.Net Names are Hot… But Why?

Although .net names seem to be selling well these days, I don’t particularly like the .net extension. There are a few reasons for this, but what it boils down to is that I would never develop a .net domain name, and I don’t know why someone else would – unless there are extenuating circumstances (like it would be impossible to acquire the .com and nothing else will suffice). Ultimately, I believe the general public knows .com and they generally assume a website is found at the .com. Additionally, I don’t know why someone would park one for PPC revenue, as they may pay a premium for a top keyword, but type-in traffic to .net names is probably tiny.
Recently, I’ve noticed what seems to be an increase in sales and sales prices of domain names in the .net extension. Intuitively, I don’t believe there is going to be much (if any) direct navigation traffic to these names, so I am a bit perplexed as to why .net domain sales have been increasing. Could it be that the prices are such good bargains compared to the gold standard .com names that there is money on speculation? Sure, I can understand developing a huge category killer .net name like Baseball.net or Fishing.net, but I just don’t see buying a .net to park it, like many of the Year to Date sales leaders are.
I really don’t know why people are buying .net domain names. If the plan is to develop, wouldn’t it be smarter to spend money on the .com domain name? If a person is going to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time developing a domain name with the intention of building a business, why would they start out almost handicapped by having the .net? The amount of money it will take to brand the .net over the course of a few years could be more than it would cost to buy the .com instead. If I am going “balls out” building a website, I would have the confidence in my ability to spend (or finance) the .com domain purchase. Maybe that’s just me, but if I am going to build a website or a business, I would be slightly embarrassed to tell my domain colleagues and non-domain friends, “no, not .com – .net.”
Another thing to keep in mind is that once a website is built on the .net, the owner of the .com just hit a jackpot, as the .net website just made his .com domain name all the more valuable, especially if it is without a doubt generic and doesn’t try to monetize it by taking advantage of the .net (Oversee.com would be stupid to have PPC links for domain-related things for example).
Additionally, for generic domain names, if the .com owner builds a similar website on the .com, I would assume he would be the beneficiary of better search engine optimization rankings, and people would just assume they are on the correct website when they navigate to the .com.
For illustrative purposes, I added a Compete.com traffic chart of Oversee.net vs. Oversee.com, with Fabulous.com used to show that an increase in traffic between the .net and .com weren’t simply related to an increase in Internet traffic. Based on the chart, it would appear that the few spikes in traffic seen by Oversee.net resulted in a lift in traffic for Oversee.com.
While .net domain names are certainly less expensive than .com names (and maybe even .org, too), I think there is a very good reason for it, and that’s why I don’t really buy .net domain names. I would be interested in hearing why others think the .net extension has been doing well recently, and I am interested in knowing what others thinking about building on .net. I am open-minded and interested in learning.
Compete.com Oversee Chart

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. Elliot, there is no question that .net domains that are aged have a huge SEO advantage, and if the .com is out of range, then there is plenty of reason to develop the .net.
    Run 100 google queries for top keywords and scan the top ten results and you will be very surprised by how many .net manes there are.
    Also, they do get some direct navigation traffic.

  2. I had .net site for a few years, before recent switch to .com
    As you said, people would tell men, i couldn’t find you, because they would type in .com
    Also just from image prospective, people see .net as second best or a runner up, so they dont think of my business as trust worthy, and even sounds as flight by night operation.
    So i am with you on that, i wouldnt develop .net even if it was really good domain name.

  3. Elliot,

    I agree that .com is sui generis when it comes to prime development, but, in some cases, .net is a logical extension for branding in the technology space. The extension originated for use by ISPs and it has deep roots in the developer/tech community with sites such as asp.net, java.net, etc. Also, since age of domain/site has strong SEO implications, aged .net domains can do quite well in the SERPs. While I certainly agree that .com is preferable, I believe a business case can be made for developing .net domains as a strong alternative to .com where price/availability is a factor. You do raise a good point about the speculative (and parked) .net investments because it takes solid development to unlock the value in those names.


    Thanks for the added info!

  4. I don’t think it’s a speculation domain but like the wholesale florist district in NY versus the actual flower shops on Fifth and Madison and everywhere in between- there is an industry and then consumers. The industry is a “network” who is connected by existing relationship. They don’t need to type-in or search, they know where to go. Plus every industry group needs an email address and a url to put on their brochure that’s clear. Don’t forget online marketing is not an island to itself. If you are looking at a URL on a brochure or card, you can enter it as is.
    CaliforniaLwyers, BoyntonRealtors are examples of net domains that could join forces among sellers, not make offers to buyers.

    Plus if you look at most of your friend’s email addresses- they are comcast.net, bellsouth.net etc

    I think the comcast.net and bellsouth.net (…etc) email addresses are because the employees of those companies receive email on the .com. I have a friend who works for a company that offers email service, and the corporate email addresses are @xxxxxx.com and the freebies are @xxxxxx.net. This is to avoid people thinking that the person works for the company simply because they have that email address.

