Don’t Develop Dumb Domains*

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Development is the way to go for premium domain names if your company has the time and/or inclination to develop. There are many great development options, as I have mentioned several times on this blog, some of which can be found under the “Sponsors” title to the right. However, I would evaluate the domain names you want to develop and stick with developing the best of the bunch.

Don’t waste your time or money developing brandable or cute domain names, with the * in the title being *unless you have a very unique product, service, or information that you can offer visitors that they won’t find elsewhere. Development is hard work, and the domain name is the primary key to success if you don’t bring something unique to the table. There are plenty of unique sounding websites out there, but just about all offer something that helps to overcome the domain name.

A developed premium domain name can help the owner get the website indexed in the search engines, increasing traffic and revenue. It can also help prevent overreaching companies from trying to claim bad faith due to non-use or even parking. However, I don’t think building an average website on an average or below average domain name will be beneficial – aside from good practice with your development skills.

As other developers can attest, good development is difficult work and it is time consuming. Stick to developing and growing your best domain names, and you won’t get stuck in neutral.

****EDIT***

I bolded one of the most imporant parts because some people missed a MAJOR point of my post.   Yes, YouTube.com and De.licio.us are dumb domain names.     HOWEVER, they have unique services to compensate for the poor domain name. I repeat, go ahead and devlop your dumb domain names if you have a killer idea that will be able to overcome it.   I just don’t think you should build a mini site on a crap domain name.

Case in point, I am building a mini site on BerkeleyHeights.com – a town in NJ. I wouldn’t waste time or money building a site on BestBerkeleyHeightsSite.com.

29 COMMENTS

    • I don’t want to provide examples that might offend anyone, but I would say 90% of the domain names listed for sale on the domain forums – especially under the cheap domain section. Again, a crappy domain name can be developed if the actual development concept is interesting. But it’s a waste to spend money developing an informational site on a bad domain name.

      Just look at the 10 most recent posts on DNF’s Fixed Price section.

  1. Half of what Rick Latona is offering on his newsletter now are long tail hand registered domains with mini-sites. So following your logic, they would be bad investments also?

    • I didn’t say “long tail keyword names are bad.” I said “dumb domains” are bad. Rick knows his shit, and most of his registrations are smart registrations based on his instinct and maybe some keyword research. I think long tail keywords (ltkw) are great – as long as people are searching for them. A developed site on a ltkw will be at the top of SEs after some time and will get traffic.

      I am talking about domain names that are brandable that wouldn’t get searched, so they will be lost in the mix. On DNF, I see TradeAvenues.com, EveningOnline.com and DegreeBooks.com. I think these are dumb domains. Nobody is searching for these keywords, IMO, and if they are developed and don’t offer something extremely unique, nobody will find them.

  2. Bad advice in my opinion. Sure, developing a top quality generic is the best way to go if you can. But, developing a good online product can be successful on just about any domain. Perhaps you’ve not seen any of the new ‘Web 2.0’ sites. You should probably read TechCrunch from time to time to see examples.

    • Perhaps you missed this important part of my post, which was why I had the asterisk in the title:

      *unless you have a very unique product, service, or information that you can offer visitors that they won’t find elsewhere

      There are plenty of 2.0 companies that have dumb domain names but offer a unique product or service, which is why people will return. If you develop a dumb domain with regurgitated information found elsewhere, nobody will type in the domain name and nobody will find it via search because it will be buried.

      If you offer a unique product, service or information that can’t be found elsewhere, people will find it no matter what the domain name is. Eventually, you will lose some traffic if you have a dumb or crap domain name.

  3. “There are plenty of 2.0 companies that have dumb domain names”

    You got that right. In fact, try and name one that doesn’t use a ‘dumb’ domain name.

    twitter <- dumb?
    flickr <- dumb?
    youtube <- dumb?
    myspace <- dumb?
    facebook <- dumb?
    google <- dumb?
    yahoo <- dumb?
    digg <- dumb?
    godaddy <- dumb?
    sedo <- dumb
    techcrunch <- dumb
    del.icio.us <- dumb (at least they finally fig’d it out)

    • Exactly right…. and every single one of them has a unique product, service or information, which was part of my post. If you have a dumb domain name and don’t have an idea that is interesting, there isn’t much of a point to developing your dumb domain name.

      I guess the industry would be a lot less crowded if it wasn’t for dumb domains, but I still recommend not spending the money developing them unless you have a good product, service or other offering.

  4. I have to disagree with this line of thinking.

    I can take any domain name – even a dumb one – and with hard work and good SEO and PPC skills dominate a market online.

    Granted in certain markets (especially GEO markets) “cityname.com” vs. “citynamesite.info” for example can make the job much easier. But the best SEO and PPC skills, combined with dedication will always rank higher.

