This is a great question, and I get it often. So often that I decided to write a blog post without first doing keyword research. To answer the question “if the .com is taken, should I settle for .co”, depends largely on the situation. To make things harder, the situation your business is in, changes over time. Therefore the decision you make today may prove to be wrong in a few years after the market conditions change. Here are some key factors I suggest you take into consideration before making a decision.
1. Is this a long-term project?
If this is a one-off thing or a side-hustle blog, you can certainly get by without investing a few thousand dollars in a good .com domain name. On the other hand, if this is your “baby”, and you plan to invest the next decade into building this project you may want to invest in a great name. This will spare you money and time you will have to spend later on rebranding.
Do you remember in school when there was a kid with a funny name? Everybody knows that kid, and that person is stuck with that name for the rest of its life. Don’t make that mistake. It is not easy being teased and calling you funny names all the time.
2. Is that particular .com domain name worth it?
If you go to Sedo, Flippa or any other domain name marketplace you will see a ton of domain names for sale. May are so overpriced it’s ridiculous. Mind you, I am not saying great domains are not worth the price, they sure are! What I am saying is don’t pay a ton of money for something that it just so happens you aren’t able to get for the base price. This is also called the “grass is always greener on the other side”. It happens to everybody! Yes, these 10 domain names that are available for registration are awful. But this one that is registered, oh, I like that one so much I’ll sell my kidney in order to get it. Don’t fall for that, and evaluate the real price of this domain name.
3. If the .com is taken, should I settle for .co?
This is the wrong question to ask because it presupposes these are the only two options out there. You need to get out of this frame of thinking! In my opinion, I would always go with a .com, unless I really like the name with the new TLD (like webmaster.ninja, vegan.club, check here some other nice combinations) and there’s no way I can afford the .com or if I conclude it is not worth it. The question you really need to be asking yourself is: “What is the very best domain name I can afford?”. Once you get inspired, you can check for domain availability here. That’s how I found a domain name for this website.
4. Am I thinking like an investor?
When you are buying a domain name, you need to be thinking like an investor. Yes, there are great courses to get you started and there are automated tools that help you evaluate the cost of a domain name but you should at least know what you are getting into to. Check services like Namebio to check other similar names, or even if your domain name has been sold in the past. You wouldn’t buy a plot of land without considering some serious thought, would you? Even domain names like Google.com, Youtube.com, and Instagram.com were at one point bought for $10. Sure, some found their new owners for hundreds of thousands of dollars (instagr.am became instagram.com), but at one point they were bought for the base price. I am not saying your company is going to grow like TheFacebook.com in the early days, but it is possible to avoid some pitfalls. The domain name can be a great asset or just some “address” that you type in.
5. I have a business and a name, it’s time to go online.
6. We are doing business locally, it’s time to go global
I put 5 and 6 together because it’s the same problem with different background. It essentially means you’ve built something from the ground, using a certain name built on a local TLD (or no domain name), and now you need to get a .com. In this scenario there are two options:
- You need to pay the money that’s being asked for the .com domain name and negotiate during that process. I’ve seen companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, giving equity in return for the domain ownership and other big leaps, just in order to get that .com domain name.
- Don’t like option #1? An alternative is to rebrand. If you are shifting gears from local to global, there’s a good chance you might need a rebrand anyway due to the language being used. If your car is called “Nova”, you don’t want to go with that name into the South American market. (Check that urban legend here)
- I thought I said 2 options? Well, I know some of you are going to hate the first two so much, you are going to disregard me as an expert. So, here’s a bonus option. Keep doing what you are doing without the website, until you have the money for a great domain name. There’s no point in going after the global market with a bad domain name. If you are going to save money on a domain name, you are probably going to tighten the budget on a website, and the social media accounts (the handle, such as facebook.com/ourcompany) are probably not going to follow the guideline Michael Cyger shared with us in an interview.
Ok, let’s recount the advice I’ve given here.
