A Domain Name Could be Too Generic

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I exclusively buy domain names that I deem generic / descriptive. These are common words or phrases that are meaningful to people who use them and the customers that visit their websites. One downside for prospective buyers of descriptive keyword domain names is that they may be too generic.

I was in a negotiation with a buyer’s agent during the past week or so, and the prospective buyer opted to not buy my one word .com domain name. The buyer’s agent told me the reason the company passed was its lawyers advised them that the company would have a very difficult time registering the trademark they would need because of the broad usage of the keyword in the market. Essentially, there were so many other companies using this keyword in their businesses, that the prospective buyer might not be able to get trademark protection.

There are many great reasons for why a strong keyword domain name can be great for a business. There are also quite a few big brands that use keyword .com domain names as their brand, including Hotels.com, Cars.com, Apartments.com, Diapers.com, Soap.com…etc.

Even as someone without a legal background, what the buyer’s agent said to me makes sense to me. For the same reason my company can own and monetize keyword descriptive domain name with industry-related PPC links, the prospective buyer would have a more difficult time creating and protecting its trademark rights.

I would rather build a brand on a great keyword .com domain name rather than having to create a business AND a brand on something unrelated. However, some companies that are very concerned about creating and protecting their trademarks may shy away from using a descriptive keyword domain name. I am sure  I lost out on potential sale opportunities for this reason before, but I don’t recall being told that it was the reason.

It is something to consider.

15 COMMENTS

  1. This is an important dimension of domain valuation. But remember there’s many ways to peel an egg. Barnesandnoble.com can also be accessed from bn.com and book.com and books.com

    A great generic domain can route visitors to an allied homepage, or be basis for a trademark & Fresh Built website. Owning the key generic adds authority; many buyers feel more confident, and the address is easily remembered.

  2. Yes domains can be too generic.

    Not just for protecting marks but for converting traffic into sales.

    Two word .coms that more accurately describes a product often converts traffic better than a one word generic.

  3. I think that as we exit the days of generic seo/sem campaign domains and enter the era of brandables, that super generic domains are going to lose most (If not all) there appeal. In today’s era, people are more lawsuit happy than ever before. They also want to make sure they are protected from lawsuits. Generics make that hard to do.

  4. I like registering generics because you can title the webpage to whatever you like it to be. Ex. iForum, Julio’s Internet Forum. Their mistake was not buying the domain name. They could have created their brand then used the domain to redirect the traffic to their website.

  5. Moreover, even though this is “the reason” given, that doesn’t make it a good reason or a smart business decision. May be the biggest business mistake they ever made.

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