The market for domain names is unlike any other. The supply of domains is unlimited. They were running out of the .com domain name version. So they’ve started selling many other extensions. The selected TLDs are: .aero (for the air-transport industry), .biz (for businesses), .coop (for cooperatives), .info (for all uses), .museum (for museums), .name (for individuals), and .pro (for professions). They’re still selling like hot cakes. In a sense it’s like the ‘roll-your-own’ phenomenon. Anyone can make up a domain name and provided no one else has ‘bought’ it then they can pay for it and it exists.
There’s an interesting thread in the Cre8asite Forums that got me thinking more on domain names. Someone is frustrated that his boss wants to optimize a website for the search engines with no domain name at all. Well the boss isn’t as wrong as he seems on this question of domain names.
Why does everyone want one? I believe this stems largely from two popular misconceptions. The first is that a domain name is worth something. Well yes if the domain name is business.com or sex.com or man.com, perhaps that’s true. However the vast majority of domain names have value only to their creator.
The second misconception is that search engines place some value on domain names in ranking websites for keyword searches. Domain names probably have as much influence with the search engines as those keyword metatags. That influence is close to zero. Some people are convinced that their keyword-rich domain name was the factor that increased their search engine ranking. However rarely are tests done to see whether it was the domain name or the content or the backlinks text.
Domain names are important in bringing some visitors to company websites, but that requires a careful choice of company name in the first place. Even the experts often get the choice of their domain name wrong. A better approach is to choose your company name and your domain name so that you “own” that domain name on the Internet. In other words, typing that domain name without the extension in a search engine field will produce your website at the top of the list.
Few domain names pass that test. Most are really just a way of someone feeling a warm glow that they are getting their 15 minutes of fame. There are other and perhaps better ways. In Canada for example you can give recognition to the name of someone by dedicating a piece of the Trans Canada Trail. Dedicating 1 metre of the 18,078,000 metres of the trail to a given name costs $ 50 Canadian. That’s about what it costs to have your own personalized number plate for your automobile in some regions. Or for about the same cost, you can create your own domain name. It’s an interesting speculation as to which of these, Trail dedication, automobile “vanity plate” or domain name will give the best visibility.