Branding and One-Word .COM’s: Why They Can Be A Goldmine And Where The Fools Gold Lies

As I’ve said a number of times this year I’ve shifted my focus to .COM when I am buying domains that I’m looking to flip or sell later on. For Development and Monetization I still like a variety of TLDs like .NET, .ORG, .CO, .ME, and .US. That being said, most of the domains I’ve purchased this year are two and three-word .COMs. When looking forward I’m always trying to find ways to tune my strategy and one of the changes I plan to make is to add a few good one word .COM’s to my portfolio. These aren’t to flip, but instead to hold and wait for the right buyer to find me.

This year I’ve received multiple offers on some of the two-word .COM’s that I own and all of these offers come from companies in the niche. It makes sense right? An online bookstore isn’t going to use as their website, just like they won’t use either. However, bring it down to one-word and suddenly the name can be used for any brand in any niche.

If you look at successful online brands, so many of them go with a one-word .COM and many don’t care if the word has anything to do with their niche. Look at, you would naturally think this had to do with kayaking but it’s a travel site. Just think, if you added a word either before or after “kayak” it could only be branded in the kayaking niche, however as one word on it’s own, it can be anything.

Look at, this name was picked when Amazon was an online bookstore. Like I said in the example above, they would not have built their brand around, or, as one word, on its own, it can be anything.

What about popular memory upgrade website I guess you could say that having more memory for your computer is crucial but when I hear the word memory isn’t the first thing that pops into my head! Still, a one-word .COM that can be used for any brand.

I know this is not a major breakthrough for many of your reading this, but for some maybe it is! This is something that makes one-word .COM domains so unique. You don’t see any major brands running to build on a one-word .NET or .ORG, they don’t have the same branding power. I’m not sure or would have seemed quite as legitimate without the .COM…oh and those Yahoo commercials would have to change since a big part of the branding was the word .COM.

Now this doesn’t mean I don’t see one-word .NET and .ORGs as good investments, it’s just a different type of investment. The most liquidity and highest potential resale price is in the .COM space. Most brands want to secure a .COM rather than a .NET or .ORG unless they’re a non-profit in which case a .ORG could work. While your one-word .NET could absolutely sell to a major brand or a new startup, there will be far more interest in the same keyword .COM.

Of course this does involve making larger investments and you do have to watch-out for Fools Gold. By Fools Gold I mean one-word .COMs that suck. That’s right, there are plenty of one-word .COM domains that just aren’t very good. I didn’t know this my first year in Domaining and bought names like that no brand in the universe would ever build on.

With a one-word .COM you want a word that people know, people say, and that you could actually imagine people thinking-up as the name for their company in a meeting. Just think of a startup huddled around a table at a co-working space somewhere in New York or Silicon Valley. They have the next big idea, and they want to come-up with the perfect name, when they pick a name their first choice will be the .COM. I don’t know about you but I’d always rather be the first choice vs. second or third choice. As the first and top choice you have more leverage and can feel confident that if you get an offer you don’t like, more will be coming around the corner.

Don’t get stuck buying Fools Gold though, there are plenty of expiring one-word .COM’s and names listed on forums advertised as “Cheap One-Word .COM” that an end-user wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Just think once again of the room full of entrepreneurs, are they going to think, perfect Advantageously is going to be the new name for our business – let’s go get the .COM! Probably not.

So yes, it will require more than a $69 opening bid at an auction and you may have to spend in the $x,xxx or $xx,xxx range but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of great deals around. By looking beyond domain marketplaces and auctions you might find real end-users who own domains they might be looking to sell. Make an offer and you might be surprised some of the deals you might find. Just avoid the fools gold, you can buy as many crappy .COM’s for $200 as you want, but remember, once you have ten you could have spent $2,000 on one, much better name.

Of course I’ll still be buying two and three-word .COMs next year, it made a huge impact and help grow our revenue to over 100% y/y growth and I’m going for the same thing next year. That being said I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a few more one-word .COMs I can add to my portfolio and further diversify my portfolio. In 2012 just like 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 our focus is on developing domain names into brands. This focus never changes, however our strategy around selling domains is constantly evolving and I’m learning new things every day. The switch to .COM made a major impact in 2011, now it’s time to take it to the next level!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton