How to invest in a domain name for your site? In 2021.

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So you have decided to venture into digital asset investing, specifically website investing. Whether you choose to buy an existing business or start your own, you will face the question, what is the brand I am buying or starting here, and how do I capture its essence with a domain name. So, the question is, how to invest in a domain name that best reflects my brand?

It is all about the brand!

Back in the early days of Google search, you could get away with buying a domain name that exactly matched your target keyword and rank on the first page. People rushed into buying domains like carinsurance[city name].com or loseweightfastwithpills.com with hopes to game the rankings and sell their crappy products for a quick buck. 

Google caught on to it pretty quickly, and many of these spammy sites got their positions swiftly moved to the back pages of the internet. 

Google has continued to move in that direction and rewards websites that make the internet a better place. It is hard to imagine that a site called loseweightfastwithpills.com will make the internet a better place. 

Focus on the brand. What exactly is a business brand? We have been asked this in every marketing class in my MBA, and every time the definition would be different. Quirky marketing professors would try to put their own quirky spin on branding. At the core of it, however, a brand is how people identify your business. The key here is your identity. Since small online businesses are only present online, a domain name is their core identifier.

Why is a domain name so important?

1) This is how people identify your online business. Imagine your customer is having a conversation with their friend, and they want to refer to your site; they say, “Oh, just visit sitename.com

2) It affects your presence on the internet. Although Google can rank any domain name, you will have an easier time with a shorter .com domain.

3) If your business has made an excellent first impression, visitors will come back to your site, not through search engines but by directly typing in the URL. That means they have to remember the URL first, and it should be easy enough for them to type in.

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Tips for choosing the best domain name

.com will make your life easier

35% of all domain names are .com. 

Top Level Domain Statistics
Source: https://domainnamestat.com/

It is the default in people’s minds when typing in a domain name. Returning visitors will most likely type in .com if they only remembered your business name.

Newer, “cool” extensions like .io, .co, .ai are gaining popularity but are not usually worth the trouble. Remember that if you are building your online brand for the long term, naming it right will pay dividends later on.

Easy to remember

Easy remember websites will command a premium when you decide to exit your investment on domain name alone. This goes back to the brand. How easy is your business to remember and come back to?

Think of the future buyers of your site

Think of the exit before you invest. What will the future buyer of your online business be looking for? 

1) Avoid personal names in your brand name. It’s one thing to build a brand around yourself, but who will want to buy a site with somebody else attached to the name.

2) How to invest in a domain name by finding a time-proof name? Think, can the name stand the test of time? I constantly see domains for sale like productnameYear.com like iphone2019.com as an example. Avoid these at all costs. Ask yourself, will the name be relevant in 5-10 years?

Size matters. Short is usually better. 

The majority of domains fall in 12-15 characters in length. Anything beyond that becomes harder to remember unless it is a very commonly used word. Combinations of words are acceptable, like Alterna + Invest.com. It is easy to remember, a two-word combination that is 13 characters long. 

Avoid numbers and hyphens. 

This is related to the shareability of your name. Again, let’s imagine a person referring to your name: Site-Name.com. Instead of saying sitename.com, they have to say, “Oh, and by the way, there is a hyphen after the Site and before the name. 

Your site’s name should be easy to pronounce, easy to share, and without complications that need to be explained. The same goes for any numbers. It makes your site name look sloppy and requires additional explanation. Is it a number 2, or is it “two” spelled out, and so on.

Tools to help with domain selection

Name Availability Checker, Name Generator, Brainstormer, and many other helpful tools:

Instant Domain Search

For quickly checking if a domain name is available or not as well as searching for expired domains, name generators, and more

Instant Domain Search

Instantdomainsearch.com

Trademark Check

To ensure you are not buying a name that somebody else has Trademarked, use the United States trademark database:

https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search

Make sure the domain doesn’t have a tainted past.

If you are buying an old domain, it comes with a risk that the previous owner might have done some things that can hurt you in the future. If the domain was involved in Blackhat SEO tactics and was penalized by Google, that penalty will carry on in the future. 

Content on the website might have been harmful or inappropriate. Think gambling sites or adult content sites.

There are a few tools that you should use to investigate the website’s past.

Use Archive.org

Use Archive.org’s Wayback Machine to look at what the website looked like in the past.

Archive.org Domain History

https://archive.org/web/

Check the backlinks

You should check any existing links that point to the domain you want to buy. Understanding what sites currently link to the domain can be a great way to spot any red flags. Are referring sites legitimate, or are they spammy? 

A free tool that can do that is Ahrefs Backlink Checker:

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Ahrefs Backlink Checker

https://ahrefs.com/backlink-checker

Google search

Another way to check is to simply put the domain into Google and see what comes up. Again, we are checking for old content that might have lingered in search results to indicate the website’s past.

Note on Google Ads penalties. It is also possible that a website might have been banned from Google Adsense. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to check if that is the case. However, if generally the domain is clean and either didn’t have a website in the past or had a website that doesn’t have any clear red flags, you should be okay.

Should I rebrand my website with .com?

If you invested in an online business that is already making a profit but doesn’t have an easy name or a .com, should you rebrand? 

In that case, the answer is most likely, NO, especially if the domain is already ranking for specific keywords on Google. 

However, if you are building your business from scratch or you bought a small online business that is not ranking yet and is not bringing in significant income, in that case, a .com domain is worth it.

How do I buy an old domain?

If you decide to go with an old domain, a few brokers are a great place to start.

Flippa.com

Flippa is one of the largest brokers for digital assets on the web. They sell websites, apps & domains.

To get started with a domain go to Browse -> Domains -> .com. 

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Flippa Domain for sale

Enter your desired keyword and browse. Once you find the domain you like, go through the verification process we mentioned above.

Check domain history and check its authority on Ahrefs.

Once you found a domain you think will be a good fit, is short and easy to pronounce, start the negotiation process. Reach out to the seller and check historical sales of similar domains. Typically a seller will have a Minimum Bid amount, but their desired price will be higher. If there aren’t many buyers competing for the same domain, you will have an easier time negotiating a price you think is fair. It is crucial to communicate with the buyer to come to a win-win price for both parties.

What is a fair domain name price?

The best way to figure out the fair price is to look at historical sales using tools like Namebio.com:

Namebio screenshot

Draw the similarities between the name you are attempting to buy and historical sales. 

Is the name you are buying shorter? Better sounding? Has a more popular keyword in it? These are the factors that the seller will use to negotiate a higher price. Use the data to your advantage.

Happy Investing!

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