What’s In A Domain Name, To Dot Com Or Not To Dot Com?

Domain Names?I’ve seen the “dot com” domain name question many times, but it’s still one that confuses people and I finally came to a black and white decision on exactly what kind of domain names to buy, and what to stay away from, a couple of years ago. Terri from By America For America again posted this great question a few days ago and it always begs for an explanation.

My rule for domain names is pretty simple, unless you have an organization, never, ever buy anything other than a .com name and unless your company name has a dash in it, never, ever buy a domain name with a dash in it. Of course you might want a .mobi name for your mobile phone web site or a country suffix if it is required.

Dot com names have been the most popular domains on the internet since day one. It’s what we all matured on the net with and when you know the name of a company, but don’t know their url, the first thing you’re going to search on is some form of their company name followed by a, you guessed it, dot com. Unless you are trying to be real cute with your domain and come up with something very brandable or memorable like WhatDoYouThinkOf.us, there isn’t any reason for a business to buy anything other than a .com name.

Why no dashes? I learned this the hard way when I bought www.i-work-at-home-based-business-opportunity.com. Stupid, just plain stupid. I was a noobie affiliate marketer and though I would be smart in trying to stuff as many keywords into my domain name as possible and make it easy to read. There are all those keywords, work at home, home base business, business opportunity. What was I thinking? It’s six dashes too many.

That domain has never done well except at the very beginning when I was getting around 200 people a day. After about six months Google and MSN deindexed it and even though I’ve tweaked that monster for 3 or so years and it is now indexed by Big G, I only get about 60 visitors a day (MSN still won’t index a single page of that site). I have read that having too many dashes in your domain devalues it in the eyes of the search engines. But the truth is, no one really knows.

However, there is a much better reason not to put dashes in your domain name. Let’s take a look at a situation where I’m trying to tell someone that long domain name over the phone:

Client – What’s your url?
Me – It’s uh, double-u, double-u, double-u dot i dash work dash at dash home dash based dash business dash opportunity dot com.
Client – What, could you repeat that a little slower?
Me – double-u, double-u, double-u dot… i… dash… work… dash… at… dash… home… dash… based… dash… business… dash… opportunity… dot com.
Client – You work at where?

Get the picture?

You don’t want to get yourself into a situation where you have to spend more than 5 seconds telling someone your domain name. Unless you find a name that is very catchy and brandable I try to find a keyword that fits well with my concept for the site and make the name as short as possible. If you have to explain your domain name to someone, it loses it’s appeal and it more than likely won’t be remembered. Quick at easy is the rule.


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12 Responses to “What’s In A Domain Name, To Dot Com Or Not To Dot Com?”

  1. I prefer dot com… people are used to this domain extension.

  2. I think dot com is the best, and as few dashes or numbers as possible. Sometimes, it can take forever to think of a good domain name; one of my recent sites took me days to come up with a good domain name for it. However, sometimes they just pop into my head… my blog zeroandup.com took less than five seconds for me to come up with. I guess i just got lucky!

  3. Completely agree. Do the dot com and make it as simple as possible (not an altogether simple trick these days). You can get away with another type of name such as net, or whatever but you better be very well indexed and have a popular enough anchor text phrase, that when someone punches that in without the suffix…there ya are.


  4. Once again, thanks for that info. I bought a .info domain now I am sorry I did that. I will have to correct it. It’s tough being a new kid on the block but am very grateful for your site, Alan, I am learning so much.

  5. Nice article and I agree with you .com is the standard. Still, might as well get a .net or .info if the .com is taken becuase it does not affect QS on the search engines or rankings in the search engines for natural search.

  6. Humorous phone convo. example… Got enough “dashes” in that URL? Dot com domains are definitely the best to purchase… If I wasn’t able to use a dot com domain, I’d use a “.net” as a second option. Nice article Alan, keeping the domain name simple will make it much easier for people to remember. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. “Dot com names have been the most popular domains on the internet since day one.”

    This is completely untrue. In the early days of web the .net domains were the most popular. People didn’t even thought of using coms back then.

  8. That’s-a-pretty-long-domain-name. 😛

  9. I also go for (dot)com it’s pretty common and easy to remember for a newbie.

  10. Maybe not entirely on topic, but I hear this year’s going to be a big one for the .co.uk extension. A few weeks ago cruises.co.uk sold for nearly $2 million, which will possibly kickstart an increase in big money domain sales here in the UK over the next few months.

  11. The first choice is dot com. Since all “generic” name has been taken it’s so hard to get the nice dot com name. My next choise is dot info

  12. You should take a look at http://seome.com in the basic seo section where it explains why and how a single dash domain could and should be used and the mistakes most commonly made when choosing a domain name.

    The problem with your .i-work-at-home-based-business-opportunity example is two-fold. First, there are limits to how many dashes you should use (1) and secondly, its far too long to be considered memorable in any realistic way. If you take a look at seome or find similar articles by Brad Callen or on SEOBook you’ll be able to see how dashes or non-com TLD’s are still very good ideas.


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