  5. Got to disagree on this post also El. LOL

    Over the past 30 years everything people said to me was a dumb idea are the ones that did the best.

    So I’m a big believer in dumb including dumb domains.

  6. Elliot, the example you used of “BestBerkeleyHeights.com” hit close to home, because a competitor w/ a legion of subpar domain names is absolutely dominating the SERPs for Apartments. His apartment names just happen to be: BestApartmentsInXXXXX.com (XXXXX is just about every city name). They have terrible names, but they are owning the SERPS in many major cities, quite a pain (not like my names are any good either, just that your example of “best” triggered this thought).

  7. I guess someone could always register dumbdomainnames.com for 8 bucks.

    Companies with funky names are ok to use, but I think if your trying to start up a website with a funky name it is much harder because most of all the companies with these funky names have investors that have put up 6 or 7 figures of seed money to start with.

    As a smaller investor your budget is smaller and you should spend it more wisely on a generic 2 or 3 worded generic .com name. Unless your product is so far superior than anyone elses stick with generic names.

  8. @TymB

    I’ve tried what you are claiming about the cityname.com vs. citynamesite.info. My team and I know all about hard work, PPC and great SEO.

    And it doesn’t work. The cityname.com trumps the other domains every time.

    The SE’s favour the cityname.com for rank, the visitors click results with urls for cityname.com over citynamesite.info every time, and the local advertisers have little interest in paying for ads on citynamesite.info unless you’re selling them cheap.

    – Richard

    PS. Elliot, I wish you had the threaded comments so I can reply directly to TymB — (smile).

  9. @Chad,

    Do they offer a service on the site, or is it just a bunch of information about the city and its apartments?

    Also, I suppose if you build a huge network of sites that is interlinked, you can achieve success even with crappy domain names. Granted that will take a lot of time and effort.

  10. If your domain names are “brandable,” but you offer something unique that can’t be found elsewhere (like a personal blog or something of that nature), the domain name matters much less.

    When I first started blogging, I used topnotchdomains.com/blog as my blog. After receiving a lot of feedback, I realized that I needed a better domain name, so I got this one.

  11. Those “bestaparmentsinXXXX.com” sites are mainly just one page landers connected to a database of all the local apartments. They are doing pretty well in the rankings and have interlinked all their domains, much like the Gas Buddy sites have done it (though the Gas Buddy sites aren’t nearly as thin as these apartment sites).

  12. Hi,
    I recently registered a domain name with the number 4 in front of the keyword I am targetting. I would have to spend serious money to buy the .com, .net, or .org with the exact keyword, which I do not have available. Additionally, many domains are registered containing the keyword and other words. Would you consider this a dumb domain name to develop with the 4 in front of it? I feel that since it has the keyword in the domain name, it will at least be easier to get good SEO on Google.

    Tim

    • @Tim – it really depends on what you are planning to offer and how you are going to scale. What happens what someone recommends your site to a friend:

      “Check out 4Travel.com. Not ForTravel.com or FourTravel.com, but the number 4 and then travel.com.” It gets confusing.

      Content is king though. If you have something that can’t be found elsewhere, people will find you – albeit not everyone will though.

  13. Elliot, I’d have to disagree with this as well. Granted, a good, rememberable domain name makes it so much easier for a customer or user to find you, however, people don’t look for good domain names. Instead, they look for solutions which come as products or services or social interaction, the domain name is not important as much as the business plan. You were close when you said “*unless you have a very unique product, service, or information that you can offer visitors that they won’t find elsewhere.” but to pinpoint: it all boils down to an outstanding online business plan which ties all these elements together and more.

  14. Good discussion going in.

    Developing dumb domains — what do I think about this? Dumb idea… But it can be a long term play if you are totally determined to make it work.

    The only way for you to generate organic search engine traffic is by compensating with a lot of unique content.

    This may come 4,5,6 month’s down the road if you are doing everything right.

    A good domain name gets 50% of the work done for you… With a dumb domain, you have to do 150% more work… I hope this makes sense.

    Don’t try to make your life miserable… Ok, so you registered a dumb domain for $8 — admit to it. Don’t waste the time or money on developing it… We all make mistakes, but don’t be a wise ass or so stubborn in order to prove a point to somebody on a forum.

    Be smart — do the research before you buy any domain or develop a web site. Any type of web site. Mini site or full blown out information resource or product/service.

    Best,
    Mike

    http://www.wannadevelop.com

  15. @Too Many Secrets

    So once in a while “citynamesite.info” gets SERP rank #2. Doohhh – I’ll take that.

    AND if you have an appealing (clickable) title and description guess which SERP gets clicked more – #2. And like I said, GEO is one of the few market that this happens.

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