  5. Other businesses prefer to use .NET due to the fact that .com is not available or too expensive to consider. As part of business planning, starting on .net is a practical move. When a business grow, then they can consider re-branding to another name. Most big businesses can easily do this as they have the money to roll.
    Other company such Internet Service Provider are using their own .NET domain because it makes sense to their service offering. For example, savvis.net. When I started using them in the early 2000 they are using the .net domain. Though they own now the .com extension redirected to .net.
    I have my own .net (obviously king.net) because the .com is not available forsale.
    Ofcourse .com still the king of today internet surfing. But this might change in the future as people started to learn other extension especially ccTLD. A good example is .CN, the local government prefer to use .CN domains compare to .com. Another famous one is .de and .co.uk
    Parking .net .org and other extension is another story.

  6. Elliot, good generic .net keywords are great for SEO purposes, especially if it an older name. I agree with you that it is a waste for parking and branding purposes, but it could be great if you optimize for organic traffic. Salinas.net can be optimized as good or better than Salinas.com, and show up as well in organic search results. It is true that Salinas.com would have a huge advantage for type in traffic, but if somebody searches for “salinas california” in Google, Salinas.net could show up well, and have credibility as a one word domain name. So the bottom line is, if you are looking for organic search traffic (not,branding, parking or repeat visits) than a good organic .net could be very valuable.

    I realize this, but I would still buy the .com any day of the week. Lowell.net currently ranks higher than Lowell.com. I think it’s probably due to the fact that Lowell.com was de-listed from Google for a while, but the .net has been up for a number of years. Lowell.com ranking is improving, and I hope it will overtake the .net sometime in the next few months. If it were the other way around, I think it would be impossible.

  7. I own a few category killer short 1 word .nets, and they do receive type in traffic. Many of the traffic is way better than my 2 or 3 words loooggngish .coms.

  8. Elliot…..regarding your comments above, I think you answered your own question. I don’t buy Geo domain names, so I am not up on their values, but I would gather that Lowell.net is worth maybe 10% of what Lowell.com is worth (I could be wrong but just giving example). As you can see, you can optimize Lowell.net as well as you can Lowell.com and generate as much or more in organic search traffic AND revenue from that traffic. It is true that the .net won’t get that valuable type in traffic (or repeat traffic), but the ROI from the .net could be almost as valuable (percentage wise) as the .com. As you know, it is all about the ROI.

  9. E: Good point about the isp email I never considered. However if there is so much potential for confusion don’t they get inadated with misdirected mail- the filters for which hurt their employees by sending too much to spam,– but also hurt their customers with mail that never gets delivered?

    I just checked, and one of those companies that uses .net for commercial email and .com for business uses the person’s full name on the business side of the house, presumably to avoid the misdirected email. My acquaintance uses Joe.E.Smith@xxxxxxxx.com.
    I am sure they get a ton of misdirected email, but that’s why it’s important for consumers to choose their email addresses wisely 🙂

  10. Slightly off-topic, as your post relates predominantly to commercial development, but………I like to speculate on inexpensive first- or last-names in .net, on the assumption that websites for individuals will be commonplace x years down the road. A michelle(.net) won’t be embarrassed to have the .net extension which will predominantly be for personal uses, and will also give him/her a xxxx@michelle.net e-mail address. The relative lack of commercial application will limit the upside value of these first- or last-name .nets, but I still think there are a few bucks to be made.

  11. I have all of my names in .COM. I would never ever acquire a domain name in .NET since you would likely loose all your traffic to a .COM version. With this said, I would stick with .COM no matter what.

  12. I think I fall somewhere in the middle in this debate. If the benefit of a .net domain compared to its .com sibling is that the .net has aged inbound links, then we’re not really comparing apples to apples. If a domain has good aged IBL, it’s often worth acquiring, regardless of its extension.
    In my limited domaining experience, I think that while type-in traffic may convert better than search engine traffic, it’s several orders of magnitude smaller. Google (for example) claims that a domain’s extension (excluding country-specific TLDs) doesn’t affect its ranking. So, in theory, keyword.info should rank in the SERPs just as well as keyword.com.
    Let’s say that a .com extension of a (highly commercial, frequently searched) two-keyword phrase brings you 500 visitors a month of type-in traffic (on the .com extension), but a high-ranking on that term could bring you 50,000 visitors a month of search engine traffic. Paying much of a premium on the .com domain probably doesn’t make sense.
    Couple of exceptions:
    You get some instant credibility with folks that might do business with you if you own a generic .com. That has some value.
    A friend has suggested that occasionally, people that are trying to link to keyword.info will screw it up and link to keyword.com instead — so you might bleed out some PageRank. (I think this is a bit of a stretch, personally.)
    You probably do make the .com version more expensive down the road, should you later want to acquire it.

