Top advice by top domain experts
In a world where more and more of our daily lives are shifting online, it’s becoming obvious that everybody will need at least some basic knowledge of the domain world. Your bank statements are being delivered to your email (that’s connected to a domain name), and maybe you are generating your income through your website (that’s connected to a domain name) or this will happen in 2016 for the first time. It’s no shocker that even after more than 30 years since the first domain name was registered, every year we have more registrations and more domain names out there.
Some of you can’t find the right .com, some of you don’t have the budget to invest in your online presence. Some of you are taking a leap of faith with the new gTLDs, some of you are still trying to figure out how to take the first step. A small part is making its first steps online through the mobile Internet. As much as we (WhoAPI) are building domaining tools, APIs, and writing content that will help you we are first to admit we don’t have all the answers. So, on behalf of WhoAPI, I asked the best of the best to share their 2 cents to help us make better decisions for our online presence in 2016 and to master our domain world.
Before you start reading the advice keep in mind what Jim Rohn said: “Be a student, not a follower. Don’t just go do what someone says. Take interest in what someone says, then debate it, ponder it and consider it from all angles.”
1. Alan Dunn is a senior digital naming expert and brand consultant with over 20 years of experience. He is the Managing Director of NameCorp™. Alan was also nominated to the TRAFFIC Domain Hall of Fame in 2014 and won TRAFFIC Developer of the Year in 2012. He is a past contributor to Forbes, Business Insider, US News, and he recently made waves with his article on Techcrunch – China Is Making Domain Name History.
2015 was an incredible year for domain names. Millions of new extensions were registered, values for short domain names soared due to demand from Chinese investors, and good one-word dot-com domains continued their rise in value.For business owners, however, it became more and more difficult to find the ideal dot-com domain, and it looks like it will only get harder.I think it’s critically important for any company or brand looking to acquire a domain name in 2016 to treat the acquisition much like they would any other type of real estate. This means bringing in an expert to help explain market values and the elements of naming online, and to even entertain creative deal-making if necessary.A domain name is not just your website name. It’s how people remember you, how people refer to you, how your staff explain who you are. The right domain name can do everything right. The wrong domain name can provide a lifetime of headaches. Never judge the cost of a domain name until you really sit down and analyze the value it brings. You may very well find the seller’s asking price is not that crazy after all.
2. Braden Pollock founded Legal Brand Marketing back in 2004 and has been making waves in the domain industry since. He was awarded and nominated for several domaining awards.
What most companies fail to realize is that a generic domain, whether an industry term (e.g. FoodTruck.com) or a brandable word (e.g. Pineapple.com) is typically an appreciating asset. It can always be sold off at a later date, probably for a profit. If you can’t afford to buy DivorceLawyer.com, try Divorce.Lawyer as it’s probably much less expensive. There are hundreds of new domain extensions now, so think beyond the .com. Keep it short and memorable and buy the best domain your budget will allow.
3. Jeff Sass is the Chief Marketing Officer at .club, one of the most popular new gTLDs that were launched recently. Here’s what he has to say:
When thinking of the perfect domain name for your business, you now have more choices than ever before. Therefore, there is no reason to settle for an awkward abbreviation or an odd spelling of an otherwise common keyword (missing vowels are so 2004…). Now you can get the right words to the left of the dot, and as important, you can choose an extension to the right of the dot that actually adds meaning and understanding to your domain name. Creating a holistic domain, one where the words or letters to the left and the right of the dot work together to create a meaningful phrase can make your web address a memorable and powerful part of your business identity.
4. Marc Ostrofsky wrote the New York Times bestseller Get Rich Click and Word of Mouse, and has been featured on ABC’s 20/20, The View, and CNN as one of the top domain name experts in the world. He also sold Business.com for 7.5 million. Here’s Marc’s message for you:
1. Know what you know…but more importantly know what you don’t know
2. To go with the above advice, hire your weaknesses
3. .com’s are the gold standard
4. Do not invest big money in any other domain extensions unless you know exactly what you’re doing, because the holding time will most likely not be worth the cost
5. Mason Cole is the VP of communications at Donuts, one of the largest gTLD proponents and applicants.
2016 will be a year of accelerated adoption of new gTLDs by small- and medium-sized businesses. Thanks to marketing and awareness efforts on our part and others’, SMBs will feel increasingly at ease adopting these specific, relevant names for their products and services. And doubly so now that Google has closed the debate regarding new gTLDs and search engine optimization.
