DYDAS Professional Website Design

Today’s Most Marketable Domains

By on April 17, 2013

Domains are the foundation not just for online business, but for online marketing.

At least, that was what DotSauce’s Mark Fulton argued in early 2011. Now, while we all understand the importance of a strong domain, the web has changed a lot since then. So has online marketing.

We decided to dig into our stats at Flippa to see if the traditional wisdom about strong domains is still current for today’s marketing-focused online businesses.

The rules

Domain AuctionsTo make the assessment, we took a three-step approach.

  1. Review the final sale prices for five single domain auctions from the same niche—health.
  2. See how well the commonly held ideas about domain value apply to today’s domain market.
  3. Pick five website auctions at random from the same niche, and see if those ideas about domain value still held true.

A good business can’t be built without strong marketing. So if Mark was right about domains being at the core of online marketing, we’d expect the higher-priced sites to have stronger domains, generally speaking.

The domains

First up, let’s take a look at the domain auctions we found.
[table]Domain,Sale price,Bids,Age in years

Domain value: the conclusions

Traditional domain wisdom holds that a good domain is usually:

  • Short
  • Memorable
  • Followed by a common extension, with .com being the best option
  • Ideally, relevant to the niche or topic (though this can be a less important factor).

Were these value factors reflected in the auctions we considered? Well, yes and no.

From this small sample, it seems that a domain’s length isn’t as important as its specificity to a topic. This might explain why the oldest domain we looked at sold for the lowest price—of all the auctions we considered, it’s the most generic.

Specificity seems to correlate with memorability, targetability—not just through SEO, but through other marketing, too—and, of course, value. You’ll probably agree it’d be easier to market an authority site around one of the more specific domains here than the more general ones.

That said, this little sample suggest that domain age and extensions still matter, probably because of the contributions they can make to a site’s marketability through search and backlinks.

Do the conclusions play out in site sales?

Our next step was to look at some site sales on Flippa and see if the domains attached to those sites showed the value factors we’d just defined.

Of course, a range of factors play into the final market value of any site. But we simply wanted to see if there is any parallel between domain value and overall site value. The answers were intriguing.

[table]Domain,Sale price,Bids,Age in years

* These sites had proven revenues. Check the links to see all the details of each site and auction.

So, what conclusions can we draw about the possible contribution a domain makes to the value of an online business?

  1. Even among common TLDs, the most popular extensions attach to higher valued sites (in this research).
  2. Domain age may be seen to offset lower earnings in some cases, due to the long-tail search and backlink traffic potential of an older domain.
  3. The more specific, memorable domains get the most bidder interest, possibly because they’re easier to market.
  4. These examples also suggest that domain length may have a role to play

Are domains still the foundation of online business and marketing?

question_mark_phoneThis rough data suggests that the evolution of online marketing may be encouraging today’s site owners to look for more than just a short, memorable, .com domain.

Market saturation, changing search marketing tactics, and a developing reliance on social authority and content over pure advertising and backlinks seem to have placed more emphasis on domain specificity and memorability, since they translate directly into targetability.

So the bottom line seems to be: if you have a specific, targetable domain, develop it. And if you don’t, do your best to get one.


About Dave Slutzkin

Dave hails from the Melbourne, Australia area where he manages Flippa.com, a leading online marketplace for buying and selling websites, online businesses and domain names.