Do you hold pairs of domain names that you try to sell as a package? These might include both the plural and the singular forms of a word, the UK and American spelling, a hyphenated and non-hyphenated version, or the same name with two different extensions. While there are good arguments, in my opinion, to occasionally hold a pair of related domain names, the case can also be made that having two related domain names may actually weaken the sales pitch and negotiation. Or perhaps you simply find holding related domain pairs too costly to be worth it. In this post I look at some of the types of pairs that you might assemble. Then I summarize the main arguments pro and con the idea of holding domain name pairs. Singular and Plural A commonly asked question among domain investors is whether the plural or the singular form a word is more valuable as a domain name. If we look at the top publicly-reported domain name sales of 2019, it is easy to find both singular and plural names in the top list. For example voice.com, carrot.com, gorilla.com, JoyRide.com and message.com are all in the top 30 sales in 2019. However, in the same top 30 list we also have the plural names links.com, leads.com, casinos.org, taxes.com and crystals.com. With certain terms the singular or plural is clearly preferred, but in other cases both forms make sense. It would place you in a strong position, should your be able to offer both singular and plural forms to a potential client as a pair. Every now and then I type in NameStat.org when I really mean to go to NameStats.org. The former is a Verisign site, while the latter is a domain extension statistics site. Here is one example, from many, of a NamePros discussion around the topic of singular versus plural. If you are considering acquisition of a domain name, it may make sense to at least look at the status of the singular or plural matching name. UK and American Spelling Another example of alternative forms of a word are the cases of UK and American spelling. This post by DomainAgents discusses the topic, also pointing out that there are countries, such as Canada, where both forms of a word are in wide use. Among the common cases are words like colour vs color or honour vs honor, defence vs defense, centre vs center, and catalogue vs catalog. As the linked article points out, the duplication means that it could be argued that the radio test breaks down for these words. It may well be cost prohibitive to own both, however. Hyphenated Forms In parts of Europe, especially Germany, the hyphenated form of a domain name is frequently preferred. Therefore a global brand that operates in both Europe and in the United States, where hyphenated-domain names while slowly growing in popularity are still not common, would ideally like to own both the version with a hyphen and without. NamePros member Reddstagg has recently shared an idea of building pairs of hyphenated and non-hyphenated names. Since often the hyphenated version is available to hand-register, the added acquisition cost is often minimal, although annual holding cost is doubled. I think the argument of a pair potentially giving you a competitive bonus applies to other types of pairs as well. Hyphenated domain names are discussed in this recent NamePros Blog post as well as in this thread on the topic started by Rob Monster. Country Code plus .COM In most of the world, the majority of businesses will prefer to operate on the .com version of their name, often spending large sums to acquire that domain name. However, it is also true that in certain regions, such as Europe and Canada, the country code is widely used, respected, and, in certain cases, even preferred. If you could offer a startup in one of these countries the combination of the same word in both the country code plus .com, you would be in a strong bargaining position. In most cases it is prohibitively expensive for domain investment purposes to acquire the pair including .com. A less expensive, but much less desired, option to to match the country code with another global option such as the .co or one of the general-use new extensions. This may appeal to small national companies with eventual plans to grow a global presence. Exact Match New Extension plus .COM When the new domain extensions were being introduced, extensive research was done on the most common endings of domain names. The reason we have new extensions such as .online, .tech, .solutions, .agency and many others is because within the legacy domain names a large number had the format WordTech, WordOnline, etc. This suggests another possible pair where one holds the domain name Word1Word2.com as well as Word1.Word2 in those cases where .Word2 is one of the new domain extensions. With about 700 new extensions in use, there are more possibilities than one might at first realize for domain name pairs of this type. This type of domain name pair has been discussed on NamePros, with arguments made on both sides. Such domain name pairs may be popular for companies that like the elegance of the new domain extensions, but also realize the huge respect and familiarity factor that .com continues to enjoy. In the same way that holding singular and plural forms of a domain name can be viewed as defensive, holding both the new extension exact match plus the corresponding .com may provide protection against use of the other name by a competitor. Alternative New Extensions ICANN approved, in a number of cases, both singular and plural forms of the same word in the new extensions. For example we have .accountant and .accountants, .auto and .autos, .game and .games, .gift and .gifts, .loan and .loans, .new and .news, .photo and .photos, and .work and .works. In other cases we have words with somewhat similar meanings such as .date and .dating, .dental and .dentist, .engineer and .engineering, .law and .legal, .photo and .photography, .sex and .sexy, .shop and .shopping, .supply and .supplies, and .tech and .technology. While it is probably not reasonable to hold both for investment purposes in most cases, it is at least worthwhile to look at the cost and status of alternatives if you hold one of the names. Number plus Written-Out Forms Domain names including numbers are fairly common, but they open up the possibility of either being written out such as NineteenExamples.com or abbreviated as 19Examples.com. To fully pass the radio test you would need both forms of the domain name. While I believe that in general domain investors often regard the written-out form as preferable, mixed number and letter domain names seem to be growing in popularity. Interchangeable Names The first few times I typed in the name for the recent Epik liquidation platform, I sometimes typed DomainLiquidate instead of NameLiquidate. This demonstrates that sometimes it can be helpful for an end-user to have both forms of frequently used alternatives. Practically though, in most cases, there are enough alternatives that holding them all for domain investment purposes is not feasible. The Pro Argument Any website wants to lose as little traffic as possible to confusion over the precise domain name. This is the argument to hold, for example, both the UK and American spelling if you are a global brand, and some of your clients will naturally use each spelling. On the other hand, in the era when Google completes most web searches, and email is used less frequently in business transactions, this may be less important than it might seem at first glance. It is important to find competitive advantages in the offering of your domain names. In the same way that some use logos, descriptions, or graphical presentations to give them a slight boost, it can be argued that offering a pair of names is a bonus that may distinguish the name from a competitor name in certain cases. Darryl Lopes mentions the idea of, as a domain broker, selling pairs of domain names in his book How to Get Started in Domain Names: The Con Argument When you make a pitch to a potential client it is important that they view that this is the domain name that is congruent with their company storyline. Obtaining it can bring them significant competitive advantages. If the domain is being offered as part of a pair, it may naturally cause the potential client to wonder if there are also other domain names that could be important to have. That is, offering a pair may sow seeds of weakness in the minds of potential clients. A second argument against holding a pair of domain names is simply based on holding costs, which are at least doubled. If the second part of a pair is significantly less desired, it may not make sense to pay the ongoing costs of holding both related names. Success in domaining essentially involves maximum sales opportunity for each investment dollar. Others oppose the idea of holding pairs of domain names simply because they feel that if one holds the preferred name in .com, then it is not necessary to hold any other forms. Marketing Strategy If you do choose to hold some domain name pairs, what is the best way to market them? One approach is to actively promote initially only the better name of the pair, and then, near the end of the negotiation, bring the other part of the pair into play. This could either be to seal the deal when the client seems not quite sure about your domain name, or to tack on an additional domain sale to make the transaction a bit more lucrative. Another Approach If you feel that there are sometimes arguments for an end-user to have a pair, but don’t wish to have the acquisition and carrying costs of both names, another alternative is to know who does own the other part of a pair. If it is available for sale, point out that you can act as a broker to acquire the other name as well for your client. This may help you complete the deal as well as give you additional income. What Do You Think? It is likely that domain investors feel strongly on both sides of the case of holding domain pairs. Please share your opinions in the comments section. Are there types of pairs that I have missed? I would also like to hear about the types of domain pairs which you personally hold, if any, and success that you have had, or not, in selling domain pairs.