How To Buy A Premium Domain Name

Michael Gargiulo - CEO, VPN.com

By: Michael Gargiulo, CEO at VPN.com

Updated: 4:39 PM ET Mon, March 29th 2021

Domain Name word cloud, business concept

Whether you’re the CEO of a new startup or you’re building the online presence for an established company, your branding must be on point. Domain names are one of the keys to effective online branding, but it can be difficult to find the right one. Even once you choose an ideal domain name that’s catchy, memorable, and perfect for your business, you might find that someone else already owns it. However, this isn’t cause for despair; there’s a good chance you can still buy the premium domain name you had in mind. But first, it’s important to establish what a premium domain name is and what separates it from a standard domain name.

Buy A Premium Domain Name: The Basics

On its face, domain names seem  to be  fairly simple. However, the world of web domains can be quite complex. For instance, you can never actually buy a domain name. Instead, you lease the rights to use a domain name, becoming a registrant. The organization you lease from is a registrar, a private company that seeks profit from leasing domain names and providing related services for certain top-level domains (TLDs).

A top-level domain is the second half of a domain name, the suffix such as .com and .net. The first half, the unique name that varies from one website to the next, is the second-level domain (SLD) name. In total, there are hundreds of millions of registered domain names with all sorts of TLD and SLD combinations.

While on the surface it may appear that there are no differences from one TLD or SLD to the next, there are a host of benefits associated with some extensions in terms of marketing and exposure. For instance, .com is the gold standard TLD. Extensions .co and .org are also commonly used. However using a cheap, second-rate TLD such as .biz can compromise the perceived trustworthiness of your website and cause confusion among web users.

Standard vs Premium Domain Names: What’s The Difference?

The overwhelming majority of domain names aren’t worth anything more than their leasing fee. Any significant shortcoming can sink the value of a domain name, such as a disreputable TLD or a misspelled SLD. On the other hand, premium domain names are virtually flawless. A premium domain will have an excellent TLD and a memorable, brandable SLD.

Evaluating the quality of the second-level domain is trickier and partly subjective, but it largely revolves around the concept of brandability. A name is brandable when it’s easy to remember and has a wide variety of possible uses. For starters, consisting of one or two correctly-spelled words is a big boost to brandability. What’s even better is when these names have a high level of generic value that make them usable for an entire industry, such as cars.com and insurance.com (or VPN.com). Additionally, two and three-letter strings are especially memorable and can be highly valuable.

When you combine a brandable, memorable SLD with a first-rate TLD, you have a premium domain that can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. In today’s digital marketplace, it’s not uncommon for premium domains to sell for millions of dollars.

Why Should I Buy A Premium Domain Name?

When you look at what defines a premium domain, it becomes increasingly clear why you should buy one. All of the factors that define a high-quality domain name correlate to improved marketability, visibility, and reputation for your website. However, the merits of buying a premium domain name aren’t limited to their end-users. There’s an entire industry that revolves around investing in domains and selling them for profit. If you’re looking to diversify your investments in the aftermath of the 2020 stock market crash, premium domain names are an excellent choice.

Do I Benefit From Using A Premium Domain?

As a business owner, the leader of a startup, eCommerce company, or other domain name end-user, the benefits of using a premium domain are self-evident. If you settle for a poorer-quality domain name, studies indicate that you’re sure to miss out on a great deal of traffic in the long-term as people misremember your website.

Of course, it’s necessary to point out that this isn’t an ironclad rule of web hosting. There are some notable exceptions, such as tech startups causing the .io TLD to take off in recent years. Additionally, there are all sorts of novelty domain names that try to creatively incorporate an obscure TLD to make their website even more memorable; something along the lines of ceramics.art.

Whereas using something like “D0ma1nn4mes.dn” is an abject mistake, intentionally using an alternative domain name is more of a creative risk that may or may not pay off. If you’re considering using such a creative, alternative naming scheme, keep in mind that there are few success stories that utilize it.

Why Invest In Premium Domain Names

If you want to invest in new assets, then premium domain names are an excellent choice. While they don’t generate any sort of dividends, they  have extremely low maintenance costs. Compared to other alternative investments such as art or collectibles, they’re easier to care for and there’s effectively no risk of your investment being damaged and losing its value.

As long as you make good choices of domain names to invest in, there are few drawbacks to domain name investing and you have excellent chances of profiting. Additionally, the value of domain names is fairly subjective and the process of selling revolves heavily around negotiations. If you view yourself as a strong negotiator, then premium domain names are a great area to put your skills to use.

Should I Buy The .net Of A Premium Domain Name?

