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When following domain name sales on NameBio, certain sales seem surprising. In some cases, the price was due to a strong link set. Also, now and then, it might be a domain name that was let to expire by mistake and the owner needs to bid to get it back, or an existing business may be bidding on their exact match .com.

But even excluding those explanations, certain names that conventional domain name reasoning rate not particularly strongly, sell for high prices. Some of these are outliers, and one should not build an investing strategy on outlier sales. But are we being too limited in defining what makes a good name?

Looking at anything with an open mind can help us understand things more completely, and sometimes find actionable information for new strategies.

What About Long Names?

It’s true that most major sales come from relatively short domain names. But longer domain names also sell, quite often in fact.

I looked at the last 60 months of .com sales at $1000 plus listed on NameBio. While there were 53,300 sales of relatively short names, 11 characters or less, there were 23,600 sales of names 12 or more characters in length.

The average price of $3321 for the longer names was less than for the shorter names, $7355, but still solid. Here is a link to the list of sales of longer names, ordered by price.

Some of these sales of longer names were at high prices, such as HealthInsurance.com that sold for $8.1 million in 2019, CrosswordPuzzles.com at $249,980 in 2018, and CybersecurityJobs.com for $205,000 this year.

If we look at those examples, I think the key idea is obvious: Is the name as short as possible to completely define the concept? For example, health or insurance are great names, but until combined they don’t describe the idea of health insurance. Now if we added another term, a qualifier before, it is no longer as short as necessary, or as unique.

Same thing with CybersecurityJobs – it is not short, but it is as short as possible to completely describe the idea.

The takeaway is: Don’t think simply in terms of number of letters or syllables. Rather, ask yourself if this is the shortest form that fully expresses the idea.

A second important check for longer names is memorability. Will someone be able to remember this exact name? Sometimes even a rather long name can be easily remembered, particularly if it is a natural phrase. A simple test: show a list of names to a friend or colleague, and 24 hr later ask them to recall names from the list.

Does Age Matter?

Sometimes investors will filter names to consider on the basis of domain age. It is true that most of the great names were registered long ago, and the really special ones have been retained since creation.

One can readily check a domain age with any Whois, while ExpiredDomains will show you both the Whois Birth Year (WBY column) and the Archive.org birth year, at least according to first archived copy (ABY column). For many extensions HosterStats will show you the various past registrations since 2000.

But a well-aged name does not always have relevance. If you are looking for names related to very recent technology, it is unreasonable to expect aged domain names. Also, age probably means little for made-up brandable name creations. Some new extension names have not been out long.

If filtering by domain age, make sure that it makes sense to do that for the sort of name being sought.

Also, because many investors will filter by age, and ignore newer names, sometime you can get an advantage by looking over the less aged names that others ignore.

Don’t be overly swayed by domain age. Try to concentrate on the quality of the name itself.

The question ‘Does Age Matter?’ has been discussed many different times on NamePros, such as this 2019 discussion on domain age.

I am not sure who to credit with first saying this, but a useful way to think about it is that most great names are aged, but just because a name is aged does not insure that it is at all great.

And of course the domain age does not matter to most end user buyers, except in cases where the name was developed and is to be used in a similar way so the link profile can help the new site quickly gain traction if done carefully.

Is Number Of TLDs A Useful Metric?

Many check any prospective name in dotDB, looking both at how many top level domains (TLDs) the exact term has been registered in, along with how many longer names include the term. The thinking is that great names will be widely recognized, and taken in many extensions.

It is true that there is a positive correlation between domain sales price and number of registered TLDs, although there is a lot of spread around the correlation.

For example, about a year ago I looked at .xyz sales data, including how the sales price related to number of registered TLDs.
IMAGE-TLD-XYZ-RegressionXYZ.png

Note that in the graph title last 12 months means from the date of the analysis, not the most recent 12 months. While I found a positive correlation, the R2 measure of quality of correlation, was only 0.32, indicating a weak correlation. While most of the higher-price sales in the sample did have 150 or more registered TLDs, there were notable exceptions.

The higher the acceptance of an extension, the smaller will be the number of other extensions required to indicate a valuable name. For example, a .com may have strong value even if just a dozen other registrations in the exact term, whereas for a brand new extension just released one would want to see a much higher number of other extensions registered.

