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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 that sold for $8.1 million in 2019, at $249,980 in 2018, and 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 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.

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.


Mug RuithTop Contributor
What about thinking forward? Look at future industry trends and register what's emerging. Not trademarks, trends. That's where you'll find the untapped diamonds which will one day sell for millions and have never been registered.
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Mug RuithTop Contributor
What are the current/future trends. That's where the smart money is these days for most domainers seeking to register and sell. Keep your fingers on the pulse and your ear to the grindstone. There is a 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 opportunity every day for first registration. What are people's problems today and in the next ten years? What are corporations planning?
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There is no box. There's only a search for the truth
I was just rereading the discussion, and I so love this way of expressing it.
Just wanted to highlight it for others.
And it applies not just to domaining, but almost everything.
Thank you.


Top Contributor
I was just rereading the discussion, and I so love this way of expressing it.
Just wanted to highlight it for others.
And it applies not just to domaining, but almost everything.
Thank you.

Thanks, Bob.

If one wants to take "the truth" in the comment further, at least with regards to applying the comment to almost everything, one might want to also consider 'proto truths' as being a way to also look at going/using. It could also help with coming to 'THE truth' on some matters.

"A proto-truth is usable and believable -- but only if you are prepared to change it for a better one."

'Proto truth' is a term created by Edward de Bono, and which he wrote about especially in his book The Happiness Purpose:
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To me, the box is the result of a combination of wishful thinking, the human need for shared explanation and the square "data" desperately sought to prove it, pitch-line sales tactics, and social learning. Not actual circumstance. Correlation at best, not causation. A "correlation" to a subset of demand that has formed investor decisions, prices, sales reports, portfolios and therefore "sales" for the duration of the existence of the aftermarket. Notwithstanding the shifting and multi-faceted nature of demand, the investment community has mostly been hammering down some kind of catechism for quality, and ignoring the wonderful complexity of it all. Thanks for the post.
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Mug RuithTop Contributor
I agree, although like many things in domain investing, it is easier to say than to achieve!
It's a waiting game and my greatest skill, as a domain name developer, is a lack of patience.
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