  13. I’m with Brooklyn. I’ll always go for the .com if I can swing it, but I have sites on the generic versions of .net, .org and even .info that do just fine for me and I understand why people choose it.
    Lets say carstereos.com costs $200,000, but carstereos.net is $15,000. While it is easy to say “if you believe in your project just buy the .com” finding that $185,000 is easier said than done.
    I recently bought a generic product .org for $500 at snapnames. The .net sold a few weeks later for $5,000 and the .com is currently for sale for around $80k. I could hire 4 or 5 full time people in India for a full year for the difference in the domain prices.
    If you are depending on search results to generate sales (which is where most sales come from from most sites) the .net v.s. .com debate isn’t that big of a deal. Yes from a long term branding perspective it isn’t as good, and you will bleed sales to the .com but such is life. There are plenty of businesses that make people rich even though they aren’t on the busiest street in town.
    Now if it was a startup with $3 million to get things rolling it would be an easy choice and would be stupid not to get the .com, but that isn’t the choice for most.

  14. For me this actually relates a bit to Elliot’s earlier post about pricing domains to sell when you are just breaking into this business. For me, I simply don’t have the funds at this stage to go after many of the .com names I’d like. While of course I’d opt for the .com in almost any situation, I can make up for lack of funds with a good work ethic and some technical know-how. Buying, developing and flipping some great .net names is the approach I’m beginning to consider as a way of breaking into the .com names I’d like to own.
    Another point – I’ve noticed lately as I research possible geo names to acquire, in many cases the .com is currently used by a service or business that shares the name with the particular city. In this case a .net seems to become the logical de facto destination for a user looking for city specific info.

  15. As more surfers land on .com parking pages, the more they will look at alternative TLDs, mainly .net and .org. Users, I believe, will type in a .net if the .com leads to a parking page or nowhere at all (if the word is a common generic).

    Don’t discount dot-org; people TRUST that TLD as being alturistic and non-profit, even if when isn’t. Scammers know this.

    I recently bought a five-letter, high-ranking generic keyword, dot-net for $1,500. The dot-com would have been WAY out of my reach and budget (and most likely not for sale anyway).

    I now have my dot-net on a blog (soon to be a no-fee forum), and it’s now averaging 100 hits per day and building. The dot-com is a PAID forum with a totally different focus. The dot-org is actally the 800 lb gorilla, but, again, a forum that offers a different focus–actually one that my dot-net is challenging.

    Actually I didn’t buy this domain to make money (and I’m not), but to offer an alternative and a more free-thinking forum in my field.

    But I do agree that this dot-net might get 10% of its current traffic on a parking page and would not make a cent.


    Ms Domainer


    I don’t think it makes sense that uses will navigate to other extensions if the .com is a parked page. More likely, the user will either click one of the links or will navigate to the search engine of his choice to find the site or information he needs. I think direct navigation traffic is a way for users to quickly find the site they need, and if they can’t find it, they will just go to a search engine to find it. If they go to other extensions, it’s more of a wild goose chase.

    I like .org for non-profits because of the trust factor.

  16. For years I have not liked .net. We are “net” buyers of .net right now though as they provide a great aged+keyword+price value proposition that works for our development. That said, we do not buy any .net just random as we will with .com. All .net are bought for a project in development or very soon and only for a project that has online as the only marketing play – SEO, SEM, links – and has no intention of ever being a major word of mouth or offline media driven play.
    If you plan on spending media offline ever building a long-term brand, it is much more critical to acquire the .com at start-up.
    In the lowell.com vs.net debate, assuming content quality equal, I believe the .com will almost always rank higher. Content quality though would be able to balance if one was weak. Also, if .com is #1 in the SERP and .net is #2 in SERP (Search Engine Results Page – for newbies) oftentimes people do not separate the base domains but rather the listing with the better Blue Hyperlink (usually the page title) will receive more clicks.
    As mentioned in comments above as well… .com vs .net is sometimes a budgetary decision and .com is unfeasible for many small businesses utilizing self-funds.

  17. Originally I registered .nets to build affiliate marketing sites, or for arbitrage, but not long after that Google began taking aim at these strategies.
    I then decided that my time and resources would be better spent on developing my best .coms rather than the approx 60 niche keyword .nets I have which are mostly in categories where I don’t have a great .com (profitable industry categories mind you).
    I won’t be quick now to buy any .nets for speculation, but I wouldn’t rule them out to support a particular project. As Greg mentioned above, I see their value purely online.. in my opinion they are useful for landing pages in PPC campaigns if they contain strong keywords. The search words then can be found in the ad’s domain. This maximizes your ad’s word count with meaningful words and can help increase your CTR, thereby reducing PPC costs.
    My strategy now is sell the ones I currently have directly to SEMs and occasionally through Ebay.
    On a side note: the value of .net may deteriorate in countries outside the US as the use of ccTLDs continues to grow. I live in Canada and .net is a very distant third to .com and .ca. In most cases .com is still the first extension that people think of, but when people see .ca there is a strong trust factor associated with it because of the Canadian presence requirements.

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