Buying a domain name is much simpler now than it was in the early days of the Internet. Indeed, most Internet service providers will give their customers the option of ordering one or more domain names with their accounts. While it is quick and easy to buy a web domain, the number of available names is smaller due to the massive amount of domains sold over the years. Three-letter domain names, also called TLDs, are no longer readily available for the popular .com extension. While it still may be possible to buy a TLD from a current owner, such sales are rare because most of the domains are used on live websites.
Domain name statistics
While TLDs are generally unavailable for .com, it is still possible to get four-letter .com domain names. However, the number of available four-letter names is not very extensive. The top ten countries in terms of total domain names are as follows:
- United States 79,636,292
- Germany 6,477,828
- China 5,793,972
- The United Kingdom 4,802,499
- Canada 3,823,538
- France 3,453,290
- Japan 2,843,069
- Australia 2,334,469
- Spain 1,680,775
- Cayman Islands 1,503,049
The .com extension is by far the most popular among consumers followed in order by .net, .org and .info among non-country specific extensions.
Choosing a domain name
The first step to buying a web domain is to find out whether the name is actually available. For popular extensions like .com and .net, this will be more difficult, especially if you are looking for a shorter domain name using popular words.
While many website owners may want to use their company name or personal name as their domain, this may not always be possible.
Many services allow you to search for available web domains, including the following sites:
- Host Otter
Note that most of these services will also sell domain names directly to consumers.
If the name that you desire is not available with the popular .com extension, you can also try searching using other extensions like .net or .info.
The average length of domain names is eleven characters, even though experts suggest making the names as short as possible. One reason for the longer domains may be the lack of availability of appropriate shorter names.
If you intend on a domain with a .com extension, but the name you want is unavailable, try different name variations. Alternatively, you could try adding extra words to the domain name.
For example, if you want a domain name like cutedogs.com, you could search instead for variations like cutedogz.com or kewtdogs.com. You are more likely to achieve success by adding extra words, i.e., realcutedogs.com.
What to do if you want a particular domain?
If you intend on a specific domain name and it is unavailable, then you still have the option of trying to buy the name from the current owner. Many web domain owners are investors who purchase names for the express purpose of selling them later for a profit. If you are lucky, the name you want will be the property of one of these investors. Generally, such domains sit “parked” at inactive sites. When you visit the site, it will usually have a “For sale” notice on the homepage.
However, if the domain is in use on an active website, then it may be much more difficult to buy the name. In such cases, you may actually have to buy the entire site to close it down and use the web domain for your own purposes.
The other drawback is that web users may already associate the domain name with the existing site, which can be difficult in marketing.
Negotiating for a domain name
If the web domain you desire is up for sale, you can negotiate with the current owner on the price. Some sellers may already have a price tag on the domain. For example, a firm listed price or “Buy It Now” (BIN) price means that the seller is less likely to negotiate. However, you can still try contacting them to see if they will lower the BIN price.
Other web domains are up for auction, or the potential buyer can offer a price for the domain name. Indeed, this is the most common way of selling web domains as it gives the seller maximum flexibility. Valuing a web domain is not a clear-cut matter. Most people will recognize high-value domains as they will have a readily apparent value. Here are some factors that you can take into account when trying to assign value to a web domain:
- Domain extension – Again, the .com domains are most valuable.
- Length – Generally, shorter names are better because they are easier to remember
- Memorable – While shorter names are usually best, other domain name qualities may make them easy to remember.
- The popularity of keywords – A domain name that contains popular search keywords will be in higher demand.
- Commercial names – Domains that have ready application for commercial or marketing purposes are in high demand.
- Easy to pronounce – Since marketing involves communicating domain names by word of mouth, the name must be easy to pronounce.
- Age of domain – Older domain names are generally more valuable.
In some cases, it may be wise to hire a consultant familiar with the domain name market to negotiate the price, as they will know about going prices for particular types of web domains. When negotiating for a domain, try to strike up a good relationship with the seller. Remember that there may be other people trying to buy the same web domain. Make an initial offer on the low side but one that does not insult the seller
Offer a price that still recognizes the obvious value of the web domain. By respecting the seller and dealing professionally, you improve your chances of success, especially in cases involving many people offering comparable prices for the same domain. Find common ground with the seller and let them know that you are a no-nonsense person who will pay immediately once you have struck a deal.
If the web domain you desire is available, you can purchase it via a normal online transaction using many domain-selling websites. If you are buying an existing domain, you will have to arrange for payment with the seller. Some sellers may accept credit card payments or other electronic options like PayPal.