Keep Alternate Spellings in Mind

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Last week, I was bidding on an auction at Godaddy and ended up losing. The name could be worth more than the winning bid, and I want to share why I stopped bidding without revealing the name, since that might not be nice for the winning bidder.

The reason I stopped bidding was there is an alternative way to spell the domain name. It may have been good for branding, but it would have failed the radio test and would have likely lost half its traffic to the alternative. This domain name had a number and a word in it, but there are alternative spellings. For instance, if you heard the word “first” in a domain name, some people might spell it first and others might spell it 1st.

For this particular domain name, I think both spellings would have value. The term is fairly well known, and there are many websites that use both spellings effectively. Furthering my thoughts that both spellings have value is the fact that all of the major extensions have been registered in both spellings by different entities.

For me, though, it simply didn’t pass the radio test. If someone were considering building a brand on the domain name, they would have needed to discount the value of the domain name that was at auction because half or (likely) more than half of the people would assume it was the alternate spelling if they heard about the website on a radio or even via word of mouth.

At the end of the day, I was ready to pay low 4 figures for the domain name but opted against raising my bid once it passed my comfort level. I want to share this with you because I think the number of spellings is an important consideration to make when buying a domain name.

1 COMMENT

  1. Elliot, did the exact same thing with the word barbecue, I got the alternative barbeque and it has more search than the right spelling..Saved me 3000…

  2. Good advice.
    The radio test is important and I think if it has 2+ possible spellings that details is seen in the price.

    When I’m in a similar situation I research similar domain sales to get the approximate value. And … yes, I also like to keep within my comfort level.

  3. I ran into similar problems a few years back with “Orthopaedist” and “Orthopedist”. While the first one is technically the most accurate spelling, a majority of people assume the second is the norm. Both are actually acceptable.

    There’s a similar conundrum with certain words or cities in which the hyphen is a part of the proper name. Many people will assume the hyphen devalues the name when in reality it is the most preferable form of the word, and again technically accurate.

  4. given the propensity of misspelled words i see in emails – to / too for example, it amazes me how many advertisers dont spell their names in ads still, where so easily misunderstood – would think the ad agencies producing those ads are committing malpractice

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