6. Michael Berkens (hall-of-famer), Editor-in-chief at The Domains, award-winning domain name industry publication on domain news.
Pay very close attention to the domain market, sales, and trends. The domain market has never been more fluid and changed dramatically in 2015. The domain market expanded and will continue to do so in 2016 when arguably most of the “best” and widest new G’s hit the market including .music, .app, .blog, and of course the grand daddy of them all .Web. In 2016 we would expect the domain market to volatile. If you want to equate domains to stocks you need to decide if you are a long-term investor, a short-term investor, or a day trader and adjust your buying and selling valuations based on your overall philosophy and goals.
Read as much as you can in the way of news and views but remember that as always no one “knows” what will happen in 2016 and ongoing.
7. Mike Mann (hall-of-famer) is the guy you probably read about on Gizmodo when he registered 14,962 Domains in 24 Hours. He is the co-founder of numerous successful businesses like seo.com, phone.com, and domainmarket.com. He built up a business called BuyDomains that in 2005 he sold to Boston-based Highland Capital for about $80 million. You can also read our interview with Mike Mann.
.Com is and always will be king of the domain kingdom/master of its domain. Any other domain extensions used or registered will continue to make the corresponding .Com even more valuable, while the others remain too risky for investment overall. The increasing relative scarcity of the best keyword .Com names will perpetually add to their value for buyers, holders, builders, brokers, and speculators.
8. Pinkard “Pinky” Brand is a domain industry veteran and you can find out more about him in our interview with Pinky Brand. Lately, he’s been specializing in IDN’s and the Chinese domain market.
Although .com is a great choice and a worthy marketing investment, it is no longer the only choice in naming for an SMB or startup. Start smart, start focused, and understand your market and domain extensions that naturally address that market.
9. Richard Lau is another domain expert that everyone in the domain industry knows. Founder of NamesCon (anyone attending this January?), domain industry hall of famer, and founder of DomainManager.com.
With the release of new domain extensions we should all be looking ahead to the future. Not six months or two years from now, but what will the web look like in five years, in ten years? With hindsight I can unequivocally state that I should have registered more one-word domains back in 1996, especially the names of my family, friends, and potential products. Now, with foresight we should all be doing the same for our kids, our friends, and family who don’t know any better right now, but will in 5 years. And for ourselves, to have a stable of domains on which to develop in the years to come.
10. Rick Schwartz also known as the Domain King, hall of famer (who we interviewed back in 2012) kept it short and sweet. Take advice from the guy who made his name by selling domain names north of six figures.
Work harder, work smarter, dig deeper and if you have to explain why it is a good domain, it is not a good domain. If you don’t have the money to gamble, don’t.
11. Rob Grant (more about Rob Grant in our interview) made a fortune with geotargeted domains such as Adirondacks.com, CaribbeanRealEstate.com by building on them, or domains such as BahamasRealEstate.com, BoiseRealEstate.com by selling them in the mid 5 figure range (at least those are not under NDAs). You could say Rob’s been in the industry for a while, and he has a story for you.
The domain industry has experienced more dramatic change in the last 24 months than it has in the last 20 years. If you feel confused or overwhelmed…you’re not alone. Even the most savvy investors are scrambling to figure things out (although most won’t admit it publicly).
It reminds me of when I used to sail the Atlantic along the New England coast. The weather is generally good, the seas are relatively calm, and the boats you’re sailing with are all headed in one direction—on one compass course—and life is pretty damn good.
And then, out of nowhere, a massive squall hits, tearing the fleet apart, disabling some boats, ripping sails, and scattering the fleet in every direction.
Our humble domain industry (which over these last 20 years has seen some pretty good sailing…with everyone happily headed in the same direction) has just entered the squall.
And these are the very powerful winds of change.
How you react to these changes will depend on a lot of things: your experience, your age, your aversion—or love—for risk, your financial resources, and most of all, your instincts.
For me…I will stay the course, keep my own compass pointed true north. The bulk of my portfolio has always been invested in dot com.
But I also know that fortunes will be made—and lost—on new extensions that did not even exist several years ago.
There you have it, dear reader. You read what some of the greatest minds in the domain industry had to share with you, and hopefully, you are going to be able to find some guidance for 2016. In the end, we have our CEO with final advice. Don’t let your domain name expire, and below you can watch 11 common reasons how or why domains expire.