Generic Domain Names

Everything sells online. Even Duck Eggs.

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Everything sells online. Even Duck Eggs.
Internet entrepreneur Sai Pola’s DuckEggs.com offers the perfect reason why people should buy generic domain names. People who navigate to a specific site like DuckEggs.com have one thing in mind when they arrive – to purchase duck eggs. Using partnerships with farmers whose ducks produce some of the finest quality eggs, Sai’s website allows users to get exactly what they want.According to the article,

“The right domain name conveys credibility, is memorable and can deliver potential customers directly to an ecommerce website without the site owner spending a penny for advertising. The best domain names are comprised of the generic name of the product or service being offered.” –Source: Press Release via Forbes

DuckEggs.com is a perfect example of a specific generic domain name giving direct navigators the product they want, building loyalty and revenue.

Good Unregistered Names to Be Found

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I just found a couple decent names that were unregistered. I was able to register HMOCompanies.com and HMOCompany.com. Although there aren’t a ton of Google listings for these two names, there are advertisers on the top and side of Google. With some decent SEO, these names can possibly produce some valuable clicks.

Moral of the story: There are still good GENERIC domain names to be found out there without having to turn to the aftermarket. Keep on searching. Landing a decent new registration feels almost as good as reeling in a great one-worder in the aftermarket – with less financial risk.

Missed Opportunity: Subdirectory Direct Navigation

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Owners of generic domain names know the value of direct navigation traffic, but a quick review of some popular websites leads me to believe they aren’t considering subdirectory direct navigation on their websites. Briefly, a subdirectory is the word or phrase that follows a backslash after the extension on a domain name. In the following example, Boston.com/RedSox, “RedSox” would be the subdirectory.

I frequently navigate to a subdirectory hoping to avoid the front page. In my Red Sox example, I often directly navigate to the Boston Globe’s Red Sox page to save time. If I do this on the Globe’s website, I am sure there are other people who do the same thing on other websites. Oftentimes, a 404 Error page is displayed when directly navigating to subdirectories, proving that many website owners aren’t considering this type-in traffic. Below are a few examples of websites that take subdirectory traffic into consideration:

CNN.com/Sports (forwards to Sports Illustrated)
ESPN.com/Soccer (forwards to ESPNsoccernet.com)
Google.com/Mail (forwards to Gmail)
Yahoo.com/Finance (forwards to Yahoo Finance)

However, there are plenty of ecommerce websites that don’t take this into consideration, possibly to their detriment.
BestBuy.com/Speakers (404 Error)
CircuitCity.com/Speakers (The page requested was not found)
Ebay.com/Speakers (Page Not Found)

Just as some people directly navigate to specific domain names, I believe there are some people who directly navigate to the subdirectories. Although these browsers may not leave the website if they encounter a 404 error page, I think it would be an easy fix to give browsers what they are looking for if they do directly navigate to a subdirectory. It seems that many news websites anticipate this direct navigation, so I think ecommerce websites should consider this traffic as well.

Avi Gets It!

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As Frank Schilling pointed out yesterday afternoon, the Swim.com auction netted $214,500. By clicking on the bidder ID of the winner, everyone could see that the email address was none other than the owner of ClubSwim.com, Avi Benaroya. Some quick research shows that Avi also is the owner of other swimming related domain names such as SwimOutlet.com, Swimmer.com, SwimLessons.com, SwimmingInstructor(s).com, and many more. With his purchase of Swim.com, it shows that Avi and his company get it! They know the most valuable domain name in their category is Swim.com. They fought off other bidders, and they won the crown jewel domain name. Very impressive.

Valuing a Domain Name

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There is much more that goes into determining the value of a domain name than a simple revenue multiple or traffic report. The value of a domain name lies in the name itself. The reason we have domain names is because the IP address system would be too complicated for consumers to remember. It’s much easier to remember ElliotsBlog.com than a string of ten random numbers. Because we use domain names as memory recall devices, the most descriptive, and easiest to remember domain names are best.

When I look to buy a domain name, the most important thing I evaluate is whether I believe a business can be built on that particular name. It doesn;t matter if it is a service or product based company, when a person hears a domain name, they should know what they will find when they navigate there. Nearly all of the domain names I purchase have this attribute, and I think it is important for domain investors to consider this when they are buying their next domain name.

Traffic and currrent/expected revenue are important, but the actual name is the most important valuation factor for me.

Branding vs. Generic Domain Names

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With few exceptions, company brands and generic domain names are opposites. The objective of a brand manager is to distinguish his brand from the competition. The objective of a generic domain name owner is to provide content or advertising links that are general enough to interest the visitors. A brand manager ultimately wants to build loyalty to his brand so the visitor becomes a customer and returns. A typical generic domain owner wants a visitor to click through and possibly provide enough interesting content that the visitor returns so he can click again.

An exception to this is Hotels.com. They have built their brand around a generic domain name. When a person wants to find a hotel at a good price or when they want to read reviews about various hotels, they specifically navigate to the brand, Hotels.com. When a person who doesn’t know about Hotels.com (the company) navigates to Hotels.com, they are looking to find a hotel. This is a prime example of a brand being built around a generic domain name, giving the loyal Hotels.com customer and the random visitor the same valuable information, while building brand recognition and loyalty for both.

In the case of Calvin Ayre’s Bodog brand, the company wants its clients and potential clients to gamble at BodogLife.com and partake in the “Bodog lifestyle.” When the brand was threatened recently, Bodog changed their domain name from Bodog.com to NewBodog.com and then finally to BodogLife.com. Although the domain name changed, the brand and messaging remained constant.

In his blog, Frank Schilling argues that “Calvin should have used this opportunity to buy InternetCasino.com from Xedoc.” As much as I respect Frank, I disagree with him. First, InternetCasino.com would have been a very expensive acquisition for Bodog – probably much more than the value they would receive in return. Not only would this have changed the domain name, but it would have completely altered the brand and the lifestyle portrayed. Visitors to InternetCasino.com are looking for a place to place their bets. Bodog customers are looking for Calvin.

Integrating a brand with a generic domain name doesn’t usually make sense. Yes, a brand can be built around a generic domain name, as demonstrated by the Hotels.com example. However, I don’t think a generic domain name should be used to rebuild a brand.

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