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Bob Hawkes

Holding Pairs of Related Domain Names: A Sound Domain Investing Strategy?

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By Bob Hawkes, Feb 5, 2020
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Do you currently hold any type of domain pairs in your portfolio?

  1. No, and I don’t plan to acquire any.

    69 votes
    24.6%
  2. No, but I might consider adding a few.

    25 votes
    8.9%
  3. Yes, but only a few.

    133 votes
    47.5%
  4. Yes, I hold a number of them.

    53 votes
    18.9%
Total: 280 vote(s)
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    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.
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and informal educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 26th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

    Home Page:
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  5. Comments (54)

  6. dande

    dande Gold & Silver VIP

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    While holding domains in pairs can be challenging to maintain due to the renewal costs, it could sometimes worth the expenses if the names are deserving.

    Here are some of the fews that I currently holds:

    JacuzziCover(s).com - both are 20 years old each.

    SkinOdor.com and SkinOdour.com
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
  7. dtagr

    dtagr Chris Stephenson VIP Gold Account ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I often purchase similar names to keep them off the market while I negotiate. For example I might reg in .net or .org or .ca to prevent an escape hatch from the name I am offering. Sometimes I will purchae a name with a hyphen for the same purpose. Redirect the names so they don't resolve and ignore any inquiries until the deal is done. Defensive registrations I call them.
     
  8. Paul T

    Paul T Established Member

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    As a result of recent UK politics I have recently acquired and I am offering out as a triptych.

    rejoiners.com rejoiners.org and rejoiners.co.uk mainly because I could not decide which was better for a UK movement to rejoin the European Economic Union, but I do consider this as an exceptional circumstance.:xf.smile: Another great article !
     
  9. pb

    pb Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    In many languages (e.g. German, Polish), for some keywords it's crucial to have a IDN+nIDN pair, in some cases the lack of IDN (or the possibility to acquire it from a third party) can be a deal-breraker. Other than that I have or had some singular+plural pairs but not all of them survived. Sometimes I would drop the one that sounded worse. Sometimes I would sell one and the buyer had no interest in the other. For domains that I use for business, I try to secure other extensions and sometimes variations like Word24, eWord, iWord etc.
     
  10. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Top Member NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Thank you very much for pointing out this additional type of pair that had totally missed my radar, @pb. I suspect that I have missed other obvious types of pairs, and hope readers will mention them.

    Thank you also for sharing your long experience in holding pairs of names.

    Bob
     
  11. NameSellingcom

    NameSellingcom Established Member

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    Owning domain name pairs is not a bad thing if you can get your hands on them.
    Why not corner the market and reduce competition?!
    I own singular and plural CashSite(s).com and StreamOption(s).

    Don't be afraid to own plural domain names. Sometimes the plural version of the domain name has a totally different meaning than the singular version and it could end up being more valuable.

    Mark Thorpe
     
  12. pb

    pb Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    On the other hand, why not let someone build a business on a .net or hyphenated .com, then sit back and watch how your .com's value goes up?
     
  13. Reddstagg

    Reddstagg Top Contributor VIP Gold Account

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    Good evening,

    You know you have arrived as a domain investor when you get name checked by @Bob Hawkes . Thank you.

    Another brilliant article highlighting many important issues. We are in such a competitive industry where we have to try anything to succeed. Surely, what I was proposing was just a version of the decades old marketing ploy of 'BOGOF'. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

    Turning a 360 here, but if I were setting up a business I would want to own as many relevant domain names pertaining to my business as possible. It just makes sense and owning a pair or twin of my domain name would be considerably cheaper than other forms of advertising and could be used in a positive way.

    Regards,

    Reddstagg
     
  14. dtagr

    dtagr Chris Stephenson VIP Gold Account ★★★★★★★★★★

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    It depends on the name (or name pairings) frankly. Some of them I'm OK with sitting back, it can be a good strategy to let someone else build those out. But if I'm outbounding and I go to the trouble of regging or even buying similar pairs, when you factor in regging,purchase and renewal costs sitting back isn't very capital efficient.

    When viewed buy a potential buyer "superfantasticdomainname.com" is being offered and a quick check of"super-fantasticdomainname.com" and "superfantasticdomainname.co" aren't cheaply available I think it adds pressure on the buyer.

    But again it all depends on your valuation of the name you are selling. If it's a $500 name it's not worth the time and effort for me. I'll sit back and wait for something to happen. Add a zero and now I have a decision to make.

    Hope that clarifies.
     
  15. BrandAptly.com

    BrandAptly.com Established Member

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    Yet another awesome article from Bob.

    I purchased FolioBay for a project 10 years ago that didn't quite materialize. I own it in .com, .org, .net, .mobi, .info and .us.

    I also have domaincater.com, namecater.com and brandcater.com partly because I couldn't decide and also for brand protection.
     
