As the Web turns


Slowly I turned. Step by step, inch by inch I crept upon him.

Perhaps this comedy script is not so relatable to our web story. But I will tell it anyway.

The internet that we know today was the collision of many things, one of them being the domain name system. Although this was overseen by US regulation, it was a truly free enterprise and like real estate, the best location was where it was at.

This spawned a new world of communication and preferences. People came to know extensions like com, org, net and gov. Later they expanded their knowledge to info, tv, me and most recently co. And in the new dawn of the net, we have every extension for every precious commodity one could imagine as a new gtld. The long awaited, and poorly implemented distillation of tld value came so late to the game and at such inflated cost as to make the entire ICANN moneygrab an obvious scam except to those few megacorps who would eagerly grab their own name for the sake of having it.

This post is not about that exactly. It is about what’s in a name. We’ve toyed with this and played with it, and used our best resources to dabble in it, and it’s not clear that there’s a specific way to utilize names to get ahead in traffic anymore. There was a time when a domain alone would bring in big cash with a parked page. Domains used to rank for terms even if they had no content. Then Google began to dominate search and deindexed all empty sites. Soon, the only way to get traffic was from ranking high in the Serps or advertising. Then came SEO experts and link building and schemes and so much more.

Now we are back to content. Information can exist on any page and acquire traffic. Rank, serps, ads, etc., suddenly lose their relevance when the most natural results stem from paying to be seen on top publisher sites and bringing the visitors direct to the product. What domains do people click on? Whatever domain appears on the publisher’s site. While holding some of the top domains in the world we did not experience a higher CTR or earnings than when using moderate domains. Perhaps it is just aesthetics but I cannot use trash domains, even if the concept itself is more disposable than permanent.

The conclusion is that while a product company really needs a killer domain, the rest of us just need decent ones. We tend to do best with those in the $100 to $300 range, and rarely spend more. Sometimes we get away with spending less. However, considering all the work that has to get done, the domain cost is somewhat immaterial to the project and its growth.