- Always register a .com domain name, unless the TLD really makes sense for your business, and is not local TLD
- When deciding how much you want to invest in a domain name, use tools such as Estibot, Namebio or go through a course like DNAcademy
- You will use this domain name for a long time in a lot of different places. Make your life easy by choosing a good name
Let’s get down to it. These are the 101 amazing facts about domain names that you may have missed.
101 facts about domain names
- A domain name consists of a protocol (such as HTTP or HTTPS), subdomain (such as www or admin or blog), domain name (Google, Webmaster, WhoAPI), and a top-level domain (com, ninja, us, eu)
- In 1983 Paul Mockapetris invented the Domain Name System
- March 15, 1985, Symbolics.com the oldest domain name was registered
- 1997 CNNIC – China Internet Network Information Center was started
- 1998 Domain Name System (DNS) was privatized and ICANN was started
- 1999 Network Solutions is still selling .com, .net and .org domain names
- 2000 Verisign acquired Network Solutions
- 2003 Truth in Domain Names Act was submitted
- 2005 US Principles on the Internet DNS to ensure security and stability
- 2007 Homeaway.com bought VacationRentals.com for $35M
- 2010 Quinstreet bought Insurance.com for $35.6M
- April 2012 Mike Mann registers 14,962 domains in 24 hours
- 2014 More than 100 new generic top level domains
- March 31, 2016, total of 326.4M domain names registered
- 1500+ valid TLDs are available
- Top level domains or TLDs are generally classified into two categories gTLD (generic) and ccTLD (country code)
- gTLDs are then split into two categories, “sponsored” and “unsponsored” sTLDs and uTLDs
- Domains were free until 1995
- Apple.com was the 64 registered domain name
- Domain name has 5 steps in a life cycle
- 5 steps of a domain life cycle are: Available domain name, Active domain name, Expired domain name, Redemption/grace period, Pending deletion
- November 7, 1985, Northrop Corporation registers nortrop.com
- January 9, 1986, Xerox corporation registers xerox.com
- March 3, 1986, Hewlett-Packard registers hp.com
- March 19, 1986, IBM registers ibm.com
- March 25, 1986, Sun Microsystems registers sun.com
- March 25, 1986, Intel register intel.com
- March 25, 1986, Texas Instruments register ti.com
- April 25, 1986, AT&T registers att.com
- September 2, 1986, Boeing registers boeing.com
- September 29, 1986, Siemens AG registers siemens.com
- November 17, 1986, Adobe Systems registers adobe.com
- November 17, 1986, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) registers amd.com
- February 19, 1987, Apple Computer registers apple.com
- April 4, 1987, Philips registers philips.com
- May 14, 1987, Cisco Systems registers cisco.com
- July 27, 1987, Lockheed Corporation registers lockheed.com
- Jump forward to today: 331.9M domains were registered in the 2nd quarter of 2017 – around 0.4% increase over the 1st quarter
- Domain name registrations have grown by 6.7M (2.1%) year over year
- 144.2M ccTLD domain names were registered in the 2nd quarter of 2017 – a 0.8% increase over 1st quarter
- ccTLD domain name registrations have grown by 2.6% year over year
- Top 10 largest TLDs as of Q2 2017 are: .com, .cn, .tk, .de, .net, .uk, .org, .ru, .info, .nl
- Top 10 trending keywords for July 2017 for .com TLD were: token, vegan, juan, bail, duct, degree, export, bonds, tesla, trainings
- Top 10 trending keywords for August 2017 for .com TLD were: crypto, bit, mortgage, block, chain, loan, houston, harvey, equity, attorney
- Top 10 trending keywords for September 2017 for .com TLD were: irma, pic, lean, jerseys, prices, parks, disaster, porter, drain
- Top 10 trending keywords for July 2017 for .net TLD were: future, prime, weed, mine, hero, shore, tube, last, poker, drag
- Top 10 trending keywords for August 2017 for .net TLD were: west, bit, he, soft, texas, repair, camp, houson, harvey, med
