17 February 2010

Whats in a Name?

Using Keywords in your Domain

Is Men.com a good domain name? How about Furniture.com? Or what about Cars.com? The internet market place certainly thinks they are valuable. Men.com sold for 1.3 million. But is it? Are any of these really brands?

How in the world would you market these names and how would you distinguish yourself from the thousands of variants, copycats and hucksters that will inevitably pop up. You can’t trademark a generic word, so forget about taking your competitors to court.
Multi-Word Generic Domains

A good example of this is if you are looking for a website design company. Do you know the difference between websitedesign.com, websitesdesign.org, website4design.com, website-design.com, websitedesign-ingo.net, websites.co.za, Do you care? Probably not. And you’re definitely not interested in spending the next fours hours trying to find out. However you do know that H2L and Scream Media build websites. Sounds like a safer bet.

So what is best a generic domain or a brand name URL?

To give you a comparison lets looks at an example. The king of search Google. Google is a unique and proper name. It stands for something and there is only one Google. They basically own the public mind space for the word “search” just as surely Kleenex own “tissues” and Xerox owns “copies”. So much so that all three of these companies names have also become a common shorthand for anything in their category. So for Google, any derivative reference used by competitors, critics and jokesters just reinforces the Google brand.

This is not the same for Furniture.com. Variants of the word furniture just dilute the Furniture.com brand, not enhance it. That’s because furniture is a generic word. It doesn’t reference anything but the literal meaning of the word. And a boring word at that. Say it ten times and you’ll probably start to doze off.

No matter how many times someone uses the word furniture it will do nothing to enhance Furniture.com. It is not a brand and never will be.
Highest priced domain names

Here’s a list of the highest priced domains of all time. But you need to ask yourself, how many of these own their category or are even a market leader? Almost none. When’s the last time someone sent you a link to one of these sites telling you gotta check it out? You probably can’t remember. Read each name and tell me the first thing that pops in your head.

Insure.com – Sold for $16,000,000 (16 million dollars) in October 2009 to QuinStreet

Sex.com – Sold for: $14 million on January 19th, 2006

Fund.com – $9,999,950 – Sold in 2008

Porn.com – Sold for $9,000,000 sometime in 2007

Business.com – Sold for $7,500,000 in 1999 (This was pretty much a “business” sale with a developed name)

Diamonds.com – Sold for $7,500,000

Beer.com – Sold for $7,000,000

Casino.com – $5,500,000 – Sold to a private company in 2003

Toys.com $5.1M sold to Toys R Us

AsSeenOnTV.com – Sold for $5,100,000 in January of 2000

Korea.com – $5,000,000 – Sold in January of 2000

SEO.com – $5,000,000 – Sold in 2007

FreePorn.com – $4,000,000 – Sold in February 2008

YP.com – $3,850,000 – Sold to YellowPages.com

Shop.com – Sold for $3,500,000 in 2001

WorldWideWeb.com – $3,500,000 in 1996

AltaVista.com – $3,250,000

Software.com – $3,200,000

Candy.com – $3,000,000 Sold in March 2009 by Rich Schwartz. Deal was $3M + % sales.

CreditCheck.com – $3,000,000 -Sold in June 2007

Loans.com – $3,000,000

eShow.com – $3,000,000

Vodka.com – $3,000,000 Sold December 2006

HolidayInn.com – $3,000,000 Sold in 1995

Wine.com – Sold for $2,900,000 in September of 1999

Wines.com – $2,900,000

CreditCards.com – Sold for $2,750,000 in July 2004

Pizza.com – $2,605,000 April 3, 2008

Tom.com – $2,500,000

Dotnology.com – $2.5 million (2000)

Autos.com – $2,200,000

Computer.com – $2,200,000

Coupons.com – $2,200,000

England.com – $2,000,000

Celebrities.com – $2.0 million (1999)

