How to Buy a Domain Name for Your Business

<Disclosure: I work for Namemedia, as Senior Engineer for Afternic.com, the premier marketplace for the secondary domain name market in the world.  As such, I tend to recommend Afternic and other Namemedia services.>

The Business Owners Lament: “All the good domain names are already registered.”

Yes, indeed, the initial land grab in the domain name market has been over for some time.  Most of the really good names are, indeed, already registered.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t available, though.  You need to look on the secondary market.

Before we go any further, I should define a couple terms:

  • Primary Market – names that currently are not registered.  These are available via the traditional registrars like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Register.com, eNom, etc.  Search these guys first, in case the name you need for your business is available.
  • Secondary Market – names that are already registered but available for sale are often listed through the secondary market at sites like Buydomains.com. These “premium domains” are held by either domain investors, or currently owned by one of the registrars may have re-registered the name when the initial registration expired.
  • Domainer, or Domain Investor –  a person or company who buys and sells domain names, treating them as investment properties.  Domain names are analogous to real estate investments…but the real estate is on the Internet.
  • SEO – Search engine optimization – specific coding, content and onsite tactics designed to ensure that your site is visible in Google’s “natural search” rankings (in contrast to Google Adwords, which are paid placements).
  • Organic Traffic – traffic that comes because someone typed a specific search term into a search engine such as Google or Bing.  Type in “candy” as a search term…the results that you see in the middle of the page are “organic results”
  • Direct Traffic—traffic that comes from someone typing your domain name directly into the search bar—that is typing “candy.com” versus doing a search for candy
  • TLD – top level domain, for example .com, .edu or .org are all TLDs, in fact they are three of the originals.
  • ccTLD – a country code TLD – such as .co.uk or .it *(Italy).

As I note above, search the primary market first, and if the name you need is available, buy it.  Domain names do not get any cheaper than this…if it’s there, pat yourself on the back, because you just got a bargain.

What’s a good Domain Name for my business?

Ah, the age old question.  It really depends what you expect your site to do for your business.  We may want a site name that fits with our companies brand or name, such as “SmithSeptic.com” or perhaps we want something that is more descriptive of the service we provide, such as “SepticPumping.com”.  For local businesses, I often recommend they go with something that is both descriptive of their service as well as their location, like “WalthamSepticPumping.com” which will give them a lot of help in terms of SEO.

Increasingly it is the case that savvy businesses are pursuing a “multi-domain strategy” to ensure that they are found by prospective customers. So, in the example above, a smart business owner might opt to purchase “SmithSeptic.com”, “SepticPumping.com”, “WalthamSepticPumping.com” and other, related, terms such as “AffordableSepticPumping.com”  It is also a good idea to purchase multiple TLDs: e.g. buy the “.net” along with the “.com” and other variations of your desired names.

Things to consider:

  • Don’t limit yourself, you can (and in some businesses, should) have more than one domain name.
  • Short domain names are easier to remember than longer domain names.
  • Some names are just too long to be worth discussing.  Last week we had a request for “AdamsRoofingandConstructionRepairinMelbourne.com”.  The guy gets points for trying to hit all the relevant keywords, but the chance of anyone, ever, typing that into the address bar of a browser correctly is minimal. Not to mention the extra paint he’d need to get it put on his truck.
  • Some domain names are too broad.  If you are a lawyer and your work is almost exclusively done in Waltham, buying Lawyer.com would be a waste.  Think more along the lines of “WalthamLawyer.com”.

The Secondary Domain Name Market

So you didn’t find a decent domain name in the primary market.  Not to fear, there are still plenty of great domains available; you just need to look on the secondary market.

The first reaction I usually here from business owners about the secondary domain market is that “the prices are so much higher!”  Indeed, versus a primary registration,  “aftermarket” names will be priced higher.  The reason is simple: good domain names have value.  Great domain names have even greater value.

Consider how you acquire customers, and what you currently pay to acquire the customers. If you typically spend $50-100 per new customer acquired in direct mail, advertising, or radio, for example, an investment of $5,000 that yields you just 20 customers per month, just 5 per week, will cost you about $20 for the first year and likely much less in subsequent years.  Quite a bargain—and since research indicates that nearly half of all smaller businesses are not online—your presence may also help you to win customers away from your competitors who are not online.

In business, we’re always after great value.  If the right domain name is important to your business, then paying for the best is going to be worth it.

To get started, you’ll want to go to Afternic.com (the site I work with) and start searching.  Don’t buy the first name you see, really do your homework and see what’s available for sale and try to find the perfect domain.  We’re currently listing 3,596,444 domain names and it’s a pretty good bet there’s a one (and likely a whole lot) that will meet your needs in there.  You’ll see that there are filters on the left hand side of the site; you likely want to add some filters to your search to cut down on the list of names displayed.

Once you distill your list of names down and you’re ready to buy, you’ve got a couple of options.  Most of our domains have a “Buy Now” price – that’s a price that the buyer has agreed to sell the domain for immediately.  No haggling, no problems.  You just click the button and the domain purchase process begins.

We also support auctions and often you won’t see a “Buy Now” button so you’ll be able to make an offer.  You can also participate in closing soon auctions of domain names, etc.

Personally, if I want a domain name, I buy it then and there if I can.

You may also want to pick up the phone and call the account managers for assistance; they’ve helped thousands of business owners find suitable online monikers over the years and they can also offer you advice about “next steps” once you’ve secured the perfect domain name.

What’s This Domain Really Worth

Before you make on offer on an Auction you might want an assessment of what the domain name is really worth.  We offer a team of domain appraisal experts who will give you a nuts and bolts assessment of the domain’s real market value.

As with many of our other services, this is also available as a separate service, even if you are looking at a domain we don’t have listed.

I Want a Specific Domain and It’s Not Listed

I think this is one of the coolest features of Afternic.  We offer “Afternic Agent Service” which means that we will locate the owner of any domain and make an offer on your behalf.  This is tremendous for a couple reasons:

  • The service can be anonymous, which we sometime need in business
  • Our experienced agents know how to find the owners
  • They are highly experienced in negotiating domain sales
  • They make deals happen

Purchasing Your Domain

When you’ve clicked that “buy now” button or you have won your domain auction, the domain name escrow process begins.  Afternic’s secure process protects both buyer and seller—ensuring that no money, nor any domains change hands until the transaction is verified. The secure transfer is included with any purchases made through Afternic.com or BuyDomains.com, but you can also utilize Afternic’s secure escrow service for any domain transaction.

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