Think Twice Before You Use a Domain Hack

Domain hacks can be cutesy, and the more publicity some of the popular hacks receive, the more others want to emulate. The problem with domain hacks is that they can be confusing to consumers, especially when they don’t mention the “dot” in their branding.

Just the other day, I wrote an article about a new start up called Bump, which smartly operates on One of the people who read the article made a comment about another company called Bump, although that company operates on Unfortunately for the guys, they are most likely going to lose traffic to the start up, and not only is it their own fault, but there’s really nothing they can do about it since is a venture backed company and the domain name wouldn’t be for sale.

Delicious and Bitly were two of the first startups that went mainstream to use domain hacks, and luckily for both, they were able to get the .com domain name to match (Delicious had to purchase Delicious from the registrant). Delicious probably paid a lot more for its .com domain name simply because it built up considerable traffic and brand recognition unintentionally. People, especially in the .com centric US, just assume it’s on a .com.

Just this past week, Google announced its new url shortener, which uses the domain hack for its own url. Smartly for them, they also own in the event of typos, although it seems like they are differentiating it from the main search site by emphasizing the “dot.” On a side note, it will be interesting to track the traffic to, since there will probably be people who inadvertently type in in error.

My recommendation to start ups and to anyone who wants to use a domain hack is that they should only do it if they can secure the .com. If they can’t secure the .com but must use this hack for some reason, it’s critical to emphasize the “dot.”

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
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 closed eight figures in deals. Please read the 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,
    Thanks for the mention. Our goal is to help any and all companies affiliated with the english word bump. Most core words have multiple affiliated brands, e.g. weather, weatherbug, weatherunderground. We’ve got a gateway for our sisters bumps on our home page to help them in their mission. There are actually more than 10 other bumps now, e.g. (great company, great product, great guys),,, bump network, bumptop (purchased by google), the list goes on and on.
    -Mitch Thrower
    CEO & Founder,

  2. I am the guy that posted about, but I only found out about it cause it is linked from the bottom of They got a prime real estate link as would boost their search engine ranking too…

  3. Delicious has too but started as In this case they really just registered and made a subdomain…

  4. I never knew that’s what a “domain hack” meant…
    I thought it was something bad.. (LOL)

    Question – for Mitch:
    Your name is new to me…
    How did you find this site ??
    WHat other projects do you have online ??

    Are you on Twitter ?? Facebook ??

    Thanks in advance…
    ~Patricia Kaehler – DomainBELL

  5. El,

    Thanks for the definition of a “domain hack”. I’ve never heard of that before, and even with the examples, I don’t see the “bad label” of “domain hack” being justified because someone uses the ccTLD extension to create a word/phrase. “HACK” is considered serious illegal activies… maybe this is a wrong term for people who use extensions to create a word/phrase.


  6. Steven, “hack” has been used since the early days of the net as in writing code, it was not originally used as a bad term, it was just attached to illegal activity later. “True hackers” would prefer that you call the illegal activity “cracking” (as in cracking code)

  7. @ Joseph,

    Thanks Joseph for clearing that up. I’ve been online since 1994 (BBS yo!) and the word “hack” has always been relegated to something done that isn’t mainstream.. or *ahem*, legal.

    I guess, like everything, “hack” is now just a term for… trick marketing? Trick SEO? what?

  8. @ Joseph,

    Amish are cool. I admire the courage to move past the strict nature of the religion, but the Amish aren’t normally viewed as “trouble”.

    I’ll bet 90% of men would like an Amish woman, or at least the Amish womenfolk’s duties to family and husband. And, to be fair, I’ll bet 100% of women would like their man to have the Amish man’s sense of total responsibility and work ethic.

    Have I romanticized it too much?

    BTW: I am “STEPHEN”, not “Steven”. Just to keep the confusion down, there are a lot of domainer “Steve’s”. Although everyone addresses me verbally as “steve”, never in print. My name is my brand! Wish i owned the domain name!


  9. Some Amish are cool but not all of them… I was Swartzentruber Amish. One of the strictest groups. Check out my to read more about them or watch my YouTube videos. Username is mrdeleted.

    I am a YouTube partner and mostly talk about the amish and family on Yt but my most viewed video is about the lawsuit against YouTube. (1.6million views)

    Btw u seem pretty cool. 🙂

  10. “I don’t think”


    Let’s say you lose 1% of the traffic, which isn’t so bad. If you lose 10 of every 1,000 people, still not that bad. However, if your site gets big and you start to lose hundreds of people and lose sales, that is bad. It’s especially bad if you try to buy the .com, and that owner is making hundreds a month on PPC courtesy of your website. Do you think he’d sell it cheap? Probably not. He will be very thankful for your marketing though!

  11. Hi Joe,

    That’s very interesting, and I love facts on anything and everything! My mom grew up near Amish country and she taught me at an early age to respect the Amish, either present or former.

    Did you say you thought I was “cool”? Really? awww shucks.

    Now, can i give you a list of about 10 people you can write that “Stephen is cool” to? lol (No El won’t be on that list, he already fantasizes about being me when I was young and good looking! Fortunately for him, he’s already cooler than I ever was at his age.)


  12. It is to be expected that there will be some ‘slippage’ to the .com, if using a long or long-ish ccTLD ‘hack’.

    For, however, there is much less risk of that happening because it is very short and is verbally “bu dot mp”. What could be simpler than that?

    I have the domain, and I believe it is also somewhat immune to the ‘dotcom effect’, and that goes for the other 2+2 ‘hacks’ as well…


  13. To clarify, domain hacks are indeed something bad.

    The biggest problem with almost any web search is the extreme number of false hits. Part of the whole strategy of an effective search is to narrow down the results.

    One very effective way to narrow the results is to add restrictions on the top-level domain, either with a whitelist or a blacklist.

    When I want generic information not shopping sites, I often need to exclude .com and .biz. Sometimes for reliable information, I search only .edu. If I’m looking for information about Germany, I usually want only German sources, so I search only .de.

    I wish webmasters would stop being so superficial and follow the rules to make the Web easier to use.

  14. Today when I go to’s website, it says”Bump is no longer available. We’d like to extend a special thank you to all of you who used Bump.” Their choice of domain could have contributed to their failure quite a bit. Also one interesting thing about is if I type, it doesn’t work and I thought it is also gone. I have to type for it to work. They don’t seem to have any dns record set on their root domain.


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