Telephone.com – $2,000,000

Express.com – $2,000,000

Savings.com – $1,900,000

Mortgage.com – $1,800,000

Seniors.com – $1.8 million (2007)

DataRecovery.com – $1,659,000  Sold in 2008

Branson.com – $1,600,000

SolarEnergy.com – $1,600,000

Cameras.com – $1,500,000

TandBerg.com – $1,500,000

MarketingToday.com – $1,500,000

Deposit.com – $1,500,000

Russia.com – $1,500,000 November 26, 2009

Fly.com – $1,500,000 – RESOLD FOR $1,800,000 (January 2009)

VIP.com – Sold for $1,400,000 in September of 2005

Ad.com – Sold for $1,400,000 April 29, 2009 in TRAFFIC auction

Men.com – $1,320,000

Vista.com – $1,250,000

Ticket.com – Sold for $1,525,000 on Afternic

Feedback.com – $1,230,000

Phone.com – $1,200,000

Find.com – $1,200,000

Scores.com – $1.2 million (2007)

Kredit.de – $1,169,175

Call.com – $1,100,000 – Sold on August 31, 2009

Bingo.com – $1,100,000

Mercury.com – $1,100,000

Cruises.co.uk – $1,099,798 Sold in 2008

Chinese.com – $1,090,504 – Sold July 2007

WallStreet.com – $1,030,000

Rock.com – $1.03 million

Invest.com – $1,015,000  Sold in 2008

WebCam.com – $1,020,000 Sold April 2009 in Rick Latona auction

Vibrators.com – $1,000,000 Sold in 2008

Britain.com – $1,000,000

Fish.com – $1,000,000

Topix.com – $1,000,000

Sky.com – $1,000,000

If.com – $1,000,000

iPhone.com – $1.0 million (2007)

CyberWorks.com – $1.0 million

WhiteHouseCrisis.com – $1.0 million

eFlowers.com – $1.0 million

Beauty.cc – $1.0 million

Most of these names are so dull, so forgettable, so uninspired, that it’s hard to believe they fetch the money they do. So WHY do they sell for these prices? It all has to do with SEO, SEO and how Google ranks sites. There generic nature of the domain name ensures that Google will serve them up for generic searches, try it yourself, search for BINGO on an all web search... Surprise ! Ah no not really. Am I saying go out and buy a generic boring domain name for your site? That depends on what you want, dont forget as much as Google will love the name, but bear in mind it can be very difficult to build a generic name into a brand.
Making a Unique Name by Combining Two Generics

This can be highly effective and some of the best named and well branded web companies have used this naming device. And that is to combine two generic words in a way that is startling, evocative and original. Photobucket.com is a good example. By themselves the word photo and the word bucket are about as dull and generic as can be. Ah, but put them together and we not only have an original name now, but one that creates a deeper meaning. It immediately engages the mind as you envision first a literal bucket filled with photos and secondly the abstraction of a bucket of photos. On a symbolic level Photobucket is an easy way to gather all your photos. YouTube is a classic example. By themselves the words you and tube are nearly meaningless. Put them together and it not only has a great rhyming quality but it creates an instantly understandable, relatable word pairing loaded with meaning. It’s you (as in the everyday person, joe average) on the tube (television). Television that is about you. Brilliant. Other good examples are LinkedIn, StubHub, FeedBurner and FaceBook. All pairings of generic words that take on a new meaning when combined.

Is your product the first in the market? Or Niche?

If you invented something that didn’t exist before, something that people would probably like but don’t know it’s available, a generic may be a good strategy. For example we own a brand which is new to South Africa, it is an online financial comparison site. We named it www.comparethemarket.co.za We combined the two generic keywords compare and market, and are ranking very well under all our chosen keywords, even though the site is still in its “static” stage and the live feeds from the providers have not yet been added.

So at the end of the day, the choice is yours. If in doubt call in the experts. Contact Scream Media to day for a no obligation quote on building your brand successfully online.

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