You have a great business idea and a great name for it. What do you do when the domain name registration service informs you that it is already taken? Should you ever pay a premium price to a cyber-squatter (or a domain name investor, to use a more genteel term)?
The direct answer is that you shouldn’t pay anything more than a small premium – even if getting the perfect name would add value to your business.
Cyber squatters have seen demand drop for their “services” over the past few years. There are many new top-level domain names for each country now as well as new personalized business TLD’s. For instance, Sony can now have a domain name that ends in .sony (if they pay the exorbitant asking price).
People simply cannot become very rich by speculatively investing in popular domain names and squatting on them anymore, the way people like Kevin Ham used to do. There are too many TLD possibilities today. The average premium domain name registration now sells for under $5000. It’s okay to pay this much for the perfect name and no more. You mustn’t give in to unrealistic demands.
Most domain names now cost under $50 a year (many are less than $20). Keep the following pointers in mind when you look for a domain name registration.
- It’s best to get a domain name that is identical to the name of your business. If it isn’t available with the suffix you want, sign up with a service like Domain Tools to find the person who owns the rights and check for the asking price. You mustn’t reveal your budget by making an offer first.
- You must always negotiate. Domain name speculators always pad their prices. If you’re not up to it, hire the services of a business like Moniker that will negotiate for you for a small fee.
- If you have your heart set on an unavailable name and the price won’t come down, ask the owner if he is open to a lease-to-own deal – where you lease the name for as long as you need to save up to buy the name outright.
- While getting a .com can be very nice, you shouldn’t spend extra on it if it doesn’t add value to your business. For instance, if you are an American company that only targets American customers, a .us extension would be very good (a .biz may not be acceptable, though, because spammers tend to use this extension). A .com, though, does get indexed faster.
- You could try a domain name hack before you settle on something. If you’re wondering what the heck a hack is it is a clever way to integrate the name of your business with an extension – like Delicio.us. There are services that show you how to cleverly integrate your business name with an extension. Try Domai.nr – a popular choice.
- Most domain name registration forms give you the option to pay a few dollars for privacy – so that your company’s information is hidden from prying eyes when someone looks up your domain on WHO IS. Domain privacy isn’t a good idea. If your domain gets hacked, you will never be able to prove that you own it.
Having a great domain name with a great extension is a good idea. Most people, though, don’t type a full URL into the address field, anymore. They simply use a search engine or a referring link. You could conceivably use an unpopular extension or a name that didn’t exactly match your business. The important thing when you’re just starting out is to not overspend on a domain name.