I remember back in 1994 when a friend asked if I'd like to buy a domain name. I had no idea what that meant, so I turned down his offer. And that turned out to be a big mistake. The domain offered (www.dog.com) is probably worth $2 million now. Later, I worked for Hotels.com when that company purchased its iconic domain name for a reported $11 million; and that's when it became very clear to me that an incredibly brandable domain is one of the keys to a successful business.
That's now so much the case that, these days, the best keyword domains in .COM are sold out, and that's why I believe that new top-level domains (TLDs, meaning the last part of the website name, like .COM) are going to be the digital real estate of the future.
I'm not a domain investor myself, but, after spending 10 years in internet marketing working for companies like Expedia, the travel company, and Partner Fusion, a leading marketing and technology incubator, I've seen many signs pointing to the value of new exact-match domains.
For instance, a recent study found that choosing a relevant domain extension can potentially help a website rank well for specific keywords, resulting in dollars saved on paid marketing.
Ultimately, whether domains end in .COM, .INFO,.FORSALE, or .LIVE, they all stand on equal ground when it comes to SEO performance. I have to believe that Google's search results will always value high-quality domain names because of someone like me. Specifically, I'm investing a lot in a domain name and am also likely to invest in developing a high-quality website that will be relevant to users.
The startup I'm currently building aims to modernize real estate marketing, and is scheduled to launch this summer. To position myself in the market, I opted for the exact-match domains www.homes.forsale and www.houses.forsale. They weren't cheap, either: I worked with Name.com and purchased the domains for $90,000.
But I'm hardly alone in paying a premium for an exact-match new domain; others are being sold for five or six figures each, including www.video.games for $183,000, and www.personalinjury.attorney for $60,000. Companies like Stream.Live have even gone through a complete rebranding, with StreamLive spending $20,000 on its new .LIVE domain. These figures come from the domain company Rightside, which recently released a snapshot of many of its $10,000-plus "Platinum Domain" sales.
Our expectations of the online user experience are changing as we get savvier about navigating to exactly the things we want; and relevant TLDs are going to be a big part of that. People will see my Houses.forsale domain name and say, "Oh, that's exactly what I'm looking for." Of course, you can always pay for online advertising and search-engine placement, but we exact-match domain owners will have a huge advantage over the competition.
The reason: A high-quality, exact-match domain means we won't have to pay to get as many clicks. We saw some early evidence of this when one of our pages accidentally got indexed by a search engine while it was still in development. Within a day, we already had a potential client find us organically!
What I don't think people realize is that there's an entire world out there of domain investing going on behind the scenes; and it's been going on for 30 years, back to the time when the first .COMs started popping up.
The most perceptive of those early domain investors made millions merely by identifying the highest-quality domains. And there's still a tremendous opportunity to invest in TLDs, as the world moves beyond .COM. That said, I'm not just looking to buy low and sell high, although that option has been tempting. I feel that building-out a business on top of a brandable domain is where the real value is right now, and the right domain name can represent a huge amount of the equity in your particular business.
Overall, brandable new domains confer some amazing advantages to successful businesses, including:
1. Flexibility in choosing a name
The pool of short, memorable .COM domains is shrinking rapidly, but that doesn't mean that you can't secure an amazing name for your business. Overnight, new domains have increased the availability of possible names a hundredfold.
2. More memorable names
The potential uses for meaningful new domains, like .FORSALE, .SOCIAL, and .MARKET, are virtually limitless. Every word in your domain can and should be relevant to your brand.
3. Increased web traffic
4. Reduced online marketing costs
Because new domains drive organic web traffic to your site, you'll be less reliant on expensive search engine placement and other online ads.