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Will New Domain Names Have Power Over The .Com Tradition?

Hundreds of new domain name options will be available over the next year, as extensions like .book, .company and .social become available for registration.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has said the move will create more online diversity and options for individuals or companies that may not be able to get the domain name they want with the current (limited) extension options.

While different available domain name extensions like .tv and .me have gained a lot of attention over the past few years, they are still not a match for the Top Level Domain Names (TLDs) like .org, .net and especially .com.

The latter is the oldest domain name extension in use and was among the first created in 1984. After 30 years .com has come to represent the most respected and successful websites.

It is typically the most expensive domain name option and the most sought after. All of the biggest domain name purchases in 2013, for example, ended in .com and there are now officially no more four-letter .com domain names left for sale.

The overwhelming popularity of .com has sparked criticism and concern for online diversity, with key players like Google calling for a broader range of options.

“In 2016, it’s estimated that almost half of the world’s population will be online, yet nearly 50 percent of the websites we visit are found in the .com top-level domain (TLD),” Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet” has said in a Google blog post from 2012.

“Despite the great opportunities the web has enabled for people around the world, there is still a lingering question about the diversity of the domain space (given that the number of generic TLDs has only increased by 14 in the last 28 years).”

Simply put, .com has become synonymous with the internet. So will these new domain names make a difference?

Initially, the release of new extensions is expected to cause a huge increase in domain name sales as people snap up the most popular options, like one-word domain names.

Options like new.careers or my.docs, for example, will be hot property as soon as they come onto the market, regardless of whether they are snapped up by related companies or by savvy investors in the domain space.

Some people, however, are sceptical of the impact these new domain names will have over .com.

In an interview with Computerworld.com, industry analyst Ezra Gottheil says the new domain names could lead to more confusion than benefits.

“If you want people to remember your site, you better use .com. By using a new domain, you’re asking people to remember twice as much — the name plus the new domain,” he explains.

“The ostensible benefit is you can get a simple url, like www.boston.bikes, but I think you’re much better off sticking with .com, even if it means betterbikesofboston.com.”

While there is no doubt .com has staying power, it is also clear that these new domain names will shake things up over the coming months and years.

Search Data Highlights Domain Name Interest In Australia

How does interest in domain names in Australia compare to the rest of the world?

While the population might be smaller than many other western countries, Google Search Insights data for 2013 has shown that Australia has one of the highest search volumes for “domain name” in the world.

In fact, Australia is second only to Nigeria, and followed by India, Singapore, Bangladesh and New Zealand, while the United States is notably missing from the top 10 countries.

The data reflects the popularity of domain name purchases, with about one in four Australians owning at least one domain.

What’s more, research from Verisign puts Australia in the top 10 countries for country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name registration in 2013 and the Domain Name Registrar (Australia) expects .au domain name registrations to hit the 3 million mark in 2014.

So what are we searching for when it comes to domain names specifically?

According to the Google data, the most popular domain name searches in Australia for 2013 are as follow:

  1. domain name search
  2. domain search
  3. domain name registration
  4. domain registration
  5. domain name register
  6. domain name australia
  7. domain names
  8. domain name server
  9. free domain
  10. buy domain name

Search terms also rising by 50% and 60% respectively are “godaddy” and “business names”.

The most searches for domain names in Australia come from the ACT, followed by NSW and Victoria (which only have a point of difference between them).

But city-specific data shows that while Canberra is first, it is actually followed by Melbourne and then by Sydney, revealing how data can be affected by interest (or lack thereof) in regional and metropolitan areas.

How To Use Domain Name Search Data To Your Benefit

This kind of information might seem trivial at first glance, but you can use it to your advantage if you are interested in domain names.

Analysing these trends and drawing logical conclusions could give you an edge if you are planning to work in the domain name industry or if you want to figure out what helps make domain name purchases more successful.

The fact that “domain name search” was the top search for 2013 in Australia, for example, suggests that people are eager to find domain names that are available for registration. That also indicates most searches come from people who understand at least the basics of domain names.

Similarly, the top rising search term related to domains – “business names” – reveals that businesses or people interested in starting businesses are currently very interested in the domain name market.

But most of all, the fact that Australia had the second highest number of domain name searches on Google in 2013 shows our growing and sustained interest in the market.

