make a business. A bad name can have the opposite effect.

This month’s column is a beginner’s guide to seeking out the perfect domain name for your business.

Shorter is Sweeter

If there is one rule of thumb, it is that shorter domains will be more valuable than longer ones. The shorthand most commonly used is “L” for a letter and “N” for a number.

So I6.com would be a LN.com and 2BBQ.net would be a NLLL.net. What is the difference in price between the different combinations?

LL.com. A well-know example is KW.com which is used by Keller Williams, the realtors. There are only 676 available (26 x 26). These can fetch anywhere from $50,000 to several million dollars. EZ.com is currently on the market for a seven-figure price.

LLL.com. Obviously these are substantially cheaper than LL.com simply because there are 17576 potential combinations (26 x 26 x 26).  However, they still sell for a pretty penny – anywhere between $2,000 and millions of dollars, depending on the value of the letters. To give one example, ABC.com would be towards the top of this range whereas ZQW.com would be toward the bottom.

LLLL.com, LLLLL.com and higher. This is where people like me and you are normally able to enter the market. You won’t be able to get a dictionary word for less than $10,000 but an acronym may be available for registration or for purchase at a cheap price. Put bluntly, Golf.com is out of our range, but TSInc.com or a similar domain that makes sense may be available.

Domain Prices are Like Scrabble

Domains are often graded according to the letters they contain. It’s the opposite of Scrabble – the more common a letter is, the more it is worth. An example of a premium letter is C, because it stands for company or corporation and it also appears in a wide range of acronyms. Others are A, B, D, E, I, M, N and P. Letters that are less common are less valuable, for example: J, U, K, V, W, Z, Q and X.

You Don’t Have to Focus on .com….

…..but I would recommend it. Another possibility is .net which normally sells for around 1/20th of the price of a .com. The only real rival that I can see emerging to these is .us which sells for approximately 1/50th of the price of a .com. Deciding to go with a .us is a choice that you can make if you will be selling exclusively within the United States. If you do decide to go with an alternative, be prepared to lose some leads to the .com version of your domain name. The question is whether the extra clients are worth the extra cost.

Clients Make Mistakes – You Make Allowances

I probably make a typing mistake in every sentence I write and I bet your customers are little different. If you have a name that is easy to misspell, I would strongly recommend that you try to buy those typos of your domain also. This is particularly important for companies that have long domain names. SmithPlumbing.com may lose a lot of potential clients to someone that has a website called SmithPluming.com.

Typogen.com is a tool that can help you generate common misspellings of your name and you can also use a more prosaic method: open an Excel document and type your domain name. Press “Return” and type it again. Repeat this around 100 times and then get a couple of friends or colleagues to do the same thing. By the time you are done, you will have a great list of potential typos for your business` name.

Domains are 21st Century Real Estate

Which means that you can think of your name as an investment. If you have a generic name that other people can use for their business such as baseballbats.com or Hdtelevisions.com that it is a reasonable bet that you can sell it for more later. Domains often increase in value simply because of their age – Search Engines trend to trust older domains more than new one.s

A good domain name is an asset rather than an expense for your business – and it doesn’t depreciate in value.

Where to find out more:

DNJournal.com – This site contains a list of the all the domains sold in the past year.

Sedo.com – An online marketplace for buying and selling domain names.

NamePros.com and DNForum.com – Web forums with plenty of advice on buying a domain name.

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