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strategy Look Beyond A Single Domain Name Metric

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Successful domain investment depends on the art of selecting effective names, as well as the science of using measures to evaluate positive attributes of names.

We often consider various metrics, such as the number of extensions, or how frequently the term is used in business names.

In most cases it is better to take a multifaceted approach, considering many dimensions, before making a domain name acquisition decision.

First Things First

Before looking at any metrics for the domain name, make sure that the basics of the name are strong. These would include the following:
  • Is this name of high quality? Would I invest my own money in starting a business on the name?
  • Can I readily come up with multiple realistic possibilities for how this name could be used?
  • The name should not target a single existing business. Have I researched and made sure the term avoids trademark issues?
  • Is the name easily remembered, spelled and shared?
  • If I think the name is a dictionary word, is it really? Always check spelling in a major dictionary.
  • Are the aesthetics of the name strong? Say it aloud. Write it down. Image it in a mock logo. Share the name with friends.
  • Be alert to negative meanings. Does the name have a negative meaning in another language. Could it be broken into two words with an unfortunate meaning?
  • Check that the name is not on blacklists or has been abused in the past.
  • Have you tentatively decided on a listing price? Further research may cause you to refine the price, but it is helpful to have a price in mind from the outset.
If you have considered these points, and perhaps others, and have a short list of names under consideration, metrics can help you rate names.

The rest of this article is a hypothetical exercise involving five different domain names, designated A through E. We will assume that all five have passed the above tests.

For purposes of the exercise, consider that the name is a single dictionary-word term, and that the extension is one of the ones after .com, that is .net, .org, .co, .io, .xyz, .ai, or a few others.

How Old and Does That Matter?

The official age of a domain name is the time over which there has been continuous registration, without drops. When a name expires and is registered again, its clock is reset. For the domain names in our exercise, here are the official ages.

A
B
C
D
E
Age
1.9 yr​
11.9 yr​
4.9 yr​
1.0 yr​
0.0 yr​

One name (E) is available now to hand register, so the official age is 0. Name D has been registered one year, and is about to drop. Names A, B and C have both been registered for multiple years, and are in expired domain name auctions.

If a name has been held for many years, some consider it more likely to be a worthwhile name. A name like E has either never been registered, or was registered and allowed to expire without anyone picking it up.

An analysis Does Domain Name Age Matter? showed that most names that sell for strong prices are aged by multiple years, but that the age of the domain name is only very weakly correlated with domain age.

Just because many valuable names are aged, does not mean that all aged domain names have any value. So while the age metric might suggest B and C, we have already taken into account the quality of each name, so age by itself does not necessarily add to that.

The Wayback Machine can help see if and how a name has been used in the past, while HosterStats will detect when a name has been registered multiple times.

Domain B is 11.9 years old but was only slightly developed for a project that never really got off the ground, and has had the same owner over the 12 years. Domain D is only one year officially aged, but has been registered and dropped 5 different times over the period covered by HosterStats. That is an indication that multiple people saw value in the domain name.

How Many Extensions?

One metric often used when evaluating domain names is the number of TLDs, or extensions, in which the exact term is registered. The thinking goes that valuable domain name terms will be registered by many different investors and end users. You can use DotDB to find the number of TLDs for any term.

Here are the results for the five domain names.

A
B
C
D
E
No. TLDs
78​
6​
39​
32​
69​

The results indicate that name B is weak according to this metric. But how significant is the number of TLDs as a measure of worth? The vast majority of these registered names will not be developed, and in some cases many extensions are held by one investor. Also, whether a term is designated as premium pricing by a registry that handles many extensions can influence this number. Therefore, while this metric is strongest for names A and E, let’s look a bit deeper.

How Many Businesses?

If a term has been used in a large number of business names, odds are that future startups may use that term too. Also, there is some chance that one of the existing businesses may want to upgrade to a single-word domain name. A free tool to investigate number of business and organization listings is OpenCorporates, that I abbreviate as aOCs, meaning Active Open Corporate Listings.

A
B
C
D
E
No. aOCs
64​
4​
52​
298​
19​

By this metric, name D seems the clear first choice. Considering it’s strength in number of extensions as well, name A would be in second place.

As we saw in last week’s article, Why Is That Domain Not Selling?, it is important to consider the rate of formation of new businesses in a sector, and not simply the total number. That is not easy to evaluate.

It can be instructive to see how many CrunchBase listings there are in a term, since these tend to be recent startups.