Search data and insights are often considered a key part of website development and maintenance, but they can also help with domain name research.

So whether you want to build up your portfolio, sell domains or just want to buy one domain name, looking at this data gives you valuable insights into the local and global market.

Stayz Acquisition Highlights Another Way To Get Domain Names

HomeAway’s acquisition of Stayz has highlighted the fact that there is more than one way to add domain names to your portfolio.

The vacation rental company bought competitor Stayz for $220 million in December 2013 and also acquired 161 domain names owned by Stayz as a result of the deal.

The domain names range from generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to geographic ones, including

  • CorporateRentals.com.au
  • VacationHomes.com.au
  • VisitSydney.com.au
  • Occupancy.com
  • TakeABreak.travel; and
  • HolidaysCentralCoast.com

The deal also included a range of domain names descriptive of vacation bookings in specific locations, such as BookLennoxHead.com, BookByronBeach.com and BookJervisBay.com.au.

Many of these domain names would be worth thousands of dollars on their own, adding a substantial amount of value to HomeAway’s acquisition.

Global law firm DLA Piper, which managed the deal, says that it was “one of the most significant M&A (merger and acquisition) deals in the technology, media & telecommunications sector in Australia in 2013”.

“Stayz represents a significant strategic acquisition for HomeAway, a long term client of DLA Piper in the US,” DLA Piper’s Head of Corporate, Asia Pacific, Bryan Pointon said in a press statement.

DLA Piper also advised HomeAway on the acquisition of majority control of Singapore based rental site travelmob.com in June 2013, and a majority purchase of New-Zealand-based rental site Bookabach in November 2013.

Pointon notes that the Stayz acquisition, however, is “the most material to date”, largely due to the number of domain names that came with it.

“We are delighted to have been part of the team of advisors helping HomeAway to achieve its strategic objectives.”

The deal means that HomeAway now has even more assets in the form of domain names, which it could decide to launch as independent businesses, release back onto the domain name market or even auction off as Yahoo recently did with some of its quirky domain names from previous acquisitions.

It also shows that there are ways to get different domains even when they may not be shown as available in a domain name search and that you can add to your portfolio almost incidentally through acquisitions.

While purchasing a domain name on its own is often considered the most straightforward option, there are other ways you can add to your portfolio. And the HomeAway acquisition of Stayz highlights just how lucrative different options can be when it comes to getting more domains.

New Top Level Domain Options Driving Trademark Trend

Businesses and entrepreneurs eager to get their hands on new Top Level Domain Names are turning to trademark registrations for help.

The soon-to-be-released TLDs include options such as .app, .hotel, .sport and .melbourne, with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) planning to increase the Domain Name System from 22 global TLDs (e.g., .com, .net, .org) to as many as 1400.

While the introduction of these new strings will be gradual, it is already causing a stir in the online markets, with people angling to get the best new domain names in any way they possibly can.

Applying for trademarks on the new TLDs is one popular method, known as “trademark frontrunning”. Basically, a company or individual would apply to trademark the new domain name extension they want to use and, if the trademark was approved, they could dispute any domain name purchases that use that particular extension.

So if you wanted to monopolise .sold, for example, you would request a trademark on it and then wait for the TLD to come onto the market.

Unfortunately, trademark frontrunning is not as effective as people would hope because the ICANN program has been designed to prevent it after extensively researching the strategy in the past.

In fact, an ICANN report from 2009 noted the trend and potential issues that it posed, stating “domain name front running is not easily proved, but it has become one of several rallying flags that parts of the community wave to express dissatisfaction the domain name registration process.”

Another independent report from the Progress & Freedom Foundation in 2009 reinforced the importance of awareness about frontrunning and advised ICANN to be more proactive in preventing it after coming to the following conclusions:

“The actions of certain prospective TLD applicants filing national trademark applications associated with generic TLD strings such as .MUSIC, .MOVIE, .BLOG, etc. raises concerns. This type of ‘front running’ by prospective applicants trying to game the process potentially interferes with other legitimate applications.”

The awareness around front-running has significantly increased since then, but that has not stopped people trying.

Over the past few years, people have filed for trademarks that include .wedding, .club, .discount, .resume and .mars, with many citing “domain name registration services” as part of the reason for these applications.

