Diversify Your Domain Portfolio: How IDNs are Registered in Punycode

You might have heard that people in other countries like to type, search, and create content in their native languages.   Investing in Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) is a way to capitalize on that trend, and for anyone who wants to diversify a domain portfolio, buying a number of IDNs is a must.

I am not fluent in any foreign languages, (though I come close with Hebrew).   How can I register IDNs in large countries such as China, which has more people than any other country in the world?   Is it a problem than I am not a native speaker and that I do not have Chinese characters on my keyboard?

It is actually fairly simple.   All you need is a good, free online dictionary and a punycode converter.

Step 1: Translation
If you use a reliable foreign dictionary and translate “Liyang”, the Chinese city,   from English to Chinese you will get 溧阳.com

Step 2: Punycode Conversion
Then if you want to register this name, many registrars require you to register it using the punycode representation of these characters.   If you copy and paste 溧阳.com into the IDNTools punycode converter, you can just press the convert button and you will get the punycode representation of this word xn--y9wq75f.com.

Step 3: Registration
Then go register xn--y9wq75f.com.   As a result, if someone types in 溧阳.com into a browser, you would own that page and can develop it like any other.   Even better is that IDN keywords are not as competitive so if one were to do SEO, you would be in a great position for the valuable keyword “溧阳”.

Step 4: Bulk Registration
Now that you understand the basics, you can still hand register some great IDNs, and the best way to check for availability is in bulk.   Pull together a few hundred English keywords.   Translate. Punycode convert.   And availability check.

A few hurdles still exist, though they can be leapt over.   First, you are bound to make some translation mistakes as some dictionaries aren’t always accurate.   We’ll show you in the next post how to use the best dictionaries, and when to use natives to minimize mistakes.   We’ll also explain that the question “why would anyone register a foreign name, then dot an English extension?” is resolved by .com being aliased to foreign extensions.

Next post: Translating Domain Names

Aaron Krawitz of IDNBlog and Gary Males of IDNDemystified, are guest authors of this IDN series on ElliotsBlog.   Aaron and Gary co-own   IDNDroplist, IDNTools and IDNNewsletter.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. @Peter – Great question. The primary reason why I would want 溧阳.com more than 溧阳.cn is because ccTLDs in general and .cn in particular have a track record of being subject to strict and sudden regulation.

    Only recently, the .cn extension lost a great deal of value when CNNIC declared that only business entities registered in China could renew .cn names (see article here: http://idnblog.com/2009/12/13/cnnic-domain-names-limited-business/).

    With that being said, some ccTLDs are particularly valuable such as .de. But in general, I prefer .com.

  2. Elliot,

    You will like this one:) I was in the first wave to register IDN in 2000 in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. I was so happy to get Free.com in Korean IDN, but then I found out it meant something different, such as being free from jail, and not free stuff. Also, I thought I got business.com in Japanese IDN, but what I really got was “business law”, not a bad name but not what I thought.

    However, all was not lost, I got Electronics.com in Koren IDN and Video.com and Wireless.com in Chinese IDN so I can’t complain.

    Thanks, Jim

  3. Yea, China is probably a bad example. I wouldn’t invest there personally. Getting .ru domains for Russian words might be a good idea though, as an example. I also like the individual European country codes over the .eu.

  4. @t

    that’s a common misunderstanding and actually a mixing up of statistics.

    A lot of Chinese people can get by reading English, as English is mandatory on the school curriculum.

    But being able to read English, doesn’t equate to it being the preference for conversation or written form. If that was the case, then all Chinese websites would be full of English content, and the top searched browser terms you would also expect to be in English… check out Googles Zeitgeist for 2009, and you’ll see the top searched terms in China: http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/press/zeitgeist2009/regional.html#china

    You can also head on over to IDNclub or IDNforums, there are plenty of native Chinese domainers on those two forums that will give you the low-down from an end users perspective.


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