Should a business owner
treat a domain name just
as important as a physical
business location or a
carefully crafted logo?
A domain is, after all, a
business’ own piece of Internet
real estate. It reflects
the brand and can even affect
the website’s ultimate
findability. Many business
owners find themselves in a
position to purchase that perfect domain, left to wonder about
the value it could bring to the business as a whole ... and how
much it might cost.
In the throes of a website rebuild project of our own, we
have been carefully considering buying such a domain. So, I
turned to Sedo.com, a domain brokerage company, for some
advice on how to approach this process.
“Many domain buyers, especially first-time buyers,
settle for a domain either because it’s inexpensive or because
it’s available to register on the spot — they often overlook
how valuable a domain name is to the success of their online
business and therefore they underestimate the importance
of their online real estate,” says Kathy Nielsen,
director of North American sales, Sedo. “In fact, a domain
is exactly like physical real estate, in that location is to be
considered the most important factor in the investment
process. Just like most shop owners would seek out Main
Street for their business location, an online business investor
should look to find a name that is easy for potential customers
to find and short and descriptive enough for them
We see many companies attached to their legacy domains.
These domains were not necessarily picked for great search
findability or for its easy-to-remember value but rather an
“ego domain” with their business name only. In many cases,
a better domain could be a very real possibility.
You are presented with an opportunity to buy what you
think is the perfect domain to secure your brand and the ultimate
findability for your company. What process should
be taken to determine if the domain should be acquired (and
for what price)?
1. Source Search Data First
Check search volume for validity of exposure, at the
same time checking your ego at the door. Use a trusted
keyword tool such as Google’s External Keyword Tool
This tool is accessible through your Google Adwords
account but available to all, not just AdWords account holders.
Look at three key indicators after entering the proposed
domain name words:
Keyword and Related Phrases: Is your domain the only keyword-
driven domain that gets good search volume? Take a
look at other options.
Global Monthly Search Volume: How many searches each
month are actually conducted on that keyword phrase? Will
this help SEO efforts at all?
Exact match searches: Make sure to look at Exact searches
for that phrase, not Broad Match. If someone types in the proposed
domain words exactly and it has high search volume,
this may be a good investment in a domain name presence.
2. Get a Domain Name Appraisal
Run a domain appraisal report to know the current market
value of the domain.
Sedo is one company that, for $40.00, will return a
non-biased report on the actual value of the domain.
What factors are taken into consideration when valuing a
“Factors such as the popularity of the terms used in the domain,
comparable sales, cost-per-click (CPC) keywords [included
in the domain] and the length of the domain
are all considered during an appraisal,” says Nielsen. “Of course,
if a domain was previously being used by another business, the
added value of established website traffic will also influence the
pricing. Most importantly, an appraisal helps set a buyer’s expectations
and allows them to better budget for the right domain.”
Other available tools for domain valuation include Valuate.com,
EstiBot.com and SwiftAppraisal.com. Using several tools offers a
good way to find an appropriate price range. Ultimately, however, a
domain is as valuable as another party is willing to pay.
3. Check Your Risk Factors
Make sure you are not violating any trademark issues and exposing
risk to your company — consider the consequences. You could
spend time and resources defending your right to own the domain,
and risk all of your work to build a brand to only give it away to
the rightful trademark holder. Check out Domain Law at Sedo.com
and USPTO.com to check if the domain name is already trademarked
as a phrase.
Sedo Domain Law: http://wsm.co/bVOMo7
Also, be sure to check for any owners of the secondary extensions
of the domain name — such as .org, .net, .edu or .mobi. Does
this pose a risk to future growth over time?
4. Check Your Wallet
How fast will you recover your investment with the new bright
and shiny domain? How much is too much to pay?
• How many sales, conversions or leads will you need to procure
to make this investment worth the money, over time?
• Can you afford the money right now in cash without putting it
on a credit card or financing the amount for the domain? If the
answer is “no”, then you are probably not at a time in your business
where it makes sense to purchase the domain.
• Does the domain name potentially become an asset of your
company in the event that you sell at a later date? This may also
bring inherent value to your overall business.
• Will the domain’s history (specifically, inbound links) aid in
your marketing efforts with the new site to be created under
5. What is the Easiest User Experience?
Think about your current marketing efforts in offline areas such as
print or radio. If you have a domain name with multiple keyword
phrases or dashes, will this make it more difficult for the user/future
searcher? Is the domain hard to remember or difficult to type?
Any domain worth purchasing should be easy to remember and
simple in nature.
• Example: GoofOff.com or Goof-Off.com? If you see this domain
on a billboard or a TV ad, will you remember to use the dash?
What if you don’t own GoofOff.com? Searchers will likely be
misled or confused.
• Does your domain have a keyword phrase or product
description in the domain? GoofOffStainRemover.com and
GoofOffSpotRemover.com are both longer domains but have a
keyword imbedded into them. These domains point to a product
as an industry leader. Both domains make a promise to the
user as to what to expect on the site. GoofOff.com, however,
could be anyone or anything, not necessarily a product.
Picking a domain can be as complicated (and stressful) as picking
the name of your company. If you keep these five key factors in
mind when hunting for your perfect domain, you will be able to not
only weigh the hard numbers for search but also the long term
emotional value of clean, elegant and high-valued domain name
that will stand the test of time.
About the Author: Heather Lutze has spent the last 10 years helping business owners get their enterprises noticed on the Web by their target audiences. She is the author of “The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non- Technical Approach to Search Engine Marketing.” by Wiley & Sons. She is a Marketing Speaker and runs a Denver Internet Marketing agency. Visit FindabilityFormula.com for tools and resources to increase your site’s findability.