Buying a domain name can be risky if you don’t have a plan. Here are some important things you need to know before you get a domain name.
Let’s start at the beginning by answering the question what is a domain name? Even if you already have one, you might not really understand what it is. A domain is a nickname for a numerical computer address. Instead of saying visit The Search Guru website at http://126.96.36.199 we say visit The Search Guru website atwww.TheSearchGuru.com. Domain Name Servers (DNS) make our lives easier by doing the heavy lifting here, as they are the ones responsible for translating the easy to remember words into hard to remember numbers.
When buying a domain name, know what to look for.
Great names usually share the following characteristics:
- They contain keywords (words your customers would normally use to search for your products or services)
- They’re short
- They’re easy to say
- They’re easy to spell
Buying a domain name with your company name vs. buying a domain name with keywords
Many companies choose domains that match their company names. Because this was the common practice before search engines even existed, search engines have learned to cope. Not all domains need to contain keywords to be successful. Amazon.com is a good example of that.
However, when starting from scratch, exact match keyword domains (domains that contain the same keywords people would use to search for your product or service) can provide increased visibility in the search engines. Search engines do consider the URL and the keywords contained in the URL as part of their ranking algorithms.
Exact match keyword domains aren’t for everyone.
As companies grow and develop search marketing programs, they often wonder if they should get a domain that contains keywords for their products or services.
Exact match keyword domains can be a worthwhile investment but switching domains is rarely a good idea.
If you already have a website, chances are exact match keyword domains aren’t for you. The reason is that marketing costs for the new domain will be higher than the marketing costs for your existing domain because the new domain doesn’t have content, links, history or authority.
Think about Amazon.com. Did they buy, develop and market Jewelry.com when they decided to sell jewelry? No. They built a jewelry section of their site and focused their efforts on selling the jewelry people wanted at a price they could afford.
How exact match keyword domains can work
The domain ClevelandSteaks.com is available, contains keywords, is short, easy to say and easy to remember.
A savvy Cleveland-area steakhouse might buy the domain ClevelandSteaks.com and create a steakhouse review site where its steaks are always ranked highly or one where its advertisements are shown more often.
Should an established restaurant like Red the Steakhouse get a domain like ClevelandSteaks.com? No. Red has restaurants in multiple cities and an obvious investment in branding. If Red wanted to reap similar benefits of exact match keyword domains, it could do so by creating RedTheSteakhouse.com/cleveland-steaks.
Get a domain name from GoDaddy or Register.com.
Buying a domain usually starts with searching to see if a website already exists with that name. Type the address into your browser’s address bar. If you see the image below, you’re in luck! The domain is available.
Buying a domain name from a broker or private owner
Say you are a tire store in Cleveland who’s never had a website before. If you follow the domain selection criteria given above, one of your choices will be ClevelandTires.com.
As you can see, this domain is taken. But, it’s also for sale. Is this a good opportunity for a tire store serving Cleveland that’s never had a website before? Yes.
Negotiating price and transfer of domain ownership can be a tricky process. Here are some guidelines to help you through the process:
- Even if a domain isn’t openly advertising itself for sale, it might be. Use a lookup service like Who.is to see if there’s contact information on the domain that might be useful in identifying its owner. If a site exists on the domain, look for ownership details there. If no owner is named, try looking at old versions of the site in the Wayback Machine for a previously posted page containing the owner’s name and contact info.
- Decide what the domain is worth to you, ahead of time. A domain fitting the criteria described above is typically more sharable via social media and word of mouth. Sharable domains can reduce customer acquisition costs. Know your current customer acquisition cost and the average value of each customer before determining how much you will offer to pay.
- Contact the owner directly. You need to make sure your request goes directly to the owner and not to an employee who might disregard your email as spam or solicitation. Consider submitting your requesting via a small, local law firm. Doing so helps ensure that the owner’s attention will be grabbed and that your name, interests and personal holdings remain private. Some site owners can see dollar signs when they find out a large company has taken interest in their domain.
- Negotiate cautiously. Some owners will throw a ridiculous price at you. When they do, be courteous and make a counter offer of just under the maximum amount you are willing to spend. If the owner doesn’t provide you with a price but asks for an offer, make an offer of just under the low end of your budget range. For example, if your range is $3,000 to $5,000, offer $2,500 and negotiate from there. Always be courteous and be prepared to walk away. Interested sellers may contact you again at a later date with a renewed interest in your offer.
- Don’t pay until the domain has been completely transferred. Use a service like Escrow.com and offer to pay the associated fees.
What domains are you considering? Leave a comment below for feedback from The Search Guru team. For more information on domain names contact The Search Guru today!