Gain fame playing the domain name game
As of June 2001, over 22.7 million ".com" top
level domains (or "TLDs") have been registered. In other words,
the Internet consists of close to 23,000,000 dot-coms,which,in
turn, are 76% of all TLDs. It means that you're more likely to win the
lottery than find a good domain name.
Due to their increasing scarcity, domain names that are short, memorable
and suggestive have become "hot" commodities. As an example,
domain names acquired at exorbitant prices include:
- business.com -- sold for $7.5 million
- asseenontv.com -- sold for $5 million
- altavista.com -- sold for $3.3 million
- loans.com --- sold for $3 million
- autos.com -- sold for $2.2 million
- wallstreet.com -- sold for $1.03 million
- forsalebyowner.com -- sold for $835,000
- drugs.com -- sold for $825,000
- cinema.com -- sold for $700,000
- art.com -- sold for $450,000
- engineering.org -- sold for $199,000
- fruits.com -- sold for $160,000
- perfect.com -- sold for $94,000
But large, corporate buyers are not alone. Even small business owners
and speculators alike are making a comfortable living in buying and selling
domain names. For instance, eBay.com recently had actual bids for as little
as $400 for netmotors.com to as much as $25,000 for drpepper.net -- and
everywhere in between.
While it is true that scarcity is a contributing factor to the commoditization
(and sometimes overvaluation) of domain names, the fact remains that a
short, memorable and suggestive domain name carries instant brand value,
credibility and traffic.
For example, today I taught my marketing class about branding, which
led to an interesting discussion about domain names. One of my students,
Mike Rouleau, is the competitive convenor for a girls' hockey team in
my home town of Ottawa, Canada.
When I said that, "The shorter and more suggestive a domain name
is, the more instant traffic and credibility that name will generate,"
he concurred using his team as an example.
"When we registered the name http://girlshockey.org
for our team's website," Mike said, "our traffic multiplied,
almost instantly." He added, "A lot of people were simply 'stumbling'
onto our website ... Some of them out of nowhere, it seems."
There is a significant reason for this.
Added to the fact that our lives are getting even busier, the growing
overload of information on the web forces people to make their best website
"guesstimate" when they no longer have the time for searching
the Internet. More and more people would love to skip search engines and
their plethora of irrelevant, misleading links to find exactly what they
As a result, many will attempt to reach a website directly by typing
a plausible URL into their browser. Therefore, a good, magnetic domain
name is crucial since it has the ability to stick in the mind more effectively.
In fact, the simpler your domain name is, the more visible your website
Domain names that are part of a free host, unattractive, easy to misspell,
obscure or too long can be easily forgotten or ignored. More importantly,
it can also kill your credibility - - and online, since nobody knows you,
credibility is crucial.
For example, let's say you own a toy store on the Internet. On which
of the following URLs would you click (and note that the names below are
fictitious and used only for illustration):
4. Or simply http://KisToys.com?
Nevertheless, while the availability of domain names let alone good ones
is shrinking, here are five important guidelines you should follow when
registering one. I call them the "Five S's of Magnetic Domain Names."
If you follow them, your chances of creating instant traffic and credibility
will be multiplied.
First, choose a name that suggests the nature of your product, business
or website. If the domain name communicates your main purpose or benefit,
you will realize a multitude of advantages beyond ease-of-recall, including
higher recognition, greater perceived value and instant credibility --
like, for example, http://www.investright.com
Make it intuitive, easy to pronounce and, above all, hard to misspell.
If you have to spell it, scrap it. Make it easy for people to find you
by avoiding anything that impedes a name's pronunciation or spelling.
Avoid hyphens, numbers, acronyms and hard-to-pronounce words, such as
"made4you.com" or "art-u-frame.com" (the firm that
bought "art.com" mentioned earlier).
The shorter the name is, the better it will be. Although you must avoid
initials, if an acronym helps to shorten a name and make it easier to
pronounce, then use it. For example, which one would you remember the
most and have the least amount of trouble (or potential for error) in
typing into your browser: "YetAnotherHierarchicallyOrganizedOracle.com"?
"Dot-com" is the most popular suffix and will remain so. It
is a mnemonic (a device or a "mental anchor" aiding recall).
For example, even though it initially stood for "commercial"
many people interpret it as "company" or "communications."
Also, it uses a plosive, making it easier for the brain to retain the
word (like "K," "T," "B" or "P"
sounds). Names beginning with plosives have higher recall scores than
Finally, use repetition. Repetitious sounds are pleasing to the ear and
add a singsong quality to the word. As the adage goes, "Repetition
is the parent of learning." By making the pronunciation simpler,
repetition, such as with rhymes and alliteration, helps to turn names
into "mental hooks."
Nevertheless, with good domain names becoming increasingly scarce, new
services and websites offer web developers ideas. "Domain Name Generators,"
as they are called, usually combine a list of suggestions based on given
keywords, coupled with a WHOIS tool to check the availability of the domain
While some offer synonyms, variations and add-on words, others offer
access to lists of expired (and advance notice of soon- to-expire) domain
names that are available for registration. Here's a brief list of popular
domain name generators:
In the final analysis, remember that your domain is the thing upon which
you will build your online business. And like real estate, the location
is just as important -- being accessible, in this case. Follow the five
rules mentioned earlier and use all of the domain name generators in your
search, and your chances of winning that lottery will be far greater.
|About the author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated
to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of
his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when
you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill."
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