4 Reasons to Consider a Domain Name Change for Your Startup

New top-level domains are going to be the digital real estate of the future.
4 Reasons to Consider a Domain Name Change for Your Startup
Image credit: Shutterstock.com

Free Book Preview: Brand Renegades

Discover how two entrepreneurs used unconventional business strategies to turn their startup into a multimillion-dollar company.
Online Marketing Strategist
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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.

Related: 12 Domain-Name Debacles: 'Hillary Potter' for President and More

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.

Related: How to Find the Perfect Domain Name, Create Infographics and More

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

When you use meaningful, relevant terms in a domain, people will be more engaged with your brand. That's going to help drive more traffic to your site, and will boost your search result rankings.

Related: The Psychology Behind Choosing a Killer Domain Name

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.

More from Entrepreneur
Our Franchise Advisors will guide you through the entire franchising process, for FREE!
  1. Book a one-on-one session with a Franchise Advisor
  2. Take a survey about your needs & goals
  3. Find your ideal franchise
  4. Learn about that franchise
  5. Meet the franchisor
  6. Receive the best business resources

Book Sale - Save 60%!

Through 6/20/21, save on our collection of recommended side hustle and Start Your Own books, including:

  • Start Your Own eBay Business
  • Start Your Own Business
  • Start Your Own Etsy Business
  • And more

Use code SIDEHUSTLE2021 to claim your savings!

Try a risk-free trial of Entrepreneur’s BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan for 60 days:
  • Get step-by-step guidance for writing your plan
  • Gain inspiration from 500+ sample plans
  • Utilize business and legal templates
  • And much more

Latest on Entrepreneur