#1 GoDaddy.com - Home of the $1.99 domain name

Two Strikes, You're Out

I have a fairly basic thought process when it comes to domain names. It works like this: How many strikes does the name have against it? The guidelines below are what I use to determine the quality of a domain name. In most cases, failing any two of these criteria will immediately cause the name to go into the circular file (ie. the trash can).

  • Extension - if it's not .COM (or for those focused on a specific country, your desired country code extension), consider this your first strike. Very simple. If the extension is not one of the top 10 extensions then this is often strike two as well. The only thing that will save it is if the extension is is somehow relevant to the keywords. For example, I own a couple of .WS names. Not many. Everything else about the name must be incredibly strong, and the extension has to fit. A great example is my Themes.ws which is clearly for Web Site Themes.

  • KeyWords - There's nothing wrong with a brandable or call to action name. Okay, well, technically there is. If you are going brandable, it's a strike. If you've been paying attention then you know that going with a brandable or call to action type names means you should own the best extension, or else choose a different brand. This is not a post about how to find good keywords or how to determine how valuable or popular your keywords are, but the general rule of thumb is "Exact Match Searches" using Google's Adword Keyword Tool, and if that number is 0, then your keywords suck. But it's just a general rule :)

  • Dashes and Numbers - Again, there is plenty of opportunity for dashes and certain numbers (I like 101's for example), but they must be with strong keywords and use .COM. Are you following this so far? I personally include IDN's in this list as well, but others prefer them if they are the proper IDN characters. So be it.

  • Concept - If I can't immediately picture in my brain what I would build on the site, I don't want to own it. If the picture is clear to me, I should be able to make it clear to a potential buyer or, as a developer, to my audience.

  • Monetization - Many people only look at the CPC figures in Google's Keyword Tool. It's helpful, but it's not the only factor I use to determine if there's a way to monetize the domain. In fact, in many cases I've bought names specifically because the CPC figures were very low. Why? Because I had other plans to monetize the name that were more lucrative then pay per click ads. If the way to profit isn't clear from the outset, it doesn't mean I won't find an opportunity to monetize it down the road, but it's a big, big strike against it.

  • Length - Shorter is almost universally better. I'll only ignore this case if the keywords are incredibly popular. For example I own OuterBanksVacationRentals.us. That's a mouthful and a .US, but the keywords get as many as 100,000 exact searches over the summer months, so I forgive it it's great length.

I have a couple of rules that I also apply that are immediate disqualifiers, for example random misspellings, TM issues and general decency. For example Sharking.info was dropped this week and I had no interest in any of the varieties of Sharking topics (both with the fishing varieties and with the "de-pantsing" variety).

So let's look at some examples:

Free-Offers.info - This is a name that was just running through GoDaddy's Drop Auction site. The keywords, monetization and concept are all great, but the name suffers two strikes: It's not .com, and it has a dash. With .info, that's not always bad because .info is popular in Germany and Germany is famous for it's love of dashes, but I couldn't pull the trigger on this one. But rules are made to be broken. I recently picked up Paris-France.info when it dropped. Again, critical thinking is required when making purchases, but some names just scream out at you, and that's what happened with Paris-France.info.

GrapeJelly.TV - I just about reg'd this name for a fun project I was working on because the keywords are memorable (even though I was using it more as a brand), the concept in my head was there, the extension gave it one strike, and the monetization gave it the second. It was a fun concept, but the monetization was neither in selling or advertising grape jelly and no other scheme came to mind. If you know how you would develop and monetize GrapeJelly.TV, then by all means, register it!

LeatherBags101.com - Great Keywords, .com, Affiliate sales and advertisers would be simple enough to monetize, but its two strikes are the 101 and I just don't have a clear picture of how I would make an informational/101 type site about Leather Bags. Maybe that's a silly reason - maybe there's plenty of informational content that could be developed about leather bags, but I just didn't have the vision for it and that's enough of a reason not to plunk down $7 bucks for a registration.

These rules are my rules. I hope they are helpful but you have to find your rules and know how many strikes you are willing to live with in your domain portfolio. I'd love to hear your feedback at http://twitter.com/UtterDomain


  1. Nice post . Just wondering what the Top 10 extensions according to you ?

  2. According to Verisign's report for Q1 2009, the top 10 tld's by registrations are:

    .com, .cn, .de, .net, .org, .uk, .info, .nl (Netherlands), .eu (European Union), and .biz

    Personally, my top 10 list is a little different :)