strategy Will Anyone Really Use This Domain Name?

Catch.Club Catch.Club
The most important point in last week’s NamePros Blog article Six Years of Domain Name Mistakes was to acquire names that will have multiple potential users who are in a position to pay a solid retail price.

Each domain name is unique, and it is not possible to give a definite number of likely end users for any name. That said, there are ways to know which names have better chances of selling. Let’s look at a few considerations.

How Can This Name Be Used?

Before asking how many possible users there might be, first consider the question of how a particular name might be used.

We often think of domain names as only for business brands, but that is not always the case. Many things need names, from products and services to clubs and games. It is generally true, though, that a name used as the main business brand can command higher prices.

A good question to start with is: How is this name likely to be used?

Here are a few possibilities:
  • The main brand for a business
  • An organization name
  • A short form for a longer name
  • A product name
  • A service offering
  • The name for an app
  • A game name
  • Name for a club or team
  • Name for a musical group
  • An event name (e.g. festival, day, conference)
  • A domain name for a book or film site
  • A blog name
  • A social media influencer site
  • Name for a social media site
  • Nonprofit or philanthropic use
  • Marketing campaign (perhaps a slogan or phrase domain name)
  • A reference site
  • Redirection to increase traffic to a main site
  • Some other use category
There often are more than one of these possible for a particular domain name, and this list is not exhaustive.

Brands Versus Product/Service Names

Some businesses will acquire a name that matches their main product or service. This has the advantage that they can immediately obtain relevant traffic, but comes at the cost of not having a distinctive name that sets them apart from competitors. Read more on this in Interview with Sten Lillieström.

The majority of businesses will use a distinctive brand name. That name may be suggestive of their offerings, but is not an exact match to their product and service offerings.

While there are exceptions, more often than not a plural is better suited to a product match, while the singular of the same name might be more used as a broad brand.

If one adds a qualifier like a color, almost certainly the name is then a brand, not a product match, particularly if the combination is fanciful.

A key point is that a product or service name needs to be related to actual services or products, either ones that exist currently are are likely to soon be offered.

In the case of new gTLDs, the extension may show that the name is intended as a match for a particular service or line of products.

Is the Name Narrow or Broad?

Some names are narrow, with a single use obvious, while others are empty vessels that could be adapted to a wide variety to types of business. A product or service name benefits, in most cases, from a somewhat narrow term, while many of the best terms for generic brands could be used in diverse ways.

While narrow names can be worth a lot, depending on the service or product, there will generally be more potential buyers for broad names simply because they can be applied in many different sectors and uses.

One Probable User Is Too Narrow

If there is only one obvious end user for a name, odds are that you are on slippery ground with respect to possible trademark or legal claims. So make sure that your name does not target a single user.

Sectors and Niches

The next step is to make a list of the sectors or niches for this name. This is not a list of specific businesses that your might use for an outbound campaign, but rather general categories, each of which would represent many individual businesses. As an example, here is my list for a name I recently acquired: “luxury, counselling, coaching, consulting, social media, strategy.”

This is a good time to check on trademarks. If there are existing exact trademarks, that is just on this term alone, in any of the sectors and niches you have listed, you should eliminate those from your list, since a new business would probably not be able to secure trademark protection on the term for a similar use.

Google Search

Do a Google, and/or Bing, search on the term. Go past page one of results. Keep an eye open for business use of the term, and the presence of sponsored or advertising links.

This is also a way to be alert to famous trademarks. Although this article is not legal advice, be wary if a single company dominates search results.

How Many End Users – OpenCorporates

While impossible to give precisely the number of businesses that might benefit from a name, one metric that is related to this is the number of active existing business and organizations that use this, or a closely similar, name.

It is not mainly that these businesses might upgrade to your name, although that can happen, but rather if a term has been selected as part of a business or organization name many times in the past, it is more likely to be selected again.

The best free resource for estimating number of existing businesses using a term is OpenCorporates.

Simply enter the term, and press return. Since one does not want to include businesses no longer in service, select the Active Only box, and resubmit. The reason that you want active only, is that there are still business names including terms no longer in demand. For example, choosing active only reduces the number of business listings including DVD by a factor of two.

Note that the OpenCorporates list includes both businesses and organizations, and will include ‘also known as’ and ‘previously known as’ names. Coverage is from most of the globe, but not all countries have searchable corporate registration records.

I record the number of active OpenCorporates listings, and occasionally add a notation if they are mainly from a single country, or if it appears many are nonprofit organizations or merely company addresses including the term.

Browse the OpenCorporates results to see how the term is used. Usually that suggests new sectors and niches. Go back and add to the list from the previous section.

How Many End Users – LinkedIn

A second free option to get an idea of how many businesses use a term is LinkedIn.

Simply open your LinkedIn account, then use the Search box on the top left. Note that you can set LinkedIn to search on a variety of criteria, including companies, products, services and events. Depending on how you see the prospective domain name being used, any or all may be relevant.

Another LinkedIn search option is people, which usually yields more results, since any LinkedIn profiles that mention that term will be included. The first listed will tend to be ones where the title includes the term, and are usually particularly relevant.