But just as cybersquatting will lead to fines or cancelation of domain name titles when brought to ICANN’s attention, so too can frontrunning have similar outcomes.

What’s more, the act of trying to register a particular trademark for domain name use is likely to tip of other buyers to the potential popularity of domain names and increase sale prices in the process.

So when it comes to buying up the best new TLDs, it is probably better to wait for them to be listed or make enquiries with a domain name broker than attempt any kind of frontrunning strategies and risk paying more or getting nothing in the end.

How To Do A Domain Name Search

A domain name search can help you find out what domain names are available and how much they are worth, whether you have a specific domain name in mind, or are looking for a range of options.

Most domain name registration services offer a search feature, as do domain brokers and websites, so there is a wide range of places for you to explore different domain names.

But if you have never done a domain name search before, or want to create a more efficient search, the following steps will help you find domains as quickly as possible.

1. List the domain name options or phrases you like

Starting with web address you want, or the key words you want to use will help you get more accurate results for the search.

2. Search for the best option first

If you have a preference for your domain name, type that into the search engine first – it could very well be available! But if it’s not, you can start a new search with other options you have listed in the previous step

3. Search by category

Some domain name searches, including the service at DTrade, allow you to browse domain names by specific categories. That means you can either narrow down search results or broaden them to include as many relevant results as possible.

4. Consider domain name suggestions

Suggestions for available domain names could be listed when you do a domain name search and the domain you want is not available. These suggestions could provide you with options you had not previously considered.

5. Contact a domain name broker

Domain name brokers specialise in dealing with issues of availability, so if you have run out of options or inspiration, contacting a broker will give you a more personalised solution when you want to buy domains.

These different steps should help you find a range of domain names to consider so that you can find the best option for your website and your budget.

Whether you have an ideal domain name in mind or want to explore different possibilities, the availability and prices of domains play a huge role in buying decisions.

But doing a domain name search gives you access to a wider range of possibilities so that you can make the best decision possible when you buy any domain name.

How to sell your domain name for what it’s really worth

Plenty of people don’t necessarily buy a domain name to start their own business. In fact, there’s a whole industry around buying domain names to sell them on for a profit to someone who will use them for their business. It works like any type of real estate – you have investors and ‘buy to own’ markets, and most people are interested in one or the other, but in some cases both will appeal.

For the domain name investor types, you’re going to need a clear and coherent strategy to sell your piece of prime real estate if you want to make a profit. With that in mind, take a look at the things you can do to prepare a domain name for sale, so that you’re in the position to get the best possible price. These 8 tips include a few basic technicalities that you should keep in mind too.

 

1)    Buy the right domain name

This involves doing some investigation into the keywords people are searching for that include the domain name you have for sale. You will need to use tools such as Google AdWords, and it will be worth speaking to an SEO consultant and/or domain name broker, like us here at dtrade, to properly determine the value of any domain name you own. The number of searches including the name each month, as well as some simple variations of the name will give you part of the picture, and should be researched before committing to any price.

2)    Understand and market the potential of the domain name

You will need to develop a short, simple pitch, aimed at investors, to summarise exactly what the potential is for the domain name you have available. Tell them why it’s a sought after term, what it could be turned into, and how it could be marketed with a clear, unique strategy or message. List specific ideas to spark people’s attention and have them saying to themselves ‘I could do that’.

  • The perfect blog name,
  • A hub for certain niche information related to the words in the title, or
  • Good social media strategy ideas – competitions, newsletter titles, ideas for products to link in and sell

Are a couple of ways to frame the pitch. Demonstrating that you know how the domain could make money will impress any potential buyer, so spark their imagination and make them think that they are the right person to develop the idea.

3)    Get a realistic expected value

You can find this by looking up your domain name, and others like it, on any reputable domain name auction site, such as GoDaddy for example, and see what it sells for. This will give you and any potential buyer an idea of the dollar value they can expect to earn with the domain name.

Review the full range of prices that other similar domains are listed for and try to work out a reasonable average, or understand why there is a great deal of variation if you can. Work out the reasons and explain clearly why this will or will not be the case with your domain name.

Factor in expected spend to develop the ideas in (2) above to provide the full picture of income, expenditure and profit, as well as revenue. Again, you may want to consult an expert for help with this too.  