- Top 10 trending keywords for September 2017 for .net TLD were: base, tile, testing, drain, relief, tickets, proofing, inspections, dependent, rise
- October 2015, Google registrar during an error sells google.com to Sanmay Ved (for a detailed explanation click here)
- Top 10 domain registrars (by number of domain registrations) as of November 2017: GoDaddy, eNom, Tucows, Network Solutions, HiChina, Public Domain Registry, TurnCommerce, 1&1 Internet, GMO Internet, Wild West Domains,
- 54,384,834 domain names were registered at GoDaddy
- 9,500,373 domain names were registered at eNom
- 8,845,425 domain names were registered at Tucows
- 6,536,823 domain names were registered at Network Solutions
- 6,231,689 domain names were registered at HiChina
- 4,931,784 domain names were registered at Public Domain Registry
- 4,796,864 domain names were registered at TurnCommerce
- 4,514,779 domain names were registered at 1&1 Internet
- 3,562,386 domain names were registered at GMO Internet
- 3,067,782 domain names were registered at Wild West Domains
- Top 10 registrars by country: United States, Canada, Germany, China, India, Japan, France, Denmark, Australia, Spain
- United States: 92,868,747
- Canada: 10,648,270
- Germany: 9,826,013
- China: 9,062,979
- India: 5,897,138
- Japan: 4,827,112
- France: 3,325,309
- Denmark: 1,657,611
- Australia: 1,249,589
- Spain: 844,851
- ccTLD .im (the Isle of Man) is often used by instant messaging programs and services
- ccTLD .co (Columbia) is marketed as commercial, corporation or company
- ccTLD .dj (Djibouti) is used for CD merchants and disc jockeys (DJs)
- ccTLD .tm (Turkmenistan) can be used as trademark
- ccTLD .me (Montenegro) can be used for personalization (popular service includes about.me)
- ccTLD .tv (Tuvalu) is used for the television or entertainment industry
- ccTLD .vg (British Virgin Islands) is sometimes used to abbreviate video games
- ccTLD .ws (Samoa, earlier Western Samoa) is marketed as “website”
- ccTLD .io (the British Indian Ocean Territory) is commonly used by tech companies
- Big brands often use short names here are a few
- Amazon’s URL shortcut is a.co
- Facebook’s Messenger = m.me
- Twitter’s official shortcut is t.co
- w.org redirects to WordPress
- Google’s official shortcut is g.co
- Having more than one domain name for the same website does not help to rank
- Hyphens and numbers should be avoided in domain names (although some companies that are located in the Eu countries like Germany do like hyphens)
- You always want to be 100% sure that you’re not registering a domain name that has already been trademarked by someone else
- After the EMD update in 2012, exact match domains (domains with keywords) are not as good as before
- The shorter domain name, the better
- Register for whois privacy if you want to reduce the amount of spam you receive
- Age of domain name does not matter
- 2/3 of the top 1000 websites are on a .com domain name
- Google has the most covered domain name on different TLDs
- Harvard, MIT and Stanford have some of the oldest domains and most visited websites in the world
- .com isn’t just the most registered TLD, it is also the most visited (websites with highest activity are on .com)
- Nissan does not own nissan.com (source)
- Most expensive domain name ever sold is lasvegas.com, sold for 12 million dollars cash in 2005 with a payment plan up to 2040 for a total sum of 90 million dollars (source)
- Largest domain name registrar GoDaddy was founded in 1997 as Jomax Technologies. Rebranded in 1999 as Go Daddy. Then again rebranded in 2006 as GoDaddy.
- In April 2005 GoDaddy became the largest registrar for the first time
We hope that you liked these amazing domain names facts and that you will comment your favorite one. Also, please list any that we may have missed, or that you think were listed here in error. If you liked the list, please share it with your peers. Special thanks to Website Builder for creating their infographic! Click on the image below to view the entire infographic.