Domain Names are Dead
Wikipedia has an entertaining list of super-expensive domain name transactions. Over the past fifteen years it was indisputable that you needed a good name when launching a new business, including the associated .com and all the main local extensions in order to avoid trolling, if you wanted to succeed.
A couple weeks ago as I was negotiating a domain name and the seller brought up that he had a complete extension collection, which is really rare. Last year I acquired 30+ extensions for actvt. A year later I feel stupid.
I believe extension trolling is dead and so is the need of a .com as your core domain name – let me tell you why:
- No one types a URL into the search bar. Aside from a few geeks, even when they know the name and FQDN ( fully qualified domain name) of the service they want to reach, people will just use Google. This is derivative of the fact that in every single navigator, address bars have become search bars.
- Google will show you the way. Google (and even to some extent Bing) have become really good at figuring out what you’re looking for. Whether you make typos, use a wrong FQDN, chances are they’ll understand you and help you find the service you’re looking for.
- SEO has killed domain trolling. There used to be a time where a good name would organically drive traffic. Obviously sex.com would drive hundreds of thousands of impressions monthly, regardless of its content. But the accuracy of search engines and their ability to predict has made the investment in overpriced .com real estate meaningless. If your service is actually useful to users and a troll has the .com with the same business name, rest assured that the .com will never show up in the result list. Don’t believe me? Lookup 4chan on Google then go ahead and visit 4chan.com (which does not show up at all in the results).
- Domain entropy is expensive to handle. Buying up too many domain names will actually end up costing you. Beyond the renewal fees, they require proper management and should you actually decide to use local domains per country you would have to handle the operations and SEO associated costs.
Let’s be clear, you still need a name that customers will remember for your business – but one thing is sure: having the .com and/or the full suite of extensions is not required anymore. What’s required though, is to make sure that when someone says your name to Google, Google knows that you’re the service the user is looking for.