Earlier this month ScienceAndTechnologyResearchNews.com sold for $2025 at GoDaddy. That was the first sale over $2000 during the last 5 years of an unhyphenated domain name longer than 30 letters, at least from sales recorded on NameBio. It was not the longest name sold by far. For example, in 2019 TheLongestListOfTheLongestStuffAtTheLongestDomainNameAtLongLast.com sold, also at GoDaddy, for $1025. I thought this was a good time to consider the question: How long is too long for a domain name? The answer is not as obvious as one might think. Outlier Sales Let us first consider the two sales noted in the introduction. They are definitely outlier sales, with the worth based on the development history, rather than necessarily the inherent quality of the names. TheLongestListOfTheLongestStuffAtTheLongestDomainNameAtLongLast.com is a nicely developed site, and has been for some time, covering topics such as the longest roads, rivers and lives lived. While ScienceAndTechnologyResearchNews.com does not resolve at the time of writing, back in 2017-18 this was a well developed site with strong authority and backlinks - you can use the WayBack Machine to see how the site looked then. Especially given online advertising opportunities in science and technology, the domain name was probably acquired hoping to benefit from positive past use. While some long names are outlier sales related to search engine optimization, SEO, long names do at times sell on their own merits. I looked at 3-word (and a few 4-word) major .com sales in a past NamePros Blog post. This year we saw a $300,000 sale of a 19-letter domain name. What Do We Mean By Domain Length? The answer to this question seems at first obvious, but there are other ways to look at length than simply the number of characters in the second level domain. Here are some possibilities. Number of characters left of the dot. Number of characters combined on both sides of the dot. Number of words in the domain name. Number of syllables in the domain name. There is also a difference between visual and audio length. For example the brand KFC is just 3 characters when written, and shorter than the brand Lyft, but when pronounced Lyft is a single syllable lift, whereas KFC is three syllables pronounced as kay eff see. A large number of syllables may sometimes lead to audio confusion, while a short visual look is important for names that you want clients to remember after seeing them. The relative importance of audio and visual length will depend on application. If we count characters on both sides of the dot, there may be an advantage to country code extensions that are just 2 characters long, particularly those extensions such as .it and .me that can also be spoken as a single syllable. The domain hack li.me, used by a scooter sharing service Lime, manages a single syllable across both sides of the dot combined. New extensions vary from 3 to many characters. Some extensions are easily remembered as a single common word, even though long, while other extensions, like .cyou may need an explanation. The minimum length allowed for a new gTLD is 3 characters. Is there an advantage to short extensions, like .top or .dev, compared to longer ones like .technology or .international? Personally, I think it is the memorability and familiarity of the extension that is more important than simply the number of characters, but opinions vary. Length And Prices For several domain extensions, I used the NameBio database to look at average prices as a function of domain length. I restricted my attention to sales from the last 5 years, and looked at the .com, .org, .co and .io extensions. I excluded domain names with hyphens or numbers from this study. The results are shown in the following graph, with the blue line showing the average price for .com, while the corresponding .org, .co and .io results are shown underneath. Note that I have not included results for 2 and 3 character domain names, which would be well off scale for .com. The average sales price of a 2-letter .com is $1 million, with a median price of $900,000. The 3-letter .com average is about $66,200 over the past 5 years. The correlation of average price with domain length, while present, is weaker than I expected, if you eliminate the 2 and 3 letter sales. The upward blips at 5 and 15 letters in the .com results are due to the impact of a single stellar sale on the average, voice.com that sold for $30 million in 2019 and HealthInsurance.com that sold for $8.133 million, also in 2019. There are changes in relative average prices with domain extension. Except for the voice.com impacted length, .co average prices are higher than .com for domain names of length 4 to 9 letters, while .com is significantly higher for longer names. If we consider only long domain names, the difference between .org and .com prices is insignificant. For long names, the relationship between average price and length is weak. It should be kept in mind that NameBio is a mix of wholesale and retail sales, and that average prices can be misleading, particularly if the ratio of wholesale to retail sales changes with extension or length, as is likely to be the case. Length And Number Of Sales While for some lengths the average price does not depend strongly on length, I was interested in how different the number of sales is for domain names of different length. I plot the data for .com sales from the past 5 years below. Out to about length 16 letters, the number of sales remains strong for all lengths. That is probably reflective that many sales are 2-word .com domain names, and many words are 6 to 9 letters long. The number of sales of long names drops off much faster in .io, where there are fewer than 100 sales for all lengths past 11 letters. The drop-off with length is even stronger in .co, with fewer than 100 sales per length for all above 10 letters. Final Thoughts While it is important to keep the number of characters, and also the word and syllable count, in mind, a simple rule will not tell you if a particular domain name is too long. I think the key point is whether the domain name is as short as it could be to clearly define the idea. For example, NewYorkCityAirConditioning.com is, strictly speaking, 5 words, 8 syllables and 26 letters, but none of them are unnecessary to fully express the idea. Ask yourself if your domain name has unnecessary terms that are easily replaced with alternative words. In those cases, there are many competitors for your domain name, and that will impact value and sales probability. For example, as I write this, the domain name GreatConditioners.com is available to hand register, even though it is both positive and descriptive and passes the audio test. The reason is that one could replace the name great with many alternative words, like super, superb, fantastic, perfect, etc. Therefore the domain name is not unique enough to command a high price on the aftermarket. Going back to one of the examples of the introduction, even though 5 words, 10 syllables and 32 letters long, it might be argued that ScienceAndTechnologyResearchNews.com is as short as it could be to exactly express the idea of the site. It is likely that optimum length is different for a brand compared to a secondary domain name that is to be used for marketing. A great many brands are just 2, or even 1, syllable long, and often have no more than 10 characters. You can get a good idea of desired length by looking at successful brands, and also names that have been selected for inclusion in the brandable marketplaces. A marketing name is more likely to be longer in order to exactly describe a product or service. Too short a name may not specify that product closely enough. For example, conditioners.com would be a great name, but by itself it does not tell me whether it refers to hair, air, or some other type of conditioners. While in theory one could use the third level domain name to specify that, e.g. hair.conditioners.com, and in fact run parallel sites for both on a single domain name, the use of third level domain names has not yet achieved much traction, except for certain country situations where they are the standard. For phrase domain names, the question is not so much the total length, but rather is your domain name precisely a commonly used phrase. An easy test for a domain name phrase is randomly cover a few letters, and ask if someone will still recognize the phrase. Why not share your thoughts on questions of domain length in the comments? Thanks to NameBio for the data used in this analysis.