Is there an advantage to buying a premium domain?

If you’ve ever searched for a domain name, you’ve probably come across certain domains that are considered “premium”, and they can sell for anywhere from a few hundred dollars, to thousands. It’s definitely a difficult decision when choosing between a potentially more visible domain name (premium), and one that can potentially cause confusion (non-premium). Before we really analyze the pros and cons of each, let’s take a look at some examples. And if you don’t know, go here to find out what is a premium domain?

Some Examples

First let’s consider some companies that opted for less traditional domains names. Think of: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Linkedin, or Twitter. Today these are all common household names recognizable by the vast majority of people (at least in USA) but before the websites existed, these words meant absolutely nothing to the general public.

Now let’s consider some companies that decided to go with premium domains… Think of: Dictionary.com, Cars.com, Ask.com, About.com or Booking.com. These are also extremely popular websites, and their domain names really describe what the website offers.

Clearly we can see that regardless of the domain name, there’s definitely opportunity for any website to become popular. Also an immediate difference between the two is apparent, for the non-premiums, I just need to say their company name, and there’s instant recognition… Google, Facebook, Twitter ect. Where as with the premium domains, if I just said Cars, Ask, and About, you would probably be wondering “About what?”

So?

What I’m getting at here is that non-premium domains have the potential to be MUCH more “brandable”.

    Premium Pros
  • Could potentially get natural organic searchers
  • Domain might have old backlinks / previous visitors
  • Could command instant trust with visitors
    Premium Cons
  • Google has stated that they have severally reduced the weight that domain key words have
  • You’ll probably be paying for any existing traffic
  • Could potentially seem spamy
    Non-premium Pros
  • Free – helps when you’re on a tight budget
  • Much more brandable
  • Lower chance of copy cats
    Non-premium Cons
  • Starting from scratch, so you’ll probably need to spend more in marketing
  • Your name can be easily forgotten
  • If you’re small, no one is really trying to anyway

Conclusions

As with most things in life, you’re going to get what you pay for. If you’re paying $2,000 for a premium domain, there’s a good chance that you’ll be getting some kind of inherited value from the domains previous owner. The site might be coming with a few hundred daily page views, which can quickly be shared and turned into a few thousand if you provide strong content.

On the other hand, you could just as easily spend the $2,000 on targeted marketing, and make sure that the visitors to your site are exactly the people that you want.

In the end, Google is bigger than Ask.com, Wikipedia is bigger than About.com, and you’re more likely to find a client on Linkedin than on Booking.com. I personally have never bought a premium domain, and don’t plan to any time in the near future. I prefer to be brandable rather generic, and the money saved can be put towards more targeted site improvements, like marketing, or hiring a better graphic designer.

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