A
B
C
D
E
No. CB
2​
0​
9​
1​
5​

We see there is not much data, but name C is relatively strong, meaning a number of recent startups are using that term. Note that name D, the clear choice in terms of OpenCorporates listings, does not fare well when one looks at CrunchBase numbers.

In the article Will Anyone Really Use The Domain Name I covered other ways, such as LinkedIn, to evaluate business use of a term.

Let’s summarize where we are at in terms of the metrics.
  • Name A performed well in number of extensions and OpenCorporate listings, although only a couple of CrunchBase listings.
  • Name B has been ruled out. Even though held for many years, that was for a particular project, and in terms of registered extensions, OpenCorporate listings, or CrunchBase, that name does not do well.
  • While name C was middle of the pack by other metrics, it does lead in CrunchBase, possibly an indication of a term on the rise.
  • Name D is the clear winner in terms of OpenCorporate listings, but only a single CrunchBase listing. It also had only 32 registered TLDs.
  • The name available for hand registration, E, has a strong number of registered TLDs, not many OpenCorporate listings, but 5 on CrunchBase.
.COM Status

In our hypothetical example, the extension of the names under consideration was not .com. There is no doubt that the .com is, in almost all situations, the preferred extension, so a critical point to consider is the status of the .com for the same term.

A
B
C
D
E
.COM Status
$350,000​
$1500​
$2995​
DEV​
DEV​

It turns out that two of the terms have the .com available for sale at a modest prices, $1500 for B and $2995 for C. While there may be exceptions, with the .com listed for sale at these amounts, it is hard to see how one can sell another extension in the same term for enough to make the costs and risk worthwhile.

The .com pricing is problematic for name C, but since it is strong in CrunchBase, should your domain name be the .io, often desired by tech startups, it might be worthwhile to consider.

Is it better to have a name fully developed, like D and E, or listed for $350,000 as the .com of name A?

How Many Afternic Exact Term Listings?

Even if the .com is either firmly developed, or priced high, you also need to consider competition from other extensions. I covered the topic of competitors for your domain name in the article Conducting A Selective Portfolio Review.

One check is to search the term on Afternic, and count the exact match listings for that term. It is often surprising, sometimes almost no listings for even a fairly well-known term that is registered in a large number of TLDs.

A
B
C
D
E
Afternic
5​
3​
7​
9​
3​
aOCs
64​
4​
52​
298​
19​
Ratio
12.8​
1.3​
7.4​
33.1​
6.3​

It is not that all of these are competition, or that Afternic is the only place that buyers may check, but it does suggest options the prospective buyer might consider. You can extend this to Sedo and Dan listings.

I find it helpful to compare the ratio of number of business listings to the number of exact names listed for sale. You can see that by this ratio name D is in the strongest position, with 33 existing businesses for every one name listed on Afternic, although A is also relatively strong with a 12.8 ratio.

A complete competitor check will find buy-it-now pricing for extensions most similar to the one you are considering. Ideally, you desire a situation where the main competitor TLDs are either not listed for sale, or are priced substantially above your intended price.

So what is the right answer for this exercise? That is left up to you to decide!

Sometimes the evaluation will show a really strong name on many metrics, but at other times the different metrics may not agree. In our example, age alone suggested B the clear winner. If we looked at registered extensions, A and E shone. But when we considered business listings in the term, D was the clear winner, although based on CrunchBase that would shift to C. If we consider the ratio of businesses using the term to number of exact for sale listings, then D was first, followed by A.

Metrics can be helpful, providing additional insights on a name, but there will not usually be a simple conclusion.

Using different metrics, rather than just depending on one or two, will usually provide a more balanced view.

Keep in mind that ultimately the key question is how useful this domain name will be to a business. That takes priority over any individual metrics.

Don’t underestimate consideration of names in competition with your prospective name.
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
Amazing post Bob!! Cheers πŸš€πŸš€πŸš€πŸš€
 
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Good read. Insightful. Thank you Bob
 
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Thanks Mr. @Bob Hawkes.
Your articles have had the greatest impact on my domaining career.
 
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Here is a METRIC for y'all :

DIBsy-Webalyzer-6-10-23.png


was going to start my own thread but decided to go with The HAWKster...

Cheers !
 
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You're a class act Bob, brilliant post, should be mandatory reading for all domain investors.
 
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(y) tu sir

Always look at the raw name and its relationship to the extension. Some extensions are simply not investable for resale no matter the match, but individual usage can be perfect.

Dot-com is a catch-all which is why it remains number one. I find its popularity does cloud a quality naming experience though for low capital entrants.
 
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