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Keep Alternate Spellings in Mind


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.

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.

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Comments (12)

    brian wamelile

    Thanks Silver, for your advice I have also noted the same thing just of recent

    February 9th, 2016 at 11:33 am


    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…

    February 9th, 2016 at 11:36 am


    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.

    February 9th, 2016 at 11:40 am


    What’s a radio?

    J/K. Good advice.

    February 9th, 2016 at 11:51 am

    M. Menius

    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.

    February 9th, 2016 at 12:48 pm


    This post made little if any sense without knowing the domain in question.
    Thanks but no thanks.

    February 9th, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Elliot Silver

      LOL… even with the “first” vs. “1st” example, you’re still lost?

      In reply to Monday | February 9th, 2016 at 1:34 pm


      It’s alright then. I will take up the hypothesis.

      In reply to Elliot Silver | February 9th, 2016 at 1:47 pm


    He only understands things on “Monday”. lol

    February 9th, 2016 at 1:51 pm


    Knowing the type of names you buy the first word that came to mind was Advisor vs Adviser

    February 9th, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    essential domains

    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

    February 10th, 2016 at 7:28 am

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