New and established publishers alike often undervalue the importance of investing in a strong domain name. While for bloggers it’s not so much of an issue (as long as you’re able to secure a good extension such as .com or .co.uk), if you’re aiming to make a living from your website it can pay dividends to invest early on.
There are now 331 million domains registered globally, which means that the chance of picking up a short one or two word domain in a primary extension for the standard registration fee is highly unlikely. Other people have got there first, including domain investors with portfolios of 200k plus domains each.
However, if you know where to look you can often pick up a good .co.uk for a few hundred pounds. This may sound like a lot if you’re on a shoestring budget, but you’ll be investing considerably more on your website build and marketing. The domain name is just as important to the success of your venture.
Why Having A Good Domain Is So Important
VoucherCodes had instant credibility with both consumers and brands when it launched in 2008, primarily due to a professionally designed website and category-killer domain.
Other large publishers like Dot Zinc (owner of Money.co.uk) and UK Web Media (owner of Mobile-Phones.co.uk and BreakdownCover.com) have become ‘super affiliates’ in part due to the strength of their domains. If an advertiser is approving new publisher applications or looking for tenancy partners, they’ll be more likely to spot you among the hundreds of other publishers if you have a strong domain.
The credibility of your business based on the domain name helps to build trust with consumers that you’re not operating a scam website. In turn this helps with click through rates from search engines (both paid and organic traffic) as well as clicks out of your site.
If you’re planning on running a PR campaign, a strong domain name will also give journalists confidence that the website that they’re potentially going to write about is reputable. In short, you can punch above your weight with a strong domain name.
3) Direct Traffic:
If a consumer has visited your site before and the domain is easy to remember, the risk of losing traffic to competitors diminishes. For example, a visitor of Furniture.co.uk is more likely to directly type the url into the browser bar rather than going via a search engine. On the other hand, BestFurnitureOnline.co.uk is clunky to remember and you risk having the visitor going to a search engine in an attempt to navigate back to your website.
What To Look For When Buying A Domain Name
1) It must pass the radio test:
If you heard the domain name on the radio, would you remember it and importantly would you be able to spell it? If the answer is no, it fails the radio test. Avoid multiple hyphens in domains or playing around with similar sounding letters and numbers (e.g. Voucherz.com or BestM8s.com).
2) Previous activity/reputation in Google:
If the domain has been previously registered, check that it wasn’t previously used for spam or involved in questionable SEO tactics. The Web Archive is a great resource for checking what’s previously been hosted on a domain name, while sites like Moz can be used to check any backlinks pointing to it.
3) Stick to .com, .co.uk or .uk:
If you’re launching a website aimed purely at UK consumers, opt for .co.uk or the newer .uk (.co.uk still trumps it though). Alternatively, for international sites aimed at an English speaking audience it’s always best to go for .com if you’re not targeting people purely in one country such as the Republic Ireland (in which case a localized domain extension would be better).
4) The shorter the better:
Shorter domains generally cost more if it’s a dictionary word, however they come with more credibility and the investment is likely to pay for itself in the longer term. Some of the biggest brands we know (like AO.com previously known as AppliancesOnline.co.uk) have all shifted to shorter, more memorable domain names to grow exponentially.
How Much Does A Good Domain Name Cost?
Furniture.co.uk cost its new owner a whopping $650,000 when bought in 2016, however there are plenty of domains you can snap up for under £1,000. Here are some recent sales for guidance:
Done.co.uk – sold for $1,419 in February 2019
Bigger.co.uk – sold for $1,344 in December 2018
Shaver.co.uk – sold for $814 in October 2018
LondonHostels.co.uk – sold for $410 in October 2018
VintageShop.co.uk – sold for $118 in October 2018
How To Get A Good Domain On A Tiny Budget
Look at minor variations:
Off the back of the social media popularity around #friyay, one savvy publisher has picked up BlackFriyay.co.uk as an alternative to longer Black Friday domains. This same idea can be used across other domains and will give you a brandable domain at a fraction of the cost.
Make it brandable:
Look at complementary words to get a brandable two word domain on a budget. For example, ‘top’, ‘best’, ‘labs’ and ‘foodie’ all pass the radio test and will make your domain name easy to remember when added to the main topic of your website.
Pay trade prices instead of retail:
Just like other products and services, there are trade and end-user (i.e. consumer) prices. Use dedicated domain auction websites and forums (more details below) to buy domains at trade prices and you’ll likely save around 40-50% compared to using a site like Sedo or GoDaddy.
Where To Buy Aftermarket Domains
If you’re looking for inspiration, Domain Lore is a great place to start. It runs daily auctions and is used predominantly by domain traders, which means the sale prices tend to be wholesale compared to higher end user prices.
Undeveloped.com allows domain investors to sell their domains and offers a much wider choice than Domain Lore, although the prices tend to be considerably higher.
For UK domains you should also check out Acorn Domains, which is a domain forum used by some of the biggest domainers in the country. As well as being able to see a wide variety of premium domains currently for sale, you can also post in the ‘Wanted’ section with details of the type of domain you’re after and your budget for the domain name.