In 2015, the domain name Cars.com was sold for $872 million. This makes it the most expensive domain name ever.
Why would anybody pay so much for a web address?
Because domain names are your brand. They can make or break a business.
Top-level domains attract customers with less marketing effort from businesses. Cars.com is only one example. There are countless other domains that have sold for tens of millions of dollars.
Is your business ready to thrive in the digital economy? Scaling your brand name through domain names can help you achieve long term success.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about domains, protecting your brand, and the consequences of not reserving your domain.
Branding Benefits of Domain Names
Here are the five key benefits to harnessing the power of domain names:
1) Establish Your Business Identity
Most people’s first contact with your business will be your domain name. Your domain name should convey something about your company. Use this opportunity to link with your industry and establish a business identity.
For example, an IT company should use a domain name like “www.computer solutions.tech.” This conveys expertise in the field and improves the quality of traffic driven to their site.
2) Prepare for the Future
All businesses will eventually need a website. Using domain names like “.tech” or “.travel” show industry expertise. It shows customers that your company keeps up with digital trends.
3) Find Your Market
All business owners know it’s not just about the size of your audience, but who is in your audience. With your domain name, you can create a direct link between your business and new customers.
4) Make Things Memorable
Short and brandable domain names stick out. They are easy to remember and share.
Short domains are less likely to be misspelt, leading more people to your page.
5) Create Promotions and Special Pages
Let’s say you’re running a sale on clothing for 20% off. You could use this URL “www.yourdomain.com/2020-springsale”
But you can make something more memorable, like “www.bestclothing.sale”. It is easy to remember and helps more people find your page.
You have no limit to how many of these pages you create. They also double as great SEO tools. As these pages grow in popularity, backlinks to your site will increase your domain authority.
Protecting Your Domain Name is Essential
During the early days of the internet, your domain name translated to either success or failure. Users had to input an exact web address. Any errors would result in not locating the website.
Domains are still extremely important today. It’s easier to find websites, but, a lot of users still don’t land on the right page.
Researchers recently found over 116,000 fake domains. Criminals use these to trick people to enter their personal information. So it’s important you secure not only your target domain name, but all similar variants.
Google: A Helpful Example
Google is the king of the internet — it actually has sixty other top-level domains.
Google reserved its domain “www.google.com” and other variations like “www.gogle.com” and more. This protects Google from imitators trying to profit from their brand. It also protects their customers.
Your domain name is your brand in the digital world. Using it well grows your business exponentially. Likewise, when it’s not used or there are imitators, it can hurt your business.
The Consequences of Not Securing Your Domain Name
The old advice that prevention is the best medicine applies to domain names. Not reserving your primary domain name and key variants can create a huge range of problems for you.
It becomes more difficult to resolve these issues once your business grows bigger.
You can register a domain name for under $10.00 a year. From here, you can set up auto-renewals to get it secured forever. It’s simple, easy, and can be done in a few minutes.
Negotiating over domains can get expensive and complicated quickly because domain squatting is a common practice.
Companies will buy up lists of appealing domains and wait until somebody makes an offer. Or your business competitors may take your name so that you can’t use it.
Either way, this will begin a long and exhaustive process that will hurt your bottom line. These are the options you have:
Option 1: Negotiate
There is no price limit for domains. They always sell to the highest bidder. Before you get there, you have to track down the website owner.
Some sites make it easier than others. You may find a form submission page to make a proposal. Well-designed sites with a “for sale” sign are likely going to be expensive. In other instances, the owner may be completely absent. You’ll have to be patient and wait (see below).
Whoever controls the site will set a price according to how in-demand it is. If you are a famous person or a growing brand, expect to pay even more
That’s why you need to go incognito. Use a different email address and inquire about the price. You don’t want anything tracking back to your company.
Sumo.com is a famous recent example of domain negotiation. Sumo is an eCommerce platform for small and medium businesses. Originally, the used the URL “sumome.com”. “sumo.com” was extremely valuable to them, so they spent six years negotiating for the domain name before agreeing to pay $1.6 million.
Ultimately, they saw the investment as worth it and gathered resources to buy the domain. But, imagine how much easier things would have been if they had reserved Sumo from the start.
Option 2: Wait Them Out
In 2015 a former Google employee bought the domain name “www.google.com”. Fortunately for Google, the employee was happy to return it for a donation to charity. Most domain squatters are not so generous, however.
You can wait for a domain name to expire so you can take it before the current owner renews. But, this is risky. You don’t know if it’s set to auto-renew or if there are many people waiting to buy it.
You could end up waiting years with no guarantee of ever securing the domain.
You’re better off taking the same approach as Sumo. Work with the domain names you have and hope your target will eventually become available. And if you’re successful enough, you can always make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Option 3: Legal Action
If either of the first two choices doesn’t work, you can head to the courts. There are laws against domain squatting and stolen domains. This should be a last resort. It can be a very long, expensive process.
If the defendant lives in another country, your chances get even slimmer. You’ll have to prove the person is domain squatting. The court can deem most usages as appropriate and fair.
There are many court cases where plaintiffs were able to secure their domain names. But, it took years. For example, the pop singer Madonna entered a legal battle with someone who’d taken “www.madonna.com.”
The site owner had no legitimate interest in procuring this domain. It took a trial through the World Intellectual Property Organization for Madonna to finally secure the domain. For small businesses, with limited resources and time, you can see how this is not a viable option.
Domain names have shaped the internet experience for 30 years. They are the digital real estate for businesses. With them, you can grow your internet presence and connect with customers.
Choosing the right domain name can be a challenge. View it as a marketing opportunity instead. So work with your team to build a portfolio of solid domains that all connect to your amazing website.
To gain a deeper understanding of how domain names work, let’s dissect it into its parts.