4)    Build a custom page combining the information and strategy

Build a unique web page that clearly lays out your strategy from (2) and (3) above, and direct traffic to that page. This is like a sales pitch that anybody could come across when they search for the term. You want it to appear clean and clear, and present your sales pitch in the most attractive way possible, preferably without any additional material for Google Ads – the sale will generate enough revenue without having to resort to that.

5)    Don’t get your hopes too high unless it’s really premium

Anyone who actually has an inventory of domain names will already know, but it’s worth repeating here, if your domain name isn’t the premium type – that is 1-3 words, easy to spell, English language and .com – be realistic about how much you can expect to sell that domain for. It’s incredibly easy for anyone to do a google search and find out which domains are popular, so you won’t fool anyone for long about how many thousands of dollars your .biz or offbeat domain name is worth. The best thing you have to work with is a plausible marketing stragegy, as laid out above.

6)    At least consider fixed price selling

It may be tempting to say ‘make an offer’ under your marketing message and hope for the generous buyer who sees even more value than you do in the name you have available, but a lot of people might actually be put off by the idea of haggling or negotiating, and if you want a quick, fuss free sale, work out a base value that is acceptable to you, put a fixed price around that and get the job done. It can still be perfectly fair, and you can change your strategy if it really doesn’t work out, but it is worth a try.

7)    Add the ‘for sale’ information to the WHOIS directory

This is kind of a no-brainer, but easy to forget to do. Make sure you update the WHOIS entry for your domain name with new sale information – as your buyer might find you there, and you want it to look like everything is kept up to date. The domain IS for sale, so there’s no point trying to make people dig around to find that out, make it obvious from the outset and you won’t regret it.

8)    Also remove privacy settings from WHOIS

Many people won’t know how to contact you if you have the WHOIS privacy service activated. It’s ok if you use it to keep spam mail at bay, or avoid identity theft etc, but when you’re ready to sell, have it removed so that you are contactable through the database. Respond promptly to inquiries too to let people know you are serious about selling and avoid time wasting.

Yahoo Makes More Money With Domain Name Auction

Yahoo has proved that investing in domain names can pay off after auctioning a range that included Sandwich.com and Sold.com.au.

The Internet giant launched the week-long “Domainapalooza” sale event through Sedo after “stumbling across” a long list of domains it had owned for years.

“When you’re a company that’s been around as long as Yahoo, there are lots of fun things that you stumble across. This year, we found a huge list of domain names that the company has owned for quite some time,” Yahoo Deputy General Counsel Kevin Kramer explains on the company’s Tumblr.

“As we discussed what to do with them, it became obvious that it was time to set them free…back into the wild of the Internet.”

Kramer went on to list some of the quirky domain names sent off to auction, including notes for possible businesses or websites.

For instance, he suggests Blogsport.com “could be great if blogging ever became an Olympic sport”, while Jockeys.com might be “social network for people who ride horses”. Other domain names included in the auction are:

  • AV.com
  • Crackers.com
  • Cursed.com
  • CyberJokes.com
  • Jumpcut.com
  • Postajob.com
  • Sled.com
  • TheBroadcastNetwork.com
  • WebServer.com

“Surely, creative people, businesses and entrepreneurs could come up with something great to do with them,” Kramer speculates, “They could even spark some brand new ideas or companies.

The auction ran from the 14th to the 21st November 2013, although many of the names are still available.

Of those sold during the sale period, Sandwich.com brought in the most money at US$137,500, followed by Sold.com.au for US$15,600 and Postajob.com for $13,500. The least expensive domain name Yahoo sold at auction was Tesserae.com for a mere US$707.

Industry analysts have suggested Yahoo will bring in several million dollars from the sales of these domain names, with most featuring starting prices between $10,000 and $99,000 at the start of the sale and the majority now simply by offer.

If that is the case, then Yahoo will also be an example of the lucrative side of investing in domain names and may encourage more people to buy up while they can.

But the domain name sale also suggests that some major companies may be sitting on goldmines when it comes to unused domains. Perhaps Yahoo’s peers, like Google and Facebook, also have a wide range of domains through various acquisitions?

While it is hard to be sure, it could be enough for some people to keep a more eager eye on domain name sales and wait for the ideal name to make it onto a list.

