Pinyin is the use of Roman letters to represent Chinese characters. Many Chinese companies use Pinyin to create corporate domain names in Roman letters. Investing in Pinyin names can be profitable, but there are some pitfalls that can get in the way. In this blog post, I'll provide some tips on researching Pinyin domain names. The first thing to keep in mind is that while many Chinese people understand Pinyin, most do not use it in their daily lives. Chinese consumers think of a company or product name in terms of Chinese characters and not Pinyin words. As seen on Chinese news sites, most Chinese people prefer to consume information in Chinese characters. With that in mind, let's look at the following ways that you might want to evaluate Pinyin domain names. 1. Ask the domain seller for the corresponding Chinese characters and meanings for the Pinyin name. It's much easier to evaluate a Pinyin name when its Chinese characters are also included. You may also need to know the Chinese characters to help you explain the value of your domain to a potential Chinese buyer. Most people will be able to understand the name with Chinese characters right away, while the Pinyin translation will take time. For example, a name such as “MeiLi” requires mental translation but its Chinese characters “美丽” can be understood instantly. So, I think it is important that you know the Chinese translation of a Pinyin name if you are thinking of buying it. 2. Research if there is more than one Chinese phrase that the Pinyin name represents. Very often, one Pinyin name can represent several Chinese phrases. For Example: MeiLi: 美丽 (Beauty) MeiLi: 魅力 (Charm) The more Chinese phrases the Pinyin name can represent, the more end users you can potentially find. It will certainly help to know all of the possible meanings of your Pinyin name. 3. Make sure the Pinyin name makes sense. I've seen some investors acquiring names ending with "de" (的) for the purpose of turning a noun into an adjective. Unfortunately, this does not always work, as the adjective only makes sense if there is an object attached to it. Many Chinese phrases can end with "de," which is fine, but there is a problem when you want "de" to refer to the character “的.” For Example: MeiLi.com: 美丽 (beauty) is a very good name. MeiLiDeNuRen.com: 美丽的女人 (beautiful woman) still works despite its length. MeiLiDe.com: 美丽的 cannot be translated properly, because "de" must be followed by an object for the name to be complete. Usually, if I'm unsure about whether a Chinese phrase works, I enter it into Baidu, which tells me how the phrase is commonly used. 4. Familiarize yourself with terms such as single-pin, double-pin, 3-pin, and 4-pin. These terms refer to the number of Pinyin words that are in a (domain) name. Each Pinyin word translates to a Chinese character, so double-pin names such as “MeiLi” contain two Pinyin words, which translates to two Chinese characters. Here are some examples of single-pin through 4-pin names: Le.com (乐) is single-pin BaiDu.com (百度) is double-pin RenRenDai.com (人人贷) is 3-pin WeiYingShiDai.com (微影时代 ) is 4-pin As with most domain names, I think that shorter Pinyin names are more valuable. Double-pin names are perhaps the most popular because Chinese companies tend to use two characters for their names. Very few companies use names longer than 4-pin because they are hard for consumers to remember. 5. Beware of competition from acronym domain names. This is particularly true for names that are 4-pin or longer. For longer names, there are often acronyms, and companies may prefer to use the shorter acronym name. For example, 非常星梦网, which means "a dream to become a special star," is a talent discovery platform in China. Its matching Pinyin domain name is FeiChangXingMengWang.com, which is a 5-pin name still available for registration as of this writing. The company has chosen the acronym FCXMW.com for their corporate website. The domain name that they already have is shorter and easier to remember than the full Pinyin name, so they probably don’t have any interest in the 5-pin version of their name. 6. Beware of future competition from Chinese IDN.IDN domain names. Many Chinese IDN extensions have been launched recently, such as .公司 (company), .中国 (China), and .世界 (world). It is possible that these extensions have the potential to dethrone Pinyin names and become the new standard in China. Chinese IDN.IDN domain names match the Chinese consumer habit of remembering company names by their Chinese characters, which might make them more appealing than Pinyin names. For example, 人人贷.公司 (everybodylends.company) is a Chinese three-character domain with a two-character extension that is much easier to remember than its Pinyin representation*: RenRenDai.com or RenRenDai.company. * 公司 is GongSi in Pinyin, but GongSi is currently not a TLD; if .GongSi existed, .公司 would still be easier to remember for Chinese consumers. 7. Make sure your domain name is really a Pinyin name. There are multiple ways to translate Chinese characters into Roman letters, and the method of translation varies by location. For example, NayHoh.com, NeeHau.com, and NiHao.com may all look like Pinyin names, and they all mean “hello,” but they are actually different variants for the same Chinese characters that are used in different places: NayHoh (你好) is Cantonese, and mainly used in Hong Kong and Macau. NeeHau (你好) is Mandarin, and mainly used in Taiwan. NiHao (你好) is Pinyin, and mainly used in China. Currently, China is the largest market among the three regions, so Pinyin names for China are the most interesting names to me. It’s also possible to look for Cantonese domain names that you might use to target buyers in Hong Kong or Macau, or Mandarin names for Taiwan. -- If you are thinking about registering Pinyin domain names, I hope these tips will help you. Even after researching a Pinyin domain name that you might acquire, it’s still a good idea to check with a Chinese native to see if your translations are correct and to gain any insight you can from them. Follow me to learn more about Chinese domain names. This blog post was inspired by @London555. Special thanks go to the NamePros editing team for their great support.