How Many End Users – Datafiniti

A paid service that allow you to find companies including a certain name is Datafiniti. They do have a free trial available.

I have completed searches for a hundred or so terms using both OpenCorporates and Datafiniti. In most cases the OpenCorporates number will be somewhat higher, but occasionally there are more Datafiniti results.

How Many End Users – CrunchBase

CrunchBase is more focussed on recent startups and technology than Datafiniti or OpenCorporates.

While a paid CrunchBase plan is needed to do advanced search and access full results, you can do company searches on a term without a paid plan at

If you are a Domain Academy member, the Tools section offer a number of useful measures including Datafiniti and CrunchBase numbers.

How Many Listings Is Enough?

Let’s say you find that there are 18 active OpenCorporate listings for some name, 15 for a Datafiniti search, and 2 on CrunchBase. Is that enough to make the domain name worth acquiring?

The answer is… it depends. If the domain name your are considering is the exact term in .com, almost certainly the data suggests that it is worthwhile. Those 18 existing companies must be on other extensions, or using longer names, and it is highly likely that a number would desire the short .com, or if not, odds are good a startup will come along and snatch it up if the price is right.

Even here, though, it depends on the term. It is worthwhile to go through the list to get an idea of how active and large the companies are, and how central your search term is within their name.

If you are considering a generic country code extension (like .io, .co), the other main legacy (.net or .org), or a popular new extension (like .xyz or .app), one usually wants a minimum of 25 or so active OpenCorporate listings (and/or Datafiniti), to pay much to acquire and hold the name. This is because only a minority of existing businesses would consider an upgrade that does not get them to the .com, and a number of businesses will be content with their national country code or perhaps a hand registration alternative.

It would be preferable to have at least 100 OpenCorporate listings when one is considering an extension other than .com, with higher numbers for less-established extension alternatives. Several hundred or more is even better.

CrunchBase numbers will always be much lower. However, they are indicative of early stage businesses more likely to be on the hunt for a name or better name. Therefore, I find even a few CrunchBase listings is somewhat encouraging, and if there are 20 or more I definitely give the name consideration in one of the main extensions after .com.

Names for sectors which are trending can be worthwhile with fewer existing businesses using the term. There are some techniques for spotting trending sectors in this article: Finding Technology Trends and Opportunities.

Keep in mind whether the extension has strong use in the sectors that you have identified for this name. For example, if you see the primary use as an app or game, then the .app and .io extension make sense, while web3 applications are more likely to be open to .xyz and .io.

What About Zero Listings?

If you have created a brandable name, odds are you will find zero existing listings. Even in the case of a dictionary term, you may sometimes find no listings on OpenCorporates.

If it is a .com, the name may still be desired as a brand. In fact, some companies prefer a name with no other users in the world, since it makes it easier to be distinctive and to obtain and defend trademarks. For names like this, you are trying to estimate use of similar names, not this exact term.

If the name under consideration is an alternative form of a word, for example you added an ending such as able, ably, ed, er, ex, ful, i, ic, ily, ing, ive, ly, or y, it is worthwhile to see how many times the root word appears in the OpenCorporates list.

If the name you are considering has two parts, see how frequently each of those constituent parts appear in OpenCorporates.

In The End…

In the end, no matter how many lists you make, or metrics you check, you need to make a qualitative decision on the worth of the proposed name.

Even if the term has many listed existing businesses, if your extension is weak, or your alteration of the name makes it difficult to pronounce, spell or remember, the probability of a user selecting that domain name will be low.

Metrics such as number of active OpenCorporate listings can be helpful, but interpretation based on other considerations is always needed.
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Thanks Mr. Bob for the valuable rich infos .

Unfortunately lots of domainers still will not feel confident to buy a domain meets most of the conditions you mentioned if this domain is NOT taken in many extensions .
They go blindy buying a domain taken in many extensions even if doesnt meets the logical conditions above .

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Thank you Mr. @Bob Hawkes. I still need to reread and digest
Great article as always. Thank you Bob. Your contribution to the domain community is priceless.
The informations statet here in this article should be paid attention by anyone who consider doing this business. Thanks.
Need anonymous Linkedin account.

Currently, even Yandexmail doesn't allow anonymous account, or maybe even a free account either.

Protonmail pretends to be free, but you can't do anything when javascript is disabled.

There is no good email service, and forget about social media, it is much worse, especally if it is already installed on your smart phone.
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Need anonymous Linkedin account.

Currently, even Yandexmail doesn't allow anonymous account, or maybe even a free account either.

Protonmail pretends to be free, but you can't do anything when javascript is disabled.

There is no good email service, and forget about social media, it is much worse, especally if it is already installed on your smart phone.
Take off your tin foil hat and start living.
You're the best. Thanks, Bob
You're the best. Thanks, Bob
Thank you very much for your kind comment.
And I like your username and icon @bobsdomains
I see from your 10 stars you were here first!
Thanks again and best wishes,
-Bob (but not of Bob's Domains)