The Domain Game
The Domain Game – Location – Location – Location!
We have all heard the statement in Real Estate – Location, Location, Location. Well I have a new statement for you – Domain Name, Domain Name, Domain Name. The cyber real estate of the 21st century is domain names, and it is quite clear that the value of a domain name is at an all-time high, with expectations that it will continue to grow. A domain name today is either a direct brand (your company name) or it can be synonymous with search words – and the closer that name is to a key search word (an obvious word that someone would type into a search engine), the more traffic that website will receive, and thus the more value that website has.
Today a domain name is quite often the actual brand or the most visited and viewed location of that brand. It is interesting to think that walmart.com has more visitors to its website than any one Walmart store could have (in actual fact, more than many Walmart stores combined). I think this is a good analogy because it really emphasizes that association between a store – a physical place you go visit and shop at – and a website – a virtual place you go visit and shop at. In ten years time, unless the physical store is rebuilt it will still have the same stocking capabilities that it has now. It might sell more product pending demographics and demand, and pricing may increase, but the overall store is bound by its physical structure and size. On the other hand, walmart.com may have 10 million more visitors to its website 10 years from now, and it may sell millions of products directly from that website. The website has no physical boundaries and will most likely continue to grow annually simply by the growth and proliferation of the Internet. I think this example helps to clarify the long term value of a domain name and how important walmart.com is to the Wal-mart company.
Great – but I am a small business – how relevant is my domain name?
Of course, many small businesses may say to themselves: We are not Wal-mart. No you’re not, but you probably have the same aims as major companies do. You want to attract more customers, you want to sell more products and services, and you want to grow your business annually. Your domain name and your website should be a key part of your business plan. The basics of choosing the right domain name is to match your actual business name if you can – e.g. BeareWare – beareware.com – but this is not always possible. Then you have to become creative and come up with a domain name that fits into your marketing concept and is easily identified as yours. This could include slogans or identifiable phrases. If Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee owned the domain name www.beer.com, it could well be that their primary marketing would always include www.beer.com. This is a good example of an identifiable phrase used for a domain. Recently beer.com (the domain name only) sold for over six million dollars. Can you believe it?! (Now, why didn’t I register THAT one…?!). The cost is based on the number of people who visit (or could potentially visit) the site, and the advertising revenue that might be generated from that site. But, let’s say neither miller.com nor beer.com is available – some remaining options might be millerbrewing.com, millerbeer.com, tastesgreatlessfilling.com… as I said, this is a great opportunity to get creative (while recognizing that you want, above all, a name that is memorable).
Are all the great domain names taken?
Not all the good names are taken. And sometimes a great domain manages to become available again. I am seeing a lot more slogans and action statements being incorporated into advertising campaigns that are designed to send a branding message (in the name itself) and drive traffic to the website. If you watch an hour of television you will see this being incorporated more and more – you will see an ad for a healthcare/drug asthma related product – and then the domain will be www.breatheasyagain.com or similar which has been specifically registered for that marketing campaign – as well as the expectation of people searching for this term online.
If a domain name you are interested in is taken then you can also consider purchasing the domain name, pending the price and ownership status. And just like the walmart.com analogy – if you consider the business 10-20 years down the track, the cost of that domain name may make a lot more sense (just like real estate). Some domains sell for $100.00 – some sell for $1,000.00 – and some sell for $10,000.00. It does depend on the perceived value of the name, and of course the seller’s motivation. Quite often someone registers a domain name to run a business – or to start a new business plan. They do their research and realize that business is never going to happen, but they still decide to retain the domain name. They spot other companies with the same business plan and they ultimately sell the domain name to an interested buyer.
I think you will see domain finance companies appearing in the horizon as the value of these domains increase (and more to the point the knowledge of their value increases) – and the recognition that your domain starts to be seen as a long term investment.
Be creative – even slogans make great domains!
Based on my experience of managing over 400 domain names for our clients I have really got to see first hand the value of using domain names. The cost to register a domain name ranges from $8.00 (in bulk) – to around $35.00 for an individual name per annum. When you think about registering a domain name – and then making that domain active within your web environment – and then a year later you look at your website stats and you had an extra 1,000 visitors. (Rather they typed the domain directly or found it thru a search engine).
Can you possibly find a better advertising investment than that? That’s far less expensive than a mail-out or any other advertising you could do. And most likely it might be 1,500 visitors next year! Companies that spend big bucks on advertising campaigns really should consider incorporating domain techniques into their advertising plans. Imagine a strategy that comes up with 10 to 20 key domain names that drive traffic to your website – all of sudden with some very well thought out domain names you have an extra 20,000 visitors coming to your website annually – costing you a grand total of “EIGHTY BUCKS” – I can’t help but get excited about that!
And don’t discount mismanagement and plain domain neglect!
With domain names being such a new business entity I have seen many companies loose or struggle to maintain domain names due to mismanagement or neglect. The worst offender is usually the companies old webmaster (you know the type – the dude who decided to get out of the web game and go back to college!) – and simply dropped the responsibility of the client’s domain name without any notification or instructions to the client).
I would love to know how many companies have lost primary domain names over the past thru years. But as much as this is a loss to one company on the internet it is a gain to another. If you have done any amount of domain name purchasing you will see there is a host of services being offered such as backordering a domain name or snapping up a domain name – and they are based on the owner of the domain name deciding not to re-register the domain name – or as I see so often – the webmaster simply forgets to or the owner simply doesn’t understand the process – and bang the domain name becomes available for someone else to register it. This is an industry unto itself right now – and in a future Blog I will be talking in more detail about domain management – but for right now my main point is for you to keep in mind some of these services for acquiring a domain name.
Domain names are the key asset of your website – no matter which way you cut it. You can always replace a webmaster or build a new website – but your domain name will be with you (forever!). And building a domain portfolio is a great way to bring additional traffic to your website.
And don’t ever forget – its all about…”Domain Name – Domain Name – Domain Name”!
Peter Beare – Webmaster
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Peter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included strategic website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still primarily a webmaster. And this is “Interview with a Webmaster.”