Domain Name Trend: Misspelling Words

Misspelling words is generally seen as a mistake, but online it is becoming an increasingly popular strategy for domain name buyers.

Initially, buying a misspelled domain name was seen as good practise for established businesses because it can help redirect traffic that could come from common search phrases.

Data from Google, Yahoo and other popular search engines indicate that misspelled words are incredibly common for a wide range of searches.

Google alone has around 10 million misspelled search queries every day. So having a misspelled domain name that redirects to the correctly spelled version – such as amazn.com redirecting to amazon.com – helps get customers to the right place.

But once people realised how common misspelling is, not just for search engines but also for typed-in URLs, the internet saw the rise of cybersquatters and “typosquatters”: people who buy misspelled domain names for popular sites in the hopes of catching some of the traffic.

Typosquatters and cybersquatters often use these misspelled domain names for illegal activity like phising scams, or to try and get the company with the established, correctly-spelled name to pay more money for the misspelled version.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has since outlined strict rules about domain name purchasing and ownership to help reduce the potential damage from squatters. Businesses can also file domain name disputes if a misspelled name is too close to their brand.

But the rise of misspelled domain names has also led to a new trend: startups using misspelling as part of their brand.

These companies are legitimately buying misspelled websites and registering their businesses under the same name. In the process they are solving both SEO issues and problems finding an affordable domain name that is also relevant to their brand.

As a recent analysis from The Next Web explains: “startups have their work cut out for them when it comes to settling on a name that is both memorable and meaningful to their audience.”

“…Somehow, this evolved into a common trend that sees startups all with -ly, -me, or -fy in their names. Dropping vowels are also a thing – and in some ways, that helps with differentiating the company from a regular word and shortens its URL.”

Some examples of popular brands and domain names that misspell words include Flickr.com, Tumblr.com, Digg.com, Scribd.com, Nwplying.com and Qustodian.com.

While this trend may not appeal to everyone, it is clear that there is a strong market for intential misspelling among both established businesses and startups.

In the long run, that means a wider range of possibilities when you are looking for a domain name to fit both your brand and your budget.

Do You Need A Mobile Website?

Domain names and websites go hand-in-hand but the popularity of mobile devices has added even more layers to the development process.

Recent statistics from Trinity Digital Marketing show that there are over 1.2 billion people accessing the internet from mobile devices.

These devices also account for close to 10% of all global website hits and will continue to rise.

“Mobile phone sales have skyrocketed in the past decade due to significant advances in technology and new innovative trends in the market,” the company’s Rise of Mobile infographic explains.

“Web devices have begun to reshape every aspect of our society,” it says, going on to outline that there are “currently more than 6 billion mobile subscribers, equating to more than 87% of the world population.”

What’s more is that other companies working in this domain, such as Smart Insights Marketing, have predicted that mobile internet access could overtake fixed access as soon as 2014.

These statistics are incredibly relevant to anyone with a domain or website – whether it is established, recently launched or still in development – as mobile websites are starting to become as essential as traditional options.

How Are Mobile Websites Different?

While mobile devices are able to access whole websites, the formatting and structure of a traditional webpage is not ideal for smartphones or tablets.

What may look clean and sharp from a desktop or laptop computer, for example, will most likely appear messy and confusing from a mobile phone or tablet.

That’s where mobile websites come into play. Web designs for mobile basically optimise the structure so that it is easier to read and navigate from a mobile phone or tablet computer.

Development and design for mobile websites, is however, a growing field and as a result, there are a few options you can consider if you want to launch a mobile version of your website.

WordPress, for example, offers a free plugin called WPTouch that helps create a mobile website “with just a few clicks”.

“We created WPtouch to be a lightweight, fast-loading, feature-rich mobile plugin to add a theme shown to mobile visitors,” WordPress outlines.

“The plugin includes an admin panel for customizing many aspects of your site’s presentation when showing the mobile theme.”

Similarly, many other web hosting companies offer mobile website creation apps, plugins and tools that are either free or available for an additional cost. You could also discuss mobile design options with any current developers you are working with to decide on a convenient option for your website.

While setting up a website used to be a simple matter of buying a domain and getting someone to design just one site, the widespread use of mobiles is changing things.

But considering mobile websites now will make sure you have everything in place if (or when) mobile internet access does take over.