Many people get the idea of buying a .net, .biz, or other altered TLD on their ideal domain. Whether you’re an investor or a user, there are better suited options. Using a low value extension can  reflect poorly on your domain, website, and business.

You’re better off either paying for the .com of the domain or looking for a different premium domain altogether.

Should I Buy An Altered Version Of A Premium Domain Name?

The other mistake that people make when looking for a workaround is buying an altered version of their ideal domain name. Something that uses a number instead of a letter, includes a slight misspelling or otherwise is similar. However, this is a serious mistake; if your domain name requires users to remember more details and if it’s not spelled the way it’s pronounced, you’re making it much less likely that they’ll remember your website correctly. If you advertise domanenames.domain, you’ll likely end up sending a great deal of traffic to domainnames.domain instead.

How To Buy Premium Domain Names: The Options

When it comes to buying premium domain names, there are a variety of approaches you can take. If no one  has picked up your domain name of choice yet, it’s fairly simple. When someone else is already leasing the rights to it, you still have some recourse and might be able to purchase the domain name. There are also great ways to buy premium domain names at a reduced price if you’re willing to wait or interested in buying any premium domain name for investment purposes.

Lease From A Domain Registrar

GoDaddy, Bluehost, and other registrars offer fairly simple leasing processes where you head to their website and choose the domain name that you’re looking for. After picking out your chosen domain name, you’ll head to another screen where they offer a range of add-ons. Some are highly valuable, such as security certificates and privacy features, while others aren’t necessarily as worthwhile. However, you might not be able to buy it after all; what if someone else already owns it? Then, you start looking for the owner.

Find The Owner And Buy

When someone already owns the domain that you have your eyes on, there are three fundamental possibilities. One possibility is that they intend to sell it and have made it easy and clear to see this. Sometimes, they’ll even use the domain names they own but don’t use to redirect to the websites where they sell the domains they’ve purchased.

If they don’t have such a helpful clue, that’s still not a sign you should give up. You can use the Whois registry to find contact information on domain name owners and contact them via email, or look for other leads on who the owner is. If you can’t find them yourself, then hiring a premium domain brokerage to look for your domain name’s owner might be the next step. If the domain appears to have fallen off the face of the earth, though; then it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

The worst-case scenario is being unable to find the owner of your ideal domain name. However, the second-worst case scenario is putting the domain name onto the internet and finding that it’s already in use. The more content on the website, the more effort put into it, and other signs of work on part of the owner signal you’ll have a hard time buying it. Not only will you have to meet its market price, but you’ll also have to consider the amount of time and emotion the prior owner has put into it.. While they can switch domains, they will suffer tangible losses in SEO and domain traffic.

It takes a lot to buy out a domain that’s actively in use. You might be able to do so, but the price might also prove too high for you in the end. Furthermore, many people simply cannot be bought out when their time and sentimental value are on the line. If they use the domain for an active business, then purchasing it will prove even more difficult. In any case, be prepared to look elsewhere for a different domain name that meets your purposes.

Wait For Expiration

Most domain registrars will allow anyone to see when a domain name is about to expire. If you see valuable domain names you’d be interested in acquiring, you can often set the website to automatically purchase the leasing rights if the current owner loses them. On the one hand, you might be able to snatch it if the current owner forgets about the domain name. If they forget to pay and lose the rights, you’ll be able to move in and purchase it before they do.

On the other hand, they might have simply forgotten about the domain or lost interest in it. In this case, you still enjoy the same benefits of a new domain name in your portfolio at almost no cost. However, not all domain registrars resell domains at such a low price. Some arrange auctions for their forgotten domain names. In general, auctions are also a popular means of selling domain names.

Head To Auctions

Auctions are suitable for subjectively-valued goods, such as domain names. Since the value of a domain name is a rough estimate until you see what people are willing to pay for it, the auction pricing model is often ideal for buyers and sellers. If you’ve ever participated in an auction before, you know how it goes: people place successive, increasing bids until one buyer places a bid higher than the others are willing to challenge.

There are many types of domain name auctions; some take place online, but it’s not unheard of for live, physical auctions to sell domain names. Either way, domain auctions are always a promising opportunity to get a valuable domain name below its market price with a little bit of luck.

VPN.com Premium Domain Brokers

When you need help buying the perfect domain name, look no further. The team here at VPN.com consists of some of the foremost experts in the industry. We have cumulative decades of experience and many successful transactions to our credit, including the premium domain that we proudly host our website on. Our industry connections give us access to thousands of premium domain names on the aftermarket, and we’re certain to find great domain names for your business or your investment portfolio. Get in touch to learn more about how our premium domain brokerage services can help you.

Buy Or Sell A Domain Today

DMCA.com Protection Status