What are domain names?
A domain name is the web address of a website. It is an easy-to-remember address that people type in their browser address bars when looking for websites. A registered domain name is unique to the user and cannot be copied or used by another website.
Think of it as the street address of your home. It’s how people find you online. It is an internet resource that online organisations and web servers recognise.
A domain name can be used to identify a group of IP addresses or a single IP. It has two parts, each separated by a dot. The part of the domain name that follows the dot is a top-level domain where the domain name belongs.
You can buy a domain name from a domain name registrar. They charge an annual fee for it, sort of like a rent or lease. You lose the domain name when you don’t renew it. There are many predatory domain name registrars out there, so you do well to get from a certified and trusted domain registrar like and Hostgator, Domain.com and https://www.freeparking.co.nz/domain-names/
What is the ideal length of a domain name?
Generally speaking, a short domain name is best for branding purposes. However, it needs to follow a holistic approach. The short domain should be easy to relay, remember and spell. The ideal length of a domain name is five to eight character names.
A review of the top 250 websites in the world, according to Alexa, shows that the average number of domain name characters was 7-15. 177 domains (70%) had 8 characters or less. The most common domains had 7 characters and 2 words. Three domains contained a dash and only 11 out of the 250 domains had an alphanumeric.
The benefits of a short domain name
Shorter domains or URLs are domain names with two words or less. They are concise, easy to read and remember. They are easier to include on printed materials, brochures and business cards. The catchier the URL, the more likely it is to stick in a user’s mind. The ability of your website name to be memorable helps brands to build stronger relationships with prospects and customers.
Easy to remember
Longer domain names are most difficult to type, remember to say and spell. The meaning of a domain is also lost in a long domain name. It’s easier to get your point across with a shorter domain.
Increases relevance of your site
It has a hint of relevance that transforms into a popular trend. When you also consider that most users have a short attention span, it becomes more imperative to use a memorable domain name that can be easily called to mind.
A short domain name is authoritative, especially where generic domain names are concerned. Online users type in the URL and automatically expect to find the information they are looking for. Rarity gives a short domain name more appeal. Currently, there are 676 possible 2-letter combinations for .com domain extensions and they’ve generated roughly 100 million registrations.
Easy to type on mobile
It is also easy to make mistakes with a long domain name. Most users are mobile so you have to consider the screen size and size of fingers entering the URL in the tiny web browser. Typos syphon your website traffic to a competitor who reaps the reward of your hard work.
Social media appeal
In an age of social media platforms, word of mouth potential should be considered. People are less likely to repeat a longer domain to a friend as they would a shorter domain name. Think of all the household brands you know. Most of them are short, branded domain names.
Reflects your brands
Short domain names clarify the vision, focus and core values of your brand. When choosing the perfect domain name, consider the following
- The unique feature of your brand
- What you stand for
- Who you want to target
- Your usefulness to your target audience
- What makes you better than your competitors
A descriptive and memorable domain name generates more clicks and traffic, which leads to higher SERP ranking.
It’s easy for keyword domains to get lost in a sea of similar domains. Hence, keyword-rich domains, although superior, could lose their significance. A short and sweet domain name establishes a stronger market positioning for your brand.
When are long domain names more important?
Domains are important for SEO but it’s not the only factor. You need to choose a domain name that makes your website identifiable both to search engines and people.
For a long time, the common argument has been that longer domain names do not fuel conversations, drive engagement or encourage visitors to click on them as a short domain would.
Ten years ago, it was important for websites to have shorter domain names but not anymore. Most of the domain names you come across online are from links, search results, emails, social media and more. If you think about it, you’re only clicking for the most part.
It invalidates the argument about longer domain names being too long to type. Most people find your site through a Google search and click on the link. For instance, one of the most popular blogs online, BoingBoing, has a .net extension. If you entered the URL with a .com extension or typed boing-boing.com, you still wouldn’t find it unless through a Google search.
Longer domain names have their relevance. They are useful for websites about animals, destination holidays, insurance and other related terms. It appropriate to use adopttigers.com instead of adopt.com.
The longer domain gives you the opportunity to include your keyword in the URL and tell search engines what your site is about. Same applies to visitdubai.com instead of trip.com. Visitors know what to expect when they click on the URL.
The best short domain names are already taken. It is almost impossible to find one, even initials that fit your brand. You might be forced to take alternate options such as paying for a different extension, adding more words to make it longer or paying a hefty sum for the taken domain name.
The take home is to choose a domain name that fits your brand, is memorable and easy to remember.
Short domain names as an investment
It’s possible to make a good profit from investing in domain names. Just don’t get caught up registering the first four letters that come to mind. For example, think of t.co for Twitter and goo.gl for Google. These are good short branded domain names. If you choose something that no one wants to buy, it’s a liability that costs money.
Here’s a look at some of the most expensive domain names in the world. Notice that the domain lengths vary with those in the top five, ranging from 9-15 characters.
Porn.com – As of the time of its sale in 2007, porn.com was the third most expensive domain sale in the world at $9.5 million. It was an all cash sale that didn’t include the content of the website. It was also the largest cash sale in domain name history.
Hotels.com – Originally published by David Roche in 2001 for $11million. It was used to increase the dominance of his brand on the online hotel market when negotiating with domain buyers and entrepreneurs. A few years later, he sold the domain for $1.1 billion. A major steal for Roche.
Sex.com – A premium hub for adult content, Gary Kremen bought the domain for $13 million in 2006. It was later transferred to Stephen Cohen who had misrepresented Kremen. Kremen got the website back after a lawsuit but Cohen still ended up with a payout of $65million.
Insure.com – Home to articles, news and quotes relating to insurance, it was the top insurance website at the time of its sale. It was sold for $16 million in 2009, 10x the original amount when it was bought in 2001.
360.com – Zhou Hongyi bought this domain name to bring all his companies under the Qihoo logo. The 360.com website was the only domain that would fit his branding purposes. It sold for $17 million in 2015.
Privatejet.com – Purchased by Nations Luxury Transportation LLC to serve companies looking for luxury business charter. It sold for $30.18 million in 2012.
Vacationrentals.com – HomeWay purchased this site for $35 million in 2007 to keep it from Expedia. It’s currently a market hub for vacation deals around the world.
Insurance.com – QuinStreet, the company that bought internet.com and insure.com, paid $35.6 million for insurance.com in 2010. It’s a popular website where people can compare insurance policies and find the best quotes on life insurance, health, motorcycle and home insurance.
Carinsurance.com – In 2010, QuinStreet also paid $49.7 million for carinsurance.com. It’s a website where you find and compare insurance policies with quotes from all the top insurance providers.
Lasvegas.com – The payment for this domain name comes in at a staggering $90 million spread over 35 years. It’s a fully functional website that offers tours, bookings and accommodations in the tourist city.
How to find valuable short domains
- Avoid domain names with a mix of numbers and alphabets.
- Stick with the main TLDs of .com, .org and .net
- Choose domain names that are easy to spell and remember.
- Look into geographic names and upcoming locations.
- Generic business names when combined with geographic names are top sellers. Examples include chicagodoctor.com and atlantalawyer.com
It’s clear that both short and long domain names have value. The key to finding a valuable domain name is to make it brandable, memorable and concise.