I think a reasonable takeaway is check the number of TLDs, but don’t let it override your independent opinion on domain name quality.

Possibly a more important measure than total number of registered extensions, is how many of the important extensions are developed. For example, if you find that the .com, .net, .org and .xyz are all developed for some term, then it probably is an indication that the .co or .io are good investments, if they can be procured at a reasonable price.

Sales Data Is Important, Right?

A standard check on prior sales, using NameBio, should be on your checklist of acquisition considerations. When checking that data, note price and when the sale occurred.

Don’t let reported sales history alone drive your decision, though. The main reason is that only a minority, perhaps 20% or a bit more, of the retail sales are reported in NameBio.

You can broaden the sales data a bit by also searching for comparator sales listed in GoDaddy Appraisal, but even combining that with NameBio will be far from a complete sales record.

How Many Businesses?

I personally never acquire a name without checking how many active businesses and organization are using, or have used, that term as part of their name. This can be done with a search on LinkedIn, or by using OpenCorporates. Remember to check the active only box on OpenCorporates, to exclude companies that have gone out of business.

I think number of businesses is usually important information to consider. For example, let’s say you have a two-word name that has mortgage as one of the terms. There are more than 86,000 businesses listed on OpenCorporates with that term in name. Depending on the strength and flexibility of the other term, and the synergy between the two, there are prospectively many buyers for the name.

Developing lists of currently valuable terms will help guide your search for domain names worthy of investment. That said, if you are doing all your searching of available names using only terms in your lists, be sure to update and improve your lists periodically.

And even though an important metric, I would not let number of business listings sway you from a name that you feel is very strong, but not used much.

What About Dictionary Words Not Used Much?

Using resources like ExpiredDomains, it is relatively easy to search for dictionary word names, in a variety of languages, that are about to drop, currently in auction, or recently expired. Be sure they are authentic dictionary names, however, by double checking in a standard online dictionary like Merriam-Webster or Collins. This is the link to an introductory guide to using ExpiredDomains.

But if a name, even though a dictionary word, is not in use by any or many businesses, is it investment worthy? While often it is not, by excluding all with less than some number of existing businesses we may shut out some worthwhile names.

Imagine you are starting a business. If you start on a term that is widely used already, it will take a lot of marketing by the company to get to the first page of Google, because general use and established businesses will be listed first.

If instead the startup brands on a less familiar term, it may be easier for the business to rank in search, simply because the established competition is less. I realize this is contrary to most conventional wisdom, and may not be valid, but I think it should be considered as a possibility.

Here again, the key question is the strength of the name beyond the fact that it is a dictionary word.
  • Is it easy to pronounce?
  • Just as important, will people remember the name?
  • Does the word have a pleasing sound?
  • Are people likely to spell it right?
  • Is the word suggestive of something with commercial worth?
Those considerations will rule out the vast majority of English single-word names available for acquisition, but there may be a few hidden gems.

Final Thoughts

Most of the time, the standard checks of things like number of TLDs, sale of similar names, and number of active businesses with the term as part of their name, etc. are important to weigh in your consideration for any domain name acquisition.

If you are filtering on age, number of extensions, and number of businesses, you will find most worthwhile names, and save a lot of effort.

But there are exceptions. And if you cast your net a bit wider, while being careful to emphasize the inherent quality of the name, you might get an occasional gem to reward you for that extra effort.

What do you think?
 
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The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.

karmaco

Top Contributor
Impact
11,103
Very true. Domaining requires good instincts and not everything boils down to stats. Also some want a unique name or a sassy name or a certain style of name which also cannot be boiled down by stats.

Taste in branding and brandability is everything. The buyer has to LOVE or like or need a domain to buy it. That point never changes. The buyers mind and taste in names is the mystery that needs solving.
 

biggie

GreenFriendly.comTop Contributor
Impact
14,373
Hi

when you go in a box to analyze, how can you think outside of it?

:)

imo....
 

Bob Hawkes

Top Contributor
NameTalent
Impact
31,624
when you go in a box to analyze, how can you think outside of it?
Easy.
Just because you know the metrics on a name, does not mean you need blindly follow them.
Being informed with data is, in my opinion, never a bad thing.
 
“Also, because many investors will filter by age, and ignore newer names, sometime you can get an advantage by looking over the less aged names that others ignore.”

Golden advice
 

Andreas B.