  16. Reddstagg

    Reddstagg Top Contributor VIP Gold Account

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    I'm at the bottom looking up so I do what I think is best for me at this time. Generally, I will hand register a name for $10 and register the hyphenated version for another $10.

    The thing to bear in mind is that for just $20 I have doubled my chances of an end user finding my domain name.

    What if the end user had typed in the hyphenated version only? In a round-about way they then arrive at the non-hyphenated version once discussion takes place and this can be used as a selling tool and vice-versa.

    Maybe, and this is just my opinion (without any scientific based factual evidence) it would be more difficult with a name that has been purchased or is at the top end of the price ranges being offered.

    Does 'BOGOF' still feel good when you're rich?

    Is having fewer names and all bases covered better than having many names with wildcard pairs and twins in the wind?
     
  17. NameAcquisitions

    NameAcquisitions Name Acquisitions/Sales VIP ICA Member Gold Account

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    Great article. Another type: Common mis-types.

    Such as miniaturegolf (correct) and minaturegolf (not).
     
  18. NameDeck

    NameDeck Top Contributor VIP

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    How about rejoiners.eu? Perfect hack :)
     
  19. Paul T

    Paul T Established Member

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    Yes LOL and that highlights the problem of loosing the confidence of the buyer in uniqueness as described above.
     
  20. topdom

    topdom Top Contributor VIP

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    I prefer american spelling, and accent.
    I would buy singular and plural if both are good and affordable. In brandables quite often one of them makes sense and the other doesn't.
     
  21. White Fang

    White Fang CustomerService.com ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I own a few of these "sibling" pairs; ex. AtlantaCancer.com and AtlantaCancerTreatment.com I think this kind of "pair" only increases their value. Thoughts?
     
  22. NamesBond

    NamesBond Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    This may be a bit contrarian, but when I started in domains many years ago, I bought name pairs (singular/plural), multiple extensions, and name variations (E.g. PhoenixDentist and BestPhoenixDentist, etc.) I figured that Buyers would want to brand around as many names as possible and, at the very least, I thought I could use the plurals (for example) as a deal sweetener.

    Surprisingly, over the years, I discovered that Endusers had virtually zero interest in the "related" names. They simply wanted the exact match, singular, dot-com if available. (They often wouldn't even pay $500 to acquire a plural, even if they had already purchased the singular from me for mid-$$$$. Some even flat-out refused to take a dot-com "related" dot-net/dot-org even when offered "gratis!") Additionally, I discovered that the carry costs (renewals) on these variations were an absolute profit killer. Thus, I adopted a philosophy of "Buy the best, forget the rest." (E.g. Acquire the singular dot-com and avoid all the additional names, be they plural, other extensions, and further variations, barring rare standalone exceptions as those @Bob Hawkes noted above - E.g. "Taxes".) This strategy has worked for me and helped me to keep portfolio costs down - I'm curious to know how others have fared when it comes to "related" domain name" sales.

    PS - When it comes to UK spellings, with the exception of a few names including Armor vs Armour and Jewelry vs Jewellry, alternate spellings haven't proven too profitable for me...
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
  23. Mister Funsky

    Mister Funsky Top Contributor VIP

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    I own several 'pairs'.

    Just like the game of monopoly taught me as a child.
     
  24. FolioTeam

    FolioTeam AMDB.tv VIP

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    For irrelevant terms, I can let that slide. But for more fitting examples like hypothetically registering peace.com where the .org and .net are still available, I will definitely consider holding a pair even if it's just peace.com and peace.org.
     
  25. tomcarl

    tomcarl Top Contributor VIP

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    From my experience, come to your own conclusions:

    I've had end-users approach me for the singular of a brand, opening offers in 4 figs while the plural of the same name was available for registration fee.

    I've also had end-users approach me for the plural of a brand, but this occurs a lot less frequently and usually the opening offer is usually a lot less motivated than if the domain was the plural version, although negotiations can reach $x,xxx if the brand represents a lucrative niche/industry.

    Never did the same person aggressively pursue both ether from me or the other seller from the research I've done, even when I owned it and offered it to them as a package for a slightly higher price, they were usually focused on the one and didn't care much for the other.

    The opposite is true when the domain is more keyword-based representing/describing a product or service.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  26. RJ

    RJ Domain Buyer PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    ^ I agree completely, also based on experience -- most end users don't want or care about the related names. I think registering the hyphenated or .net versions of your .com domains is a waste of money that could be better spent. I only register pairs of names when both names are of equal quality and can stand on their own or be sold to different buyers.
     
  27. pb

    pb Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Very much this. Like Apple can be a brand and Apples is a great product domain. Lots of common nouns will work like that.
     
  28. kandyan

    kandyan Established Member

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    I have few of those, just to keep them off the market.
     
  29. lock

    lock DomainUsed.com VIP

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    I have a few examples
    marketises and marketizes dot com
    webmasterevents webmaster dot events
    I am always working to get matches.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
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