What’s in a Domain?

I came across this fascinating blog post about how one man and a few Ruby scripts managed to register what he estimates amounts to $1,000,000 worth of domain names. Many of the examples he registered are single word domain names such as cheese.ai and crowbar.io.

This set me wondering whether domain names really matter that much these days? Obviously some people see value in them, much like some people see value in a personalised number plate for their car (Something I have never understood – but each to their own.). A memorable domain name such moonpig.com or comparethemarket.com is genuinely useful for people looking to find you online, whereas a bespoke vehicle number plate is there to satisfy the owner. How many successful businesses use generic, one-word domain names anyway? For a while British Gas advertised their online presence as http://www.house.co.uk, but these days it redirects to http://www.britishgas.co.uk. Clearly trying to associate a well known brand with a tangentially related word didn’t work out. The exception might be offering email services: your.name@cheese.ai would be pretty cool, and hey.com is an obvious recent example – but again I don’t think many people are that bothered about their email address these days. For my job I have to review a lot of CVs, and I’m often surprised how many people who are clearly very qualified, have been in the industry for a while, yet have an email address with gmail.com or hotmail.com. When a domain costs around £10 a year, it seems like a no-brainer to have your own domain for professional reasons – yet most people don’t.

So I’ve come to that conclusion that for most people domains do not matter. The web is now search-first. Gone are the days of meticulously typing http://www.bbc.co.uk into your web browser and smashing down with great satisfaction on the enter key; for most people, their browser either suggests the site or a Google search does instead. If domains don’t matter, maybe I should start registering random strings instead? mimcxsxuqibozfq.com is it!

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