Established Member
Impact
461
Bob, you are ready to launch your own wikipedia/encyclopedia for domaining.

These posts would have to be saved somewhere in a special thread ;
 

Bob Hawkes

Top Contributor
NameTalent
Impact
31,624
Thanks for your kind comment Andy. I do recognize need to somehow have a page of links to articles, perhaps with a bit of explanatory material, so that it is easy to find an article on a certain topic. I never thought of something like Wikipedia to be honest. I would like to find a solution internal to NamePros, but the edit window on what seems relevant sections make it difficult. I have been meaning to at least on my personal site put together a set of links, but have not done so yet.
Bob, you are ready to launch your own wikipedia/encyclopedia for domaining.

These posts would have to be saved somewhere in a special thread ;
In the signature at the bottom of each blog post there is a link to pages with links to all the articles. But I realize that is not the same as having a document with sections, etc.

Anyway, thank you again for the suggestions and kind remarks.

Bob
 

bmugford

www.DataCube.comTop Contributor
Impact
39,741
Good article like always Bob, though I always have an issue with the term "thinking outside the box".
It is an OG term when it comes to overused startup lingo.

"Thinking outside the box" can be the justification for chasing things or making poor decisions.

Thinking inside the box is underrated. Many things are popular for a reason.

If you go where demand already exists it is easier to make money without the need of a "paradigm shift", another OG overused startup term. :)

Brad
 
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KTC

Established Member
Impact
637
Bob, you are ready to launch your own wikipedia/encyclopedia for domaining.

These posts would have to be saved somewhere in a special thread ;
Second this. Always learning something new as I keep reading the informative blogs @Bob Hawkes continues to put out. Helps me to internalize more of my gut instincts. And didn't know he had his own blog, so even better.
 

NickB

it's a mysteryTop Contributor
Impact
15,368
If you base your thoughts on a box structure........

You limit spatial awareness

Don't go with or against the grain - do what you need to do......

it either works......or not.....

If not, why not?

If so, why?

Learn from it or not.....

Cubic learning?


:sleep:
 

Bob Hawkes

Top Contributor
NameTalent
Impact
31,624
Thinking inside the box is underrated. Many things are popular for a reason.

If you go where demand already exists it is easier to make money without the need of a "paradigm shift"
Just want to highlight this good advice posted by @bmugford above.

Possibly a more accurate title for the content of this article would have been "Are Your Domain Name Acquisition Consideration Filters Too Restrictive?" but I was working on my clickbait title skills, which are woefully inadequate I am told :xf.cool:, so went with the think outside the box title.

There may be a place for genuine outside the norm domain investing, but don't go overboard with it.

Thanks for the input, everyone.

Bob
 
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DomainKings2

Established Member
Impact
3
You have a gift in writing. This is well-written and well-thought out. As a newbie in the domaining industry, I learned a lot from this single post. Hoping for more posts coming from you. Thank you so much!
 

Cal2

Top Contributor
Impact
3,251
Good article like always Bob, though I always have an issue with the term "thinking outside the box".
It is an OG term when it comes to overused startup lingo.

"Thinking outside the box" can be the justification for chasing things or making poor decisions.

Thinking inside the box is underrated. Many things are popular for a reason.

If you go where demand already exists it is easier to make money without the need of a "paradigm shift", another OG overused startup term. :)

Brad

I've mentioned this before somewhere on NP, but another way of looking at the box thinking term goes along the lines of 'Think outside the box? There is no box. There's only a search for the truth.' - which is what your post seems to express.
 

Mohd Wal

Established Member
Impact
-37
Ty bob, I always believe that there are potential names out there not yet registered, not all aged names are worth it for new brands.

Whenever I am to hand reg a new name, I check the potential in it and therefore, compared it with possible active businesses that might be interested in acquiring it.
 

HotKey

Made in CanadaTop Contributor
Impact
10,302
An article for the ages, thanks Bob.

**

Joe spent all day shopping for great deals on some boxes he needed, and didn't even have to go outside. He had all the resources at his fingertips.

His newly moved-in neighbors, who didn't have internet yet, spend the day flattening all their cardboard boxes to put out for recycling.

They met a lot of good people that day, even heard about their neighbor Joe who was some sort of tech wiz for a wholesale shipping company.

It's too bad he was inside all day.

**